Below is the text of the statement Boris Johnson has just delivered to MPs on his final Brexit offer to the EU.
With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the government’s proposals for a new agreement with our European friends that would honour the result of the referendum and deliver Brexit on 31st October – in an orderly way with a deal.
This Government’s objective has always been to leave with a deal. And these constructive and reasonable proposals show our seriousness of purpose. They do not deliver everything that we would have wished. They do represent a compromise. But to remain a prisoner of existing positions is to become a cause of deadlock rather than breakthrough. And so we have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable. And to go the extra mile as time runs short.
Our starting point is that this House promised to respect the referendum before the vote. More people voted Leave than voted for any political party in our history. This referendum must be respected. Both main parties promised at the 2017 election that they would respect the referendum and there would be no second referendum. This House voted to trigger Article 50 and has voted repeatedly to leave. Yet it also voted three times against the previous Withdrawal Agreement and for repeated delay.
And so, as I have emphasised time and again, there can be no path to a deal except by reopening the Withdrawal Agreement and replacing the so-called backstop. While, as I stand here today, we are some way from a resolution, it is to the credit of our European friends that they have accepted the need to address these issues. And I welcome the constructive calls I have had over the last twenty-four hours including with President Juncker, Chancellor Merkel, Taoiseach Varadkar and the statement from President Juncker that the Commission will now examine the legal text objectively.
The essence of our new proposal is a new Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland consisting of five elements. In the first place all our actions are based on our shared determination to sustain the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, the fundamental basis of governance in Northern Ireland, the protection of which is the highest priority of all.
And from this follows the second principle – namely that we shall of course uphold all the longstanding areas of co-operation between the UK and our friends in Ireland, including the rights of all those living in Northern Ireland, North/South co-operation and the Common Travel Area, which predates both the Good Friday Agreement and the European Union itself.
Third, we propose the potential creation of a regulatory zone on the island of Ireland covering all goods, including agri-food. For as long as it exists, this zone would eliminate all regulatory checks for trade in goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But fourth, unlike the so-called backstop, such a regulatory zone would be sustained with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, as expressed through the Assembly and Executive. They will give their consent during the transition period as a condition for these arrangements entering into force. Thereafter, the Assembly will vote again every four years – and if consent were withheld, these arrangements would then lapse after one year.
Fifth, it has always been a point of principle for this government that at the end of the transition period, the UK should leave the EU Customs Union whole and entire, restoring sovereign control over our trade policy and opening the way for free trade deals with all our friends around the world.
That is a fundamental point for us, Mr Speaker. So, under the proposals in this new Protocol, Northern Ireland will be fully part of the UK customs territory not the EU Customs Union.
But there will be no need for checks – or any infrastructure – at or near the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, I have already given a guarantee that the UK government will never conduct checks at the border and we believe that the EU should do the same, so there is absolute clarity on that point.
Instead, under this new Protocol, all customs checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland would take place either electronically or in the small number of cases where physical checks would be necessary, they would happen at traders’ premises or other points in the supply chain. We have put forward a method for achieving this based on improving and simplifying existing rules, trusting certain traders and strengthening our co-operation with Ireland in a spirit of friendship and sensitivity to the particular circumstances. So while these proposals will mean changes from the situation that prevails today in Ireland and Northern Ireland, it is their driving purpose to minimise any disruption. And in order to support the transition further, we propose a New Deal for Northern Ireland that will boost economic growth and competitiveness and set in train new infrastructure, particularly with a cross-border focus.
Mr Speaker, the previous Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration would have permanently anchored the United Kingdom within the orbit of EU regulation and customs arrangements. And an indefinite so-called backstop provided a bridge to that vision of the future.
This Government has a different vision – basing our future relationship with our European neighbours on a Free Trade Agreement and allowing the UK to take back control of our trade policy and our regulations. And we propose to amend the Political Declaration to reflect this ambition.
Our proposals should now provide the basis for rapid negotiations towards a solution in the short time that remains. I do not for one moment resile from the fact that we have shown great flexibility in the interests of reaching an accommodation with our European friends and achieving the resolution for which we all yearn.
If our European neighbours choose not to show a corresponding willingness to reach a deal, then we shall have to leave on 31st October without an agreement and we are ready to do so. But that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which all parties would be held responsible.
When I think of the conflicts that have wracked Europe in the past – of the immense challenges that we have together surmounted, of the 74 years of peace and prosperity we have together achieved – I believe that surely we can summon the collective will to reach a new agreement.
Mr Speaker, this Government has moved our proposals do represent a compromise and I hope the House can now come together in the national interest behind this new deal. To open a new chapter of friendship with our European neighbours and move on to our domestic priorities – including education, infrastructure and our NHS.
So Mr Speaker, let us seize this moment to honour our over-riding promise to the British people, respect Brexit and get Brexit done – and I commend this Statement to the House.
The post Boris Johnson sells his new Brexit offer to MPs – full text of his Commons statement appeared first on BrexitCentral.
Delaying Brexit has come at a cost.
It has cost us trust in our democracy.
For those who voted in good faith at the last General Election; who believed the promises of MPs who said they would honour our vote to leave the EU.
And it has a massive financial cost – in extra payments to the EU.
It costs an extra £1 billion in payments to Brussels every month we delay.
And how much has this delay cost us in lost opportunities?
The very opportunities which we voted for – to lower living costs by forging new trade deals around the world.
With so much delay, is it any wonder my friend Jacob has taken to lying down on the government front bench.
But there has been one, immediate cost from delaying Brexit…
The prolonged uncertainty has caused worry and concern to over 3 million EU Citizens living in the UK.
For those EU citizens living here, I have a direct message today.
You are not a part of the negotiation. Your life and livelihood in the UK is not in doubt.
The Prime Minister set out in his first hour in office, on the steps of Downing Street, that we want you to stay.
To bring up your families in our communities…
To work in our public services and for our businesses…
In our NHS – where there are now 700 more EU doctors than at the time of the referendum.
We value the contribution you make to our country and are pleased that you have chosen to make your home here.
We have guaranteed your rights to live, work and stay in the UK with full citizens rights for as long as you choose.
Now it is time for the EU to match that guarantee.
We are all too familiar with the refrain ‘despite Brexit’.
Yet, despite Brexit, we have record low unemployment… and the highest inward investment of any country in the EU.
Despite Brexit, just last week, London overtook New York to become THE world’s number one city for investments in fintech firms…
And despite Brexit, Jaguar Land Rover have opened the UK’s biggest state-of-the-art car design centre in Warwickshire, delivering a £500m vote of confidence in Britain.
It’s time to stop apologising for Brexit, and to unleash the opportunities it offers.
We can source products that we do not produce at a better price.
Too often the EU restricts access to markets that want to trade with us…
Like the foods that we do not grow, or the goods that we do not specialise in producing,
With new trade deals with other countries we can help the developing world through trade, rather than handing out aid.
To empower countries through free trade is the essence of being Conservative, and an important reason why I am a Brexiteer.
To use Brexit as a catalyst for change across all parts of our United Kingdom, including areas like my own in the Fens…
Who see Brexit as an opportunity – not a problem to be solved.
Jeremy Corbyn parades his credentials as an animal welfare campaigner.
