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Brexit live: ‘sad’ Cameron says EU must deal with immigration concerns

Jun 29, 2016 by

Brexit live: ‘sad’ Cameron says EU must deal with immigration concerns


This article titled “Brexit live: ‘sad’ Cameron says EU must deal with immigration concerns” was written by Claire Phipps and Andrew Sparrow, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th June 2016 10.53 UTC

11.53am BST

Brown calls for all-party commission to investigate globalisation after Brexit vote

Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, has deliver a major speech on Brexit in Scotland this morning.

  • Brown called for an all-party commission to investigate globalisation, and how it can be made to work for everyone. This was vital because the “anti-establishment rebellion” was being fuelled by opposition to globalisation, he said.

To understand the causes of the anti-establishment rebellion we should set up an all-party commission that brings in people with much to contribute from all over the world and usher in a national conversation on all aspects of globalisation. The aim should be to make globalisation work for the British people in an inclusive and fair way – asking how we can take new measures – to raise skills, to compete in new areas, to help the low paid, to increase the supply of jobs, to relieve communities under pressure – and thus respond to the insecurities that globalisation can bring. This is the central economic issue of our times. Given that we are trying to address the concerns of people who feel left behind by global change we should encourage a national conversation on global change that includes that immigration brings great benefits but has to be managed.

  • He said the government should investigate options for a trade relationship with the EU. He favoured the Norway option, he said.

To narrow the areas of uncertainty on our trading relationships we must not only investigate all the main options for our continued relations with Europe while outside the EU – the Norway, Swiss and WTO options and I believe we should favour the Norway option – that as part of the EEA we retain membership of the single market but that we investigate the protocol and use of the EEAs safeguard clause for managing immigration.

And this is from my colleague Severin Carrell, who was there.

11.45am BST

And Emma Lewell-Buck has announced she is resigning as a shadow communities minister.

11.41am BST

Harman says Corbyn should resign

Harriet Harman, the former Labour deputy leader, has joined those calling on Jeremy Corbyn to resign. These are from the BBC’s Laura Kuennsberg.

11.36am BST

Pat Glass resigns after just 48 hours as shadow education secretary

In these peculiar times it would not be a normal day if we got to lunchtime and had not had a Labour resignation. Today’s has arrived. Pat Glass is resigning from her post as shadow education secretary – a job she only took up on Monday.

Updated at 11.37am BST

11.24am BST

Q: Do you think you could seriously go to 2020 without having an election? You would need a mandate, wouldn’t you?

Crabb says the government got a mandate last year. The answer to instability is not more instability. There is plenty of work to be done to take the government through to the end of the parliament.

Q: Won’t people look at you and think you are too young and inexperienced?

Crabb says he has been an MP for 11 years, and a member of the government since 2010. He is running the largest spending department in government, although he admits he has only been doing it “for 10 minutes”.

Q: Do you regret backing remain in the referendum?

No, says Crabb.

Q: You are the underdog, and you come from a different background to the average Tory grandee, like Margaret Thatcher in 1975. Are there any lessons from her campaign?

Crabb says he was only two in 1975. But he thinks there is room for distinctive voices in this debate.

And that’s it. Crabb’s press conference is over.

11.18am BST

Crabb’s Q&A

Crabb is now taking questions.

Q: Would you trigger article 50 as soon as you became prime minister and hold an early general election?

Crabb says it is important to bring the country together first.

He would set up an advisory committee to consider the withdrawal strategy, with a majority of government ministers.

Q: And an early general election?

Crabb says the answer to instability is not more instability.

  • Crabb signals he is opposed to an early general election.

Q: How can you lead the party when you voted remain?

Crabb says he wants to confine the remain/leave labels to the past.

Q: You want close relations with the EU, but also controls on immigration. You can’t have both, can you?

Crabb says the referendum showed that what mattered most to people was getting back control of borders.

It will be “very challenging” to reconcile that with full access to the single market.

  • Crabb admits it will be “very challenging” to retain access to the single market while also controlling immigration.

Q: On social media a lot of people say you are prejudiced against gay people?

Absolutely not, says Crabb. He voted against gay marriage, but he accepts the result.

11.13am BST

Crabb says the UK must always become the best country in the world at doing global trade.

