European Union (Withdrawal)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:51 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 6:51 pm, 3rd September 2019

These are difficult matters of judgment, and I respect the judgment that my hon. Friend makes, but it is different from mine. When we were negotiating the coalition between the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats, which gave rise to a rather good Government, we were sitting around wondering how to conduct those negotiations. We came to the conclusion that actually we should disobey the rules of negotiation that my hon. Friend is describing and offer a bold and imaginative offer to the other side, which was then accepted, and we formed a coalition on the terms on which we wished to form it by mutual accord. That is the way in which I believe these negotiations can proceed. To offer a threat which actually harms us many times more than those against whom the threat is supposedly levelled is not, as I say, a credible negotiating strategy. I accept that our judgments differ on that, but that is my judgment. It is a matter for the House to decide which of the two judgments is correct.