But his delay prevents any sovereign choice on the continued live exports of animals.
He claims to care about the planet, yet his delay to Brexit means we can’t choose to remove VAT on environmental products like solar panels.
His delay prevents us from implementing a new Agriculture Bill designed for our British farmers rather than the French.
Delay also means less time to focus on our people’s priorities.
It’s the Conservatives who want to get Brexit done so that we can focus on what the people want to see.
The biggest increase in spending on the NHS…
Tackling crime through the extra 20,000 police officers…
Levelling up opportunity, including on school funding…
And delay puts our United Kingdom at risk..
Encouraging the Scottish Nationalists that if one referendum can be ignored, then so too can the 2014 referendum on the integrity of the UK itself.
We will defend the Union – because we are the Conservative and Unionist Party.
And what do Labour want to have more delay on Brexit for?
They cannot even count the vote at their conference on what they want to do… and it wasn’t even Diane Abbott doing the counting.
Sit on the fence?
Keep it a secret until after the election?
Labour don’t trust the people and that is why the people cannot trust them.
Labour ignore the votes of the many, because they prefer to listen to the opinions of the North London few.
Their position is to negotiate Brexit and then to scrap it.
That would demolish the UK’s negotiating position.
And what would they do once they had negotiated this fantasy ‘better’ deal?
As the Shadow Foreign Secretary herself has made clear, they would bring it back and have an unwanted and divisive second referendum, where they would campaign for Remain against their own deal.
Labour’s Brexit policy can be summed up in three words: dither and delay.
And look at the so-called Liberal ‘Democrats’.
They want to revoke Article 50 without even letting you have a say.
The Lib Dem position is now so extreme that it has even been rejected by the Green Party.
The Irish Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday that “there are solutions to this but it is a matter of political will”.
The Commission has said that it is open to “creative and flexible solutions on the border in Northern Ireland”.
I am too.
President Juncker said “he is not wedded to the backstop”.
Nor are we. So let’s abolish it.
The Prime Minister and I are focused on negotiating a deal.
But if we can’t get a deal, we’ll leave on 31 October anyway.
Michel Barnier once said that “the clock is ticking”.
For Jeremy Corbyn – the election clock is now ticking very loudly.
Our communities should not have to pay millions for each further hour of his delay.
We, as Conservatives, know it’s your money that he would waste.
We need to get Brexit done. And with this Prime Minister, we will.
With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict and the way forward for this paralysed Parliament.
Three years ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any party or proposition in our history.
Politicians of all parties promised the public that they would honour the result.
Sadly, many have since done all they could to abandon those promises and to overturn that democratic vote.
And after three years of dither and delay – that left this country at risk of being locked forever in the orbit of the EU – this government that I lead has been trying truly to get us out.
And most people – indeed most supporters of the party opposite — regardless of how they voted three years ago — think the referendum must be respected. They want Brexit done, I want Brexit done, people want us out on 31 October — with a new deal if possible but without if necessary.
64 days ago, I was told that Brussels would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. We are now discussing a reopened Withdrawal Agreement in the negotiations.
I was told that Brussels would never consider alternatives to the backstop – the trap that keeps the UK effectively in the EU but with no say.
We are now discussing those alternatives in the negotiations.
I was told Brussels would never consider arrangements that were not permanent. We are now discussing in the negotiations an arrangement that works on the principle of consent and is not permanent.
I was told there was no chance of a new deal but we are discussing a new deal.
And this is in spite of the best efforts of this Parliament to wreck our negotiations by their attempts to take No Deal off the table.
The truth is the majority in this Parliament are not opposed to the so-called No Deal — this Parliament does not want Brexit to happen at all.
Many of those who voted for the Surrender Act a few weeks ago said then that their intention was to stop a No Deal Brexit.
They have said every day since that Parliament must vote against ANY deal at all.
I think the people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on.
They know that this Parliament does not want to honour its promises to respect the referendum.
The people at home know that this Parliament will keep delaying, it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want a deal.
Mr Speaker, the truth is that members opposite are living in a fantasy world. They really imagine – this is what they want to do – that they are going to cancel the first referendum, they are going to legislate for a second referendum.
And that Parliament will promise that this time, it really will respect that vote — and they think that the public will therefore vote to Remain and everyone will forget the last few years.
Mr Speaker — this is an extraordinary delusion, a fantasy, even greater than the communist fantasies peddled by the Leader of the Opposition. It will not happen.
The public don’t want another referendum – what they want and what they demand, that we honour the promise we made to the voters to respect the first referendum.
And they also want us to move on — to put Brexit behind us and focus on the NHS, on violent crime and on cutting the cost of living.
That is why I also brought forward a Queen’s Speech. My government intends to present a programme for life after Brexit.
But some members of this House could not stand that either. Instead of facing the voters, the opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran to the courts instead.
And despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in this process for the first time ever and it is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the Court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question at a time of great national controversy.
So we have Opposition MPs that block and delay everything running to the courts to block and delay even more — including blocking legislation to improve and invest in our NHS and keeping violent criminals in jail.
The people outside this place understand what is happening.
They know that nothing can disguise the truth about this Parliament.
It is not just that this Parliament is gridlocked, paralysed, refusing the deliver on the priorities of the people.
It is not just unable to move forward. It’s worse than that Mr Speaker.
Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice members opposite are unwilling to move aside and let the people have their say.
They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say, then running scared from the election that would provide them with one.
And worst of all they see ever-more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the party opposite which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “we know best” and thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.
The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people.
The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to overthrow the referendum result whatever the cost.
They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay.
They don’t care if another year or more is wasted arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago.
All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result.
While we want to take our country up a gear, to go forward with a fantastic accelerated programme of investment in infrastructure, in health, in education and technology – they are throwing on the handbrake.
Well, Mr Speaker, we will not betray the people who sent us here. That’s what they want to do.
We will not abandon the priorities that matter to the public.
And we will continue to challenge parliament to uphold democracy.
If honourable and right honourable members opposite so disagreed with this government’s commitment to leaving on 31 October, they had a very simple remedy at their disposal, did they not?
They could have voted for a general election.
I have to confess, Mr Speaker, that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly – and in the most strident terms – demanded an election, I hear them, is the very same party whose members have already this month – not once but twice – refused to allow the people to decide on their next government.
For two years they have demanded an election but twice they have voted against it.
The Leader of the Opposition changes his mind so often — I wonder whether he supports an election today, or have the Shadow Chancellor and the Shadow Attorney General have overruled him again, because they know that the voters will judge their manifesto for what it is. More pointless delay.
Is he going to demand an election then vote against it — just as he says he wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal then vote against that too?
Is he actually going to vote no confidence in this government? Is he going to dodge a vote of no confidence in me as Prime Minister in order to escape the verdict of the voters?
I wonder – does he in his heart even want to be Prime Minister anymore?
He says the Prime Minister should go to Brussels on 17 October and negotiate another pointless delay but he doesn’t want to go himself — and even if he did his own colleagues wouldn’t let him.
Because quite frankly they recoil at the idea of him negotiating on the people’s behalf representing this country, with Vladimir Putin, let alone the EU or the Mullahs of Tehran?
Or is it that you want a Conservative Government?
