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This was too good to ignore!

What does 12 March Brexit vote date tell us?

Laura Kuenssberg, BBC political editor

It's true that playing for time is a powerful, if cynical, political strategy and the Labour Party - and lots of Conservatives too - are annoyed that Downing Street seems to be dragging its feet like this and won't give MPs a formal thumbs up or thumbs down vote for more than another fortnight.

The prime minister naming the next vote day might do a little to calm the tempers of those in government who have been very publicly suggesting that strategy is madness. 12 March is at least, for them, before the next EU summit.

It is not, as these things go, the final, final, moment. Reckless, many will suggest, but not a total kamikaze mission.

But it won't stop the senior MPs Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin, still pushing for a vote next week for their own bill that would force the government to delay Brexit if they don't have a deal in place by... guess when? 13 March. Oh look - the day AFTER Number 10's new deadline.

Here, the date of 12 March suggests that the government is, as one source suggested, "planning for every eventuality".

In other words - they think it's likely MPs might indeed vote this week to extend the process if a deal hasn't been done.

Read Laura's Blog.

Stephen McNair of Norfolk For Europe has devised Germany Plus.

Germany Plus is the same deal that Germany has but with some added benefits. It's an arrangement we might like to have.

It would solve the problem of the border on the island of Ireland and we would get the right to...

  • keep control our borders (stay out of the Schengen agreement on free movement)
  • send people from other countries home if they can't support themselves
  • stay out of the Euro
  • prevent Turkey joining the EU
  • stop the creation of a European army
  • vote on our own laws, and a court to make sure that British people and businesses are fairly treated
  • vote on how the government spends our money
  • for our businesses to buy and sell across Europe without customs checks and tariffs
  • have ample supplies of fresh food and medicines
  • have a 1/3 reduction in the fee we pay for all these things

Oh wait a minute, that's what we have already!

We're pleased to publish this comment received in response to the image posted on Caroline Collett's Facebook page...

No deal means…

  • we leave the single market - correct
  • we leave the customs union - correct
  • we take back our fishing waters - correct
  • no more EU immigration - incorrect
  • we regain our sovereignty - incorrect
  • we can trade with the whole world - correct

That's what I voted for - incorrect (although it might have been what you thought you were voting for)

The vote was to leave the European Union and that alone but it should be noted…

  • it is possible to leave the EU and still be in the single market (eg Norway, Iceland)
  • it is possible to leave the EU and still be in the customs union directly (eg Monaco) or through a bi-lateral agreement (eg Turkey)
  • you might have voted to take back our fishing waters but the truth is the fishing rights were allocated to UK companies but were then sold - an easy way to make money without having to go to sea.
  • we could always control unwanted EU migration, ejecting non-UK citizens who, after 3 months, could not demonstrate a means of supporting themselves. It's just the government chose to waive that right. And in any case Europeans will still come.
  • we were always sovereign. "Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU", Theresa May.
  • we could always trade with the whole world but if we leave we will have to negotiate new trade deals, which can take years. WTO "Most Favoured Nation" status sounds like an airline club card but it effectively means that you have to price match tariffs with your new partner to be the same as their most favoured nations.

If you voted for £350m for the NHS, the slogan, to "take back control" and a return to the glory days of war, Empire and global colonisation; then I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed.

Liam Fox was on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday (20th Jan) and said:

  • You've got a Leave population and a Remain parliament. [wrong, see 1]

  • Parliament has not got the right to hijack the Brexit process [wrong, see 2]...

  • because this parliament said to the people of this country [wrong, see 3]...

  • we will make a contract with you [wrong, see 4].

  • You will make the decision and we will honour it. [wrong, see 5].

Five errors in 48 words. Good going!



  1. All opinion polls report that this is now a remain population (see "The will of the people" and what UK thinks.)

  2. Parliament has every right to do what it thinks is best for the country. Specifically, "Members have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole" (see III.6 of The Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament)

  3. Some of the people of this country were excluded from voting in the referendum because they were living in Europe. Gerrymandering at its best!

  4. It was the last parliament - there's been an election since. If there were some sort of promise to "Deliver on [sic] Brexit" that would be a party political matter as laid out in the Con. party manifesto 2017. For what it's worth, this is from the Con. party manifesto 2015 "We say yes to a yes to a family of nation states, all part of a European Union" 

  5. The referendum was advisory (see Parliamentary Briefing Paper 07212). Any such offer was only on a party political basis.

On Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn only listens to the Leavers. Why?

Labour’s leader stands on the principle that members make party policy – and the majority of them are Remainers.

Corbyn is a walking and talking disaster. Just imagine how different things would be now if the increasingly impressive Yvette Cooper had beaten him to the Labour leadership.

Read the complete article by William Keegan in The Guardian.

Once again Ben Clay on Facebook asks a good question. In response to Grayling in the Mail, he ponders: who would the government rather upset: the Nazi chanting thugs or Disgruntled-from-Cheltenham?

The scenes outside parliament last week highlighted the difference between the protest styles of the two sides in the Brexit shambles. Upset the remainers and we suffer extra flag waving and stiff letters to The Times or upset the leavers and have aggression and violence on the streets. Is the government buttering us up to say we should leave the EU to stop the rise of the nationalists? Oh wait: leaving is already pandering to the nationalists...


Labour’s David Lammy on that no-deal Brexit rehearsal (in the end, only 89 trucks showed up):

There is no better representation of the sheer absurdity of Brexit than this. 150 lorries driving round a disused airport practising the popular British pastime of queuing, in preparation for an entirely self-inflicted national catastrophe.

David Lammy (@DavidLammy) 7th January 2019

"My view is that the deal proposed by the Prime Minister is far from perfect and the backstop is very challenging indeed."

James Heappey
21 Dec 2018


Note: for those of you who zoomed in on the photo to check: the fourth paragraph is the important one. It also states that Mr Heappey's correspondents write in the following, approximate percentages...

  • 40% - accept Theresa May's deal
  • 15% - crash out with no deal
  • 45% - have a rethink (new deal or second referendum)



Justine Greening argues that we are only months away from leaving the EU and Theresa May has still not allowed parliament a meaningful vote. She must give MPs their Brexit vote before Christmas - and postpone Christmas recess if necessary. MPs should be pressing for a People's Vote.

Read the complete article at

most of our problems are not caused by Brussels, but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills and a culture of easy gratification and under-investment.

The Daily Telegraph in May 2013

...we could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the renegotiation is completed.

House of Commons,  24 Oct 2011.

As for whether this [Theresa May's Brexit] deal is better than remaining, I have to admit it's a pretty finely balanced question.

on BBC 5th December 2018

This just in...

"Three Wheels on My Wagon" performed by The New Christy Singers comes to mind. One by one, the wheels of the leavers' wagon are falling off but still they're  still rollin' along led by chief cowgirl, rootin' tootin' Terry-Mae.

Prosperity This week we hear that under all Bexit scenarios the UK will be worse off - from the Treasury itself! And the Bank of England produced a scenario in which the economy would go into recession after Brexit with house prices falling by 30%. So the Brexit party can't say that Brexit will make the country better off. There goes the prosperity argument 

What about the other wheels on the wagon?

Taking back control. Having declared during the referendum campaign that by leaving Europe we would once again be a sovereign nation, it turns out that BoJo said it we have a transition period we would - for the first time since 1066 - have to accept laws from another nation. Whoops there goes the sovereignty argument.

Migration? Well, 76% of net immigration, since 1990, has been from countries outside the EU over which we already had  control. In 2013/14, EU migrants paid £14.7 billion in taxes but only claimed £2.6 billion in benefits.Also note that until recently, EU migrants made up 5% of the population but 10% of the NHS. Go figure on EU contribution to our workforce! By the way, under EU regulations, any EU immigrant seeking work in the UK can be asked to leave if they haven't found work within 3 months. It's just a policy the government doesn't enforce.

EU Civil Service - it's less than half the size of Birmingham City Council and yet serves 500million EU citizens. And don't get started on the unelected, un-dismissable commissioners. They are  appointed by the European Council (the heads of the EU states) and can be dismissed either individually or collectively. And just for comparison: how does the electorate appoint or dismiss a UK civil servant? Whoops, there goes another wheel!

Security. Still no answer from my MP about how Brexit will increase national security and all indications are that it will get worse.

Let us know about any other wheels you think are keeping the wagon rollin' along and we'll see if the Cherokee can explain why they are just about to fall off.

