Is David Davis set to resign? That is “a question for the Prime Minister”, he said yesterday. His friend Iain Dale tweeted “the political sands are about to shift” and Robert Peston wouldn’t bet anything valuable on Davis choosing to stay put. But he does regularly threaten to quit the cabinet.
The Brexit Secretary is furious about the government’s handling of Brexit (er, isn’t that his job?), according to Express correspondent Sarah O’Grady, his chief of staff’s wife. More specifically, Davis is siding with Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Brexiteer group in opposing the backstop idea, to which Theresa May has publicly committed. The crux of the problem is that they want the backstop to be time-limited, but no deadline was included in the four-page draft proposal.
The Labour Party, meanwhile, is still arguing over the EEA. Should Labour MPs have been whipped to vote for it? Has the party missed an opportunity to defeat the government? How many on the opposition benches are going to defy the whip on Tuesday? Staffers are trying to do the parliamentary arithmetic ahead of the upcoming super Brexit Tuesday. Pro-EEA Remainers are optimistic about their numbers, and insist the EEA amendment could have passed had the PLP not been whipped to abstain.
But the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush insists (on a daily basis) that there aren’t enough Tory rebels to outweigh the Caroline Flints of the PLP, and the Guardian’s Jessica Elgot reports that “dozens” including shadow ministers were prepared to rebel had they been whipped to support the EEA amendment.
Writing for LabourList today, Labour Campaign for the Single Market co-chair Alison McGovern sets out the argument for going further than Keir Starmer’s internal market amendment. McGovern will vote for it “but we should not pretend that, alone it is a panacea for the challenge of Brexit”, she writes. “We’re either in the single market or we’re not, and the ‘strategic ambiguity’ that was a feature of last year’s general election risks morphing into drift where we should be leading the debate.”
Voicing the concerns of those MPs who are too worried about ignoring the will of their Leave-voting constituents to back single market membership, Labour Leave uses a LabourList piece to argue that staying in the EU’ single market would “backfire both economy and politically” and particularly go against the principal aim of the labour movement – “to represent and empower working-class voters”.
Finally, on a matter of equal if not greater importance, it would be remiss of me not to inform you that Lucy Powell has confirmed her status as Chief Whip for Love Island-viewing Labour MPs. If you’re out of the loop, that’s the preposterous and highly problematic reality TV show that has Westminster hooked. Our columnist Shelly Asquith is keen on junior doctor Alex, who was spotted protesting against Jeremy Hunt. I’ll ask Luke Akehurst for his hot take later.