Leaving the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:48 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:48 pm, 21st January 2019

The right hon. Gentleman says “no more phoney talks.” It would be nice just to have some talks with him on this issue. He makes lots of claims about what has been said in the talks that have been held so far but, actually, he does not know, because he did not turn up to those talks.

The right hon. Gentleman makes a great deal about the issue of no deal. He says that there is a consensus—a view across this House—that supports a deal in principle and wants to deliver on Brexit. That is exactly what I want to sit down and talk to him about. What we need to see is what it is that will secure the support of this House to enable us to leave the European Union with a deal. We are continuing to listen to groups across the House in order to find a way to secure that support.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about ruling out no deal. As I said in my statement, there are only two ways to ensure that a no deal does not happen: one is to revoke article 50, to reverse the decision of the referendum and to stay in the European Union, which would be a betrayal of the referendum decision in 2016; and the other way is to agree a deal with the European Union. It is precisely to find a way to secure the support of this House for a deal that I am talking to Members across the House and that I want to talk to the right hon. Gentleman. From what he has said today, I hope that he will reconsider his decision not to attend those talks.

The right hon. Gentleman complains about the amount of money being spent. He talks about £4.2 billion being spent and how that money should be spent in other ways—I see that the Labour party has put out a press release saying the money should be spent in other ways. What he might not have noticed is that, actually, not all that £4.2 billion is being spent on no deal. If we stopped spending that money, we would not be prepared for a deal either, so he needs to recognise that, actually, the Government have to spend money to ensure that we are in a position whatever the outcome of the negotiations with the European Union, and whether we leave with a deal or in a no-deal circumstance.

I say once again to the right hon. Gentleman and to Members across the House who are concerned about no deal that that means we should leave with a deal and that what we need to find is a way to secure the support of this House for a deal. What is clear from the discussions that we have had so far is the wide variety of views held across the House on this issue.

When it comes to it, we all need to be able to look our constituents in the eye and say that we did the right thing by them, which is leaving with a deal to ensure that we deliver on the referendum and protect their jobs. That is what the Government are about, that is what we are working on and that is what we will deliver.