Theresa May – 2010 Speech to Association of Chief Police Officers

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Association of Police Authorities National Conference, in Manchester on 29 June 2010.

Not many people understand the weight of responsibility that rests upon the shoulders of a police chief constable. Like chief executives of large private sector companies, you manage multi-billion pound budgets, lead thousands of men and women, and devise strategies to succeed.

Except, being a chief constable isn’t like being a chief executive at all.

On Wednesday 2 June, Chief Constable Craig Mackey of Cumbria Constabulary went to work and found himself leading an armed police response to Britain’s worst mass shooting since 1996. Just days earlier, his officers had dealt with the tragic school coach crash near Keswick. And at the end of last year, it was Craig Mackey’s men and women who came to the rescue when Cumbria was devastated by floods. Being a chief constable is a job like no other – and I want to start by paying tribute to Craig and to all of you for the work you do.

And let us not forget the work of the members of police authorities up and down the country. We might have our differences about the future of accountability in policing – and I’ll come to that later – but we all recognise the importance of listening to local communities. And I salute you for the dedication and sense of duty with which you serve your communities.

Budgets

I stand before you today as a new Home Secretary in a new government and I am about to tell you something that no Home Secretary has ever said before. I take no pleasure in that fact, because what I have to say is tough.

Our country has the worst budget deficit of any major economy. The public finances are in the biggest mess that any of us have seen in our lifetimes. And as you saw in the budget, that means the Coalition Government is going to have to take tough action.

Like almost all of my colleagues in the cabinet, I have to cut spending in my department. The spending review has not begun yet, so we don’t know the exact figures, but I must be clear. We are not talking about a spending freeze, or a reduction of one or two per cent. The cuts will be big, they will be tough to achieve, and cuts will fall on the police as they will on other important public services.

In the Home Office, I will be ruthless in cutting out waste, streamlining structures and improving efficiency. But these practical measures can only go so far, and together we have to make sure that – despite the cuts – policing must remain visible and available to the public.

Value for money

So we are going to have to make sure that every penny of your budgets is spent in the most useful possible way. As I told the Police Federation conference last month, we will honour the existing pay deal for police officers negotiated with my predecessors. And we will stand by the deal for other police staff too.

But we have to be realistic about what we can afford, so we will also undertake a review of police terms and conditions. Let me be crystal clear from the beginning: police officers and staff need to be ready, along with the rest of the public sector, to make sacrifices and accept pay restraint. It cannot be right, for example, that police overtime has become institutionalised. We may not win popularity contests for asking these difficult questions, but it is time for them to be asked.

I want to work with you, the leaders of our police forces and members of police authorities, to make sure we get value for money wherever we can. I’ve said before that I don’t want to run the police, and I don’t – but there is no need to do everything 43 different ways.

So in tandem with our reforms to make the police more accountable to their local communities, I am considering what matters should be delivered for the service nationally. For example, does it really make sense to buy in police cars, uniforms and IT systems in 43 different ways? Where central procurement is consistent with our desire to devolve responsibility and accountability downwards, and it saves money for the taxpayer, we will encourage it and facilitate it.

I know that some of you have argued for mergers between police forces. I understand the operational advantages of large forces, particularly in relation to the most serious forms of criminal activity. But let’s get one thing straight: this government believes strongly in building strong local communities and giving the people who live in these communities a major role in the planning and delivery of the public services they use. In keeping with this belief in local democratic accountability, police force mergers will not be allowed to happen unless they are voluntary and unless they have the support of local communities.

But of course, there is a lot that police forces can do in terms of sharing back office functions and procurement. And, to that end, I welcome ACPO’s offer to produce a national plan for the way the service does business. I’m eager to hear over the coming weeks from ACPO and the APA what progress has been made in putting together a project to meet the financial challenges of the future.

I want that plan to look at what other matters are best reserved and what essential functions – such as criminal justice units, call handling and training – can be delivered more cheaply and effectively with other forces or partners. And I want that plan to identify where collaboration can strengthen the police response to terrorism, organised criminality and threats to the public that cut across force boundaries.

We need to understand too the potential benefits of outsourcing, and not just in areas like human resources and finance. Some forces have already shown substantial savings in things like custody management.

The ACPO plan will need to look critically at the size of these functions and the number of officers deployed. I am determined that frontline availability should increase even as budgets contract. I acknowledge that increasing the visibility and productivity of officers, PCSOs and other staff is a major challenge. But I firmly believe that it is a challenge that chief constables can – and must – meet.

