29/03/2017 Daily Politics


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Good morning from Westminster on an historic day.


For 44 years, Britain has been a member of the European Union.


Today, the process of withdrawal begins and in two years'


time that membership will come to an end.


The Prime Minister says it will be a "momentous journey" and promises


But with complex negotiations, how will the government navigate its way


through? And on the domestic front


can Theresa May keep Stay tuned for this


Daily Politics special. Welcome to this specially extended


Daily Politics on the day Theresa May invokes Article 50


of the Lisbon Treaty and begins the formal process of taking


the UK out of the EU. Underneath a portrait


of our first Prime Minister, our current Prime Minister signs


the letter that starts that journey. One small stroke of the pen,


one giant leap for the country. Our man in Brussels will deliver


the letter by hand to the President It will fire the starting gun


on a two-year negotiation period. So will we end up with a deal


at the end of it all? Later this morning, the Prime


Minister will head to the Commons Immediately afterwards,


she will make a statement to MPs and say this is the moment


for the country Yes, we'll be here till half past


one with all the reaction And with us for the duration


are the former Northern Ireland And the former Labour


minister, Chris Leslie. Now, it's going to be a busy day -


highly choreographed - so JoCo what exactly


is the timetable for today? At midday, as usual on Wednesday,


it's Prime Minister's Questions. During PMQs, at 12.20,


the UK's ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow, will hand deliver


Theresa May's letter to the President of


the European Council, Straight after Prime Minister's


Questions from about 12:30, Theresa May will make a statement


to MPs confirming that the UK's Once Theresa May sits


down, from about 12:45, the European Council President,


Donald Tusk will make a formal statement acknowledging that Article


50 has been triggered. At three o'clock, the group leaders


in the European Parliament will meet to discuss the letter


and afterwards, Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Parliament Brexit


negotiator Guy Verhofstadt will hold At around 4:30, it's expected that


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker will respond


formally to the triggering It seems a long time ago. Are you


excited? I feel anticipation, I recognise there will be bumps along


the way but I feel we will be better off when we leave the European


Union, we face a bright future when we leave. The public make their


judgment in the referendum and we are seeing the letter, clearly


symbolic, and the phoney war, as it were, is finished and we are moving


to negotiations. I want to hold those in the Leave campaign to


account for the promises they made you are in that campaign. Is it


irreversible? I do not think so. By the sounds of it the Justice


Secretary Liz Truss said she thought it was not reversible but David


Davis said he did not know and there are many others who say there is


nothing in the provision of Article 50 that says it cannot be withdrawn.


Two years in politics is a very long time but it is important we do not


box ourselves into circumstances that could be catastrophic, we


should keep options open. Are you sure on this day of days, that it


will happen? I am, yes. You hesitated for a minute. Quite often,


since it became apparent in the early hours of the 24th of June last


year, I felt this sense it was hard to believe it would happen but I am


now starting to believe it will happen, we are leaving. We have a


lot to talk about. It seems like a lifetime ago since


David Cameron announced a date for a referendum on membership of the


European Union. A lot has happened since then. Let's take a look. On


Monday, I will commence the process set out under our referendum act and


go to Parliament and propose the British people decide our future in


Europe. The British people have spoken and


the answer is we are out. The British people have made a clear


decision to take a different path and, as such, I think the country


requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.


Brexit means Brexit. Brexit means Brexit. The reason I


have been saying Brexit means Brexit is precisely because it does. We


want a red, white and blue Brexit. We will make breakfast... Brexit a


success! I think it will be Brexit plus, plus, plus, does that make


sense? What I am proposing cannot mean


membership of the single market. The Supreme Court rules that the


government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament


authorising it to do so. The ayes to the right, 494, the noes


to the left, 122. Joining me now former Liberal


Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown. Have you come to terms with this yet? Am


I disappointed? Of course, have I come to terms with the fact British


people have voted to leave, yes I have. Have I come to terms with the


fact the government has hijacked the vote for the anti-European


prejudices of the Conservative Party and given us a brutal Brexit as far


away from the EU as possible, despite a manifesto promise from the


Conservatives to stay in the single market, they have removed is. That


was a promise within the context of staying in the EU. I don't think it


was. If you stay in the EU you have to stay in the single market. It is


important you get facts right. They were talking about improving and


building on the single market to cover services more, which is why


they backed it and within the context of staying. Let's not get


into the context. It said bluntly we will stay in the single market. If


we stayed in the EU. If we stayed in the EU, you had to stay in the


single market. It was not qualified in the way you suggest. Let's put it


this way, Mrs May has a mandate to take the country out of the European


Union. She has no mandate to take them out of the single market. Many


of the Brexiteer is argued we should stay in, such as Daniel Hannan who


made a promise along those lines. She had no mandate to take this


country to the most extreme form of Brexit as far away from the EU as


possible and no mandate to do what she has done which is widened the


divisions of a divided country further. Am I coming to terms with


the proposition that she has used the vote for exit to put forward


which is a proposition as extreme as you can get? No, I haven't and we


have to continue to fight that proposition. David Cameron made it


clear we would have to lead the single market if we voted to leave


and George Osborne made it clear, Michael Gove was explicit, Boris


Johnson was explicit we would have to leave. What bit do you not


understand? Daniel Hannan and others... Daniel Hannan said it is


not what he said and he was talking in the context of a Norwegian


arrangement, which you're then leader Nick Clegg, previous leader,


described as a fax democracy. If you stay, you are subject to the


jurisdiction of the European Court and if you stay in the market you


must follow the rules of free movement. If you stay in the customs


union, you cannot make your own free trade. What is the difference


between that and being in the EU? Ask in Norway, which was an


alternative model. It is not part of the customs union. It stays with


access to the single market. This is the point. The British people voted.