He says there can be no continuity remain campaign to subvert the result of the referendum.

He says he is worried too many Conservatives do not understand the lives of people in Britain.

It should not matter where you come from in life, he says. He says he joined the Conservative party when John Major was leader because that is what it represented.

The Conservative party should be a one nation party, he says. This is the moment for “modern, compassionate, reforming Conservatives”.

Updated at 11.20am BST

11.09am BST

Crabb says he is opposed to a second referendum

Crabb is now addressing what to do about Brexit.

He says he is opposed to a second referendum. The answer to uncertainty is not more uncertainty, he says.

  • Crabb says he is opposed to a second referendum.

He says it is vital to get control of immigration. This is a message that came through from the referendum.

He says he wants the UK to remain close to Europe.

But he also wants to end the supremacy of EU law.

11.07am BST

Crabb says he is running with Sajid Javid, who would be his chancellor.

And he says Jeremy Wright, his attorney general, is his campaign manager.

Updated at 11.21am BST

11.06am BST

Stephen Crabb’s press conference

Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions secretary, is now announcing his leadership bid at a news conference.

He says he is standing because he wants to unite the country. He was struck by how much division the referendum revealed, he says.

The poorer areas are, the more likely they were to vote against Westminster, he says.

And he says he is also worried about the insults and the bad blood in the Conservative party. When you are a governing party, disunity has consequences, he says.

He says he cannot see anyone else who can unite the party.

He says he thinks he has the qualities to do this.

He was born in Scotland, but grew up in Wales. He was brought up in a council house and went to a comprehensive school. He was brought up by his mother, who was wonderful. From the age of 12 he worked every weekend, at first in a corner shop. He was blessed by his childhood. He was brought up to believe that no one was better than him, and that he was not better than others. He was not brought up to expect that anything would be handed to him on a plate. In north Wales you did not wait for the ball to come out of the back of the scrum, he says. If you wanted the ball, you had to go and get it.

(This is a reference to Boris Johnson’s comment, when asked if he wanted the leadership, that he would go for it if the ball came loose from the back of the scrum.)

Stephen Crabb.
Stephen Crabb. Photograph: Sky News

Updated at 11.11am BST

11.01am BST

Eighty Labour party members in Scotland have signed an open letter criticising Ian Murray for resigning as shadow Scottish secretary. Murray is one of the numerous Labour MPs who has quit the frontbench because he no longer has confidence in Jeremy Corbyn.

The letter says:

We are absolutely astonished that you have chosen this moment to put factional party politics over getting the best outcome for the people of Scotland …

With the Conservative party in chaos this was the moment for Labour to grasp hold of the political agenda, and to reach out to those who voted for Brexit out of desperation, with a positive vision of an anti-austerity socialist government committed to solving the housing problem, reindustrialising, funding the NHS and supporting trade unions, migrants and the whole working class.

For these reasons in particular we are horrified by your disloyalty, do not support your decision, and wish you to make clear that you have acted without the support of us as Scottish Labour members.

The signatories include Elaine Smith MSP and the whole executive committee of Scottish Young Labour.

Updated at 11.04am BST

10.55am BST

Stephen Crabb, the work and pensions secretary, is holding a press conference this morning – presumably to announce his leadership bid (although the op note sent out in advance did not say that.)

But he is running late, which is never a good start.

Updated at 11.21am BST

10.51am BST

Jeremy Corbyn is expecting a leadership challenge, but who the challenger will be remains unresolved.

These are from Huffington Post’s Paul Waugh.

And these are from the Observer’s Daniel Boffey.

And this is from Sky’s Darren McCaffrey.

10.46am BST

On Monday Chi Onwurah was being tipped by Labour sources as the next shadow business secretary. She has now written a blog saying that she voted against Jeremy Corbyn in the no confidence ballot and explaining why.

Here’s an extract.

I am not going to set out a detailed critique of Jeremy’s leadership. Whilst Jeremy has some important qualities – honesty and integrity – I could not in good conscience say I had confidence in him as our leader. I therefore voted No to today’s motion.

