- Total of 461 MPs voted in favour of starting Brexit by end of March, 89 against
- Government wins clear majority of 372 but rebellion was higher than expected
- Ken Clarke was the only Tory to oppose Brexit, along with 23 Labour MPs
- Commons vote was on Theresa May revealing Brexit plans before triggering Article 50 by end of March 2017
- But PM missed tonight’s vote because she was in the Middle East on business
Tim Sculthorpe, Mailonline Deputy Political Editor
Matt Dathan, Mailonline Political Correspondent
Brexiteers hailed a ‘historic moment’ tonight after the Government won an overwhelming majority to start the process of leaving the EU by the end of March.
A total of 461 MPs backed a motion in favour of Theresa May’s timetable for Brexit, while a similar number of MPs backed a move requiring the Government to publish its Brexit plan before it triggers Article 50 – the formal process for leaving the EU.
But remarkably, 89 MPs voted to block Brexit tonight, despite June’s referendum delivering a record 17.4million votes in favour of quitting the EU.
The rebellion against Brexit was marginally higher than expected but the result delivered a major boost to the Prime Minister and represented the first ever Commons majority in favour of leaving the EU.
It came after a heated debate on Brexit in the Commons chamber that lasted more than six hours.
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Nearly 90 MPs voted to block Brexit tonight in the first ever Commons motion calling for the EU divorce process to start by the spring
Speaker John Bercow announced the result of the vote at 7.15pm tonight, with 461 voting in favour of the Government’s plan to trigger Article 50 by the end of March and 89 voting against – a majority of 372
Ken Clarke, pictured during today’s debate, mocked the Prime Minister: ‘We will be told the ”plan” is for a ”red, white and blue Brexit”… we need a white paper.’
Remain rebels vowed to vote against starting the Brexit process, with the Tory grandee Ken Clarke leading the resistance against the referendum result in a high profile Commons debate.
He was the only Conservative MP to vote against the motion, joining 23 Labour MPs, five Lib Dems, 51 SNP MPs and 10 others in trying to block the Government’s plan to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
The former Chancellor mocked Theresa May’s ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ slogan and said ministers had no idea what they were doing.
A string of Labour MPs stood up to say they would vote against the majority tonight, insisting they would not give the Government a ‘blank cheque’ on Brexit.
MPs were warned they would be attempting to ‘thwart’ the will of the people if they refused to endorse Mrs May’s plans tonight.
The run-up to the debate on a Labour opposition motion was dominated by a major U-turn from Mrs May.
Mr Clarke, pictured left in the Commons today, gave the first signal of serious dissent, accusing ministers of having no idea how to go about delivering Brexit. Nicky Morgan, right, urged the Prime Minister to ‘inspire’ with a vision of Brexit would look like
The Prime Minister will now provide a ‘plan’ to MPs on her Brexit strategy – but in return has demanded the Commons endorse her planned timetable of invoking Article 50 of the EU treaties to start Brexit before the end of March.
Mrs May missed the vote – which is not legally binding but has political weight – because she was in the Middle East on Government business.
Before the main debate began, Commons leader David Lidington – standing in for Theresa May at PMQs – warned rebels opposing the motion tonight would ‘thwart the outcome of the referendum in most undemocratic fashion’.
He told MPs the plan would include some detail on the ‘negotiating strategy and objectives’ of the Government.
THE 89 REMAIN REBELS WHO VOTED TO BLOCK BREXIT
Lib Dems (5):
Plaid Cymru (3)
Liz Saville Roberts
Labour MP Stella Creasy
Angus MacNeil John Mc Nally
Ann =e McLaughlin
Stuart Blair Donaldson
Grandee Mr Clarke gave the first signal of serious dissent, slamming a lack of ‘proper Cabinet government’ and warning: ‘Ministers have no idea what the strategy is anyway and disagree with each other.’
He mocked the Prime Minister telling MPs: ‘We will be told the ”plan” is for a ”red, white and blue Brexit”… we need a white paper.’