Doubtless some to leave the single market, doubtless some to stop


immigration completely and some for many reasons, to send a message to


Westminster, some because they got out of bed the wrong way that


morning. The government to convert that vote, which I think was about


leaving the European Union, but in terms that are beneficial to


Britain, into a position where we have to have a brutal Brexit that


takes is out of the EU and, by the way, if the government does not get


its way, we jumped over the cliff together. That is not what people


voted full. When it comes to honouring the sovereign judgment of


the British people, it is the government that have hijacked it for


the Conservative Party purpose largely to keep their own


anti-European people on their backbenchers in line. That is not


what the country voted for. Do you want a referendum on the deal? I


want a referendum on the deal at the end of the process. What would


happen if the country voted against? You would have an election. What


would it do to membership of the EU? The new government would have to


decide what step is taken next. There is no way this government


could have a referendum on the final deal so the British people get to


say whether or not that is a deal they find beneficial to them and in


the interests of the country. The government loses you get an


election. And if the British people voted for the deal, which you give


up? You have to go ahead. Mrs May has not chosen a form of Brexit


advantageous to Britain or in deed for which she has a mandate. She has


chosen the most extreme form and put us in a position where if she does


not get her way we jump over the cliff together. Without any voice.


You talk about extreme Brexit. I would like to know how you can leave


the European Union, which is not the people voted for, and stay in the


single market and Customs union. You can stay with access to the single


market. You will not have it in the way Norway has it or Sweden has it.


We do not know... It is Switzerland. We don't know the nature of the free


trade deal. That will give us access. What we will no longer have


is membership, because the people voted against the sorts of things


that go with membership. Why is that extreme? Because it means we will


not have the same kind of access to the single market as enjoyed by


Norway or Switzerland or could have been negotiated by the British


Government. The trick is this is a deal which I don't believe the


British people voted for, for which Mrs May does not have a mandate,


which puts us at the edge of the cliff with the most extreme form of


Brexit and threatens asked to jump over the cliff, without the British


people having a vote at any time. You have made that point, you have


made it well and several times. Here is the issue. You criticise the


government position for being extreme. In this historically you


were extremists and wanted us to join the euro. We can argue as to


why I believe that was the right thing at the time. You don't now?