The matter of deployment and availability will be examined by HMIC in their value for money inspections later this year. And we will make sure that the review of remuneration and conditions of service recommends ways we can give chief constables more discretion over how to use their workforce flexibly and cost-effectively.

Liberating the police to get officers onto the beat

Because we need to think creatively about how to get officers from behind desks and onto the streets. And I’m pleased to say that we have, in our short time in government, already made some progress.

We have long promised to scrap the ‘stop and account’ form in its entirety and reduce the burden of the stop and search procedures. I can announce today that these important commitments will be delivered by the end of the year.

In my speech to the Police Federation, I promised to return charging decisions to the police for a broader range of minor offences. And I can announce today that there will be a phased rollout of the new arrangements from November.

Essex, London, Thames Valley, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire have been testing these new charging arrangements. When they are rolled out across the whole country, up to 80,000 cases a year will be returned to the discretion of police officers.

And I can also announce today that I am also scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge with immediate effect.

I know that some officers like the policing pledge, and some, I’m sure, like the comfort of knowing they’ve ticked boxes. But targets don’t fight crime; targets hinder the fight against crime. In scrapping the confidence target and the policing pledge, I couldn’t be any clearer about your mission: it isn’t a thirty-point plan; it is to cut crime. No more, and no less.

I know that the Home Office hasn’t been the only guilty partner in creating all this bureaucracy. The criminal justice system can waste officers’ time, and I know that Nick Herbert, who is not only a minister in the Home Office but also the Ministry of Justice, is keen to hear your ideas about how to make it more efficient. Nick is going to be here all week, and is anxious to hear your views on this and any other subject that is bothering you. So please do make sure you speak to him.

But we have to face the fact that some of this bureaucracy also stems from the forces themselves. When times are tight, when we are removing red tape imposed by the Home Office, it simply cannot be right that this bureaucracy is reinstated at a local level. Nor can it be right for remaining paperwork to be goldplated by forces. So I call on all of you, chief constables and police authority members alike, to take the same, radical approach to cutting bureaucracy as we are taking in Whitehall.

The announcements I have made today are by no means exhaustive, and I want to hear from you about what else we can do to help you do your jobs more efficiently and effectively. Tell me precisely where bureaucracy is making your life harder for no benefit, and I will do whatever I can to change it.

But the truth is that if we are going to make the police more visible, more available, and more accountable to the public you serve, then we have to go beyond these changes. We have to look again at the driver of all this bureaucracy, and that is the top-down model of accountability imposed on police by government.

Swapping bureaucratic accountability for democratic accountability
That is government’s way of doing things. Ask a bureaucrat to do something and he’ll create bureaucracy. It’s not really a surprise, is it? But we can’t sweep away the targets, initiatives and paperwork and leave nothing in their place. The police, like every public service, have to remain accountable. But they do not have to be accountable to bureaucrats in Whitehall – they should be accountable to the people they serve in their communities. So we will swap the top-down, bureaucratic accountability for local, democratic accountability, as we promised to do in the Coalition Agreement, and indeed as was promised in the manifestos of both Coalition partners.

It means a directly-elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing – and if necessary removing – the local chief constable.

It means publishing accurate local crime data, so that maps can be produced showing exactly what crimes have been committed where.

It means regular beat meetings for local communities to hold their neighbourhood policing teams to account. And I give you this assurance: none of these changes will compromise the foundation stone of British policing, your operational independence.

That is the deal I am offering to you. I haven’t had time today to do more than outline some of its main principles. In the next few months, Nick Herbert and I will be in listening mode – and I urge you to use this opportunity to tell us how you think that these general principles should best be implemented.

Later this summer, we will be bringing forward detailed proposals and introducing the necessary legislation to be implemented in this session of Parliament. Some of you will no doubt argue that this timetable is too ambitious. Some have suggested that what we should do is set up a Royal Commission to think about these matters for a couple of years.

Frankly, these issues are too important to be put on the back burner. In this age of spending cuts and policing on a budget, our programme of police reform becomes more urgent, not less. So we will get on with the job.

