Gordon Brown will make an extraordinary return to front-line politics tomorrow when he makes a last-ditch bid to rescue Labour’s failing campaign to keep Britain in the EU.
The former prime minister will promise extra support for communities facing pressure from migration as part of a relaunch of the party’s pro-EU campaign that he hopes will win over the party’s traditional supporters.
It is a remarkable move that is likely to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, who has come under intense fire for failing to convince Labour voters to back staying in the EU.
He was condemned for not devoting enough time or effort on the EU campaign after making a bizarre appearance on Channel 4’s comedy show The Last Leg on Friday night.
Gordon Brown (pictured) will make an extraordinary return to front-line politics tomorrow when he makes a last-ditch bid to rescue Labour’s failing campaign to keep Britain in the EU
Dressed not in his usual scruffy jacket and trousers, but in smart evening dress and faux fur coat as he stepped out of a sports car as he arrived on the show, Mr Corbyn then admitted his support for the EU was only 70 to 75 per cent, adding that he was ‘not a huge fan’ of Brussels.
There were even reports that Labour staff had been reduced to tears over his lacklustre effort in the campaign so far and a poll that suggested nearly half of Labour voters were backing Brexit.
Mr Brown said he had worked with Mr Corbyn and deputy leader Tom Watson to forge a new campaign strategy with just 10 days to go until the June 23 referendum.
He will set out a number of reforms of how Britain could use its presidency of the European Union next year – including measures to help communities and public services struggling with influxes of migrants caused by the EU’s open border immigration.
The former prime minister said Labour’s new pitch would include ‘how we relieve the pressure in communities where there have been high levels of migration’ through specific financial support from Brussels for schools and the health service.
The current Labour leadership attempted to regain the initiative today, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell (pictured on ITV’s Peston on Sunday show this morning) condemning the negative strategy pursued by Mr Cameron and George Osborne
He claimed today that his leading role as chancellor in keeping Britain out of the euro single currency last decade proved he was able to ‘get this balance right’ between co-operation with European neighbours and keeping control of the most important decisions.
Mr Brown is understood to have the backing of David Cameron amid fears that the Remain campaign has been overshadowed by bitter infighting between rivals in the Tory party.
Mr Cameron is set to take a back seat in a co-ordinated effort to shift the focus of the fight to Labour battlegrounds and woo undecided voters – many of whom are apparently put off by the Prime Minister’s tactics.
The campaign is concerned that the blue-on-blue civil war has put-off Labour voters who could be persuaded to vote in favour of EU membership.
A poll on Friday night exposed the extent of the problem in Labour – with 44 per cent of Labour voters saying they will back Brexit in the referendum and 56 per cent backing the In camp – far less than expected.
Meanwhile the current Labour leadership attempted to regain the initiative today, with shadow chancellor John McDonnell condemning the negative strategy pursued by Mr Cameron and George Osborne.
‘I want it to be Labour voices now in this next ten days to save this campaign, because up until now all we’ve heard is Conservatives fighting amongst themselves, we’ve seen more interest in who’s the leader of the Tory party than the argument about the future of our country,’ he told ITV’s Peston on Sunday show.
A stunt too fur: Jeremy Corbyn, wearing a faux fur coat, adjusts his bow tie after emerging from a sports car on Channel 4 show The Last Leg – but critics say he should be devoting more time to the EU campaign
All change: He winces as he switches back into his normal attire then, right, mouths ‘Showtime!’ to the camera
Deputy leader Tom Watson told Labour voters the EU referendum is ‘too important to send a signal to David Cameron’.
‘Don’t use this vote to punish the Government, to punish David Cameron because he’s doing a hapless job as Prime Minister because the consequences are almost worse than a general election because they’re so final,’ Mr Watson told BBC Radio 5 Live.
‘That’s our challenge and we’re going to be doing that over the next period and I’m hoping that we’ll make the positive case for remaining and reforming the EU.’
PATIENTS WOULD BE CHARGED TO SEE A GP AND HOSPITAL STAYS AFTER BREXIT, WARNS LABOUR
A post-Brexit squeeze on the public finances could result in charges for GP appointments and NHS hospital stays, Labour warned today.
Amid concerns the party’s core support is being drawn increasingly towards a Leave vote, the Opposition is stepping up warnings of the prospect of the country being run by a right-wing Eurosceptic Conservative government.
Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said: ‘If we leave Europe, most experts agree that the economy will suffer and this would mean an even deeper black hole in NHS finances.
