Theresa May – 2019 Statement at Downing Street

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at Downing Street on 16 January 2019.

This evening the Government has won the confidence of Parliament.

This now gives us all the opportunity to focus on finding a way forward on Brexit.

I understand that to people getting on with their lives, away from Westminster, the events of the past 24 hours will have been unsettling.

Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and also address the other important issues they care about.

But the deal which I have worked to agree with the European Union was rejected by MPs, and by a large margin.

I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. And I intend to do so.

So now MPs have made clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what Parliament does want.

That’s why I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward.

One that both delivers on the referendum and can command the support of Parliament.

This is now the time to put self-interest aside.

I have just held constructive meetings with the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and the Westminster leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

From tomorrow, meetings will be taking place between senior Government representatives, including myself, and groups of MPs who represent the widest possible range of views from across Parliament – including our confidence and supply partners the Democratic Unionist Party.

It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done.

In a historic vote in 2016 the country decided to leave the EU.

In 2017 80% of people voted for Parties that stood on manifestos promising to respect that result.

Now, over two and a half years later, it’s time for us to come together, put the national interest first – and deliver on the referendum.

Liam Byrne – 2019 Speech During No Confidence Motion

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Byrne, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hodge Hill, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.

I am grateful for the chance to speak in this debate.

The essence of our argument was laid out with force, passion and eloquence by the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister is this afternoon charged with the greatest political failure in modern times. On the most important question that this country faces, she has secured the biggest defeat that Parliament has ever delivered. That alone should be grounds for her to go. How on earth does she think she is going to command a majority in this House when she cannot command a majority on the biggest question of the day?

The truth is—the Leader of the Opposition made this point eloquently earlier—that the Prime Minister’s failure of leadership stretches well beyond the failure of her policy on Brexit. It is often said that we campaign in poetry but we govern in prose. For me, the best definition of our poetry was set out back in 1945, when we offered that plan to reconstruct a war-weary nation and win the peace.

At that time we said, “What we need in this country is industry in service of the nation.” Do we have that today? The Chancellor himself is the first to berate the terrible rates of productivity growth in our industry, which are worse today than they were in the late 1970s when we used to call it “British disease”.

We said that everyone in this country should have the right, through the sweat of their brow, to earn a decent life. Yet half the people in work in the west midlands are in poverty. There are now people going to food banks who never thought they would be in this position.

Above all, we said to the people of this country that they should be able to live and raise a family free from fear of want. Well, on the doorstep of this Parliament people are dying homeless, including one of the 5,000 people who have died homeless over the last five years. Many people in this House know that I recently lost my father to a lifelong struggle with alcohol after he lost the woman he loved to cancer, a few years older than me. I know at first hand how a twist of fate can knock you down, but for millions of people in this country, a twist of fate knocks them on to the streets, on to the pavements and into the soup kitchens where I work in Birmingham on a Sunday night. That is not the sign of a civilised and decent country, and it is something of which this Government should be ashamed.

When the Prime Minister took her seals of office, she had the temerity to stand on the steps of Downing Street and say to an anxious nation that she was going to tackle the burning injustices of this country. She said that she was going to tackle the burning flames, yet those flames now rage higher than I have ever seen in my lifetime. She now leads a Government of shreds and patches, and the Opposition say that this country deserves better and that she should do the decent thing and resign.

Helen Jones – 2019 Speech During No Confidence Motion

Below is the text of the speech made by Helen Jones, the Labour MP for Warrington North, in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.

I rise to support the motion not simply because the Government have made a mess of Brexit, although they have, but because of the damage that they have inflicted on people in constituencies such as mine and to the fabric of our society. Both those things are linked in the character of the Prime Minister, who is so narrow in outlook that she could not reach out across this House to get a Brexit deal that we could all support. Instead, she chose to draw red lines to appease the extremists on her own Back Benches. She talks of the national interest but, in fact, she acts in her own interest of retaining power. Just as she cannot see further than that, she is unable to appreciate the circumstances in which many of our fellow citizens live.

There are people in constituencies such as mine who go out to work every day of their life and are still having to go to food banks to feed their children, because they earn so little or because they are on zero-hours contracts. We see others, too, every week in our surgeries. Elderly people who have worked all their life cannot get the social care they deserve in their old age. A lady came to see me recently who cares for a sick husband, who has now taken on the care of her two grandchildren, both incredibly damaged in their early lives, and who is now denied the adaptations she needs for her home as there is no money left because local government funding has been cut so much. Another lady I have seen is a victim of domestic violence, and she has been asked to take on her two children because it was feared that her former partner was now abusing them. She did, but she is now trapped in a one-bedroom flat because of the scarcity of affordable social housing.

These are not the shirkers and the shysters of Tory imagination; these are people who are doing the right thing and going out to work every day to earn their poverty. That has come about not by incompetence—I could probably forgive the Government for being incompetent—but as a result of the deliberate policy of cutting back the services on which so many people in our society depend. The Government boast of spending record amounts on schools, but that is because there are more pupils. In fact, they have cut spending on pupils by 8%, and by 25% in sixth forms. And who suffers? Those who depend on state education.

Who suffers from the lack of affordable housing? Children who are trapped in unsuitable accommodation and who can neither study to improve their prospects nor even grow up healthy. The Government accuse the Labour party of putting a burden on people’s future, but the burden is due to what the Government are causing now—the lack of opportunities. There is a lack of opportunity to get a decent education, to grow up properly and to make the best of life. That is due to the Government’s constant attack on public services.

The Government loaded nurses with the burden of debt when they abolished bursaries. They chose to wage war on junior doctors. They sacked thousands of police officers, prison officers and police community support officers. This was a deliberate policy, and it is not just individuals whom the Government target but whole regions of this country.

Only a Government who do not care about the north could wash their hands of the chaos that is Northern rail. Only a Government who do not care about the north could maintain a system of local government finance that imposes the biggest cuts on the poorest local authorities, mostly in the north. Then they tell them to raise the precepts without knowing that in the north-west 42% of properties are in band A and in Surrey 75% of properties are in band D or above. Local authorities in the north cannot raise the same amount of money on the same rise in council tax. Spending has been totally divorced from need.

I have no confidence in this Government not just because they are incompetent but because they have no confidence and no faith in the people of this country.

Theresa May – 2019 Response to Vote of No Confidence Motion

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in response to the No Confidence vote held in the House of Commons on 16 January 2019.

Last night, the House rejected the deal the Government have negotiated with the European Union. Today, it is asked a simpler question: should the next step be a general election? I believe that is the worst thing we could do: it would deepen division when we need unity, it would bring chaos when we need certainty, and it would bring delay when we need to move forward. So I believe the House should reject this motion.

At this crucial moment in our nation’s history, a general election is simply not in the national interest. Parliament decided to put the question of our membership of the European Union to the people. Parliament promised to abide by the result. Parliament invoked article 50 to trigger the process. And now Parliament must finish the job. That is what the British people expect of us and, as I find when speaking to my constituents and to voters right across the country, that is what they demand. But a general election would mean the opposite. Far from helping Parliament finish the job and fulfil our promise to the people of the United Kingdom, it would mean extending article 50 and delaying Brexit, for who knows how long.

Pete Wishart

The Prime Minister has lost a quarter of her Cabinet and 117 of her Back Benchers want her gone. She has experienced the biggest defeat in parliamentary history. What shred of credibility have her Government got left? For goodness’ sake Prime Minister, won’t you just go?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman might not have noticed that we are debating a vote of no confidence in the Government, so he has his opportunity to express his opinion in that vote.

Mr John Baron (Basildon and Billericay) (Con)

As someone who was defeated last night by only 230 votes, may I encourage the Prime Minister to KBO and never tire of reminding the country that our good economic and one-nation record will be put at risk by a very extreme left-wing and high-taxation party?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I shall speak about this later in my speech, but it is over the years since 2010, with Conservatives in government, that we have been able to turn the economy around, ensure that jobs are provided for people and give people a better future.

James Morris (Halesowen and Rowley Regis) (Con)

I totally agree with the Prime Minister that a general election would solve nothing—it is merely a tactical device used by the Opposition to cause chaos—but does she agree with me that we also need to rule out a second referendum on our membership of the EU, which would be highly divisive and would not resolve the issues we currently face?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that a general election would cause the sort of delay that I have just been talking about. He is also right in that we had a referendum in 2016, and I believe it is incumbent on this Parliament to deliver on the result of that referendum and to deliver Brexit. As regards those issues, the choices we face as a country will not change after four or five weeks of campaigning for a general election, and there is no indication that an election would solve the dilemma that we now face. Not only that, but there is no guarantee that an election would deliver a parliamentary majority for any single course of action.

Mr Francois

I thank the Prime Minister for giving way; unlike some, she is clearly not afraid to debate. It is not exactly a secret that on European policy, she and I have not seen entirely eye to eye—

Simon Hoare (North Dorset) (Con)

She’s taller than you. [Laughter.]

