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PM statement on new Brexit deal: 22 May 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement in the House of Commons on the new Brexit deal.

Transcript:

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. 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 nonetheless revealed areas of common ground. And having listened to the Opposition, to other party leaders, to the devolved administrations, to business leaders, trade unionists and others, we are now making a 10-point offer to Members across the House.

Ten changes that address the concerns raised by Hon and Rt Hon Members. Ten 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.

Second, 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.

Third, we will empower Parliament to break the deadlock over future customs arrangements. Both the Government and Opposition agree that we must have as close as possible to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border – 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 has already put forward a proposal which 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 both sceptical of our ability to negotiate that and don’t believe 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 its preferred direction. But 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.

PM’s speech on Brexit negotiations: 6 April 2019

The PM made a speech about the Brexit negotiations on 6 April 2019, but there is no mention of what she has agreed with Jeremy Corbyn!

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pms-words-on-brexit-negotiations-6-april-2019

Delivering Brexit has been my priority ever since I became Prime Minister and it remains so today. I want the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way as soon as possible and that means leaving in a way that does not disrupt people’s lives.

My strong preference was to do that by winning a majority in Parliament for the agreement the UK reached with the EU last November. I did everything in my power to persuade the Conservative and DUP MPs who form the government’s majority to back that deal, including securing legally-binding changes to address MPs’ concerns with it.

But that deal was rejected three times by Parliament and there is no sign it can be passed in the near future. So I had to take a new approach.

Because Parliament has made clear it will stop the UK leaving without a deal, we now have a stark choice: leave the European Union with a deal or do not leave at all.

My answer to that is clear: we must deliver Brexit and to do so we must agree a deal. If we cannot secure a majority among Conservative and DUP MPs we have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons.

The referendum was not fought along party lines and people I speak to on the doorstep tell me they expect their politicians to work together when the national interest demands it. The fact is that on Brexit there are areas where the two main parties agree: we both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs.

That is the basis for a compromise that can win a majority in Parliament and winning that majority is the only way to deliver Brexit.

The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all. It would mean letting the Brexit the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that. It is essential we deliver what people voted for and to do that we need to get a deal over the line.

To achieve this I will go to Brussels this week to seek a short extension to Article 50. My intention is to reach an agreement with my fellow EU leaders that will mean if we can agree a deal here at home we can leave the EU in just six weeks.

We can then get on with building a new relationship with our nearest neighbours that will unlock the full potential of Brexit and deliver the brighter future that the British people voted for.

Confirmation of UK Government agreement to Article 50 extension

A letter from the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU to the President of the European Council, confirming the agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom to the decision of the European Council extending the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union.

I refer to the draft European Council Decision taken in agreement with the United Kingdom extending the period under Article 50(3) TEU, as attached to this letter. I am writing to confirm the agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom to the extension of the period under Article 50(3) and to this decision.

TIM BARROW

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/788383/Confirmation_of_UK_Government_Agreement_to_Article_50_Extension__1_.pdf

and the European Council decision

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/788448/Council_Decision.pdf

Copies

UK Government Agreement to Article 50 Extension (pdf)

EU Council Extension (pdf)

Comment

Does “before” the 12 April mean “by 24:00pm on 11 April” ?

I assume the time of departure remains the same i.e. 23:00pm BST (22:00 GMT/UTC) and 24:00pm European (Brussels time) – the legal document isn’t clear !! This year the clocks go forward by one hour at 1:00 am on March 31.

So at the moment (23 March 2019) there appear to be 3 possible departure dates, but these are also dependent on MPs deciding that the UK will leave the EU and whether they have some other date in mind

23:00pm GMT, Friday 29 March 2019

or

22:00pm GMT, Friday 12 April 2019

or

22:00pm GMT, Wednesday 22 May 2019

Brexit Debate 29 January 2019 – Result

The Brexit debate held on the 29 January 2019 resulted in an agreement to reject “No Deal” (amendment (i)) and “requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements” (amendment (n)). The House (of Commons) would then “support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change”.

