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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and Extension Letter
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 21 October 2019

(3 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Oct 2019, 4:51 p.m.

I am not quite sure from her expression whether the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) is welcoming the belated support of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) or regretting the fact that it was not on offer at a rather earlier stage.

Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con) - Hansard
21 Oct 2019, 4:51 p.m.

Both.

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European Union (Withdrawal) Acts
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Saturday 19 October 2019

(3 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. A five-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches will have to apply with immediate effect, although I do not anticipate that that limit will last very long.

Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con) - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 1:19 p.m.

When I arrived at the House of Commons this morning, I saw the message, “Good day for May”. I thought that perhaps consensus had come across the whole House and that it had already been decided that this deal would be supported by the House tonight. Unfortunately, my view on that was premature—although I think only premature—because, happily for England, it was a reference to Jonny May having scored the first two tries in our victory against Australia.

I hope the whole House will forgive me if I say that, standing here, I have a distinct sense of déjà vu. But today’s vote is an important one—

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 24 July 2019

(6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Leader of the House
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Can I say—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:52 p.m.

Order. Fortunately, because the hon. Gentleman’s voice carries, I was able to hear his question, but I am at least as interested to hear the answer

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for his remarks. This place is about debate, argument and discussion about the issues that we all believe in so passionately and that matter to us all. Those debates and discussions are best held when they are held with respect and courtesy. I thank my hon. Friend for the courtesy that he has shown to me in our discussions together. I look forward to probably continuing some of those discussions when I join him on the Back Benches.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 24 July 2019

(6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:14 p.m.

My first answer to the right hon. Gentleman is no. If he wants to talk about people ducking manifesto commitments and commitments made during general election campaigns, might I remind him that the Labour party and he said that they would abolish student debt? After the election, he rowed back on that promise. What else did he say during the general election campaign? He said he was committed to Trident. What did he say afterwards? He said, no, he was not committed to Trident at all. He has broken promise after promise to the people of this country.

As this is the last time that the right hon. Gentleman and I will have this exchange across these Dispatch Boxes—[Hon. Member: “Are you going to answer the question?”] I was going to say that it is a strength of our British democracy that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have these exchanges across the Dispatch Boxes every week, two swords’ lengths apart, and that no quarter is sought and none is given. That is as it should be in our adversarial parliamentary democracy. But he and I are very different people and very different politicians and we approach the issues the country faces in different ways. I have spent all but one of my years in the House on the Front Bench trying to implement the policies I believe in, while he has spent most of his time on the Back Benches campaigning for what he believes in, often against his own party, but what we have in common is a commitment to our constituencies. I saw that after the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park mosque in his constituency. Perhaps then I could finish by saying this: as a party leader who has accepted when her time is up, might I suggest that perhaps the time is now for him to do the same? [Hon. Members: “More!”]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:19 p.m.

I call Glyn Davies.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 17 July 2019

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:26 p.m.

I am sure the Prime Minister is just beyond excited.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I was going to say, Mr Speaker, such temptation has been dangled before me, and I thank my right hon. Friend for it.

First, we are very pleased with the cluster in my right hon. Friend’s constituency and the important role that that plays in our economy, in our research and our science development. The Business Secretary is in the Chamber and has heard the points my right hon. Friend has made about accelerating this process, and I am sure that the Business Department will look carefully at his request.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:35 p.m.

I am very happy to congratulate my hon. Friend on all the work that he has done for his constituency and more widely. He is absolutely right: UK Export Finance is an essential part of the Government support that can be provided to exporters. I am very pleased that the Department for International Trade has changed the rules to enable UK Export Finance to provide support for some smaller exporters, which has encouraged them. UKEF provides a vital role in our economy and our exporting around the world, and I am happy to congratulate it on the work that it does.

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:36 p.m.

I am always happy to congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford (Jeremy Lefroy), as others will, for one very good reason that the public should know: he invariably plays the ball rather than the man or the woman. He sticks to the arguments, and that is why he is respected not only by his constituents, but across the House.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 10 July 2019

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First of all, I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that such initiatives at a local level are an important part of the wider work we are doing on climate change and on making sure we leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.

I thank my hon. Friend for his invitation, and I will look to see how busy my diary is in the autumn. [Interruption.] Well, you never know. I may have a bit more free time in the autumn. This is an important issue, and I commend him for taking this initiative at a local level, because raising awareness of climate change at a local level is important for all of us.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:46 p.m.

It is certainly an innovative approach to the issue of invitations, upon which the hon. Member for Hitchin and Harpenden (Bim Afolami) is doubtless to be complimented.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 03 July 2019

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman asks what I would say to workers at Ellesmere Port. I would tell them that I and the vast majority of Conservative Members in this House voted to protect their jobs. The Labour party whipped three times against a deal. The Labour party whipped three times for no deal. The threat to those Ellesmere Port jobs is from the Labour party. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Order. Ms Onn, you are very over-excitable. Calm yourself.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am sure that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has heard the particular case that the hon. Lady has raised in this House. We do want to ensure—we are working, and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Women and Equalities is working, on ensuring this—that women are able to take their place in the workforce. We do see women in the workforce at record levels. We want to ensure, and we are working on providing, greater economic empowerment for women so that they can take their place. I am sure that the Secretary of State or the relevant Minister will respond on the specific case.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:51 p.m.

I think it only right that if the Prime Minister wants to respond in a moment, she must certainly should do so. Let me just say to the hon. Member for Swansea East that the sheer passion, sincerity and integrity with which she has spoken and conducted herself are an example to us all, and that the determination that she has shown is an enormous credit to her. Her constituency, her party, the House, and people across politics and beyond are inspired by the way in which she has behaved, and we are unstinting in our admiration for her. Before the statement, let us hear from the Prime Minister on this subject because she has brought matters to fruition.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I also commend the hon. Lady for the work that she has done? This was born out of personal sadness, but many families will benefit from the passion, commitment and determination that she has shown in championing this issue. She said that she has sometimes been impatient. Sometimes you have to be impatient, because it is that impatience that spurs others on. I am pleased that we have been able to introduce the fund, and I echo Mr Speaker’s comments in commending the hon. Lady for the way in which he has championed this cause. As I say, we share and are concerned about the personal sadness that she went through, but she has taken that and put it to good use for the benefit of families up and down the country.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 26 June 2019

(7 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First, as I have made clear, we are seeking permission to appeal the recent judgment. The judgment is not about whether the Government made the right or wrong decisions, but about the decision-making process and whether it was rational. We are considering the implications of the judgment, alongside seeking permission to appeal, and while we do that, we will not grant any new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that might be used in the conflict in Yemen. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the conflict in Yemen. As I have just said, let us remember what happened and why we are seeing this conflict in Yemen: it was the overthrow of the internationally recognised Government by rebel insurgents. We are all concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. [Interruption.] The shadow Foreign Secretary might like, as this is an area of concern to her remit, to actually listen to what the Government are doing. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Order. The questions must be heard and the answers must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:13 p.m.

We are all concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. That is why, since the start of the conflict in 2015, our total commitment to Yemen now stands at £770 million. We are one of the major contributors to support for the humanitarian effort. Ultimately, the only way to resolve this issue is through a political settlement. That is why we are supporting the efforts of the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:43 p.m.

I am very concerned to hear the case that my hon. Friend has brought before the House of his constituent and Spinraza. I will ensure that it is looked into. If NICE says that Spinraza is available, then obviously it should stand by its word.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:43 p.m.

If the hon. Gentleman does not get a result, and he wants it to be debated again before the summer recess, let me tell him: it will be debated. He can be quite certain of that.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 19 June 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to reference the fact that we need those skills for our economy and our society in the future. I am very happy to congratulate Lewis on being the UK representative for bricklaying in the WorldSkills competition in Russia. I wish him all the very best and I am sure the whole House will wish him all the very best as he carries the UK standard with him.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

It is always said that Winston Churchill was a 60-bricks-an-hour man—a very good bricklayer himself, I must advise the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, 12:34 p.m.

First, we mark Windrush Day on 22 June; that day has been set up to recognise the contribution that the Windrush generation made to our life, our society and our economy here in the UK. What lay behind the issue in relation to the problems that some members of the Windrush generation have faced was the fact that when they came into the UK, they were not given documentary evidence of their immigration status, and, as their countries gained independence, they were not given that documentary evidence of their status—[Interruption.] It is no good shouting “Rubbish”. That is what lay behind it, and there were cases of people in the Windrush generation—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. This is very unseemly behaviour. Members are entitled to ask orderly questions, but having asked the questions, they should then have the courtesy to listen to the Prime Minister’s answer.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, 12:34 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

That is what lay at the heart of the issue in relation to the Windrush generation. It is the case that people in the Windrush generation faced these difficulties as a result of not having that documentary evidence both under Labour Governments in the past and, more recently, under this Government. The Home Office is working to put that right. People who are concerned about this should contact the Home Office taskforce and they will get the help and support that they need.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 12 June 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:53 p.m.

Ten leadership elections and never a candidate! My hon. Friend has missed his opportunity again. I am sure that all the candidates have heard the point that he made.

I have not had a chance to look at the ombudsman’s report. I am concerned—we have seen over the years a number of parts of the NHS where the mental health services have not been delivering what they should be delivering for individuals. It is important, as we have put mental health as a central part of what we want to see developing and improving in the health service, that we look at not only the money that is being put in, but how, at local level, trusts are operating and delivering services.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman might not have been a candidate so far, but he is scarcely at the midpoint of his parliamentary career, and we know not what awaits us, or him, in the future.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 22 May 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

There is only one party in Scotland guaranteeing no more referendums, and that is the Conservative party. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Colleagues, calm yourselves. Dignity. Restraint. Let us hear Mr Heappey.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

As I said earlier, I recognise that this is a worrying time for the hon. Gentleman’s constituents and others. The Government have been actively looking at what we can do. We have given support through the ETS agreement, but have not lawfully been able to give the further support that was requested. I will certainly meet the hon. Gentleman and a group of MPs to consider the issue. This is about one company, owned by Greybull Capital. However, we have taken steps in the past to ensure that the United Kingdom continues to have a steel industry, and we will want to look at the wider issue.

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:56 p.m.

Order. Just before we come to the Prime Minister’s statement, I think it is fitting for me to refer again to something that was mentioned at the start of questions to the Prime Minister by the Leader of the Opposition.

Three trawlers set out from Hull during January and February of 1968 and never returned, leading to the loss of 58 lives. Yvonne Marie Blenkinsop is the last surviving member of a group of women from Hull who became known, following that tragedy, as the headscarf revolutionaries. The women campaigned for better protection for their husbands, fathers, brothers and sons. Through their actions, countless lives have been saved. I am reliably informed that Yvonne Marie Blenkinsop is with us today, observing our proceedings. We salute her and her fellow women, and we extend to her the warmest welcome to the House of Commons. [Applause.]

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Leaving the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 22 May 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:57 p.m.

Before I make my statement, may I too recognise the work of Yvonne Marie Blenkinsop and others, and indeed all those who have campaigned over the years to ensure that those in the workplace can have the degree of safety and security that they need?

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the Government’s work to deliver Brexit by putting forward a new deal that Members of this House can stand behind.

We need to see Brexit through, to honour the result of the referendum and to deliver the change the British people so clearly demanded. I sincerely believe that most Members of this House feel the same—that, for all our division and disagreement, we believe in democracy, and that we want to make good on the promise we made to the British people when we asked them to decide on the future of our EU membership. As to how we make that happen, recent votes have shown that there is no majority in this House for leaving with no deal, and this House has voted against revoking article 50. It is clear that the only way forward is leaving with a deal, but it is equally clear that this will not happen without compromise on all sides of the debate. That starts with the Government, which is why we have just held six weeks of detailed talks with the Opposition—talks that the Leader of the Opposition chose to end before a formal agreement was reached, but which none the less revealed areas of common ground.

Having listened to the Opposition, to other party leaders, to the devolved Administrations and to business leaders, trade unionists and others, we are now making a 10-point offer to Members across the House—10 changes that address the concerns raised by right hon. and hon. Members; 10 binding commitments that will be enshrined in legislation so they cannot simply be ignored; and 10 steps that will bring us closer to the bright future that awaits our country once we end the political impasse and get Brexit done.

First, we will protect British jobs by seeking as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement. The Government will be placed under a legal duty to negotiate our future relationship on this basis.

Secondly, we will provide much-needed certainty for our vital manufacturing and agricultural sectors by keeping up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border. Such a commitment, which will also be enshrined in legislation, will help protect thousands of skilled jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.

Thirdly, we will empower Parliament to break the deadlock over future customs arrangements. Both the Government and the Opposition agree that we must have as close to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border as possible, protecting the jobs and livelihoods that are sustained by our existing trade with the EU, but while we agree on the ends, we disagree on the means. The Government have already put forward a proposal that delivers the benefits of a customs union but with the ability for the UK to determine its own trade and development policy. The Opposition are sceptical of our ability to negotiate that and do not believe that an independent trade policy is in the national interest. They would prefer a comprehensive customs union with a UK say in EU trade policy, but with the EU negotiating on our behalf.

As part of the cross-party discussions, the Government offered a compromise option of a temporary customs union on goods only, including a UK say in relevant EU trade policy, so that the next Government can decide their preferred direction. We were not able to reach agreement, so instead we will commit in law to let Parliament decide this issue and to reflect the outcome of this process in legislation.

Fourthly, to address concerns that a future Government could roll back hard-won protections for employees, we will publish a new workers’ rights Bill. As I have told the House many times, successive British Administrations of all colours have granted rights and protections to British workers well above the standards demanded by Brussels. I know that people want guarantees, and I am happy to provide them. If passed by Parliament, this Bill will guarantee that the rights enjoyed by British workers can be no less favourable than those of their counterparts in the EU—both now and in the future—and we will discuss further amendments with trade unions and business.

Fifthly, the new Brexit deal will also guarantee that there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU. We will establish a new and wholly independent office of environmental protection, able to uphold standards and enforce compliance.

Sixthly, the withdrawal agreement Bill will place a legal duty on Government to seek changes to the political declaration that will be needed to reflect this new deal, and I am confident that we will be successful in doing so.

Seventhly, the Government will include in the withdrawal agreement Bill at its introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum. I have made my own view clear on this many times—I am against a second referendum. We should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British people to vote in a second one. What would it say about our democracy if the biggest vote in our history were to be rerun because this House did not like the outcome? What would it do to that democracy and what forces would it unleash? However, I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue. To those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal, I say that you need a deal and therefore a withdrawal agreement Bill to make it happen. Let it have its Second Reading and then those MPs can make their case to Parliament. If this House votes for a referendum, it would require the Government to make provisions for such a referendum, including legislation if it wanted to ratify the withdrawal agreement.

Eighthly, Parliament will be guaranteed a much greater role in the second part of the Brexit process: the negotiations over our future relationship with the EU. In line with the proposal put forward by the hon. Members for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) and for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell), the new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons will approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations. MPs will also be asked to approve the treaty governing that relationship before the Government sign it.

Ninthly, the new Brexit deal will legally oblige the Government to seek to conclude the alternative arrangements process by December 2020, avoiding any need for the Northern Ireland backstop coming into force. This commitment is made in the spirit of the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady), passed by this House on 29 January. Although it is not possible to use alternative arrangements to replace the backstop in the withdrawal agreement, we will ensure that they are a viable alternative.

Finally, tenthly, we will ensure that, should the backstop come into force, Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland. We will prohibit the proposal that a future Government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory, and we will deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland in the December 2017 joint report in full. We will implement paragraph 50 of the joint report in law. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive will have to give their consent on a cross-community basis for new regulations that are added to the backstop. We will work with our confidence and supply partners on how these commitments should be entrenched in law, so that Northern Ireland cannot be separated from the United Kingdom.

Following the end of EU election purdah, the withdrawal agreement Bill will be published on Friday so that the House has the maximum possible time to study its detail. If Parliament passes the Bill before the summer recess, the UK will leave the EU by the end of July. We will be out of the EU political structures and out of ever closer union. We will stop British laws being enforced by a European court. We will end free movement. We will stop making vast annual payments to the EU budget. By any definition, that alone is delivering Brexit. By leaving with a deal we can do so much more besides: we can protect jobs, guarantee workers’ rights, and maintain the close security partnerships that do so much to keep us all safe. We will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and we can bring an end to the months—years—of increasingly bitter argument and division that have both polarised and paralysed our politics. We can move on, move forwards, and get on with the job that we were sent here to do and what we got into politics to do. That is what we can achieve if we support this new deal.

Reject the deal, and all we have before us is division and deadlock. We risk leaving with no deal, something that this House is clearly against. We risk stopping Brexit altogether, something that the British people would simply not tolerate. We risk creating further division at a time when we need to be acting together in the national interest. We also guarantee a future in which our politics becomes still more polarised and voters increasingly despair as they see us failing to do what they asked of us. None of us wants to see that happen. The opportunity of Brexit is too large and the consequences of failure too grave to risk further delay. In the weeks ahead, there will be opportunities for MPs from all parts of the House to have their say, to table amendments, and to shape the Brexit that they and their constituents want to see.

In time, another Prime Minister will be standing at this Dispatch Box, but while I am here, I have a duty to be clear with the House about the facts. If we are to deliver Brexit in this Parliament, we will have to pass a withdrawal agreement Bill. We will not do so without holding votes on the issues that have divided us the most. That includes votes on customs arrangements and on a second referendum. We can pretend otherwise and carry on arguing and getting nowhere, but in the end our job in this House is to take decisions, not to duck them. I will put those decisions to this House because that is my duty and because it is the only way that we can deliver Brexit. Let us demonstrate what this House can achieve. Let us come together, honour the referendum, deliver what we promised the British people, and build a successful future for our whole country. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

As in the normal progress of these things, whipping decisions will be taken when we see the proposals on the table. I reiterate the point I made in response to the right hon. Gentleman. The key issues raised around manufacturing industry are, yes, the benefits of a customs union—they are in the political declaration already—and ensuring we reduce friction for trade at the border. That is not just about customs, but the benefits of the customs union are in the political declaration already.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 1:50 p.m.

Ah yes, a Lincolnshire grandee: Sir Edward Leigh.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 2 p.m.

I do not think I would have been standing here at the Dispatch Box and have been in receipt of some of the comments that I have been in receipt of, from colleagues on my side and across the House, if I did not believe in what I was doing. I am doing it because I genuinely believe that it is in the national interest for us to leave the European Union with a deal. The only way to get a deal through is to get a withdrawal agreement Bill through this House. There are issues that this House disagrees on. I believe that those issues should be put to the House and it will determine them. At that point, the House and all Members of it will have to come to some decisions.

At the moment, it has been possible through indicative votes to give indications, but they have not been decisions that will be put into legislation. When the time comes to look at this matter, these will be decisions about what should go ahead in the Government’s position and what should be in legislation. People will not be able to duck the issues. It will be necessary to come to an agreement. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 2:03 p.m.

The hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) does not need to chunter from a sedentary position. He is a very illustrious representative of Huddersfield, but the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) has just used a noun that, I hazard a guess, has probably not been used on any other occasion in this Parliament, or if it has, only by the hon. Gentleman.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 2:06 p.m.

There are different definitions. A showy and useless item, allegedly, or an unnecessary or inconsequential fuss, or something—but that is only the view of the matter from the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg). I am not expressing any view on that matter; I was just intrigued by the endless lexicon of the hon. Gentleman.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 2 p.m.

I have to say, I think that when my hon. Friend the Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) used that word, he was not intending it to be complimentary about the package that the Government have brought forward. My right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) is absolutely right: for the Bill to get through, for the treaty to be ratified and for us to be able to leave at the end of July, it is about not only getting Second Reading through but ensuring that the Bill is confirmed on Third Reading. By getting through Second Reading, it is possible to have those debates during the progress of the Bill on the key issues that remain and on which there remains disagreement between Members of this House, such that it will be possible—I believe—to come to an agreement that can see us leave the European Union.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 01 May 2019

(9 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The best route out of poverty for people—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Order. The House must calm itself. We are at an early stage. The question has been put, and the answer from the Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:13 p.m.

The best route out of poverty for people is to be in the workplace. We want to ensure that more, better-paid jobs are being created for people in this country, and that is what we are seeing under this Government. Record numbers of people are in employment, real wages are rising for the first time in a decade, and this Government are taking decisions that are helping people to keep more money in their pockets. Tax cuts for 32 million people, an increase in the national living wage, and a freeze in fuel duty have all been of major benefit to people, and what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He voted against fuel duty freezes and tax cuts over a dozen times.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. I absolutely respect the sincerity and public-spiritedness of the hon. Gentleman, but in general terms it is not desirable to refer to sub judice cases, and therefore I know the Prime Minister will want to take into account that consideration in her response. But the hon. Gentleman has said what he has said and the Prime Minister will say what she wants to say.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:41 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I say to my hon. Friend that we have been clear that the current system for dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past is not working well for anyone. As I have said before in this House, around 3,500 people were killed in the troubles. The vast majority were murdered by terrorists. Many of these cases require further investigation, including the deaths of hundreds of members of the security forces. The system to investigate the past does need to change to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the troubles, but also to ensure that our armed forces and police officers are not unfairly treated. That is why, across Government, we are continuing to work on proposals on how best to move forward, but the Ministry of Defence is also looking at the wider issue of what more can be done to ensure that service personnel are not unfairly pursued through the courts in relation to service overseas, including considering legislation.

See more like "European Council"

European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Thursday 11 April 2019

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend has continued to champion the concept of leaving without a deal with the European Union. I believe that it is important for this country that we are able to leave in an orderly way. He references WTO terms. We trade with many countries across the world not on WTO terms but on the terms that are determined by the EU trade agreements with those countries.

