Eurosceptics are up in arms today following the High Court’s ruling that Theresa May would have to seek Parliamentary approval before she can trigger Brexit by invoking Article 50. “A great betrayal is underway”, Nigel Farage wrote in this morning’s Telegraph. “It was a mistake for the courts to intervene on such a huge political issue,” Philip Johnson said. Iain Duncan Smith accused the judges – Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Sales – of risking a “constitutional crisis” by “pitting Parliament against the will of the people”.
The Attorney General is already under pressure to resign after losing the High Court case, with Tory MPs saying that Jeremy Wright should be replaced by a more experienced lawyer. The Government has already pledged to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, although an insider told this newspaper that ministers are resigned to losing the case. If this happens, ministers are preparing an Act of Parliament on the triggering of Article 50, which would mean that both the Commons and Lords would be able to debate, amend and vote on it before it is invoked. This process could end up delaying Brexit by a year, as Europhile MPs are already planning how to exploit it. George Osborne and Nicky Morgan have already indicated that they would seek to use it to force Mrs May to reveal in the Commons her plans for Brexit, despite her prior refusal to “show her cards” before starting formal negotiations.
There are 17.4 million reasons why they won’t try to throw out the bill in the hopes of stopping Brexit, and they’re called voters. But that won’t stop them trying to table amendments to water down the type of Brexit Parliament goes on to approve. Hillary Benn has already admitted that he would approve Article 50 in a vote, but hinted that his fellow Europhiles could target “what we should be seeking in negotiations”. If they succeed, Mrs May could be forced to trigger an early general election in order to increase her majority in the Commons. “If we get to the stage where [MPs] are not willing to allow this negotiation to even begin,” Dominic Raab warned, “I think there must be an increased chance that we will need to go to the country again.” One minister said that Mrs May and her closest advisers are “completely against” calling an early general election, but could this change?
The Government seems quietly optimistic about its chances in a vote on Article 50, as Sajid Javid told BBC’s Question Time last night that it could win such a vote next week if necessary. But how would it fare in the Lords? Europhile peers could try and obstruct the bill without having to worry about voters, but Eurosceptic MPs are already onto them. Jacob Rees-Mogg suggests in today’s paper that the 1911 Parliament Act may be needed to ram the bill through the Lords, or the Government could create “a thousand new peers to overcome the Remain majority in the Upper House”.
In the meantime Theresa May is talking to Jean Claude-Juncker today to make clear to him that the High Court ruling won’t stop her from taking Britain out of the European Union. You can follow what happens today on our liveblog here. “In Brussels, the court verdict has been widely interpreted as the first step in the undoing of Britain’s plebiscite,” Dan Hannan warns. The Prime Minister won’t let judges take her off course.
I do not of course get a vote in the Labour leadership election and do not think they wish to follow my thoughts on their two candidates. However, I felt I should let it be known that as a Conservative who does not want to see a Labour government in 2020 I would love it if Owen Smith won the leadership and tried to lead Labour into the 2020 election.
It is his hatred of democracy which, I think, shines through so admirably, and would curse any party led by him. Just a short few months after Mr Corbyn won the labour leadership by a landslide he thinks he has the right to overthrow the elected and popular leader who did not himself want or see the need for a leadership election.
That is an internal matter for Labour, but given Mr Corbyn’s unique ability to enroll new members of his party on a huge scale, it might be a matter of some concern to Labour supporters.
More crucial is Mr Smith’s obvious distaste for national democracy. He seriously suggests an Opposition led by him should dedicate itself this Parliament to thwarting the wishes of the people as expressed in a referendum, despite the Remain campaign saying throughout the referendum period that a vote to Leave would have to mean we left the EU with all the dire consequences they wrongly forecast,
Apparently, Mr Smith thinks they should block any efforts to leave in Parliament and should demand a second referendum, in the vain hope that that might produce a different result.
The eurosceptic Five Star Movement (M5S) has overtaken Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD) in several opinion polls and is now the most popular political party in Italy.
The poll results represent a significant shift in Italy’s political landscape and have potentially far-reaching implications for the future of the European Union.
M5S, which would win national elections if they were held today, has called for a referendum on whether Italy, which is facing the collapse of its banking system, should keep the euro, the single currency of the European Union, or bring back the Italian lira.
A move by Italy — the third-largest economy in the eurozone — to abandon the euro could strike a potentially fatal blow to the currency and to the bloc itself.
