o Brussels, back to Brussels again. We’re back and forward there today. Nigel Farage is waiting for us there. Angela Smith says, “No one can say that parliament hasn’t voted to deliver the spirit of the referendum result.” What do you say to that?
Utter nonsense. I mean, look: we voted to leave in a referendum when every leading proponent on both the leave and remain side said the consequence of voting leave was to leave the European Union, the single market, and the customs union. That could not have been clearer.
We then had a general election. Eighty-five percent of people voted for parties saying they would respect the result of the referendum. We then had 500 MPs vote for Article 50 to say we leave on March the 29th, 11:00 p.m. UK time with or without a deal.
What we’ve seen is a country, a leave-voting country that, in many ways, is more resolute in that view than it was back at the time of the referendum, and a remain parliament trying to frustrate it every inch of the way.
Except that quite a lot of Brexiteers are voting against the May deal too, and if the Brexiteers weren’t voting against it, it may actually get through.
The role of parliament is interesting. Stick with us, Nigel Farage, because I just pay a bit … Speaker Bercow has just made a statement almost in response to the Prime Minister’s statement last night. Let’s listen to this, and then I’ll get your reaction.
None of you is a traitor. All of you are doing your best. This should not be, and I’m sure will not prove to be, a matter of any controversy whatsoever.
Never miss an opportunity to insert yourself in the story.
Nigel Farage, “MPs are not traitors.”
Well, I’ve never used that word. Deceitful, dishonest, and many others. I’ve never gone as far as calling people traitors.
Look, we… Not only did those MPs vote for Article 50 under terms which were very, very clear, but we’ve also had a Prime Minister telling us over 100 times, we are leaving on March the 29th. If we do not leave on March the 29th, it is a betrayal of the greatest democratic exercise in the history of this nation.
The problem here, of course, is the Prime Minister because there she is giving her speech to the nation, saying, “I’m on your side,” as if she’s the one pushing Brexit. Andrew, I get tired of hearing commentators talking about Mrs. May’s deal. It is not a deal. It is a treaty, a new legally-binding international treaty. We’re leaving one treaty for another, and the one she wants us to sign up to is even worse than the one we’re just leaving. So let’s just leave with no deal. And believe you me …
So should we just stay in then? [crosstalk 00:03:04]
I mean, if the only option’s worse than the status quo, maybe we should just stay in, and just regard the past three years as it actually never happened.
How’s the march going, Nigel?
Oh, very well indeed, and I must say-
Have you got more than 150 people? How many have you employed to go on your march?
By the way, Anna Soubry, you’re the one that said you respected the result of the referendum, and we are leaving-
I do. That’s why I voted trigger Article 50.
And now you’ve changed your mind.
No, I haven’t.
And isn’t it funny to see that-
It’s funny how you don’t listen. You don’t listen.
Let him finish, and then I’ll come back.
It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t listen anyway.
The People’s Vote campaign, who said they were campaigning for a second referendum, have now today gone all out for revocation of Article 50.
Well, I don’t speak for the People’s Vote campaign-
I guess if there was a measure-
I speak for me, and I speak for my constituents, which you don’t because you keep being failed to get elected into parliament. You are the ultimate member of the political elite-
You really must be-
Now let’s have less of your nonsense-
You’ve had lots of training from Alastair Campbell.
… because I can tell you about the rhetoric of the likes of you Mr. Farage.
New Labour, New Labour lies. Alastair Campbell. Well done.
Alright, okay. Well I’m not a member of New Labour. But I tell you what I am-
You probably should’ve been Labour from the very start.
Can I just say something?
But it’s been fascinating to see the People’s Vote now want a revocation of Article 50. Maybe if there is a vote in parliament to be had next week, why not give MPs the choice, revoke Article 50, or leave with no deal?
Let’s have an intelligent conversation.
That then would be-
Well that’s some interesting choices. That would be called… what do we call it-
A real choice.
… a binary choice.
No, no. Let’s have enough of Mr. Farage’s nonsense, and let’s get into the real world. In the real world, people like me voted to trigger Article 50 to honor the referendum result. I’ve never actually cast a vote that anybody could say was trying to stop Brexit.
