Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Labour youth tell Corbyn: come off the fence on Brexit

Much has been made of the need for Jeremy Corbyn to listen to pro-Brexit voters in Labour’s northern heartlands. Among the activists was Ryan Simms, 26, who works in procurement for the NHS in Leeds and has been a Labour supporter for six years – but only joined the party after Corbyn became leader. “Corbyn wants an election, but it’ll be one where we have the choice between a Tory Brexit deal and some magical unicorn Brexit deal promised by Labour,” Roberts said. She usually supports Labour, but next time she’ll vote Green unless Corbyn backs a people’s vote. More young activists were out demonstrating in areas including Bristol, Leicester, Warwick, York and Edinburgh. “He can enable a Tory Brexit or back a public vote. The large majority of Labour members want a public vote, with 88% saying they would vote to stay in the EU if there was a public vote.” Imagine the proportion of young Labour members who want to stay – 90, 95%? Of the 1.6 million young people who have joined the electorate since 2016, who say they are certain to vote in a future EU referendum, 87% would vote to stay in the EU. “We beat the expectations of the establishment in 2017 because they didn’t pick up my generation’s appetite and enthusiasm for change. But that was when a better Brexit deal was possible, and two years before exit day.

UK warehouse space nears capacity as firms stockpile for Brexit

Three-quarters of UK warehouse owners say their space is full to capacity and storage costs have soared by up to 25% in the past three months after a surge in Brexit-related inquiries. A survey of UKWA members from across the country last month found 85% had received Brexit-related inquiries. Businesses have been seeking storage for goods ranging from food ingredients to cat food, packaging materials and finished consumer products in an effort to ensure stocks do not run low in the event of no deal or any deal with the EU that slowed up the free flow of goods. “We have seen more unsolicited inquiries from people out of the blue looking for space. He said Horizon had been asked about storing a wide variety of goods including carpet tiles, telecoms equipment and food. The Food Storage and Distribution Federation (FSDF), which represents 350 warehouse owners and 75% of all commercially available frozen and chilled food warehouses in the country, said its members were turning customers away. Tesco has rented frozen food containers outside its largest stores for the rest of this year. Earlier this month Amazon wrote to UK-based traders who sell on its platform to suggest they consider sending stock to its continental European warehouse to prevent any export delays. Companies ranging from the carmaker Bentley to pharmaceutical firms such as GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi, the folding bike maker Brompton and Premier Foods – which makes Bisto, Sharwood’s and Mr Kipling – have all announced plans for stockpiling. One warehousing expert told the Guardian that major pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco and car firms had put plans in place early as their products were both expensive and long-lasting, meaning any storage costs incurred could be more easily absorbed.

‘No solutions’ to Irish backstop in May’s Brexit call with cabinet

Theresa May is expected to reject calls to forge a cross-party consensus on Brexit when she lays out her plan B to parliament on Monday, choosing instead to back new diplomatic efforts in Brussels to renegotiate the Irish backstop. The prime minister held a conference call with her bitterly divided cabinet from the country retreat of Chequers on Sunday evening. Several senior Conservative MPs have suggested they could form a breakaway party if May opted to support a customs union – one of Labour’s central demands, which is also backed by Tory supporters of a Norway-style soft Brexit. Demonstrating the divide in public opinion, the next most popular option, supported by 24% of the public, is to start the process of holding a second referendum. Earlier on Sunday, Liam Fox said it was “the overwhelming view” among party colleagues that the prime minister’s deal was salvageable if she could get change on the backstop. “Now given that we’re in that same place that should be the area that we need to look to find some compromise.” However, a Downing Street source said the plan was “not one we recognise”. The Irish foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said: “I can assure you that the Irish government’s commitment to the entire withdrawal agreement is absolute, including the backstop to ensure, no matter what, an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the Good Friday agreement, are protected.” “The solidarity in the EU is complete there, as Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker made clear: they are waiting to see what Theresa May’s plan B is,” an Irish government source added. He said: “We have to negotiate and also agree a withdrawal agreement with Britain. “When parliament can’t pass laws, not just on Brexit but on other matters, and the government cannot govern through that, then that’s normally when you have a general election,” he told the BBC. NHS plans alternative transport routes to avoid no-deal medicine shortage Read more Tory chair Brandon Lewis emailed all Conservative members on Sunday asking for donations with the subject line “Corbyn wants an election,” though he later insisted the party was preparing for local elections in May.