‘This translates into staff cuts, service closures or charges being introduced.
‘A post-referendum Government led by Boris Johnson could mean people turning up at A&E or to see their GP and having to reach for their credit cards. I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think many patients do either.
‘The leave camp needs to come clean with the British public and admit a vote to leave Europe puts the NHS at risk.’
Clare Gerada, a GP and former chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, added: ‘Boris and his friends don’t believe in our National Health Service and would jump at the chance to make people have to pay to use it.
‘That would be bad for patients and bad for the nation’s health. It would also mean more administrative work for already overstretched staff.’
Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mr Brown said: ‘It is time now for us to step our efforts up,’ saying the party had drawn up ‘detailed proposals’ to put to the country in the closing days of the campaign.
‘We have got to show people the positive benefits – that you are not voting for the status quo, you are not voting for insecurity.
‘You are voting for a future where we can make jobs more secure, where we can create more jobs by changing the single market, we can improve people’s quality of life, we can improve workers’ rights.
‘Once we set out this agenda I think you will see Labour voters far more enthusiastic about a vote to Remain.’
Mr Brown said the real problem was illegal immigration and warned the UK ‘cannot afford to walk away’ from the co-operation needed to stop people smugglers and criminal gangs.
‘In the end, people are patriotic British citizens. They are proud of our country and they are proud most of all when we lead, not stand apart, not standing outside isolated as some would want us to do.’
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of only lending lukewarm support to the In campaign – giving his commitment to the cause a seven out of 10 in an interview on Channel 4’s The Last Leg.
Deputy leader Tom Watson said it was important for him to be seen to get the message across because he was far more ‘in tune with most normal people’ and ‘cuts through to young people in a way few people can’.
He told BBC Radio 5’s Pienaar’s Politics that ‘like most Labour voters’ Mr Corbyn had significant criticisms of the EU but wanted to stay in and see it reformed.
Far from being split, he said: ‘I can’t think of an issue that has united the Labour Party at any point in my life more than this.
‘He could not be clearer: He wants Labour supporters to remain in the EU and I am sure you are going to hear that message all the way through to June 23.’
Mr McDonnell told ITV’s Peston on Sunday programme: ‘I want to stay within but I want it to be Labour voices now in this next 10 days to save this campaign because up until now all we’ve heard is Conservatives fighting amongst themselves who seem more interested in who’s the leader of the Tory party than they are about the future of our country.’
Gordon Brown is understood to have the backing of David Cameron (pictured on the Andrew Marr Show this morning) amid fears that the Remain campaign has been overshadowed by bitter infighting between rivals in the Tory party
JOHN CLEESE BACKS BREXIT AND SUGGESTS KILLING EU CHIEF JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER
John Cleese (pictured) has declared he is voting for Britain to leave the EU and suggested killing European Commission President Jearn-Claude Juncker would be the best way of reforming the bloc
John Cleese has declared he is voting for Britain to leave the EU and suggested killing European Commission President Jearn-Claude Juncker would be the best way of reforming the bloc.
The Fawlty Towers and Monty Python star made his views on the EU referendum clear in a series of tweets last night.
He accused Mr Juncker of ‘threatening’ Britain and branded David Cameron’s attempts at reform a failure as he plumped for an out vote on June 23.
Cleese said Britain had been ‘swimming against the tide’ in its bid to bring about change in Brussels, where bureaucrats had taken away ‘any trace of democratic accountability’.
The prominent Liberal Democrat supporter said it was a ‘sad’ situation and appeared to address his message to party grandee Lord [Paddy] Ashdown, who is campaigning for Remain.
‘If I thought there was any chance of major reform in the EU, I’d vote to stay in. But there isn’t. Sad. Sorry, Paddy,’ he tweeted on Saturday.
Among the EU reforms suggested by the Monty Python star were ‘give up the Euro, introduce accountability,and hang Jean-Claude Juncker’.
His pro-EU followers disagreed, with James Burns tweeting: ‘@JohnCleese Economically, we are better IN, according to the IMF, OECD, IFS, Bank of England, 90% of surveyed economies.’
Luke Reid said: ‘@JohnCleese It would be terrible to vote for democracy and sovereignty!!!!’
Meanwhile BBC2 historian Greg Jenner tweeted: ‘John Cleese backs £brexit? This doesn’t surprise me, I just hope lovely Michael Palin hasn’t done the same. That will be a sad day.’