However, leaving without a deal is not just about our trade arrangements. It is about other issues. It is about our security as a country as well. There are other matters that a deal will cover. I continue to believe that leaving with a deal in an orderly way is in the best interests of this country, and that is what I am pursuing.

Mr Speaker Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 2:12 p.m.

In the midst of these important and inevitably contentious exchanges, may I ask the House to join me in warmly welcoming in the Gallery today the former Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament David Carter, accompanied by Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, the honourable Anne Tolley MP. It is a great delight to welcome you both. You come from a country that we regard as a great friend, and David you have been a great friend to us and to me. Welcome.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 3:09 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend and thank the commuters from Chislehurst for the comments that have been brought into the House. That is absolutely right. I think that people recognise the importance of compromise and recognise the importance of working this through, finding a solution, and getting it done.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 3:09 p.m.

I feel sure that the commuters of Chislehurst were greatly encouraged to be accompanied on their journey by the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill).

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We are looking to ensure that we obtain the benefits of a customs union that have been identified in the political declaration, and we are continuing to move forward on that. On trade policy, we believe it is right to have a good trade agreement with the European Union for the future, but also to have good trade agreements with the rest of the world, and the ability to negotiate them.

Mr Speaker Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 3:29 p.m.

We conclude with a question from the distinguished Chair of the Procedure Committee.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 10 April 2019

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:19 p.m.

As I have said, I have made my position clear. I think it is a little difficult for many of us in the House to see the right hon. Gentleman, week after week, stand up and say that the UK should stay in the European Union, given that Scottish independence would have meant taking Scotland out of the European Union. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:20 p.m.

Order. There is a lot of noise. Let us hear the hon. Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison).

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his successful campaign to get that access at Hillside station. We need to continue the programme of opening up routes for disabled people by ensuring they have access to stations. We are moving closer to a transport sector that is truly accessible. The changes that will take place at Hillside are an example of that. If the programme continues to be delivered successfully, the Department for Transport will make submissions for further funding in due course. It is absolutely clear that we are providing extra opportunities for disabled people. I am pleased to say that 900,000 more disabled people are now in the workplace. Access is important for them. The campaigns that my hon. Friend and other right hon. and hon. Friends have run to get access to their stations are an important part of that.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

In wishing the hon. Gentleman a happy birthday, I call Luke Pollard.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 03 April 2019

(9 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman cited the last Labour Government—I did not realise that he was such a fan of the last Labour Government. He seemed to spend the entire time voting against them when he had a Labour Government.

Let us just talk about what is happening under this Government: a record rate of employment; wages growing at their fastest for a decade; debt falling; a long-term plan for the NHS, and the biggest cash boost in the NHS’s history; a skills-based immigration system; more money for police, local councils and schools; the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights for over 20 years; the freeing of councils to build more homes; world-class public services—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Order. Mr Russell-Moyle, you are behaving in a truly delinquent fashion. Calm yourself, young man. I had to have words with you yesterday. You are a bit over-eager. It is not the sort of thing that I would ever have done as a Back Bencher.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:14 p.m.

World-class public services; better jobs; more homes; and a stronger economy—Conservatives delivering on the things that matter.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am meeting the First Minister of Scotland later today, and we will be talking to her about Scotland. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Order. The right hon. Gentleman asked a question, and the Prime Minister is answering it. Let us hear, fully and courteously, the answer.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. As I say, I am meeting the First Minister of Scotland, and the First Minister of Wales, later today. The right hon. Gentleman asks why I offered to meet the Leader of the Opposition. I am happy to meet Members from across the House to discuss the Brexit issue, but I think I am right in saying that the Leader of the Opposition and I both want to ensure that we leave the European Union with a deal, whereas of course the right hon. Gentleman, as he has just said, has a policy of revoking article 50. That means not leaving the European Union at all.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

First, I thank my hon. Friend for his service as a Government Minister since 2017. He has worked extremely hard, serving as both a Wales Office Minister and a Government Whip simultaneously, and I am sorry that he has resigned. I also thank him for raising the important issue of access to public transport, particularly access to stations for people with disabilities. He asked me to add my weight to the campaign, but I have to say that his considerable weight has been behind the campaign for a long time. [Laughter.] As a campaigner!

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:21 p.m.

Order. The Prime Minister was referring to the hon. Gentleman’s qualities as a campaigner. That is what she was saying. She was not looking at the hon. Gentleman when she made that remark; she was saying it on the basis of her knowledge of him.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As I said, my hon. Friend has been campaigning hard on the issue for some time. I understand that the Department for Transport will announce tomorrow the stations that will benefit from funding for accessibility, if my hon. Friend can have just a little patience and wait for the announcement.

See more like "United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union"

United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Friday 29 March 2019

(10 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Attorney General
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Mar 2019, 2:14 p.m.

The deal that we have agreed and the arrangements and proposals that we have put forward absolutely apply to the 48% who voted remain, because they recognise the necessary balance between delivering on the result of the referendum and doing so in a way that protects jobs, livelihoods and people’s security.

Last week the EU Council agreed that article 50 could be extended to 22 May if the House approved the withdrawal agreement this week. That would give us enough time to take the withdrawal agreement Bill through Parliament, we would not have to hold European parliamentary elections, and we would leave the European Union. It also agreed, however, that if we did not approve the withdrawal agreement by tonight, the extension would only until 12 April, which is not long enough to ratify a deal. So anyone who wants to leave with a deal would have to support seeking a further extension. Any such extension would probably be a long one, and that would certainly mean holding European elections. So approving the withdrawal agreement today avoids a cliff edge in two weeks’ time; it avoids European elections; it avoids a long extension that would at least delay and could destroy Brexit.

To secure this extension and to give us a firm exit date, we do not need to agree the whole deal today—just the withdrawal agreement. I believe that there is an overwhelming majority in this House for the withdrawal agreement. Three quarters of Conservative MPs backed it in the last meaningful vote, and Opposition MPs I have spoken to tell me that their problem is not with the withdrawal agreement, but with the political declaration.

So I want to address the central argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition again this afternoon: that voting for the motion will enable a blind Brexit. It will not, and for three reasons. First, if you want to leave with a deal, then, whatever future relationship you want, it needs to sit alongside this withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement is fixed. It is part of any deal.

Second, agreeing this motion today is not ratifying the whole deal; that will only happen once the withdrawal agreement Bill has passed through all its stages, in this House and the other place, and has received Royal Assent. What this motion today does is give us the time we need to pass the necessary legislation and complete the current debate that the House is considering about our future relationship. The Government stand by the current political declaration, but we are not asking the House to approve it today. Nor does today’s vote pre-judge or pre-empt the outcome of the process run by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin). In fact, for those options being considered, approval of this withdrawal agreement is a prerequisite.

Third, in the next phase of negotiations, we have committed to give Parliament a significant and ongoing role in the process. Mr Speaker, if you had selected the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell) and others, the Government would have accepted it. If this motion carries today, we will bring forward a withdrawal agreement Bill that will include commitments to implement that amendment and we will discuss the specific drafting of that with those who supported the amendment.

So by voting for this motion, Members are not closing any doors. They will still have the ability, through the withdrawal agreement Bill, to influence that future relationship. Today’s motion is not about a blind Brexit; it is about a guaranteed Brexit. Today we can give the public and businesses the certainty they need. Today we can show that we stand by our word. Today we can show that we can come together in the national interest. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. The Prime Minister is addressing the House and must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Today we can show that we can come together in the national interest. Today we can take a step forward together.

This is a difficult day for Members right across the House. I am asking Members to take a hard decision, and I know that.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Can I say to the hon. Gentleman, as I have said to the House before, that if he looks at the economic analysis and the different types of Brexit that could take place, he will see that the deal that delivers on the result of the referendum and has the best economic outcome for this country is the deal that the Government have put forward?

As I said, I know that this is a difficult day for Members right across the House. I am asking them to make a hard decision, and I know that. I am asking some hon. Members to vote for a Brexit that is less than they hoped for, which is not easy. I am asking other hon. Members on the Opposition Benches to help me deliver on the instruction of the British people, and that is not easy either. There are good Labour Members who are as determined as I am to deliver the Brexit that their constituents voted for, and as willing as I am to make a compromise to move our country forward. At this historic moment for our country it is right to put aside self and party; it is right to accept the responsibility given to us by the British people, and that is what I have done. I have said that I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Our proceedings are being widely watched. Please let us treat one another with respect. The Prime Minister is winding up the debate and must be heard. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have said that I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended to secure the right outcome for our country. When the Division bell rings in a few moments’ time, every one of us will have to look into our hearts and decide what is best for our constituents and our country.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 27 March 2019

(10 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

We hope the ambassador’s palate was satisfied. I dare say we will be hearing about it if it was not.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, midnight

I assure my hon. Friend, having recently visited north-east Lincolnshire, that we all enjoy our visits there and seeing the many opportunities across the economy. He talked about seafood and fishing opportunities. He is absolutely right: ensuring that as we leave the European Union we have the ability to have our own independent trade policy means that we will be able to have free trade agreements around the world, including with the United States. As we have heard on many occasions, we are keen on both sides of the Atlantic to be able to pursue that free trade agreement.

See more like "Topical Questions"

Topical Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 25 March 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Ministry of Defence
Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:29 p.m.

Order. We must now move on to the statement from the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:34 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on last week’s European Council. Before the Council, I wrote to President Tusk to seek formal approval for the legally binding assurances on the Northern Ireland backstop and alternative arrangements agreed in Strasbourg on 11 March. I reported your statement, Mr Speaker, which made it clear that for a further meaningful vote to take place, the deal would have to be

“fundamentally different—not different in terms of wording, but different in terms of substance”.—[Official Report, 18 March 2019; Vol. 656, c. 782.]

I explained that, as a result, some right hon. and hon. Members were seeking further changes to the withdrawal agreement, and I requested a short extension to the article 50 process, to 30 June. I regret having to do so—I wanted to deliver Brexit on 29 March—but I am conscious of my duties as Prime Minister to all parts of our United Kingdom and of the damage to that Union that leaving without a deal could do when one part of it is without devolved government and unable, therefore, to prepare properly.

The Council formally endorsed the legal instrument relating to the withdrawal agreement and the joint statement supplementing the political declaration. This should increase the confidence of the House that the backstop is unlikely ever to be used, and would only be temporary if it is. But the Council also reiterated, once again, its long-standing position that there could be no reopening of the withdrawal agreement. So however the House decides to proceed this week, everyone should be absolutely clear that changing the withdrawal agreement is simply not an option.

Turning to extending article 50, this has always required the unanimous agreement of the other 27 member states. As I have made clear before, it was never guaranteed that the EU would agree to an extension—or the terms on which we requested it—and it did not. Instead, the Council agreed that if the House approves the withdrawal agreement this week, our departure will be extended to 11 pm on 22 May. This will allow time for Parliament to pass the withdrawal agreement Bill, which is legally necessary for the deal to be ratified. But if the House does not approve the withdrawal agreement this week, our departure will instead be extended only to 11 pm on 12 April. At this point, we would either leave with no deal, or we would

“indicate a way forward before this date for consideration by the European Council”.

If that involved a further extension, it would certainly mean participation in the European parliamentary elections.

The Council’s conclusions were subsequently turned into a legal decision, with which the UK agreed and which came into force last Friday. So although the Government have today laid a statutory instrument, which will be debated later this week, to reflect that decision in our own domestic legislation, the date for our departure from the EU has now changed in international law. Were the House not to pass the statutory instrument, it would cause legal confusion and damaging uncertainty, but it would not have any effect on the date of our exit.

I continue to believe that the right path forward is for the United Kingdom to leave the EU with a deal as soon as possible, which is now on 22 May, but it is with great regret that I have had to conclude that, as things stand, there is still not sufficient support in the House to bring back the deal for a third meaningful vote. I continue to have discussions with colleagues across the House to build support, so that we can bring the vote forward this week and guarantee Brexit. If we cannot, the Government have made a commitment that we would work across the House to find a majority on a way forward.

The amendment in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) seeks to provide for that process by taking control of the Order Paper. I continue to believe that doing so would set an unwelcome precedent, which would overturn the balance between our democratic institutions, so the Government will oppose the amendment this evening. But in order to fulfil our commitments to the House, we would seek to provide Government time in order for the process to proceed. It would be for the House to put forward options for consideration and to determine the procedure by which it wished to do so.

I must confess that I am sceptical about such a process of indicative votes. When we have tried this kind of thing in the past, it has produced contradictory outcomes or no outcome at all. There is a further risk when it comes to Brexit, as the UK is only one half of the equation and the votes could lead to an outcome that is unnegotiable with the EU. No Government could give a blank cheque to commit to an outcome without knowing what it is, so I cannot commit the Government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by the House, but I do commit to engaging constructively with the process.

There are many different views on the way forward, but I want to explain the options as I understand them. The default outcome continues to be to leave with no deal, but the House has previously expressed its opposition to that path, and may very well do so again this week. The alternative is to pursue a different form of Brexit or a second referendum, but the bottom line remains that if the House does not approve the withdrawal agreement this week and is not prepared to countenance leaving without a deal, we will have to seek a longer extension. This would entail the UK having to hold European elections, and it would mean that we will not have been able to guarantee Brexit. These are now choices that the House will have the opportunity to express its view on.

This is the first chance I have had to address the House since my remarks last Wednesday evening—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:38 p.m.

Order. The House must calm itself. The Prime Minister is addressing the House and must be heard. Colleagues know, from the record, that they will have a full opportunity to question the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:39 p.m.

I expressed my frustration with our collective failure to take a decision, but I know that many Members across the House are frustrated too, and we all have difficult jobs to do. People on all sides of the debate hold passionate views, and I respect those differences. I thank all those colleagues who have supported the deal so far, and those who have taken the time to meet with me to discuss their concerns.

I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision, and in doing so we must confront the reality of the hard choices before us: unless this House agrees to it, no deal will not happen; no Brexit must not happen; and a slow Brexit that extends article 50 beyond 22 May, forces the British people to take part in European elections, and gives up control of any of our borders, laws, money or trade, is not a Brexit that will bring the British people together. I know that the deal I have put forward is a compromise—it seeks to deliver on the referendum and retain trust in our democracy, while also respecting the concerns of those who voted to remain—but if this House can back it, we could be out of the European Union in less than two months. There would no further extensions, no threat to Brexit and no risk of a no deal. That, I believe, is the way to deliver the Brexit that the British people voted for. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:49 p.m.

The shadow Foreign Secretary shouts, “That’s not good enough.” Let us just think about this for a moment. First, we do not know which options will be tabled. Secondly, we do not know which amendments will be selected. But there is another important point: no one would want to support an option that contradicted the manifesto on which they stood for election to this House. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will be opening the debate this afternoon, and will refer to the processes of the House that will be involved.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that it was important that MPs were elected here to take responsibility and make decisions. But the MPs elected to the House at this time have a duty to respect the result of the referendum that took place in 2016. Attempts to stop the result of that referendum being put in place or to change the result of that referendum are not respecting the voters and they are not respecting our democracy.

Finally, the right hon. Gentleman mentioned the fact that a number of people had marched on the question of a second referendum. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:49 p.m.

Order. The House is in a very agitated state, but we are at an early stage in the proceedings—calm.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that a march for a second referendum took place. It is, in fact, the right hon. Gentleman’s policy, and I noticed that his deputy went on the march. I thought that the right hon. Gentleman normally jumped at any opportunity to go on a march, but he was not actually there on this occasion; I can only assume that he was involved but not present.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Throughout the debates we have had, one of the concerns that many people across the House have raised relates to the political declaration and the fact that it was not legal text. They were concerned to, if you like, tie it down further, which is what we did in our discussion with the European Union. I am sure my right hon. Friend has also seen the terms of the Council conclusions, but we have always worked to ensure that the political declaration could be firmed up—if one likes to describe it as such—to give greater confidence in that sort of future relationship.

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 4:15 p.m.

It is very good indeed to see the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton South East (Mr McFadden) back in his place and manifestly in rude health.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What I have genuinely been trying to achieve through everything that I have been doing is ensuring that we respect the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, and that we respect Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom. It is the case, as I have said, that the remarks about the border have been made—I think I am right in saying—by the Taoiseach and others previously, and have then been contradicted by the European Commission in terms of what might be necessary. I merely say that the situation in relation to the European Union’s proposal is that it has been very clear about EU laws and the necessity of those laws being applied.

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 4:31 p.m.

Order. I have no wish to distract Members from the importance of these matters, but there has been quite a lot of naughty behaviour this afternoon, including the behaviour of the right hon. Members for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) and for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) in repeatedly using the word “you”, which is unparliamentary. I am looking to a custodian of our fine traditions of parliamentary courtesy, and I need look no further than Victoria Prentis.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

In that case, the hon. Gentleman’s question is perfectly orderly.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 2:30 p.m.

My hon. Friend is right that the no-deal preparations have been, and are continuing to be, put in place. He expressed a wish for us to leave with a deal, and I want us to leave with a deal. The point that I made in my statement is that this House has already shown on a number of occasions that it wants to try to ensure that we do not leave without a deal. The best route is to leave with a deal, and I think my hon. Friend indicated that he agreed with that position.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 20 March 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

Perhaps it would be helpful, in response to that question, if I update the House on the forthcoming European Council and the issue of article 50 extension. On Thursday, the House voted in favour of a short extension if the House had supported a meaningful vote before this week’s European Council. The motion also made it clear that a longer extension would oblige the United Kingdom to hold elections to the European Parliament. I do not believe that such elections would be in anyone’s interests. The idea that, three years after voting to leave the EU, the people of this country should be asked to elect a new set of MEPs is, I believe, unacceptable. It would be a failure to deliver on the referendum decision that this House said it would honour. I have—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:06 p.m.

Order. There is a long way to go and what the Prime Minister is saying must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I have therefore this morning written to President Tusk, the President of the European Council, informing him that the UK seeks an extension to the article 50 period until 30 June. Copies of the letter are being placed in the Library. The Government intend to bring forward proposals for a third meaningful vote. If that vote is passed, the extension will give the House time to consider the withdrawal agreement Bill. If not, the House will have to decide how to proceed. But as Prime Minister—[Interruption.] As Prime Minister, I am not prepared to delay Brexit any further than 30 June.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman talks about trying to achieve something sensible. It is he who abstained last week on a vote on a second referendum, despite the fact that it is Labour party policy, and then had the nerve to stand up in this House and say that he reiterated Labour’s support for a second referendum. He has no idea what he wants on the future of this issue.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about a long extension. I am opposed to a long extension. I do not want a long extension. Setting aside—[Interruption.] Setting aside the issue that it would mean that we would have to hold European parliamentary elections, which I do not think is in anybody’s interest, the outcome of a long extension would be endless hours and days of this House carrying on contemplating its navel on Europe and failing to address the issues that matter to our constituents, their schools—

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Order. The Prime Minister’s answer must be heard, and everybody else will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The outcome of a long extension would be the House spending yet more endless hours contemplating its navel on Europe and failing to address the issues that matter to our constituents, such as schools, hospitals, security and jobs. The House has indulged itself on Europe for too long—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:15 p.m.

Order. There is a lot of very noisy barracking. [Interruption.] Order. [Interruption.] Order. The Prime Minister’s reply will be heard, and colleagues know that I am happy for the exchanges to take place for as long as is necessary to ensure that they are orderly.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:15 p.m.

It is time for the House to determine that it will deliver on Brexit for the British people. That is what the British people deserve. They deserve better than what the House has given them so far.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman shouts “Correct!” At least that is a firm position, whereas the Leader of the Opposition has continually moved his position on this issue. I also believe that nearly three years on from the vote for us to deliver Brexit for the British people, it is time for the House to face that fact, face the consequences of its decisions, and deliver Brexit for the British people. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:22 p.m.

Order. We cannot have people shouting in the middle of the exchanges. [Interruption.] Order. I do not need any help from any Member in dealing with these matters, with which I am very well familiar.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 13 March 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman talks about not wanting no deal yet repeatedly votes in a way that brings no deal closer. The deal that he is proposing has been rejected several times by this House. I may not have my own voice, but I do understand the voice of the country. They want—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The House must calm itself. I want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say and what everybody has to say, and it should not be necessary for voices to be raised for a Member to be heard.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

And that is that people want to leave the EU, they want to end free movement, they want us to have our own trade policy, and they want to ensure laws are made in this country and judged in our courts. That is what the deal delivers, and that is what I continue to work to deliver. The right hon. Gentleman used to believe that too. Why is he just trying to frustrate it?

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I will ensure that Ministers in the Department for Education have heard the hon. Lady’s request, but let me just remind her and Members of the House that the schools budget this year is £42 billion, which is the highest it has ever been—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:18 p.m.

Order. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) usually advocates good and respectful behaviour, which she must now herself exemplify, notwithstanding her passion or insistence upon her point of view, in which she in not exceptional.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The schools budget is the highest ever this year, and we have given every local authority more money for every pupil in every school this year.

See more like "UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union"

UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 13 March 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7 p.m.

Order. The amendment must be moved formally. [Interruption.] Order. Do not tell me it is not moved. I know perfectly well what I am doing. The amendment is in the ownership of the House. The right hon. Member for Meriden has decided, perfectly properly, that she does not wish to move it; another Member who signed it does. It really is a very simple point for an experienced parliamentarian.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:49 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The House has today provided a clear majority against leaving without a deal. However, I will repeat what I have said before. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:51 p.m.

Order. The House must calm itself. We have a long time to go—both today and on subsequent days. Keep calm.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:52 p.m.