It would be a curious state of affairs indeed if Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition had every faith in the government of the day.
So if in fact the party opposite does not in fact have confidence in the government, they will have a chance to prove it….I think they should listen to this Mr Speaker.
They have until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow.
Or if any of the other parties, the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion, we’ll give you the time for that vote.
Will they have the courage to act or will they refuse to take responsibility and do nothing but dither and delay?
Why wouldn’t they? What are they scared of?
Mr Speaker, thank you, and as I commend this statement to the House I say it is time to get Brexit done. Get Brexit done so we respect the referendum. Get Brexit done so we can move on to deal with the people’s priorities, the NHS, the cost of living. Get Brexit done so we can start to reunite the country after the divisions of the referendum rather than having another one.
It is time for this Parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions. We decided to call that referendum. We promised time and again to respect it.
I think the people of this country have had enough of it — this Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.
And I commend this statement to the House.
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Below is the text of the statement Boris Johnson just delivered in Dublin alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, a video of which can be found here or at the bottom of the text.
It is wonderful to be here. And I thank you very much for the warm welcome you’ve given us. You and I first met a few years ago when you and I jointly officiated at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Trafalgar square in London. It was a pretty joyous occasion. And of course we celebrated the incalculable contribution of the Irish community to London.
And there in the vast crowds was of course the living human embodiment of one of the densest and most intricate and most vital relationships in the world between any two countries.
And together Leo today we both recognise that our peoples are the beneficiaries of the efforts of our predecessors – politicians and others – who put aside differences, who found compromises, who took our countries forwards together in circumstances far tougher than now. And the results for both UK and Ireland are immense.
Not just a peaceful and open border but an economic partnership by which we eat I think 50 per cent of all the cheese and beef produced in Ireland, and we are talking a lot. And the very captain of the world cup winning English cricket team was born in this city.
And I think that our job now is to take that relationship forward and to build on it at the UK-Ireland summit in November, I look forward to that, and in all the ways in which the UK and Ireland work together around the world with shared values and shared interests.
As you rightly say Taoiseach, before November there are two political tasks that we simply have to do. We must restore the government of Northern Ireland at Stormont, and I promise to work with you on our shared objective. And we must get Brexit done because the UK must come out on October 31, or else I fear that permanent damage will be done to confidence in our democracy in the UK.
And I know that this problem of Brexit was not, to be perfectly frank, a conundrum that Ireland ever wished for and I think there are three basic questions we need now to answer for the sake of our collective peace of mind.
Can we ensure that we continue to have unchecked movement at the border of goods and people and indeed cattle? I think the answer is yes – and as someone who went to the border several times before the Good Friday agreement, and shuddered to see watchtowers on UK soil, I can say now that the UK will never ever institute checks at the border, and I hope our friends in the EU would say the same.
Can we uphold the Belfast Good Friday agreement in all its particulars? Again I say the answer is yes, and our commitment to the peace process is unshakeable. Can we protect the economic unity of the island of Ireland and the gains that Ireland has won through its membership of the EU single market? And again I think the answer is yes – and I think we can achieve all these things while allowing the UK to withdraw whole and entire from the EU.
And of course I acknowledge the complexities involved. And the symbolism and the sensitivities evoked by the very concept of a border. But strip away the politics and at the core of each problem you find practical issues that can be resolved. With sufficient energy and a spirit of compromise, and indeed even the current treaty must logically envisage that the problems can be solved, or the present protocol would never have been called a backstop.
So if I have one message that I want to land with you today Leo, it is that I want to find a deal. I want to get a deal. Like you, I’ve looked carefully at No Deal. I have assessed its consequences, both for our country and yours. And, yes, of course, we could do it, the UK could certainly get through it. But be in no doubt that it would be a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible and so, for the sake of business, and farmers, and for millions of ordinary people who are now counting on us to use our imagination and creativity to get this done, I would overwhelmingly prefer to find an agreement.
Our governments have spent three years masticating this problem. I think it is time to honour the achievements of our predecessors who tackled far worse problems by cracking this one ourselves. I won’t say that we can do it all today, but I believe there is a deal to be done by Oct 18. Let’s do it together.
Below is the text of the speech just delivered by Boris Johnson in Downing Street, minutes after Hilary Benn published the European Union (Withdrawal) (No 6) Bill which would require the Government to write to the EU seeking an extension to the Article 50 period until January 31st 2020 unless a deal is reached with the EU or Parliament approves a no-deal Brexit by October 19th.
There is a video of the speech here or at the bottom of the text.
Five weeks ago I spoke to you from these steps and said that this Government was not going to hang around and that we would not wait until Brexit day – October 31st – to deliver on the priorities of the British people. And so I am proud to say that on Wednesday Chancellor Sajid Javid is going to set out the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.
I said I wanted to make your streets safer – and that is why we are recruiting another 20,000 police officers. I said I wanted to improve your hospital and reduce the waiting times at your GP. And so we are doing 20 new hospital upgrades in addition to the extra £34 billion going into the NHS. And I said I wanted every child in this country to have a superb education and that’s why I announced last week that we are levelling up funding across the country and spending much more next year in both primary and secondary schools.
And it is to push forward this agenda on these and many other fronts that we need a Queen’s speech in October, while leaving due time to debate Brexit and other matters.
And as we come to that Brexit deadline I am encouraged by the progress we are making. In the last few weeks the chances of a deal have been rising, I believe, for three reasons:
- They can see that we want a deal
- They can see that we have a clear vision for our future relationship with the EU – something that has perhaps not always been the case
- And they can see that we are utterly determined to strengthen our position by getting ready to come out regardless, come what may
But if there is one thing that can hold us back in these talks it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum – or that tomorrow MPs will vote, with Jeremy Corbyn, for yet another pointless delay. I don’t think they will. I hope that they won’t.
But if they do they will plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible.
And so I say, to show our friends in Brussels that we are united in our purpose, MPs should vote with the Government against Corbyn’s pointless delay.
I want everybody to know – there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on 31st October, no ifs or buts.
We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum.
Armed and fortified with that conviction I believe we will get a deal at that crucial summit in October: a deal that Parliament will certainly be able to scrutinise – and in the meantime let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks. And without an election, which I don’t want and you don’t want.
Let us get on with the people’s agenda – fighting crime, improving the NHS, boosting schools, cutting the cost of living, and unlocking talent and opportunity across the entire United Kingdom, with infrastructure education and technology.
It is a massive agenda. Let’s come together and get it done – and let’s get Brexit done by October 31st.
Boris Johnson delivered the following statement to the House of Commons on the morning of his first full day as Prime Minister which you can also watch here or at the bottom of this post
Mr Speaker, I with permission, shall make a statement on the mission of this new Conservative Government.But before I begin, I am sure the whole House will join me in paying tribute to my Rt Hon Friend the Member for Maidenhead – for all that she has given in the service of our nation.From fighting modern slavery to tackling the problems of mental ill-health – she has a great legacy on which we shall all be proud to build.
And our mission is to deliver Brexit on the 31st of October for the purpose of uniting and re-energising our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on earth. And when I say the greatest place on earth, I’m conscious that some may accuse me of hyperbole. But it is useful to imagine the trajectory on which we could now be embarked.