I’m tired of these lies, and I’m tired of this rhetoric. I’ll tell you one of the reasons why, is because I’m tired of the abuse and the death threats that many of us receive to the point whereby, actually, Mr. Farage is succeeding in shutting people up.
Dear, oh dear, oh dear.
But the real matter is this. It’s never been the case that parliament, in my view, can stop Brexit. It is only the case that it has to go back to the British people, and they’re entitled to have a say on Brexit, a say on Mrs. May’s deal. He’s right.
That’s where we do agree. It’s not a deal. They’re entitled to have that, and they’re entitled to change their minds.
Alright, let me go back to-
I just think it’s important to get it over with.
Many millions are now changing their minds.
I need to bring Joanna Cherry in in a minute, but before I do, Nigel Farage, I’ll let you respond to that.
Look, you know, it’s perfectly clear, Anna Soubry has broken her promise to her electors. Everything in public she’s said she’s now going against. She wants a second referendum.
That’s not true. That’s a lie.
That campaign that she’s associated with have now, as I say, gone out today, all out, for the revocation of Article 50. If there is to be a parliamentary showdown, let’s have it. [crosstalk 00:05:59]
Right. Let’s go back to your campaign where you call people like me traitors-
Alright, well we’re on this… no, no, no. Anna Soubry, you’ve had. I’m sorry, this-
Prime Minister pulled it, and let it be [crosstalk 00:06:04]
… end up with people like me not being able to go to my home tonight because-
This is not the Anna Soubry hour. Joanna Cherry.
I would’ve thought, as a former Belgian prime minister, you would know that it was Field Marshal Haig in 1914 who saved the Belgian town of Ypres from German domination, who then went on in 1918 to lead Britain in its greatest ever military feat defeating imperial Germany on the western front. Far from mocking Haig, as a Belgian, he should be a great hero to you, but never mind. Maybe that sums up your anti-British-ness.
Sticking with Belgium, I thought what happened at the summit last week was a national humiliation, an impasse, because we have, in Mrs. May, a prime minister who hasn’t got the courage, who hasn’t got the vision to carry out her many repeated promises, namely, to take us out of the European Union this Friday, March the 29th. It is not happening.
We’re witnessing a slow motion betrayal, perhaps the greatest betrayal of any democratic vote in the history of our nation. The reason, of course, is this withdrawal treaty.
I’ll go back to First World War. We won the war, but we had the Treaty of Versailles, and this treaty is the modern day equivalent. We have a reparations bill of 39 billion pounds we have to pay for nothing in return. We have the annexation of a part of our national territory in the shape of Northern Ireland. This treaty is a bad piece. It is unacceptable. It is not Brexit, and it will not pass.
Now, I know that you’re all getting terribly excited about what the House of Commons may do over the course of the next week. We know what they’ll do. They’ll come back with some form of agreement around a customs union and the continued free movement of people. Even if they do that, the one thing that’s inevitable is that we’re headed for an Article 50 extension. I think you should ask yourselves, do you really want that?
Do you really want Brexit to utterly dominate the next couple of years of your business, to the exclusion of your many other ambitions? Do you really want the United Kingdom to contest the European elections, to send back a very large number of leave MEPs, just at a time when you’re fighting populism, as you see it, across the continent? Do you really want me back in this place?
Well, there we are.
And all for what? Because Brexit is going to happen anyway. Mr. Tusk, if you think the British people have changed their minds on Brexit, you, sir, are deluded because actually what we now see are opinion poll leads of 15, and in some cases nearly 20%, in favor of leaving. If we had another referendum, leave would win it by a bigger margin. So why put yourselves through years of agony?
I pay great tribute to Mr. Juncker, to Mr. Barnier, to the European Commission. You have prepared your no-deal scenario. It is highly professional. It shows that, actually, leaving with no deal is not going to cause huge disruption. It even suggests that, with no deal, there’s no need for a visible border in Ireland.
So I would say to you, do all of you national leaders reject the British extension beyond the 12th of April? Get Britain out, and then we can all just get on with the rest of our lives.
Good evening from Westminster where the Prime Minister has told Conservative MPs that she will leave Downing Street if they finally back her Brexit agreement. Her statement prompted Boris Johnson and others who’ve been extremely critical of the deal to say they will now come on board. The Prime Minister’s deal could be brought back to the Commons by the end of this week.