That would have been the right thing at the time. That sounds quite


extreme to many. I don't think it is extreme. If you want to get into the


detail, at that time, Germany had doubled the debt of Britain and was


lower in productivity and competitiveness than Britain. At the


end of the process because we have the option to devalue, we ended up


with doubled the debt of Germany and half the productivity level. Which


has That financial crisis was worse for


Britain because we were not able to sustain the competitiveness. We are


talking about the future, and whether I was right or wrong about


monetary union, and I maintain I was right, the question is, what should


happen now? I heard Chris say earlier on that the phoney war has


ended and we will get down to the details. What we have had up until


now is in salt fuelled invective against those who would question the


Government in any way, and political statements from ministers with no


fact. Can I ask you this, because for about four times, you have


criticised the government for saying that we can no longer be members of


the single market. Access to the single market. We will always have


that, even North Korea has got access. The Prime Minister announced


in her Lancaster house speech many weeks ago. Can you name a single


European leader who thinks that Britain should stay in the single


market? I can name you lots of European leaders, probably all of


the without exception, who would wish Britain to retain membership


with the single market similar to that of Switzerland and Norway, and


it will be beneficial... Can you name in the commission, the Council


of the nesters, a leading Prime Minister or president who says


Britain should negotiate to stay members of the single market, can


you name one? I think every single one of them wants Britain to


continue to have substantial access to the single market in the same


form as Norway and Switzerland has, but no doubt negotiated on a basis


which is useful to Britain. So not one, in other words? Not a single


one of them wants us to have a situation in relation to the single


market which this Government is now proposing as part of the brutal


Brexit deal that will damage the country. That is not true, Michelle


Barney says he looks forward to negotiating an extensive


arrangement. Let's wait to see whether that can be done. I


understand that, but you said nobody wants it, I have just quoted the


leader of the EU negotiations saying he wants it. One thing that cannot


be done, and every body knows that except some of those managing this


for the Government, we cannot have a deal which is better than the one


that we had in the European Union. That cannot be done. So it will be a


worse deal, and insofar as this is me has deliberately put us on the


outer ring, beyond Switzerland, beyond Norway, on the edge of the


cliff, it seems to me, that is a position which I think it is


impossible for her to negotiate a deal which is to the benefit of our


country. Are you one of these rabid Tory backbenchers forcing the Prime


Minister into an extreme position? According to Paddy, I think I must


be, and I think there are probably a lot of Leave supporters watching


this programme who will be quite offended at being described in that


way, and I think it is ironic that Paddy in accuses the Government of


invective when that is what we have heard from him. It is not an


unreasonable, extreme position to want to be a country that governs


ourselves, and it is not unreasonable or extreme to say that


leaving the EU means just that. We can't remain subject to all the laws


of the single market and the European court of justice and


implement the result of the referendum. Is there any bit of what


Paddy Ashdown was saying that you disagree with? I think I would


disagree with the single currency point. As he said, that is in the


past. What about now? I think I would go further than Paddy, and I


would have said that the real fault of the Prime Minister was ruling out


that single market in the Lancaster house speech, because we should have


been entering into the negotiations with a view to try and adapt and


reform the single market. You can't adapt and reform the single market


from the outside. There are lots of other countries who want and have


issues with the free movement, for example, and can we retain the


single market and adapt that pillar... Mrs Merkel says no. She


hasn't been asked. No, she said no. Free movement is not negotiable,


said Mrs Merkel. They put down their lines, we put down our lines, we


have a negotiation. Very briefly, we are running out of time. What


Theresa has done... Which Theresa? This one? Yes, if we dare to


criticise the position taken by the Government supported by in the large


measure it anti-European backbenchers, probably to keep them


on board, then we are somehow insulting the wider collection of


people who voted for that. They voted for something completely


different. Mrs me has done what Mr Cameron did, it is not about the


national interest. We have to stop, you have had a fair innings, I think


you will agree. And we didn't mention hats once!


So once Article 50 is triggered, what next?


According to the Lisbon Treaty, the whole process should be


completed within two years - although some are sceptical


JoCo, what can we can expect in the coming


Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council which represents the leaders


of the remaining 27 member states, has said the Council will publish


draft negotiation guidelines within 48 hours.


Then at an EU summit next month the Council will agree


the European Commission's mandate for negotiating with the UK.


By mid-May, the Commission will publish a plan for the negotiations


This is also when we may hear more about the possibility of a parallel


negotiation on a future EU-UK trade deal.


But with elections in both France and Germany in the next six months,


it will probably be autumn before negotiations


Meanwhile Parliament will be busy discussing


the Great Repeal Bill, which - as the name suggests -


will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act


and incorporate areas of EU law into domestic legislation.


Michel Barnier, the Commission's chief negotiator, says he thinks


the negotiations could be concluded by next October.


However, the negotiations could be extended, if all 27 member states


If everything goes to plan, both Houses of Parliament will then


The European Council and European Parliament


If the deal is formally voted through, the UK would then formally


withdraw from the EU by the end of March 2019.


And we can talk now to the SNP MP Stephen Gethins, who is the party's


Welcome back to the daily politics. For you and the SNP, there is a date


and an event missing, namely a second independence referendum. Have


you accepted that is not going to happen in the next two years? Lets


see what happens. The Scottish Parliament voted last night to have


another independence referendum, so it used its mandate to ask for


another independence referendum, and I think critically, Andrew was


talking earlier on when he was speaking to Paddy about Michel


Barnier, but Michel Barnier set out the schedule by which we will know


what the deal looks like, and that fits in with the referendum


timetable that the First Minister set out. In a sense, if that


question of when you may hold a second independence referendum is


settled, you can get on with the business of government in Scotland.


The Scottish Government is already getting on with the business of


government in Scotland. When you talk about Theresa May who is being


told we have crisis in the NHS where the Red Cross are talking about a


humanitarian disaster, I think she has plenty to be getting on with.


And on that basis, she has a lot to get on with, as you have said, no


one is denying that, and you could argue that there has been posturing


on both sides on the referendum question. But is it now in your


interests, in Scotland's interest and the interests of the UK


Government, for everyone to try to get at their steel for the UK, to


park the issue of the timing of the independence referendum? That is why


we don't want to have a referendum right now. We want to know what will


happen with the deal. This is not a situation that we wanted to find


ourselves in. But will you call operate now in terms of getting the


best deal? This is a two-way process, and Theresa May has to be


seen to want to work with the Scottish Government. She said she


wanted to see a UK wide approach to this, and she hasn't taken that.


Repatriating powers on things like agriculture and fishing, you could


see that as in some ways making an overture on two big issues for the


Scottish Government. You could, but when we asked the Secretary of State


what new powers Scotland will be getting, we didn't get any answers.


We have had nothing on immigration policy. These were among the


promises made before the EU referendum, a week before the polls


by Michael Gove, and they are not coming through on that. But if you


are going to hold Theresa May's feet to the fire on including Scotland


and the Scottish Government in those negotiations, and I have been hints


that those would be areas where you could get some sort of agreement,


would that be where you will concentrate your efforts,


repatriating powers on agriculture and fishing, and working towards a


separate deal for certain sectors? That is something that the Home


Secretary ruled out. The UK Government don't have a great track


record. The Scottish Government have a responsibility to those whose jobs


will be impacted by this. 80,000 Scottish jobs, in Scotland alone,


could go as a direct consequence of a hard Brexit, which is the one we


are looking at the moment. What we are trying to do is give people a


choice once they know what the deal looks like before it is too late. So


you will still fight for the referendum date within the timescale


of spring 2019? I think that is imported, but the First Minister has


been clear that she is willing to compromise. So it could go beyond


that. Theresa Villiers, is that kind of thing that the Government should


be offering the Scottish Parliament, executive control on things like


agriculture and fishing? The Government has been clear that no


powers on those areas would be removed from Scottish Parliament or


the Scottish Government, but there is a debate to be have about the


powers which are returned to Westminster, as to which stay in


Westminster and which go to the devolved authorities. I'm sure there


will be extensive powers over fisheries and agriculture that will


end up with the Scottish Government, but at this stage we can't be


definite about which they will be. If you got fishing back, would you


hand it back to Brussels? As you well know, the Treaty of union and


the act of union are two very different things. But if you joined


Brussels, you would just hand the powers right back, it is ludicrous!