This is about the choices that this House faces. The legal default in UK and EU law remains that the UK will leave the EU without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in this House to find out what that is. The options before us are the same as they always have been: we could leave with the deal that this Government have negotiated over the past two years; we could leave with the deal that we have negotiated but subject to a second referendum, but that would risk no Brexit at all—[Interruption]—damaging the fragile trust between the British public and the Members of this House; we could seek to negotiate a different deal, but the EU has been clear that the deal on the table is indeed the only deal available. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:52 p.m.

Order. The great likelihood—I await further comment, but I think that I can say this without fear of contradiction—is that there will be further opportunities for these matters to be debated, but in the immediate term, please, let us have some courtesy. There will be further debate on these matters, of that I think we can be sure.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:53 p.m.

I confirmed last night that if the House declined to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March 2019, the Government would bring forward a motion on whether the House supports seeking to agree an extension to article 50 with the EU, which is the logical consequence of the votes over the past two days in this House. The Leader of the House will shortly make an emergency business statement confirming the change to tomorrow’s business. The motion we will table will set out the fundamental choice facing this House. If the House finds a way in the coming days to support a deal, it would allow the Government to seek a short, limited technical extension to article 50 to provide time to pass the necessary legislation and to ratify the agreement we have reached with the EU.

Let me be clear: such a short technical extension is likely to be on offer only if we have a deal in place. Therefore, the House must understand and accept that if it is not willing to support a deal in the coming days and as it is not willing to support leaving without a deal on 29 March, it is suggesting that there will need to be a much longer extension to article 50. Such an extension would undoubtedly require the United Kingdom to hold European Parliament elections in May 2019. I do not think that that would be the right outcome, but the House needs to face up to the consequences of the decisions that it has taken.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 7:54 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for what she has said.

See more like "European Union (Withdrawal) Act"

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 12 March 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I can inform the House that I have not selected any of the amendments.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I beg to—[Interruption.] You may say that, but you should hear Jean-Claude Juncker’s voice as a result of our conversation. I beg to move,

That this House approves for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 the following documents laid before the House on Monday 11 March 2019:

(1) the negotiated withdrawal agreement titled ‘Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’;

(2) the framework for the future relationship titled ‘Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom’;

(3) the legally binding joint instrument titled ‘Instrument relating to the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community’, which reduces the risk the UK could be deliberately held in the Northern Ireland backstop indefinitely and commits the UK and the EU to work to replace the backstop with alternative arrangements by December 2020;

(4) the unilateral declaration by the UK titled ‘Declaration by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol’, setting out the sovereign action the UK would take to provide assurance that the backstop would only be applied temporarily; and

(5) the supplement to the framework for the future relationship titled ‘Joint Statement supplementing the Political Declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, setting out commitments by the UK and the EU to expedite the negotiation and bringing into force of their future relationship.

It has been eight weeks since this House held the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal. On that day, Parliament sent a message: the deal needed to change. In response, the Government have worked hard to secure an improved deal that responds to the concerns of this House. I took the concerns of this House about the backstop to the EU and sat down with President Juncker and President Tusk. I spoke to every single EU leader, some on multiple occasions, to make clear to them what needed to change. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union worked tirelessly with his opposite number, Michel Barnier. My right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General engaged in detailed legal discussion with his counterparts in the European Commission. The result of this work is the improved Brexit deal that is before the House today. I will go on to explain in detail what has improved about the deal since January and why I believe it deserves the support of every Member this evening.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

No, I have said—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) is a cheeky chappie, chortling and chuckling away from a sedentary position, but it has been made perfectly clear that the Prime Minister is not giving way.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Thank you, Mr Speaker, but I will take the hon. Gentleman’s intervention.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Lobby.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 7:24 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight. I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in an orderly fashion with a deal, and that the deal we have negotiated is the best, and indeed the only, deal available, but I would like to set out briefly how the Government mean to proceed.

Two weeks ago I made a series of commitments from this Dispatch Box regarding the steps we would take in the event that this House rejected the deal on offer. I stand by those commitments in full. Therefore tonight we will table a motion for debate tomorrow to test whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March. The Leader of the House will shortly make an emergency business statement confirming the change to tomorrow’s business.

This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country. Just like in the referendum, there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides. For that reason I can confirm that this will be a free vote on this side of the House.

I have personally struggled with this choice, as I am sure many other hon. Members will. I am passionate about delivering the result of the referendum, but I equally passionately believe that the best way to do that is to leave in an orderly way with a deal, and I still believe that there is a majority in the House for that course of action.

I am conscious also of my duties as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the potential damage to the Union that leaving without a deal could do when one part of our country is without devolved governance. I can therefore confirm that the motion will read:

“That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework on the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.”

I will return to the House to open the debate tomorrow and to take interventions from hon. Members. To ensure that the House is fully informed in making this historic decision, the Government will tomorrow publish information on essential policies that would need to be put in place if we were to leave without a deal. These will cover our approach to tariffs and the Northern Ireland border, among other matters.

If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision. If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March, the Government will, following that vote, bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to article 50. If the House votes for an extension, the Government will seek to agree that extension with the EU and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date, commensurate with that extension.

But let me be clear: voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems that we face. The EU will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension, and this House will have to answer that question. Does it wish to revoke article 50? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal? These are unenviable choices, but thanks to the decision that the House has made this evening, they are choices that must now be faced.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 06 March 2019

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We put more money into our local authorities; the right hon. Gentleman voted against it. We put more money into our police—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:20 p.m.

Order. There is a very discordant noise from Opposition Back Benchers. The question has been asked—and, broadly speaking, heard—and the answer will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:14 p.m.

We have put more money into our schools—£2.6 billion over these two years. We are putting more money into our local authorities—£1.3 billion next year, voted against by the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party—and more money into our police: nearly £1 billion extra available to them next year, voted against by the right hon. Gentleman and the Labour party.

The right hon. Gentleman stands up here and talks about austerity. If he is that concerned about austerity, you would think that he would want to make sure that it could never, ever happen again. Let us remember why we had to take those measures—because of the state of the economy left by the Labour party. But what would his policies mean? Higher borrowing, higher taxes, crashing our economy, less money for our public services—he would take us right back to austerity, square one.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We entered the European Union as the United Kingdom; we will leave the European Union as the United Kingdom. I also say to the hon. Lady that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish people to continue to pursue independence. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:36 p.m.

Order. Calm! [Interruption.] Difference of opinion is the essence of politics. There is an elaborate combination of finger wagging and head shaking going on, which may be personally therapeutic but is institutionally disadvantageous. In any case, we owe the hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) a decent hearing. I call Rebecca Pow.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:38 p.m.

I think that by now the wash would have been completed. [Laughter.]

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:38 p.m.

Despite the laughter, my hon. Friend has raised a very important issue. May I thank her for continuing to be a champion of our environment? She did an enormous amount of work that led to the Government ban on microbeads, and she is now raising the issue of microfibres. She mentions that Members across this House are seeking to reduce their use of plastic during Lent. I think that it is incumbent on all of us to seek to reduce our use of plastic, not just during Lent but for the time to come.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

May I gently say to colleagues that I am trying to accommodate as many Back-Bench Members as possible? This applies to both sides of the House: some extremely serious public purpose-focused questions are being put, but they are too long.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

On the ESA underpayments, obviously mistakes should not have happened and we need to clear this up as quickly as possible. The DWP is taking the issue very seriously. It has about 1,200 people working on sorting it out. We have already paid out almost £330 million. The Department expects to finish correcting the majority of the original cases by April and it aims to process additional cases by the end of the year.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 27 February 2019

(11 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman talks about an extension to article 50 or a second referendum, but that does not solve the problem—it does not deal with the issue. The issue is very simple: do we want to leave with a deal or without a deal? That is the question that SNP MPs and every other MP will face when the time comes. He then talks about betraying voters in Scotland. I will tell him what has betrayed voters in Scotland: an SNP Scottish Government who have raised income tax so that people in Scotland are paying more in income tax than people anywhere else in the UK; an SNP Scottish Government who have broken their manifesto promise and raised the cap on annual council tax increases for homeowners; and an SNP Scottish Government under whom people are facing the prospect of an extra tax for parking their car at their workplace. And all of that—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:21 p.m.

Order. There is a fest of undignified arm-waving, and bellowing, Mr Kerr, from a sedentary position. Calm yourself, man. Take some sort of soothing medicament that you will find beneficial.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:21 p.m.

And all of that in a year in which the Scottish Government’s block grant from Westminster went up. The people betraying the people of Scotland are the SNP Scottish Government.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Feb 2019, midnight

I want to hear the Prime Minister’s answer. This is a very important question.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Mr Speaker, when you did a thumbs-up after that question, I was not sure whether that indicated that you had a view on the televising of Cabinet meetings. My hon. Friend has tried to approach that issue in various ways. I seem to remember that last time he asked me about this, it was not about televising Cabinet but sending his CV in to be a Cabinet Minister. Perhaps these are linked—perhaps he wants to sit round the Cabinet table and be on television all the time.

Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Feb 2019, midnight

Well, we never knew that the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) had such ambitions, but maybe it lurks within him—who knows? For my own part, I was merely acknowledging welcome and friendly visitors to the House.

See more like "Leaving the European Union"

Leaving the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 26 February 2019

(11 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:36 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the Government’s work to secure a withdrawal agreement that can command the support of this House.

A fortnight ago, I committed to come back before the House today if the Government had not by now secured a majority for a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration. In the two weeks since, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the Attorney General and I have been engaging in focused discussions with the EU to find a way forward that will work for both sides. We are making good progress in that work. I had a constructive meeting with President Juncker in Brussels last week to take stock of the work done by our respective teams. We discussed the legal changes that are required to guarantee that the Northern Ireland backstop cannot endure indefinitely.

On the political declaration, we discussed what additions or changes can be made to increase confidence in the focus and ambition of both sides in delivering the future partnership we envisage as soon as possible, and the Secretary of State is following this up with Michel Barnier.

I also had a number of positive meetings at the EU-Arab League summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, including with President Donald Tusk. I have now spoken to the leaders of every single EU member state to explain the UK’s position. And the UK and EU teams are continuing their work, and we agreed to review progress again in the coming days.

As part of these discussions, the UK and EU have agreed to consider a joint workstream to develop alternative arrangements to ensure the absence of a hard border in Northern Ireland. This work will be done in parallel with the future relationship negotiations and is without prejudice to them. Our aim is to ensure that, even if the full future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period, the backstop is not needed because we have a set of alternative arrangements ready to go. I thank my hon. and right hon. Friends for their contribution to this work and reaffirm that we are seized of the need to progress that work as quickly as possible.

President Juncker has already agreed that the EU will give priority to this work, and the Government expect that this will be an important strand of the next phase. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU will be having further discussions with Michel Barnier and we will announce details ahead of the meaningful vote. We will also be setting up domestic structures to support this work, including ensuring that we can take advice from external experts involved in customs processes around the world from businesses that trade with the EU and beyond—and, of course, from colleagues across the House. This will all be supported by civil service resource as well as funding for the Government to help develop, test and pilot proposals that can form part of these alternative arrangements.

I know what this House needs in order to support a withdrawal agreement. The EU knows what is needed, and I am working hard to deliver it. As well as changes to the backstop, we are also working across a number of other areas to build support for the withdrawal agreement and to give the House confidence in the future relationship that the UK and EU will go on to negotiate. This includes ensuring that leaving the EU will not lead to any lowering of standards in relation to workers’ rights, environmental protections or health and safety. Taking back control cannot mean giving up our control of these standards, especially when UK Governments of all parties have proudly pursued policies that exceed the minimums set by the EU, from Labour giving British workers more annual leave to the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats giving all employees the right to request flexible working. Not only would giving up control go against the spirit of the referendum result—it would also mean accepting new EU laws automatically, even if they were to reduce workers’ rights or change them in a way that was not right for us.

Instead, and in the interests of building support across the House, we are prepared to commit to giving Parliament a vote on whether it wishes to follow suit whenever the EU standards in areas such as workers’ rights and health and safety are judged to have been strengthened. The Government will consult with businesses and trade unions as it looks at new EU legislation and decides how the UK should respond. We will legislate to give our commitments on both non-regression and future developments force in UK law. And following further cross-party talks, we will shortly be bringing forward detailed proposals to ensure that, as we leave the EU, we not only protect workers’ rights but continue to enhance them.

As the Government committed to the House last week, we are today publishing the paper assessing our readiness for no deal. I believe that if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no deal. But this paper provides an honest assessment of the very serious challenges it would bring in the short term and further reinforces why the best way for this House to honour the referendum result is to leave with a deal.

As I committed to the House, the Government will today table an amendable motion for debate tomorrow. But I know Members across the House are genuinely worried that time is running out—that if the Government do not come back with a further meaningful vote, or they lose that vote, Parliament will not have time to make its voice heard on the next steps. I know too that Members across the House are deeply concerned by the effect of the current uncertainty on businesses. So today I want to reassure the House by making three further commitments. First, we will hold a second meaningful vote by Tuesday 12 March at the latest. Secondly, if the Government have not won a meaningful vote by Tuesday 12 March, then they will, in addition to their obligations to table a neutral, amendable motion under section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, table a motion to be voted on by Wednesday 13 March, at the latest, asking this House if it supports leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement and a framework for a future relationship on 29 March. So the United Kingdom will only leave without a deal on 29 March if there is explicit consent in this House for that outcome.

Thirdly, if the House, having rejected leaving with the deal negotiated with the EU, then rejects leaving on 29 March without a withdrawal agreement and future framework, the Government will, on 14 March, bring forward a motion on whether Parliament wants to seek a short, limited extension to article 50, and, if the House votes for an extension, seek to agree that extension approved by the House with the EU and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date commensurate with that extension. These commitments all fit the timescale set out in the private Member’s Bill in the name of the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper). They are commitments I am making as Prime Minister, and I will stick by them, as I have previous commitments to make statements and table amendable motions by specific dates.

But let me be clear—I do not want to see article 50 extended. Our absolute focus should be on working to get a deal and leaving on 29 March. An extension beyond the end of June would mean the UK taking part in the European Parliament elections. What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now? And the House should be clear that a short extension—not beyond the end of June—would almost certainly have to be a one-off. If we had not taken part in the European Parliament elections, it would be extremely difficult to extend again, so it would create a much sharper cliff edge in a few months’ time. An extension cannot take no deal off the table. The only way to do that is to revoke article 50, which I shall not do, or to agree a deal. I have been clear throughout the process that my aim is to bring the country back together. This House—[Interruption.] This House can only do that by implementing the decision of the British people, and the Government are determined to do so in a way that commands the support of this House.

But just as Government require the support of this House in delivering the vote of the British people, so the House should respect the proper functions of the Government. Tying the Government’s hands by seeking to commandeer the Order Paper would have—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:45 p.m.

Order. This is rather discourteous. The Prime Minister is delivering a statement, and it should be heard. I understand the strong feelings, but colleagues know from the record that everybody will get the chance to question the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s statement must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Tying the Government’s hands by seeking to commandeer the Order Paper would have far-reaching implications for the way in which the United Kingdom is governed and the balance of powers and responsibilities in our democratic institutions, and it would offer no solution to the challenge of finding a deal that this House can support. Neither would seeking an extension to article 50 now make getting a deal any easier. Ultimately the choices we face would remain unchanged: leave with a deal, leave with no deal, or have no Brexit. When it comes to the motion tomorrow, the House needs to come together, as we did on 29 January, and send a clear message that there is a stable majority in favour of leaving the EU with a deal.

A number of hon. and right hon. Members have understandably raised the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. As I set out last September, following the Salzburg summit, even in the event of no deal, the rights of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK will be protected. That is our guarantee to them. They are our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues. We want them to stay. But a separate agreement for citizens’ rights is something the EU has been clear it does not have the legal authority for. If it is not done in a withdrawal agreement, these issues become a matter for member states, unless the EU was to agree a new mandate to take that forward.

At the very start of this process, the UK sought to separate out that issue, but the EU has been consistent on it. However, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has written to all his counterparts, and we are holding further urgent discussions with member states to seek assurances on the rights of UK citizens. I urge all EU countries to make this guarantee and end the uncertainty for these citizens. I hope that the Government’s efforts can give the House and EU citizens here in the UK the reassurances they need and deserve.

For some hon. and right hon. Members, taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union is the culmination of a long and sincerely fought campaign. For others, leaving the EU goes against much that they have stood for and fought for with equal sincerity for just as long. But Parliament gave the choice to the people. In doing so, we told them that we would honour their decision. That remains the resolve of this side of the House, but last night we learned that it is no longer the commitment of the Leader of the Opposition. He has gone back on his promise to respect the referendum result and now wants to hold a divisive second referendum that would take our country right back to square one. Anybody who voted Labour at the last election because they thought he would deliver Brexit will rightly be appalled.

This House voted to trigger article 50, and this House has a responsibility to deliver on the result. The very credibility of our democracy is at stake. By leaving the EU with a deal, we can move our country forward. Even with the uncertainty we face today, we have more people in work than ever before, wages growing at their fastest rate for a decade and debt falling as a share of the economy. If we can leave with a deal, end the uncertainty and move on beyond Brexit, we can do so much more to deliver real economic progress to every part of country.

I hope tomorrow this House can show that, with legally binding changes on the backstop, commitments to protect workers’ rights and the environment, an enhanced role for Parliament in the next phase of negotiations and a determination to address the wider concerns of those who voted to leave, we will have a deal that this House can support. In doing so, we can send a clear message that this House is resolved to honour the result of the referendum and leave the European Union with a deal. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What we have seen, of course, is that, yes, the House voted in the way the hon. Gentleman indicated, but we are now working with the European Union. We will bring changes agreed with the European Union back to this House for a further meaningful vote. Members of this House will then have the opportunity to determine whether they want to leave the European Union with a deal or not. Should they reject no deal, the further votes that I have given a commitment to will take place.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Mr Blunt, having heard you—it was rather unwelcome—from your seat, perhaps we can now hear you on your feet.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I say to the hon. Lady that we now have the opportunity, as a result of leaving the European Union, to put a new immigration system into place—yes, to bring an end to free movement once and for all; that was an important element of the referendum debate and the reason why, I think, quite a number of people voted to leave the European Union. We can now put in place an immigration system based not on where somebody comes from, but on the skills they have and the contribution they will make to this country.

Mr Speaker Hansard

The right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) has perambulated from one part of the Chamber to another, but fortunately I can still see him. He is now next to the Father of the House—a very important position.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 2:23 p.m.

Order. Resume your seat, Mr Fysh. [Interruption.] Order. I indulged the hon. Gentleman, whose sincerity I greatly admire, but may I very politely suggest that he needs to develop some feel, some antennae, for the House? The House’s fascination with his points is not as great as his own.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 2:23 p.m.

First, the issues to which my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr Fysh) refers—the measures indicated by the European Union—would only be there for a temporary and limited period. Secondly, he gives a long list of various issues in relation to the alternative arrangements at the border, some of which are precisely the issues that the European Union has raised a question over in relation to the derogations from EU law that would be required.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 20 February 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What the right hon. Gentleman will also have heard from car manufacturers is their support for the deal the Government negotiated with the EU. If he wants to talk about jobs, I am very happy to talk about jobs, because what do we see in the latest figures? We see employment at a record high and unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s; we see that 96% of the increase in employment in the last year has come from full-time work; we see youth unemployment almost halved since 2010, and female employment is at a record high. [Interruption.] It is all very well shouting from the Front Bench, but let us look at Labour’s record in government. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Order. Mr Lavery, calm yourself. You have applied to be a statesman, but there is an apprenticeship, and you have to undergo it, but it is not assisted by such sedentary ranting.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Let us look at Labour’s record in government on employment: unemployment rose by nearly half a million; female unemployment rose by 26%; youth unemployment rose by 44%; and the number of households where no one had ever worked nearly doubled. That is the record of a Labour Government under which working people pay the price of Labour.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 13 February 2019

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:33 p.m.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this important issue, and I thank the mindfulness APPG for its work and its recent report. As the hon. Gentleman knows, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for adults with depression.

I am aware of the training that staff have received. A few weeks ago, a constituent came to my surgery to talk about mindfulness. A member of my parliamentary staff who was with me had undertaken that training, and was therefore able to speak about the impact that it had had.

The commissioning of psychological therapies is a matter for NHS England, but I will ensure that it is aware of the report.

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:34 p.m.

The hon. Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) is obviously a beneficiary of mindfulness himself. He seems a very calm and phlegmatic fellow these days, which was not always the case in the past.

See more like "Leaving the EU"

Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 12 February 2019

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:36 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on the Government’s ongoing work to secure a Brexit deal that honours our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, commands the support of Parliament, and can be negotiated with the EU.

On 29 January, the House gave me a clear mandate and sent an unequivocal message to the European Union. Last week, I took that message to Brussels. 1 met President Juncker, President Tusk and the President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. I told them clearly what Parliament wanted in order to unite behind a withdrawal agreement—legally binding changes to the backstop—and I explained to them the three ways in which that could be achieved.

First, the backstop could be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union met Michel Barnier to discuss the ideas put forward by the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, which consists of a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends. I am grateful to them for their work, and we are continuing to explore their ideas. Secondly, there could be a legally binding time limit to the existing backstop, or thirdly, there could be a legally binding unilateral exit clause to that backstop. Given that both sides agree that we do not ever want to use the backstop and that if we did so it would be temporary, we believe it is reasonable to ask for legally binding changes to that effect.

As expected, President Juncker maintained the EU’s position that it will not reopen the withdrawal agreement. I set out the UK’s position—strengthened by the mandate that the House had given me—that the House needs to see legally binding changes to the backstop, and that that can be achieved by changes to the withdrawal agreement. We agreed that our teams should hold further talks to find a way forward, and President Juncker and I will meet again before the end of February to take stock of those discussions.