Labour would lose voters with ‘stop Brexit’ policy, poll suggests

A leaked poll commissioned by the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign suggests that voters would be less likely to back Labour if the party was committed to stopping Brexit. Twenty-five per cent said it would make them more likely to back Labour, with the rest saying they did not know. The polling also showed the party would lose around the same number of Labour voters as it would gain from the Conservatives. Just 9% of Conservative voters would switch to Labour in those circumstances, but 11% of current Labour voters said it would make them less likely to vote for the party. Corbyn could face string of resignations if he backs 'people's vote' Read more Jeremy Corbyn has made efforts to underline the delicacy of the party’s electoral position in recent days, including at a speech in Wakefield, where he said it must bridge the Brexit divide in order to address nationwide problems of inequality. A Best for Britain spokesman said the polling also showed that the vast majority of Labour voters would not desert the party if it committed to cancelling Brexit. The campaign group also said Labour would see a dividend from Lib Dem and Green voters. Of the Lib Dem voters polled, 39% would be more likely to back Labour and 40% of Green voters. “The poll shows that Conservative voters aren’t there just yet, but we are confident our campaign will get them there.” The cross-party campaign is separate from the People’s Vote campaign, though many MPs support both. The organisation, which was originally associated with the campaigner Gina Miller, who is no longer involved, has received about £800,000 from the philanthropist George Soros and has been involved in a series of eye-catching stunts, including installing a “big red button” outside the Labour conference urging MPs to stop Brexit.

Expert breaks down how California fits into global politics

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — From Brexit, to the conflict in Syria and disputes with Russia, a geopolitical expert shared his perspective on California's role in global affairs with a Sacramento audience on Wednesday. Political scientist Ian Bremmer was featured in the Sacramento Speaker Series. He’s a frequent guest on just about every cable news channel. KCRA 3 Kellie DeMarco is the host for the series and sat down with Bremmer to get his take on how California fits into the geopolitical picture in 2019 and beyond. Bremmer said while the global economy and the U.S. economy, along with the plunging unemployment rate, is good news, he’s concerned with America’s deteriorating relations with its allies and the failings of nations' governments. “You look over the next few years and say, ‘Wait a second, how can that work?’ Then look inside the U.S., U.K. and Europe and see how many people think the system is rigged against them, that it's not legitimate, their government doesn't work for them, it's fundamentally broken. As a consequence, they're voting for antiestablishment characters. It’s not getting fixed,” he explained. Another key point is that, although Bremmer believes China will eventually become the largest economy in the world, their smaller military and dependence on oil and agriculture will prevent them from toppling the U.S. as the world’s premier superpower. See the full interview with Bremmer in the video above.

British politics is falling apart – the Tories are to blame, but Labour is...

It is the deep unseriousness with which this historically serious issue is being treated by many of the protagonists that illuminates most the irresponsibility of it all. Three years later much of the British political class still seems to have no idea. The wreckers in the Conservative Party are willing to destroy everything in their path – British institutions, diplomacy, their country’s international reputation, the compact between generations – in pursuit of an ideological project with an uncertain outcome. His latest wheeze – refusing to talk to Theresa May until she rules out a no-deal Brexit – ignores the fact that she needs help to achieve that. With Corbyn it didn’t have to test very hard. We need to pay attention to the state of our politics and public debate. Our political and media debate needs to hear all points of view (as Peadar Toibin exhorted in an Irish Times podcast). We need to debate and discuss our national interest – something both Paschal Donohoe and Micheál Martin did in impressive speeches this week. How can we help the British? Ireland should be a persuader for EU concessions that do not damage our national interest.

‘Aren’t you going insane?’: readers’ questions from beyond Brexitland

I’m seriously confused (Danni, US) Brexit is the process of the UK leaving the EU, which it narrowly voted in favour of in a referendum in June 2016. The process is governed by article 50 of the EU’s Treaty of Lisbon and is happening in two stages: first, the two sides negotiate their divorce deal (the “withdrawal agreement”), and after this they will sort out their future trading relationship. In theory, the post-Brexit trading arrangements between the EU and the UK will avoid a “hard” border, but they could take years to negotiate so the EU has insisted on a “backstop” guaranteeing the absence of a hard border until those arrangements are in place. The backstop leaves the whole of the UK in a customs union with the EU “unless and until” the EU agrees it can leave. Brexiters do not like this at all. This now looks quite likely, but it may only last for a few months because a new European parliament is sworn in in July and EU rules require all member states to be represented – a problem if the UK is still a member. Why does Jeremy Corbyn think he can negotiate a different or better deal with the EU than Theresa May? Other than that, hardly any of the 68 trade deals from which the UK benefits as an EU member, and which it said it would have replicated by the time of departure, are near, and none will be ready by 29 March, according to the FT. Brexiters talk about “trading on WTO terms” as if it is what the world does, but it does not: it may trade under WTO rules, but all 164 members of the WTO have also agreed bilateral or regional trade deals that allow them to trade on much better terms than the WTO baselines. No sensible nation would leave the world’s largest single market, the EU, to trade with it on WTO terms, as would happen in the event of no deal. (Remo Casale, New Zealand; Georg Beck, Germany) In order: By the British government softening its red lines to allow it to arrive at a form of Brexit that is acceptable to both the EU27 and the UK parliament – something it should have done a long time ago – or, possibly, by holding a second referendum.