Mr Francois

So is everybody else!

It is possible that the Prime Minister and I will continue to disagree, but I am Conservative first and last, and I know opportunism when I see it, so when the bells ring the whole European Research Group will walk through the Lobby with her to vote this nonsense down.

The Prime Minister

I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I note what he said and I am happy to carry on discussing with him the different views we have had on the European issue. It is absolutely clear that what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is trying to do is not going to help to resolve the issue of ensuring that we deliver on Brexit for the British people.

Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op)

In 2017, the Prime Minister went to the country and asked for a mandate; she lost her majority. Last night, she asked the House to back her deal; she saw the biggest Government defeat in a vote in the history of this House. She said last night that she wanted to open up dialogue with the whole House, yet she has refused to open up that dialogue with Labour’s Front Benchers. Does she agree that it looks like a strategy more to divide and conquer than to bring this House and the country together and work out how we move forward?

The Prime Minister

I said last night that we would be having discussions across the House. There are many different opinions in the House on the issue of how to deliver Brexit; indeed, there are some views in the House on how not to deliver Brexit. I believe that we should deliver Brexit for the people. I made it clear that, should the Leader of the Opposition table a motion of no confidence, the first priority would be to debate that motion. I am confident that the Government will retain the confidence of the House. When that happens, I shall set out the further steps that we will take on discussions with Members from across the House.

Several hon. Members rose—

The Prime Minister

If Members will just be a little patient, I have taken a number of interventions, so I will make a little progress. I will be generous in taking interventions; I think Members know from the number of hours that I have spent in the House answering questions that I am not afraid to answer questions from Members.

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said—it does help sometimes.

We do not even know what position the Labour party would take on Brexit in an election. It is barely 18 months since this country—

David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale) (Con)

On that point, will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend would just allow me one moment.

It is barely 18 months since this country last went to the polls, in an election in which well over 80% of voters—almost 27 million people—backed parties whose manifestos promised to deliver Brexit. That is what the Government intend to do and that is what is in the national interest, not the disruption, delay and expense of a fourth national poll in less than four years.

David Morris

Does the Prime Minister agree that if the Leader of the Opposition himself wrote on a note exactly what he wanted, passed it to the Prime Minister and she adopted it, he would still vote against it?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, because of course the position that the Leader of the Opposition took was that however good a deal for the United Kingdom the Government brought back, he would vote against it, and however bad a deal the EU offered, he would vote for it. He has no real national interest in getting the right answer for our country.

Stephen Doughty

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely right to call for a general election today, because it is not only the Government’s record on Brexit that is at stake tonight. Let me ask the Prime Minister a direct question: is she really saying that her record on policing and crime is one that she is willing to stand on? We have seen more than 20,000 police officers cut since 2010, we see rising crime and rising knife crime, and we see money being diverted, instead of paying for police, to paying for a no-deal Brexit that nobody in this House wants to see happen.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman talks about paying for police; of course, we made more money available to police forces, and what did the Labour party do? Labour voted against that. [Interruption.] Yes, that is what Labour did—voted against it.

Several hon. Members rose—

The Prime Minister

I will make a little more progress, then take some more interventions.

Last night the House spoke clearly, and I heard the message that it sent. I heard the concerns of my colleagues and those from across the House, and I understand them. As I told the House last night and have just repeated, if the Government secure the confidence of this House, my first priority will be to hold meetings with my colleagues, with our confidence and supply partners the Democratic Unionist party, and with senior parliamentarians from across the House, but our principles are clear: a deal that delivers a smooth and orderly exit, protecting our Union, giving us control of our borders, laws and money and allowing us to operate an independent trade policy. These are what deliver on the will of the British people.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)

I tried this with the Prime Minister earlier during Question Time, and I am going to give her one more chance: which of the red lines that she set, which caused her defeat last night, is she willing to compromise on to get the agreement through?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will not be surprised to hear that I will give him the same answer as I have just given in my comments. I point out to him that the key thing that this House and this Parliament need to do is to deliver Brexit for the British people. That is what we need to do. We need to deliver a Brexit that respects and reflects the vote that was taken in the 2016 referendum.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald

I am trying to be helpful to the Prime Minister, believe it or not, but this is pure robotic fantasy. It is her deal that has to change, and her deal is a product of the red lines, so when she has that meeting with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), which of the red lines is she willing to give up on?

The Prime Minister

I repeat that we will approach the discussions in a constructive spirit. We want to hear from the House the detail of what it wants to see, such that we can secure the House’s support for a deal.

Mr Bob Seely (Isle of Wight) (Con)

I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way, unlike the Leader of the Opposition. Does she share my concerns that too many people in this House are trying to scupper the mandate given to us by the British people? For centuries, this House has taken arbitrary power from kings, queens, peers and grandees and put that power in this House for the public good, but it appears that we are now becoming an arbitrary power that is removing the mandate that we gave to the British people. Will my right hon. Friend fight to deliver on that mandate and to protect and preserve our democracy?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend puts his point very powerfully indeed. This Parliament voted to ask the British people, and to say to them, “It is your decision.” It was not to say, “Tell us what you think and we might decide afterwards whether we like it.” It was, “It is your decision, and we will act on that decision.”

Several hon. Members rose—

The Prime Minister

I will just make a little more progress.

That is what we want to do: deliver on the will of the British people. As I have said, I will approach the meetings in a constructive spirit, focusing on ideas that are negotiable and have sufficient support in this House. The aim is to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House.

Peter Kyle (Hove) (Lab)

On that point—

The Prime Minister

I will make a little more progress. I have already been generous with interventions.

If those talks bear fruit, as I said earlier in Prime Minister’s questions, then be in no doubt that I will go back to Brussels and communicate them clearly to the European Union, and that is what Members asked for. The leader of the SNP MPs said that we should have talks with all the leaders of the Opposition parties and work together in all our interests. The Chairman of the Brexit Committee said that if the deal was defeated, “I would like to think that she would take a bold step—that she would reach out across the House to look for a consensus.” That is exactly what I propose to do. It would be a little strange for the Opposition to vote against that approach later today and in favour of a general election, as that would make that process of reaching out across Parliament impossible.

Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) (Lab) rose—

The Prime Minister

I will give way to the hon. Lady, as she has risen several times.

Ms Angela Eagle

I thank the Prime Minister for her generosity in giving way. With all due respect to her she has come to the House today, after suffering a very, very large defeat indeed, with the same lines and she is making the same assertions as she was making before the vote—it is as if the vote never happened. Her Downing Street spokesperson said that any discussions would have to start and proceed from the red lines that she herself established. Does she not realise, in all honesty, that the time has come for her to show some flexibility on those red lines and get us into a genuine discussion rather than just repeating the lines that we have heard for the past five months ad nauseam?

The Prime Minister

What I am doing is setting out what the British people voted for in the referendum in 2016, and it is our duty as a Parliament to deliver on that.

Mr Dhesi rose—

The Prime Minister

Again, I will just make a little progress.

I know that to serve in Government is a unique privilege. The people of this country put their trust in you and, in return, you have the opportunity to make this country a better place for them.

Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

The Prime Minister

In a moment.

When I became Prime Minister that is what I pledged to do. Yes, to deliver Brexit, but also to govern on the side of working people, right across the country, for whom life is harder than it should be and to build on the progress that has been made since 2010.

Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab)

I thank the Prime Minister for giving way. The problem is that she seems to be talking as if she lost by 30 votes yesterday and not 230. Her refusal even to consider changing any of her red lines, when the EU, the Irish Government and others made it clear that the deal that she got was dependent on those red lines, is making this impossible. May I ask her to clarify this: is she saying that she will rule out, in any circumstances, a customs union?

The Prime Minister

What I want to see is what the British people voted for—[Interruption.] No, this is very important. They voted for an end to free movement; they voted for an independent trade policy; and they voted to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. It is incumbent on this Parliament to ensure that we deliver on that.

Mr Kenneth Clarke (Rushcliffe) (Con) rose—

Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton) (Con) rose—

The Prime Minister

I give way.

Mr Clarke rose—

The Prime Minister

If the Father of the House would allow me, I did say to my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Kevin Hollinrake) that I would take him first.

Kevin Hollinrake

I thank the Prime Minister for giving way. She is being criticised for setting and sticking to red lines, but do not those red lines simply represent the promises that were made before the referendum?

The Prime Minister

That is the point that I have been making and repeating. When people voted to leave, they voted for certain things. They voted to ensure that we could have that independent trade policy and that we would end free movement, for example, and it is our duty to ensure that we deliver on those things.

