Another day, another Brexit live blog: welcome.
Here’s the morning briefing to run you through the key developments and what we expect to happen today (as far as anyone can predict this stuff any more). Do come and chat in the comments below or find me on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.
David Cameron leaves Europe
Not for ever – yet. After his one-day trip to the two-day Brussels summit, David Cameron is back in London today so the 27 EU leaders can spare his blushes and discuss Brexit openly without having to pretend he’s not in the room.
The prime minister rounded off a working dinner with his soon-to-be-former European colleagues on Tuesday night with a press conference in which he revealed he had told them that immigration must be addressed:
I think [British] people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying, but there was a very great concern about the movement of people and immigration, and I think that is coupled with a concern about the issues of sovereignty and the absence of control there has been.
I think we need to think about that, Europe needs to think about that and I think that is going to be one of the major tests for the next prime minister.
Regrets, he’s had a few:
It’s a sad night for me – I didn’t want to be in this position. I wanted Britain to stay in a reformed European Union … I fought very hard for what I believed in. I didn’t stand back. I threw myself in head, heart and soul to keep Britain in the European Union and I didn’t succeed.
And how are the other leaders taking the breakup? Not so well, as it happens. Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said Britain couldn’t simply switch its Facebook status to “it’s complicated” – it’s “marriage or divorce, but not something in between”.
The divorce settlement mustn’t be allowed to drag on and on and on, EU leaders said. The European council president, Donald Tusk, said they all wanted the plan “to be specified as soon as possible”.
If only someone had mentioned before that we needed a plan, or indeed someone prepared to come up with one. George Osborne said on Tuesday that job fell to … somebody else:
It was not the responsibility of those who wanted to remain in the EU to explain what plan we would follow if we voted to quit the EU.
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is adamant there will be no cherry-picking of the best bits of Europe (and she doesn’t just mean the cheese, the wine, the salami …):
There must be, and there will be, a palpable difference between those countries who want to be members of the European family and those who don’t … If you wish to have free access to the single market then you have to accept the fundamental European rights as well as obligations that come from it. This is as true for Great Britain as for anybody else.
On Cameron’s decision not to trigger article 50 – which sets the clock ticking on a two-year deadline to exit – until his successor is in place, and with some voices wondering if it will ever be triggered, Merkel said:
We did not discuss the possibility that the UK will not invoke article 50, and I consider this an impossibility.
Leaders reiterated the view that the UK couldn’t start the process with informal chats or with one eye on a potential EU-turn. Merkel told reporters:
I see no possibility to reverse this. We would do well to accept this reality.
… as Nicola Sturgeon flies in
Scotland’s first minister drops in on Brussels today. Sturgeon won’t meet Tusk, whose spokesman said “he feels it is not appropriate” at this point, but a spokeswoman for Jean-Claude Juncker said the European commission president would hold talks with her this afternoon.
Sturgeon will also have a meeting with the European parliament president, Martin Schulz, and other officials on how Scotland – which voted to remain – might be able to salvage a relationship with the EU. She’s likely to find some sympathetic ears, if the standing ovation given to SNP MEP Alyn Smith yesterday is any indication of Europe’s enduring fondness for at least part of the UK.
MSPs on Tuesday voted to give Sturgeon a mandate for discussions with the EU, as she told them:
Everything must be on the table to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.
Conservative leadership nominations open
It’s mere days since Cameron announced he’d be off and now the whispers and the toyings and the “seriously considerings” are going to have to actually turn into names on paper. Or perhaps via email or a WhatsApp group. I’m not sure of the rules on that one.
What we do know is that the new leader/PM will be in place by 9 September, the timetable pushed back a week because hey, what’s the rush? Candidates need only two MPs to back them to get on the list so it could be a crowded one, topped by Boris Johnson and Theresa May, but also finding room for Stephen Crabb (teaming up with Sajid Javid on a “dream ticket”; please come forward and identify yourself if you have had this dream), and potentially Nicky Morgan, Liam Fox and Jeremy Hunt. Andrea Leadsom might have a pop, say some.
Crabb announces his bid in a Telegraph column today on “the government I intend to lead”; while the environment secretary, Liz Truss, says she is backing Johnson as leader (and Michael Gove and Nick Boles, though it’s not clear as what).
The Guardian also reports today that Johnson is attempting to win the backing of Amber Rudd, the energy secretary and pro-remain campaigner, who memorably mocked him during a referendum debate by saying:
He isn’t the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening!
Still, a week and an enormous constitutional rupture is a long time in politics.
So then what? Nominations close at midday tomorrow. Then we’re treated to twice-weekly votes until the list is ground down to a final two, before party members have their say.