In A Chaotic Week For U.K. Politics, What’s Next For Brexit?

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan went down to an historic defeat in Parliament on Tuesday. Members of Parliament belonging to May's Conservative Party feared that if they voted down her government, it would trigger a general election and open the door to Jeremy Corbyn and his opposition Labour Party taking control of the government. If she can find consensus, she could go back to Brussels and ask for concessions, one of which would likely focus on resolution of a major sticking point in Brexit negotiations — the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Although May insists she won't, she could try to let the clock wind down toward the March 29 deadline to leave the European Union and use the threat of a no-deal Brexit — a prospect most Britons dread because of the economic disruption it would likely cause — to force Parliament to pass a version of her plan. But that would enrage hard-line Brexiteers in her own party and would require support from other parties in Parliament. In short, the prime minister has no good options — only bad and worse. The EU is not happy that Britain's prime minister can't get the Brexit deal — on which both the EU and U.K. agreed — through her own Parliament. Still, Brussels does not want a no-deal Brexit because it would hurt EU economies. The EU and May's government have agreed to what they call temporary arrangements to avoid a "hard" border, at least until the two sides can reach a final agreement. What is the possibility of a second referendum?

What are the alternatives to May’s rejected Brexit deal?

Likely support in Commons: little more than the 202 seen on Tuesday if May secures no real changes. Quick guide Brexit and backstops: an explainer A backstop is required to ensure there is no hard border in Ireland if a comprehensive free trade deal cannot be signed before the end of 2020. As a result, the EU insists on having its own backstop - the backstop to the backstop - which would mean Northern Ireland would remain in the single market and customs union in the absence of a free trade deal, prompting fierce objections from Conservative hard Brexiters and the DUP, which props up her government. Under the plan the UK would have to join Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland in the European Free Trade Association (Efta), which would then allow it to participate in the European Economic Area (EEA). The ‘plus’ in this option refers to a temporary customs union with the EU, which would need to be negotiated to avoid a hard border ion the island of Ireland. The temporary arrangement would remain in place until the EU and UK agreed a specific trade deal. Labour, the main proponent of the idea, says it would help businesses with supply chains and solve the Irish border issue. May argues that it goes against the referendum result as it would preclude the UK signing its own trade deals. Likely support in Commons: most of Labour’s 256 MPs would back this in a whipped vote. What is a customs union and why does it matter?

More than 170 business leaders join call for second Brexit referendum

More than 170 business leaders, including Terence Conran and Norman Foster, have thrown their weight behind the campaign for a second referendum on Brexit. In a step designed to indicate growing support for a “people’s vote” after Theresa May suffered the heaviest parliamentary defeat in the modern era over her Brexit plan, the letter due to be published in the Times on Thursday asks both main party leaders in Westminster to support a second referendum. The architect Sir David Chipperfield and the noble laureate and research scientist Paul Nurse were also among new names on the list of supporters. The figures from business, together representing more than £100bn in annual contributions to the UK economy, warned that a bad Brexit deal or Britain leaving without any deal at all could damage the economy. While admitting that many business leaders had initially backed May’s deal, even though they believed it was far from perfect, the group stated that the priority after the prime minister’s defeat in parliament was to stop a “chaotic crash-out from the EU”. With the clock now ticking rapidly before we are due to quit, politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies. The prime minister has said she will speak to senior MPs to find a compromise deal, while Corbyn is pushing for a general election. The warning comes after the CBI lobby group suggested that the UK resembles a “supertanker heading for the rocks” after the dismissal of May’s Brexit plan, saying the country would not be saved unless factions in the Conservative party drop their “red lines” for a deal. It also comes after Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, said the financial markets were indicating that a delay to Britain’s exit from the EU could be possible after the prime minister’s crushing defeat. The pound bounced back against the dollar on Tuesday night amid optimism that article 50 would be prolonged and that the prospect of a disorderly severance from Brussels had receded.
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