Mr Kenneth Clarke

I have asked many people throughout this why they voted on one side or the other in the referendum, and I have got a very wide range of replies. I have to say, though, that no one has ever told me that they voted to leave in order that we could leave the customs union, or that they wanted us to erect trade barriers between ourselves and the rest of the Europe. As the Prime Minister is as committed to this as I am, I entirely support her aim of keeping open borders between ourselves and the rest of Europe. Is it not the case that there is nowhere in the world where two developed countries in any populated area are able to have an open border unless they have some form of customs union?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. and learned Friend refers to the fact that, obviously, there were various reasons why people voted to leave the European Union, but when they were doing so they did vote to ensure that we continue to have a good trading relationship with our nearest neighbours in the European Union and also to improve our trading relationships with others around the world. That is what we were searching for and that is what was in the political declaration for the future. That package was not voted through this House last night. I now will talk to parliamentarians across the House to determine where we can secure the support of the House.

Although delivering Brexit is an important and key element of government, it is also important that we build on the progress made since 2010 and lead this country towards the brighter, fairer, more prosperous future that it deserves.

Mr Dhesi rose—

Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab/Co-op) rose—

Wera Hobhouse (Bath) (LD) rose—

The Prime Minister

I will make some progress before I take any further interventions.

I believe that this Government have a record to be proud of—a record that demonstrates that our policies and principles are more than words. In 2010, we inherited the gravest of economic situations: a recession in which almost three quarters of a million jobs were lost; a budget deficit of £1 borrowed for every £4 spent; and a welfare system that did not reward work. But in the nine years since, thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of the British people, we have turned this country around. Our economy is growing; the deficit is down by four fifths; the national debt has begun its first sustained fall for a generation; and the financial burden left for our children and grandchildren is shrinking by the day. That is a record to be proud of.

Mr Dhesi

I thank the Prime Minister for allowing me to intervene. Under her leadership, this Government have become the first in British history to be found in contempt of Parliament, and the first in British history to lose by more than 200 votes on a primary policy matter. Homelessness has spiralled out of control, the use of food banks has risen exponentially, and much more besides. Surely it is now time to act with humility and to do the right and honourable thing: resign and call a general election.

The Prime Minister

May I say again that the whole point of this debate today is to determine whether this House has confidence in the Government or thinks that there should be a general election?

I say that our record is one that we should be proud of, but I know that that is not enough. A strong economy alone is no good, unless we use it to build a fairer society: one where, whoever you are, wherever you live, and at every stage of your life, you know that the Government are on your side; where growing up you will get the best possible education, not because your parents can afford to pay for it but because that is what every local school provides; where your parents have a secure job that pays a decent wage and where they get to keep more of the money they earn each month; where, when you finish school, you know that you can go to university, whether or not your parents went, or you can have an apprenticeship; where, when you want to buy your first home, enough houses are being built so that you can afford to get a foot on the housing ladder; where, when you want to get married, it does not matter whether you fall in love with someone of the same sex or opposite; where, when you have children of your own, you will be able to rely on our world-class NHS; where both parents can share their leave to look after their baby and where, when they are ready to go back to work, the Government will help with the costs of childcare; and where, when you have worked hard all your life, you will get a good pension and security and dignity in your old age. That is what this Government are delivering.

Wera Hobhouse

I thank the Prime Minister for giving way. I acknowledge that she wants to paint a good picture of her Government, but is it not true that, precisely because so many people were unhappy, they also voted for Brexit? Is it not the case that we need to clarify with the British people what exactly they voted for? We need to put a precise deal in front of them, and not just make a general assumption about why people voted for Brexit. People also voted for Brexit because they were genuinely unhappy with the state of this country, so is it not the case that we now need to put a precise Brexit deal in front of the people so that everyone can say that, actually, Brexit will make a difference?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Lady might recall that I made exactly that point when I became Prime Minister—that there were various reasons that people voted for Brexit, but that some people wanted a change in the way in which politics delivered for them. They felt that politicians were not listening to them, which is precisely why it is so important that we listen to and deliver on the result of the referendum for the people of this country—and this Government are delivering in a whole range of ways.

Nigel Huddleston (Mid Worcestershire) (Con)

I appreciate the positive, confident and optimistic picture of the future of the UK painted by the Prime Minister. What a contrast with the Leader of the Opposition, who takes every opportunity to talk Britain down. How on earth can somebody claim that they aspire to be Prime Minister if they have such utter lack of confidence in Britain and the British people?

The Prime Minister

Absolutely. Anybody who wants to be Prime Minister should believe in this country and in the talents of our people; that is so important.

Rebecca Pow (Taunton Deane) (Con)

I know that there is so little time to get in all the achievements—[Laughter.] Colleagues may laugh, but it is this Government who are taking the environment more seriously than any other Government. We are putting sustainability first, and that is more important even than Brexit, because if we did not have a healthy environment—our record on this is second to none, including measures on microbeads, ancient woodland protection, the clean air strategy and more—we would be lost.

The Prime Minister

I thank my hon. Friend, who has set out an area on which this Government have been taking important action. I commend the work that she has done and the work of my right hon. Friend the Environment Secretary in this area. We are leading the way on the environment in a number of ways.

Mr Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con)

I am very grateful to the Prime Minister; she is giving way considerably more than the Leader of the Opposition did. She has just mentioned the stewardship of the NHS under her leadership. Would she like to remind the Leader of the Opposition that it is this Government who have just pledged, through the NHS long-term plan, 50% per annum more funding than he pledged at the last general election?

The Prime Minister

That is absolutely right. The biggest cash boost to the NHS in its history and a long-term plan that ensures its sustainability for the future—that is being delivered not by a Labour party, but by the Conservatives in government.

Several hon. Members rose—

The Prime Minister

If hon. and right hon. Members will forgive me, I am conscious that the time is getting on.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab) indicated assent.

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) is encouraging me not to take so many interventions and to get on with my speech.

We are building a country that works for everyone, but there is much more to do, including: investing in our industrial strategy so that we are creating the jobs of the future in all parts of our country, not just London and the south-east; delivering our long-term plan for the NHS, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr Dunne) has just referred, so that our most precious institution is equipped for the future; tackling the lingering injustices that for too long have blighted the lives of too many people, including women being paid less than men, mental health not being treated with the same seriousness and resource as physical health, a criminal justice system that has poorer outcomes if you are black than if you are white, and an education system that has left white working-class boys as less likely to go to university than anyone else. These are issues that we need to tackle, and the mission of this Government will not stop.

This is a Government building a country that is more prosperous, a country that is fairer and a country that works for everyone. With the confidence of this House, we will go on delivering for Britain, driven by a passionate belief in doing what is right for our country and right for our people, acting not in self-interest but in the national interest. That is the simple mission that has underpinned our approach to the Brexit negotiations.

As we enter the next stage of that process, I have made it clear that I want to engage with colleagues across the House. The question now is whether the Labour leadership will rise to the occasion, but I fear the answer is no. As the Labour leader himself has indicated, Brexit is the biggest issue that the House and the country have faced for generations. It demands responsible leadership and pragmatic statesmanship from senior politicians. The Leader of the Opposition, as yet, has shown neither. His failure to set out a clear and consistent alternative solution to the Brexit question is the third reason that this House should comprehensively reject this motion.

The shadow Brexit Secretary has described Labour’s position on Brexit as one of “constructive ambiguity”. I think that the shadow Trade Secretary called it something slightly more succinct but definitely not parliamentary, and I therefore cannot repeat it. I call it not being straight with the British people. For more than two years, the Leader of the Opposition has been either unable or unwilling to share anything other than vague aspirations, empty slogans and ideas with no grounding in reality. When the President of the European Commission said that Labour’s Brexit ambitions would be impossible for the European Commission to agree to, the right hon. Gentleman simply shrugged and said, “That’s his view. I have a different view.”

Last night, just for a moment, I thought the Leader of the Opposition might surprise us all, because he told this House that it was not enough to vote against the withdrawal agreement and that

“we also have to be for something.”—[Official Report, 15 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 1109.]

Surely that was the moment. That was the point at which, after months of demanding that I stand aside and make way for him, he was going to reveal his alternative. We waited, but nothing came.

The Leader of the Opposition still faces both ways on whether Labour would keep freedom of movement, and he will not even be drawn on the most basic point of all. In PMQs, I referred to the fact that on Sunday, when challenged as to whether he would campaign to leave the European Union if there were a general election, he refused to answer that question five times, and he has refused to answer that question in response to Members of this House today. The Government have no doubts about our position. Under this Government, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union and we will respect the decision of the people.

Chris Philp

The Prime Minister is quite right to point out the yawning chasm at the heart of Labour’s policy, but the problem is that she also said that we need to come up with a constructive alternative. Speaking to colleagues around the House, it strikes me powerfully that there is one element of the currently proposed deal that, if changed, would make it much more likely to pass: the backstop. Would the Prime Minister therefore consider contacting European Commission officials in the coming days and over the weekend to ask them to make legally binding changes to that backstop, which would mean that the deal would then have a very good chance of passing this House?

The Prime Minister

The purpose of the various discussions that we are going to have is to identify the issues that will secure the support of this House, and I will take those issues to the European Parliament.