Cleese dismissed suggestions that Britain would struggle to set up free trade deals after leaving the EU, writing: ‘There’s been trading for millenia…I can’t see that stopping’. ‘Why would that suddenly stop?’ he added.
‘If the pound falls, so what?’ Nigel Farage says voters shouldn’t fear a fall in sterling because it will boost export value
A fall in the value of the pound after a Brexit vote would boost British exports, Nigel Farage said today as he shrugged off the economic consequences of quitting the EU.
‘Even if sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what?’ the Ukip leader said, insisting people should not be worried by ‘ludicrous scare stories’.
David Cameron seized on his comments, telling voters that a fall in the pound would hike up the weekly shop because imports would be more expensive, and also pointed out that foreign holidays would also increase.
‘Even if sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what?’ Nigel Farage (pictured on the Andrew Marr show this morning) said, insisting people should not be worried by ‘ludicrous scare stories’
Mr Farage also risked causing fresh controversy this morning as he stood by his controversial call – first made during last year’s General Election campaign – for Britain to ban foreigners with HIV from coming to the UK for free NHS treatment.
MAJORITY OF ROAD TRANSPORT WORKERS IN FREIGHT INDUSTRY BACK BREXIT
Road transport workers in the freight industry want Britain to leave the EU, according to a Road Haulage Association (RHA) survey.
There were 60 per cent of RHA members who felt Brexit would be better for their business, 30 per cent who wished to remain part of the EU and 10 per cent who said they are still undecided.
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, who said the group remains neutral on the referendum, said the figures showed ‘a very strong difference’ between the views of small and larger haulage companies.
The poll found that 62 per cent of smaller firms, which ran fewer than 65 vehicles, wanted to leave while 28 per cent said the UK should remain.
In comparison, eight in ten companies which ran larger fleets of vehicles said they wanted to remain and 17 per cent of those larger companies felt it would be better for business to leave the EU.
Among some of the reasons suggested for staying was the importance of EU membership for trade and a fear that a Brexit would increase regulations for British hauliers while helping their foreign rivals to be more competitive.
Worries over issues such as trucks from abroad crossing UK borders filled with cheap diesel to avoid paying fuel duty were raised along with the prospect of companies from outside the UK being able to hire cheaper labour.
RHA members felt frustrated by what they saw as a lack of clear unbiased factual arguments from campaigners on both sides of the debate to leave or stay.
The RHA is made up of companies who operate commercial vehicles that are at least 3.5 tonnes in size, clearing houses plus van and trailer operators.
Although he didn’t mention HIV patients directly, he insisted that all migrants coming to Britain should have medical insurance and UK taxpayers should not pay for their treatment on the NHS.
Asked whether he still wanted to ban HIV patients from entering the UK, Mr Farage told the Andrew Marr Show: ‘Let’s be clear, let’s be clear, if you’re coming to live in this country, to work in this country, you have to bring your own health insurance.
‘We have a national health system that is at breaking point. It literally is at breaking point. There are many inside who are happy to tell you that now. Because things are serious. So it’s a national health service, it’s not an international health service.
Pressed on how border officials would be able to detect whether incomers had HIV, Mr Farage said: ‘What I’m saying is that the way Australia does it is very simple, you’ve got to be under 45, you’ve got to have a trade or skill, you’ve got to have some money, no criminal record and bring your own health insurance.
‘Doesn’t that sound like a good, sensible way for immigration to become a positive part of British debate and not a negative one?’
On Friday the pound plunged to a new eight-week low against the dollar after a shock poll showed the Brexit campaign 10-points ahead of Remain – its biggest poll lead of the campaign so far.
Sterling fell as low as $1.41 – its weakest level since April 18.
But Mr Farage, a former commodity banker, said it was natural for currency markets to fluctuate and a said a falling pound could deliver a boost to the economy because it would make British goods cheaper abroad, pushing up demand.
He told the Andrew Marr Show this morning: ‘I did work in this for 20 years; I know a little bit more about it than most people.
‘Sterling is up since March. Since Brexit became a possibility sterling is up, and the FTSE is exactly the same level it was in March.
‘And what happened on Friday were very bad economic figures from America and the fact that our growth forecast in Britain had been downgraded from two and a half to two per cent, and that our borrowing is still out of control.
‘So again, these are ludicrous scare – these are scare stories that are being put up. Even if sterling, even if sterling were to fall a few percentage points after Brexit, so what?