By 2050 it is more than possible that the United Kingdom will be the greatest and most prosperous economy in Europe – at the centre of a new network of trade deals that we have pioneered. With the road and rail investments we are making and propose to make now – the investment in broadband and 5G – our country will boast the most formidable transport and technological connectivity on the planet.
By unleashing the productive power of the whole United Kingdom – not just of London and the South East but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – we will have closed forever the productivity gap and seen to it that no town is left behind ever again; no community ever again forgotten. Our children and grandchildren will be living longer, happier, healthier, wealthier lives.
Our United Kingdom of 2050 will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet brought about by carbon emissions – because we will have led the world in delivering that net zero target.We will be the home of electric vehicles – cars, even planes, powered by British made battery technology being developed right here, right now.
We will have the freeports to revitalise our coastal communities, a bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules, blight-resistant crops that will feed the world – and the satellite and earth observation systems that are the envy of the world.
We will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet. Our Constitutional settlement, our United Kingdom will be firm, will be secure.Our Union of nations beyond question. Our democracy robust. Our future clean, green, prosperous, united, confident, ambitious – this my friends is the prize, more still the responsibility that it falls on us to fulfil.
And to do so, we must take some immediate steps. The first is to restore trust in our democracy and fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people by coming out of the European Union – and doing so on October 31st. I and all ministers in this Government are committed to leaving on this date, whatever the circumstances.
To do otherwise would cause a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system. It will leave the British people wondering whether their politicians could ever be trusted again to follow a clear democratic instruction. I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal. I would much prefer it. I believe that is still possible even at this late stage and I will work flat out to make it happen.
But certain things need to be clear. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by my predecessor has been three times rejected by this House. Its terms are unacceptable to this Parliament and to this country. No country that values its independence and indeed its self-respect could agree to a Treaty which signed away our economic independence and self-government as this backstop does.
A time limit is not enough. If an agreement is to be reached it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop. For our part we are ready to negotiate in good faith an alternative, with provisions to ensure that the Irish border issues are dealt with where they should always have been: in the negotiations on the future agreement between the UK and the EU.
I do not accept the argument that says that these issues can only be solved by all or part of the UK remaining in the customs union or in the single market. The evidence is that other arrangements are perfectly possible, and are also perfectly compatible with the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, to which we are of course steadfastly committed.
I, my team, and my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union are ready to meet and to talk on this basis to the Commission or other EU colleagues whenever they are ready to do so. For our part, we will throw ourselves into these negotiations with the greatest energy and determination and in the spirit of friendship.
And I hope that the EU will be equally ready and that they will rethink their current refusal to make any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. If they do not, we will of course have to leave the EU without an agreement under Article 50. The UK is better prepared for that situation than many believe. But we are not as ready yet as we should be.
In the 98 days that remain to us we must turbo-charge our preparations to make sure that there is as little disruption as possible to our national life. I believe that is possible with the kind of national effort that the British people have made before and will make again.
In these circumstances we would, of course, also have available the £39bn in the Withdrawal Agreement to help deal with any consequences. I have today instructed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to make these preparations his top priority. I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to mobilise the Civil Service to deliver this outcome should it become necessary. And the Chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available.
I will also ensure that preparing for leaving the EU without an agreement under Article 50 is not just about seeking to mitigate the challenges but also about grasping the opportunities. This is not just about technical preparations, vital though they are. It is about having a clear economic strategy for the UK in all scenarios, something which the Conservative Party has always led the way, and it’s about producing policies which will boost the competitiveness and the productivity of our economy when we are free of the EU regulations.
Indeed, Mr Speaker, we will begin right away on working to change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research. And we will be now accelerating the talks on those free trade deals. And we will prepare an economic package to boost British business and lengthen this country’s lead as the number one destination in this continent for overseas investment. A status that is made possible by the diversity talent and skills of our workforce.
And, Mr Speaker, I also want therefore to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us. I thank them for their contribution to our society – and for their patience – and I can assure them that under this government they will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain.
Mr Speaker, I want to end by making clear that my commitment to the 31 October date for our exit. Our national participation in the European Union is coming to an end.This reality needs to be recognised by all parties. Indeed, Mr Speaker today there are very many brilliant officials trapped in meeting after meeting in Brussels and Luxembourg when they could be better deploying their talents in preparing to pioneer new trade deals and promoting a truly Global Britain.
I want to start unshackling our officials to undertake this new mission right away. So we will not nominate a UK Commissioner for the new Commission taking office on 1 November – though clearly this is not intended to stop the EU appointing a new commission.
Mr Speaker, today is the first day of a new approach, which will end with our exit from the EU on 31 October. Then I hope we can have a friendly and constructive relationship – as constitutional equals, as friends, and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead. I believe that is possible and this government will work to make it so.
But Mr Speaker, we are not going to wait until 31st October to begin building the broader and bolder future that I have described. We are going to start right away, providing vital funding for our frontline public services, to deliver better healthcare, better education and more police on the streets.
Mr Speaker, I am committed to making sure that the NHS receives the funds that were promised by the last Government in June 2018 and that these funds go to frontline as soon as possible. This will include urgent funding for 20 hospital upgrades and winter-readiness. I have asked officials to provide policy proposals for drastically reducing waiting times and for GP appointments.
To address the rise of violent crime in our country I have announced that there will be 20,000 extra police keeping us safe over the next three years, and I have asked my Rt Hon Friend the Home Secretary to ensure this is treated as an absolute priority. We will give greater powers for the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime. I have also tasked officials to draw up proposals to ensure that in future those found guilty of the most serious sexual and violent offences are required to serve a custodial sentence that truly reflects the severity of their offence and policy measures that will see a reduction in the number of prolific offenders.
On education, I have listened to the concerns of many colleagues and we will increase the minimum level of per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools and return education funding to previous levels by the end of this Parliament. We are committed to levelling up across every nation and region across the UK, providing support to towns and cities and closing the opportunity gap in our society.
We will announce investment in vital infrastructure, fibre rollout, transport and housing that can improve people’s quality of life, fuel economic growth and provide opportunity.
Finally, we will also ensure that we continue to attract the brightest and best talent from around the world. No-one believes more strongly than me in the benefits of migration to our country. But I am clear that our immigration system must change. For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points based system. And today I will actually deliver on those promises – I will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of that system as the first step in a radical rewriting of our immigration system. I am convinced that we can produce a system that the British public can have confidence in.
Mr Speaker, over these past few years, too many people in this country feel that they have been told repeatedly and relentlessly what we cannot do. Since I was a child I remember respectable authorities asserting that our time as a nation has passed, that we should be content with mediocrity and managed decline. And time and again – even the sceptics and doubters – by their powers to innovate and adapt the British people have showed the doubters wrong.
And Mr Speaker I believe that at this pivotal moment in our national story we are going to prove the doubters wrong again. Not just with positive thinking and a can-do attitude, important though they are. But with the help and the encouragement Government and a Cabinet that is bursting with ideas, ready to create change, determined to implement the policies we need to succeed as a nation. The greatest place to live. The greatest place to bring up a family. The greatest place to send your kids to school. The greatest place to set up a business or to invest. Because we have the best transport and the cleanest environment and the best healthcare. And the most compassionate approach to care of elderly people.