An Ipsos poll, published by the newspaper Corriere della Sera on July 5, gave M5S 30.6% of the vote, up from 28.9% in April, while Renzi’s center-left PD fell to 29.8% from 31.1%.
Jean-Claude Juncker is a wily and formidable operator with a strong motive to resent Britain that is rooted in David Cameron’s campaign to stop him taking the European Union’s most powerful job.
As European Commission president he will be prepared to cut a deal with Britain, even to hand powers back from Brussels to Westminster but the abrasive, hard-drinking and heavy-smoking Luxembourger is not inclined to make life easy for the British government.
To begin with, Mr Juncker is this week expected to block Britain from taking the post as the EU commissioner responsible for the single market, the policy portfolio most desired by Downing Street.
The Pew survey shows a split in EU favorability, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. EU approval is still fairly high in parts of Eastern Europe where it’s seen as a bulwark against Russia. On the other hand its popularity is underwater in Spain, Greece and the UK (no surprise considering Brexit) and it hits disapproval highs in France of 61 percent. Frexit would be a terrible portmanteau but it is on the radar.
And without the UK or France, the EU would consist of Germany bossing a bunch of smaller countries around. Not that Germans are all that high on the EU either. It’s got a 50 to 48 favorable.
What’s interesting about the numbers coming out of France is just how unpopular, across the board, the EU is with the left, the right and the center. And even among the youth, where approval tends to be highest, support taps out at 56 percent.
Leadership manoeuvring is afoot in both the Labour and Conservative parties, although the prize is greater for whoever wins the Tory crown as they get to be Prime Minister as well. So ambitious Conservatives are having to get their bids together before nominations close at midday on Thursday, with the party’s ruling 1922 committee announcing an accelerated timetable which will see the new leader announced by September 2, a month earlier than expected. A faster election will inevitably favour the front-runners, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, as it gives less time for challengers to build up their profiles . A YouGov poll for the Times confirmed they are way out in front among Conservative voters, with the Home Secretary ahead of the former Mayor by 6 points. But that doesn’t mean the pair have locked the race down, as the last frontrunner who went on to win the Tory leadership was Ted Heath in 1965.
Johnson’s allies, we report, are doing what they can to get out in front, with efforts being made to court Cabinet ministers like Amber Rudd. If they can convince the Energy Secretary, who repeatedly insulted Johnson during the ITV referendum debate, then that would show how much of a unifier he could be. They are also increasingly confident that George Osborne, who ruled himself out of the running in an interview with the Times, will swing behind them in exchange for staying on as Chancellor or agreeing to be Foreign Secretary. Nick Boles has given Johnson the Cameroon blessing by formally endorsing his bid, while Jo Johnson has declared his support, thus avoiding any echoes of Labour’s fratricidal Miliband antics. The fiercest critic to have emerged so far is Jamie Oliver, who said if Johnson became Prime Minister: “I’m done. I’m out“.
May is shaping up to be a formidable challenger, with one senior source saying she has an “unbelievably good chance” and MPs describing her as the “stop Boris candidate”.Gavin Williams, David Cameron’s parliamentary aide, is also understood to have joined her camp. Meanwhile, Work and Pensions secretary Stephen Crabb is discussing running on a joint ticket separately with both Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, and Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, in a bid to represent the 2010 intake. “The next Tory leader has to be able to keep the Labour Party pushed to the fringes of politics, with a style of Conservatism that combines economic credibility with a modern social liberalism to dominate the centre ground of political debate,” says William Hague in today’s paper.
The faster timetable will mean the Government cannot delay too long before triggering formal Brexit talks, and will give the leader time to call a general election for November in order to win a mandate from the British people. So in that light today’s Telegraph piece by Jeremy Hunt, who could be tempted to chuck his hat in the ring, is well worth reading. The Health Secretary touches on the hot Tory issue of Europe, suggesting that there should be a second vote on the terms of Britain’s exit “either in a referendum or through the Conservative manifesto at a fresh General Election.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s breakdown under Jeremy Corbyn continues apace, with the Labour leader forced to find replacements for two thirds of his shadow-cabinet. Angela Eagle, one of the “Jexiteers”, refused to rule out running against him, and – we report – is discussing launching a formal bid to win the Labour leadership with aides over the coming days. After a tempestuous PLP meeting last night, up to 150 MPs are expected to join together in an effort to oust their embattled party leader. But Corbyn has vowed to fight on, tweeting a message that basically amounted to “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough”, or in his words: “Those wanting to change the Labour Party leadership will have to take part in a democratic election”. Labour-leaning papers have weighed in, with the Daily Mirror telling him on their front page to “go now”, while the Morning Star sticks with him, lauding Dennis Skinner for sticking two fingers up at anti-Corbyn “traitors”. As Labour MPs fight to get Corbyn out, and top Tories vie for position, make sure to follow today’s events on our liveblog.