So our work continues. The Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are in Strasbourg today, and last week the Attorney General was in Dublin to meet his Irish counterpart. Following my own visits to Brussels, Northern Ireland and Ireland last week, I welcomed the Prime Minister of Malta to Downing Street yesterday, and I will be speaking to other EU27 leaders today and throughout the week. The Leader of the Opposition shares the House’s concerns about the backstop; I welcome his willingness to sit down and talk to me, and 1 look forward to continuing our discussions. Indeed, Ministers will be meeting members of his team tomorrow.

I think that there are a number of areas in which the whole House should be able to come together. In particular, I believe that we have a shared determination across the House not to allow the UK’s leaving the EU to mean any lowering of standards in relation to workers’ rights, environmental protections, or health and safety. I have met trade union representatives and Members on both sides of the House, and my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary is leading work to ensure that we fully address all concerns about these vital issues. We have already made legally binding commitments to no regression in these areas if we were to enter the backstop, and we are prepared to consider legislating to give these commitments force in UK law. And in the interests of building support across the House, we are also prepared to commit to asking Parliament whether it wishes to follow suit whenever the EU changes its standards in these areas. And of course we do not need to automatically follow EU standards in order to lead the way, as we have done in the past under both Conservative and Labour Governments. The UK has a proud tradition of leading the way in workers’ rights whilst maintaining a flexible labour market that has helped deliver an employment rate almost 6 percentage points above the EU average.

Successive Governments of all parties have put in place standards that exceed the minimums set by the EU. A Labour Government gave British workers annual leave and paid maternity leave entitlements well above that required by the European Union. A Conservative-led Government went further than the EU by giving all employees the right to request flexible working. And I was proud to be the Minister for Women and Equalities to introduce shared parental leave so that both parents are able to take on caring responsibilities for their child—something no EU regulation provides for.

When it comes to workers’ rights this Parliament has set a higher standard before, and I believe will do so in the future. Indeed we already have plans to repeal the so-called Swedish derogation, which allows employers to pay their agency workers less, and we are committed to enforcing holiday pay for the most vulnerable workers—not just protecting workers’ rights, but extending them.

As I set out in my statement two weeks ago, the House also agrees that Parliament must have a much stronger and clearer role in the next phase of the negotiations. Because the political declaration cannot be legally binding and in some areas provides for a spectrum of outcomes, some Members are understandably concerned that they cannot be sure precisely what future relationship it would lead to. By following through on our commitments and giving Parliament that bigger say in the mandate for the next phase, we are determined to address those concerns. The Secretary of State has written to all members of the Exiting the EU Committee seeking their view on engaging Parliament in this next phase of negotiations, and we are also reaching out beyond this House to engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions.

Everyone in this House knows that the vote for Brexit was about not just changing our relationship with the EU, but changing how things work at home, especially for those in communities who feel they have been left behind. [Interruption.] Addressing this and widening opportunities is the mission of this Government that I set out on my first day as Prime Minister, and I will continue to work with Members across the House to do everything we can to help build a country that works for everyone.

But one area where the Leader of the Opposition and I do not agree is on his suggestion that the UK should remain a member of the EU customs union. I would gently point out that the House of Commons has already voted against that, and in any case—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:43 p.m.

Order. There is a lot of noise and heckling, but the record shows that everyone gets a chance to question the Prime Minister. I think it is right that she should have a proper and respectful hearing, and the same courtesy must be extended to the Leader of the Opposition in due course.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:45 p.m.

First, I would gently point out that the House of Commons has already voted against that, and in any case membership of the customs union would be a less desirable outcome than that which is provided for in the political declaration. That would deliver no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, and no checks on rules of origin. But crucially it would also provide for the development of an independent trade policy for the UK that would allow us to strike our own trade deals around the world, something the Labour party once supported.

On Thursday, as I promised in the House last month, we will bring forward an amendable motion. This will seek to reaffirm the support of the House for the amended motion from 29 January—namely to support the Government in seeking changes to the backstop and to recognise that negotiations are ongoing. Having secured an agreement with the European Union for further talks, we now need some time to complete that process. When we achieve the progress we need, we will bring forward another meaningful vote, but if the Government have not secured a majority in this House in favour of a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration, the Government will make a statement on Tuesday 26 February and table an amendable motion relating to the statement, and a Minister will move that motion on Wednesday 27 February, thereby enabling the House to vote on it, and on any amendments to it, on that day. As well as making clear what is needed to change in the withdrawal agreement, the House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a deal. The Government agree, but opposing no deal is not enough to stop it. We must agree a deal that this House can support, and that is what I am working to achieve.

I have spoken before about the damage that would be done to public faith in our democracy if this House were to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum. In Northern Ireland last week, I heard again the importance of securing a withdrawal agreement that works for all the people of this United Kingdom. In Belfast I met not just politicians but leaders of civil society and businesses from across the community. Following this House’s rejection of the withdrawal agreement, many people in Northern Ireland are worried about what the current uncertainty will mean for them. In this House we often focus on the practical challenges posed by the border in Northern Ireland, but for many people in Northern Ireland, what looms larger is the fear that the seamless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland that helped to make the progress that has followed the Belfast agreement possible might be disrupted. We must not let that happen, and we shall not let that happen.

The talks are at a crucial stage, and we now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes that this House requires and to deliver Brexit on time. By getting the changes we need to the backstop, by protecting and enhancing workers’ rights and environmental protections and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations, I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support. We can deliver for the people and the communities that voted for change two and half years ago and whose voices for too long have not been heard. We can honour the result of the referendum, and we can set this country on course for the bright future that every part of this United Kingdom deserves. That is this Government’s mission, and we shall not stint in our efforts to fulfil it. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the announcement by Nissan, but it is important that the House recognises that Nissan has confirmed that none of the current 7,000 jobs at the plant will be lost. It remains committed to the UK and more capital will be invested in Sunderland than was originally planned in 2016. He asked me about the progress on the alternative arrangements and whether they were going to be put before the European Commission. I remind him of what I said in my statement:

“Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union met Michel Barnier to discuss the ideas put forward by the Alternative Arrangements Working Group, which consists of a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends.”

I think that answers his question.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about Labour’s proposals. I referenced the issue with the customs union in my statement, but of course he also talks about being a member of the single market. Being a member of the single market means accepting free movement and one of the things that people voted for when they voted to leave the European Union was to bring an end to free movement. That is what this Government will deliver.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the dates for votes that are going to take place in this House. I set those out in my statement as well. He referenced businesses quite a lot but, of course, businesses backed the deal—[Interruption.] They did. He talked about uncertainty but, of course, the best way to end uncertainty is to vote for a deal. He talked about running down the clock, but I wanted to have this sorted before Christmas. I brought a deal back—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:59 p.m.

Order. Mr Matheson, I have nurtured for a long time an ambition to see you become a statesman. I think you are threatening that prospect with these noisy gesticulations. Be calm—Buddha-like.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:58 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The deal was negotiated before Christmas, so it is not I who is trying to run down the clock—[Interruption.] It is no good Labour Members who voted against the deal pointing their fingers across the House. Every time somebody votes against a deal, the risk of no deal increases.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about acting in the national interest. Yes, we should be acting in the national interest and the national interest is in getting a deal agreed through this Parliament. That is why we are working with the European Union in everything that we are doing.

The right hon. Gentleman made several references to the issues of businesses, the issue of jobs and protecting jobs. We are going back to deal with the issue of the backstop, but the deal that we have negotiated with the EU—the political declaration that sets out the future—is a deal that protects jobs. The one thing that we know would threaten jobs in this country would be a Labour Government.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 1:06 p.m.

Order. There is plenty of scope for disagreement about what is true and what is not true but, in fairness, I repeat the point that the person who has the floor must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 1:06 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I say to the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford) that, in his intervention from a sedentary position, I think he may have inadvertently misled the House on this matter.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 1:07 p.m.

There are plenty of precedents for that. I remember doing it once myself, and I remember a member of the shadow Cabinet, the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Tom Watson), once doing it out of deference to the Chair rather than out of deference to the person whom he had been attacking. That is enough.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 1:08 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. To continue my explanation to the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, the Government have put forward an economic analysis of their proposed deal. We did that in the economic analysis published before the withdrawal agreement was put before the House. In it we recognised that areas of the political declaration had not yet been confirmed and that variations in relation to the degree of friction across the border would come from that. We could have taken a very low variation, which would have been very close to the Government’s deal, and we could have taken a high variation, but we took a midpoint, which is entirely fair for the Government to do. The economic analysis shows that, if we are to honour the referendum, the deal that delivers best for the British economy is the deal that the Government have put forward.

The right hon. Gentleman also talks about putting an end to the current situation. As I have indicated, we can indeed move forward when we have agreed a deal across the House. If he is so concerned about avoiding no deal, I assume that, when a deal is brought back from the European Union, he and SNP Members will vote for it in order to support the future of the United Kingdom.

Once again, the right hon. Gentleman talks about the economic impact on Scotland of leaving the European Union and he talks, virtually in the same breath, about his view that Scotland should be independent from the United Kingdom. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] That may raise cheers on the SNP Benches, but it would not raise cheers from those people in Scotland whose economic future depends on being a member of the UK.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:29 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman says that Parliament would find a way of ruling out no deal once and for all. There are only two ways in which we can ensure that we do not have a no-deal situation. One is to stay in the European Union. The right hon. Gentleman might want to do that. [Interruption.] He says, “Yes, absolutely” from a sedentary position. That is not the result of the referendum. The Government will deliver on the result of the referendum and we will leave the European Union. The only other way of ensuring that we do not have no deal is to agree a deal. That seems to be pretty obvious to me.

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:29 p.m.

I think the proper response to the sneeze from the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Laura Smith) at the end of the last question is, “Bless you.”

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:39 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman talks about money spent. Money was indeed spent on securing all the contracts let. Third-party due diligence was properly carried out and would have been regardless of who the agreements were entered into with.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:35 p.m.

I am grateful to the Prime Minister and all colleagues.

I have been advised that the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), the leader of the Scottish National party, has a point of order that relates to earlier exchanges. If that be so, I am happy to take it now.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:51 p.m.

The Prime Minister has been at the Dispatch Box for two and a quarter hours and has answered all inquiries. She is welcome to return to the Dispatch Box and respond to the right hon. Gentleman, but she is under no obligation to do so.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 2:52 p.m.

I said that the Government had put forward a deal and that an economic analysis was done on that deal. The political declaration was part of what was brought to the House. The right hon. Gentleman says there was no reference to that in the economic analysis. The economic analysis indicated what might be the impact of the various elements of the spectrum of choice on friction at the border. It reflected the fact that the political declaration had not confirmed the point at which friction would or would not occur. That was in the economic analysis published before the meaningful vote.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 30 January 2019

(12 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 12:09 p.m.

May I say to the right hon. Gentleman that it would be helpful—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Order. I want to hear about these matters.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
30 Jan 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I have pointed out that there are a number of options that people are putting forward that we are working positively with them on. I have already referenced a number of things that are in the political declaration on alternative arrangements that do set out various aspects that could be looked at; I referenced one of them in my answer to his earlier question.

But I would also say to the right hon. Gentleman that last night the House did vote to reject no deal, but it also voted to do what the European Union has consistently asked this House to do since it rejected the withdrawal agreement, which was to say what the UK wanted to see changed. Last night, a majority in this House voted to maintain the commitment to no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, to leave the European Union with a deal and to set out to the European Union what it will take to ensure that this House can support a deal. That is a change to the backstop; that is what I will be taking back to the European Union. That is what we will be doing to ensure that we can avoid no deal. The right hon. Gentleman stands up regularly and says he does not want no deal; I am working to ensure we get a deal. He has opposed every move by this Government to get a deal; he is the one who is risking no deal.

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European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 29 January 2019

(12 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 1:49 p.m.

I have provisionally selected the following amendments in the following order: (a) in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn; (o) in the name of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Mr Ian Blackford; (g) in the name of the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve; (b) in the name of the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, Yvette Cooper; (j) in the name of the hon. Member for Leeds West, Rachel Reeves; (i) in the name of the right hon. Member for Meriden, Dame Caroline Spelman; and (n) in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West, Sir Graham Brady. Reference may be made in debate to any of the amendments on the Order Paper, including those I have not selected.

For the benefit of right hon. and hon. Members, and of those observing our proceedings, I will set out concisely what will happen at the end of today’s debate. At 7 o’clock, I will first invite the Leader of the Opposition to move his amendment. If his amendment (a) is agreed to, amendment (o) falls, and I will invite the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield to move his amendment (g), and so on down the list. If amendment (a) is disagreed to, I will invite the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber to move his amendment (o). When amendment (o) has been decided, we will move to amendment (g), and so on down the list. If amendment (b) is agreed to, amendment (j) falls. At the end, I will put to the House the original question in the name of the Prime Minister, as amended, if amendments have been made, or in its original form, if no amendments have been agreed. To move the main motion, I call the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 1:51 p.m.

I beg to move,

That this House, in accordance with the provisions of section 13(6)(a) and 13(11)(b)(i) and 13(13)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, has considered the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 21 January 2019, and the Written Statement titled “Statement under Section 13(11)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018”and made on 24 January 2019.

Over the past few weeks, this House has left no one in any doubt about what it does not want. It does not want to leave the EU without a deal, because that would hurt our economy and disrupt people’s lives. It does not want to hold a general election, because it would waste time, increase division and solve none of the problems we face. Indeed, this House renewed its confidence in Her Majesty’s Government a fortnight ago. Neither do I see anything approaching a majority across the House to hold a second referendum. Indeed, the leaders of the so-called “People’s Vote” campaign obviously agree with me, because they declined even to table an amendment to put that into effect. I also accept, however, that this House does not want the deal I put before it in the form it currently exists. The vote was decisive, and I listened.

The world knows what this House does not want. Today, we need to send an emphatic message about what we do want. I believe that that must include honouring the votes of our fellow citizens and completing the democratic process that began when this House voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum and then voted to trigger article 50 and which saw the vast majority of us elected on manifestos pledging to see Brexit through.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

If the hon. Gentleman wants to comment on what I am saying about the process that the Government will follow, I suggest that he should wait until I have completed what I am saying. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 2 p.m.

Order. Let me very gently say to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) and his hon. Friend the Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Angus Brendan MacNeil) that both of them are very senior figures in the land, as Chairs of important Select Committees of the House, and they should behave with the decorum that befits their high status.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 2:01 p.m.

First of all, as I have said, we will bring a revised deal back to this House for a second meaningful vote as soon as we possibly can. While we will want the House to support that deal, if it did not, we would—just as before—table an amendable motion for debate the next day. Furthermore, if we have not brought a revised deal back to this House by Wednesday 13 February, we will make a statement and, again, table an amendable motion for debate the next day. So the House will have a further opportunity to revisit this question of leaving without a deal. Today, we can and must instead focus all our efforts on securing a good deal with the EU that enables us to leave in a smooth and orderly way on 29 March.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 23 January 2019

(1 year ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jan 2019, 12:42 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is a one-man tourist board, and we are grateful to him.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Jan 2019, 12:42 p.m.

The hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) has done a good job of promoting the benefits of Cumbria, and I am sure he will be joined by my hon. Friends and others from across the House. I thank him for listing the very many items I might want to put in my packed lunch when I go on a walking holiday, but I am afraid I am bound to say that, although I recognise that Cumbria has good produce, Berkshire has good produce, too.

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Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 21 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 3:35 p.m.

I am sure that the whole House will join me in condemning Saturday’s car bomb attack in Londonderry and in paying tribute to the bravery of the Northern Ireland police and the local community, who helped to ensure that everyone got to safety. This House stands together with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that we never go back to the violence and terror of the past.

Let me now turn to Brexit. Following last week’s vote, it is clear that the Government’s approach had to change, and it has. Having established the confidence of Parliament in this Government, I have listened to colleagues across Parliament from different parties and with different views. Last week I met the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Westminster leaders of the Democratic Unionist party, the Scottish National party, Plaid Cymru and the Green party, and Back Benchers from both sides of the House. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also had a number of such meetings.

The Government have approached those meetings in a constructive spirit, without preconditions, and I am pleased that everyone whom we met took the same approach. I regret that the Leader of the Opposition has not chosen to take part so far, and I hope he will reflect on that decision. Given the importance of this issue, we should all be prepared to work together to find a way forward, and my ministerial colleagues and I will continue with further meetings this week.

Let me set out the six key issues that have been at the centre of the talks to date. The first two relate to the process for moving forward. First, there is widespread concern about the possibility of the UK’s leaving without a deal. There are those on both sides of the House who want the Government to rule that out, but we need to be honest with the British people about what that means. The right way to rule out no deal is for the House to approve a deal with the European Union, and that is what the Government are seeking to achieve. The only other guaranteed way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to revoke article 50, which would mean staying in the EU.

There are others who think that what we need is more time, so they say that we should extend article 50 to give Parliament longer to debate how we should leave and what a deal should look like. That is not ruling out no deal, but simply deferring the point of decision, and the EU is very unlikely simply to agree to extend article 50 without a plan for how we are going to approve a deal. So when people say, “Rule out no deal”, what they are actually saying is that, if we in Parliament cannot approve a deal, we should revoke article 50. Those would be the consequences of what they are saying. I believe that that would go against the referendum result, and I do not believe that that is a course of action that we should take or one that the House should support.

Secondly, all the Opposition parties that have engaged so far, and some Back Benchers, have expressed their support for a second referendum. I have set out many times my deep concerns about returning to the British people for a second referendum. Our duty is to implement the decision of the first one. I fear that a second referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country—not least, strengthening the hand of those who are campaigning to break up our United Kingdom. It would require an extension of article 50, and we would very likely have to return a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament in May. I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way in which a second referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy. We do not know what the Leader of the Opposition thinks about this because he has not engaged, but I know there are Members who have already indicated that they wish to test the support of the House for this path. I do not believe there is a majority for a second referendum and, if I am right, then just as the Government are having to think again about their approach going forwards, so too do those Members who believe this is the answer.

The remaining issues raised in the discussions relate to the substance of the deal, and on these points I believe we can make progress. Members of this House, predominantly but not only on the Government Benches and the DUP, continue to express their concern on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop. All of us agree that as we leave the European Union we must fully respect the Belfast agreement and not allow the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed a border down the Irish sea. And I want to be absolutely clear, in the light of media stories this morning: this Government will not reopen the Belfast agreement. I have never even considered doing so, and nor would I.

With regard to the backstop, despite the changes we have previously agreed, there remain two core issues: the fear that we could be trapped in it permanently; and concerns over its potential impact on our Union if Northern Ireland is treated differently from the rest of the UK. So I will be talking further this week to colleagues, including in the DUP, to consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House. I will then take the conclusions of those discussion back to the EU.

From other parts of this House, concerns have also been raised over the political declaration. In particular, these have focused on a wish for further precision around the future relationship. The political declaration will provide the basis for developing our detailed negotiating mandate for the future and this new phase of negotiations will be different in a number of ways. It will cover a far broader range of issues in greater depth, and so will require us to build a negotiating team that draws on the widest expertise available, from trade negotiators to security experts and specialists in data and financial services. And as we develop our mandate across each of these areas, I want to provide reassurance to the House. Given the breadth of the negotiations, we will seek input from a wide range of voices from outside Government. That must include ensuring Parliament has a proper say, and fuller involvement, in these decisions.

It is Government’s responsibility to negotiate, but it is also my responsibility to listen to the legitimate concerns of colleagues, both those who voted leave and those who voted remain, in shaping our negotiating mandate for our future partnership with the EU. So the Government will consult this House on their negotiating mandate, to ensure that Members have the chance to make their views known and that we harness the knowledge of all Select Committees across the full range of expertise needed for this next phase of negotiations, from security to trade. This will also strengthen the Government’s hand in the negotiations, giving the EU confidence about our position and avoiding leaving the bulk of parliamentary debate to a point when we are under huge time pressure to ratify.

I know that to date Parliament has not felt it has enough visibility of the Government’s position as it has been developed and negotiated. It has sought documents through Humble Addresses, but that mechanism cannot take into account the fact that some information when made public could weaken the UK’s negotiating hand. So as the negotiations progress, we will also look to deliver confidential Committee sessions that can ensure Parliament has the most up-to-date information, while not undermining the negotiations. And we will regularly update the House, in particular before the six-monthly review points with the EU foreseen in the agreement.

While it will always be for Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate for the whole of the UK, we are also committed to giving the devolved Administrations an enhanced role in the next phase, respecting their competence and vital interests in these negotiations. I hope to meet both First Ministers in the course of this week and will use the opportunity to discuss this further with them, and we will also look for further ways to engage elected representatives from Northern Ireland and regional representatives in England. Finally, we will reach out beyond this House and engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions.

Fifthly, hon Members from across the House—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 3:44 p.m.

Order.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 3:44 p.m.

Fifthly, hon Members from across the House have raised strong views that our exit from the EU should not lead to a reduction in our social and environmental standards, and in particular workers’ rights. So I will ensure that we provide Parliament with a guarantee that not only will we not erode protection for workers’ rights and the environment, but we will ensure this country leads the way. To that end, my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary indicated the Government’s support for the proposed amendment to the meaningful vote put down by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann), including that Parliament should be able to consider any changes made by the EU in these areas in future. My right hon. Friend and others will work with Members across the House, businesses and trade unions to develop proposals that give effect to this amendment, including looking at legislation where necessary.