Our vision is a bold one, with a totally redrawn national policing landscape: more collaboration between forces, a review into the role and remit of the NPIA, a border police force as part of a refocused Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and, of course, directly-elected individuals to deliver local accountability. And I want you, the senior police officers, to think sensibly about a clearer and more transparent leadership role for ACPO in this landscape.

Conclusions

Times might be tough, and money might be tight, but there is no reason to check our ambition.

What I have outlined today is a real plan to cut crime and anti-social behaviour. It’s not – as we’ve been used to – a bureaucratic checklist we expect police officers to follow. It’s a plan that gives responsibility to the police, accountability to the public, and the clearest sense of direction possible: your job is nothing more, and nothing less, than to cut crime. And I will do everything I can to help you do so.

Theresa May – 2010 Statement on Police Reform

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, on 29 June 2010.

I am today setting out some further details of the government’s approach to police reform. Policing governance has become distorted and over-centralised in recent years and the government is committed to ensuring that accountability and transparency are firmly at the heart of policing.

The first step for reform must be the return of proper operational responsibility to chief constables and their teams and that for this to work effectively there needs to be a redesign of the current performance landscape. The police service needs more freedom from central control – fewer centrally driven targets and less intervention and interference from government. That is why I am announcing that we are abolishing the centrally imposed target on police forces to improve public confidence and we will scrap the Policing Pledge. Police forces need to be
accountable instead to their communities.

To achieve greater accountability, the public need better information about their police and about local crime. This is why we will make sure that crime data is published at a level that allows the public to see what is happening on their streets, enabling the public to hold the police and other local agencies to account for how they are dealing with problems in their area. We will also require police forces to hold regular ‘beat meetings’ to provide residents with the opportunity to put forward their concerns and hold the police to account.

In the future, the establishment of a directly elected individual at force level, setting the force budget, agreeing the local strategic plan, playing a role in wider questions of community safety and appointing – and if necessary removing – the local chief constable, will strengthen local accountability for policing. We will publish further details on our reform of policing later in the summer, which will assist our discussions with the public and our partners, and inform the government’s preparations for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill in the autumn.

Theresa May – 2010 Statement on English Language Requirement

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the then Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 9 June 2010.

I wish to inform the House that I am today announcing the introduction of a new English language requirement for migrants applying to come to or stay in the UK as a spouse. Changes to the immigration rules will be laid before Parliament to bring this policy into effect in the autumn.

Non-European migrants joining a British citizen or non-European national settled in the UK will have to demonstrate a basic command of English in order to be considered for a visa. The rules will apply to spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, same sex partners, fiances and proposed civil partners, and will be compulsory for people applying from within the UK, as well as visa applicants overseas.

The Government believe that speaking English should be a pre-requisite for those wishing to settle here. This new English requirement for spouses will help promote the economic well-being of the UK, for example by encouraging integration and protecting public services. It will assist in removing cultural barriers, broaden opportunities for migrants and help to ensure that they are equipped to play a full part in British life.

This is only the first step. We are reviewing English language requirements across the immigration system with a view to tightening the rules further in the future. We will inform the House of our conclusions in due course.

Today’s announcement is one of a range of new measures the Government will be taking to ensure that immigration is properly controlled for the benefit of the UK. These include an annual limit on non-EEA migrants coming to the UK to live and work and measures to minimise abuse of the immigration system, for example via student routes.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement at European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the European Council on 11 April 2019.

I have just met with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, where I agreed an extension to the Brexit process to the end of October at the latest.

I continue to believe we need to leave the EU, with a deal, as soon as possible.

And vitally, the EU have agreed that the extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified — which was my key request of my fellow leaders.

For example, this means that, if we are able to pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, we will not have to take part in European Elections and will officially leave the EU on Saturday, 1st June.

During the course of the extension, the European Council is clear that the UK will continue to hold full membership rights, as well as its obligations.

As I said in the room tonight, there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

Let me conclude by saying this.

I know that there is huge frustration from many people that I had to request this extension.

The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal which would allow the UK to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

But the choices we now face are stark and the timetable is clear.

So we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

Tomorrow I will be making a statement to the House of Commons.

Further talks will also take place between the Government and the Opposition to seek a way forward.

I do not pretend the next few weeks will be easy or that there is a simple way to break the deadlock in Parliament.

But we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

Nothing is more pressing or more vital.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on European Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, to the House of Commons on 11 April 2019.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on yesterday’s European Council.

But before I do, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan Police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He has also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States authorities.

