Labour Divisions Surface Over Referendum Strategy: Brexit Update

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Theresa May defends her deal in Parliament after a government study showed that all Brexit outcomes will leave the economy worse off.

Key Developments

May Confirms Plan for Brexit Motion (7:08 p.m.)

The Government confirmed its plan for the Parliamentary debate in which lawmakers will be able to approve or reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal. The so-called Program Motion which details the arrangements says up to six amendments will be voted on, chosen by Speaker of the House John Bercow. The government intends to allocate five 8-hour sessions to debate the motion: Dec. 4-6 and 10-11, with votes taking place on the final day. These sort of details are normally agreed beforehand with the main opposition party.

Labour Divisions Surface Over Referendum Strategy: Brexit Update

Labour Divisions Surface Over Referendum Plan (4:35 p.m.)

Under the radar, there’s an argument going on in the Labour Party about Brexit strategy. In a BBC interview, Treasury spokesman John McDonnell more or less stuck to the party line that if May can’t get her deal through, Labour’s preferred option would be a general election. If that’s not possible, Labour will press for a second referendum. He added that, given Labour’s not going to get the election, this would “inevitably” happen.
But this isn’t what leader Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman said later. He told journalists that trying to get an election isn’t a one-off moment for Labour and if it doesn’t succeed at first, the party could keep trying. A referendum, he suggested, would be just one of many options on the table.


Anger at Plan to Publish ‘Legal Position’ Monday (2:20 p.m.)

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay announced the government will publish its "legal position" on the withdrawal agreement on Monday, sparking immediate anger among lawmakers who voted for the government’s legal advice to be published in full.

Theresa May said earlier that the full advice must remain confidential after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn asked her if she is planning to “ignore the sovereign will of Parliament."

There was a taste of the battle that will erupt on Monday when Nigel Dodds, whose DUP party May needs for a majority in parliament, said "we expect the government to respond in full to the will of the house."


Treasury Committee Chair Criticizes Study (1:22 p.m.)

Nicky Morgan, a Conservative who chairs the Treasury Committee, said the analysis doesn’t deliver what Parliament needs and what her panel had asked for.

She told the Commons she had been "very clear" with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond that the analysis should consider the economic and fiscal impact of implementing the exit deal and the future trade partnership.

"It is clear sadly that is not what has been published today," Morgan said. "It may be the case that it is not possible to model those agreements and the future framework. But that should then be explained to this House in respect for this House."

Hammond will be called to give evidence to Morgan’s committee next week.


May Says Second Referendum Would Delay Exit (12:40 p.m.)

May warned members of Parliament that a second referendum would mean asking the EU to extend the negotiating period, and therefore delaying exit day.

May went into more detail than ever before about the prospect of another plebiscite. Her usual answer is that it would be a betrayal of democracy and she won’t allow it.

“It wouldn’t be possible to hold a referendum before March 29 next year. That would mean extending Article 50, delaying Brexit or leaving with no deal,” she said. “I believe the best option for this country is to ensure we deliver on the Brexit vote, we leave the European union next March, we don’t delay that point and we leave with a good deal that will protect jobs across the country.”

A group of politicians from across the House of Commons is pushing for another plebiscite, and they are likely to use a vote on May’s Brexit deal to try to make it happen.


Labour Could Push For Second Brexit Vote (8:47 a.m.)

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has for the first time backed the idea of a second Brexit referendum with the option to remain in the European Union on the ballot paper.

Speaking at a Guardian Live event, he said that a second vote on Brexit “might be an option we seize upon.” McDonnell said in September that Labour was “respecting the referendum” and that a second vote should only be on May’s deal.

Labour says its preferred option is a general election should Parliament reject May’s plan next month.

Why the Government Won’t Publish the Legal Advice (8:05 a.m.)

Hammond justified why the government won’t publish the full legal advice that Attorney General Geoffrey Cox gave to cabinet ministers on the deal.

It will release a "reasoned legal position statement" on the divorce deal, but publishing the raw legal advice would undermine age-old parliamentary processes.

"It’s a fundamental part of government that cabinet has to be able to receive confidential advice,” he told LBC, adding that future cabinets would be reluctant to take such advice on other issues if they thought it could later become public.

Brexiteers are pushing for the whole thing to be published, in the hope it will strengthen their case that the deal is flawed.

Splitting the Analysis (8 a.m.)

The government is publishing its analysis the same day as the Bank of England releases its report on the impact of Brexit.

Hammond said the the Bank of England’s analysis focuses on the short-term impact of Brexit, while the government’s looks at long-term.

Hammond Dodges Question on What if Deal Rejected (7:30 a.m.)

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond didn’t answer the question when asked by the BBC if he would resign if May’s deal doesn’t get approved by Parliament. If it’s voted down, the country will be in uncharted territory, he said.

"We are in an unknown world and we’ll have to decide how to proceed,” he said. It would be up to the Cabinet and he would join the Cabinet meeting immediately after the vote to decide how to proceed.

Hammond Says Staying in is Best For Economy (7:16 a.m.)

Hammond says staying in the European Union is the best outcome for the economy, but the economy isn’t the only consideration.

May’s deal provides the best economic outcome while delivering on the referendum result, he told the BBC.

Of the options available that take Britain out of the bloc, "the deal the prime minister has negotiated is the best one for the British economy," he said.

Earlier:

Theresa May Could Face 200-Vote Defeat on Brexit Deal: The Sun
U.K. GDP to Be 7.6% Lower Under No-Deal Brexit: Telegraph
May Is Said to Give Lawmakers More Sway Over Brexit Process
Brexit Bulletin: Backing Down

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