Peter Kyle

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, and then I am going to make progress so that others can speak in this debate.

Peter Kyle

I am extremely grateful to the Prime Minister for giving way; she has been generous. She has talked about engagement with this House and yesterday she referred to this House as the “fulcrum of our democracy.” May I gently point out that she is the Prime Minister who went to the Supreme Court to stop her having engagement with this House, and that the vote that we had yesterday was on the back of an amendment that she voted against? She talks about engagement with this House, but we have experienced nothing but hostility from the Prime Minister. Going forward, will she put her words into action? If not, she does not deserve to have the job in the first place.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman has been present on many occasions when I have come to listen to and answer questions from the House. In fact, from October through to December, that amounted to a whole 24 hours spent answering questions in this House.

Vital though Brexit is, there is much more to being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. That is, after all, the job to which the Leader of the Opposition aspires.

Anna Soubry

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

If my right hon. Friend will bear with me, I will make some progress, as I understand that a significant number of Members have put in to speak.

By putting forward this motion, the Leader of the Opposition is asking this House to accept that he could be the next Prime Minister. How would he have faced some of the big challenges that I have faced as Prime Minister over the last two and a half years? When Russia launched a chemical attack on the streets of Salisbury, I worked with our allies to degrade Russian intelligence capabilities and hold those responsible to account. His contribution was to suggest that we ask Russia to double-check the findings of our own scientists. When the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to murder innocent men, women and children in Douma, I stood with our allies to uphold the international consensus that the use of chemical weapons should not be tolerated. He wanted to give an effective veto on action to President Putin and the Russian Government—the very Government who were supporting the Syrian regime.

The leader of the party of Attlee called for the dismantling of NATO. The leader of the party of Bevan says that Britain should unilaterally disarm herself and cross our fingers that others follow suit. The leader of the party that helped to deliver the Belfast agreement invited IRA terrorists into this Parliament just weeks after their colleagues had murdered a Member of this House. His leadership of the Labour party has been a betrayal of everything that party has stood for, a betrayal of the vast majority of his MPs and a betrayal of millions of decent and patriotic Labour voters. I look across the House and see Back-Bench Members who have spent years serving their country in office in a Labour Government, but I fear that today, it is simply not the party that many of its own MPs joined.

If we want to see what the Leader of the Opposition would do to our country, we can do no better than look at what he has done to his party. Before he became Labour leader, nobody could have imagined that a party which had fought so hard against discrimination could become the banner under which racists and bigots whose world view is dominated by a hatred of Jews could gather, but that is exactly what has happened under his leadership. British Jewish families who have lived here for generations are asking themselves where they should go if he ever becomes Prime Minister; that is what has happened under his leadership. A Jewish Labour MP had to hire a bodyguard to attend her own party conference, under the leadership of the right hon. Gentleman. What he has done to his party is a national tragedy. What he would do to our country would be a national calamity.

Anna Soubry

I am grateful to the Prime Minister for being so generous and engaging in a debate. As ever, she could teach a few people lessons on that. The hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) made a very important point. While the Prime Minister has been very generous in coming to this place and answering questions, the complaint is that we have been excluded in a meaningful way at the outset from helping to determine the principles upon which a Brexit deal should be negotiated.

In seeking to be true to our oath and promises to our constituents and voting for things against our own Government, many of us have been threatened with deselection or received threats against our safety and even death threats. I know how seriously the Prime Minister takes that, and I thank her for her kindness in the note she sent me last week. Will she now make it clear to those listening to this that it would be wrong for anybody—this applies also to Opposition Members, given the wise observations she has just made about the state of the Labour party—to be intimidated or bullied in any way simply for coming here and being true to what they believe in and what they believe is in the national interest?

The Prime Minister

What my right hon. Friend experienced last week was appalling. I understand that she has experienced other incidents more recently. I absolutely agree; everybody in this House holds their opinions and views with passion and commitment, and everybody in this House should be able to express those views with passion and commitment and not feel that they will be subject to intimidation, harassment or bullying. That is very important, and I am sure that that sentiment commands approval across the whole House. Once again, I am sorry for the experiences my right hon. Friend has gone through.

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill) (Lab)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I will give way to the right hon. Gentleman, and then I will conclude.

Liam Byrne

I am grateful to the Prime Minister for giving way. She must recognise that she has built a cage of red lines, which produced a deal that was overwhelmingly rejected by this House. We rejected the deal because we rejected the cage. This afternoon, she has yielded nothing about how any one of those red lines will change. If she is not prepared to change, how on earth can we in this House continue to place a shred of confidence in her?

The Prime Minister

The point I made last night and have repeatedly made today is that I will be talking to people across this House—to my own colleagues, to the DUP and to other parties, as there are different groups of people in this House who have different views on this issue—to find what will secure the confidence and support of this House for the way in which we deliver Brexit.

It was serendipitous that I allowed the right hon. Gentleman to intervene just at the point at which I was going to say that if the Leader of the Opposition wins his vote tonight, what he would attempt to do is damage our country and wreck our economy. Of course, it was the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Liam Byrne) who left that note saying, “There’s no money left” after the last Labour Government.

Liam Byrne

I was naive to honour a Treasury tradition that went back to Churchill with a text that is pretty much the same, but I was proud to be part of a team that stopped a recession becoming a depression. This is the Government who—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. Stop trying to shout other Members down. Calm yourselves.

Liam Byrne

The Prime Minister was a member of the party that backed Labour’s spending plans up to late 2009, and she has presided over a Government who have doubled the size of the national debt.

The Prime Minister

We did see what was happening in terms of the financial crisis and its impact, but the Labour party in government had failed to take the steps to ensure that the country was in a position to deal with those issues.

What would we see if Labour won the vote tonight? It would wreck our economy, spread division and undermine our national security. As I said earlier, on the biggest question of our times, the Leader of the Opposition provides no answers, no way forward and nothing but evasion, contradiction and political games. This House cannot and must not allow it.

Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)

Will the Prime Minister give way?

The Prime Minister

I am about to conclude, so I will not take any more interventions.

We are living through a historic moment in our nation’s history. Following a referendum that divided our nation in half, we dearly need to bring our country back together. Last night’s vote showed that we have a long way to go, but I do not believe that a general election is the path to doing that, and I do not believe that a Government led by the Leader of the Opposition is the path to doing that either. We must find the answer among ourselves in this House, and, with the confidence of the House, this Government will lead that process.

This is the Government who have already delivered record employment, put more money in the pockets of ordinary working people and given the NHS the biggest cash boost it has ever received from any Government of any colour. This is the Government who are fighting the burning injustices of poverty, inequality and discrimination, which for too long have blighted the lives of too many of our people. This is the Government who are building a country that works for everyone.

As we leave the European Union, we must raise our sights to the kind of country we want to be—a nation that can respond to a call from its people for change; a nation that can build a better future for every one of its people; and a nation that knows that moderation and pragmatism are not dirty words, but how we work together to improve people’s lives. That is our mission. That is what we are doing, and, with the backing of the House, it is what we will continue to do. I am proud of what we have achieved so far, and I am determined that the work will go on. In that, I know that we have the confidence of the country. We now ask for the confidence of this House. Reject this motion.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2019 Speech During No Confidence Motion

Below is the text of the speech made in the House of Commons by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, on 16 January 2019.

I beg to move,

That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.

Last night, the Government were defeated by 230 votes—the largest defeat in the history of our democracy. They are the first Government to be defeated by more than 200 votes. Indeed, the Government themselves could barely muster more than 200 votes. Last week, they lost a vote on the Finance Bill—that is what is called supply. Yesterday, they lost a vote by the biggest margin ever—that is what is regarded as confidence. By any convention of this House—by any precedent—loss of confidence and supply should mean that they do the right thing and resign.

The Prime Minister has consistently claimed that her deal, which has now been decisively rejected, was good for Britain, workers and businesses. If she is so confident of that—if she genuinely believes it—she should have nothing to fear from going to the people and letting them decide.

In this week in 1910, the British electorate went to the polls. They did so because Herbert Asquith’s Liberal Government had been unable to get Lloyd George’s “People’s Budget” through the House of Lords. They were confident in their arguments, and they went to the people and were returned to office. That is still how our democracy works. When we have a Government that cannot govern, it is those conventions that guide us in the absence of a written constitution. If a Government cannot get their legislation through Parliament, they must go to the country for a new mandate, and that must apply when that situation relates to the key issue of the day.

Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con)

Is not the Leader of the Opposition engaging in a piece of shameless political opportunism, putting party interests ahead of national interests? Is he not simply trying to disguise the fact that he has no policy on this great issue?

Jeremy Corbyn

In 2017, the Prime Minister and her party thought that they could call an election and win it. They thought that they would return with an overall majority, but there was an enormous increase in the Labour vote—the biggest since 1945—during that campaign when people saw what our policies actually were.