It is difficult to see Brussels blocking any referendum in the same


way that the UK Government is trying to block the Scottish Government. We


will leave it there. It is a historic day for both Britain and


the EU. What better


way to mark the occasion than with a special edition


Daily Politics commemorative mug? We have been painting these


all-night! Yes, you can celebrate -


or commiserate - the end of 44 years of EU membership,


from Ted Heath signing us into the Common Market in 1972


to Theresa May signing us out yesterday, by joining us


for a Great British brew. All you need to do for this


once-in-a-generation chance to win our special mug,


is tell us when this happened. # All my life I've


been waiting for you # Been living in a fantasy


without meaning.# # So now I walk in the midday


sun # I never thought


that my saviour would come. And to be in with a chance


of winning a Daily Politics mug, send your answer to our special quiz


email address - Entries must arrive by 12.30 today,


and you can see the full terms and conditions for Guess


The Year on our website - Just take a look at Big Ben -


and that can mean only one thing. Yes, Prime Minister's


Questions is on its way. And that's not all -


Laura Kuenssberg is here. A difficult one on PMQs, because it


is just the start, this time. It is absolutely, and Jeremy Corbyn and


Theresa May will be upstaged today by a six or seven page piece of


paper arriving in Brussels. That is how long we expect the letter to be,


and broadly we are not expecting there to be much new substance. One


member of the Cabinet at the meeting this morning where they were briefed


by the Prime Minister on the contents of the letter told me there


was nothing unexpected in it. Today is all going to be about time. Lets


see what the tone is the PMQs. They were Aysha Frade, Kurt Cochran,


Leslie Rhodes and, of course, PC Keith Palmer. I am sure the house


will join me in extending condolences to the families. The


investigation continues and two people have been arrested and are in


custody. This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and I


will have further such meetings later today. May I echo her


sentiments and congratulate her also on all the good work done since last


week. May I also congratulate the Prime Minister and government on


triggering Article 50 today. I know this is a momentous action to the


whole of the United Kingdom and while I like herself campaigned to


stay in, we recognise the people have spoken and we offered the


Ulster Unionist Party. Port in ensuring negotiations deliver the


best for the whole of the UK and particularly for Northern Ireland.


But could I ask the Prime Minister to confirm that in the extremely


improbable event that a border poll should take place regarding the


future of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom during her


premiership, that a government will fully support any official Remain


campaign? Just as the government have done both in regard of the EU


and indeed Scotland. The honourable gentleman is right. Today we do give


effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom who


voted for us to leave the European Union. It was a call to make the


United Kingdom a country that works for everyone not just the privileged


few. We are within that fully committed to ensuring the unique


interests of Northern Ireland are attracted and advanced as we


establish our negotiating position. Our position is we strongly support


the Belfast agreement including the principle of consent that Northern


Ireland constitutional position is that the people of Northern Ireland


to determine. We have a preference that Northern Ireland should remain


part of the United Kingdom and we will never be neutral in expressing


our support for that. That is because I believe fundamentally in


the strength of our union. Pupils and parents deserve good schools and


real choice in education including schools focused unashamedly on


academic rigour. Can my right honourable friend tell us when the


government will open applications for the new wave of free schools and


can she confirmed they will be genuinely free to be run as they


wish, serving the community and creating scores for everyone? My


honourable friend is right. Schools should be free to be run as best


suit them. We put autonomy and freedom in the hands of strong


leaders and outstanding teachers so they can deliver an excellent


education. We want to get out of the way of outstanding education


providers to set up the types of schools parents want which is why we


have set out plans to remove the ban on new grammar schools and


restrictions on new faith schools. We do expect to announce the details


of the next wave of free school applications following the


publication of the White Paper. I want to begin by paying tribute to


the emergency services as the Prime Minister did, across the country,


especially those who responded to the Westminster attack and to those


who turned out to help the victims of the new ferry explosion on


Saturday. Our thoughts remain with the injured and those who have lost


loved ones and we thank the police for their investigations. Could the


Prime Minister assure Ross police will be given all support and


resources to take them through this difficult period -- assure us? I


joined the right honourable gentleman in praising the work of


the emergency services, who have to deal with a wide range of incidents


that take place. Our focus has been most recently on the attack last


Wednesday. We should not forget that day in day out emergency services


work on our behalf and often put themselves in danger as a result. I


have kept in touch as has my right honourable friend the Home Secretary


with the security services and Metropolitan Police on the


investigation taking place into the attack last week and I am looking


forward to security arrangements and I can assure him they have the


resources they need to carry out vital work. Of course we all pay


tribute to the police for the work they do but there are some problems


that between 2015 and 2018 there will be a real terms cut in central


government funding to police forces of 330 million. Can the Prime


Minister assure the house the police all over the country have the


necessary resources to do the job? I would remind him that what we have


done is protected that police budget and of course the former Shadow Home


Secretary, his colleague, the right honourable member, prior to the...