But tonight, Mrs. May’s parliamentary partners, the Democratic Unionists in Northern Ireland, said that they still could not support the deal. During the evening, the House of Commons has been exploring its own preferred options on Brexit, but has failed to find a majority on any of them.
First tonight, our political editor, Laura Kuenssberg reports on Mrs. May’s offer.
5:00: hardly a Tory MP to be seen on the green benches, waiting for their leader, not knowing if she was ready to say she’d leave the black door for a final time.
Hundreds of her MPs crammed into a room upstairs.
It was hot and steamy in there. There was quite a lot of emotion.
There was no whooping and hollering. No one takes any great pleasure in what’s happened.
She made a really sad, but highly-charged, emotional speech.
So packed, cabinet ministers couldn’t even get inside.
I just managed to squeeze into a very crowded committee room, and get in and saw her make the announcement. It was actually a very moving statement. She was very clearly making the case that, “Look, if this is what it takes to get the deal over the line”… which she believes, rightly in my view, that is in the national interest… “then I will go once Brexit is done.”
It’s a sacrifice Number 10 hopes that has a purpose to reverse the fierce Brexiteer opposition to the compromise Theresa May worked out with the European Union so they can have another vote, another try to get it through in the next 48 hours.
We can guarantee delivering on Brexit if, this week, he and others in this house support the deal.
The Prime Minister is failing to deliver Brexit because she can’t build a consensus, is unable to compromise, and unable to reunite the country. She is unable to resolve the central issues facing Britain today, and she is, frankly, unable to govern.
Forget Prime Minister’s questions, though.
Thank you. It’s been amazing.
The question tonight is how many Tory opponents of the deal can Theresa May’s promise shift?
Do you wish you had changed your mind sooner, Mr. Rees-Mogg?
Some big name Brexiteers were already on the move.
I preferred leaving without a deal, but once that had gone, as I say, I was willing to back Mrs. May’s deal. She has now said that, once the deal has gone through, if it does go through, then she will stand down, which I think shows her inner nobility.
I am very worried that we might lose Brexit. I have campaigned for Brexit, and I think the alternatives are looking increasingly unattractive. I am encouraged that she has accepted that we should have a new leader for that second stage when it comes. So yes, I think I would now vote for the agreement.
But there’s a hard core, enough, perhaps, to block her still.
She is not… we universally agree… the best prime minister we’ve had and not the right person for stage two. The reason I’m not happy is that the deal… even part one, which she’s absolutely adamant that gets signed before she goes… takes us back into Europe, not out of Europe.
What price for DUP support?
And it’s almost impossible to imagine this deal getting over the line without the Prime Minister’s allies she invited into Number 10 back in the summer of 2017. The Northern Irish Unionists are meant to keep the government afloat. Not budging. Not this time.
The backstop in that withdrawal agreement makes it impossible for us to sign up to the withdrawal agreement, and you know what? I regret that because we wanted to get a deal: a deal that worked for the whole of the United Kingdom, a deal that worked for Northern Ireland. But now we’re in a situation where we cannot sign up to the withdrawal agreement, and it’s all because the Prime Minister decided to go for that backstop.
The Prime Minister told her MPs tonight, just up there, she’s ready to pay the highest price, to give up office early, in a grand bargain for support to pass her Brexit deal. Without support from her Northern Irish allies, it may prove to be another failure. The dilemma may be answered, not by Theresa May, but by parliament itself.
Parliament’s warming up to make the decisions, tonight voting itself on an alphabet of different versions of Brexit, whether for a closer relationship with the EU than the Prime Minister plans, or even to leave without a deal. But even having said she’d quit, the Prime Minister walked in to hear “no” to option after option.
So the noes have it.
No majority for anything at all. Whether it is, in the end, the Prime Minister’s deal or a variation cooked up by MPs, Brexit has steeped bitterness in yet another generation of Conservative MPs.
I think it’s very strange for people who have the most heartfelt objections to this deal and all areas of principle, but someone says they’ll fall on their sword, and, “Oh, that’s okay then.”
You think it might be about the future leadership of your party?