Just over a week ago Dominic Raab was in charge of negotiating May's Brexit deal. This morning on #r4today he conceded it is worse than our continued EU membership. If MPs are allowed to change their minds, the public must be given the same opportunity.

Last week I saw a brand new Maserati Quattroporte advertised online for a mere £10k. I immediately contacted the seller to advise I wanted to buy the car and I would come over to his house in a week with the money to complete the sale.

Upon arrival I found that he was actually selling a 15 year old clapped out Astra with no wheels and no doors. Oh and the price was actually £15k.

Naturally I went ahead with the sale because I'd already told the guy I was going to buy the car and it would be absolutely absurd to change my mind at that point.

See also
 - Going to the Cinema
 - Going on a Picnic
 - Choosing a Pub

What’s the point of May trying to sell her Brexit plan to the people? The public can’t vote for/against it.

Is she suggesting that if we like her plan we should write to our MPs and they will vote accordingly? It won’t work! I’ve been in communication with James Heappey, my MP and he is simply following the result of the referendum in his constituency.

She’s panicking!

A good point! Ed.


See also
 - Choosing a Pub
 - Going to the Cinema
- Buying a Car

Will Jo Johnson's exit shift Brexit balance?

For some time, Jo Johnson has struggled with the unfolding reality of Brexit.

A well-respected and liked member of the government, he has decided that what was promised to people during the referendum campaign is now so different to what is on the table that he has decided to quit the government instead.

He's not the first, nor the best-known minister to resign over Brexit. But to leave at this moment, right when Theresa May is trying to stitch together a final deal, could have a serious impact.

And there are several other ministers of a similar rank, who hold very similar views. Not long ago, one of them said, "for me, it could be an issue of party or country".

Jo Johnson's departure could only take away one crucial vote from the government. But it might, just might, be the first of a group of ministers to go who could shift the balance in a very big way.

Laura Kuenssberg


Brexit Secretaries together...

  • "Theresa May will probably lose a Commons vote on her Brexit deal", former Brexit Secretary David Davis.
  • "I hadn't quite understood the full extent of ... the Dover-Calais crossing", Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab**

So it seems the former Brexit Secretary thinks the deal is doomed and the current Brexit Secretary doesn't even understand what's involved.


**Full, incoherent quote: "We are, and I hadn't quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing"

There was a shorter gap between our last two general elections than between the Brexit vote and now. I didn't hear anyone call the second general election anti democratic. I did see hundreds of thousands of people change their minds.

Brigid Jones


I refer to one topic, missing from recent debate. You raised the issue of Gibraltar a while ago* but it seems to have gone quiet. Does anyone know what is happening?

With thanks for the website



*see Spain wants Gibraltar back Ed.

The Frank Bough or a Frank Bough? I don't mind. He makes a good point...

Dear Sir

Whilst I understand why there could be entirely reasonable arguments to support a second  referendum I wonder whether both "remainers" and "brexiteers" could vote against any agreement that the Government reaches with the EU. If this was the case then there would be agreement about what was not wanted but it would  be difficult to determine whether there was agreement about what was wanted.

To avoid this situation then the question on the ballot paper would be either complex or it would have to be phrased in such a way as not to prejudice either "remainers" or "brexiteers"

It is for this reason that I do not support the concept of a second referendum.

- - -

Thank you Brian, you have hit the nail on the head! It seems apparent that the referendum suffered the same problem: there were so many reasons for leaving (immigration, "control", £350m, etc) but only one reason for remaining. See Choosing a New Pub. Ed.

After the fantasies of a cash harvest for the NHS and an early general election giving the government a mandate for negotiating Brexit, it is the remainers who have to ask themselves whether they, in their turn, are not falling for another Brexit illusion – this time in the shape of a second referendum.

Martin Kettle writes in The Guardian

This from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it....

Yet again I see so called personalities such as Lineker wanting a 2nd referendum whilst those of us who voted out are denied our vote. The reference to £350 million for the NHS is fake news as at no time did that appear [my emphasis] but the slogan lets fund our NHS instead as been misreported deliberately rather like the Labour party saying the NHS was Labour when in fact it was designed by a Conservative MP Frank Willink after being blueprinted by a Liberal MP who had the plan from the 1890's.

Fake news and lies from the losers.

To which we respond: yea, right...

More information on The Independent

Third Referendum

Two quick points...