At the Labour Party conference said savings can be found. The police say


5-10% is just about doable. We have protected the police budget. I have


been speaking to police forces and they are cleared the work they are


doing has the resources they need. The Police Federation survey


recently undertaken reveals that 55% of serving police officers say


morale is low due to the way in which funding has been treated.


Front line policing is vital in tackling crime and terrorism. Since


2010, there are 20,000 fewer police officers, 12,000 fewer on the front


line. I asked the Prime Minister again, will she think again about


the cuts and guaranteed policing on the front line will be protected so


every community can be assured it has the officers it needs in their


community? I said we have protected those police budgets including of


course the precepts they raise locally. Let's think about what has


happened since 2010. Since 2010 we have seen crime is traditionally


measured by the independent crime survey falling by a third to a


record low, and that is the work of hard-working officers up and down


this country. They have been backed by this government. We have made


them more accountable through directly elected Police and Crime


Commissioners and there has been reform, including reform of the


Police Federation that was necessary, but we have ensured


police have resources to do their job and we see crime at a record


low. The Royal air forces preparing to fly typhoons from my constituency


to Romania, to support Nato allies on the border with Russia. This is


as President Putin is locking up political opponents and crushing


calls for democracy. Will my right honourable friend confirm that as we


leave the EU, the United Kingdom will continue to lead Nato in


defending this vital border, and will she paid tribute to the Armed


Forces who safeguard our democracy at home and abroad? I am very happy


to join my honourable friend in paying tribute to the men and women


of our Armed Forces, they are the best in the world and they worked


tirelessly to keep us safe and we open every gratitude. Our commitment


to collective defence and security through Nato is as strong as ever.


We will meet our pledge to spend 2% of GDP wand expense every year of


the decade and we plan to spend 178 billion on equipment. She referred


to work done by the Royal Air Force in relation to Romania. With Nato we


deploy a battalion to Estonia and squadron to Poland and I think that


shows our commitment to our collective security and defence. We


associate ourselves with the condolences of the Prime Minister


and leader of the Labour Party and praise for the emergency and


security services. After the appalling terrorist atrocity. Last


year, the Prime Minister promised before she would trigger Article 50


on leaving the EU, she would secure a UK wide approach and agreement...


Last year the Prime Minister did make that promise and promised there


would be agreement with the governments of Scotland, Wales and


Northern Ireland before triggering Article 50. The Prime Minister has


now triggered Article 50 and she has done so without an agreement. There


is no agreement. Why has she broken her promise and her word? I have


been clear throughout and since the first visit that I made as Prime


Minister to Edinburgh last July, which was we would work with the


devolved administrations and develop a UK wide approach but in


negotiations it would be a UK approach taken into the negotiations


and it would be the United Kingdom government that took forward that


position and I would remind him that Scotland is part of the United


Kingdom. People will note the Prime Minister did not deny she would seek


a UK wide approach and agreement with the governments of Scotland,


Wales and Northern Ireland and there is no agreement. The Scottish


Government was elected with a higher percentage of the vote with a bigger


electoral mandate than the UK Government. Yesterday the Scottish


Parliament voted by 69 to 59 that people in Scotland should have a


choice about their future. After the negotiations with the EU are


concluded, there will be a period for democratic approval of the


outcome. That choice will be exercised in this Parliament, in the


European Parliament, and in 27 member states of the EU. Given that


everybody else will have a choice... Will the people of Scotland have a


choice... ? I say to the right honourable gentleman that we are


taking forward the views of the United Kingdom into the negotiations


with the European Union on the United Kingdom exiting the European


Union. The Scottish Nationalist party consistently talks... Order!


This is unseemly heckling. You are a distinguished QC. You would not


behave like that in the Scottish courts. You would be chucked out.


Prime Minister. The SNP consistently talks about independence as the only


subject they wish to talk about. I said to him and his colleagues that


now is not the time to be talking about a second independence


referendum. On today of all days, we should be coming together as a


United Kingdom to get the best deal for Britain.


Improving vocational and technical education is vital to closing our


productivity gap so can the Prime Minister assure me vocational


education will enjoy equal status with academic education so that as


we leave the EU, our young people can be equipped to build the high


skilled economy of the future? My honourable friend has raised an


important issue. It is essential for young people we give vocational and


technical education the right esteem and focus because it is essential in


addressing the productivity gap. We want to deliver a world leading


technical education system to create genuine options that are equal in


esteem, two options for young people in esteem. In the budget, the


Chancellor announced a significant package of investment to represent


the most ambitious post-16 reform since the introduction of A-levels.


We will invest an extra half ?1 billion in Ingham's technical


education and introduce maintenance loans or those studying high-level


technical qualifications at institutes of technology. The


Treasury Select Committee says that having to fill in a tax return every


three months means that many smaller companies face disaster. The


Federation of small business says the extra cost is likely to be


annually ?2700 a year. This is another burden on business from this


government. She got it wrong on national Insurance, is she going to


backtrack now on tax returns, as well?