When the Prime Minister asked to be given a mandate, she bypassed the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry), the shadow Foreign Secretary, pointed out, was designed to give some stability to the Tory-Lib Dem coalition Government to ensure that the Lib Dems could not hold the Conservatives to ransom by constantly threatening to collapse the coalition. The 2011 Act was never intended to prop up a zombie Government, and there can be no doubt that this is a zombie Government.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP)

If the right hon. Gentleman’s motion is successful this evening, there may be a general election in a few short weeks. Would the Labour party manifesto state whether it will be a party of Brexit or a party against Brexit? It is a simple question; what is the answer?

Jeremy Corbyn

We are a democratic party, and our party will decide what policy we fight the election on. In the meantime, however, we are clear that there has to be a customs union, access to European trade and markets, and the protection of rights, and there must be a rejection of a no-deal Brexit.

As I was saying, last week this Government became the first for more than 40 years to lose a vote on a Finance Bill. In a shocking first for this Government—a shocking first—they forced a heavily pregnant Member of this House, my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq), to delay a scheduled caesarean to come to vote, all because of their cynical breaking of trusted pairing arrangements. We need to examine our procedures to ensure that such a thing can never happen again.

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Could you please assist the House, because this is an important matter? I say this as a woman. We need to establish once and for all whether the hon. Member for Hampstead and Kilburn (Tulip Siddiq) was offered a pair. I think all of us and the public need to know.

Mr Speaker

The Clerk reminds me that that is not a point of order. My understanding is that there was a pairing opportunity, but the issue was aired in the chamber on Monday and again yesterday. The Leader of the Opposition is absolutely entitled to highlight his concern about the matter, which I know is widely shared, but it should not now be the subject of further points of order. I hope that that satisfies the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry).

Jeremy Corbyn

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Nothing demonstrates the sheer incompetence of this Government quite like the Brexit negotiations. Yesterday’s historic and humiliating defeat was the result of two years of chaos and failure. It is clear that this Government are not capable of winning support for their core plan on the most vital issue facing this country. The Prime Minister has lost control and the Government have lost the ability to govern. Within two years, they have managed to turn a deal from what was supposed to be—I remember this very well—

“one of the easiest in human history”

into a national embarrassment. In that time, we have seen the Prime Minister’s demands quickly turn into one humiliating climbdown after another. Brexit Ministers have come, and Brexit ministers have gone, but the shambles has remained unchanged, culminating in an agreement that was described by one former Cabinet Minister as

“the worst of all worlds.”

Let me be clear that the deal that the Prime Minister wanted this Parliament to support would have left the UK in a helpless position, facing a choice between seeking and paying for an extended transition period or being trapped in the backstop. The Prime Minister may claim the backstop would never come into force—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. There are courtesies in this place. A Member can seek to intervene, but he or she should not do so out of frustration by shrieking an observation across the Floor.

Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)

I was not shrieking.

Mr Speaker

Well, whether we say shriek or yell or bellow or shout, it was very noisy, and it was disorderly. The right hon. Gentleman knows that I hold him in the highest regard and have great affection for him, but he must behave better.

Mr Francois

Isn’t the Leader of the Opposition supposed to—

Mr Speaker

Whether an intervention is taken or not—

Mr Francois

All right.

Mr Speaker

No, there is no “all right” about it. The person who has the Floor decides whether to take an intervention. That is life. That is the reality. That is the way it has always been.

Jeremy Corbyn

Who has confidence in this Government’s ability to negotiate a future trade deal with the EU by December 2020 after the shambles that we have all witnessed over the past two years? This Frankenstein deal is now officially dead, and the Prime Minister is trying to blame absolutely everybody else.

Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)

In modern British history, when faced with a defeat even a fraction of the size of the titanic and calamitous margin that the Prime Minister faced yesterday, Prime Ministers have done the right and honourable thing and have resigned and called a general election. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Prime Minister, in the pursuit of power and the trappings of office, has now forgotten what is right and honourable?

Jeremy Corbyn

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. As I made clear, all the precedents are that when a Government experiences a defeat like last night’s, it is time to resign and allow the people to elect a new Parliament to deal with the issues facing the country.

Let me be clear that the blame for this mess lies firmly at the feet of the Prime Minister and her Government, who have time after time made hollow demands and given what turned out to be false promises. They say that they want this Parliament to be sovereign. Yet when their plans have come up against scrutiny, they have done all they can to obstruct and evade. The Prime Minister’s original plan was to push through a deal without the appropriate approval of this Parliament, only to be forced into holding a meaningful vote by the courts and by Members of this House, to whom I pay tribute for ensuring that we actually had the meaningful vote last night.

Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)

As I understand it, the Leader of the Opposition will allow his party to decide whether he will deliver Brexit should he become Prime Minister. His party has already decided that if he is not successful in getting a general election, he should support a people’s vote. If he does not win the vote tonight, will he then support moves in this House to give us a people’s vote?

Jeremy Corbyn

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is fully aware of the decision made at my party’s conference that all options are on the table for the next phase, including the option to which he has referred.

Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) (Lab)

In this national crisis, will my right hon. Friend confirm whether the Prime Minister has telephoned the Leader of the Opposition to ask for a meeting to discuss the way forward for our country?

Jeremy Corbyn

I have not had such a call as yet. I have my phone on. [Interruption.]

I think we should proceed with this debate. The Prime Minister’s original plan was to push through a deal without approval, as I pointed out, and she was forced into seeking approval by the courts. Since losing their majority in the 2017 general election, the Government have had numerous opportunities to engage with others and listen to their views, not just here in Westminster, but across the country. Their whole framing of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was about giving excessive power to the Secretary of State for Brexit at the expense of Parliament. It was a Bill of which Henry VIII would have been very proud.

Yesterday’s decisive defeat is the result of the Prime Minister not listening and ignoring businesses, unions and Members of this House. She has wasted two years recklessly ploughing on with her doomed strategy. Even when it was clear that her botched and damaging deal could not remotely command support here or across the country, she decided to waste even more time by pulling the meaningful vote on 11 December on the empty promise, and it was an absolutely empty promise, of obtaining legal assurances on the backstop—another month wasted before the House could come to its decision last night.

Some on the Government Benches have tried to portray the Prime Minister’s approach as stoical. What we have seen over the past few months is not stoical; what we have witnessed is the Prime Minister acting in her narrow party interest, rather than in the public interest. Her party is fundamentally split on this issue, and fewer than 200 of her own MPs were prepared to support her last night. This constrains the Prime Minister so much that she simply cannot command a majority in this House on the most important issue facing this country without rupturing her party. It is for that reason that the Government can no longer govern.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister shook her head when I said that she had treated Brexit as a matter only for the Conservative party, yet within half an hour of the vote being announced the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) commented:

“She has conducted the argument as if this was a party political matter rather than a question of profound national importance”.

How right he was, and how wrong the Prime Minister was to threaten him before the vote took place.

I know that many people across the country will be frustrated and deeply worried about the insecurity around Brexit, but if this divided Government continue in office, the uncertainty and risks can only grow.

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk) (Con)

When those cross-party talks start, which of the Scarlet Pimpernels will come? Will it be the Leader of the Opposition who campaigns for remain in London and the south-east, or will it be the Leader of the Opposition who campaigns for Brexit up north? We need to know.

Jeremy Corbyn

There has been no offer or communication on all-party talks. All the Prime Minister said was that she might talk to some Members of the House. That is not reaching out. That is not discussing it. That is not recognising the scale of the defeat they suffered last night.

It is not just over Brexit that the Government are failing dismally, letting down the people of this country. There has been the Windrush scandal, with the shameful denial of rights and the detention, and even the deportation, of our own citizens. The Government’s flagship welfare policy, universal credit, is causing real and worsening poverty across this country. And just yesterday, under the cover of the Brexit vote, they sneaked out changes that will make some pensioner households thousands of pounds worse off. Those changes build on the scourge of poverty and the measures inflicted on the people of this country, including the bedroom tax, the two-child limit, the abominable rape clause, the outsourced and deeply flawed work capability assessment, the punitive sanctions regime and the deeply repugnant benefits freeze.

People across this country, whether they voted leave or remain, know full well that the system is not working for them. If they are up against it and they voted remain, or if they are up against it and they voted leave, this Government do not speak for them, do not represent them and cannot represent them. Food bank use has increased almost exponentially. More people are sleeping on our streets, and the numbers have shamefully swelled every year. The Conservative party used to call itself the party of home ownership; it is now called the party of homelessness in this country.

Care is being denied to our elderly, with Age UK estimating that 1.2 million older people are not receiving the care they need. Some £7 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets in the past nine years. Our NHS is in crisis, waiting time targets at accident and emergency—[Interruption.] I am talking about waiting times at accident and emergency departments and for cancer patients that have not been met since 2015, and that have never been met under the Government of this Prime Minister.