  1. The leavers argue that a second referendum would be a betrayal of democracy.The 2016 referendum was the second referendum (the first in 1975 was 67% in favour of the EU) By campaigning for a THIRD referendum we would remind people of that.
  2. I may have this fact slightly wrong but I believe that the Tory party manifesto prior to the 2016 referendum stated that we would remain in the customs union, so it is hard to argue that leave voters were voting to leave the custome union

Tony writes an angry and hasty email...

I am 52 years old and have lived in the uk all my life. I now at present cant afford to live in the uk anymore. The NHS has no commond sence. the traffic is crazy all day in the south east. and the cost of living is insane. I am seeking a new life in spain where I can be stress free from the idiosy of this country. what a shame this country has declined so much

All we can say is good luck in Spain: you'll probably need it with the language, funding the lifestyle and firstly, acquiring the resident's visa.

The Electoral Commission’s findings mean it’s beyond doubt that
there is no proper mandate to leave the EU

Well, fancy that Sherlock!

We now know the Electoral Commission believes that Vote Leave, the “official” leave campaign, broke the law. This comes in the wake of its conclusion that Arron Banks’s Leave EU broke the law. But what does this actually mean – for the referendum and our democracy? Read on in The Guardian

A World Cup is a chance for us to argue about a country’s identity. For many of us – and not just those who backed remain – the young, multicultural team on the pitch is a far better reflection of England than the Brexit-supporting politicians cheering from the sidelines.

Read the full article in The Guardian

Brexit has had many moments billed as crunch. Almost invariably, a fudge has been found and the whole slow-motion car crash has rolled merrily on. This one, though, feels a bit more unavoidable as a deeply divided cabinet retires to Chequers with all members trying to rescue the car by grabbing the steering wheel...

Read the full article in the most excellent Guardian.

This wonderful comment from Napping May scores own goal in face of Belgium Brexit striker by John Crace in The Guardian on Thursday (27th June).

It was a slow-motion apocalypse as the prime minister dribbled incoherently at EU summit. Not even catching a glimpse of Iain Duncan Smith in the Daily Mail cleverly comparing British business to Nazi collaborators – irony meters went off the scale – could spoil Theresa May’s morning. Flying to Brussels was the prime minister’s very own “me time”. A time when she could put her feet up and no one or nothing could get to her for an hour or so... 

full article

It’s parliamentary ping pong time – and the prime minister may be outplayed.

Theresa May won all 15 Commons votes on Lords amendments to the EU withdrawal bill last week, including the most dangerous one: whether MPs can shape government policy if parliament rejects the government’s final Brexit deal.

But it came at a cost: she increasingly appears hostage to both sides of a bitterly divided Conservative party.

The knife-edge “meaningful vote” vote (as it were) was won only after May promised Tory rebels to agree a mutually acceptable wording for “part c” of former attorney general Dominic Grieve’s amendment, which proposed allowing MPs to “direct the government” if no deal is reached by February.

Grieve and his supporters believed they had the prime minister’s word – but then the government tabled an amendment in the Lords that would only let MPs debate whatever statement on the deal the government eventually makes, not change it.

Understandably, Grieve called this “unacceptable”, and as the bill headed back to the Lords (where peers backed a new amendment, “Grieve II”, based on the accord rebels thought they had last week) and then to the Commons again this week, noted that pro-EU Tory rebels were aware their opposition could ultimately collapse the government.

An extract from the very excellent Guardian

In the Observer, Will Hutton argues that as their cause crumbles, Brexiters are turning to fantasy and bitter recriminations – and it’s time for Labour to step up:

As a policy, Brexit is beginning to look like the poll tax: attractive as a rightwing pet project but disastrous in practice. Then, the Tory party still had enough political nous to rescue itself, even at the cost of losing its prime minister. Now, as Boris Johnson acknowledges and David Davis’s threatened resignation symbolised, it is at war with itself and the realists are trying to rescue a third-best solution against those in Brexit La-La land. Theresa May’s impossible mission is to reconcile Jacob Rees-Mogg and Nigel Farage’s red lines on sovereignty, freedom of movement and leaving every EU institution and trade policy, with an economy that requires the opposite. It would be hard enough with a united cabinet and years of negotiating time; within the two years allowed by the article 50 process and Brexit millenarian narcissists it cannot be done. Occasionally in politics there is the opportunity to do the right thing and secure massive party advantage. If Jeremy Corbyn were to declare that the Labour party wanted to stay in the EU – crucially, only politically sellable with new and aggressive initiatives to identify, control and manage the numbers of immigrants – he would transform his and his party’s standing.