Perhaps the honourable gentleman should have listened to the


announcement the Chancellor made in the budget where he indicated he


would be delaying the introduction of this for the smallest businesses


below the VAT threshold for a year. But I think it is right that HMRC


does try to move to a greater digitisation of the way in which it


operates. I think that will enable it to give a better service to those


people who are completing their forms, and we should always remember


that aspect of what is being proposed. I welcome the additional


money the Government has given for adult social care, but it is


important we also look at long-term solutions for the. Will the Prime


Minister look at issues with how the system works with Northampton county


council and Northampton General Hospital? I say to my honourable


friend but I'm grateful that he is welcome for the extra money, the ?2


billion going to social care and out by the Chancellor. This shows we


have recognised the pressures and demands on social care, but it is


also important that we ensure best practice is delivered across the


whole of the country, it isn't just about money, so we are trying to


find a long-term sustainable solution which will help local


authorities to learn from each other and raise standards across the


system, and we will bring forward proposals in a green paper later


this year to put the state funded system on a more sustainable and


long-term footing. As Home Secretary, the Prime Minister


clearly didn't protect police budgets. Last week she told me four


times, we have protected the schools budget. Does she still stand by that


statement? We have protected schools budgets, and we are putting record


funding into schools. Today, Mr Speaker, the Public Accounts


Committee says the Department of Education that it does not seem to


understand the pressures that schools are already under. And they


went on to say that funding per pupil is reducing in real terms, and


goes on to say schools budgets will be cut by ?3 billion, equivalent to


8%, by 2020. Is the Public Accounts Committee wrong on this? What we see


over the course of this Parliament is ?230 billion going into our


schools. But what matters is the quality of education that we see in


our schools. 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding


schools, and a policy from this Government to ensure that every


child gets a good school plays. Mr Speaker, the daily experience of


many parents who have children in schools is that they get letters


from the schools asking for money. One parent, Elizabeth, wrote to me


to say she has received a letter from her daughter's school asking


for a monthly donation to top up the reduced funds that her school is


receiving. This Government's cuts to schools are betraying a generation


of our children. If the Prime Minister is right, then the parents


are wrong, the teachers are wrong, the IFF is wrong, the National Audit


Office is wrong, the education policy Institute is wrong and now


the Public Accounts Committee, which includes eight Conservative members


in it, is also wrong. So which organisation does back the Prime


Minister's view on education spending in our schools? I would say


to the right honourable gentleman that as I have just said to him, we


said we would protect school funding, and we have. A real terms


protection for the schools budget. We said we would protect the money


following children into schools, and we have, it reaches ?42 billion as


pupil numbers rise in 19/ 20. But it is also about the quality of


education children are receiving. 1.8 million more children in good or


outstanding schools than under the Labour government. But I also say


this, because time and time again, the gentleman stands up in PMQs and


asks questions which would lead to more spending. Let's look at what he


has done recently. On the 11th of January, more spending. On the 8th


of February, more spending. On the 22nd of February, more spending. On


the first and the 8th of March, more spending. On the 15th and 22nd of


March, more spending. Barely a PMQs goes by that he doesn't call for


more public spending. When it comes to spending money that they haven't


got, Labour simply can't help themselves. It's the same old


Labour, spend today and give somebody else the Bill tomorrow.


Well, we won't do that to the next generation.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I'm sure everyone in the House will want to


join me in paying tribute to the thousands who worked in munitions


factories in both world wars. Often in very dangerous conditions. And


they produced a vital equipment for the Armed Forces that helped us to


victory. I'm sure my honourable friend will recognise that for


practical reasons it is not possible to pursue individual awards, but I


know that the Department for Business would be happy to work with


him to look at further ways to recognise the collective effort of


former munitions workers. I thank my right honourable friend for that


answer. These ladies found that the chemicals in the shells turned their


skins yellow, and they were nicknamed canary girls. I know my


right honourable friend is exceptionally busy at the moment,


but could she find just a few moments in her diary to meet me and


some of these canary girls to recognise their service? I would be


very happy to do that. I would be very happy to meet some canary


girls. As I said, they did work which was vital to the war effort.


They did work which in one sense was absolutely routine, but in another


sense was extremely dangerous, and I think we should recognise the


efforts that they put in. Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister will


be aware that the Welsh Labour government has established a


children's funeral fund. Many leading funeral providers have also


indicated that there will be no charges for children and young


people's funerals. I know the Prime Minister is a compassionate woman,


and I know she understands the importance of a children's funeral


fund. Will she agree to work with me to establish this fund to bring some


comfort to bereaved parents in their darkest hour? I pay tribute to the


honourable lady who has been campaigning tirelessly on this


issue, and obviously it is not just a passionate campaign, but she has


spoken on many occasions moving in this House about her personal


experience which she has brought to bear on this issue. I welcome the


decision taken by the co-operative funeral company to waive the fees on


this. There is some financial support available, we are looking at


this issue on the problems faced by parents, and at what more can be


done through a cross government piece of work, and I ask the


Minister for the Cabinet office who is meeting on that piece of work to


meet with us and talk about the idea. As the Prime Minister will


know, the budget gave an extra ?200 million to the Welsh Labour


government in order to provide business rate relief. Will the Prime


Minister agree with myself and the leader of Monmouthshire council that


Welsh Labour must now commit to spending that money on supporting


Welsh businesses and giving the same level of support that has been


provided in England by this conservative Government? I say to my


honourable friend he is absolutely right. As he said at the budget, my


right honourable friend the Chancellor announced a ?200 million


boost to the Welsh budget. They will be able to use that money to support


their own priorities, but the people of Wales can send a clear signal


about these priorities by voting for Conservative councillors like Peter


Fox on the 4th of May. And I have to say it is the UK Government actions


to support working families throughout the country that will


make sure Wales benefits. The Foreign Secretary jury be EU


referendum campaign urged people to, and I quote, take back control of


huge sums of money, ?350 million per week, and spend it on our priorities


such as the NHS. The Prime Minister will trigger article 50 today. Can


the Prime Minister confirm precisely when she wants to fulfil the promise


made by her Cabinet colleagues who is sitting on the front page


smirking at the British public? Order, order, Boris is sitting


perfectly comfortably, there is an air of repose about the fellow!