The NHS has endured the longest funding squeeze in its history, leaving it short-staffed to the tune of 100,000 and leaving NHS trusts and providers over £1 billion in deficit. The human consequences are clear. Life expectancy is now going backwards in the poorest parts of our country and is stagnating overall, which is unprecedented—another shameful first for this Government and another reason why this Government should no longer remain in office. That is why this motion of no confidence is so important.

Anna Soubry

The Leader of the Opposition is making some powerful arguments—not very well, but he is making them—but could he help us with this? I saw an opinion poll at the weekend. If there is any merit in his arguments, can he explain why the Conservative party is six points ahead in the polls? Could it be because he is the most hopeless Leader of the Opposition we have ever had?

Jeremy Corbyn

I thank the right hon. Lady for her intervention, and I look forward to testing opinion at the ballot box in a general election, when we will be able to elect a Labour Government in this country.

Mr David Lammy (Tottenham) (Lab)

My right hon. Friend is right to put on record the concerns about uncertainty in the country, and he is absolutely right to talk about poverty. Can he confirm that it is the position of the British Labour party to rule out a no-deal Brexit? Can he understand why the party that claims to be the traditional party of business will not do the same?

Jeremy Corbyn

I can absolutely confirm that. We have voted against a no-deal Brexit, and apparently the Business Secretary thinks that vote is a good idea. The Prime Minister was unable to answer my question on this during Prime Minister’s Question Time. A no-deal Brexit would be very dangerous and very damaging for jobs and industries all across this country.

Imran Hussain

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Jeremy Corbyn

I will give way one more time.

Imran Hussain

I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way. He is absolutely right that, under this Government, we see our NHS in crisis and education underfunded. Our communities have been devastated by their austerity agenda. More people are homeless, more people are living in poverty and more people are using food banks. If the Government disagree, why do they not call a general election? We are ready.

Jeremy Corbyn

I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention and for his work representing his constituency. On this side of the House, we are determined to force this Government to accept the reality of the defeat last night and to go to the people so that they can decide whether they want a party in office that promotes inequality, poverty and injustice in Britain, or the Labour alternative, which is bringing people together, however they voted in the referendum.

I know that some Members of this House are sceptical, and members of the public could also be described as sceptical, but I truly believe that a general election would be the best outcome for this country. As the Prime Minister pointed out in her speech yesterday, both the Labour party and the Conservative party stood on manifestos that accepted the result of the referendum . Surely any Government would be strengthened in trying to renegotiate Brexit by being given a fresh mandate from the people to follow their chosen course. I know many people at home will say, “Well, we’ve had two general elections and a referendum in the last four years.” For the people of Scotland, it is two UK-wide elections, one Scottish parliamentary election and two referendums in five years So although Brenda from Bristol may gasp “Not another one”, spare a thought for Bernie from Bute. However, the scale of the crisis means we need a Government with a fresh mandate. A general election can bring people together, focusing on all the issues that unite us—the need to solve the crises in our NHS, our children’s schools and the care of our elderly.

We all have a responsibility to call out abuse, which has become too common, whether it is the abuse that Members of this House receive or the abuse that is—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. No, Mr David Morris, do not yell from a sedentary position like that. If you seek to intervene, you seek to do so in the usual way—that is the only way to do it. Just because you are angry, it does not justify your behaving in that way. Stop it.

Jeremy Corbyn

Thank you. Mr Speaker.

Mr Francois

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Jeremy Corbyn

No. I am sure we can all unite in condemning racist abuse in any form whatsoever within our society. Too many of our constituents have faced that since the toxic debate in the last referendum and, if I may say so, the Government’s hostile environment policies on the Windrush generation.

Many media pundits and Members of this House say there is currently no majority in the House for a general election—let the Members of this House decide. However, it is clear there is no majority for the Government’s Brexit deal and there is no majority either for no deal. I pay tribute to all Members of this House who, like the Labour Front-Bench team, are committed both to opposing the Prime Minister’s bad deal, which we voted down last night, and to ruling out the catastrophe of no deal. But I do believe that following the defeat of the Government’s plan, a general election is the best outcome for the country, as the Labour party conference agreed last September.

A general election would give new impetus to negotiations, with a new Prime Minister, with a new mandate, and not just to break the deadlock on Brexit, but to bring fresh ideas to the many problems facing our constituents, such as very low pay, insecure work and in-work poverty, which is increasing. They face the problems of trying to survive on universal credit and living in deep poverty; and the scandal of inadequate social care, which might not concern the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) but does concern millions of people around this country.

Then we have the crisis facing local authorities, health services and schools, which are starved of resources; and the housing and homelessness crisis, whereby so many of our fellow citizens have no roof over their head night after night.

Mr Francois

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Jeremy Corbyn

They are looking to Parliament to deliver for them a better and fairer society—

Mr Speaker

Is the right hon. Gentleman just pausing?

Jeremy Corbyn

I am pausing because you stood up.

Mr Speaker

Quite right, absolutely. That is very reasonable and sensible. Thank you. I call Mark Francois, on a point of order.

Mr Francois

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Is it not—[Interruption.] Well, give me a go! Is it not often the practice in this House that when someone speaking from the Dispatch Box refers to another Member and challenges them, they then normally take an intervention?

Mr Speaker

It is commonplace, but it is not, in any sense, obligatory.

Jeremy Corbyn

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

If the House backs this motion today, I will welcome the wide-ranging debates we will have about the future of our country and the future of our relationship with the European Union, with all the options on the table. As I said before, a Prime Minister confident of what she describes as “a good deal” and committed, as she claims, to tackling burning injustices should have nothing to fear from such an election. If the House does not back this motion today, it is surely incumbent on all of us to keep all the options on the table, to rule out the disastrous no deal and offer a better solution than the Prime Minister’s deal, which was so roundly defeated yesterday.

This Government cannot govern and cannot command the support of Parliament on the most important issue facing our country. Every previous Prime Minister in this situation would have resigned and called an election. It is the duty of this House to show the lead where the Government have failed, and to pass a motion of no confidence so that the people of this country can decide who their MPs are, who their Government are and who will deal with the crucial issues facing the people of this country. I commend my motion to the House.

Penny Mordaunt – 2019 Speech at Companies to Inspire Africa 2019

Below is the text of the speech made Penny Mordaunt, the Secretary of State for International Development, on 16 January 2019.

Well good morning everyone, and can I first start by echoing the sympathies that David gave about those caught up in the very sad events in Nairobi, my thoughts, the thoughts of my departmental colleagues and my parliamentary colleagues, I know Andrew Selous is here to today, are very much with everyone who has been caught up in those tragic events.

After the events of last night in the House of Commons, which were rather depressing, I felt it was very important that I did something this morning that was uplifting, constructive with inspirational people and of which we could be very proud, and represented absolutely Global Britain. So, thank you David and the London Stock Exchange Group for inviting me to launch the Companies to Inspire Africa 2019 report.

I would like to start by congratulating all the companies featured. From 32 countries, with 7 major sectors represented, you have been nominated as Africa’s most inspiring small and medium-sized enterprises. It is you and your successes that will demonstrate globally the opportunities that are increasingly present in Africa.

I am particularly pleased that nearly a quarter of the companies in this year’s report are led by women, almost double that of the report published in 2017.

And we know that globally companies with greater levels of gender equality also do better in terms of income, growth and competitiveness. And today I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the inspirational female business leaders named in the report. Companies like Lioness of Africa, which aims to support 1 million African women entrepreneurs to achieve success. As female leaders you are role models that can make change happen. I applaud and admire you all.

All of us in this room know Africa is a continent alive with opportunity. Five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African and by 2050, a quarter of the world’s consumers will live there. This opportunity is why we saw Ghana hosting an Investment Summit last year, attended by over 50 British companies. It is why the London Stock Exchange has partnered with African Securities Exchanges like Casablanca and Nairobi. And it is why the Prime Minister recently visited the continent spending her time with business and political leaders, entrepreneurs and young people as well as throwing a few shapes – there’s still time David, there’s still time.

They told her that they wanted a modern partnership with the UK that delivers mutual benefit. By combining African-led ambition with British expertise we can do just that – unlocking high-quality investment that delivers more opportunities, exports and jobs for both Africa and the UK.

Global Britain is committed to this new partnership with Africa. The Prime Minister announced a radical expansion of the UK government’s presence, bringing in trade experts and investment specialists to deliver on our shared interests and find solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

And later this year the UK will host the UK-Africa Investment Summit, which will bring together key government and business people from the UK and Africa to strengthen our links and make the most of the fantastic opportunities that are there. We want companies like you to play your part in the Summit to make it a game-changer for investment in Africa.

We want to leverage the UK’s reach and unique value of the City of London to make the UK Africa’s finance partner of choice.

The London Stock Exchange Group has shown strong partnership and leadership in this area, helping to build Global Britain. Through its Africa Advisory Group, the London Stock Exchange has brought together key business leaders, policymakers and investors from across Africa to take the steps needed to develop Africa’s capital markets. We look forward to working closely with the Group this year.