The next step is for the Prime Minister to discuss with the EU whether suitable changes can be made to the Backstop arrangement, that is currently defined in the Withdrawal Agreement, which would enable the Withdrawal Agreement to be ratified by the House of Commons.

Initial indications from the EU are that “negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be reopened“.

It is also unclear exactly what “alternative arrangements” actually mean. Could it simply be a case of adding a “legally binding” commitment for an expiry date for the Backstop and would this be sufficient ?

More details on the votes follow:

Amendments selected by the Speaker were as follows:

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.

The debate was opened by Theresa May. Following lengthy discussion, votes on the amendments were taken at around 7:00 pm

Full details of the amendments can be found in earlier articles or in the order paper at

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmagenda/OP190129.pdf

Amendment (a) (Jeremy Corbyn) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 296 for and 327 against

Amendment (o) (Ian Blackford) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 39 for and 327 against

Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 301 for and 321 against

Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 298 for and 321 against

Amendment (j) (Rachel Reeves) was defeated

votes on the amendment were 290 for and 322 against

Amendment (i) (Dame Caroline Spelman) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 318 for and 310 against

Amendment (n) (Sir Graham Brady) was won (amendment will be made to the motion)

votes on the amendment were 317 for and 301 against

So the Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to now reads:

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, and rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship, and requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.

My additional comments would be:

#Brexit – Amendment to rule out no deal is passed by 318 votes to 310. Has the Commons “emphatically rejected” the option of a No Deal at 50.6% to 49.4% or did MPs “not understand what they were voting for” ?

#Brexit “Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border” 317 to 301 (51.3% to 48.7%). What are alternative arrangements and does the EU 27 even want further discussion about it ?

It is also interesting to see in more detail the voting patterns of MPs which can be found through the Hansard proceedings for the the day via

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2019-01-29/debates/BB8A5769-12B4-4D0E-9B4E-158F89F9FCDE/EuropeanUnion(Withdrawal)Act2018

For example,

for Amendment (b) (Yvette Cooper), 17 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

for Amendment (g) (Mr Grieve) 15 Conservative MPs voted AGAINST the Government and 14 Labour MPs voted WITH the Government.

It appears that the main Conservative “rebels” are those strongly in favour of remaining in the EU.

The DUP voted in the Government’s favour with all the amendments.

PM Press Statement 14 December 2018

Theresa May made a Press Statement following a meeting of the EU Council on 14 December 2018.

“At this Council meeting, I have held a series of discussions with my fellow leaders on the Brexit deal and I was crystal clear about the assurances which are needed on the backstop having heard the views of MPs in the House of Commons.

I reiterated that it is in the interests of the EU as well as the UK to get this over the line. A disorderly Brexit would be good for no-one.

At 27 level, the EU have published a series of conclusions.

The EU made clear:

  • That it is their firm determination to work speedily on a future relationship or alternative arrangements which ensure no hard border by 31 December 2020 so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
  • If the backstop was ever triggered, it would apply only temporarily and the EU would use its best endeavours to negotiate and conclude expeditiously a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop.
  • That the EU stands ready to embark on preparations so that negotiations on the future partnership can start as soon as possible.

As formal conclusions, these commitments have legal status and therefore should be welcomed.

As I have always said, the guaranteed way of avoiding the backstop is to have the future partnership in place by the time the implementation period is over. The EU is very firmly committed to this course.

But MPs will require further assurances, and I have discussed that this morning with my EU partners, including Presidents Tusk, Juncker and others.

I note there has been reporting that the EU is not willing to consider any further clarification. The EU is clear – as I am – that if we are going to leave with a deal this is it.

But my discussions with colleagues today have shown that further clarification and discussion following the Council’s conclusions is in fact possible.

There is work still to do and we will be holding talks in coming days about how to obtain the further assurances that the UK Parliament needs in order to be able to approve the deal.

I say again. It is in the overwhelming interest of all our people – in the EU and the UK – to get this done, and as quickly as possible.”

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