Sixthly, and crucially, a number of Members have made powerful representations about the anxieties facing EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU who are waiting to have their status confirmed. We have already committed to ensuring that EU citizens in the UK will be able to stay and continue to access in-country benefits and services on broadly the same terms as now, in both a deal and a no-deal scenario. Indeed, the next phase of testing of the scheme for EU nationals to confirm their status has launched today. Having listened to concerns from Members, and organisations such as the 3million group, I can confirm today that, when we roll out the scheme in full on 30 March, the Government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. Anyone who has applied, or will apply, during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed. More details about how this will work will be made available in due course. Some EU member states have similarly guaranteed the rights of British nationals in a no-deal scenario, and we will step up our efforts to ensure that they all do so.

Let me briefly set out the process for the days ahead. In addition to this statement, today I will lay a written ministerial statement, as required under section 13(4) and (5) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and table a motion in neutral terms on this statement, as required by section 13(6). This motion will be amendable and will be debated and voted on in this House on 29 January, and I will provide a further update to the House during that debate. To be clear, this is not a rerun of the vote to ratify the agreement we have reached with the European Union, but the fulfilment of the process following the House’s decision to reject that motion.

The process of engagement is ongoing. In the next few days, my ministerial colleagues and I will continue to meet Members on all sides of the House and representatives of the trade unions, business groups, civil society and others as we try to find the broadest possible consensus on a way forward. While I will disappoint those colleagues who hope to secure a second referendum, I do not believe that there is a majority in this House for such a path, and while I want to deliver a deal with the EU, I cannot support the only other way in which to take no deal off the table, which is to revoke article 50. So my focus continues to be on what is needed to secure the support of this House in favour of a Brexit deal with the EU.

My sense so far is that three key changes are needed. First, we will be more flexible, open and inclusive in how we engage Parliament in our approach to negotiating our future partnership with the European Union. Secondly, we will embed the strongest possible protections on workers’ rights and the environment. Thirdly, we will work to identify how we can ensure that our commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland and Ireland can be delivered in a way that commands the support of this House and the European Union. In doing so, we will honour the mandate of the British people and leave the European Union in a way that benefits every part of our United Kingdom and every citizen of our country. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 4:24 p.m.

I apologise that I did not have an immediate recall of the fact, but I wish the hon. Gentleman a happy birthday, and I observe—probably not for the first time or the last—that he seems to be a very youthful fellow.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am happy to echo the many happy returns to the hon. Gentleman. When people voted in the referendum, they voted to leave the European Union and to ensure that free movement came to an end. There were those who voted to ensure that we had an independent trade policy, those who voted to ensure there was no remit of the European Court of Justice here in the United Kingdom and those who were concerned about the money sent every year to the European Union. It is important that this Parliament focuses on delivering on those.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 5:30 p.m.

I am sorry to learn of the hon. Gentleman’s indisposition, but I hope that he will take it in the right spirit if I say that there is a husky intelligibility about him.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 5:30 p.m.

I am not sure whether it is appropriate for me to comment on my hon. Friend’s husky intelligibility at this point, Mr Speaker.

May I say to my hon. Friend that it is important for this country to continue to have good relations with the European Union once we have left? Working to leave with a deal that is agreed by both sides will help in that regard. People have focused on the backstop in the withdrawal agreement and often on the trade aspects, but the security aspects—the arrangements with the European Union to enable us to continue to work together on matters such as dealing with terrorism and organised crime—will be important in the future.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We have set a significant period of time for people to be able to apply under this scheme. I think that that is the right thing to do. May I just say that the hon. Gentleman may want to talk to his hon. Friends? I have just had a question from one of his hon. Friends that basically encouraged me to scrap the settlement scheme as a whole. Now the hon. Gentleman is saying to me that the settlement scheme should be extended for even longer.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 5:53 p.m.

I call Stewart Malcolm McDonald.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Jan 2019, 5:54 p.m.

As I say, I will be meeting the First Minister of Scotland and the First Minister of Wales—I hope to meet both of them this week—when I will be able to talk to them further about the arrangements that we will have in the future for that enhanced role for the Scottish Government.

On a different topic, may I say to the hon. Gentleman that I understand there was some difficulty—that he was the subject of some difficulties—from a particular part of the political spectrum in this country in his constituency on Friday, and I am sorry to hear that that took place? I understand that the police were able to deal with the issue, but no Member of this House should be subjected to that.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I echo entirely what the Prime Minister has just said on that matter. I think it will be something that commands universal assent across the House, and I thank her for what she has said.

Indeed, for that matter, I thank all 107 Back Benchers who questioned the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister for patiently responding.

See more like "No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government"

No Confidence in Her Majesty’s Government
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 16 January 2019

(1 year ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jan 2019, 7:15 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am pleased that the House has expressed its confidence in the Government tonight. I do not take this responsibility lightly, and my Government will continue their work to increase our prosperity, guarantee our security and strengthen our Union—and yes, we will also continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise that we made to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum and leave the European Union.

I believe that this duty is shared by every Member of this House. We have a responsibility to identify a way forward that can secure the backing of the House, and to that end I have proposed a series of meetings between senior parliamentarians and representatives of the Government over the coming days. I should like to invite the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet me individually, and I should like to start those meetings tonight. The Government approach the meetings in a constructive spirit, and I urge others to do the same, but we must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in the House. As I have said, we will return to the House on Monday to table an amendable motion and to make a statement about the way forward.

The House has put its confidence in this Government. I stand ready to work with any Member of the House to deliver on Brexit, and to ensure that this House retains the confidence of the British people.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

I call Jeremy Corbyn.

See more like "European Union (Withdrawal) Act"

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 15 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Attorney General
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 6:44 p.m.

This debate has lasted some eight days, over 54 hours, with speeches of powerful sincerity from more than 200 right hon. and hon. Members. It has been historic for our Parliament and for our country. We have heard contributions from every perspective, looking at all aspects of this complex and vital question. We have seen the House at its most passionate and vigorous, and I thank everyone who has contributed. No one watching this debate can be in any doubt about the strength of this House of Commons as the fulcrum of our democracy.

This is a debate about our economy and security, the livelihoods of our constituents and the future for our children and the generations to come. It goes to the heart of our constitution, and no one should forget that it is a democratic process that has got us to where we are today. In 2015, my party stood on an election manifesto that had as a centrepiece the promise of an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. The British people responded by electing a Conservative Government to follow through on that promise, and that is what we did when this House voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum and put the choice in the hands of the British people. Indeed, 470 current Members voted in favour of it, and only 32 opposed it.

That campaign was keenly fought. It caught the public imagination like few campaigns before it. The turnout was 72%—higher than for any national poll for a quarter of a century—and while not overwhelming, the result was clear and it was decisive. That was something that this House accepted when we voted overwhelmingly to trigger article 50, with 436 current Members voting to do so and only 85 opposed. Parliament gave the people a choice. We set the clock ticking on our departure, and tonight we will determine whether we move forward with a withdrawal agreement that honours the vote and sets us on course for a better future. The responsibility of each and every one of us at this moment is profound, for this is an historic decision that will set the future of our country for generations.

So, what are the alternatives that present themselves? First, we could decide that it is all too difficult and give up, either by revoking article 50 or by passing the buck back to the British people in a second referendum. But I believe we have a duty to deliver on the democratic decision of the British people, and to do so in a way that brings our country together. A second referendum would lead instead to further division. There would be no agreement to the question, let alone the answer. It would say to the people we were elected to serve that we were unwilling to do what they had instructed.

The second possible outcome is that we leave on 29 March without a deal, but I do not believe that that is what the British people voted for, because they were told that, if they voted to leave, they could still expect a good trading relationship with the European Union. Neither would it be the best outcome. Our deal delivers certainty for businesses, with a time-limited implementation period to prepare for the new arrangements of the future relationship. No deal means no implementation period. Our deal protects the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and of UK citizens living in the EU, so that they can carry on their lives as before. No deal means no reciprocal agreement to protect those citizens’ rights. Our deal delivers the deepest security partnership in the EU’s history, so that our police and security services can continue to work together with their European partners to keep all our people safe. No deal means no such security partnership. Our deal delivers the foundations for an unprecedented economic relationship with the EU that is more ambitious—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I said earlier that this was becoming a rather noisy and unseemly atmosphere, and that has now resumed. It must stop. The Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 6:43 p.m.

Our deal delivers the foundations for an unprecedented economic relationship with the EU that is more ambitious than anything it has ever entered into with a third country. It will give us the benefits of trading with the European Union and the ability to forge new trade deals in our own right. No deal means those new trade deals come at the expense of a trade deal with Europe, not in addition to it. So, while it is categorically wrong to suggest that our country could not ultimately make a success of no deal, it is equally wrong to suggest that this is the best outcome.

Thirdly, there is the path advocated by the Leader of the Opposition of calling a general election, and we have heard it again tonight. But today’s vote is not about what is best for the Leader of the Opposition; it is about what is best for the country. At the end of a general election, whatever the result, the choices facing us will not have changed. It will still be no Brexit, leaving with no deal, or leaving with a deal. There is no guarantee that an election would make the parliamentary arithmetic any easier. All it would gain is two more months of uncertainty and division. In 2017, the two main parties both stood on manifestos that pledged to deliver the result of the referendum, and they got over 80% of the vote. People had the opportunity to vote for a second referendum by supporting the Liberal Democrats, but just 7% of voters did so. It is the job of Parliament to deliver on the promises made at the last election, not to seek a new one.

Some suggest that there is a fourth option: to agree that we should leave with a deal on 29 March, but to vote this deal down in the hope of going back to Brussels and negotiating an alternative deal. However, no such alternative deal exists. The political declaration sets the framework for the future relationship, and the next phase of the negotiations will be our chance to shape that relationship, but we cannot begin those talks unless or until we agree the terms of our withdrawal. The European Union will not agree to any other deal for that withdrawal.

Having ruled out all those options, we are left with one: to vote for this deal tonight. It is one that delivers on the core tenets of Brexit—taking back control of our borders, laws, money, trade and fisheries—but in a way that protects jobs, ensures our security and honours the integrity of our United Kingdom. It strikes a fair balance between the hopes and desires of all our fellow citizens—those who voted to leave and those who voted to stay in—and if we leave with the deal that I am proposing, I believe that we can lay the foundations on which to build a better Britain.

As Prime Minister, I would not stand at this Dispatch Box and recommend a course of action that I do not believe is in the best interests of our country and our future. There are differences in this House today, but I believe that we can come together as we go forwards. Let me reassure anyone who is in any doubt whatsoever that the Government will work harder at taking Parliament with us, and as we move on to the next phase of the negotiations we will be looking to work with Parliament to seek that consensus.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my right hon. Friend for his question and for the work he has been doing to try to find a way through on this issue. I know that he has spent a long time consulting with international lawyers. The Government are unable to accept my right hon. Friend’s amendment, which has been selected, because we have a different opinion and a different interpretation of the Vienna convention. However, I note that he has put down alternative proposals relating to this issue, and the Government are willing to look at creative solutions and will be happy to carry on working with my right hon. Friend.

Turning to the Northern Ireland protocol—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 6:49 p.m.

Order. The House must calm itself—zen, restraint, patience—and hear the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 6:49 p.m.

I set out the Government’s position in detail in my statement yesterday, so I am not going to go over it again. The key thing to remember is that this is not a commitment we are making to the European Union; it is a commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland that they will be able to carry on living their lives as they do today. It is about saying that, whatever happens when we leave the EU, we will honour the Belfast agreement.

The Belfast agreement’s success has been built on allowing people from both communities in Northern Ireland to feel that their identities are respected under the principle of consent. For many people in Northern Ireland that means having a seamless land border between the UK and Ireland, which is also essential for their economy. For others, it means fully respecting the fact that Northern Ireland is an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom. No one wants to see the return of a hard border. As a proud Unionist, I share the concerns of Members who are determined that we do not undermine the strength of our United Kingdom, but it is not enough simply to make these assertions. We have to put in place arrangements that deliver those ends, and it is not as simple as some would like it to be.

As Prime Minister for the whole UK, it is my duty to provide a solution that works for the people of Northern Ireland. The answer lies in agreeing our future economic relationship, but we need an insurance policy to guarantee that there will be no hard border if that future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 6:58 p.m.

Parliament gave the British people a choice. The Government of the time, all parties and all those campaigning in the referendum were absolutely clear that, whatever the decision of the referendum, it would be respected by Government and Parliament. I believe we have a duty to deliver on that referendum vote and to do so in a way that protects people’s jobs and our security and Union. A vote against the deal is a vote for nothing more than uncertainty, division and the very real risk of no deal or no Brexit at all.

It does not have to be that way. Tonight, we can choose certainty over uncertainty. We can choose unity over division. We can choose to deliver on our promise to the British people, not break that promise and endanger trust in politics for a generation. As Members of Parliament, we have a duty to serve not our own self-interest or that of our parties, but the people we were elected to represent. It is the people of this country we were sent here to serve—the people of this country who queued up at polling stations, cast their ballots and put their faith in us.

The people of this country entrusted us with the sacred right to build for them and their children and grandchildren the brighter future they expect and deserve. If we act in the national interest and back this deal tonight, tomorrow we can begin to build that future together. If we act in the national interest and back this deal tonight, we can build a country that works for everyone. Together, we can show the people whom we serve that their voices have been heard, that their trust was not misplaced, that our politics can and does deliver, and that politicians can rise above our differences and come together to do what the people asked of us. That is the test that history has set for us today, and it will determine the future of our country for generations.

We each have a solemn responsibility to deliver Brexit and take this country forward, and, with my whole heart, I call on this House to charge that responsibility together. I commend the motion to the House.

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 7 p.m.

As I explained the sequence earlier, it should now be familiar to colleagues. I begin by inviting the Leader of the Opposition to move amendment (a).

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 7:01 p.m.

Finally, I invite the hon. Member for Basildon and Billericay (Mr Baron) to move amendment (f).

Amendment proposed: (f): at end, add

“subject to changes being made in the Withdrawal Agreement and in the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol so that the UK has the right to terminate the Protocol without having to secure the agreement of the EU.”—(Mr Baron.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 7:39 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The House has spoken and the Government will listen. It is clear that the House does not support this deal, but tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support; nothing about how, or even if, it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum that Parliament decided to hold. People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 7:40 p.m.

Order. It is no good people shouting. There will be an opportunity for other points of order, but the Prime Minister must and will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jan 2019, 7:44 p.m.

Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity. So with your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to set out briefly how the Government intend to proceed.

First, we need to confirm whether the Government still enjoy the confidence of the House. I believe that they do, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote it is right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so. I can therefore confirm that if the official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. If, as happened before Christmas, the official Opposition decline to do so, we will on this occasion consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other Opposition parties should they put one forward.

Secondly, if the House confirms its confidence in this Government, I will then hold meetings with my colleagues, our confidence and supply partner the Democratic Unionist party, and senior parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House. The Government will approach those meetings in a constructive spirit, but given the urgent need to make progress we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House.

Thirdly, if those meetings yield such ideas the Government will then explore them with the European Union.

Mr Speaker, I want to end by offering two reassurances. The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to 29 March. That is not our strategy. I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal, and I have devoted much of the past two years to negotiating such a deal. As you confirmed, Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) is not legally binding, but the Government respect the will of the House. We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amendable motion by Monday.

The second reassurance is to the British people who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so.

Every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government have heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask Members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do just that.

See more like "Leaving the EU"

Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 14 January 2019

(1 year ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Jan 2019, 6:10 p.m.

We will be putting in place the shared prosperity fund, which will look at disparities that occur between nations of the United Kingdom, and within communities and regions of the United Kingdom. We will obviously consult on how the shared prosperity fund will operate, but it will ensure that this is a country that works for everyone.

Mr Speaker Hansard
14 Jan 2019, 6:10 p.m.

I must say to the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) that his constituency always sounds an immensely agreeable place, and therefore I really must visit.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 19 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:10 p.m.

We will set out what is achieved in our EU discussions when we return in the new year, when we have had those discussions, when we bring those assurances back. The right hon. Gentleman can get as angry as he likes about this issue, but it does not hide the fact that he has no Brexit plan. I know it is Christmas, and I know that he has looked in his stocking, down the chimney and under the Christmas tree, but he still has not found a Brexit plan. He has to accept his responsibility to deliver on Brexit—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Mr Yasin, you are normally a most composed, almost laid-back individual. You are becoming very hot-headed and I am worried, for your own sake. Calm down! Be a good fellow.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:10 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has to accept his responsibility for delivering on Brexit. There are some people who say that the Leader of the Opposition is just going through the motions, but what we saw this week is that he is not even doing that.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I have to say that it is a bit rich for the right hon. Gentleman to stand here and talk about dithering. Let us see what the Labour party did this week. They said that they would call a vote of no confidence, and then they said that they would not. Then he said that he would, and then it was not effective—[Interruption.] I know that it is Christmas—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Members must not shout at the Prime Minister. [Interruption.] Order. Calm yourselves. Try to get into the Christmas spirit. If you cannot do that, at least listen to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:19 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

They said they would put down a vote of no confidence, then they said they would not, then they said they would, and then they did it but it was not effective. I know it is the Christmas season and the pantomime season, but what do we see from the Labour Front Bench and the Leader of the Opposition? He is going to put a confidence vote. Oh yes he is! [Hon. Members: “Oh no he isn’t!”] I have some news for him. I have some advice for the right hon. Gentleman: look behind you. They are not impressed, and neither is the country.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Yes. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 11:30 a.m.

Order. Let us have a bit of hush for a midlands Dame—Dame Caroline Spelman.

See more like "European Council"

European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 17 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 3:40 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on last week’s European Council. But before turning to Brexit, let me touch on two significant conclusions from the other business of the Council.

First, we expressed our utmost concern over the escalation we have seen at the Kerch strait and the sea of Azov, and over Russia’s continued violations of international law. We agreed to roll over economic sanctions against Russia, and we stand ready further to strengthen our support, in particular for the affected areas of Ukraine. Secondly, we also agreed to work together on tackling the spread of deliberate, large-scale and systematic disinformation, including as part of hybrid warfare. On this I outlined some of the world-leading work that the UK is doing in this field. And I was clear that, after we have left the European Union, the UK will continue to work closely with our European partners to uphold the international rules-based system and to keep all our people safe. That is why it is right that our Brexit deal includes the deepest security partnership that has ever been agreed with the EU.

At this Council, I faithfully and firmly reflected the concerns of this House over the Northern Ireland backstop. I explained that the assurances we have already agreed with the EU were insufficient for this House, and that we have to go further in showing that we never want to use this backstop, and if it is used, it must be a temporary arrangement. Some of the resulting exchanges at this Council were robust, but I make no apology for standing up for the interests of this House and the interests of our whole United Kingdom.

In response, the EU27 published a series of conclusions making it clear that it is their

“firm determination to work speedily on a subsequent agreement that establishes by 31 December 2020 alternative arrangements, so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.”

The House will forgive me, but I think this bears repeating: the backstop will not need to be triggered. The conclusions underline that

“if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered, it would apply temporarily”.

And that in this event, the EU

“would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop”.

And the EU27 gave a new assurance, in relation to the future partnership with the UK, to make it even less likely that the backstop would ever be needed by stating that the EU

“stands ready to embark on preparations immediately after signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations can start as soon as possible after the UK’s withdrawal.”

In these conclusions, in their statements at the Council and in their private meetings with me, my fellow EU leaders could not have been clearer: they do not want to use this backstop. They want to agree the best possible future relationship with us. There is no plot to keep us in the backstop. Indeed, President Macron said on Friday:

“we can clarify and reassure...the backstop is not our objective, it is not a durable solution and nobody is trying to lock the UK into the backstop.'”

As formal conclusions from a European Council, these commitments have legal status and should be welcomed. They go further than the EU has ever done previously in trying to address the concerns of this House. And of course they sit on top of the commitments that we have already negotiated in relation to the backstop, including ensuring that the customs element is UK-wide; that both sides are legally committed to using best endeavours to have our new relationship in place before the end of the implementation period; that if the new relationship is not ready, we can choose to extend the implementation period instead of the backstop coming into force; that if the backstop does come in, we can use alternative arrangements, not just the future relationship, to get out of it; that the treaty is clear the backstop can only ever be temporary; and that there is an explicit termination clause.

However, I know this House is still deeply uncomfortable about the backstop—I understand that, and I want us to go further still in the reassurances we secure. Discussions with my EU partners, including Presidents Tusk and Juncker, and others, have shown that further clarification following the Council’s conclusions is, in fact, possible. So discussions are continuing to explore further political and legal assurances. We are also looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. This is very irregular. The statement must be heard. There will be a full opportunity for exchanges, but the statement by the Prime Minister must be heard and heard with courtesy.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 3:36 p.m.

We are looking at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and enabling the House to place its own obligations on the Government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely. But it is now only just over 14 weeks until the UK leaves the EU, and I know many Members of this House are concerned that we need to take a decision soon. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will set out business on Thursday in the usual way, but I can confirm today that we intend to return to the meaningful vote debate in the week commencing 7 January and hold the vote the following week.

When we have the vote, Members will need to reflect carefully on what is in the best interests of our country. I know that there are a range of very strongly held personal views on this issue across the House, and I respect all of them. But expressing our personal views is not what we are here to do. We asked the British people to take this decision; 472 current Members of this House voted for the referendum in June 2015, with just 32 voting against. The British people responded by instructing us to leave the European Union. Similarly, 438 current Members of this House voted to trigger article 50, to set the process of our departure in motion, with only 85 of today’s Members voting against. Now we must honour our duty to finish the job.