That is the mission of the Cabinet I have appointed. That is the purpose of the Government I am leading. And that is why I believe that if we bend our sinews to the task now, there is every chance that in 2050, when I fully intend to be around, though not necessarily in this job, we will look back on this period, this extraordinary period, as the beginning of a new golden age for our United Kingdom. And I commend this future to the House just as much as I commend this statement.
The post Boris Johnson’s first statement on priorities for the Government as Prime Minister appeared first on BrexitCentral.
On his return from Buckingham Palace where the Queen invited him to form a government, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the nation outside Downing Street. What follows is his speech and you can watch a video of it here (or at the bottom of this page).
I have just been to see Her Majesty the Queen who has invited me to form a government and I have accepted. I pay tribute to the fortitude and patience of my predecessor and her deep sense of public service.
But in spite of all her efforts it has become clear that there are pessimists at home and abroad who think that after three years of indecision that this country has become a prisoner to the old arguments of 2016 and that in this home of democracy we are incapable of honouring a basic democratic mandate.
And so I am standing before you today to tell you, the British people, that those critics are wrong. The doubters, the doomsters, the gloomsters – they are going to get it wrong again.
The people who bet against Britain are going to lose their shirts because we are going to restore trust in our democracy and we are going to fulfil the repeated promises of parliament to the people and come out of the EU on October 31st – no ifs or buts.
And we will do a new deal, a better deal that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit while allowing us to develop a new and exciting partnership with the rest of Europe based on free trade and mutual support.
I have every confidence that in 99 days’ time we will have cracked it. But you know what – we aren’t going to wait 99 days because the British people have had enough of waiting.
The time has come to act, to take decisions, to give strong leadership and to change this country for the better and though the Queen has just honoured me with this extraordinary office of state, my job is to serve you, the people. Because if there is one point we politicians need to remember it is that the people are our bosses.
My job is to make your streets safer – and we are going to begin with another 20,000 police on the streets – and we start recruiting forthwith.
My job is to make sure you don’t have to wait 3 weeks to see your GP and we start work this week with 20 new hospital upgrades, and ensuring that money for the NHS really does get to the front line.
My job is to protect you or your parents or grandparents from the fear of having to sell your home to pay for the costs of care and so I am announcing now – on the steps of Downing Street – that we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.
My job is to make sure your kids get a superb education, wherever they are in the country and that’s why we have already announced that we are going to level up per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools and that is the work that begins immediately behind that black door.
And though I am today building a great team of men and women I will take personal responsibility for the change I want to see.
Never mind the backstop – the buck stops here. And I will tell you something else about my job.
It is to be Prime Minister of the whole United Kingdom and that means uniting our country, answering at last the plea of the forgotten people and the left behind towns by physically and literally renewing the ties that bind us together so that with safer streets and better education and fantastic new road and rail infrastructure and full fibre broadband.
We level up across Britain with higher wages, and a higher living wage, and higher productivity. We close the opportunity gap, giving millions of young people the chance to own their own homes and giving business the confidence to invest across the UK because it is time we unleashed the productive power not just of London and the South East, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The awesome foursome that are incarnated in that red white and blue flag, who together are so much more than the sum of their parts and whose brand and political personality is admired and even loved around the world for our inventiveness, for our humour, for our universities, our scientists, our armed forces, our diplomacy, for the equalities on which we insist – whether race or gender or LGBT or the right of every girl in the world to 12 years of quality education and for the values we stand for around the world.
Everyone knows the values that flag represents: it stands for freedom and free speech and habeas corpus and the rule of law and above all it stands for democracy.
And that is why we will come out of the EU on October 31st – because in the end Brexit was a fundamental decision by the British people that they wanted their laws made by people that they can elect and they can remove from office.
Aand we must now respect that decision and create a new partnership with our European friends – as warm and as close and as affectionate as possible and the first step is to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 m EU nationals now living and working among us.
And I say directly to you: thank you for your contribution to our society, thank you for your patience and I can assure you that under this government you will get the absolute certainty of the rights to live and remain.
And next I say to our friends in Ireland, and in Brussels and around the EU: I am convinced that we can do a deal without checks at the Irish border, because we refuse under any circumstances to have such checks and yet without that anti-democratic backstop.
And it is of course vital at the same time that we prepare for the remote possibility that Brussels refuses any further to negotiate and we are forced to come out with no deal – not because we want that outcome, of course not, but because it is only common sense to prepare.
And let me stress that there is a vital sense in which those preparations cannot be wasted and that is because under any circumstances we will need to get ready at some point in the near future to come out of the EU customs union and out of regulatory control, fully determined at last to take advantage of Brexit.
Because that is the course on which this country is now set. With high hearts and growing confidence we will now accelerate the work of getting ready and the ports will be ready and the banks will be ready and the factories will be ready and business will be ready and the hospitals will be ready and our amazing food and farming sector will be ready and waiting to continue selling ever more not just here but around the world.
And don’t forget that in the event of a no-deal outcome we will have the extra lubrication of the £39 billion and whatever deal we do we will prepare this autumn for an economic package to boost British business and to lengthen this country’s lead as the number one destination in this continent for overseas investment and to all those who continue to prophesy disaster.
I say yes, there will be difficulties, though I believe that with energy and application they will be far less serious than some have claimed; but if there is one thing that has really sapped the confidence of business over the last three years, it is not the decisions we have taken, it is our refusal to take decisions.
And to all those who say we cannot be ready, I say do not underestimate this country. Do not underestimate our powers of organisation and our determination because we know the enormous strengths of this economy in life sciences, in tech, in academia, in music, the arts, culture, financial services.
It is here in Britain that we are using gene therapy, for the first time, to treat the most common form of blindness; here in Britain that we are leading the world in the battery technology that will help cut CO2 and tackle climate change and produce green jobs for the next generation.
And as we prepare for a post-Brexit future it is time we looked not at the risks but at the opportunities that are upon us, so let us begin work now to create freeports that will drive growth and thousands of high-skilled jobs in left behind areas. Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules; and let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world.
Let’s get going now on our own position navigation and timing satellite and earth observation systems – UK assets orbiting in space with all the long term strategic and commercial benefits for this country.
Let’s change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research and let’s promote the welfare of animals that has always been so close to the hearts of the British people.
And yes, let’s start now on those free trade deals, because it is free trade that has done more than anything else to lift billions out of poverty.
All this and more we can do now and only now, at this extraordinary moment in our history.
And after three years of unfounded self-doubt it is time to change the record; to recover our natural and historic role as an enterprising, outward-looking and truly global Britain, generous in temper and engaged with the world.
No one in the last few centuries has succeeded in betting against the pluck and nerve and ambition of this country. They will not succeed today.
We in this government will work flat out to give this country the leadership it deserves – and that work begins now.
Below is the speech delivered by Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership contender, at Policy Exchange earlier today in which he sets out his Brexit delivery plan. A video of the speech is at the bottom or can be viewed via YouTube.
Since the start of this leadership campaign I’ve travelled more than 3,000 miles across the United Kingdom. I’ve been up and down the country meeting members, small businesses and actually having a lot of fun. I’ve had fish and chips on a Scottish trawler, a balti in Birmingham and a cream tea in Devon. Jam and cream reversed.
