European Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:43 pm on 11th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:43 pm, 11th April 2019

The talks between the Government and the Opposition have indeed been serious. They are detailed and they are being taken forward in a constructive and positive fashion. We did, of course, offer talks at an earlier stage than very recently, but I am pleased that we are now able to sit down in this way.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue about the European parliamentary elections. Of course, had Members in this House voted with a majority to agree the withdrawal agreement on 29 March, we would have guaranteed leaving on 22 May and not holding the European parliamentary elections. At the time, obviously, he did not feel able to support a deal to enable us not to hold those European parliamentary elections. It is still possible to do so, and we will continue to work on that.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the need for us to protect jobs, industry and living standards; indeed, that is what we have been aiming to do with the deal that we agreed with the European Union. But we have been doing that not just in relation to the deal with the European Union. It is this Government who have presided over record levels of people in employment. It is this Government who have helped people with their living standards, with tax cuts for 32 million people.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the future relationship and the need to entrench aspects of the future relationship. Of course, the Government did, on 29 March, say that we would accept the amendment tabled on the Order Paper by Gareth Snell, which would require Parliament to have a role in looking at the future relationship and the negotiating objectives for the future. That clearly makes the case that any Government —any Government—as they are going through those negotiations, will have to ensure that they take Parliament with them in agreeing that future relationship.

On the issue of coming together in an agreement, the point is very simple. I am not prepared just to accept Labour’s policies; the Labour Party is not prepared just to accept our policies. As Keir Starmer has said, this takes compromise on both sides, and that is what we are doing: sitting down seriously to find a way that enables this House to ensure that there is a deal that commands a majority, so that we can leave the European Union, fulfil the vote of the British people in 2016 in the referendum and do so in a way that does indeed protect jobs, living standards and industry.