Since Monday, 86 constituents (including members) have emailed me asking me to back Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership whilst 60 constituents have emailed me asking me to vote against a motion of confidence in his leadership. I have considered all their comments. Of the activists who worked the EU referendum – doorknocked, leafletted etc – who contacted me the majority did not back Jeremy. On the doorstep, the majority of constituents who mentioned Jeremy did so negatively. I nominated Jeremy to widen the leadership debate and have backed him since he became leader. I hope that constituents and party members alike in Newcastle recognise that I have always supported him in public and have undertaken to serve him in whatever capacity he asked of me.

But I hope they also recognise that I cannot serve my constituents – which is my primary purpose – without effective leadership at the top of the Labour party. Having worked in business and the public sector across three continents and many different cultures, I have experience of many types of effective leadership. Jeremy’s leadership is not effective. The lack of leadership following the Brexit vote was emblematic of this.

Updated at 10.54am BST

10.38am BST

Jeremy Corbyn may have lost the support of his parliamentary party but, according to a press notice from his supporters, he still holds Facebook and Twitter. As of last night, there had been 48,000 “likes” on his Facebook status, and a graphic supporting him had been shared by 26,000 people and viewed by 5 million. Marshajane Thompson, who helps to run the Jeremy Corbyn for PM social media operation (JC4PM), said:

The huge increase in activity on the accounts we run shows the breadth of support for Jeremy in Labour and in Britain. With messages of support flooding in, we’ve had enough engagement to win a leadership contest several times over. We know you can’t win an election with social media power alone, but you can’t win without it either, and our leader has it in spades.

Updated at 10.43am BST

10.38am BST

On Facebook campaigners are organising a march against Brexit in London on Saturday.

Updated at 10.42am BST

10.23am BST

Sarah Vine, the journalist who is married to Michael Gove, has used her column in the Daily Mail to write about what it was like in the Gove household as the result of the EU referendum came in.

She admits that she was shocked when David Cameron resigned. (She and her husband are – or, at least, were – close family friends of the Camerons.)

I felt as though I had fallen through a rabbit hole – lost in a strange land where nothing made sense any more. This was absolutely, categorically not meant to happen.

David Cameron was not supposed to go. This was not what this referendum was about; that was not why Michael backed leave.

This was a debate about Britain’s membership of the EU, not a vote for or against the prime minister.

More than ever before, I felt the agony of what the business of politics had done to the people at the heart of all of this: how old friends had been wrenched apart in the most brutal of ways.

Vine also writes about the hostility that leave supporters were now attracting.

Almost overnight, those of us on the winning side suddenly found ourselves re-cast as knuckle-dragging thugs, small-minded Little Englanders whose short-sighted bigotry had brought the nation to its knees, while making sweet Italian waitresses cry and stopping small Polish children from going to school.

Because of the immense power of the internet and social media, once a Twitterstorm reaches critical mass – which now happens at an alarming speed – it starts to become as real as thunder and lightning.

In a matter of hours, everything sunny about human nature seems to have been sucked out of the atmosphere and you are drenched in little 140-character balls of bitterness.

It’s hard to explain quite what it feels like, but imagine walking into a room in a lovely new dress and having every single person turn, point, throw back their heads with laughter and tell you it looks hideous.

You’d never wear it again, would you? In fact, chances are you’d rip it up and throw it straight in the bin. There have been moments over the past few days when I’ve felt like that dress.

I have seen it happen to others – celebrities, sportspeople, household names – but I’d never imagined it happening to me.

Such is the personal price of my husband standing up for his principles.

No doubt the Goves have received some unpleasant abuse on social media since Friday, but the self-pitying tone is rather odd. If you read the piece casually, you might get the impression that it was Gove who lost and was resigning, not Cameron.

Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine.
Michael Gove and his wife Sarah Vine. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Updated at 10.42am BST

10.05am BST

Piketty resigns as a Labour adviser

According to Sky’s Ed Conway, Thomas Piketty, the superstar leftwing economist and author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has quit as a Labour party adviser.

He was one of several heavyweight and renowned economists on the economic advisory committee set up by John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor. It seems that his decision was largely prompted by lack of time, but he has criticised Labour’s performance in the EU referendum.

Thomas Piketty
Thomas Piketty Photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

9.49am BST

One of the biggest issues in British politics at the moment is when article 50 should be triggered. That is the process that starts the formal, two-year EU withdrawal process.