The Guardian reports that...

A grassroots group of Jeremy Corbyn supporters and trade unions is to launch a major UK speaking tour, billed as the leftwing campaign to remain in the EU.

The Left Against Brexit tour will attempt to persuade Corbyn and his allies of the leftwing case for a pro-EU position and will argue that the party can reap electoral benefits from a shift.

Well blow me down Sherlock! How long did it take a major party to realise that the simple expedient of standing firmly against Brexit would be a real election winner. It's a shame the Liberal Democrats went down the route of the second referendum on the deal struck rather than complete opposition. But if the Labour Party can declare it will cancel Brexit, its ratings will soar.

Why, oh why this firm opposition to the insanity of Brexit didn't manifest itself before the snap general election, I don't know. If May's madness proceeds to its insane conclusion we'll be out of Europe before the next chance for the country to express a firm democratic opinion. Still we can always hope that the Irish problems of the border and abortion will contrive to detach the DUP from the government benches and allow a vote of no confidence in the Tories.

Jonathan Freedland, writing in the Guardian, said we should resist the urge to feel sorry for the prime minister.

The temptation to feel sorry for May should be resisted. For May is not a passive victim in this story. If she’s shackled, it’s in chains that she forged herself …. No one forced May to deliver yet another speech, rather than issue a British set of trade guidelines, just as nothing prevented her writing a UK version of the draft withdrawal agreement put out by Brussels on Wednesday. Nothing, that is, except the difficulty of getting her own cabinet to agree on a common position.

It is as though I have three elderly and extremely nervous aunts of whom I am very fond. I decide to give them a treat and ask them to discuss what they would like to do. They have a discussion and arrive at a democratic solution, which is that they would like to go to the cinema tomorrow. I look in the local paper and discover that the only films on offer are "Reservoir Dogs" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". What am I going to say to my highly nervous - indeed, squeamish - but much-loved aunts: "You must stick with your democratic decision"? Or do I say, "Now you know what's on offer, what do you think?"

Lord Lisvane, 30th January 2018


See also
 - Going on a picnic
 - Choosing a Pub
- Buying a Car

If the tories can't agree on what our future with the EU will look like, please explain to me why they insist that people knew exactly what they were voting for???

Hang on UKIP, you had a vote to elect Henry Bolton. The people have spoken.

You cannot change your mind!

May’s Brexit pledges have turned to ashes. Was she deluded or dishonest?

There was no plan behind the promises she made at Lancaster House a year ago – yet the prime minister still triggered article 50. Now we deserve some realism.

Hugo argues fully in the most excellent Guardian.

On the Friday morning, after Brexit was announced; the Welsh suddenly work up to the fact that their economically depressed principality would lose billions in EU subsidies.

That is another 3 million to switch sides and vote Remain.

There is much talk about the 5 million Scots voting to remain.

There is much talk about the 1.5 million Northern Irish voting to remain.

Even if you added these two figures together, you would not equal the 8.8 million Londoners who voted to remain.

When are we going to have London Independence ?

Two million Londoners signed a petition for just that !!

Why should Londoners loose jobs because the country bumpkins are all racists ?

Brexit is breaking this country apart.

If we come out of Europe, I will never vote again, and I might move to Scotland !!

£350 per day to the NHS was not the only lie. The UK controls our borders as we did not sign the Schengen Agreement. We also control our laws. I sat on European councils. All proposals have to be voted for yes, no, and veto. Some proposals are actually from the British ! Even a yes vote, has to be consulted within the industry, then to the CBI and TUC. Only then does it go to the House of Commons (where the public have a say to their MP) and the House of Lords, before Royal Assent with HM The Queen. So all of the Leave Campaign was based on lies. And racist ones at that. If we come out the EU, it won't stop them making decisions that affect the UK, it will just be the UK can no longer influence those decisions. I don't want to lose my EU passport and pay £200 per visa per country ! This is madness. Tell the public the truth !!


What about giving the 700,000 British citizens living in Europe the right to vote next time? After all it does affect them or is that not democratic?