The earthquake caused by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union swiftly dislodged David Cameron, forcing him to announce he would step down, and is now in danger of bringing down another party leader – Jeremy Corbyn. Hilary Benn’s sacking kicked off what has now been termed “Project Jexit”, with eleven more members of the shadow cabinet leaving office in a series of staggered resignations and demands that Corbyn make way for a pro-EU candidate. More resignations are expected to follow today, with trade unions and activists still standing behind their man despite MPs rising up against him. Tom Watson has returned from Glastonbury and will hold crisis talks with Corbyn today, while the Labour leader will confront MPs tonight as they debate a motion of no confidence in him at what should be a very interesting PLP meeting. We’ll be charting everything that happens today on our liveblog.
As Labour suffers a paroxysm of mutiny, the Tories have a Government to keep steady and a Brexit to deliver. George Osborne sought to reassure the markets ahead of their opening this morning that Britain is “open for business”, but didn’t distance himself from any of the doom-laden predictions he made about Brexit during the campaign. The Chancellor insisted it will not be “plain sailing in the days ahead”, and suggested he would not bring in an “emergency” Budget packed with cuts and tax rises, but that this responsibility (and when to invoke Article 50 as part of the Brexit process) would fall to the next Prime Minister. He also indicated he would address his own role in the Conservative Party “in the coming days”, clarifying how long he will stay as Chancellor, and whether he would stand for the leadership. I’ve been talking to Tory MPs over the last few days, and found few rate his chances: “I’m not entirely sure there is time to do the repair job [for his reputation]” one former supporter told me.
Osborne has been offered a career lifeline by the Leave campaign, with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove reported to be keen for him to becomes Foreign Secretary or Chancellor in their “unity Government”. However it remains to be seen if this offer will be taken up, given how fiercely the Chancellor fought against Leavers and the idea of Brexit. Could he really negotiate something he argued vociferously against during the campaign? One other option open to him is to support a “stop Boris” candidate, most likely to be Theresa May. Justine Greening has suggested that Johnson and May should make a deal in order to bypass the need for a leadership contest, writing on ConHome: “Every day we spend on a leadership contest is a day that would be better spent getting on with making the most of Britain’s new future outside the EU.”
Johnson, like the Chancellor, has called for calm as the nation considers the task of negotiating Brexit. Writing in today’s Telegraph, he warns that the “negative consequences” of an EU exit are being “wildly overdone” by those who seek to overturn the result, and stresses that those campaigning for Leave wish to retain a free-trade relationship with the EU and remain part of the single market. But will Brussels be keen to help them? The Brexit vote seems to have left EU leaders feeling rather sore, with the Czech government calling for the removal of Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU President, for his failure to stop them voting Leave. The EU met for the first time without Britain yesterday, and Matt Holehouse suggests they’ll now treat Britain like Greece. Rancour may remain for a while, but one realization is dawning on Europe: leaving the EU could get rather popular.
With more than 3 million people having signed a petition for a repeat referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, and 100,000, bizarrely enough, calling on London to make a unilateral declaration of independence — and then to become dependent again as a city state member of the EU — the fog of war has now lifted to reveal a very ugly truth about the real battle lines in the recent campaign.
It was, at core, a division between those who are fundamentally committed to democracy (the Brexit camp), and those (the Remain camp) who either oppose democracy or at least feel unsure about whether and to what extent it should be respected as a first order political priority.
We at The Commentator have been pointing this out for years. It’s just that the Remain camp’s sheer lack of graciousness in defeat has opened up this reality for all to see.
Clearly, the petition is a signed confession of implacable hostility to democratic rule. Without exception, every single signatory is a bigot. But just look at how many of them there are.
We have Labour MP David Lammy, backed by tens of thousands on social media, calling for the result of the referendum to be ignored by parliament.