Nigel Farage (pictured on the Andrew Marr Show) risked causing fresh controversy this morning as he stood by his controversial call – first made during last year’s General Election campaign – for Britain to ban foreigners with HIV from coming to the UK for free NHS treatment
‘The point is we have a floating currency and it’ll be good for exports.’
Official trade statistics published last week showed Britain enjoyed the biggest surge in exports for more than 13 years in April because of the sharp falls in the value of the pound.
Exports jumped by 9.1 per cent between March and April to hit £26.1billion – the fastest month-on-month growth since January 2003.
It helped the UK’s overall trade deficit to narrow to £3.3billion in April – the smallest since September.
Britain’s trade deficit – which sees more imports coming into the country than exports going abroad – is used by Brexit campaigners to argue that EU countries will want to agree low tariffs in any post-Brexit deal because it sells so products to UK consumers.
Asked whether he still wanted to ban HIV patients from entering the UK, Nigel Farage told the Andrew Marr Show: ‘Let’s be clear, let’s be clear, if you’re coming to live in this country, to work in this country, you have to bring your own health insurance’
But Remain campaigners warn that falls in the value of the pound will make imports more expensive to UK consumers and claim that any boost in export sales would be cancelled out by higher tariff costs placed on British goods by other countries.
Mr Cameron, appearing minutes after Mr Farage on the same show this morning, immediately jumped on Mr Farage’s casual approach to the prospect of the pound plummeting.
‘I’ll tell you so what: if the pound falls then that means the prices in our shops go up, it means the weekly shop costs people more, it means that family holiday costs more,’ the Prime Minister retorted. ‘Outside the single market the airfares will cost more.
‘These are all risks we can avoid. We shouldn’t risk it.’
He also took aim at Mr Farage’s claim that even if Brexit leads to another recession, the downturn would not be too great and would be worth it in the long-term.
Using economic forecasts of months of -0.1 per cent growth after a Leave vote, the Prime Minister asked: ‘Who wants to vote for a shallow recession?’
IN OR OUT OF THE EU, WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? MAILONLINE LOOKS AT WHAT THE FUTURE HAS IN STORE FOR BRITAIN AFTER THE HISTORIC JUNE 23 VOTE
Britain would become the first fully-signed up member of the European Union to quit if voters back Brexit in the June 23 referendum. Only Greenland has left the union and that was more than 30 years ago, when the union was called the European Community.
No one knows what happens after a Brexit vote on June 23 because it would be an unprecedented move.
Only semi-independent Greenland has quit the union and that was more than 30 years ago; it had a population of just 56,000 and the island isn’t even in Europe.
And despite negotiations surrounding one issue – fishing – the withdrawal process still took more than three years.
Until 2009 there were no official provisions set out for leaving the EU, but Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provided an outline for a withdrawal process.
There are also uncertainties over what happens if we stay, with the domestic politics of the Conservative party and David Cameron’s future as Prime Minister likely to take centre stage.
Here we sketch out what is likely to happen under the two possible outcomes of the June 23 vote:
IF BRITAIN VOTES FOR BREXIT
A Brexit vote would almost certainly lead to David Cameron resigning as Prime Minister, paving the way for Boris Johnson (pictured) to achieve his goal of taking over the top job
In the early hours of Friday morning a shattered and defeated David Cameron will appear outside Number 10 to concede the result.
He will have to outline the steps by which the UK withdraws from the EU. He is likely to announce to the nation he is triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the legal process for leaving the 28 nation bloc.
Once Article 50 is triggered, Britain will have two years to negotiate the terms of its exit from the EU and its new relationship with Brussels.
The UK will not officially cease being a member of the EU until it has agreed a new deal with the bloc or the two-year negotiating period is over – whichever comes first.
Cameron will almost certainly have to resign after a Brexit vote – he has insisted he will not quit but he said the same before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum but admitted he would have stood down after a No vote.
Former Chancellor Ken Clarke has said Cameron ‘wouldn’t last 30 seconds’ if he lost the referendum.
He would probably stay on in Number 10 until a swiftly-held Conservative leadership contest can be held – most likely to be won by leading Brexit campaigners like Boris Johnson or Michael Gove.
The leadership contest will give a platform to Johnson to lay out his plans for government, which will largely focus on his new points-based immigration policy and a battle plan for agreeing new trade deals with countries across the world.
