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.