Mr Clarke slammed the ‘pathetic level of debate on both sides of the referendum’.
He said: ‘The public did vote by a majority to leave the European Union. They did not vote for anything on the subject of replacements for the European Union.’
Former Tory attorney general Dominic Grieve (left) accused Brexit hardliners of pursuing a ‘fantasy’ Brexit and ignoring the need to tackle the real issues while ex Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw (right) said he would not vote for the amended motion
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband slammed the Government for wrapping support for Brexit into ‘patriotism’
Arch-remainer Nicky Morgan, the former Tory education secretary, said she would vote for the amendment tonight but warned the Government it had to be open in its negotiations.
She said: ‘We need ministers from the Prime Minister downwards to inspire as well as engage on this issue and to be clear what 2019 and onwards will look like for this country.’
IDS: UK IS AT THE FRONT OF THE QUEUE ON US TRADE
Iain Duncan Smith has claimed five pieces of legislation are going through in the US to pave the way for a UK trade deal.
The former Conservative leader said the legislation was going through both the US Senate and House of Representatives, as he said they recognised Britain’s role as the ‘the great free trading nation of the world’.
Speaking in a debate on Brexit in the Commons, Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘I discovered the other day, in the House of Representatives there are now no less than five elements of legislation – three bills, I think, and two amendments to bills – going through both houses, the Senate as well, actually now paving the way for a free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.
‘So much for the existing president’s view that we’ll be at the back of the queue. It appears that the legislators in Congress see us wholly at the front of that queue.
Ex Labour cabinet minister Ben Bradshaw confirmed he would vote no tonight for fear of giving ministers a ‘blank cheque’ for delivering Brexit to an ‘artificial’ timetable.
Former Tory Attorney General accused Brexit hardliners of pursuing a ‘fantasy as Europe as a pariah’ and ignored the realities of what needs to happen next.
He slammed the ‘vitriolic abuse, polemic without substance and ignorance of the ABCs of the constitution’.
Labour’s Angela Smith, a member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, said she would not vote for the Government’s amendment given the lack of certainty over farming policy after Brexit.
‘I also believe that we need a proper timetable and sufficient time for Parliament to scrutinise these proposals, and to amend them if necessary,’ she said.
‘I will vote against the amendment on the table today, therefore, because there are no guarantees before us today, nothing that I have heard today gives me any sense or any confidence that the Government will not try to wriggle out of the commitment to put a plan before this House.’
SNP MP Angus MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) warned the Government would be leading a ‘cowardly Brexit’ if it failed to give answers.
He said: ‘No answers is not a black Brexit or a white Brexit. It’s not a red, white and blue Brexit.
‘No answers is a yellow Brexit. It’s a cowardly Brexit.’
Standing in at PMQs, David Davis (pictured today) said the entire Commons should get behind the Prime Minister tonight after Mrs May tabled an amendment to a Labour motion
Mr Davis said all MPs should back a Government amendment that promises a plan for quitting the EU in return for supporting starting talks before the end of March
Mr MacNeil said such an approach would show the Government has ‘absolutely no idea’ what it is trying to do.
Opening the debate for the Government, Mr Davis said: ‘Our amendment lays out an important challenge to opposition MPs who say they respect the result of the referendum but whose actions suggest they are looking for every opportunity to thwart and delay it.
‘We will see today if they are willing to back the Government in getting on with implementing the decision made by the people of the United Kingdom.’
In his speech, Mr Davis said it was ‘inevitable’ MPs would get a vote on the final Brexit deal – but said a rejection of it would not reverse Brexit.
But he warned ‘the most destructive thing’ to hopes of a good deal would be to promise a second national referendum on the deal.
As the Commons debate began, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer set out his demands for what Mrs May must provide in her plan for quitting the EU
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer began today’s debate with a vow to table amendments setting out ‘minimum requirements’ if the Government plan failed to live up to expectations and ‘end the circus of uncertainty’.
Sir Keir said there must be enough detail to build a ‘national consensus’ because the referendum was not a vote to erase the rights of the 48 per cent who backed Remain.
