Chancellor’s comments show May’s cabinet in chaos

Responding to the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s comments this morning that the UK will be poorer if MPs back Theresa May’s deal, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

 

“For the second time in a week the Chancellor has openly admitted that the UK will suffer economically because of Theresa May’s deal. He first stated that the UK will have less money and now he is saying that we will also be poorer and suffer job losses.

 

“Yet, we are expecting the PM to stand up this afternoon and say this deal is in the best interests of the country. The Government cannot get support for this deal in parliament, that is why they must take this decision back to the people with a final say and the option to remain in the EU. The public want this mess out of the hands of this chaotic cabinet.”

* Tahir Maher is the Wednesday editor and a member of the LDV editorial team

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8 Comments

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  • John Marriott 28th Nov '18 - 1:33pm

    Of course we would be worse off economically with any deal but staying in the EU. However, for some, that is a price worth paying for ‘taking back control’. Assuming that the May deal is rejected in Parliament, one should not necessarily assume going straight to a so called ‘Peoples’ vote’, which, rather than settle the argument once and for all, would quite possibly widen the wounds that the 2016 referendum inflicted on the nation.

    Before we go down the referendum route, as someone who could not envisage voting leave; but who recognises that full membership of the EU in its present form will always remain an anathema for a significant number of my fellow citizens, I could live with the Norway+/EFTA option (always assuming that its current members would let us join). I get a strong feeling that such an arrangement might suit the vast majority of moderate/ pragmatic Remainers and Leavers, with only the past rabid supporters of either side being incapable of compromise.

  • paul barker 28th Nov '18 - 1:51pm

    Mays strategy of going over MPs heads to speak to the Voters seems to be working so far, opinion has shifted in her favour & Remain voices are being drowned out. Corbyn now has a stronger argument for Labour to abstain on the 11th.

  • Spencer Hagard 28th Nov '18 - 3:41pm

    @John Marriott
    The 2016 referendum surely channeled the wounds that had long been inflicted on the nations and communities of the UK by over 30 years of widening inequalities – health & social, educational, housing, geographic, economic, industrial, environmental, political agency, etc., rather than actually inflicting them. The outcome of the referendum per se therefore could not and still cannot provide a solution.

    Two and a half years of debate about the reasons for the result of the Referendum has at least drawn much wider attention to the scale of the challenge of reducing these huge and still growing inequalities. I do not think this would have happened to such an extent and so quickly if Remain had won. However, the theories, research, articles, books, and arguments to date have yet to create more than than an embryo of a consensus about the radical measures that are increasingly urgently required.

    I think that’s to a large extent because the Government’s botched negotiation process – and the responses to it – have occupied almost all the political space since June 2016. Persisting with any form of Brexit would mean continuing to suck the oxygen out of politics by continuing with more of the same wrangling for years to come. And all in the context of a smaller post-Brexit economy to put at the disposal of the ever growing social investment required.

    Political leadership is clearly needed about the connectedness of the issues – and the nature of the radical policies required. A People’s Vote campaign would be a good way, and currently the only potential way, to put this fully before the electorate, almost at once, and in the correct context, i.e. of continuing EU Membership or not. If Brexit is accepted now without a People’s Vote, the next national-level opportunity for political action is not scheduled until June 2022!

    Finally, I presume that your characterisation of “rabid” supporters of the UK staying in the EU would have to include most of the 100,000 members of the Liberal Democrats, who by definition are signed up to the values and commitments contained in the Preamble to the Party’s constitution. I have to disagree!

  • John Marriott 28th Nov '18 - 4:06pm

    @Spencer Haggard
    I’m afraid you are trying to score political points when what we need is some form of consensus/compromise/common sense. I was a member of the Lib Dems for around thirty years and, before that, a member of the Liberal Party and briefly also the SDP. During that time there were aspects of all those parties with which I disagreed; but, on balance, what they stood for was something with which I could identify rather than Labour or Tory.

    There are, of course, people on both sides of the EU argument who are far more gung-ho than pragmatists like me, who can see merits in both cases. I always thought that was a fairly ‘liberal’ stance. Perhaps I was wrong.

    It might still end up with another referendum. However, knowing the kind of forces that would once again be unleashed, is that really what you want? What if the result were 52/48% for Remain on a reduced turnout? What will that solve? No, it’s better, in my opinion, to exhaust all options short of ‘No deal’ before we try to find out again what ‘the will of the people’ actually is.

    It would be interesting to find out how many Lib Dem members actually would support either the May deal or even the Government’s possible plan B, which, if the deal fails to gain parliamentary support, the so called Norway Plus.

  • @John Marriott

    I do appreciate your point. I think there are several things. The first is that Europe will not go away as an issue in the next 20 years whatever happens. I think it almost inevitable that some point within the next 20 years, we will have another referendum on the EU. As you know from previous posts I don’t see robust, rambunctious debate as a problem – indeed the complete opposite.

    I think you can put it the other way around. If Brexit wins then Brexit wins. If Remain wins then by not having a vote we are denying the democratic will of the people. Whoever wins as we saw with the first referendum in the ’70s, there will be continued campaigning by the other side to change it.

    As of today, I think it is relatively difficult to see us get to a single market (Norway plus type option) without a People’s Vote and if are having a vote you have to include the Remain option. There are 100 “harder Brexit” Tories that don’t want Norway. I think most of the rest of the Conservative party won’t vote for it – because they have to keep their Leave voters defecting to UKIP. There are 16 Brexiteer Labour MPs who won’t vote for it. I am not sure the Labour frontbench will support it without cover of a Referendum – they want to keep their Remain voters but not lose too many Brexit supporters.

    There are I guess 3 outcomes as of today. May’s deal passes. May’s deal doesn’t pass and Tories and Labour mainly (and others) come together for a “softer” Brexit. This will be portrayed as a “sell out” by UKIP, the ERG etc. And I am not sure that MPs could get to a “Norway plus” option. Or we have a people’s vote.

    I think one of the advantages of a referendum is that it could be a Preferendum or a two-part vote with people being asked what sort of Brexit they want if the main vote was “out” just as they were asked whether they wanted tax raising powers for the Scottish Parliament if it was agreed. As too many people have interpreted (to their own ends) what the people meant by “out”.

  • If we don’t leave the EU we’ll need to be able to better support those who felt they had such a weak hand in life that leaving the EU couldn’t make their hardship any greater and could potentially provide them with more opportunities. A lot of talk about how remaining is a better option and not enough talk (not enough real talk; there is often a patronising voice, accusation of racism or talk about how it could make England stronger) about how we’ll go on to better support those people. Also worth remembering that the EU we voted to leave is not the same EU that we would now be deciding against leaving. It’s probable that a UK influence has waned since we started all this Brexit talk and therefore every decision made in past 2 years has been a half-way house to “all the rule, none of the say” that Leavers dislike about May’s deal.

  • Sue Sutherland 29th Nov '18 - 12:40pm

    Spencer Hagard and DJ. I think you are both correct about the reasons why many people voted Leave and that if we leave that will make the poorest in our society even poorer. We as a party must be clear that alongside our opposition to Brexit we wish to improve the lot of those who live at or below the poverty line. Many of the benefits of EU membership are not open or relevant to them so if we want to win the Brexit argument we have to show that we have listened to them.

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