Here is a Guardian video explainer.

What is article 50?

9.45am BST

On Sky News, Chloe Smith, the Conservative former Treasury minister, has declared that she is backing Stephen Crabb for the leadership. She says he is best placed to unite the country.

Updated at 9.47am BST

9.44am BST

ConservativeHome survey of Tory members puts May narrowly ahead of Johnson for leadership

ConservativeHome has published its latest regular survey of party members about who they want to see as the next leader. And Theresa May, the home secretary, is ahead of Boris Johnson – but only be a tiny margin. More than 1,300 members participated.

Here are the figures.

ConservativeHome survey of members on party leadership
ConservativeHome survey of members on party leadership. Photograph: ConservativeHome

And here is an extract from Paul Goodman, the ConservativeHome editor’s, account of the findings.

There is no doubt on the basis of this survey which two candidates party members currently want to see put before them …

Over half of those respondents favour either Boris Johnson or Theresa May. It’s neck and neck between them. Out of 1,315 replies from them, the home secretary leads the former mayor by a mere 10 votes. This isn’t a scientific poll, but the result is suggestive.

ConservativeHome readers are sometimes viewed as being well to the right of party members – and Brexit diehards to boot. As I point out from time to time, this may be true of comments below the line, but not of our readers as a whole. Today, we have another bit of evidence: they actually put May the remainer a sliver ahead of Boris the leaver.

Yesterday, a YouGov poll showed that May also had a tiny lead over Johnson among members of the public when they were asked who the next prime minister should be. But May had a more substantial lead among Conservative voters. (Johnson, though, is well ahead with Ukip voters.)

YouGov poll
YouGov poll. Photograph: YouGov

The ConservativeHome survey is more significant because it measures the opinion of party members, and of course they are the ones who get a vote in the contest.

Updated at 10.25am BST

9.30am BST

McDonnell accepts Corbyn will face a leadership challenge

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor and Jeremy Corbyn’s closest ally, told reporters as he left his home this morning that he accepted there would be a leadership challenge:

It looks as though we will have a leadership election now. I hear in the press this morning that most probably a candidate will come forward. All we are saying to Labour MPs is play by the rules, play by the rules of our party, and if there is to be a democratic election, respect the wishes of our members.

But he also urged Labour MPs to “calm down”.

Our country is facing some real, serious risks at the moment. And we have got a job as MPs to come together to try and protect the people who might be affected by that.

Anyone wanting to challenge Jeremy Corbyn – and Angela Eagle is currently thought to be the candidate most likely to be put forward – would need to be nominated by 50 MPs or MEPs (at least 20% of the total number of MPs or MEPs).

Whether or not Jeremy Corbyn also needs the backing of 50 MPs or MEPs to get on the ballot paper is a moot point. His supporters have legal advice saying that, as a sitting leader, he would automatically be on the ballot, but his opponents have legal advice saying the opposite. Labour’s national executive committee would have to rule on this.

John McDonnell
John McDonnell speaking outside his home this morning. Photograph: Sky News

Updated at 9.38am BST

9.14am BST

More than 230,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees online petition expressing confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, the former Labour MP Chris Williamson points out.

Updated at 9.38am BST

9.08am BST

Dame Tessa Jowell, the former Labour culture secretary, has appealed to Jeremy Corbyn to resign. This is what she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

Jeremy, you love the Labour party like I do and the Labour party has given you every opportunity that you have been able to exercise to make life for your constituents better.

You and I are in the same position in relation to that but it is absolutely clear that your continued leadership is putting the Labour party’s future in jeopardy and denying millions of people in our country who so desperately need representation by a Labour government the chance of that Labour government.

So I ask you to follow the strongest possible view of the parliamentary party and stand down.

8.47am BST

Q: You are part of a government that has failed to control immigration.

Morgan says we have ended up with a bit of a soundbite political era. She says it is important for politicians to level with people.

8.44am BST

Nicky Morgan confirms she is considering running for Conservative leadership

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Claire.

Nicky Morgan, the education secretary, is on the Today programme now. She say she is actively considering running for the party leadership.

  • Morgan confirms she is considering standing for Conservative leadership.

Q: On what basis would you run?