I know this is not everyone’s perfect deal—it is a compromise—but if we let the perfect be the enemy of the good, we risk leaving the EU with no deal. Of course, we have prepared for no deal, and tomorrow the Cabinet will be discussing the next phase in ensuring we are ready for that scenario. But let us not risk the jobs, services and security of the people we serve by turning our backs on an agreement with our neighbours that honours the referendum, and provides for a smooth and orderly exit. Avoiding no deal is only possible if we can reach an agreement or if we abandon Brexit entirely.

As I said in the debate earlier this month, do not imagine that if we vote this down, a different deal is going to miraculously appear. If you want proof, look at the conclusions of this Council. As President Juncker said, it is the “best deal possible” and the “only deal possible”. Any proposal for the future relationship—whether Norway, Canada, or any other variety that has been mentioned—would require agreeing this withdrawal agreement. The Leader of the Opposition and some others are trying to pretend that they could do otherwise. This is a fiction.

Finally, let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum—another vote that would do irreparable damage to the integrity our politics, because it—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 3:40 p.m.

Order. Many Members of this House, including an illustrious Chair of a Select Committee, are heckling noisily. Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil, you are a cheeky chappy, but we need much less of the cheek and more by way of courtesy in listening to the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 3:41 p.m.

Another vote would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics, because it would say to millions who trusted in democracy that our democracy does not deliver. Another vote would likely leave us no further forward than the last, and another vote would further divide our country at the very moment we should be working to unite it. And let us not follow the Leader of the Opposition in thinking about what gives him the best chance of forcing a general election, for at this critical moment in our history we should be thinking not about our party’s interests, but about the national interest. Let us a find a way to come together and work together in the national interest to see this Brexit through.

I will work tirelessly over these new few weeks to fulfil my responsibility as Prime Minister to find a way forwards. Over the past two weeks, I have met quite a number of colleagues on this important issue, and I am happy to continue to do so, so that we can fulfil our responsibilities to the British people so that together we can take back control of our borders, laws and money, while protecting the jobs, security and integrity of our precious United Kingdom; so that together we can move on to finalising the future relationship with the European Union and the trade deals with the rest of the world that can fuel our prosperity for years to come; and so that together we can get this Brexit done and shift the national focus to our domestic priorities: investing in our NHS, our schools and housing, tackling the injustices that so many still face, and building a country that truly works for everyone. For these are the ways in which, together, this House will best serve the interests of the British people. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 5:31 p.m.

That is a matter for debate but not a matter for me. The Prime Minister can defend her offer, and I am sure she will.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Dec 2018, 5:32 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

I say to the hon. Lady that the House will have a choice when the meaningful vote is brought forward on whether or not it accepts the deal that is on the table, and on what it wants in future. That choice will be available, just as the choice was available to her constituents, mine and others up and down the country in 2016 to decide whether or not to stay in the EU.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 12 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Dec 2018, 12:10 p.m.

The way to ensure that there is no no deal is to agree a deal. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the impact on businesses. I will tell him what will have an impact on businesses up and down the country: what we learnt just a few days ago, that the shadow Chancellor wants to change the law so that—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Dec 2018, 12:11 p.m.

Order. The Prime Minister’s reply must be heard, and it will be.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Dec 2018, 12:11 p.m.

Businesses will be affected by the fact that the shadow Chancellor wants to change the law so that trade unions in this country can go on strike in solidarity with any strike anywhere in the world. That may be solidarity with trade unions. It is not solidarity with small businesses, and it is not solidarity with the ordinary working people who would pay the price of Labour.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We all know from the multiplicity of changes in plan that we have seen from the Labour party that there is one thing we can be sure about: whatever U-turn comes next in Labour’s policy, the right hon. Gentleman will send out—[Interruption.] He will send out—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I said a moment ago that the Leader of the Opposition must be heard, and, belatedly, he was; and the Prime Minister will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Dec 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Whatever change in Labour policy we see, the right hon. Gentleman will send out his henchman to reveal it all to the world: “The Inconstant Gardiner.” [Interruption.] Somebody will explain that to the Leader of the Opposition a little later. The right hon. Gentleman should be honest with people about his position: he could not care less about Brexit; what he wants to do is bring down the Government, create uncertainty, sow division and crash our economy. The biggest threat to people and to this country is not in leaving the EU; it is a Corbyn Government.

See more like "Exiting the European Union"

Exiting the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 10 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:33 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement on exiting the European Union.

We have now had three days of debate on the withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of our departure from the EU, and the political declaration setting out our future relationship after we have left. I have listened very carefully to what has been said, in the Chamber and out of it, by Members on all sides. From listening to those views, it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one issue, the Northern Ireland backstop, there remains widespread and deep concern. As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be rejected by a significant margin. We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow, and will not proceed to divide the House at this time.

I set out in my speech opening the debate last week the reasons why the backstop is a necessary guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland and why, whatever future relationship you want, there is no deal available that does not include the backstop. Behind all those arguments are some inescapable facts: the fact that Northern Ireland shares a land border with another sovereign state; the fact that the hard-won peace that has been built in Northern Ireland over the last two decades has been built around a seamless border; and the fact that Brexit will create a wholly new situation.

On 30 March the Northern Ireland-Ireland border will for the first time become the external frontier of the European Union’s single market and customs union. The challenge this poses must be met not with rhetoric but with real and workable solutions. Businesses operate across that border. People live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day. I have been there and spoken to some of those people; they do not want their everyday lives to change as a result of the decision we have taken. They do not want a return to a hard border. And if this House cares about preserving our Union, it must listen to those people, because our Union will only endure with their consent.

We had hoped that the changes we have secured to the backstop would reassure Members that we could never be trapped in it indefinitely. I hope the House will forgive me if I take a moment to remind it of those changes. The customs element of the backstop is now UK-wide; it no longer splits our country into two customs territories. This also means that the backstop is now an uncomfortable arrangement for the EU, so it will not want it to come into use, or to persist for long if it does.

Both sides are now legally committed to using best endeavours to have our new relationship in place before the end of the implementation period, ensuring the backstop is never used. If our new relationship is not ready, we can now choose to extend the implementation period, further reducing the likelihood of the backstop coming into use. If the backstop ever does come into use, we now do not have to get the new relationship in place to get out of it; alternative arrangements that make use of technology could be put in place instead. The treaty is now clear that the backstop can only ever be temporary, and there is now a termination clause.

But I am clear from what I have heard in this place and from my own conversations that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of colleagues the reassurance that they need. I spoke to a number of EU leaders over the weekend, and in advance of the European Council I will go to see my counterparts in other member states and the leadership of the Council and the Commission. I will discuss with them the clear concerns that this House has expressed.

We are also looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the Government—[Interruption.] To enable the House to place its own obligations on the Government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.

Mr Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the detail of Brexit, listening to the public’s ambitions, and, yes, their fears too, and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I am in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one. [Interruption.] It honours the result of the referendum. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:39 p.m.

Order. The remainder of the statement must be heard, and I invite the House to hear it with courtesy. And for the avoidance of doubt, and also for the benefit of those attending to our proceedings who are not Members of the House, I emphasise that, as per usual, I will call everyone who wants to question the Prime Minister, but meanwhile please hear her.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:39 p.m.

It honours the result of the referendum. It protects jobs, security and our Union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually negotiable with the EU. I believe in it, as do many Members of this House, and I still believe there is a majority to be won in this House in support of it if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop, and that is what my focus will be in the days ahead.

But if you take a step back, it is clear that the House faces a much more fundamental question. Does this House want to deliver Brexit? [Hon. Members: “No!”] That is a clear message from the Scottish National party. If the House does want to deliver Brexit, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU? If the answer is yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this House, then we all have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to make a compromise, because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate.

Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal, including the backstop, are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit. Those Members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered, and do so without ducking its implications. So if you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks dividing the country again, when as a House we should be striving to bring it back together. If you want to remain part of the single market and the customs union, be open that this would require free movement, rule taking across the economy and ongoing financial contributions—none of which are in my view compatible with the result of the referendum. If you want to leave without a deal, be up front that in the short term, this would cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden. I do not believe that any of those courses of action command a majority in this House. But notwithstanding that fact, for as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk of an accidental no deal increases. So the Government will step up their work in preparation for that potential outcome, and the Cabinet will hold further discussions on it this week.

The vast majority of us accept the result of the referendum and want to leave with a deal. We have a responsibility to discharge. If we will the ends, we must also will the means. I know that Members across the House appreciate how important that responsibility is. I am very grateful to all Members on this side of the House—and a few on the other side, too—who have backed this deal and spoken up for it. Many others, I know, have been wrestling with their consciences, particularly over the question of the backstop. They are seized of the need to face up to the challenge posed by the Irish border, but genuinely concerned about the consequences. I have listened. I have heard those concerns and I will now do everything I possibly can to secure further assurances.

If I may, I will conclude on a personal note. On the morning after the referendum two and a half years ago, I knew that we had witnessed a defining moment for our democracy. Places that did not get a lot of attention at elections and did not get much coverage on the news were making their voices heard and saying that they wanted things to change. I knew in that moment that Parliament had to deliver for them. Of course that does not just mean delivering Brexit. It means working across all areas—building a stronger economy, improving public services, tackling social injustices—to make this a country that truly works for everyone—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:43 p.m.

Order. The Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:44 p.m.

It means working across all areas to make this a country that truly works for everyone, and a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind. These matters are too important to be afterthoughts in our politics. They deserve to be at the centre of our thinking, but that can happen only if we get Brexit done and get it done right.

Even though I voted remain, from the moment I took up the responsibility of being Prime Minister of this great country, I have known that my duty is to honour the result of that vote. And I have been just as determined to protect the jobs that put food on the tables of working families and the security partnerships that keep each one of us safe. That is what this deal does. It gives us control of our borders, our money and our laws. It protects jobs, security and our Union. It is the right deal for Britain. I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:49 p.m.

I will respond fairly briefly. The right hon. Gentleman appears to argue, on the one hand, that it is not possible to change the deal because the EU has said that this is the only deal and, on the other hand, that the only thing he would accept is the deal being renegotiated. He quoted the European Union as saying this is the only deal, and he went on to say that the whole deal needs to be renegotiated.

The fundamental question that Members of this House have to ask themselves is whether they wish to deliver Brexit and honour the result of the referendum. All the analysis shows that, if we wish to deliver Brexit, if we wish to honour the result of the referendum, the deal that does that, and that best protects jobs and our economy, is the deal the Government have put forward. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 3:50 p.m.

Order. Everybody will have his or her chance, but the questions have been put and the answers must similarly be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

That is the fundamental question for Members of this House: to deliver on and honour the result of the referendum, but to do it in a way that protects jobs and our economy. That is what this deal does.

The Leader of the Opposition talks about a number of issues. He wants to be in the customs union such that the single market and free movement would have to be accepted. He refuses to accept that any deal requires a backstop, because that is our commitment to the people of Northern Ireland. He claims that he wants to negotiate trade deals, yet he wants to be fully in the customs union, which would not enable us to negotiate those trade deals. Finally, he talks about the uncertainty for British business. I can tell him that the biggest uncertainty for British business lies not in this deal but on the Front Bench of the Labour party.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I appreciate the sincerity with which the right hon. Gentleman has put his question and made his point, but I do genuinely feel absolutely that it is important for this House to deliver on the vote that took place in 2016.

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Dec 2018, 4:21 p.m.

The Prime Minister has just rather generously, but I fear erroneously, elevated the hon. Gentleman to the Privy Council. I fear that it is probably not a bankable assurance, but you never know.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 05 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman does not quite seem to understand how the system actually operates. No one has to wait for money if they need it. We have made advances—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. We are less than a third of the way through and already there is too much noise on both sides of the House. Members must calm themselves. The questions will be heard, however long it takes, and the same is true of the replies. Please try to get used to that.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Dec 2018, 12:09 p.m.

No one needs to wait for their money if they need it. We have made it easier for people to get advances. We have ensured they can get 100% of their first month’s payment up front. We have already scrapped the seven-day waiting period. I repeat: what happened when we scrapped the seven-day waiting period? Labour voted against it.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the poorest losing out. I will tell him when the poorest lose out: it is when a Labour Government come in. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The finger pointing, yelling and braying must stop. I understand that passions are running high, but on both sides of the House we need some sense of decorum.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

When the poorest lose out, it is when a Labour Government come in. What have this Government done? We have introduced the national living wage—Conservatives, not Labour. We have taken millions of people out of paying tax altogether—Conservatives, not Labour. Under this Government, 3.3 million jobs have been created.

Every Labour Government leave office with unemployment higher than when they went into office. What do we see under this Government? Our economy is growing, employment is rising, investment is up, we are giving the NHS the biggest single cash boost in its history, taxes are being cut and wages are rising. Labour would destroy all that. It is this Conservative Government who are building a brighter future for our country.

See more like "European Union (Withdrawal) Act"

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Tuesday 04 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I recognise the concerns there are in the House and, if my hon. Friend will permit me, I want to go on to reference them a little later.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 6:10 p.m.

May I just very gently exhort the Prime Minister to face the House? In answering her hon. Friend, her hon. Friend can hear very well but Opposition Members cannot.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 6:15 p.m.

I understand that some colleagues are worried, as I have just said, that we could end up stuck in the backstop indefinitely. In the negotiations, we secured seven separate commitments in the withdrawal agreement and political declaration to ensure that that is not the case. First, there is an explicit legal duty to use best endeavours to reach an agreement by the end of December 2020 that avoids the backstop coming into force in the first place.

That is not just a political commitment. As the Attorney General has set out, this is a recognised approach in international law, and we have the right to seek independent arbitration if this duty is not upheld. Secondly, if despite this, the future relationship is not ready in time, the backstop can be replaced by alternative arrangements. The political declaration makes it clear that we will seek to draw upon all available facilitations and technologies that could be used to avoid a hard border, and preparatory work will be done before we leave so that we can make rapid progress after our withdrawal. Thirdly, if neither the future relationship nor the alternative arrangements were ready by the end of 2020, we would not have to go into the backstop at this point. Instead, we have negotiated that there would be a clear choice between the backstop or a short extension to the implementation period.

Fourthly, if we do go into the backstop, the legal text is explicit that it should be temporary and that the article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship. Fifthly, if the backstop is no longer necessary to avoid a hard border, we have the right to trigger a review through the Joint Committee. Sixthly, as a result of the changes that we have negotiated, there is an explicit termination clause that allows the backstop to be turned off. Finally, the legal text is now clear that once the backstop has been superseded, it will cease to apply, so if a future Parliament decided to move from an initially deep trade relationship to a looser one, the backstop could not return.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

No, I am concluding. I have faced fierce criticism from all sides. If I had banged the table, walked out of the room and delivered the same deal that is before us today at the end of the process, some might say I had done a better job, but I did not play to the gallery. I focused on getting a deal that honours the referendum and sets us on course for a bright future, and I did so through painstaking hard work. I have never thought that politics was simply about broadcasting your own opinions on the matter at hand—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Mr MacNeil, I am concerned—[Interruption.] No, you were chuntering noisily from a sedentary position. I saw you, and I heard you. Your apprenticeship to become a statesman has still a substantial distance to travel.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 6:49 p.m.

Politics is as much about listening to people from all sides of the debate and then doing what you believe is in our national interest. That is what I have done, and sticking to the task has delivered results for the British people. When the EU gave us a choice between off-the-shelf models, I won us a bespoke deal. When in Salzburg the EU tried to insist on a backstop that carved out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, I faced them down and they backed down. Right at the end, when Spain tried to make a move on Gibraltar, I stood firm and protected Gibraltar’s sovereignty. That is why the Chief Minister of Gibraltar has said that no friend of Gibraltar should vote this deal down.

Do not let anyone here think there is a better deal to be won by shouting louder. Do not imagine that, if we vote this down, a different deal is going to miraculously appear. The alternative is uncertainty and risk—the risk that Brexit could be stopped; the risk we could crash out with no deal. And the only certainty would be uncertainty—bad for our economy and bad for our standing in the world. That is not in the national interest.

The alternative is for this House to lead our country forward into a brighter future. I do not say this deal is perfect. It was never going to be, and that is the nature of a negotiation. Yes, it is a compromise. It speaks to the hopes and desires of our fellow citizens who voted to leave and of those who voted to stay in. We will not bring our country together if we seek a relationship that gives everything to one side of the argument and nothing to the other.

We should not let the search for the perfect Brexit prevent a good Brexit that delivers for the British people. And we should not contemplate a course that fails to respect the result of the referendum, because that would decimate the trust of millions of people in our politics for a generation.

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G20 Summit
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 03 December 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 4:26 p.m.

Order. This is rather unseemly. I am bound to say that the hon. Member for Crawley (Henry Smith) was entitled to a somewhat more respectful welcome. His constituents were entitled to hear him heard with greater courtesy. Now that the Prime Minister is replying, this great hubbub of voluble and unnecessary noise should cease. Let us hear her reply.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Dec 2018, 4:27 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. With the launch event of the Global Compact on Migration next week, it is absolutely right that migration is being discussed in a number of forums, including, obviously, the references that we saw in the communiqué that came out of the G20 summit. That Global Compact is one way in which we can bolster international co-operation in these areas, because it does set out an approach to reduce irregular or illegal migration while improving regular and managed migration. It enables all states effectively to manage their borders. This issue is recognised across the G20 as one that needs to be addressed.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 28 November 2018

(1 year, 1 month ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I say to my hon. Friend that what—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
28 Nov 2018, 12:22 p.m.

Order. The hon. Lady’s question was heard, I want to hear the Prime Minister’s reply, and the Prime Minister is entitled to have it properly heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Backing this Brexit deal means that we will control our borders, we will end free movement once and for all, we will protect jobs with a deal that is good for our economy, we will no longer send vast sums of money every year to the European Union—we can spend it on our priorities—and we will be able to strike free trade deals around the world, as well as taking back control of our laws and having a good security partnership. But if we reject this deal, we go back to square one, with damaging uncertainty that would threaten jobs, threaten our investment and the economy, lead to more division and mean that there was less time to focus on the issues that our constituents wish us to focus on. I think the choice is backing the deal in the national interest, so that we can build that brighter future, or going back to square one, if it is rejected.

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Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 26 November 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the conclusion of our negotiations—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Nov 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Order. Mr Shannon, sort out your seating arrangements—well done. A long afternoon lies ahead, so let us have a bit of quiet and respectful order for the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Nov 2018, 3:32 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the conclusion of our negotiations to leave the European Union.

At yesterday’s special European Council in Brussels, I reached a deal with the leaders of the other 27 EU member states on a withdrawal agreement that will ensure our smooth and orderly departure on 29 March next year; and, tied to this agreement, a political declaration on an ambitious future partnership that is in our national interest. This is the right deal for Britain because it delivers on the democratic decision of the British people. It takes back control of our borders, and ends the free movement of people in full once and for all, allowing the Government to introduce a new skills-based immigration system. It takes back control of our laws; it ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK and instead means our laws being made in our Parliaments, enforced by our courts. It takes back control of our money, ending the vast annual payments that we send to Brussels, so that we can instead spend taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, including the £394 million a week of extra investment into our long-term plan for the national health service.

By creating a new free trade area with no tariffs, fees, charges, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks, this deal protects jobs, including those that rely on integrated supply chains. It protects our security, with a close relationship on defence and on tackling crime and terrorism, which will help to keep all our people safe. It also protects the integrity of our United Kingdom, meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland and delivering for the whole UK family, including our overseas territories and the Crown dependencies.

On Gibraltar, we have worked constructively with the Governments of Spain and Gibraltar. I want to pay tribute, in particular, to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, for his statesmanship in these negotiations. We have ensured that Gibraltar is covered by the whole withdrawal agreement and by the implementation period. And for the future partnership, the UK Government will be negotiating for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar. As Fabian Picardo said this weekend:

“Every aspect of the response of the United Kingdom was agreed with the Government of Gibraltar. We have worked seamlessly together in this as we have in all other aspects of this two year period of negotiation. Most importantly, the legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement has not been changed. That is what the Spanish Government repeatedly sought. But they have not achieved that. The United Kingdom has not let us down.”

Our message to the people of Gibraltar is clear: we will always stand by you. We are proud that Gibraltar is British, and our position on sovereignty has not and will not change.

The withdrawal agreement will ensure that we leave the European Union on 29 March next year in a smooth and orderly way. It protects the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and UK citizens living in the EU, so they can carry on living their lives as before. It delivers a time-limited implementation period to give business time to prepare for the new arrangements. During the implementation period, trade will continue on current terms so businesses only have to face one set of changes. It ensures a fair settlement of our financial obligations—less than half of what some originally expected and demanded. It meets our commitment to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland—and also no customs border in the Irish sea—in the event that the future relationship is not ready by the end of the implementation period.

I know that some Members remain concerned that we could find ourselves stuck in this backstop, so let me address this directly. First, this is an insurance policy that no one wants to use. Both the UK and the EU are fully committed to having our future relationship in place by 1 January 2021, and the withdrawal agreement has a legal duty on both sides to use best endeavours to avoid the backstop ever coming into force. If, despite this, the future relationship is not ready by the end of 2020, we would not be forced to use the backstop. We would have a clear choice between the backstop or a short extension to the implementation period. If we did choose the backstop, the legal text is clear that it should be temporary and that the article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship. And there is now more flexibility that it can be superseded either by the future relationship, or by alternative arrangements which include the potential for facilitative arrangements and technologies to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

There is also a termination clause, which allows the backstop to be turned off when we have fulfilled our commitments on the Northern Ireland border. And there is a unilateral right to trigger a review through the Joint Committee and the ability to seek independent arbitration if the EU does not use good faith in this process. Furthermore, as a result of the changes we have negotiated, the legal text is now also clear that once the backstop has been superseded, it shall “cease to apply”. So if a future Parliament decided to then move from an initially deep trade relationship to a looser one, the backstop could not return.