Prime Minister. I am very happy to tell the


honourable lady that when this country leaves the European Union,


we will have control of our budget and we will decide how that money is


spent. With modification, schools in my constituency welcome the National


funding formula, and given the Leader of the Opposition's


intervention, I hope my next question doesn't land me on the


naughty step, but given that Stockport schools and other schools


have been at the bottom of the funding pile for years, and have


less scope for efficiencies, would my right honourable friend consider


giving immediate support to them? As my honourable friend is saying, what


we are doing is aiming to end the postcode lottery of schools funding,


and schools funding is at a record high. In relation to the minimum


funding level, as I have said before, the DFE have heard


representations on the issue on this national funding formula and will be


considering those. There have been a lot of responses to that, but it is


a historic and complex reform but there has been general agreement for


many years that reform is needed, we want to get this right which is why


we are carefully considering it. After nine months of this Prime


Minister's approach to Brexit, Northern Ireland is deadlocked, the


Welsh are alienated, Scotland is going for a referendum, the English


are split down the middle and Brexit MPs are walking out of Commons


committees because they don't like home truths. Has the Prime Minister


considered in terms of invoking Article 50 that now is not the time?


What the UK Government is doing in invoking article 50 is putting into


practice the Democratic vote of the British people on the 23rd of June


last year in a referendum. There was a referendum in 2014 in Scotland


when the Scottish people voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. I


suggest The right honourable gentleman and his colleagues put


that into practice! Mr Speaker, three quarters of my constituent


Umag voted to leave the European Union. Does the Prime Minister agree


with me that as she triggers article 50, it marks a watershed moment, not


only for this country's control of immigration and our sovereignty, but


also for listening to the views of people who were forgotten for far


too long? I absolutely agree with my honourable friend. Not only are we


putting into place the views of the British people as set out in that


referendum on the 23rd of June last year, but crucially that was not


just a vote about leaving the EU. It was a vote about changing this


country for the future, and this Government has a clear plan for


Britain that will change this country, that will see us with a


more global outlook, a stronger economy, a fairer society and a more


united nation. The people expect the Prime Minister to follow her party's


manifesto and abide by a majority vote of this Parliament. So why does


she say that the First Minister of Scotland should do the opposite?


What I say is that at this point in time Dodge at this point in time as


we face this historic moment of facing Article 50 and this country's


relationship with the European Union, now is the time for us to


pull together and not, part. On Friday, thousands of people will be


up and down this country raising funds and awareness of brain tumour


research. Many of these people will know people someone who have


suffered from a brain tumour. It is a bigger cancer killer of children


and adults under 40. Will the Prime Minister join me in commending all


these people raising awareness and funds and see what more we can do to


raise funding for brain tumour research? This is an important area,


and I believe in this area the UK does have a good record of research


on brain tumours, and that is important, but he is absolutely


right. The people who are raising funds for this important cause


should be commended, as he says many of them will have had personal


experience in one way or another of brain tumours, and I think it is


important that we recognise that there are many killers out there


which don't often receive the publicity and support of others, and


we should recognise their importance, and commend those who


are raising funds. Can the Prime Minister said what she


is doing to ensure national and local government prioritise the


purchasing and buying of British goods and services, although the


Home Secretary on police vehicles, does not give us cause for optimism.


We have been encouraging the procurement of British goods and


services. He asked what we can do for local authorities, if people


want local authorities to take their best interests to heart, they should


vote Conservative. Can I ask... I congratulate the Prime Minister and


invoking Article 50. Does she agree this needs to be the end of the


phoney war and posturing and focus now on the detail for every


industry, centre and community to get a bespoke deal we can all get


behind? I agree with my honourable friend. Now is the time to come


together and be united across this House and country to ensure we work


for the best deal for the United Kingdom and best future for us all.


The Prime Minister has rightly emphasised her determination to


deliver for all constituent parts of the United Kingdom on this historic


day and while others are content to moan, we want to see that delivery


happen and we are confident she will make that happen. In Northern


Ireland, where some have walked away from responsibilities in terms of


devolution, we want devolution up and running to have a functioning


government and we have set no preconditions. If others continue to


stay away from devolution and walk away, will she pledged to work more


closely with those of us in this House to defend and protect the


interests of Northern Ireland? We say that we all want to work


together to ensure we can protect the best interests of Northern


Ireland. I think that ensuring we have strong devolved government in


Northern Ireland is important for the future and so we can build on


the significant progress made in recent years for the people of


Northern Ireland and I urge all parties to come to the talks with a


view to finding a way through so that Northern Ireland once again can


be restored to devolved government. With the Prime Minister agree social


media companies need to take action to remove extremist and hate


material from platforms and to foot the Bill for the police who are


currently doing their dirty work at the taxpayers' expense? This


question of working with the companies to ensure extremist


material is removed as quickly as possible is one that is not new.