He said: ‘They have a right and an interest in these negotiations.’
And he warned: ‘There is no mandate for hard Brexit. There is no consensus for hard Brexit.’
Sir Keir warned the Government it must publish its outline for Brexit well ahead of any vote, to allow any amendments to be considered from both sides of the House.
But he was forced to insist Labour did not intend to delay the process beyond the end of March, amid pressure from a number of Tory MPs.
Commons leader David Lidington – standing in for Theresa May at PMQs – warned rebels opposing the motion tonight would ‘thwart the outcome of the referendum’
MPs will vote at 7pm following the conclusion of today’s debate
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband slammed the Government for wrapping support for Brexit into ‘patriotism’.
BREXIT HAS CUT SUPPORT FOR SCOTS INDEPENDENCE, GOVE CLAIMS
Support for Scottish independence and the SNP’s ‘secessionist sermonising’ has fallen since voters backed Brexit, Michael Gove has claimed.
The Conservative former Cabinet minister told the Commons the union has been strengthened by the Leave vote, with evidence showing it is now ‘more popular’.
Mr Gove made the remarks as MPs debated the Government’s plan for Brexit, with ministers under pressure to reveal more detail about their strategy.
A majority of Scots backed Remain in June’s referendum, with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she is looking at ways to keep the country in the European single market.
But Mr Gove claimed Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is now the most popular politician north of the border as she ‘wants to embrace’ the referendum result.
After detailing how concerns about the economy had not come to fruition following the Brexit vote, Mr Gove added: ‘It was also a legitimate concern of some of those who voted Remain that by voting to leave the European Union we’d do damage to the United Kingdom.
‘The truth is, of course, since we voted to leave the European Union support for a second independence referendum has fallen, support for Scottish independence has fallen, support for the Scottish National Party and its secessionist sermonising has fallen, and the single most popular politician is Ruth Davidson – the only leader of any party that wants to embrace the result.’
Pro-Brexit Mr Gove also said: ‘Two of the legitimate concerns expressed beforehand – our economy would be damaged and our union would be damaged – the evidence is actually our economy is stronger and the union is more popular.’
He said those who backed Remain had done so for patriotic reasons, insisting: ‘We are not seeking proper scrutiny because of a lack of patriotism.
‘We believe in the unity of this country.
‘We believe this country has got to be brought together.’
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said he would rather stay in the European Union than leave and remain in the customs union.
He said: ‘Why would the United Kingdom want to stay in a customs union, when one of the key elements that is important on making that important decision to leave the European Union is we get back the opportunity to make our own trade arrangements.
‘I’d rather we stayed in than stay in the customs union, because it seems completely pointless to me to actually embroil ourselves on the customs union, go through all this rigmarole of arguments and debates and rows, only to find at the end of the day there is no jewel in the crown at the end.’
Mr Duncan Smith also accused Labour members of not really wanting to leave the EU, but found themselves representing constituencies that voted to leave in June’s referendum.
Oliver Letwin warned against having more Commons votes than necessary for fear they could trigger legal challenges.
Last night, the Prime Minister conceded she would have to show some kind of plan before triggering Article 50 to start official Brexit talks to head off a possible Tory rebellion.
The unexpected development came against the backdrop of the continuing Supreme Court case on whether Mrs May needs to pass a law to trigger Article 50, the clause of the EU treaties containing the trading bloc’s divorce procedure.
Mrs May’s concession is despite previous statements she would not provide a ‘running commentary’ on her Brexit tactics in order to avoid ‘showing her hand’ to EU negotiators.
The result of tonight’s vote has no legal significance but is important politically as it commits the Government to giving more detail about their plans for Brexit.
It also exposes the power of Remain-supporting MPs to force concessions from No 10.
Theresa May, pictured today addressing the Gulf Cooperation Council, has confronted rebel Tory MPs head-on by announcing a surprise vote on her timetable for triggering Article 50 today
The Prime Minister will miss tonight’s vote as she is not due back from the Middle East in time – but her amendment is expected to carry with cross party support
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir said Labour will accept the Government’s amendment, meaning the revised motion will be easily passed by MPs at 7pm.
He hailed the ‘hugely significant climb down from the Government’ as a victory for Labour.
And writing in The Times, he said: ‘We will also push for a plan to be published by January 2017 so that the House of Commons, the devolved administrations, the Brexit select committee and the British people have a chance to scrutinise it.’
Mrs May herself will miss tonight’s vote as she will not be back from her visit to the Middle East.
The Liberal Democrats have vowed to oppose it and senior Labour MP Ben Bradshaw revealed unease within the opposition on endorsing Article 50 before a plan is published.
In return for a vote on Article 50, Mrs May has had to concede to publishing a plan for Brexit
The wording of the amendment, which calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 and start the Brexit process before the end of March, is significant as this statement could potentially aid the Government’s case at the Supreme Court.
Government lawyers are trying to overturn a High Court ruling that said Mrs May does not have the power to trigger official Brexit talks without Parliament’s consent.
While the new amendment will not be law, if passed it could be seen as an expression of the ‘will’ of Parliament.
Downing Street said this was not the intention of the amendment.
If the Supreme Court does demand legislation to trigger Article 50, an agreed Commons motion would be politically useful with it comes to a vote.
Labour’s motion says ‘there should be a full and transparent debate on the Government’s plan for leaving the EU.
It also calls on the Prime Minister to ensure this House is able properly to scrutinise that plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked’.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer is set to press a motion that ‘calls on the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked’
The motion, tabled by leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, was carefully drafted to maximise Conservative support and is certain to be backed by the SNP, Liberal Democrat and the vast majority of Labour MPs.
WHAT WERE MPS VOTING ON?
MPs voted on two motions in Labour’s Opposition Day debate on Brexit tonight.
Labour’s motion, tabled by leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, read: ‘That this House recognises that leaving the EU is the defining issue facing the UK;
‘Notes the resolution on parliamentary scrutiny of the UK leaving the EU agreed by the House on 12 October 2016;
‘Recognises that it is Parliament’s responsibility to properly scrutinise the Government while respecting the decision of the British people to leave the European Union;
‘Confirms that there should be no disclosure of material that could be reasonably judged to damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the European Union after Article 50 has been triggered;
‘And calls on the Prime Minister to commit to publishing the Government’s plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked.’
A total of 448 MPs voted in favour of this motion, with 75 against – a majority of 373.
The Government moved at the last minute to avoid a Tory rebellion by accepting the Labour motion but added a key condition that Article 50 must be triggered by the end of March.
Its amendment read: ‘Consistently with the principles agreed unanimously by this House on 12 October;
‘Expects that this House will respect the wishes of the UK as expressed in the referendum on 23 June;
‘And further calls on the Government to invoke Article 50 by 31 March 2017.’
A total of 461 MPs voted in favour of the Government’s timetable, with 89 voting against.
A Downing Street spokesman stressed the amendment was ‘a separate issue’ from the Government’s Supreme Court battle to overturn a ruling that it should obtain Parliament’s approval before triggering Article 50.
The spokesman added: ‘The Prime Minister has been clear that we will set out our plans in due course. That remains the position.
‘We won’t be showing our negotiating hand until we have to, but we have not suggested we will not set out the position. That’s what the amendment goes to.’
Welcoming the significant climb down from No 10, Mr Starmer said: ‘For the last two months Labour have been pushing the Government to put their plan for Brexit before Parliament and the public.
‘Without that plan, we have had unnecessary uncertainty, speculation and a running commentary on the Government’s likely approach.
‘The Government have now agreed to publish that plan, and to do so before Article 50 is invoked.’
He added: ‘Labour will hold the Government to account on this. We will also push for a plan to be published no later than January 2017 so that the House of Commons, the devolved administrations, the Brexit Select Committee and the British people have a chance to scrutinise it.’
Senior Tory MP and leading Eurosceptic Steve Baker urged all MPs to back the amendment.
He said: ‘Every MP should respect the result by voting with the Government for this excellent amendment to trigger Article 50 on the Prime Minister’s schedule.’
Ex-Tory minister Anna Soubry – who backed Remain in June – on Monday broke cover and said she could see nothing in the Labour motion she ‘could not support’ – raising fear pro-EU Tories could join forces with Labour to defeat Mrs May.
The Government retreated from a Commons battle over another motion in October, allowing a motion demanding ‘proper’ Parliamentary scrutiny to pass unopposed.
Remain campaigner Anna Soubry, pictured last week, said she could see little in the motion she could not support
The new motion goes significantly further and a first Commons defeat on the issue would have been acutely embarrassing and politically damaging for Mrs May.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake welcomed Mrs May’s concession of a plan.
He said: ‘Five months on, finally this Conservative Brexit government is admitting that triggering Article 50 without a plan would be like jumping out of a plane without a parachute.
‘Theresa May must now drop the platitudes and come up with clear answers on the big questions facing the country, including membership of the Single Market.
‘Anything less risks plunging our economy into years of damaging uncertainty while the government desperately tries to stitch up a deal behind closed doors.
‘Ultimately, the British people must also be given a say on the final deal negotiated so that they can decide whether it’s right for them.’
The Open Britain campaign today called for the Government to publish a full ‘green paper’ on the Brexit plan two months before Article 50 is triggered – meaning the end of January on the current timetable.
It has launched a campaign called ‘What’s the Plan’ to press its case.
A spokesman said: ‘We are asking a straightforward question of the Government – ”What’s the Plan?”
‘Voters deserve to know and deserve to hear directly from the Government, not through notes caught on camera or leaked memos.
‘This is far wider than negotiations with the EU. We want to know what is the Government’s plan for the UK.’
Mrs May, pictured on a visit to Bahrain today, had insisted she would not provide a ‘running commentary’ on her Brexit tactics in order to avoid giving EU negotiators an advantage by exposing the Government’s plans but was forced to change tack today
The result of tomorrow’s vote has no legal significance but is important politically as it commits the Government to giving more detail about their plans for Brexit and exposes the power of Remain-supporting MPs to force concessions from Theresa May, pictured today meeting the Prime Minister of Bahrain H.R.H Prince Khalifa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa during her two-day visit to Bahrain
Responding to No 10’s climb down on the vote, the pro-EU campaign said: ‘It’s very encouraging that the government has agreed to publish its Brexit plan.
‘But two more things are vital. First, the plan must be sufficiently detailed to answer the key concerns people have flagged about Brexit.
‘That’s why we’ve called for a Green Paper. Second, parliament and the people must have sufficient time to debate the plan rather than being bounced into approving it at the last minute.
‘That’s why our petition calls for Theresa May to produce the plan at least two months before she triggers Article 50.’
Mrs May is expected to be one of a number of senior ministers missing tonight’s vote, with Chancellor Philip Hammond and Trade Secretary Liam Fox also due to be away on business.
It is not unusual for senior ministers to miss votes on opposition day motions as they are not legally binding on the Government and rarely of great political significance.
NOW TORY MP GRANT SHAPPS CHANGES HIS MIND ABOUT BREXIT
Tory MP Grant Shapps has become the latest Remain campaigner to change his mind about Brexit.
The former Conservative party chairman said he is now ‘backing Brexit all the way, as hard as you like’ and is ‘bullish about the UK’s future’.
He follows Niall Ferguson, one of Britain’s most influential historians, in going public about how he was wrong about Brexit.
Mr Ferguson was one of the most vociferous supporters of Britain staying in the EU before the referendum but yesterday admitted he was wrong and admitted he – and the rest of the elite – had failed to listen to voters concerned about immigration.
Today Mr Shapps explained that he had decided to vote for Remain in the referendum because ‘divorce can be one of the most stressful things in life’ and said he backed staying in the EU to avoid the uncertainty it would cause business.
Writing in a blog post for the Brexit Central website, he said that since June’s Brexit vote his ‘natural caution has given way to a feeling of optimism’.
‘I’ve come up with a new hobby of spotting the Brexit dividends where some commentators can only see doom and gloom,’ he writes.
Public ‘will find legal wrangling odd’
By James Slack, Daily Mail Political Editor
The Supreme Court’s top judge yesterday said the public would find it ‘odd’ that a simple parliamentary vote in favour of Brexit was not enough to begin the process of leaving the EU.
In an apparent boost to the Government, Lord Neuberger said it could be argued that the authority to leave had been ‘ceded to the people’ by the referendum.
On the third day of Theresa May’s Supreme Court appeal, Britain’s 11 most senior judges debated the significance of Parliament passing a motion in support of triggering Article 50 – the formal EU exit process.
Last night, MPs voted 461 to 89 in favour of beginning the two-year process by the end of March. Before the result was known, Lord Neuberger said: ‘To the average person on the street it sounds a bit odd if one says to the Government, ‘You have to go back to Parliament and have an Act of Parliament passed to show what Parliament’s will is’, when you have already been to Parliament and had a motion before both houses which serves the notice. It does seem a bit odd, doesn’t it?’
The suggestion was dismissed by lawyers for the two lead claimants, investment manager Gina Miller and hairdresser Deir Dos Santos. They say Parliament must pass a legislative act on Brexit.
The pair won the explosive High Court case against the Government last month that set up what is considered the most important legal appeal in recent history.
A motion is a simple vote in the Commons, declaring that it is in favour of something. It is a one-off and usually symbolic
This is different to an Act of Parliament, which goes through full scrutiny and a series of votes before becoming law.
Dominic Chambers QC, for Mr Dos Santos, said of the idea that a second vote would be required by Parliament, in addition to last night’s motion: ‘It might seem strange to the man on the Clapham omnibus but not for lawyers.’ Lord Pannick QC, for Mrs Miller, said nothing would be altered ‘by a motion’.
He added: ‘Only an Act of Parliament could lawfully confer power on the appellant to notify. Why is that? Well, because notification will nullify statutory rights and nullify a statutory scheme. The law of the land is not altered by a motion in Parliament. This is a basic constitutional principle.
‘As the court knows a motion may be approved in the House of Commons today. Our submission is that a motion in Parliament can’t affect the legal issues in this case.’
He also said Brexit would ‘frustrate or render insensible’ a large number of UK laws, and this is a reason why Parliament must be involved. Scotland’s top legal officer said the Scottish Parliament’s consent was also needed before the UK triggers Brexit.
Lord Advocate James Wolffe said he was not arguing Holyrood had a veto, but that its consent was required because of the ‘significant changes’ Brexit would make to its powers.
The case will finish today. A final verdict is due in mid-January.
Whitehall insiders say that, if the Government loses, a one-line Bill will be published immediately asking Parliament to give authority for the Prime Minister to trigger Article 50.
Mrs Miller came into court flanked by bodyguards. Yesterday a man from Bath, 55, was arrested on suspicion of making racist threats against her.
Referendum is dismissed as just an opinion poll
By Jason Groves, Deputy Political Editor
Kenneth Clarke became the sole Tory MP to vote against the Government’s Brexit timetable last night – as he dismissed the referendum as an ‘opinion poll’.
The Tory former chancellor, who campaigned for years for Britain to join the euro, led opposition to the triggering of Brexit, saying ministers had ‘no idea’ what they were doing.
In an extraordinary swipe at Theresa May, he said even Tony Blair had held a Commons vote on the Iraq War rather than trying to bypass parliament by using powers of the royal prerogative.
Mr Clarke said it was time to ‘return to proper cabinet government’ – and MPs should be given a binding vote on the Government’s detailed plans before the Brexit process is triggered.