Most of all I have enjoyed talking and debating with members of the public about the changes I want to make if I become Prime Minister. As an entrepreneur – new line for this morning! – I want to fire up our economy, cut Corporation Tax and scrap business rates for thousands of high street companies up and down the country. As a reformer, I want our next social mission to be to abolish illiteracy and ensure that every young person has the skills they need to get a well-paid job. And as the son of a naval officer, I want us to walk tall in the world with a decisive increase in defence spending so that Britain continues to defend the values we believe in.
But before we can make any of those changes, we must do one thing above all else: we must leave the European Union. Uncertainty is bad for business; bad for politics; and bad for our country. And as one of the oldest democracies in the world, we show the world that in this country it is the people and not the politicians who are the boss. As your Prime Minister, I will.
But belief alone won’t cut it. Rhetoric is not enough. This is about the hard graft, focus and attention to detail. Deal or No Deal. That means every eventuality. Every law or statutory instrument. Every industry. And every part of the UK. One slip, we lose our leverage, our security and possibly even Brexit itself. So I will make us ready.
Throughout the campaign, I have made it clear that my preference is for us to leave with a better deal – one that addresses the problems with the existing deal and specifically the backstop; that ensures we have a fully independent trade policy; and allows us to design our own immigration system. I know that with my experience of business and government, I am the best-placed candidate to get that deal.
I know that renegotiation will not be easy. And with the parliamentary arithmetic we face, securing a deal that can pass through Parliament remains the quickest and safest way to deliver Brexit. But what if the European Union refuses to budge, which means a comprehensive no-deal plan. Because to deliver Brexit, you need more than slogans; more than belief; more than positive thinking.
You cannot leave the European Union on a wing and a prayer. You need a plan. And today I am setting out my 10 point plan:
1. On day one of my Premiership I would order an immediate ramping up of No Deal preparations. All government departments will be expected to act on the basis that we are leaving without a deal on October 31st. All August leave will be cancelled unless I receive a signed letter from the relevant Permanent Secretary saying that preparations in his or her department are on time and on track.
2. A ‘No Deal’ Cabinet Task Force, with similar powers to COBRA, will be set up and chaired by me. It will have three objectives:
a. Firstly, to follow up any areas where government preparations are insufficient.
b. Secondly, to agree and publish financial support for industries affected by tariff changes.
c. Thirdly, to approve infrastructure changes including those that may not be completed by 31st October, such as the expansion of container capacity, changes which are nonetheless important and should be started immediately.
3. A new political negotiating team will be convened with members of the ERG, the DUP, members of the One Nation Group and Welsh and Scottish Conservatives. It will be led by the Brexit Secretary and supported at an official level by Crawford Falconer. He will be supported by top experts from around the world. They will be tasked with producing an alternative exit deal, based on the alternative arrangements proposals, that can command a majority in the House of Commons and addresses, seriously and forensically, legitimate EU and Irish concerns about the Irish border and the integrity of the Single Market. This plan will be published by the end of August.
4. In order to avoid a ‘take it or leave it’ approach which would be fatal to negotiations, I and the Brexit Secretary will engage with European leaders and the European Commission during July and August to do our very best to come to a decision going forward.
5. I will also establish a National Logistics Committee led by the Department for Transport to produce a plan to keep goods flowing in and out of the UK in the event of No Deal. This will include an assessment of any emergency powers required to ensure ports and airports will work in a coordinated way nationally.
6. The Treasury will start preparations on a No Deal Brexit Budget to be delivered in the first week Parliament is back in September. This will include my existing policies of cutting Corporation Tax to 12.5%, increasing the annual allowance to £5 million and taking 90% of high street businesses out of rates, which I will introduce in any circumstance.
7. HMT will also produce a ‘No Deal Relief Programme’. This will include a £6 billion fund for the fishing and farming sectors who export to Europe to ease transition out of the European Union whilst honouring our international obligations. It will also consider what relief other industries will require.
8. We will pursue the Government’s existing approach to tariffs, balancing the benefits of liberalisation for consumers with appropriate exceptions to safeguard vulnerable industries and protect the prosperity and well-being of communities across every part of the UK.
9. I will provide the necessary finance to support the development of customs solutions which can help deliver our cast-iron guarantee that we will never put up a hard border.
10. Following the vote for the new plan in the House of Commons, I will then allow three weeks for negotiations with the EU. As Prime Minister, I will make a judgement on 30th September as to whether there is a realistic chance of a new deal being agreed that can pass the House of Commons.
a. If my judgement – and the judgement of my Cabinet – is that there is a deal to be done, I will seek to conclude the negotiations and pass a new meaningful vote and any necessary legislation in the House of Commons before the end of October.
b. If my judgement is that there is no deal to be done, I will immediately cease all discussions with the European Union and focus the whole country’s attention on no-deal preparations.
One thing I will not negotiate on is citizens’ rights. So to put the millions of EU citizens who have made the UK their home at ease, I can reconfirm to them that their rights in the UK will be protected whatever the outcome.
This plan gives us both the best chance of getting a deal but also ensures we are prepared if we do not.
If the Commission engages in good faith, and negotiations are going well, then I do not believe we should ignore the progress made, throw away that deal and stick to the 31st October as a deadline to leave, come what may. If we are close to getting a deal and it will take a few more weeks, then so be it. With a deal done, billions will be available to invest in the economic and social mission I have set out and we should welcome that.
But I want to be crystal clear with members, with my parliamentary colleagues and with the European Union. If there is no engagement on this deal, if it is apparent that the Commission is simply not interested in negotiating, if there is no willingness to tackle the shortcomings of the backstop and if there is no prospect of a deal being passed by Parliament, then there will be no kicking the can down the road and we will intensify and finalise our preparations to leave without a deal.
So from the start of my Premiership, I will work on the basis we are leaving on 31st October with or without a deal, unless the Commission changes its position. No Deal is not my preferred destination. But if a withdrawal deal is simply not on the cards, then the only way to fulfil the democratic mandate of the referendum is to leave without a deal which is what we will do.
In any negotiation you need leverage, and part of ours is showing that we have a plan to ensure we succeed as a country through a no-deal exit from the EU, and we are willing to use that plan if we can’t get an acceptable deal. So I urge any colleagues thinking of blocking a no-deal Brexit to reflect that you may in fact be making it harder to get a negotiated exit, by giving the EU misplaced confidence that we will give ground, and ultimately increasing the chance that we leave without a deal.
But I also urge others to be clear with people about the facts. There is no implementation period without a deal. There is no recourse to GATT 24 without the agreement of the other side – you can’t do a trade agreement with yourself. And the chances of no deal, far from being a million to one, are real – which is why we must prepare.
The point about making No Deal a credible threat is that you actually have to do those preparations: detailed plans to help industry with any strong adjustment pressure because of the tariffs they would face; detailed plans to address the additional cost and hassle of bureaucracy and export processes, in particular for smaller businesses; detailed plans for support for the fishing and farming communities, to ensure these industries which form such an important part of our national life remain competitive.
While we are committed to open trade, we will not be naïve or careless of the legitimate defence of our industries, including those which have played such a vital role in our nation’s story. We will develop support funds to provide direct assistance to those most in need. We spent just over £1 trillion bailing out the banks after the financial crisis. So if we did it for the bankers then why wouldn’t we do what is needed for our fishermen and our farmers now?
