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Ian Dunt @IanDunt
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Commons debate on customs union kicking off now…
Today's debate and the vote after it will not bind government but we might get a sense of how many Tories are willing to rebel.
John Redwood makes a limp attempt to challenge Yvette Cooper, by suggesting we trade with rest of the world using WTO terms.
He's wrong (see this:…) we do not trade with rest of world on WTO terms, but under an umbrella of several EU FTAs and trade facilitation arrangements.
Also we rarely have a roll-on-roll-off arrangement with non-EU states.
Cooper made light work of him, as you can imagine. She points out that if his argument is that our trade with the rest of the world is growing, it shows that there is no limitation on that from within the EU.
Cooper response to Tory Q on single market quite brilliant. Carefully separating out the customs union debate from other areas, stresses she's looking for consensus on this limited issue in the Commons.
Basically, she's showing how you do it.
Kate Hoey asked a question. It was like a temporary warbling flummoxisation.
Something about 'wouldn't it be better if we all united the House by agreeing to agree with me?' The House did not seem to agree.
Ken Clarke is up and about to have fun, I presume…
I don't think I have ever seen him manage to match up the two bits of his tie. You would have thought that, just by chance, one would stay behind the other every so often.
"I don't think I have ever heard a speech in which I agreed with absolutely everything she uttered. Everything she said was in line with what has always been the official mainstream policy of the Conservative party for the first 50 years of my membership."
"Some of my colleagues appears to have had a strange conversion like St Paul on the way to Damascus. But I am afraid the light did not strike me."
Umunna: "He has served in this House for 48 years. Can he think of a government that has taken a decision of this gravity that will make the country poorer?"

Clarke: "Not deliberately."
Swayne behind Clarke while the latter argues for customs union membership: A caption competition in real time.
Swayne's eyebrows. Genuinely and consistently hilarious. They are rebelling against the torture of his ears.
Swayne irritation levels now reaching 80%.
Clarke: "WTO rules have suddenly been elevated to some mystic world order. I wish it were true. The Americans don't take any notice of the WTO. The Americans and the Chinese are about to start a trade war., Everything they do is in breach of the WTO."
Swayne irritation level reaches 87% at mention of Ireland
That was hilarious and I enjoyed every second of it.
Kate Hoey is up. "In a sense today I feel very alone here."

Someone shouts: "You are alone."
"They are giving a message to the European Union. They will be loving, they will be loving the division in this parliament."
Such a sad, horrible little argument. Shows in stark light the degree of conformity demanded by many Brexiters: agree or you give succour to the enemy.
Hoey delivers Spiked-style argument on a customs union damaging poor countries. I'll tweet if she addresses any of the arguments actually raised so far.
So in other words don't expect much from me.
WAIT she's addressing an argument.
"There are issues to do with the Republic of Ireland but the EU is seizing on these issues to pursue certain demands which are just not necessary."
"They are refusing to discuss any creative compromise on the issue. Everything they do is to talk down any British proposal and they are being helped by some people in this parliament."
Standard formulation: avoid detail, blame the EU, allude to magical solutions, warn of a fifth column.
I'm quite embarrassed for her.
Watch Tory interventions closely for signs of backbones among Tory moderates.…
V.good speech by Nicky Morgan: "This country is being asked to experiment at other people's pleasure, with a free trade policy where we do not know what the costs will be.
"I say to my party, if we undermine and ignore the evidence for peace in Northern Ireland and the financial security of people in this country, we will not be forgiven for a generation."
Grieves: "We are behaving in the most extraordinary and blinded fashion as we blunder around ignoring the reality." He is consistently much crosser than he used to be.
"Unless we start injecting a note of realism into what we're doing [May] will fail, this House will fail and our country will be failed."
Sarah Wollaston: "Outside of an effective customs union there is no such thing as a frictionless border. There is no escape from border checks, rules of origin, expensive infrastructure."
Unless several Tory moderates have a sudden crisis of confidence, it seems v.likely the govt will lose next month's Commons vote on the customs union.
This was pretty much the consensus going in to this afternoon - that a CU vote couldn't be won. There's been nothing so far to change that assessment.
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