I do not pretend that either we or the EU are entirely happy with these arrangements. And that is how it must be—were either party entirely happy, that party would have no incentive to move on to the future relationship. But there is no alternative deal that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland which does not involve this insurance policy. And the EU would not have agreed any future partnership without it. Put simply, there is no deal that comes without a backstop, and without a backstop there is no deal.

The withdrawal agreement is accompanied by a political declaration that sets out the scope and terms of an ambitious future relationship between the UK and the EU. It is a detailed set of instructions to negotiators that will be used to deliver a legal agreement on our future relationship after we have left. The linkage clause between the withdrawal agreement and the declaration requires both sides to use best endeavours to get this legal text agreed and implemented by the end of 2020, and both sides are committed to making preparations for an immediate start to the formal negotiations after our withdrawal.

The declaration contains specific detail on our future economic relationship. That includes a new free trade area with no tariffs, fees, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks—an unprecedented economic relationship that no other major economy has. It includes liberalisation in trade in services well beyond World Trade Organisation commitments and building on recent EU free trade agreements. It includes new arrangements for our financial services sector, ensuring that market access cannot be withdrawn on a whim and providing stability and certainty for our world-leading industry. And it ensures that we will leave EU programmes that do not work in our interests. So we will be out of the common agricultural policy, which has failed our farmers, and out of the common fisheries policy, which has failed our coastal communities.

Instead, as the political declaration sets out, we will be “an independent coastal state” once again. We will take back full sovereign control over our waters, so we will be able to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in our waters. The EU has maintained throughout this process that it wanted to link overall access to markets to access to fisheries. It failed in the withdrawal agreement and it failed again in the political declaration. It is no surprise that some are already trying to lay down markers again for the future relationship, but they should be getting used to the answer by now: it is not going to happen.

Finally, the declaration is clear that whatever is agreed in the future partnership must recognise the development of an independent UK trade policy beyond this economic partnership. For the first time in 40 years, the UK will be able to strike new trade deals and open up new markets for our goods and services in the fastest growing economies around the world.

As I set out for the House last week, the future relationship also includes a comprehensive new security partnership, with close reciprocal law enforcement and judicial co-operation to keep all our people safe. At the outset we were told that, being outside of free movement and outside of the Schengen area, we would be treated like any other non-EU state on security. But this deal delivers the broadest security partnership in the EU’s history, including arrangements for effective data exchange on passenger name records, DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data, as well as extradition arrangements like those in the European arrest warrant. And it opens the way to sharing the types of information included in the European criminal records information system and Schengen information system II databases on wanted or missing persons and criminal records.

This has been a long and complex negotiation. It has required give and take on both sides, and that is the nature of a negotiation. But this deal honours the result of the referendum, while providing a close economic and security relationship with our nearest neighbours, and in so doing, offers a brighter future for the British people outside of the EU. And I can say to the House with absolute certainty that there is not a better deal available—[Interruption.] My fellow leaders were very clear on that yesterday.

Our duty as a Parliament over these coming weeks is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and to decide what is in our national interest. There is a choice which this House will have to make. We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people, or the House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one. No one knows what would happen if this deal does not pass. It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail.

I believe our national interest is clear. The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted. This is that deal—a deal that delivers for the British people. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I hope I can give some reassurance to my hon. Friend: as I said in the House last week, it is clear that we are looking ahead to a vote in this House on these matters and so we continue with our no-deal preparations.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Prime Minister, colleagues, thank you.

See more like "Progress on EU Negotiations"

Progress on EU Negotiations
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Thursday 22 November 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Yes, it does. [Interruption.]

“Does it deliver”—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Order. Mr Mahmood, we do not need you gesticulating. You are not a football referee or a linesperson. Calm yourself, man. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:18 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Does it ensure that it delivers a deal that is good for every part of the UK? Yes, it does.

Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman that this is a good deal for the United Kingdom. It delivers on the vote of the British people. It brings back control of our borders, our money and our laws. It protects jobs, it protects security, it protects the integrity of the United Kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman may want to play party politics; I am working in the national interest.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:26 p.m.

I think it will help the right hon. Gentleman if I repeat what I said in the statement. We will become an independent coastal state with control over our waters, so our fishermen get a fairer share of the fish in our waters. We have firmly rejected a link between access to our waters and access to markets. The fisheries agreement is not something we will be trading off against any other priorities. We are clear that we will negotiate access and quotas on an annual basis, as do other independent coastal states such as Norway and Iceland. [Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman may choose to shout at me from a sedentary position, but I have to say that he devoted all his response to my statement in—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:26 p.m.

Order. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman adheres very strongly to his position—it is in the nature of holding an opinion. But he must hear the response from the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:26 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman devoted all his response to the issue of fishing. He is sitting there chuntering that this is a sell-out of Scottish fishermen. I will tell him what a sell-out of Scottish fishermen would be: the policy of the Scottish nationalists to stay in the common fisheries policy.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:34 p.m.

This is my first opportunity to thank my right hon. Friend for the work he did as Brexit Secretary. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:34 p.m.

Order. This is very unseemly. Everybody will get a chance to ask a question. The right hon. Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab) has asked a question and the Prime Minister is answering it. Let us try to show each other some courtesy.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Nov 2018, 3:35 p.m.

I say to my right hon. Friend that I have explained, in response to other right hon. and hon. Members, the point about the backstop—it is not the automatic route for dealing with a temporary period in relation to any gap that exists between the end of the implementation period in December 2020 and the future relationship coming into place. The political declaration is about that future relationship. There are important points that have been agreed within the withdrawal agreement that will ensure that we can get a good agreement in relation to borders and to our trade area when we become that independent state outside the European Union. He will be aware that, as is reflected in this political declaration, there is a spectrum and there is a balance between willingness to abide by rules and the necessity for checks at the border. It continues to be our ambition and our objective to get that frictionless trade at the border, because we believe that is important.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 21 November 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

The public gave us an instruction to leave the European Union, and we should all be acting to deliver that. All the right hon. Gentleman wants to do is play party politics—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Mr Kinnock, you are a cerebral denizen of the House. Gesticulation and shouting are way beneath your pay grade, man. Calm yourself and develop some sense of repose. I said that the Leader of the Opposition should not be shouted at. The Prime Minister should also not be shouted at. Let us hear her reply.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
21 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is playing party politics. He is opposing a deal that he has not read. He is promising a deal that he cannot negotiate. He is telling leave voters one thing and remain voters another. Whatever he might do, I will act in the national interest.

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EU Exit Negotiations
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Thursday 15 November 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I pick up two key points that the right hon. Gentleman made? First, he made a reference to Scotland’s NHS being under threat. In fact, Scotland’s NHS depends on the Scottish Government —the SNP Government—determining the money—[Interruption.] It is no good him pointing his finger at me. We ensure that in the NHS settlement, the Barnettised settlement means that more money comes to Scotland, and Scotland has chosen not to spend it all on its NHS. That is an SNP decision. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 11:02 a.m.

Order. A moment ago I protected the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), quite properly, when he was being brayed at in an unseemly manner. Let me say to Scottish National party Members that, having asked the question, they must hear the Prime Minister’s reply with courtesy. Don’t worry, everybody will get a chance, but the Prime Minister’s responses must be heard with a basic courtesy and respect.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 11:03 a.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I was then going to pick up the points that the right hon. Gentleman made about Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is not staying in the single market. What is within the documents is that, in order to ensure frictionless trade across the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, Northern Ireland will be meeting those regulations specifically in the goods part of the acquis, but it is not remaining a member of the single market. He talks about Scotland being given the same treatment as Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland has a very particular set of circumstances. It is the only part of the United Kingdom that will have a land border with a country that is continuing as a member of the European Union. That is why, together with our commitments in the Belfast agreement, Northern Ireland is dealt with separately in the withdrawal agreement.

Finally, much of the right hon. Gentleman’s question was a complaint that Scotland was not specifically mentioned in these documents. Scotland is not specifically mentioned; Scotland is a part of the United Kingdom.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 1:19 p.m.

Scottish National party Members have on a number of occasions referred to the issue of Northern Ireland in relation to Scotland in this deal. Northern Ireland has a particular set of circumstances that do not—[Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman says, “Oh, and we do not?” No, you do not—

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 1:19 p.m.

Order. This is really the height of discourtesy. The Prime Minister is answering the question and she must be heard. The question has been asked, the Prime Minister is answering it and the hon. Gentleman is jabbering away from a sedentary position to no obvious benefit or purpose.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 1:19 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. The hon. Gentleman was suggesting that Scotland was in the same position as Northern Ireland. Of course it is not; it does not have a land border with a country that is going to be within the European Union.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 1:19 p.m.

First of all, the British people voted to leave the European Union and we have a duty to deliver on that. If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about the future of the NHS, then I hope he supports the significant decision this Government have taken to make the biggest injection of funding into our NHS in its history with our multi-year funding programme, over £80 billion more going into the NHS and the 10-year plan that ensures the sustainability of our NHS into the future.

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Nov 2018, 1:19 p.m.

Prime Minister, thank you. Colleagues, thank you.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 14 November 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Nov 2018, 12:07 p.m.

We are doing two things. First, we are negotiating to ensure that we maintain the trade deals that currently exist with the European Union when we leave—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
14 Nov 2018, 12:08 p.m.

Order. It is not acceptable for Members to shout at the Prime Minister when she is answering questions. We have been talking recently in this Chamber about respect and good behaviour. On both sides, the person who has the floor must be heard, and that is the end of the matter.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Nov 2018, 12:07 p.m.

We have been negotiating on two fronts. We are negotiating on the continuity agreements, which ensure that the trade deals that we have been party to as a member of the European Union can continue when we leave the European Union, and we have also started discussions with other countries about the trade deals that we can forge across the world once we leave the European Union. If the right hon. Gentleman is interested in trade deals, he really needs to sort out the Labour party’s position on this issue. Originally, the Labour party said that it wanted to do trade deals around the rest of the world. Now, he says that he wants to be in the customs union. That would stop him doing trade deals around the rest of the world. We know what is good for this country: an independent trade policy and trade deals—good trade deals—with Europe and with the rest of the world.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
14 Nov 2018, 12:14 p.m.

Order. Members must calm themselves. I have often advised taking some sort of soothing medicament. People may feel better as a consequence. I want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say and I hope the House has the courtesy to want to do so as well.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I say to my hon. Friend that what we have been negotiating is a deal that does deliver on the vote of the British people. In the list I set out earlier, I left out one of the things that the British people are very keen to see from this deal, which is an end to free movement. We will ensure that we deliver on that, as well as the other elements I set out. What we are doing is a deal that delivers on that vote, and in doing so protects jobs, protects the integrity of our United Kingdom and protects the security of people in this country.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

I call the Prime Minister. [Interruption.] Order. I want to hear about the bell ringing situation.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am very pleased first to wish Dennis Brock a very happy 100th birthday, and secondly to pay tribute to him for his 87 years of bellringing. As my hon. Friend has said, that is a considerable and significant record, and I think the support he has given, the work he has done and his commitment to St Mary’s in Sunbury-on-Thames are truly inspiring.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 31 October 2018

(1 year, 2 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First of all, the right hon. Gentleman talked about my commitment to tackle burning injustices. [Interruption.] “Yes”, they say from the Opposition Front Bench. Indeed. Was it Labour that introduced the Modern Slavery Act? No, it was not. Was it Labour that ensured that people in mental health crisis were not being taken to police cells as a place of safety? No, it was me. Was it the Labour party that introduced the race disparity audit, so that for the first time we can see what is happening to people from across our communities in this country? No, it was me and this Government. And I will tell him what else this Government have done—by taking a balanced approach to the economy and careful financial management, what do we see? Borrowing down, unemployment down, income tax down—[Interruption.] “Up”, Opposition Members say. I shall tell them what has gone up—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
31 Oct 2018, 12:20 p.m.

Order. I said that the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) must be heard. The reply from the Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Labour Members want to know what has gone up. I shall tell them what has gone up—[Interruption.] As long as it takes, I am going to tell them. Support for public services up, growth up, wages up—but debt is falling and austerity is ending. Under the Conservatives, the hard work of the British people is paying off.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

I was hoping that the right hon. Lady was going to offer us a little sample of what is in store.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am very happy to join my right hon. Friend in welcoming the choir of the Bundestag and the German Vice-President to the concert taking place this evening—a fitting way to recognise the centenary of the armistice. As my right hon. Friend may also know, the German President will be laying a wreath at the Cenotaph this year. What armistice gives us is an opportunity to come together to remember the immense sacrifices made in war, but also to join with our German friends to mark reconciliation and the peace that exists between our two nations today. The concert this evening is part of that, as will be the German President’s presence at the Cenotaph.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 24 October 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Wales Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
24 Oct 2018, 12:25 p.m.

We have heard quite a bit about the dog situation, but I think we are going to hear more.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I had not looked at the detail of the Select Committee report on that particular issue, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the Secretary of State is a keen dog owner, as indeed is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is sitting next to me, and that the Secretary of State will be looking at this issue very carefully.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Oct 2018, midnight

I thank my hon. Friend for his comments. He is absolutely right. As I said, Sir Jeremy has been for more than three decades an exemplary civil servant. His public service is second to none, and I am sure that he enjoyed the opportunity to appear before my hon. Friend’s Committee.

Mr Speaker Hansard
24 Oct 2018, midnight

Oh, I imagine it was probably the height of his enjoyments. Who could possibly have thought otherwise? We are grateful to the Prime Minister for what she said.

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October EU Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 22 October 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the strongest possible terms. We must get to the truth of what happened. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will make a statement shortly.

On the European Council, in addition to Brexit, there were important discussions on security and migration. First, at last Monday’s Foreign Ministers meeting, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and his French counterpart secured agreement on a new EU sanctions regime on the use of chemical weapons. At this Council, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and I argued that we should also accelerate work on further measures, including sanctions, to respond to and deter cyber-attacks. The attempted hacking of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague earlier this year was a stark example of the very real threats we face. We must impose costs on all those who seek to do us harm regardless of the means they use. This Council agreed to take that work forward.

Secondly, in marking Anti-Slavery Day, I welcomed the continued commitment of all EU leaders to work together to eliminate the barbaric crime of people trafficking. We reaffirmed our shared commitments to do more to tackle the challenges of migration upstream.

Following the Council, I met Premier Li of China, President Moon of South Korea and Prime Minister Lee of Singapore at the ASEM summit. Since 2010, our trade with Asia has grown by almost 50%, more than with any other continent in the world. I want to develop that even further. Indeed, the ability to develop our own new trade deals is one of the great opportunities of Brexit. At the ASEM summit, we discussed how the UK can build the most ambitious economic partnerships with all our Asian partners as we leave the European Union. We also agreed to deepen our co-operation across shared threats to our security.

Turning to Brexit, let me begin with the progress we have made on both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship. As I reported to the House last Monday, the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement is now clear. Since Salzburg, we have agreed the broad scope of provisions that set out the governance and dispute resolution arrangements for our withdrawal agreement, and we have developed a protocol relating to the UK sovereign base areas in Cyprus. Following discussions with Spain, and in close co-operation with the Government of Gibraltar, we have developed a protocol and a set of underlying memoranda relating to Gibraltar, heralding a new era in our relations. We also have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues such as security, transport and services.

This progress in the last three weeks builds on the areas where we have already reached agreement: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the implementation period; and, in Northern Ireland, agreement on the preservation of the particular rights of UK and Irish citizens, and on the special arrangements between us such as the common travel area, which has existed since before either the UK or Ireland ever became members of the European Economic Community.

Taking all of that together, 95% of the withdrawal agreement and its protocols are now settled. There is one real sticking point left, but a considerable one, which is how we guarantee that, in the unlikely event that our future relationship is not in place by the end of the implementation period, there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The commitment to avoiding a hard border is one that this House emphatically endorsed and enshrined in law in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish sea and breaking up the integrity of our United Kingdom. I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this, and I certainly will not.

As I said in my Mansion House speech, we chose to leave and we have a responsibility to help find a solution, so earlier this year we put forward a counterproposal for a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory for the backstop. In a substantial shift in its position since Salzburg, the EU is now actively working with us on this proposal, but a number of issues remain.

The EU argues that it cannot give a legally binding commitment to a UK-wide customs arrangement in the withdrawal agreement, so its original proposal must remain a possibility. Furthermore, people are understandably worried that we could get stuck in a backstop that is designed to be only temporary. There are also concerns that Northern Ireland could be cut off from accessing its most important market, Great Britain.

During last week’s council I had good discussions with Presidents Juncker, Tusk and Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Varadkar, and others, about how to break this impasse. I believe there are four steps we need to take.

First, we must make the commitment to a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory legally binding so that the Northern Ireland-only proposal is no longer needed. This would protect relations not only north-south but, vitally, east-west. This is critical. The relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is an integral strand of the Belfast Good Friday agreement, so to protect that agreement we need to preserve the totality of relationships it sets out. Nothing we agree with the EU under article 50 should risk a return to a hard border or threaten the delicate constitutional and political arrangements underpinned by the Belfast Good Friday agreement.

The second step is to create an option to extend the implementation period as an alternative to the backstop. I have not committed to extending the implementation period. I do not want to extend the implementation period, and I do not believe that extending it will be necessary. I see any extension or being in any form of backstop as undesirable. By far the best outcome for the UK, for Ireland and for the EU is that our future relationship is agreed and in place by 1 January 2021. I have every confidence that it will be, and the European Union has said it will show equal commitment to this timetable, but the impasse we are trying to resolve is about the insurance policy if this does not happen.

What I am saying is that if, at the end of 2020, our future relationship is not quite ready, the proposal is that the UK would be able to make a sovereign choice between the UK-wide customs backstop or a short extension of the implementation period. There are some limited circumstances in which it could be argued that an extension to the implementation period might be preferable if we were certain it was for only a short time. For example, a short extension to the implementation period would mean only one set of changes for businesses at the point we move to the future relationship, but in any such scenario we would have to be out of the implementation period well before the end of this Parliament.

The third step is to ensure that, were we to need either of these insurance policies, whether the backstop or a short extension to the implementation period, we could not be kept in either arrangement indefinitely. We would not accept a position in which the UK, having negotiated in good faith an agreement that prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland, none the less finds itself locked into an alternative inferior arrangement against its will.

The fourth step is for the Government to deliver the commitments we have made to ensure full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market. Northern Ireland’s businesses rely heavily on trade with their largest market, Great Britain, and we must protect this in any scenario.

Let us remember that all these steps are about insurance policies that no one in the UK or the EU wants or expects to use, so we cannot let this become the barrier to reaching the future partnership we all want to see. We have to explore every possible option to break the impasse, and that is what I am doing.

When I stood in Downing Street and addressed the nation for the first time, I pledged that the Government I lead will not be driven by the interests of the privileged few, but by those of ordinary working families. And that is what guides me every day in these negotiations. Before any decision, I ask: how do I best deliver the Brexit that the British people voted for? How do I best take back control of our money, borders and laws? How do I best protect jobs and make sure nothing gets in the way of our brilliant entrepreneurs and small businesses? How do I best protect the integrity of our precious United Kingdom and protect the historic progress we have made in Northern Ireland? If doing those things means I get difficult days in Brussels, so be it. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Oct 2018, 4:50 p.m.

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. Everybody knows, from the record, that there is plenty of opportunity to question the Prime Minister on these occasions, but the Prime Minister must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The Brexit talks are not about my interests; they are about the national interest and the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom. Serving our national interest will demand that we hold our nerve through these last stages of the negotiations—the hardest part of all. It will mean not giving in to those who want to stop Brexit with a politicians’ vote: politicians telling the people that they got it wrong the first time and should try again. And it will mean focusing on the prize that lies before us: the great opportunities that we can open up for our country when we clear these final hurdles in the negotiations. That is what I am working to achieve, and I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank the right hon. Lady for her comments about the use of language.

The position we are in is that 95% of the withdrawal agreement has been agreed, as I said, and a substantial part of the future relationship in relation to security, services, transport and other issues has been agreed, in terms of the structure and scope of that future relationship. The point is that none of this is finally agreed until leaders look at the package and agree the whole package together, hence nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Oct 2018, 3:59 p.m.

Brevity himself, Sir Desmond Swayne.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I seem to recall the hon. Gentleman asking me a very similar question last Monday, and I am afraid he is not going to get a different answer today. We are working for a good deal in terms of leaving the European Union and ensuring that we have a trading deal that protects jobs in this country.

Mr Speaker Hansard

As I often observe, repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 17 October 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

We have got the drift, and we are grateful.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2018, midnight

The only consideration for this Government is the national interest. That is why we have put forward a proposal that delivers on the vote of the referendum; that ensures that we leave the European Union on 29 March 2019 and will no longer send vast sums of money annually to the European Union; that ensures we will take control of our laws and borders; that ensures there will not be the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in this country; that ensures that free movement will end; and that also protects jobs and livelihoods, and protects the Union of the United Kingdom. That is in the national interest and that is what the Government have proposed.

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EU Exit Negotiations
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 15 October 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Perhaps I could point out a few things to the right hon. Gentleman. He says that the discussion on the backstop was in order to avoid the questions of the future relationship. If he had actually listened to my statement—in fact, he received an early copy of it—he would have heard me make it clear that we have made good progress on both the structure and scope of the future relationship, which we have been discussing alongside the withdrawal agreement. He also talks about there being a better deal available. Well, we never hear from the Labour party exactly what deal it thinks it wants. What we have seen—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 3:48 p.m.