The plan I have set out today would either resolve the key issues or show how they were going to be resolved. It would include a plan to continue to work towards a zero-tariff, zero-quota trade agreement with the EU, and find solutions to the specific challenges on the Irish border which respect the Belfast Agreement to which we are and will remain absolutely committed. It would involve one of the largest fiscal and regulatory stimuli the country has seen in decades. It would mean other spending and tax commitments would have to wait.
So if you’re the sheep farmer I met in Shropshire, or the fishermen I talked to in Peterhead or the factory manager I met in Kidderminster, my message is simple: I know you face uncertainty if we have to leave the EU without a deal. I hear you. And I will mitigate the impact of no-deal Brexit on you, your families and your businesses . You will have to change your business model but I will guarantee you get the support you need to do so. We will ensure that no family or community is left behind.
In the end I have always said that Britain will flourish regardless of the way we left the European Union. But we need to be realistic about the short term impact and I am prepared to step in and help smooth those difficulties.
Without the right Prime Minister and the right plan, Brexit is just a wing and a prayer. We can do better. Britain needs a Prime Minister for all weathers. One who will work tirelessly to get a deal but will also put in the hard yards preparing for no deal. A Prime Minister willing to walk away. But a Prime Minister who will give negotiations a chance, and put in place a proper strategy to ensure they succeed; who fill fight hard for the best Brexit deal sure in the knowledge that our great country has always flourished best when trusting in the instincts of its great people.
The post Jeremy Hunt sets out his 10-point Brexit delivery plan – full text appeared first on BrexitCentral.
Here is the text of the speech delivered shortly after 10am by Theresa May announcing her impending resignation as Tory leader and Prime Minister (and a video of the speech is at the bottom of this transcript):
Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone. And to honour the result of the EU referendum.
Back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice. Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union.
I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that.
I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union. I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal. Sadly, I have not been able to do so. I tried three times. I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high.
But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort. So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen.
I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week. I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.
It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit. It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum. To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not. Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise.
For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead. At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice. He said, ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.’ He was right.
As we strive to find the compromises we need in our politics – whether to deliver Brexit, or to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland – we must remember what brought us here. Because the referendum was not just a call to leave the EU but for profound change in our country. A call to make the United Kingdom a country that truly works for everyone. I am proud of the progress we have made over the last three years.
We have completed the work that David Cameron and George Osborne started: the deficit is almost eliminated, our national debt is falling and we are bringing an end to austerity. My focus has been on ensuring that the good jobs of the future will be created in communities across the whole country, not just in London and the South East, through our Modern Industrial Strategy.
We have helped more people than ever enjoy the security of a job. We are building more homes and helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder – so young people can enjoy the opportunities their parents did. And we are protecting the environment, eliminating plastic waste, tackling climate change and improving air quality.
This is what a decent, moderate and patriotic Conservative Government, on the common ground of British politics, can achieve – even as we tackle the biggest peacetime challenge any government has faced.
I know that the Conservative Party can renew itself in the years ahead. That we can deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values. Security; freedom; opportunity. Those values have guided me throughout my career.
But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society. That is why I put proper funding for mental health at the heart of our NHS long-term plan. It is why I am ending the postcode lottery for survivors of domestic abuse. It is why the Race Disparity Audit and gender pay reporting are shining a light on inequality, so it has nowhere to hide. And that is why I set up the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.
Because this country is a Union. Not just a family of four nations. But a union of people – all of us. Whatever our background, the colour of our skin, or who we love. We stand together. And together we have a great future.
Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about. I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last. I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.
The following is the text of the speech Theresa May has just delivered in London:
I became Prime Minister almost three years ago – immediately after the British people voted to leave the European Union. My aim was – and is – to deliver Brexit and help our country move beyond the division of the referendum and into a better future. A country that works for everyone. Where everyone has the chance to get on in life and to go as far as their own talent and hard work can take them. That is a goal that I believe can still unite our country.
I knew that delivering Brexit was not going to be simple or straightforward. The result in 2016 was decisive, but it was close. The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country’s relationship with 27 of its nearest neighbours was always going to be huge.
While it has proved even harder than I anticipated, I continue to believe that the best way to make a success of Brexit is to negotiate a good exit deal with the EU as the basis of a new deep and special partnership for the future. That was my pitch to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. That is what I set out in my Lancaster House speech and that was what my Party’s election manifesto said in 2017.
That is in essence what the Labour Party’s election manifesto stated too. And over 80% of the electorate backed parties which stood to deliver Brexit by leaving with a deal.
We have worked hard to deliver that – but we have not yet managed it. I have tried everything I possibly can to find a way through.
It is true that initially I wanted to achieve this predominantly on the back of Conservative and DUP votes. In our Parliamentary system, that is simply how you normally get things done. I sought the changes MPs demanded. I offered to give up the job I love earlier than I would like. And on 29th March – the day we were meant to leave the EU – if just 30 MPs had voted differently we would have passed the Withdrawal Agreement. And we would be leaving the EU. But it was not enough.
So I took the difficult decision to try to reach a cross-party deal on Brexit. Many MPs on both sides were unsettled by this. But I believe it was the right thing to do. We engaged in six weeks of serious talks with the Opposition, offering to compromise. But in the end those talks were not enough for Labour to reach an agreement with us. But I do not think that means we should give up.
The House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50. And the majority of MPs say they want to deliver the result of the referendum. So I think we need to help them find a way. And I believe there is now one last chance to do that. I have listened to concerns from across the political spectrum. I have done all I can to address them. And today I am making a serious offer to MPs across Parliament. A new Brexit deal.
As part of that deal I will continue to make the case for the Conservative Party to be united behind a policy that can deliver Brexit. 9 out of 10 Conservative MPs have already given the Withdrawal Agreement their backing and I want to reach out to every single one of my colleagues to make the very best offer I can to them. We came together around an amendment from Sir Graham Brady – and this gave rise to the work on Alternative Arrangements to the backstop.
Although it is not possible for those to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative. So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude Alternative Arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.
I have also listened to Unionist concerns about the backstop. So the new Brexit deal goes further to address these. It will commit that, should the backstop come into force, the Government will ensure that 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 which are added to the backstop. And we will work with our Confidence and Supply Partners on how these commitments should be entrenched in law.
This new Brexit deal contains significant further changes to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver Brexit. It is a bespoke solution that answers the unique concerns of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.
But the reality is that after three attempts to secure Parliamentary agreement, we will not leave the European Union unless we have a deal that can command wider cross-party support. That’s why I sat down with the Opposition. I have been serious about listening to views across the House throughout this process. That is why when two Labour MPs, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, put forward their proposals to give Parliament a bigger say in the next phase of the negotiations I listened to them.
So the new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons will approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU and they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them. And while the talks with the opposition did not reach a comprehensive agreement, we did make significant progress in a number of areas. Like on workers’ rights. I am absolutely committed to the UK continuing to lead the way on this issue.
