Brexit through the gift shop.
Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has surged ahead in opinion polls for the European Parliament elections, which are due to take place next month now that the UK has pushed the Brexit deadline into late October. A new survey, by YouGov, suggests the party is on course to decimate Labour and the Conservatives, leaving yet another Farage-shaped upset at the ballot box.
Support for Mr Farage’s party is said to be propelled by Tory voters seething at Theresa May’s failure to deliver Brexit, with just a quarter of people who voted Conservative in 2017 saying they will do so next month. Only 12 per cent of Leave voters are said to now back the Tories, while Labour’s vote is set to increase marginally – but only if it fully endorsed a second Brexit referendum. Otherwise, both parties are in for a painful night.
All change please.
This week we learned that new centrist party, Change UK (formally known as The Independent Group), is set to merge with new centrist party, Renew, as new centrist party, United for Change, prepare to launch in the coming weeks. Whether new centrist parties, The Radicals, The Democrats, Spring The Party, Renew Britain or Twelve Together are also set to ‘change politics’ too remains unclear.
Meanwhile, The Electoral Commission approved The Independent Group’s application to register as a political party meaning they can now put forward candidates in the European elections, which are due to take place on 23 May. However, the Commission rejected the party’s logo, saying it was “likely to mislead voters” – not the best start to a new party promising to combat the misleading claims supposedly made the Leave campaign in 2016.
No deal means hard Irish border.
One of the European Commission’s most powerful officials has said that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would mean a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
A recording emerged this week of Martin Selmayr saying that “This is the worst of all scenarios. So for Ireland this situation would be very tough and that’s why we need to do everything to prevent that.”
The comments arose amidst reports that the Civil Service had been advised to stand-down ‘no deal’ preparations, in light of the new Halloween Brextension date. Despite this, officials have made clear that ‘no deal’ would mean checks on goods moving from NI to the Republic. The question of where and how those checks would even take place remains open for speculation.
As the prospect of a crushing European Election defeat rolled-in, Theresa May is facing an unprecedented no-confidence vote among grassroots Tories. Local Association Chairs have been circulating a petition that is on course to force the National Conservative Convention to hold an extraordinary general meeting where members could pressure the Prime Minister to resign.
Mrs May has she is determined to get a Brexit deal through Parliament before that date, which would mean the EU election would be cancelled. However, that not only means winning a “meaningful vote” on a deal – which has already been rejected three times by the Commons – but also then passing a bill formally ratifying the agreement in law.
Whether this is possible is likely to depend on whether cross-party talks with Labour can agree a way forward. All will become clear when MPs return to Westminster after the Easter recess.
Medicine shortages are unlikely to improve as a result of Brexit being delayed, healthcare leaders have said, after it was revealed that the number of drugs on a shortage supply list reached a record high last month.
The number of common medicines on the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) list, which the committee says gives an indication of which drugs are currently in short supply, reached an all-time high of 96 in March – the month in which the UK was originally meant to leave the EU.
There has been widespread hysteria that the increase in medicine shortages is linked to Brexit. However, the PSNC has insisted that medicine supplies are ‘unaffected’ by the UK’s departure from the EU and will therefore not improve as a result of the Brexit deadline being extended to 31st October 2019.