Order. There is far too much noise. I said a moment ago that the Leader of the Opposition must be heard, and the Prime Minister must also be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 3:49 p.m.

What we have heard from Labour Members is that at one point that they want to do really good trade deals around the rest of the world, and the next moment they want to tie us into the Brussels trade deals by being part of the customs union. One minute they say they want to respect the vote of the British people in relation to free movement; the next minute they say, “Well, actually, no, free movement is still on the table.” What we constantly see from them is no firm proposals on this particular issue.

Labour Members also talk about being in a customs union. May I say to the right hon. Gentleman—this is perhaps the sort of detail he may not have recognised—that even if we were to go down the route of the sort of deal that might involve being in a customs union, it would still be necessary to have a backstop, in case there was a delay between bringing that in and the end of the implementation period. Certainly, on this side of the House, we are very clear about our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland and our commitments to the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman then said, “What have we got to show for all of this that has been undertaken?” What we have got to show for it is: the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement agreed; and significant progress and agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship. What we also have to show for it is a Government who are determined to deliver on the vote of the British people, unlike an Opposition who want to frustrate the people’s vote and frustrate Brexit.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 5:07 p.m.

Order. It is immensely stimulating to listen to the hon. Member for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson), but it is even more interesting to listen to the Prime Minister’s answer.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 5:08 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I am not quite sure where a third referendum came from, but I refer the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) to the answer I have given previously.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 10 October 2018

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Oct 2018, 12:45 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman speaks with passion about this issue, and rightly so. It is an important issue, and I will ensure that he is able to bring that information appropriately to Ministers. He makes a point that covers not only this issue but other issues in Government too. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), is working to ensure that on issues such as this we see joined-up working between Government Departments to ensure that the right action is being taken. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
10 Oct 2018, 12:45 p.m.

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) is chuntering from a sedentary position, “Meet with you.” It seems to be his preferred mantra of the day, and doubtless it will now be recorded in the Official Report.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 12 September 2018

(1 year, 4 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 12:09 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about constituency cases. I remember—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 12:10 p.m.

Order. We are at a very early stage of the proceedings. We have got a long way to go, but questions must be heard and the answers must be heard, and as usual I want to get through the Order Paper.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Sep 2018, 12:10 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman started his question by talking about constituency cases. I remember the single mother who came to see me as her Member of Parliament when Labour was in government who told me that she wanted to get into the workplace and provide a good example to her child, but the jobcentre had told her that she would be better off on benefits. That is the legacy of the Labour party.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 18 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:07 p.m.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I actually question the way in which he put his question. He has made an accusation in this House against Members of this House—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The question was heard and the Prime Minister’s answer must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:07 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has made an accusation in this House against individual Members of this House and of the Government, and I suggest that, when he stands up, he reflects on whether or not it was correct to do so. The Electoral Commission is an independent regulator, accountable to Parliament, not to the Government. It has, as we know, taken steps in relation to the Vote Leave campaign. I would expect that all those involved and required to do so will give the evidence that is required and respond appropriately to any questions that are raised with them. But I say again to the right hon. Gentleman that I think he should stand up, think very carefully about making accusations about individual Members, and withdraw.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:10 p.m.

I heard the right hon. Gentleman say in his first question that members of the Government had failed to co-operate with the Electoral Commission investigation. I say again that he should withdraw that. It is very important in this country that politicians do not interfere with police investigations, that the police are allowed to do their investigation and that everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. I still contend that he made accusations against individual members of the Government that were unjustified and he should withdraw them.

The right hon. Gentleman then came to the amendments that the Government accepted to the customs Bill on Monday night. I will explain the position to the House. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:11 p.m.

Order. We are less than a third of the way through—possibly significantly less—and people are becoming over-excited. They must calm themselves and we must hear the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:11 p.m.

The hon. Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) said, “This will be interesting”. I will go through each of the amendments in turn for the purposes of the House. Amendment 72 related to parliamentary scrutiny on plans under clause 31 to form a customs union with the EU. We are going to leave the customs union with the EU so we accepted that enhanced parliamentary scrutiny. Amendment 73 related to regulations on the application of VAT in certain circumstances. Such an arrangement is not part of the White Paper and the Chequers agreement, and we were able to accept that too. New clause 37 was to prevent a customs border down the Irish sea. That is Government policy. New clause 36 related to reciprocity and accounting for tariffs collected, and that concept is in the White Paper. The Chequers agreement and White Paper are the basis of our negotiations with the European Union, and we have already started those negotiations.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman what I have been doing over the last week, and let me also look at what the right hon. Gentleman has been doing over the last week. While I was agreeing the future of NATO with President Trump—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:18 p.m.

Order. Mr Lewis, you are a very over-excitable denizen of the House. You are not as well behaved as your little baby daughter.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

While I was agreeing the future of NATO with President Trump, the right hon. Gentleman was joining a protest march against him. While I was delivering a plan for our future trade with the EU, he was delivering a plan to teach children how to go on strike. While I was negotiating our future security relationship with Europe, he was renegotiating the definition of anti-Semitism. He protests; I deliver.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:45 p.m.

Obviously, my right hon. Friend has raised a very important issue. She has raised it in the specific case of Sir Cliff Richard, but, as she said, this does not just relate to somebody who is well known and in the public eye. This is a difficult issue, it has to be dealt with sensitively and I looked at it when I was Home Secretary. There may well be cases where the publication of a name enables other victims to come forward and therefore to strengthen the case against an individual. So this is not somewhere where we either do all of one or all of another; it is an issue for careful judgment. But in exercising that careful judgment, the police have to recognise their responsibilities and the media need to recognise their responsibilities as well.

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:45 p.m.

It is good to welcome the hon. Lady back to the House; I call Naz Shah.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am sure the whole House will join me in extending our thoughts and prayers to Jack’s family at what must be a terribly, terribly difficult and tragic time for them. As my hon. Friend has indicated, NICE has recommended the drug that he refers to for use in children; that was in draft guidance it recently issued. I understand the drug is now available across the NHS, through the cancer drugs fund, and NICE will be publishing its final guidance in August. I am sure the drug will be rolled out swiftly to ensure that as many people as possible are able to benefit from it as swiftly as possible.

Mr Speaker Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 12:48 p.m.

Three days after she became the proud grandmother of Holly, I call the Mother of the House, Harriet Harman.

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NATO Summit
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 16 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
16 Jul 2018, 2:30 p.m.

“Parallel” says the hon. Lady optimistically from a sedentary position. We look to what might be called the geometrical dexterity of the Prime Minister to cope with the situation.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
16 Jul 2018, 2:30 p.m.

Although we did not discuss at the NATO summit the precise point that the hon. Lady raised, we did of course discuss our collective security. The hon. Lady can rest assured that in all our considerations on these matters we will be ensuring that we have the powers and tools necessary for our security.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely wrong in his reference to the agreement that was reached at Chequers. I would not have gone through all the work I did to ensure we reached that agreement only to see it changed in some way through these Bills. They do not change the Chequers agreement, and the Minister will make that clear from the Dispatch Box later today.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I do not wish to be unkind to the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), but I think he is geographically more challenged than his hon. Friend the Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Dr Huq), who is sitting next to him.

See more like "Leaving the EU"

Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 09 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:32 p.m.

I am sure the House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Dawn Sturgess, who passed away last night. The police and security services are working urgently to establish the full facts, in what is now a murder investigation. I want to pay tribute to the dedication of staff at Salisbury District Hospital for their tireless work in responding to this appalling crime. Our thoughts are also with the people of Salisbury and Amesbury. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will make a statement shortly, including on the support we will continue to provide to the local community throughout this difficult time.

Turning to Brexit, I want to pay tribute to my right hon. Friends the Members for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) for their work over the last two years. [Interruption.] We do not agree about the best way of delivering our shared commitment to honour the result of the referendum, but I want to recognise the former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for the work he did to establish a new Department and steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, and similarly to recognise the passion that the former Foreign Secretary demonstrated in promoting—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. There is a very unseemly atmosphere. I want to hear about these important matters, and I think the House should.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:35 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I recognise the passion that the former Foreign Secretary demonstrated in promoting a global Britain to the world as we leave the European Union. I am also pleased to welcome my hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab) as the new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

On Friday at Chequers, the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and ambitious proposal that provides a responsible and credible basis for progressing negotiations with the EU towards a new relationship after we leave on 29 March next year. It is a proposal that will take back control of our borders, our money and our laws, but do so in a way that protects jobs, allows us to strike new trade deals through an independent trade policy and keeps our people safe and our Union together.

Before I set out the details of this proposal, I want to start by explaining why we are putting it forward. The negotiations so far have settled virtually all of the withdrawal agreement, and we have agreed an implementation period that will provide businesses and Governments with the time to prepare for our future relationship with the EU. But on the nature of that future relationship, the two models that are on offer from the EU are simply not acceptable.

First, there is what is provided for in the European Council’s guidelines from March this year. This amounts to a standard free trade agreement for Great Britain, with Northern Ireland carved off in the EU’s customs union and parts of the single market, separated through a border in the Irish sea from the UK’s own internal market. No Prime Minister of our United Kingdom could ever accept this; it would be a profound betrayal of our precious Union. And while I know some might propose instead a free trade agreement for the UK as a whole, that is not on the table, because it would not allow us to meet our commitment under the Belfast agreement that there should be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Secondly, there is what some people say is on offer from the EU: a model that is effectively membership of the European economic area, but going further in some places, and the whole of the UK remaining in the customs union. This would mean continued free movement, continued payment of vast sums every year to the EU for market access, a continued obligation to follow the vast bulk of EU law, and no independent trade policy, with no ability to strike our own trade deals around the world. I firmly believe this would not honour the referendum result, so if the EU continues on that course, there is a serious risk it could lead to no deal. This would most likely be a disorderly no deal, for without an agreement on our future relationship, I cannot see that this Parliament would approve the withdrawal agreement with a Northern Ireland protocol and financial commitments, and without those commitments, the EU would not sign a withdrawal agreement.

A responsible Government must prepare for a range of potential outcomes, including the possibility of no deal, and given the short period remaining before the conclusion of negotiations, the Cabinet agreed on Friday that these preparations should be stepped up. But at the same, we should recognise that such a disorderly no deal would have profound consequences for both the UK and the EU, and I believe that the UK deserves better.

The Cabinet agreed that we need to present the EU with a new model, evolving the position that I had set out in my Mansion House speech, so that we can accelerate negotiations over the summer, secure a new relationship in the autumn, pass the withdrawal and implementation Bill and leave the European Union on 29 March 2019.

The friction-free movement of goods is the only way to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and it is the only way to protect the uniquely integrated supply chains and just-in-time processes on which millions of jobs and livelihoods depend. So at the heart of our proposal is a UK-EU free trade area that will avoid the need for customs and regulatory checks at the border and protect those supply chains. Achieving this requires four steps. The first is a commitment to maintaining a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products. To deliver this, the UK would make an up-front sovereign choice to commit to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules on goods, covering only those necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border. This would not cover services, because that is not necessary to ensure free flow at the border, and it would not include the common agricultural and fisheries policies, which the UK will leave when we leave the EU.

The regulations covered are relatively stable and supported by a large share of our manufacturing businesses. We would continue to play a strong role in shaping the European and international standards that underpin them, and there would be a parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations, because when we leave the EU we will end the direct effect of EU law in the UK. All laws in the UK will be passed in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Our Parliament would have the sovereign ability to reject any proposals if it so chose, recognising that there would be consequences, including for market access, if we chose a different approach from the EU.

Secondly, we will ensure a fair trading environment. Under our proposal, the UK and the EU would incorporate strong reciprocal commitments relating to state aid. We would establish co-operative arrangements between regulators on competition and commit to maintaining high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change, social and employment, and consumer protection.

Thirdly, we would need a joint institutional framework to provide for the consistent interpretation and application of UK-EU agreements by both parties. This would be done in the UK by UK courts and in the EU by EU courts, with due regard paid to EU case law in areas where the UK continued to apply a common rulebook. This framework would also provide a robust and appropriate means for the resolution of disputes, including through the establishment of a joint committee of representatives from the UK and the EU. It would respect the autonomy of the UK’s and the EU’s legal orders and be based on the fundamental principle that the court of one party cannot resolve disputes between the two.

Fourthly, the Cabinet also agreed to put forward a new business-friendly customs model—a facilitated customs arrangement—that would remove the need for customs checks and controls between the UK and the EU because we would operate as if a combined customs territory. Crucially, it would also allow the UK to pursue an independent trade policy. The UK would apply the UK’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the UK and the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU. Some 96% of businesses would be able to pay the correct tariff or no tariff at the UK border, so there would be no additional burdens for them compared with the status quo and they would be able to benefit from the new trade deals that we will strike. In addition, we will bring forward new technology to make our customs systems as smooth as possible for businesses that trade with the rest of the world.

Some have suggested that under this arrangement the UK would not be able to do trade deals. They are wrong. When we have left the EU, the UK will have its own independent trade policy, with its own seat at the World Trade Organisation and the ability to set tariffs for its trade with the rest of the world. We will be able to pursue trade agreements with key partners, and on Friday the Cabinet agreed that we would consider seeking accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership.

Our Brexit plan for Britain respects what we have heard from businesses about how they want to trade with the EU after we leave and will ensure we are best placed to capitalise on the industries of the future in line with our modern industrial strategy. Finally, as I have set out in this House before, our proposal includes a far-reaching security partnership that will ensure continued close co-operation with our allies across Europe while enabling us to operate an independent foreign and defence policy. So this is a plan that is not just good for British jobs but good for the safety and security of our people at home and in Europe too.

Some have asked whether this proposal is consistent with the commitments made in the Conservative manifesto. It is. The manifesto said:

“As we leave the European Union, we will no longer be members of the single market or customs union but we will seek a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement.”

What we are proposing is challenging for the European Union. It requires the EU to think again, to look beyond the positions that it has taken so far, and to agree a new and fair balance of rights and obligations. That is the only way in which to meet our commitments to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland without damaging the constitutional integrity of the UK and while respecting the result of the referendum. It is a balance that reflects the links that we have established over the last 40 years as some of the world’s largest economies and security partners. It is a bold proposal, which we will set out more fully in a White Paper on Thursday. We now expect the EU to engage seriously with the detail, and to intensify negotiations over the summer so that we can get the future relationship that I firmly believe is in all our interests.

In the two years since the referendum we have had a spirited national debate, with robust views echoing around the Cabinet table, as they have around breakfast tables up and down the country. Over that time I have listened to every possible idea and every possible version of Brexit. This is the right Brexit. It means leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019; a complete end to free movement, and taking back control of our borders; an end to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the UK, restoring the supremacy of British courts; no more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU, but instead a Brexit dividend to spend on domestic priorities such as our long-term plan for the NHS; flexibility on services, in which the UK is world-leading; no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain; a parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations; leaving the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy; the freedom to strike new trade deals around the world; an independent foreign and defence policy—but not the most distant relationship possible with our neighbours and friends; instead, a new deep and special partnership. It means frictionless trade in goods; shared commitments to high standards, so that together we continue to promote open and fair trade; and continued security co-operation to keep our people safe.

This is the Brexit that is in our national interest. It is the Brexit that will deliver on the democratic decision of the British people, and it is the right Brexit deal for Britain. I commend this statement to the House.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:55 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has been in this House for quite a long time, and I know that he will have heard many statements. The normal response to a statement is to ask some questions. I do not think that there were any questions anywhere in that; nevertheless I will—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Members on both sides of the House should try to calm down. There is a long way to go and, as is my usual custom, I hope to be able to call everybody who wants to ask a question. People do not need to chunter from their seats when they can speak on their feet.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 3:55 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will comment on a few of the points that the right hon. Gentleman has made. He talks about removing or lowering standards in a number of areas, including employment. As I said in my statement, we will

“commit to maintaining high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change and social and employment and consumer protection.”

He says that there is no plan in what I had said to ensure that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but in fact the very opposite is the case. The plan delivers the commitment for no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. At the beginning of his response, he thanked me for giving him early sight of my statement. It is just a pity that he obviously did not bother to read it.

The right hon. Gentleman says that we are two years on. This is the right hon. Gentleman who, immediately after the referendum decision in 2016, said we should have triggered article 50 immediately with no preparation whatsoever. He talks about delivery. Well, I remind him that we delivered the joint report in December, we delivered the implementation plan in March, and now we stand ready to deliver on Brexit for the British people with the negotiations that we are about to enter into. He talks about resignations, but I remind him that he has had, I think, 103 resignations from his Front Bench, so I will take no lectures from him on that.

When it comes to delivering a strong economy and jobs for the future, the one party that would never deliver a strong economy is the Labour party, whose economic policies would lead to a run on the pound, capital flight and the loss of jobs for working people up and down this country.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 5:01 p.m.

Order. I allowed the hon. Lady to complete her question, but may I gently encourage her to remember that we do not use the word “you” here? She has now been a Member for eight years, and I look to her to set an example to new colleagues who require leadership.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 5:01 p.m.

It is precisely because we are saying “No” to the proposals put forward by the European Commission that we are putting forward our own proposal, which is much more ambitious and comprehensive than those from the EU and, I believe, is in the best interests of this country.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thank my hon. Friend for his patience. It is important that we now move forward together as one country, very clear in what we want to see in our future relationship with the European Union, and that we go into the negotiations with that confidence.

Mr Speaker Hansard
9 Jul 2018, 5:29 p.m.

I am most grateful to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and all 95 Back Benchers who questioned the Prime Minister. Whatever people think about this matter, the Prime Minister has clearly scored highly today in terms of productivity. We should be clear about that.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 04 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

There is every hope, because of the investment and the commitment that the Government are giving through our modern industrial strategy. The hon. Lady asks if I and members of the Government will visit the Great Exhibition of the North, and I think she may be surprised to find how many of us do indeed visit it over the summer.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 12:34 p.m.

I am sure people will. I visited the constituency of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) in February, and I am still fizzing with excitement about the matter five months later.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I am happy to join my hon. Friend in congratulating Granny Gothards on not only its two business awards but, crucially, the export contracts it is working on. It is absolutely right that my hon. Friend highlights the opportunities that businesses will have as we leave the European Union. It will be an opportunity to boost productivity, deliver better infra- structure and maximise the potential of our country and businesses such as Granny Gothards, which is obviously such a success in her constituency.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Jul 2018, 12:44 p.m.

In the week of a special birthday for him, and in the name of encouraging a young Member as he seeks to build his career, I call Mr Stephen Pound.

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June European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Monday 02 July 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
2 Jul 2018, 5:24 p.m.

It is absolutely in the interests of the other countries in the European Union, which will be remaining in the European Union, to do that trade deal with the UK. I have always said that I think a good deal for us would be a good deal for them.

Mr Speaker Hansard
2 Jul 2018, 5:24 p.m.

As the hon. Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) has just referred to cherries, it seems timely for me to call Joanna Cherry.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 27 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has raised the question of Airbus. If he is so concerned about our aerospace and aviation industry, why did he not back the expansion of Heathrow in this Chamber? [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. [Interruption.] Order. Mr Snell, calm yourself. Acquire the quality of an aspiring statesperson. Calm! The question has been asked, and the answer from the Prime Minister must, and will, be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

I do not normally agree with the secretary general of Unite, but on this occasion I actually do agree with him, because he says that backing the expansion—the third runway—at Heathrow would ensure that our country

“remains a world leader in aviation and aerospace”.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 20 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Northern Ireland Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

As I said—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The hon. Gentleman’s question was heard with courtesy, and the reply must be heard with courtesy.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Jun 2018, 12:24 p.m.

First, I have just said in response to questions about the pictures and the behaviour that we have seen in the United States and about the way children are being treated, that is clearly, wholly and unequivocally wrong. On the wider issue of the President of the United States coming here to the United Kingdom, there are many issues that Members of this House—including the hon. Gentleman’s right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—consistently encourage me to raise with the President of the United States. We do that: when we disagree with the United States, we tell them so. We also have key shared interests with the United States, in the security and defence field and in other areas, and it is right that we are able to sit down and discuss those issues with the President. He is the President of a country with which we have had, and will continue to have, a long-standing special relationship.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and John Bercow
Wednesday 13 June 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

rose—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

Order. Mr Geraint Davies, you are a senior and supposedly cerebral Member of the House—in a leap year anyway—and you must attempt to recover your composure, man. I am worried about you, and I am worried for you.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 12:10 p.m.

On the Brexit negotiations, I might remind the right hon. Gentleman that, before December, Labour cast doubt on whether we would get a joint report agreed—we did—and before March, he cast doubt on whether we would get an implementation period, and we did.

I wanted, if I may, just to respond to the comment that the right hon. Gentleman made about the very important subject of providing those who were the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire with permanent homes. Just so that I can make it clear to the House: 203 households were in need of a new home; every household has received an offer of temporary or permanent accommodation; and 183 have accepted an offer of a permanent home.

I just wanted to say this, because it is not just about the buildings; it is not just about the bricks and mortar of a home. People who suffered that night are having to rebuild their lives. Many of them lost somebody—members of their families—with whom they had been living and making a home for years. They lost all their possessions; they lost their mementoes; and they lost anything that reminds them of the person they loved. When they move into that new home, they will be restarting their lives, and I wanted to pay tribute to all the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire for the strength and dignity that they have shown.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Let’s talk about the positions on this issue. Labour said it wanted to do new trade deals—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 12:18 p.m.

Order. I want to hear both the questions and the answers, and as the record shows—[Interruption.] Order. I do not require any assistance in this matter. As the record shows, that will always happen, however long it takes. There is a lot of noise and much gesticulation from Members on both sides of the House, but I want to hear the questions and I want to hear the answers.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard