Brexit Weekly: 5 Things

There’s no rationing of fudge for Brexit

Labour held their annual conference this week in which they produced widely-commended Brexit fudge. After a painfully long-time condensing Brexit motions from Constituency Labour Parties around the country, delegates finally agreed to debate on whether Labour, in the absence of a general election this autumn, should keep all options on the table with regards to their Brexit position, including a People’s Vote. In short, the party decided that it will not commit to a Brexit position. There was further tension in the Labour leadership, with Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer saying that Labour believed in a second referendum with an option to Remain, while Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that a second referendum should only ask whether the UK should Leave the EU with the agreed deal or no deal at all. Although this has satisfied very few, it remained ambiguous enough to be difficult to argue against. Perfect fudge.

Dig, for victory

The Government has appointed a minister to oversee the protection of food supplies. The former Asda and PepsiCo executive David Rutley MP will focus on ensuring that there is a smooth-operating and sustainable supply of food across the UK, as the prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit increases. Welcomed by food industry experts, and announced just a month after a wave of press reported a rise in domestic stockpiling, Mr Rutley will be tasked with navigating trade barriers and delays at borders to ensure food reaches the shelves of Britain’s supermarkets.

At a time when some residents are already stockpiling, and other are reverting to home-grown food in a Dig for Victory style approach to survival, food industry businesses welcomed the move. One business said that the “issue at the ports is a big threat” and that “If the ports don’t work then exporters will be struggling and importer will have a challenge too”. Whilst the UK grows 50 per cent of the food it uses domestically, a third comes from Europe, and the Americas represent just 8 per cent of imports.

Corbyn shares his fudge for Barnier

Jeremy Corbyn left Labour Conference this week declaring that the party was fit and ready to govern, and went to Brussels with Shadow Brexit Secretary Kier Starmer to set out Labour’s vision of Brexit to the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier. Corbyn asserted that his party was not meeting to negotiate because Labour “is not in government, it is the opposition.” Further, Barnier apparently gave no opinion of Labour’s position, but said he was “continuing to listen to all views.” After gaining a bit of interest amongst the press, it’s been largely dismissed as inconsequential and, like most things regarding Brexit, a bit confusing.

Fiscal Phil breaks with convention

Chancellor Philip Hammond has confirmed that the Autumn Budget, setting out the Government’s spending, as well as the UK’s economic performance and forecasts for the next year, will be on 29th October. With the announcement coming less than eight weeks before the date of the Budget, Hammond has broken with parliamentary convention. Fiscal Phil has attempted to justify this by referring to Brexit as an outstanding event that required special treatment. The Chancellor is famed for his commitment to a balanced book and the Conservative election pledge not to increase taxes, but the pressure stemming from a pound devalued by Brexit coupled with increased pressure from government departments and the public more broadly to end austerity seems impossible and unwise to ignore. We await with bated breath.

Boris offers up his fudge

Boris Johnson has published his long-awaited alternative plan to Brexit ahead of Tory Conference, in good timing to facilitate his attempts to upstage Prime Minister Theresa May at the annual gathering. His 4,000-word long plan, published by the Daily Telegraph, condemned the “collective failure of government” for its “appalling and inexplicable delay” in setting out a Brexit vision. He urged Theresa May to abandon the Chequers plan, saying it is based on a “lack of conviction” and “basic nervousness.” The effectiveness of this battle cry will, as ever, be determined by numbers. All eyes will be on who and how many Conservatives snub May’s speech for Boris’s at Conference, as challenges to her leadership rumble in the instability of Brexit.