Developing Africa’s capital markets is essential for unlocking finance for infrastructure and investment that will support job creation and economic growth in the long term. But these capital markets need to be supported by a well-regulated financial sector.

When I was at the London Stock Exchange during the Commonwealth Summit last April I announced a new DFID partnership with the Bank of England and the central banks of Ghana, South Africa and Sierra Leone to share regulatory expertise and enhance financial stability, helping promote economic growth through increased investor confidence. We will continue to scale up our work with the Bank of England throughout the course of this year.

UK aid is mobilising the private investment needed to deliver the ]Global Goals](https://www.globalgoals.org/) and that is why CDC, the UK’s Development Finance Institution, has committed up to £3.5 billion of new African investments, and why up to £300 million has been committed from the Private Infrastructure Development Group. These partnerships will lay the foundations for new trading and business opportunities.

And when I was last here I announced the UK’s ambition to help African countries raise debt in their local currencies. In November we celebrated the first ever Ghanaian Cedi-denominated bond to list to London, made possible through the DFID-backed Private Infrastructure Development Group.

Investments by the DFID-backed Financial Sector Deepening Africa has supported 38 local currency bond issues by private companies and financial institutions in 16 African countries, in a range of sectors such as agriculture, energy, housing, microfinance and infrastructure. Local currency finance listings such as these are contributing to increased financial stability by ensuring that growth is fuelled by lower-risk finance over the long-term.

And we are committed to supporting innovative African companies to make it easier for finance to flow into and across the continent. It is estimated that US$66 billion in remittances flow into Africa annually, with approximately 10% originating in the UK. The transfer of money by foreign workers to their families in their home countries is a lifeline to many in Africa. But many are losing their hard-earned money to too high remittance fees.

That is why we are announcing £2 million investment for MFS Africa, an innovative mobile money company that makes it easier and cheaper to send remittances to and across Africa. This is a clear example of the UK honouring its commitments to the G20 and Global Goals targets of reducing those costs.

Our investments and partnerships are already bringing benefits for both Africa and the UK. The CDC-backed company, Blue Skies, features in the report and is a leading producer of fresh cut fruits and juices and is the largest private sector company in Ghana. It sells its produce across Africa, and also trades with UK supermarkets. You can find Blue Skies products in Sainsburys, Waitrose and on Amazon Fresh – a clear demonstration that investing in African companies is good for Africa and it is good for Britain too.

The UK values such partnerships. We bring the technical knowledge of our professionals, and we bring the values of a compassionate global nation. Our values sit at the heart of our aid spending.

In October I announced a new campaign to find out the appetite of British people who might want their savings or their pension to be used to support the Global Goals and to potentially deliver better returns for them. Over the coming months we will be speaking to financial institutions, savers, pension holders and the wider British public to help shape new investment products to deliver the Global Goals.

This report demonstrates that great partnerships can lead to great things. Working together, the UK and Africa can generate private sector investment, which in turn is creating business and investment opportunities for both Africa and the UK.

2019 is the year of significant opportunities to take those partnerships further – and I very much look forward to seeing the results. Thank you all very much.

Karen Buck – 2019 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Karen Buck, the Labour MP for Westminster North, in the House of Commons on 14 January 2019.

The result of the 2016 referendum left me absolutely devastated, but I hoped that we would be able to find a consensus for the way forward. It left me devastated because the whole backdrop to my adult life has been the positive internationalism that the European Union represented, for all its flaws. That stood in contrast to the history of depression and conflict that had scarred Europe for the ​first half of the last century. In a new era of instability characterised by the behaviour of Putin and Trump, that hopeful internationalism seems to be even more important than it has been in recent decades. I regard the freedoms of the European Union, including the freedom of movement, as a triumph of modern politics—something that we should celebrate rather than fear. I understand the frustration at messy compromises and sclerotic decision making within the EU, but I fear that future trade negotiations will be characterised by many of the same frustrations and compromises on sovereignty.

I represent a constituency that not only voted overwhelmingly to remain but is one of the most diverse, international and outward-looking communities not just in Britain but probably in the world, and which has one of the highest proportions of EU nationals. It is an area of arrival that has, over centuries, accommodated waves of new communities, done so with extraordinary success, and helped to build a capital city and a country of creativity, cultural openness and economic success. Westminster, like London and many other parts of the country, has drawn on the contribution of EU nationals who have started businesses, contributed, and staffed our public services.

When my constituents write to me, as they do in their thousands, the overwhelming majority frame their arguments in those terms, often doing so with movingly personal stories of their lives not as separate communities but as husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fellow employees and business partners of British nationals. There is disappointment, anxiety and pain expressed every day, and bafflement as to how we could choose to close down rather than open up our options and our freedoms, and complicate our relations with our closest and largest trading partner.

It is also worth saying, because so often the remain argument is presented as one of middle-class affluence posited against the poorer communities that voted leave, that my constituency is the 15th poorest in the country on working-age poverty. Of course, I hear, as a result, the voices of some leavers too—the minority but none the less there. I agreed on one thing with the Secretary of State, which is that we should not patronise leave voters by saying that they did not know what they voted for. People did know what they voted for, but none the less a range of destinations was expressed in the leave vote.

That is why it is so important that, as the Brexit debate unfolds and the options have become clearer, we give people a further choice to express their opinions. Just as the EU was not responsible for many of the grievances that drove leave voters, leaving the EU will not rectify those grievances. Above all, it will not do so if this country is made poorer as a result—and it would be the poorest communities and individuals who had to carry the consequences of that.

There is no point in speculating about whether a different Government could have bridged the gulf. We can only deal with the reality of what we have. There is no point in speculating about whether the Government could have brought about a different outcome with more imagination, openness and generosity than they have shown over the last two years. That did not happen. It may have been possible early on to negotiate a ​compromise built around the customs union and the single market, possibly with the Norway model, but that door has now shut.

We have only the deal in front of us, which is the start of an agonising process stretching as far as the eye can see. We have only a deal that is worse than membership of the EU and will leave us poorer, with reduced influence. I will not rule out any option to avoid the worst possible consequence, of crashing out with no deal, but I believe it is time to seek an extension of article 50 and put the decision back to the British people, so that we can hear their views.

Alok Sharma – 2019 Speech on Full Employment

Below is the text of the speech made by Alok Sharma, the Minister of State for Employment, at the Resolution Foundation on 14 January 2019.

Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen good morning.

A huge thank you to the Resolution Foundation, and to Lord Willetts in particular, for the invitation to speak at the launch of the report today.

This is a momentous week for Parliament and our country as a whole.

We stand at the crossroads of history.

And how Members of Parliament act, and vote, on Tuesday may well have a profound impact on our labour market.

Both in the shorter and longer term.

I will return to that point later, but first the findings of the report.

The overall message of this report is positive and encouraging.

And a re-affirmation for me that the economic policies David, I and our parliamentary colleagues supported from 2010 were the right ones.

As outlined by Stephen, the report concludes that not only are there more people in work today than ever before, but that it is those on low incomes, and those historically unengaged in the jobs market, who have benefitted most.

The report also notes that the net increase in employment is down to people taking on professional roles. Which is good news because those jobs attract higher pay.

And the regions which had the lowest employment rates a decade ago, have seen the greatest increase. Effectively catching up on historically slow jobs growth.

Any analyses of the last decade will of course be skewed by the financial crash in 2008.

We in government prefer to measure the jobs market from 2010, when we took on responsibility for the economy.

Since 2010, the labour market has gone from strength to strength – with an average of 1,000 people a day moving into work. That’s 3.4 million more people in work today than in 2010.

We politicians and think tankers love our statistics. For us they build an overall picture.

But what we must never forget is that behind every single extra job created, and vacancy filled, there is a human success story.

Of someone whose family income, self-esteem and life chances are all hugely improved by being in work.

And our reform of the welfare system has made a positive contribution, playing its part in helping people into work.

And last week Amber Rudd announced further reforms to Universal Credit to ensure that we provide additional support, especially for the most vulnerable.

Given some of the conclusions of today’s report there are 3 areas in particular I want to focus on briefly.

First, the work we are doing to ensure that people do not just have a job, but that they have a good job.

Second, is on improving further participation of under-represented groups in the employment market.

And third, is about how we help people to progress in work and to earn more.

Good jobs

So first, let’s look at the quality of employment.

Today’s report focuses on atypical employment.

This looks at employment groups in a different way to the Office for National Statistics. Including part time and self-employed in the same bracket as contract or zero hours workers.

While the self-employed may welcome their categorisation as atypical – a label that emphasises their ability to break the mould and be innovative – part-time workers have been a longstanding part of our labour market. Indeed, rather typical.

That aside, I welcome the report’s detailed analysis that looks at the growth of atypical work at different stages since 2008.

It shows the high growth in atypical work directly following the 2008 crash, but concludes that in the last 2 years the employment boom has been driven largely by full-time roles.

It is worth noting that according to the ONS, of the new jobs created since 2010 around 75% are full-time, permanent and in higher level occupations.

I want to see even more of these type of jobs being created.

The government responded positively to the findings of Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices.

And through the government’s Good Work plan, published in December last year, we are already recognising the need to find the right balance between employees and employers, when it comes to job flexibility and security.

As a part of this, we have brought forward new legislation to upgrade workers’ rights.

Including a day-1 statement of rights for all workers, setting out leave entitlements and pay.

The rise in Artificial Intelligence and automation will continue to disrupt the jobs market.

Indeed, the impact of new technology changing the jobs market has been the one constant through the ages.

The good news is that every industrial revolution has resulted in more jobs being created.

But as some workers feel precarious in their positions, we need to provide certainty for their future, with an offer of building new skills and retraining.

And we will need to be dynamic in our ongoing response to the changing nature of work and the workplace.

Under-represented groups

The changing nature of the world of work leads me to the changing make-up of our workforce.

There are now 10 million workers over the age of 50.

We have seen record numbers of women in work.

Youth unemployment has almost halved since 2010.

Almost a million more disabled people have entered employment since 2013.

And the ethnic minority employment gap is at a record low.

Regardless of circumstance, people are able to access support tailored for their individual needs as they look for work.

It is that support which has delivered the current success in the labour market. And it is an enhanced personalised approach that will see us go further still.

We have older workers’ champions in all our jobcentres, leading the way on finding the right opportunity for those later in life.

We have around 1.2 million potential returners to the work place in the UK – 91% of whom are women. Through specialist return-ship programmes we can support them back into work.

There are specialist disability advisers that work across our jobcentre network. Helping people improve their confidence. Offering financial support for specialist equipment to help them at work.

We have an intensive programme to support young people into employment or training. And we work with schools to assist 12 to 16 year olds who have been identified as most likely to be at risk of becoming NEETs.

As the report has highlighted there has been a strong rise in employment of those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

But if we want to accelerate this progress, we must look at the employment rates between individual ethnic minority groups – not treat them as one.

There is a wide range in the employment rate between different ethnic minority groups and significant disparity in employment rates between men and women.

That is why our national network of jobcentres are offering personalised support.

For example, in Yardley we have been working with women from the British Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities to build their confidence and understanding of what they have to offer.

And I have asked the department to roll out personalised mentoring programmes for young people from ethnic minority communities, in areas where the employment gap is largest.

In-work progression

The kind of tailored support I have referred to is fundamental to the welfare reforms we are making.

And I believe that support should not stop just because someone gets a job.

Supporting people to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder has always been the central focus of my department.

But I want us to go further.

To spend time supporting people to move up the ladder in their earnings and the quality of their job. Helping people to achieve their potential.

If we are going to do this, we are going to need to be world leaders.

Because there is very little evidence of good practice from around the world for us to follow.

And we have already made a start.

We recently completed a large-scale trial on in-work progression involving some of the lowest paid people in the country.

The trial tested the provision of varied levels of support and conditionality for current in-work claimants.

What we found is that after 52 weeks on the trial, participants who received frequent and moderate support from the jobcentre network earned more than those getting minimal support. This is only a start.

We have secured £8 million from the Treasury to develop a programme of research, proofs of concept and trials to develop and test our in-work services.

Some of the potential interventions we will consider exploring include the role of mentoring.

Looking at how we can support the development of the National Retraining Scheme in a partnership with our jobcentres.

Making sure our front-line staff have the skills for this new era of personalised job support.

And looking at what we can do with ‘digital nudges’. Using the new online system to plant the seeds of progression in people’s minds, and offer a practical route to help them get there.

And of course, we are looking at ways in which we can test more place-based approaches, with collaborations between jobcentres and other bodies, such as local authorities.

And we’re keen to see how we can work with those outside of government, including employers.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I welcome some of the key findings of this report, as it highlights the successes in the labour market.

But I am not complacent.

There is more for us to do to drive up the quality of work.

To increase participation from under-represented groups in the labour market.

And to deliver a fundamental and positive shift in in-work progression.

My final point is on Brexit.

I want us to respect the result of the referendum.

But I also believe that a disorderly Brexit presents a real risk to the health of the labour market.

It is a risk which, I hope, all Members of Parliament will consider seriously as they walk through the division lobbies tomorrow.

Thank you.

Greg Clark – 2019 Speech at Launch of the New Toyota Corolla

Below is the text of the speech made by Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, on 14 January 2019.

Hiroki Nakajima, Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge honour and a pleasure to be here to celebrate this success. Dr van Zyl referred to the decision to invest in TNGA. That was a thrilling moment to have that vote of confidence in the future, building on the success of over a quarter of a century of achievements here in Derbyshire.

But it is a particular pleasure to be able to meet team members on the line to see it now going into production and making cars that will be sold not just in this country but around the world. And it is fitting that you have invited what I like to think of as team Toyota here from the plant, from the local community and right across the country and we are all delighted at your success and are determined to make sure it can power forward in the future.

Now the Corolla of course is a historic car. This is a historic moment for a historic car. When it was launched in 1966, it was launched with these words, that it was “The most wanted car by the market – presented to the world by bringing together the essence of Toyota’s technology”. And what we see today through this investment is that those values and those traditions continue.

Right from the outset, it was the Corolla that brought sports car technology to the school run if I can put it that way. It was the first family car with front brake discs. It was the first Japanese car with a floor-mounted gear lever. And the first Japanese car with a 4-speed fully-synchronised manual transmission. Britons, when it was first launched, could own a piece of the future, and this is as true now as it was then.

The Corolla that we are celebrating today is a fitting heir to this tradition of continuing innovation. And as we move into the era of clean technology, the facts that the hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota is being produced here in Derbyshire, and of course in Deeside in North Wales, is a tremendous source of pride to all of us in the United Kingdom.

2,600 people work here, members of Toyota work force here onsite and 600 more in Deeside. But of course, we know that beyond the factory gates so many partners are part of this success and I know that many of them are represented here today. I just wanted to refer to and pay tribute to those who may not have the Toyota brand but are very much part of that success. Adient who supply seats for the vehicles just down the road in Burton-Upon-Trent. I think Garry Linnett is here from Aisin who produce panoramic car roofs. This fantastic innovation that’s going to be appreciated for those endless summer days that we look forward to in the UK.

Kevin Schofield, I think is here from Futaba who produces the weld and sub-assembly parts, and seeing all of these parts come in at short notice, and seeing them so brilliantly deployed in these vehicles, is a real demonstration of the power of the model that Toyota has pioneered and has taught much of the rest of British manufacturing.

So, this has always been a successful partnership. We have drawn and learnt much from Toyota’s presence here. We think this has been a successful joint-collaboration over the years and we are thrilled that it is moving to the next stage.

Dr van Zyl reflected the importance of having those conditions that have been central to success. Having a skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce that we have in abundance here and you always will. But also, to make sure we recognise the importance of public policy that is supportive and backs investments like this. We should be able to continue to trade without introducing any of those frictions that would disrupt what is a perfect process that has been optimised here.

I hear that very strongly. Over the years, the evidence that has been presented by Toyota and other firms within the advanced manufacturing sector in the UK has been instrumental in determining the kind of relationship that we want.

In these days ahead, I will continue to be a strong advocate for that kind of relationship which has been so crucial to our success.

Toyota has done the country a service, in bringing to life the benefits and the actuality of just-in-time production of advanced manufacturing and the benefits that there are to all. We are very grateful for that and we give this commitment; we will always back you, we will always celebrate your success, and we will always listen to you, and to act on what you need to prosper in the future.

Today’s a fantastic day of celebration. It is a huge honour to have been asked to be part of it. Thank you very much indeed for inviting me. I’d like to hand over to the ambassador.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement in House of Commons After Losing Brexit Vote

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 15 January 2019 after losing a key Brexit vote.

Mr Speaker, the House has spoken and the Government will listen.

It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.

People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible. Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity. So with your permission Mr Speaker I would like to set out briefly how the Government intends to proceed.

First, we need to confirm whether this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House. I believe that it does, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote it is right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so. I can therefore confirm that if the Official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. And if, as happened before Christmas, the Official Opposition decline to do so, we will – on this occasion – consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other opposition parties, should they put one forward.

Second, if the House confirms its confidence in this Government I will then hold meetings with my colleagues, our Confidence & Supply partner the DUP and senior Parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House. The Government will approach these meetings in a constructive spirit, but given the urgent need to make progress, we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House. Third, if these meetings yield such ideas, the Government will then explore them with the European Union.

Mr Speaker I want to end by offering two reassurances.

The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to 29th March. That is not our strategy. I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years negotiating such a deal. As you confirmed Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my Right Honourable and Learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield is not legally binding, but the Government respects the will of the House. We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amendable motion by Monday.

The second reassurance is to the British people, who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so.

Mr Speaker every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government has heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask Members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people, who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do just that.