Morgan says the Tories cannot just be defined by Europe. She won a marginal seat, she says, and she understands the need to appeal to the centre.

Q: What would be the best deal in Europe look like?

Morgan says there would have to be access to the single market. And she says we need a much better debate on immigration. Immigrants make a contribution.

Q: But if someone wanted an end to free movement, you would not be their candidate?

Morgan says she thinks there has not been a proper debate on this.

She represents a diverse constituency.

Q: So are you saying we would have to accept we cannot end free movement.

Morgan says she thinks what people want is control over immigration.

But the Conservatives cannot only be about the EU.

Last wee’s results showed a divided nation, she says.

She says intergenerational unfairness is an issue. She says they should consider letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote. That is an issue raised with her in schools often, she says.

  • Morgan suggests letting 16- and 17-year-olds vote.
Nicky Morgan.
Nicky Morgan. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Updated at 9.24am BST

8.31am BST

As 27 EU members – minus the UK – begin the second day of the Brussels summit, I’m handing over the live blog to Andrew Sparrow. Thanks for reading and stay with us.

8.15am BST

Stephen Crabb, who is planting his name firmly on the nominations list to be the next Tory leader and prime minister this morning, sets out in the Telegraph what he wants to do with “the government I intend to lead”:

First, we must unite. Just over a year ago, every Conservative MP was elected on a manifesto that committed us to holding a referendum. The campaign is now over.

We cannot allow this leadership election to be defined by divisive labels like remainer and Brexiteer. The quicker we can focus on the future, the better chance we have to unite our party and the country.

Second, we will enact the British people’s wishes on the EU. The verdict was clear: there is no going back. A second referendum is out of the question. What the country needs now is a clear direction, not further instability.

I want to lead a government that delivers on the expectations of the 17 million people who voted for Britain to leave the EU. One of the overwhelming messages from that vote was the need to take back control of immigration policy in the UK. So for me, freedom of movement is a red line.

Updated at 8.29am BST

8.04am BST

Sajid Javid: ‘We’re all Brexiteers now’

Sajid Javid – the business secretary who’s backing Stephen Crabb for Tory leader in a joint ticket that would see him in the Treasury – has been speaking to the Today programme.

Batting away the fact that both he and Crabb were pro-remainers hoping to lead the country through its exit from the UK, Javid said:

There’s no distinction any more … In some ways we’re all Brexiteers now … It is really all about how we get on with it.

Sajid Javid
Sajid Javid. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Describing the months ahead as “the most difficult period in a generation”, Javid said Crabb, the work and pensions secretary, would as leader put together a team from “all sides of the campaign”.

But Javid confirmed – for this leadership ticket, at least:

There’ll be no going back on the decision; there’ll be no second referendum.

He set out what sounded remarkably similar to the proposal floated by Boris Johnson, another leadership candidate: access to the single market but without unrestricted freedom of movement. On immigration, Javid said:

The British people want to know it is a policy in full control of the UK.

But on why Tory MPs and party member should then back the Crabb-Javid ticket over Johnson, he said:

It’s all about delivery now … No one knows yet what kind of deal we’re going to get with the EU. We need people who can do the negotiations.

Updated at 8.30am BST

7.51am BST

SNP will ask to be official opposition in Commons

As I mentioned in the morning briefing, the SNP in Westminster will apparently today ask the Speaker to recognise that party – rather than Labour – as Her Majesty’s Opposition.

The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, does now technically command the support of 14 more MPs than the Labour leader, following the no-confidence vote in Jeremy Corbyn. That vote saw just 40 MPs back Corbyn, with 172 against.

The SNP’s shadow leader of the house, Pete Wishart, says the party has “shadows in every department and ministry” and would be “prepared to assume office” – the requirement placed on the official opposition. Wishart says the rules allowing the SNP to make the request are set out in Erskine May, which details parliamentary practice.

And if that’s not enough constitutional confusion for you, here’s another oddity:

Updated at 7.52am BST

7.41am BST

It’s a question a lot of people are asking: is there a way back from a Brexit vote? (Can I be the first to call it an EU-turn?)

Angela Merkel last night said no:

I see no possibility to reverse this. We would do well to accept this reality.

The US secretary of state, John Kerry, when asked if the decision could be “walked back”, said:

I think there are a number of ways.

The Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour, looks at whether there are ways and what they might be:

The short answer is yes, just about, but many forces would have to align.

Read more here: I’d pick some out, but as you might imagine – it’s complicated.

Updated at 7.51am BST

7.30am BST

Margaret Beckett: some would rather see Labour split than Corbyn go

Margaret Beckett – formerly an acting leader of the Labour party – is in tears on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as she explains why she thinks Jeremy Corbyn needs to stand down.

She praises his integrity and principles – “but they don’t of themselves make you a leader”.

He has no experience at all of the problems of leadership … the hassle, the scrutiny, the compromises you have to make to get to the best common ground.

She says people were willing to try to support him to get to where he needed to be, including many of those Corbyn brought into his original shadow cabinet.

Jeremy has brought on a whole new raft of talent … and they have gone because they felt they could no longer deal with the situation in which they found themselves.

Beckett says much of the fault lies with those close to Corbyn:

I’m afraid the people in the leader’s office act like a separate unit from the Labour party … There are people around Jeremy who are prepared to see the Labour party split rather than for him to go. The Labour party has to survive … because we need an alternative government.

Margaret Beckett
Margaret Beckett. Photograph: Euan Cherry/UPPA

Updated at 7.50am BST

7.21am BST

The Guardian’s front page today documents those scenes in the European parliament yesterday, as Nigel Farage was met with boos by most MEPs – but praise from the Front National president, Marine Le Pen:

Updated at 7.24am BST

6.52am BST

Morning briefing

Another day, another Brexit live blog: welcome.

Here’s the morning briefing to run you through the key developments and what we expect to happen today (as far as anyone can predict this stuff any more). Do come and chat in the comments below or find me on Twitter @Claire_Phipps.

David Cameron leaves Europe

Not for ever – yet. After his one-day trip to the two-day Brussels summit, David Cameron is back in London today so the 27 EU leaders can spare his blushes and discuss Brexit openly without having to pretend he’s not in the room.

The prime minister rounded off a working dinner with his soon-to-be-former European colleagues on Tuesday night with a press conference in which he revealed he had told them that immigration must be addressed:

I think [British] people recognised the strength of the economic case for staying, but there was a very great concern about the movement of people and immigration, and I think that is coupled with a concern about the issues of sovereignty and the absence of control there has been.

I think we need to think about that, Europe needs to think about that and I think that is going to be one of the major tests for the next prime minister.

David Cameron
David Cameron: bonjour tristesse. Photograph: Julien Warnand/EPA

Regrets, he’s had a few:

It’s a sad night for me – I didn’t want to be in this position. I wanted Britain to stay in a reformed European Union … I fought very hard for what I believed in. I didn’t stand back. I threw myself in head, heart and soul to keep Britain in the European Union and I didn’t succeed.

And how are the other leaders taking the breakup? Not so well, as it happens. Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg, said Britain couldn’t simply switch its Facebook status to “it’s complicated” – it’s “marriage or divorce, but not something in between”.

The divorce settlement mustn’t be allowed to drag on and on and on, EU leaders said. The European council president, Donald Tusk, said they all wanted the plan “to be specified as soon as possible”.

If only someone had mentioned before that we needed a plan, or indeed someone prepared to come up with one. George Osborne said on Tuesday that job fell to … somebody else:

It was not the responsibility of those who wanted to remain in the EU to explain what plan we would follow if we voted to quit the EU.

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel: you’re with us or you’re not. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is adamant there will be no cherry-picking of the best bits of Europe (and she doesn’t just mean the cheese, the wine, the salami …):

There must be, and there will be, a palpable difference between those countries who want to be members of the European family and those who don’t … If you wish to have free access to the single market then you have to accept the fundamental European rights as well as obligations that come from it. This is as true for Great Britain as for anybody else.

On Cameron’s decision not to trigger article 50 – which sets the clock ticking on a two-year deadline to exit – until his successor is in place, and with some voices wondering if it will ever be triggered, Merkel said:

We did not discuss the possibility that the UK will not invoke article 50, and I consider this an impossibility.

Leaders reiterated the view that the UK couldn’t start the process with informal chats or with one eye on a potential EU-turn. Merkel told reporters:

I see no possibility to reverse this. We would do well to accept this reality.

… as Nicola Sturgeon flies in

Scotland’s first minister drops in on Brussels today. Sturgeon won’t meet Tusk, whose spokesman said “he feels it is not appropriate” at this point, but a spokeswoman for Jean-Claude Juncker said the European commission president would hold talks with her this afternoon.

Sturgeon will also have a meeting with the European parliament president, Martin Schulz, and other officials on how Scotland – which voted to remain – might be able to salvage a relationship with the EU. She’s likely to find some sympathetic ears, if the standing ovation given to SNP MEP Alyn Smith yesterday is any indication of Europe’s enduring fondness for at least part of the UK.

MSPs on Tuesday voted to give Sturgeon a mandate for discussions with the EU, as she told them:

Everything must be on the table to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon, first minister and @guardian follower, checks her Twitter feed during a break in the debate on the referendum result at the Scottish parliament. Photograph: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

Conservative leadership nominations open

It’s mere days since Cameron announced he’d be off and now the whispers and the toyings and the “seriously considerings” are going to have to actually turn into names on paper. Or perhaps via email or a WhatsApp group. I’m not sure of the rules on that one.

What we do know is that the new leader/PM will be in place by 9 September, the timetable pushed back a week because hey, what’s the rush? Candidates need only two MPs to back them to get on the list so it could be a crowded one, topped by Boris Johnson and Theresa May, but also finding room for Stephen Crabb (teaming up with Sajid Javid on a “dream ticket”; please come forward and identify yourself if you have had this dream), and potentially Nicky Morgan, Liam Fox and Jeremy Hunt. Andrea Leadsom might have a pop, say some.

Crabb announces his bid in a Telegraph column today on “the government I intend to lead”; while the environment secretary, Liz Truss, says she is backing Johnson as leader (and Michael Gove and Nick Boles, though it’s not clear as what).

Theresa May
Theresa May: standing between Boris Johnson and No 10. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

The Guardian also reports today that Johnson is attempting to win the backing of Amber Rudd, the energy secretary and pro-remain campaigner, who memorably mocked him during a referendum debate by saying:

He isn’t the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening!

Still, a week and an enormous constitutional rupture is a long time in politics.

So then what? Nominations close at midday tomorrow. Then we’re treated to twice-weekly votes until the list is ground down to a final two, before party members have their say.

Jeremy Corbyn v Labour MPs

Just 40 Labour MPs backed the Labour leader in Tuesday’s confidence vote – and one of them, Liz McInnes, resigned last night as shadow local government minister after the overwhelming majority of her colleagues (172 of them) voted against him.

The no confidence vote results.
The no confidence vote results.

And so we ask again: what happens next? As with Brexit, some urge speed and decisiveness, while others want to take their time, think it over, maybe cross their fingers that it didn’t really happen.

Jeremy Corbyn, at any rate, knows what he’s doing: exactly what he was doing before.

I was democratically elected leader of our party for a new kind of politics by 60% of Labour members and supporters, and I will not betray them by resigning. Today’s vote by MPs has no constitutional legitimacy.

The no-confidence vote, thumping as it was, doesn’t oblige him to step aside. Instead Labour MPs need to decide whether and when to launch a leadership contest, and who the anyone-but-Corbyn candidate would be. Angela Eagle and Tom Watson remain the likely runners.

Video grab taken from Sky News showing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during a shadow cabinet meeting in London where he raise objections to being filmed. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday June 28, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Labour TV. Photo credit should read: Sky News/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout screengrab may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t convinced that letting Sky News film his first all-new shadow cabinet meeting was a great idea. Tom Watson was also less than thrilled. Photograph: Sky News/PA

Meanwhile, a YouGov poll conducted for the party revealed that 27% of people who voted for Labour at the last general election said they were less likely to do so again following the referendum campaign, with 11% saying they were more likely to do so.

You should also know:

Audacious claim of the day

The SNP in Westminster is reportedly set to demand that it be recognised as Her Majesty’s Opposition now that Angus Robertson technically commands the support of 14 more MPs than the Labour leader, following his no-confidence vote. The SNP’s shadow leader of the house, Pete Wishart, says the party has “shadows in every department and ministry”.

(Erskine May sets out parliamentary practice. Constitutional experts: expect to be in demand today. In fact, maybe set aside a few months.)


  • Nominations for the Conservative party leadership (with a job as prime minister thrown in) open this morning.
  • At noon, it’s one of the strangest PMQs we’re likely to see as a prime minister who has resigned takes questions from a leader of the opposition whose main opposition comes from the people sitting behind him.
  • The European council summit continues without David Cameron.
  • Nicola Sturgeon is in Brussels for talks with Jean-Claude Juncker, Martin Schulz and others about Scotland’s future with the EU.
  • Gordon Brown is due to make a post-Brexit speech in Edinburgh.
  • At 3.15pm MPs will hear evidence on xenophobia and racism following the EU referendum.

Read these

Richard Dawkins, writing in Prospect, says there ought to be a second referendum – and there’s only one politician who can make it happen:

If Brexit really is the will of the people, a second referendum will confirm it … What possible prime minister would have the courage, the chutzpah, to call a second referendum? Certainly not Damaged Goods Cameron. Not any ‘safe pair of hands ship-steadier’ from either party. It would have to be a leading Brexiteer. Only such a one could carry the country with him, and get away with such a bold decision. I can think of only one British politician with the sheer bottle, the idiosyncratic contrariness, the endearingly impudent bloody cheek, to get away with it. Boris Johnson, of course …

Johnson is probably the only British politician who is in a position to remove the poison from the chalice, and who has the ability to do so. And the way he could do it is by calling a second referendum.

Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson: nominations for the Conservative party leadership open today. Perhaps he’ll give it a whirl? Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

Isabel Hardman in the Spectator offers a rundown of the latest Tory leadership jostling:

The Conservatives decided to move back the date by which their leader must be confirmed to 9 September, which will come as a relief to those Tories who were grumbling about being hauled back from the Mediterranean a week early. The consensus in the party is that the two frontrunners in the leadership contest are Boris Johnson and Theresa May. Both have significant operations around them. May has supporters in the whips’ office, while Boris has Lynton Crosby signed up to advise him, and Michael Gove working on his behalf to charm MPs from across the party …

Some Tories claim that there is resentment building against Boris from members who feel that he wasn’t really sincerely in favour of Brexit, but has caused a colossal mess, though his supporters point out that the Uxbridge MP at least put his heart and soul into the Leave campaign, whereas the home secretary practically went into hiding after declaring for Remain.

In the New Statesman, Michael Chessum writes in defence of Jeremy Corbyn’s referendum campaign – and leadership:

The only argument that could have stopped Brexit was that austerity and neo-liberalism caused the housing crisis, falling wages and stretched public services – not Romanians and Bulgarians …

Corbyn’s main mistake was not to take tighter control of Labour’s campaign from the outset – although, of course, had he done so he would have been roundly denounced. Like so many quandaries of the Corbyn leadership, the referendum campaign was characterised by a need for footwork and firefighting within the parliamentary Labour party rather than a strategic focus on winning the vote. The Labour right created an impossible situation and are now attempting to exploit the aftermath. If it wasn’t so desperate and irresponsible, it could be described as shrewd.

And do please read this by Marina Hyde on Nigel Farage at the European parliament yesterday: “There is soft power, and then there is politics as erectile dysfunction.”

Extraordinary sitting of European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium - 28 Jun 2016Mandatory Credit: Photo by Isopix/REX/Shutterstock (5737782w) Jean-Claude Juncker, Nigel Farage Extraordinary sitting of European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium - 28 Jun 2016
Nigel Farage: ‘The political leader who’s had more farewell tours than Barbra Streisand.’ Photograph: Isopix/REX/Shutterstock

Celebrity endorsement of the day

Rupert Murdoch thinks the Brexit vote was “wonderful”, likening it to a “prison break … we’re out”. There was also a warning of sorts for the man who chiselled the bricks out of the cell wall:

Murdoch’s UK newspapers had both outcomes covered, of course, with the Sun urging a vote for leave, and the Times backing remain. Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has already expressed “buyer’s remorse” over his out vote.

The day in a tweet

If today were a Beatles song …

It would be Hello Goodbye. I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello. You say why and I say I don’t know.

And another thing

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