This is now a legal matter before the courts. My Right Honourable Friend the Home Secretary will make a Statement on this later, but I would like to thank the Metropolitan Police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and to welcome the co-operation of the Ecuadorian government in bringing this matter to a resolution.

Mr Speaker, this goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law.

Turning to the Council, my priority is to deliver Brexit – and to do so in an orderly way that does not disrupt people’s lives.

So I continue to believe we need to leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

And of course, this House has voted repeatedly to avoid a No Deal.

Yet despite the efforts of Members on all sides, we have not so far been able to vote for a deal.

So ahead of the Council, I wrote to President Tusk to seek a short extension to the Article 50 period to 30th June.

Critically, I also requested that any extension should be terminable – so that whenever this House agrees a deal and ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement, we can get on and leave.

And I did this not merely to avoid a further delay beyond ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement – but specifically to retain our ability to leave the EU without having to hold European Parliamentary elections on the 23rd May.

Mr Speaker, the discussions at the Council were difficult and unsurprisingly many of our European partners share the deep frustration that I know so many of us feel in this House over the current impasse.

There was a range of views about the length of an extension with a large number of Member States preferring a longer extension to the end of this year or even into the next.

In the end what was agreed by the UK and the EU27 was a compromise – an extension lasting until the end of October.

The Council also agreed that we would update on our progress at the next meeting in June.

Critically – as I requested – the Council agreed that this extension can be terminated when the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

So, for example, if we were to pass a deal by 22nd May, we would not have to take part in European elections. And when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11pm on 31st May.

In short, the date of our departure from the EU – and our participation in the European Parliamentary Elections – remains a decision for this House.

As President Tusk said last night: “During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands.”

In agreeing this extension, there was some discussion in the Council about whether stringent conditions should be imposed on the UK for its EU membership during this period.

But I argued against this.

I put the case that there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations.

The Council conclusions are clear that during the course of the extension the UK will continue to hold full membership rights.

In turn, I assured my fellow leaders that the UK will continue to be bound by all our ongoing obligations as a Member State, including the duty of sincere co-operation.

The United Kingdom plays a responsible and constructive role on the world stage – and we always will.

That is the kind of country we are.

The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear.

I believe we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest.

I welcome the discussions that have taken place with the Opposition in recent days – and the further talks which are resuming today.

This is not the normal way of British politics – and it is uncomfortable for many in both the Government and Opposition parties.

Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful it will require both sides to make compromises.

But however challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both front benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for. And I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.

I hope that we can reach an agreement on a single unified approach that we can put to the House for approval.

But if we cannot do so soon, then we will seek to agree a small number of options for the future relationship that we will put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.

And as I have made clear before, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House. But to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.

With the House’s consent, we could also bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – which is a necessary element of any deal, whichever course we take.

This Bill will take time to pass through both Houses, so if we want to get on with leaving, we need to start this process soon.

And it could also provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship.

Crucially, Mr Speaker, any agreement on the future relationship may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the Political Declaration.

So I am pleased that at this Council, all 27 Member States responded to my update on the ongoing cross-party talks by agreeing that – “the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in its guidelines and statements.”

The Council also reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement itself could not be reopened.

Mr Speaker, I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has not still been completed.

I never wanted to seek this extension – and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way.

I know too that this whole debate is putting Members on all sides of the House under immense pressure and causing uncertainty across the country.

And we need to resolve this.

So let us use the opportunity of the Recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse.

So that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible.

So that we can avoid having to hold those European Parliamentary elections.

And above all, so that we can fulfil the democratic decision of the Referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.

This is our national duty as elected members of this House – and nothing today is more pressing or more vital.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on Brexit Negotiations

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 6 April 2019.

Delivering Brexit has been my priority ever since I became Prime Minister and it remains so today. I want the UK to leave the EU in an orderly way as soon as possible and that means leaving in a way that does not disrupt people’s lives.

My strong preference was to do that by winning a majority in Parliament for the agreement the UK reached with the EU last November. I did everything in my power to persuade the Conservative and DUP MPs who form the government’s majority to back that deal – including securing legally-binding changes to address MPs’ concerns with it.

But that deal was rejected three times by Parliament and there is no sign it can be passed in the near future. So I had to take a new approach.

Because Parliament has made clear it will stop the UK leaving without a deal, we now have a stark choice: leave the European Union with a deal or do not leave at all.

