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Brexit: Corbyn move to back second referendum sets cat among the pigeons

Inside Politics: Does Labour leader recognise possibility that Theresa May could get a deal over the line?

Good morning,

For the last while, most Brexit stories have had a certain Groundhog Day quality to them.

Ireland would stand hand-in-hand with the EU in declaring the backstop to avoid a hard border was going nowhere and that there could be no divorce deal without it. Senior politicians in the UK would fret publicly about how this could leave them effectively stuck in the EU. Theresa May would pledge to hold further talks with her party, other parties, the EU and whoever else fancies it. And so on and so forth until we were back at square one.

But the announcement the Labour Party would back a second referendum has certainly set the cat among the proverbial pigeons. The party will also back an amendment taking a no-deal Brexit off the table. The development poses a series of new questions that you can bet will be explored further today. For example, what exactly would be the wording of the question in any such referendum?


Would it be a simple question of staying or going? Or would it ask the people of the United Kingdom if they supported Theresa May’s deal or a no-deal?

More to the point, what is the actual political aim of this move? Is it, in fact, that Jeremy Corbyn recognises the possibility that Theresa May is finally moving in a direction where she could get a deal over the line?

There’s a lot else to explore today too.

As our lead states, Labour's move comes as EU leaders, meeting in Egypt for an EU-Arab League summit, raised the possibility of a delay to Brexit by extending the Article 50 process.

Not only would a no-deal scenario be disastrous for multiple economies, it would have real consequences for the political system both North and South in Ireland.

The lead reveals how the British government is likely to reintroduce direct rule to Northern Ireland if there is a no-deal Brexit.

The move is being planned mainly because of a significant amount of new legislation, regulations and government orders that will become necessary to deal with a no-deal Brexit.

The news highlights just how damaging the political vacuum has been in Northern Ireland, as Stormont storms ahead with its unenviable record-breaking parliament-free stint.

Murphy back in the spotlight

With all the controversy and confusion around Brexit, the cost overruns at the national children’s hospital and the wobbly confidence-and-supply deal, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has enjoyed a brief period out of the spotlight.

The Government is undoubtedly experiencing two intense storms around health and around Brexit. But senior figures in the party are, of course, aware Fine Gael will also be judged by its track record on housing.

This morning the Cabinet will put the focus on two particular groups: homeowners in mortgage arrears and non-nationals in emergency accommodation.

On the first issue, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will seek approval to draft a new law that would allow a court to consider a homeowner’s personal circumstances in repossession cases. If the idea sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It was first proposed by Minister of State for the OPW Kevin “Boxer” Moran and put forward as a Private Member’s Bill just before he took ministerial office.

The proposed new law would mean a court must take into account the circumstances of borrowers and their dependants, as well as details of any plan put forward by borrowers to try and sort the issue out.

The Government hopes the measures will help to provide reassurance to those homeowners who have fallen into arrears but who genuinely make an effort to resolve the issue.

The second group that Ministers will attempt to help is homeless non-nationals who are effectively “trapped” in emergency accommodation without entitlements to further housing supports.

The issue affects up to a third of people presenting as homeless in Dublin, who as non-Irish nationals do not have entitlements to social housing supports.

Currently homeless services are housing these individuals and families in emergency accommodation on a night-by-night basis.

There are a few other bits going to Cabinet this morning. Read the full details in this piece.

Best reads

Fiach Kelly reports from Egypt on how Leo Varadkar is "loath" to take citizenship away from people after the UK government last week decided to revoke the British citizenship of Islamic State schoolgirl Shamima Begum.

Sarah Burns has the latest on the proposed and contentious bus corridors in Dublin with news that 100 more properties in the greater Dublin area will lose part of their front gardens.

Up to two-thirds of Dublin city's industrial estates and business parks are set to be redeveloped for housing under new plans from Dublin City Council, Olivia Kelly reports.

Conor Gallagher has a piece revealing how children in residential care are far more likely to be arrested and prosecuted compared with those cared for at home and in foster placements.

Some more Brexit news here from Paul Cullen who has details of a new Lancet study showing the impact of a no-deal on the NHS.



Leaders’ Questions will be taken at 2pm.

The Order of Business will take place at 2.32pm.

The Taoiseach will take questions at 3.02pm.

Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe will take questions on his brief at 3.47pm.

The much-heralded Omnibus Brexit Bill comes before the Dáil at 5.17pm. To give it its full name, it is the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019. The Bill will move through its second stage.

The Dáil adjourns at 11pm.


Commencement matters will be taken at 2.30pm.

The Order of Business will be taken at 3.30pm.

The main event of the day in the Seanad will be in relation to what has been described as the most filibustered piece of legislation the Oireachtas has ever seen. The debate on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 continues at 4.45pm.

The Seanad adjourns at 7pm.


At 11am, the Committee of Public Accounts meets in private to discuss its latest periodic report.

The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Taoiseach will hear from the president of the Law Reform Commission, Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, on a report on tackling white-collar crime.

At 3.30pm, Minister for Education Joe McHugh is before the select Education Committee.

The Joint Committee on Climate Action has a private meeting scheduled for 6.45pm.