I couldn’t imagine. Imagine, imagine.
I’ll tell you what, it might be for some of them, but those people who’ve played the games they’ve been playing won’t be getting my support, and I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure those that have put their leadership ambitions ahead of the interest of the country, are the people who do least well when any ballot comes.
The Prime Minister may hope her bargain could bring new order, but we can’t know that yet. What’s certain is Theresa May has become another Tory leader whose time in office was pulled apart by anguish over Europe.
Well, lots of significant developments to talk about today. We’ll talk to our Europe editor, Katya Adler, in Brussels in a moment, but first let’s have more from Laura who’s with me at Westminster. Let’s talk about the Prime Minister’s gesture offer, whatever you want to call it. Is that going to do the trick in terms of her deal?
Not as things stand, Huw, particularly because the DUP, her Northern Irish allies, who she signed up with all those months ago in the wake of the general election, are not yet ready to come on board. They’ve been crystal clear about that. Now, never say never. It’s not impossible that, in the next 48 hours or in the coming weeks or even in the coming months, in the end they might come around to a version of Theresa May’s deal.
But as things stand, it seems that this big gesture, the biggest weapon in any prime minister’s armory, seems to have fired a dud. That said, things have been so fluid here tonight, so fluid today, and so fluid, really, for a number of days, I wouldn’t rule out anything happening that we, at the moment, can predict. In the last half hour, parliament has showed itself still unable to agree on any better option.
So, surprising that there wasn’t a majority for anything tonight, but the message that might send to some of the people who are thinking about backing the Prime Minister but are reluctant to do so, is perhaps that might be the only thing they would be able to get on board with. But if I were Number 10, and I’d been thinking this could be a genius last roll of the dice, so far it’s a gamble that is not certain to pay off at all.
We’ll talk about the parliamentary votes just in a short while, Laura. Thanks very much. I want to go to Brussels and bring in Katya. Katya, what’s the perspective there in Brussels on, not just on Mrs. May’s gesture or offer, but also on the parliamentary votes that have just been announced in the past hour or so?
Well look, Hugh, I think, like in the UK, the EU finds itself in a kind of agonizing holding pattern now, waiting for something definitive to happen in Westminster. All this waiting, the uncertainty, affecting European businesses and European citizens, the EU finds all of this really frustrating.
What I found was, there was a real contrast in moods tonight between the EU and the UK. In Westminster, there was a certain buzz, a dynamism, MPs trying to do their bit to affect the direction of Brexit, whereas here in Brussels, throughout the evening, the mood has been really dark. EU leaders still look at the divisions in parliament and in government, and they fear that the creeping inevitability of a no-deal Brexit.
Of course, they’d be thrilled if that wasn’t the case, but it would also be wrong to listen to the European Council President, Donald Tusk, earlier today. He spoke in support of those in the UK who want to cancel Brexit or to have another vote, and to say that EU leaders still really are hoping for the UK to change its mind.
The fact is that it’s nearly been three years now since the EU referendum. The EU has got used to the idea of Brexit. EU leaders are convinced that Brexit is going to be very damaging for the UK, at least in the short to medium term. So their focus now is not on the UK. It’s on stopping that presumed damage from spreading. The word often used here is infecting the rest of the European Union.
Katya, many thanks again. Katya Adler there for us in Brussels, and we’ll be joined by Laura again in a short while.
Well, as Laura was saying, Mrs. May clearly hoping that her promise to leave office before the next stage of the Brexit negotiations will be enough to tempt a sufficient number of MPs to back her withdrawal agreement. What is the detail of that plan, which has already been rejected by MPs on two occasions, and how certain is it, indeed, that she will get that necessary support? This report from our Deputy Political Editor, John Pienaar, does contain some flashing images.
Hacking down leaders over Europe has become a habit for the Conservatives, but that’s no consolation to Theresa May. Her remaining wish, to be the PM who delivers Brexit, and there’s no guarantee of even that.
The ayes to the right, 202. The noes to the left, 432.
Twice now, Mrs. May’s deal has been defeated, and by crushing margins. Could she succeed at the third time of asking? Not easy. Not even she claims to be an enthusiast for what became the product of many compromises.`