“Our vote is not for sale.”
This was the response that met Theresa May’s so-called ‘Brexit Bribe’ of £1.6m to Labour MPs from Leave-backing areas; a sum that has been promised by the British prime minister to help boost economic growth in Brexit-supporting run-down towns.
Details of the “Stronger Towns Fund” appeared in newspapers last month and is seen by many as a direct effort from the PM to win support for her Brexit deal from opposition lawmakers who represent areas that had not shared fairly in the country’s prosperity.
But the promise of new jobs and a much-needed cash injection into the heart of these towns has not succeeded in swaying Labour MPs, with the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell calling the fund “Brexit bribery”.
As we get dangerously close to March 29th – the date we were supposed to leave the EU – Theresa May has been warned her Brexit deal will not get through Parliament next week leading to “chaos” for the following two weeks. Now, the foreign secretary has revealed that May is weighing up the possibility of a free vote as to whether to keep a no-deal Brexit on the table – despite criticism that sit would expose her as too weak to impose a collective policy on such a critical issue.
This news comes as attorney general Geoffrey Cox and Brexit secretary Stephen Barclay head back to Brussels in attempt to secure legally binding change to backstop arrangements designed to keep the Irish border open. If Cox can get some kind of concession, Tory Brexiteers have indicated that they may back the prime minister’s deal next week.
But a spokesperson for Ms May has declined to discuss reports that Mr Cox has in fact dropped attempts to secure a time limit for a backstop, telling reporters: We are now at a particularly critical stage in these negotiations. I’m not going to get into specifics.” The spokesperson stated the UK was definitely making process in its discussions with the European Commission but added that: “There definitely remains more work to be done.”
With the possibility of a no deal scenario still looming, automotive giants Toyota and BMW have both warned of the impact that leaving without a deal could have on the production of their cars in the UK. According to the head of Toyota’s European operations Johan van Zyl, crashing out without a deal could put future investment at its UK factory near Derby at risk. If the “hurdles” are too high, he says, it could undermine the car maker’s competitiveness. Separately, BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer said it could consider slamming the brakes on UK production of their Mini if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
As the prospect of our departure from the EU becomes ever more real and uncertainty still prevails, one in ten shoppers have started stockpiling – but will their cupboards of canned foods come in handy this coming April?
Speaking at Treasury questions, Mr Hammond told the Commons:
“In the what I now think unlikely event of a no-deal exit, the Government has both fiscal and monetary tools available to it to support the economy, but of course the likely shock would be on the supply side of the economy and we would have to be careful in fiscal interventions that were made that they didn’t merely stimulate inflation.
“So ,if we were to find ourselves in that situation, we have the firepower and we have the clear intent to intervene to support the economy.”
The Chancellor will reveal his “vision for Britain’s future” during his Spring Statement on March 13, which will take place in the same week that the Commons is expected to vote on Theresa May’s deal, no deal and extending the Article 50 process.