My answer to that is clear: we must deliver Brexit and to do so we must agree a deal. If we cannot secure a majority among Conservative and DUP MPs we have no choice but to reach out across the House of Commons.

The referendum was not fought along party lines and people I speak to on the doorstep tell me they expect their politicians to work together when the national interest demands it. The fact is that on Brexit there are areas where the two main parties agree: we both want to end free movement, we both want to leave with a good deal, and we both want to protect jobs.

That is the basis for a compromise that can win a majority in Parliament and winning that majority is the only way to deliver Brexit.

The longer this takes, the greater the risk of the UK never leaving at all. It would mean letting the Brexit the British people voted for slip through our fingers. I will not stand for that. It is essential we deliver what people voted for and to do that we need to get a deal over the line.

To achieve this I will go to Brussels this week to seek a short extension to Article 50. My intention is to reach an agreement with my fellow EU leaders that will mean if we can agree a deal here at home we can leave the EU in just six weeks.

We can then get on with building a new relationship with our nearest neighbours that will unlock the full potential of Brexit and deliver the brighter future that the British people voted for.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement at Serious Violence Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at 10, Downing Street, London on 1 April 2019.

Good morning everyone.

Thank you very much for coming here to Number 10 today to discuss tackling the issue that is a top priority for government and for the organisations who are represented here around this table. But perhaps more important, it’s an issue that families, and young people and communities across the country, are concerned about and want to see us tackling.

And in the recent months we’ve seen an appalling number of young lives that have been cut short or devastated by serious violent crime, including a number of horrifying incidents which took place just over this weekend. And as we look at what’s happened of course what we also see is that in many cases the perpetrators of these crimes are as young as our victims. And this is something that has to be of deep concern to us all.

It is a challenge that collectively affects us as a society, and it is a challenge that as a society we need to rise up to and to act to deal with.

And not deal with as individuals in isolation – as single organisations or single politicians or individuals in the community – but actually dealing with it in a great, co-ordinated, wide-reaching and long-term effort. With all of us coming together to address this issue.

Of course we would always make sure that the resources and tools are there to be able to apprehend and deal with those who are carrying and using knives, and the police have what they need to do – but we cannot simply arrest ourselves out of this problem.

This is a wider problem. It’s more deep seated and we need to have a more coordinated effort in response to it.

If you think about it, if it was a devastating disease that was affecting young people yes, we would be treating the symptoms but we would also be asking ourselves the question of what is the underlying cause.

And that is that in relation to this issue we need to take the same approach to the cancer of serious youth violence.

It is more than just law enforcement.

And that is what this week’s summit is about. It’s about bringing together people from different aspects of society, with different responsibilities ,with different experience to ensure that we can build on the work that’s being done as in the Serious Violence Summit, and the Youth Endowment Fund, but also to make sure we come together in this multiagency, whole-community approach to serious youth violence.

And that’s where of course this approach, often referred to as the “public health approach”, is one of the things we want to be discussing this week.

That’s where everybody is working together across the system in multiple agencies – sharing information – but crucially making sure that every contact counts.

And to help make that happen, today we’ve launched a consultation on a public duty that would underpin such an approach.

I can also announce that we are setting up a new Ministerial Taskforce that will co-ordinate the government’s role and make sure all departments are playing their part. It needs, again, to be a collective approach across government as it is between government and other organisations.

And there will be a new Serious Violence Team which will be set up in the Cabinet Office as well which will have representatives from across government to ensure join-up, and will also be well-placed to assist local areas as they build operational equivalents in their own Violence Reduction Units.

In a moment I’ll ask the Home Secretary to talk a little more about the size and scope of the challenge we face and the work we have already undertaken to tackle it.

But first we will hear from some of the experts who have joined us today.

I’m grateful to everybody around the table because everybody has come with expertise and understanding and experience of this issue. We have sitting around the table people who have delivered transformational change and real reductions in violence across the UK and the US.

So let me introduce Professor Mark Bellis, from Public Health Wales, and Dr Jens Ludwig, from the Chicago and New York Data Labs. I know you’ve travelled to be here today so thank you – particularly to Dr Ludwig for travelling as far as you have to be with us here today. We want to be able to learn from you and I know that in the chat that I’ve had with Mark in the past about the different roles and the importance of the work that you’ve done, and we very much look forward to learning from both of you.

