Corbyn: Labour will back People’s Vote if members want it

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Jeremy Corbyn has said that he change his parties position and back a second referendum if the members so desire this week at conference. With most Labour voters in favour according to opinion polls, this move could spell a breakaway from the working class leave voters who have been recently estranged and cut off from Momentum and the Corbyn vision. If Corbyn backs a second vote, it could lead almost all of his party to do the same, potentially pushing a vote in Parliament when the Chequers deal comes to town. Labour has been dithering with a second referendum, although Corbyn’s team are at heart either Eurospectic or plainly not interested.

This autumn is going to be fun, Gerry expects…

PM’s Brexit statement in full

Here we are then:

Yesterday, I was in Salzburg for talks with European leaders. I have always said that these negotiations would be tough – and they were always bound to be toughest in the final straight.

While both sides want a deal, we have to face up to the fact that – despite the progress we have made – there are two big issues where we remain a long way apart.

The first is our economic relationship after we have left. Here, the EU is still only offering us two options. The first option would involve the UK staying in the European Economic Area and a customs union with the EU. In plain English, this would mean we’d still have to abide by all the EU rules, uncontrolled immigration from the EU would continue and we couldn’t do the trade deals we want with other countries. That would make a mockery of the referendum we had two years ago.

The second option would be a basic free trade agreement for Great Britain that would introduce checks at the Great Britain/EU border. But even worse, Northern Ireland would effectively remain in the Customs Union and parts of the Single Market, permanently separated economically from the rest of the UK by a border down the Irish Sea. Parliament has already – unanimously – rejected this idea.

Creating any form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would not respect that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom, in line with the principle of consent, as set out clearly in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It is something I will never agree to – indeed, in my judgement it is something no British Prime Minister would ever agree to. If the EU believe I will, they are making a fundamental mistake.

Anything which fails to respect the referendum or which effectively divides our country in two would be a bad deal and I have always said no deal is better than a bad deal.

But I have also been clear that the best outcome is for the UK to leave with a deal. That is why, following months of intensive work and detailed discussions, we proposed a third option for our future economic relationship, based on the frictionless trade in goods. That is the best way to protect jobs here and in the EU and to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, while respecting the referendum result and the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Yesterday Donald Tusk said our proposals would undermine the single market. He didn’t explain how in any detail or make any counter-proposal. So we are at an impasse.

The second issue is connected to the first. We both agree that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to include a backstop to ensure that if there’s a delay in implementing our new relationship, there still won’t be a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But the EU is proposing to achieve this by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the Customs Union. As I have already said, that is unacceptable. We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country.

We will set out our alternative that preserves the integrity of the UK. And it will be in line with the commitments we made back in December – including the commitment that no new regulatory barriers should be created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK unless the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly agree.

As I told EU leaders, neither side should demand the unacceptable of the other. We cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of our union, just as they cannot accept anything that threatens the integrity of theirs. We cannot accept anything that does not respect the result of the referendum, just as they cannot accept anything that is not in the interest of their citizens.

Throughout this process, I have treated the EU with nothing but respect. The UK expects the same. A good relationship at the end of this process depends on it.

At this late stage in the negotiations, it is not acceptable to simply reject the other side’s proposals without a detailed explanation and counter proposals. So we now need to hear from the EU what the real issues are and what their alternative is so that we can discuss them. Until we do, we cannot make progress.

In the meantime, we must and will continue the work of preparing ourselves for no deal. In particular, I want to clarify our approach to two issues.

First, there are over 3 million EU citizens living in the UK who will be understandably worried about what the outcome of yesterday’s summit means for their future. I want to be clear with you that even in the event of no deal your rights will be protected. You are our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues. We want you to stay.

Second, I want to reassure the people of Northern Ireland that in the event of no deal we will do everything in our power to prevent a return to a hard border.

Let me also say this. The referendum was the largest democratic exercise this country has ever undergone. To deny its legitimacy or frustrate its result threatens public trust in our democracy. That is why for over two years I have worked day and night to deliver a deal that sees the UK leave the EU.

I have worked to bring people with me even when that has not always seemed possible. No one wants a good deal more than me.

But the EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country. We need serious engagement on resolving the two big problems in the negotiations. We stand ready.

The Brexit headache: Nothing will please anyone

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The Brexit debate has laid bare the desires and cravings of all parties that have been revved up for years. The Conservatives, traditionally the party of politeness and solidarity, have endured over two years of open warfare, from Jacob Rees-Mogg to Anna Soubry. For both sides, it seems as though you can have all or nothing.  There is no compromise. You are either in Europe with the single market, customs and union and Juncker and his cronies, for all the benefits and disadvantages of that club, or you’re out , ‘independent’ and left alone, free to spend years making trade deals with Belgian farmers like the poor Canadians. What fun.

One of the most obvious solutions to this war of attrition is to have a second vote. It would, of course, be nigh on impossible to have a considered debate, with the vitriol that surrounded 2016 almost certain to make a recovery. Despite this, a final vote on the Brexit deal would be able to hopefully conclude all arguments of whether to stay or leave.

With different sects taking sides over the most complicated pieces of legislation in the book, Theresa May’s compromise was never going to be popular. She needed to comfort British and London-bases business that they would be safe while also pleasing the zealots on the Paleoseptic wing of her divided party. Chequers is not perfect. No one in Westminster is going to realistically stand up for that.

Despite this unpopularity, it is the most sensible solution to the problems. Since the referendum, the European Union has been lamenting the decline of British pragmatism, urging May to find her inner Elizabeth 1 and make a deal with both sides. This she has attempted to do, and yet the bureaucrats are demanding more, obviously ignorant of the perilous position of the Prime Minister. If Parliament chucks chequers, we could see the man all liberals dread as our next leader.

Emmanuel Macron, low in the popularity ratings, have made a classic French tactic of lying into the British, evoking Charles de Gaulle’s simple “non” to the proposal of UK membership of the EEC in 1967. Donald Tusk, so far the voice in Brussels willing to listen and understand the political situation in l’Anglais, has said that Chequers “will not work.” Although her European compatriots are against her, Mrs May must stand up to her solution and set out a clear choice. Chequers or no deal. And Boris.

If the Europeans and the few pragmatic Tories still left in power can understand this, then the Prime Minister can finally reveal her inner Iron Lady.