The Tory former chancellor, who campaigned for years for Britain to join the euro, led opposition to the triggering of Brexit, saying ministers had ‘no idea’ what they were doing
In clashes with veteran Eurosceptic Bill Cash, he dismissed the referendum’s importance, saying: ‘We must have respect for each other’s opinions, rather than telling each other that we have been ordered by an opinion poll to start abandoning them.’
Several other pro-Remain Tories also laid into the Government but stopped short of voting against plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March.
Former education secretary Nicky Morgan, who was sacked by Mrs May in July, urged the Prime Minister to be more open about her plans, saying it was ‘not good enough that these things are dragged out of the Government’ by Labour.
BOOST FOR LOW PAID OUTSIDE EUROPE
Cracking down on migration from the European Union after Brexit will increase wages for the low paid, a report found.
Experts said immigration restrictions under a so-called ‘hard’ Brexit would lead to a relatively modest rise in wages for those in low-skilled jobs.
If net EU migration was cut by 150,000 as a result of strict curbs, pay in sectors such as construction, retail, hospitality, food processing and agriculture could go up, according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
The think-tank said pay for UK nationals in low income jobs could rise cumulatively by 0.82 per cent by 2030 – a total of around £150.
But it warned the wage increases would be more than offset by damage to the economy caused by Brexit. The NIESR said the fall in migrant workers would see overall GDP per capita – the output of the country divided by the number of people – fall ‘significantly’ by 5.4 per cent. But the think-tank said the ‘extreme scenario’ might be needed so Prime Minister Theresa May could hit her 100,000-a-year net migration target.
Limiting free movement to the UK is at the top of No 10’s priorities for Brexit. Figures released this month showed a record 284,000 EU nationals entered the UK in the year ending in June. Total net migration – the difference between those arriving and leaving – was at a near record of 335,000.
NIESR research fellow Jonathan Portes and his co-author Giuseppe Forte admitted their figures for future migration were based on assumptions that ‘will, inevitably, prove to be inaccurate’.
A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘I’d just point to Jonathan Portes’ own words when he said there was a fair degree of doubt around their findings.’
Anna Soubry, also sacked by Mrs May as business minister, said voters had made a ‘terrible mistake’ in backing Brexit – but insisted she accepted the result and was ‘sick and tired’ of being criticised for continuing to make the case for staying in the EU customs union.
Mr Clarke was backed by a string of Remain supporters on the Labour benches, with several MPs saying they want a second referendum and would not support the Government’s timetable for triggering Article 50 by March next year. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was one of several Remainers demanding a full white paper on Brexit, despite warnings that it would ‘wreck’ the hopes of a good negotiation.
Mr Miliband, 72 per cent of whose constituents backed Brexit, bridled at suggestions from Downing Street this week that MPs trying to frustrate the process are not on ‘Team UK’.
He said Britain was facing ‘the most complex and treacherous situation our country has faced for a generation’.
‘We are not seeking proper scrutiny of the plans for Brexit because of our lack of patriotism,’ he added. ‘We are doing it out of patriotism, because we believe in the unity of the country.’
Former shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said she wanted a second referendum – and suggested Britons could not cope without mass immigration from the EU as they were not having enough babies.
She said: ‘Babies grow up to become taxpayers to fund public services. Who will be contributing to my pension and my care in 30 years’ time? The answer is immigrants and their children.’
Fellow Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire also said she would resist Article 50 ‘unstintingly’, saying people ‘did not vote to lose their jobs or dirty up our beaches and rivers by removing our protection from pollution and our protection for the air’.
Shadow Europe spokesman Jenny Chapman insisted the Government’s critics were ‘not Brexit deniers… they are people with genuine concerns’.
Former Labour minister David Lammy said that he wanted a second referendum as his Tottenham constituency ‘will bear the brunt when we exercise Article 50 and the economy takes a downturn as a result’.
Meanwhile Green Party leader Caroline Lucas claimed she respected the result of the referendum. But she would ‘fight tooth and nail’ to keep Britain in the EU’s free movement system.
Published at Thu, 08 Dec 2016 09:06:17 +0000