But I understand people want guarantees. And I am happy to give them. So the new Brexit deal will offer new safeguards to ensure these standards are always met. We will introduce a new Workers’ Rights Bill to ensure UK workers enjoy rights that are every bit as good as, or better than, those provided for by EU rules. And we will discuss further amendments with trade unions and business.
The new Brexit deal will also guarantee there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU. And we will establish a new independent Office of Environmental Protection to uphold the highest environmental standards and enforce compliance.
The new Brexit deal will also place a legal duty on the Government to seek as close to frictionless trade with the EU in goods as possible, subject to being outside the Single Market and ending freedom of movement.
In order to deliver this, the UK will maintain common rules with the EU for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border. This will be particularly important for our manufacturing firms and trade unions, protecting thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.
The most difficult area is the question of customs. At the heart of delivering Brexit lies a tension between the strength of our ambition to seize the new opportunities that Brexit presents – and the need to protect the jobs and prosperity that are built on an interconnected relationship with other European economies. This ambition should not be divisive. There are many people who voted to Leave who also want to retain close trading links with Europe. Just as there are many people – like myself – who voted to Remain and yet are excited by the new opportunities that Brexit presents.
Indeed I believe that one of the great opportunities of leaving the European Union is the ability to have an independent trade policy and to benefit from the new jobs and industries that can result from deepening our trade ties with partners across every continent of the world. But I have never believed that this should come at the expense of the jobs and livelihoods that are sustained by our existing trade with the EU. And to protect these, both the Government and the Opposition agree that we must have as close as possible to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border.
Now the Government has already put 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. Labour 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. If we are going to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and deliver Brexit, we must resolve this difference.
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 and an ability to change the arrangement, so a future government could move it in its preferred direction. We were not able to agree this as part of our cross-party talks – so it is right that Parliament should have the opportunity to resolve this during the passage of the Bill and decide between the government’s proposal and a compromise option. And so the Government will commit in law to let Parliament decide this issue, and to reflect the outcome of this process in legislation.
I have also listened carefully to those who have been arguing for a Second Referendum. I have made my own view clear on this many times. I do not believe this is a route that we should take, because I think we should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British people to vote in a second one. But I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue. The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum. This must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.
And if the House of Commons were to vote for a referendum, it would be requiring the Government to make provisions for such a referendum – including legislation if it wanted to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement. So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: you need a deal and therefore a Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen. So let it have its Second Reading and then make your case to Parliament.
Finally, we cannot expect MPs to vote on the same two documents they previously rejected. So we will seek changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal.
So our New Brexit Deal makes a ten-point offer to everyone in Parliament who wants to deliver the result of the referendum.
- One – the Government will seek to conclude Alternative Arrangements to replace the backstop by December 2020, so that it never needs to be used.
- Two – a commitment that, should the backstop come into force, the Government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.
- Three – the negotiating objectives and final treaties for our future relationship with the EU will have to be approved by MPs.
- Four – a new Workers’ Rights Bill that guarantees workers’ rights will be no less favourable than in the EU.
- Five – there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU.
- Six – the UK will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement.
- Seven – we will keep up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at border protecting the thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.
- Eight – the Government will bring forward a customs compromise for MPs to decide on to break the deadlock.
- Nine – there will be a vote for MPs on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum.
- And ten – there will be a legal duty to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal.
All of these commitments will be guaranteed in law – so they will endure at least for this Parliament.
The revised deal will deliver on the result of the referendum. And only by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at Second Reading, can MPs provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the EU. So if MPs vote against the Second Reading of this Bill – they are voting to stop Brexit. If they do so, the consequences could hardly be greater.
Reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water. And what would we do then? Some suggest leaving without a deal. But whatever you think of that outcome – Parliament has been clear it will do all it can to stop it.
If not no deal, then it would have to be a General Election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation – and no Brexit at all. Who believes that a General Election at this moment – when we have still not yet delivered on what people instructed us to do – is in the national interest? I do not. And my views on second referendum are well known.
Look at what this debate is doing to our politics. Extending it for months more – perhaps indefinitely – risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics. Look around the world and consider the health of liberal democratic politics. And look across the United Kingdom and consider the impact of failing to deliver on the clear instruction of the British people in a lawful referendum. We do not have to take that path. Instead, we can deliver Brexit.
All the changes I have set out today have the simple aim of building support in Parliament to do that. I believe there is a majority to be won for a Brexit deal in the House of Commons. And by passing a deal we can actually get Brexit done – and move our country forwards. If we can do so, I passionately believe that we can seize the opportunities that I know lie ahead.
The world is changing fast. Our young people will enjoy opportunities in the future that my generation could have never dreamed of. This is a great time to be alive. A great future awaits the United Kingdom. And we have all we need as a nation to make a success of the 2020s and the 2030s. But we will not do so as long as our politics remains stuck in an endless debate on Brexit.
We all have to take some responsibility for the fact that we are in this impasse – and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to get out of it. The biggest problem with Britain today is its politics. And we can fix that. With the right Brexit deal, we can end this corrosive debate. We can get out of the EU political structures – the Parliament, the Commission, the Council of Ministers that are remote from our lives – and put our own Parliament back in sovereign control of our destiny.
We can stop British laws being enforced by a European court and instead make our own Supreme Court is genuinely supreme. We can end free movement and design an immigration system based around skills that work for our economy and society. We can stop making vast annual payments to the EU budget and instead spend our own money on our own priorities like the NHS. We can get out of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, and design our own systems around our own needs and resources. We can do all of these things.
And by leaving with a deal we can do so much more besides. By reaching an agreement with our EU trading partners we can keep tariff barriers down and goods flowing friction-free across borders. Protecting jobs, and setting our firms up for future success. We can guarantee workers’ rights and environmental protections. With a deal we can keep our close security partnerships – and keep working together to keep people safe. We can ensure that the challenge of the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is met in a way that works for people on both sides.
This is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom. Out of the EU, out of ever closer union, free to do things differently. And doing so in a way that protects jobs, protects our security, maintains a close relationship with our friends and works for the whole United Kingdom. It is practical. It is responsible. It is deliverable. And right now, it is slipping away from us.
We risk losing a great opportunity. This deal is not the final word on our future relationship with the EU – it is a stepping stone to reach that future. A future where the people of the UK determine the road ahead for the country we all love. This deal lays the groundwork – and settles many of the core issues.
But in the years ahead, Parliament will be able to debate, decide and refine the exact nature of our relationship with the EU. Some will want us to draw closer, others will want us to become more distant. Both sides can make their case in the months and years ahead.
The key thing is, decisions will be made not by MEPs or Commissioners or the EU Council – but by the United Kingdom Parliament, elected by the British people. That is what being an independent nation state is all about. Those debates, those decisions, are for the future. What matters now is honouring the result of the referendum and seizing the opportunity that is right before us. So we are making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament. That is now the only way to deliver Brexit.
Over the next two weeks the government will be making the case for this deal in Parliament, in the media and in the country. On what is best and right for our country now and in the future. And on what the majority of British people of all political persuasions want to see happen.
Tomorrow I will make a statement to the House of Commons. And there will opportunities throughout the Bill for MPs on all sides to have their say. But I say with conviction to every MP of every party – I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too.
We have been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent. So help me find a way to honour that instruction, move our country and our politics forward, and build the better future that all of us want to see.
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