Nothing that is said today of course will bring back the young people whose lives have been so cruelly taken by serious violence.

But what we can do today is to send a very clear message that “this must stop” and a very clear message that collectively we will do everything we can to make sure that it stops.

And we can begin to shape this new approach that will meet the scourge of youth violence head on, so that more families are spared the unimaginable suffering that sadly too many families have endured in recent months.

So with that I’ll pass over to Jens.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on Extending Article 50

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at 10, Downing Street in London on 2 April 2019.

I have just come from chairing seven hours of Cabinet meetings focused on finding a route out of the current impasse – one that will deliver the Brexit the British people voted for, and allow us to move on and begin bringing our divided country back together.

I know there are some who are so fed up with delay and endless arguments that they would like to leave with No Deal next week.

I have always been clear that we could make a success of No Deal in the long-term.

But leaving with a deal is the best solution.

So we will need a further extension of Article 50 – one that is as short as possible and which ends when we pass a deal.

And we need to be clear what such an extension is for – to ensure we leave in a timely and orderly way.

This debate, this division, cannot drag on much longer.

It is putting Members of Parliament and everyone else under immense pressure – and it is doing damage to our politics.

Despite the best efforts of MPs, the process that the House of Commons has tried to lead has not come up with an answer.

So today I am taking action to break the logjam: I am offering to sit down with the Leader of the Opposition and to try to agree a plan – that we would both stick to – to ensure that we leave the European Union and that we do so with a deal.

Any plan would have to agree the current Withdrawal Agreement – it has already been negotiated with the 27 other members, and the EU has repeatedly said that it cannot and will not be reopened.

What we need to focus on is our Future Relationship with the EU.

The ideal outcome of this process would be to agree an approach on a Future Relationship that delivers on the result of the Referendum, that both the Leader of the Opposition and I could put to the House for approval, and which I could then take to next week’s European Council.

However, if we cannot agree on a single unified approach, then we would instead agree a number of options for the Future Relationship that we could put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue.

Crucially, the Government stands ready to abide by the decision of the House.

But to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this too.

The Government would then bring forward the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. We would want to agree a timetable for this Bill to ensure it is passed before 22nd May so that the United Kingdom need not take part in European Parliamentary Elections.

This is a difficult time for everyone.

Passions are running high on all sides of the argument.

But we can and must find the compromises that will deliver what the British people voted for.

This is a decisive moment in the story of these islands.

And it requires national unity to deliver the national interest.

Theresa May – 2019 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 29 March 2019.

On a point of order Mr Speaker, I think it should be a matter of profound regret to every member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion.

The implications of the House’s decision are grave.

The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April.

In just 14 days’ time.

This is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal, and yet the House has been clear it will not permit leaving without a deal.

And so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.

The European Union has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear purpose and will need to be agreed unanimously by the heads of the other 27 member States ahead of 12 April.

It is also almost certain to involve the UK being required to hold European parliamentary elections.

On Monday, this House will continue the process to see if there is a stable majority for a particular alternative version of our future relationship with the EU.Of course, all of the options will require the withdrawal agreement.

Mr Speaker, I fear we are reaching the limits of this process in this House.

This House has rejected no deal. It has rejected no Brexit. On Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table.

And today it has rejected approving the withdrawal agreement alone and continuing a process on the future.

This government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands.

Theresa May – 2019 Offer of Resignation

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at a meeting of Conservative MPs on 27 March 2019.

This has been a testing time for our country and our party. We’re nearly there. We’re almost ready to start a new chapter and build that brighter future.

But before we can do that, we have to finish the job in hand. As I say, I don’t tour the bars and engage in the gossip – but I do make time to speak to colleagues, and I have a great team in the Whips’ Office. I also have two excellent PPSs (parliamentary private secretaries).

And I have heard very clearly the mood of the parliamentary party. I know there is a desire for a new approach – and new leadership – in the second phase of the Brexit negotiations and I won’t stand in the way of that.

I know some people are worried that if you vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, I will take that as a mandate to rush on into phase two without the debate we need to have. I won’t – I hear what you are saying.

But we need to get the deal through and deliver Brexit.

I am prepared to leave this job earlier than I intended in order to do what is right for our country and our party.

I ask everyone in this room to back the deal so we can complete our historic duty – to deliver on the decision of the British people and leave the European Union with a smooth and orderly exit.