At the same time as Cameron speaks from the steps of Downing Street, the EU President Donald Tusk will summon an emergency summit of all member states in Brussels – possibly as early as the June 25/26 weekend – a week earlier than the planned June European Council summit.
Meanwhile the financial institutions at home and abroad will move quickly to stave off economic chaos.
The Treasury, Bank of England and European Central Bank will activate contingency plans it has been quietly working on over the last few months – combating a fall in the value of the pound and a potential stock market crash.
A government document on the process for withdrawing from the EU published earlier this year said it could take up to a decade or more to negotiate our exit from the EU, our future arrangements with the bloc and to set up new trade deals with countries outside of the EU.
Considering the huge number of areas in which the EU operates, negotiations will involve thousands of officials taking up hundreds of office space as they hammer out new deals on everything from cross border security arrangements and access to EU-wide databases to access for UK citizens to the European Health Insurance card.
If no deal can be reached within two years of triggering Article 50, the UK will trade with the EU’s single market on World Trade Organisation terms, which are seen as the most basic trade arrangements and are used for the EU’s trade relationship with Russia.
At the same time as negotiations are ongoing with the EU, UK government officials will be seeking new trade deals with non-EU countries.
Currently the UK cannot negotiate its own free trade deals and must negotiate along with our fellow 27 EU member states.
But outside the EU, Britain will regain its seat at the World Trade Organisation, although world leaders – including US President Barack Obama – have warned Britain will be ‘at the back of the queue’ for new trade deals.
The new Prime Minister – likely to be Boris – will also have to forge a plan to unite the Tory party after months of bitter infighting.
He will have to hand several big jobs to pro-EU MPs and the likes of Theresa May and George Osborne are likely to continue in some capacity in the Government to give it at least some stability and continuity.
IF BRITAIN VOTES TO REMAIN IN THE EU
David Cameron will appear outside Downing Street to declare victory and will want to put Europe behind him as he sets out to deliver his final reform agenda before standing down before 2020
David Cameron will appear on the steps of Number 10 to declare victory and promise to get on with delivering his final reform agenda before he steps down ahead of the 2020 General Election.
He will tell the European Commission to press ahead with enacting his renegotiation, which has to be agreed by the European Parliament and the European Council.
The losing Eurosceptics will undoubtedly warn that MEPs and member states will try to water down the reforms that were agreed by the Prime Minister in February, but Cameron will head to Brussels for the European Council summit on June 28 to tell his counterparts not to mess around.
On the domestic front, Cameron could be forced to resign much sooner than he wants to and much will depend on the margin of victory. Backbench Tory MPs – angered at Cameron’s tactics during the campaign – have already signalled they will trigger a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister after a win for Remain, which would hand Boris Johnson his long-awaited chance to run for the top job.
Installing a Brexit leader would also give the Tories a chance to unite after months of bitter infighting.
A small winning margin will give Brexit Tories enough to say they have nearly half of the country on their side and with Cameron already pledging to step down before the 2020 election, many in the party will not want a ‘lame duck’ Prime Minister in charge.
In the subsequent leadership contest it is likely that Tory MPs will nominate one Brexit MP and one pro-EU MP to put forward to battle it out for the party membership vote.
Many expect Johnson to go up against either George Osborne or Theresa May in the leadership contest, in which all the wounds of the bitter referendum campaign will continue to be torn open until a winner is declared – perhaps in time for the Conservative party conference at the start of October.
On the other hand, a double-digit win for Remain would give Cameron the impetus to continue in Number 10 and he could also take the wide margin of victory to carry out a purge of Brexit ministers.
He is likely to punish the most hostile of his frontbench team, with the likes of Employment minister Priti Patel and Defence minister Penny Mordaunt set to face the chop for directing heavy criticism at Cameron’s EU stance over the past weeks.
Cameron will demand the Brexit campaign accept that the question of Britain’s membership of the EU is over for a generation as he attempts to patch together a deeply divided party.
The vast majority of Eurosceptics in the party will probably rule the prospect of a second referendum as long as Cameron announces plans for a British bill of rights to replace the Human Rights Act, which binds Britain to rulings at the European Court on Human Rights – a separate body that is not part of the EU.
They will also demand a sovereignty bill that restores Britain’s supremacy over EU law.
David Cameron (left) will tell European Council President Donald Tusk (right) to press ahead with implementing Britain’s renegotiation if voters back staying in the EU in the June 23 referendum