Jeremy Corbyn v Labour MPs
Just 40 Labour MPs backed the Labour leader in Tuesday’s confidence vote – and one of them, Liz McInnes, resigned last night as shadow local government minister after the overwhelming majority of her colleagues (172 of them) voted against him.
And so we ask again: what happens next? As with Brexit, some urge speed and decisiveness, while others want to take their time, think it over, maybe cross their fingers that it didn’t really happen.
Jeremy Corbyn, at any rate, knows what he’s doing: exactly what he was doing before.
I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.
The no-confidence vote, thumping as it was, doesn’t oblige him to step aside. Instead Labour MPs need to decide whether and when to launch a leadership contest, and who the anyone-but-Corbyn candidate would be. Angela Eagle and Tom Watson remain the likely runners.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll conducted for the party revealed that 27% of people who voted for Labour at the last general election said they were less likely to do so again following the referendum campaign, with 11% saying they were more likely to do so.
You should also know:
Audacious claim of the day
The SNP in Westminster is reportedly set to demand that it be recognised as Her Majesty’s Opposition now that Angus Robertson technically commands the support of 14 more MPs than the Labour leader, following his no-confidence vote. The SNP’s shadow leader of the house, Pete Wishart, says the party has “shadows in every department and ministry”.
(Erskine May sets out parliamentary practice. Constitutional experts: expect to be in demand today. In fact, maybe set aside a few months.)
- Nominations for the Conservative party leadership (with a job as prime minister thrown in) open this morning.
- At noon, it’s one of the strangest PMQs we’re likely to see as a prime minister who has resigned takes questions from a leader of the opposition whose main opposition comes from the people sitting behind him.
- The European council summit continues without David Cameron.
- Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz and others about Scotland’s future with the EU.
- Gordon Brown is due to make a post-Brexit speech in Edinburgh.
- At 3.15pm MPs will hear evidence on xenophobia and racism following the EU referendum.
Richard Dawkins, writing in Prospect, says there ought to be a second referendum – and there’s only one politician who can make it happen:
If Brexit really is the will of the people, a second referendum will confirm it … What possible prime minister would have the courage, the chutzpah, to call a second referendum? Certainly not Damaged Goods Cameron. Not any ‘safe pair of hands ship-steadier’ from either party. It would have to be a leading Brexiteer. Only such a one could carry the country with him, and get away with such a bold decision. I can think of only one British politician with the sheer bottle, the idiosyncratic contrariness, the endearingly impudent bloody cheek, to get away with it. Boris Johnson, of course …
Johnson is probably the only British politician who is in a position to remove the poison from the chalice, and who has the ability to do so. And the way he could do it is by calling a second referendum.
Isabel Hardman in the Spectator offers a rundown of the latest Tory leadership jostling:
The Conservatives decided to move back the date by which their leader must be confirmed to 9 September, which will come as a relief to those Tories who were grumbling about being hauled back from the Mediterranean a week early. The consensus in the party is that the two frontrunners in the leadership contest are Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Both have significant operations around them. May has supporters in the whips’ office, while Boris has Lynton Crosby signed up to advise him, and Michael Gove working on his behalf to charm MPs from across the party …
Some Tories claim that there is resentment building against Boris from members who feel that he wasn’t really sincerely in favour of Brexit, but has caused a colossal mess, though his supporters point out that the Uxbridge MP at least put his heart and soul into the Leave campaign, whereas the home secretary practically went into hiding after declaring for Remain.
In the New Statesman, Michael Chessum writes in defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s referendum campaign – and leadership:
The only argument that could have stopped Brexit was that austerity and neo-liberalism caused the housing crisis, falling wages and stretched public services – not Romanians and Bulgarians …
Corbyn’s main mistake was not to take tighter control of Labour’s campaign from the outset – although, of course, had he done so he would have been roundly denounced. Like so many quandaries of the Corbyn leadership, the referendum campaign was characterised by a need for footwork and firefighting within the parliamentary Labour party rather than a strategic focus on winning the vote. The Labour right created an impossible situation and are now attempting to exploit the aftermath. If it wasn’t so desperate and irresponsible, it could be described as shrewd.
And do please read this by Marina Hyde on Nigel Farage at the European parliament yesterday: “There is soft power, and then there is politics as erectile dysfunction.”
Celebrity endorsement of the day
Rupert Murdoch thinks the Brexit vote was “wonderful”, likening it to a “prison break … we’re out”. There was also a warning of sorts for the man who chiselled the bricks out of the cell wall:
Murdoch’s UK newspapers had both outcomes covered, of course, with the Sun urging a vote for leave, and the Times backing remain. Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has already expressed “buyer’s remorse” over his out vote.
The day in a tweet
If today were a Beatles song …
It would be Hello Goodbye. I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello. You say why and I say I don’t know.
And another thing
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