Through the counterterrorism internet referral unit we have the


process to enable the police to take material down. 250,000 pieces of


material have been taken down since 2010 and there has been increase in


that activity in the last couple of years. I know the Home Secretary


will be meeting companies this week to talk to them about this important


issue. We do not want extremist material on the internet, what we


want to see is companies taking action to remove material


encouraging hate and division. Late on Saturday night, a massive


explosion devastated new ferry in my constituency. We are thinking of


those who were hurt. It is a miracle more people were not injured. The


community faces dereliction. All the Prime Minister join with me in


thanking all of those who looked after my community over the weekend


and recent days, and will she arrange a meeting with the Secretary


of State who can discuss how the government can help us to rebuild


New Ferry. I am happy to do those things. I commend and thank all of


those who worked hard in the emergency services and others to


support her community when this devastating explosion took place.


That work will continue. There will be support I am sure being given to


the community in the future and I am happy to ask the Secretary of State


to meet her and discuss how that community can be rebuilt and


overcome the impact of this explosion. Order.


Statement, the Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Today, the


government acts on the democratic will of the British people. It acts


on the clear and convincing position of this House. A few minutes ago in


Brussels, the United Kingdom's permanent representative to the EU


handed a letter to the president of the European Council on my behalf,


confirming the government decision to invoke Article 50. The Article 50


process is now under way and in accordance with the wishes of the


British people the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. This is


an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is


leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and


laws. We are going to take control of things that matter most to us and


we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger,


fairer Britain, a country our children and grandchildren are proud


to call home. That is our ambition and our opportunity. That is what


this government is determined to do. Mr Speaker, at moments like these,


great turning points in our national story, the choices we make to find


the character of our nation. We can choose to save the task ahead is too


great, we can choose to turn our face to the past and believe it


cannot be done, or we can look forward with optimism and hope and


to believe in the power of the British spirit. I choose to believe


in Britain and that our best days lie ahead. I do so because I am


confident we have vision and plan to use this moment to build a better


Britain. For leaving the EU presents us with a unique opportunity. It is


this generation's chance to shape a brighter future, a chance to step


back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be. My answer is


clear. I want the United Kingdom to emerge from this period of change


stronger, fairer, more united and more outward looking than ever


before. I want us to be a secure, prosperous, tolerant country, a


magnet for international talent and are home to the pioneers and


innovators who will shape the world ahead. I want us to be a truly


global Britain. The best friend and neighbour to our European partners,


a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe. Can I apologise


for interrupting. Mr Boswell, calm yourself, you have to learn to


behave in a statement -- statesman-like fashion. I want all


colleagues the chance to question the Prime Minister. This is an


important statement and it is reasonable to expect the Prime


Minister gets a courteous hearing. Mr Speaker, I want us to be a truly


global Britain, the best friend and neighbour to our European partners


that a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe, a country


that goes into the world to build relationships with new friends and


allies alike. That is why I have set out a clear and ambitious plan for


the negotiations ahead, a plan for a deep and special partnership between


Britain and the European Union, of values, a partnership of interests,


a partnership based on cooperation in areas such as security and


economic affairs, and a partnership that works in the best interests of


the United Kingdom, European Union and wider world. Perhaps now more


than ever the world needs the liberal democratic values of Europe.


Values... Perhaps... Perhaps now more than ever the world


needs the liberal democratic values of Europe, values the United Kingdom


shares and that is why while we are leaving the institutions of the


European Union, we are not leaving Europe, we will remain a close


friend and ally, we would be a committed partner and play our part


to ensure Europe is able to protect its values and defend itself from


security threats and we will do all we can to help the European Union


prosper and succeed. In a letter delivered to resident Donald Tusk


today, copies of which I have placed in the library, I have been cleared


the deep and special partnership we seek is in the best interests of the


United Kingdom and European Union. I have been clear we will work


constructively in a spirit of sincere cooperation to bring this


partnership into being. I have been clear we should seek to agree the


terms of this future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal


within the next two years. I am ambitious for Britain and the


objectives set out for these negotiations remain. We will deliver


certainty wherever possible so that business, the public sector and


everybody has as much clarity as we can provide. Tomorrow we will


publish a White Paper confirming our plans to convert it into British law


so that everyone knows where they stand. It is why I have been clear


the government will put the final deal agreed to a vote in both houses


of parliament before it comes into force. We will take control of our


laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court


of Justice in Britain. Leaving the European Union will mean our laws


will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and


those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg, but in


courts across this country. We will strengthen the union of the four


nations that comprise our United Kingdom. We will negotiate as one


United Kingdom, taking account of the specific interests of every


nation and region of the UK and when it comes to the powers we take back


from Europe, we will consult on which powers should reside in


Westminster and which should be passed on to the devolved


administrations. No decision currently taken by the devolved


administrations will be removed from them and it is the expectation of


the government the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales


and Northern Ireland will see a sick that could increase in


decision-making power as a result of this process. We want to maintain


the common travel area with the Republic of Ireland, there shall be


no return to the borders of the past. We will control immigration so


we continue to attract the brightest and best to work and study in


Britain, but manage the process so that our immigration system serves


the national interest. We seek to guarantee the rights of EU citizens


living in Britain and the rights of British nationals in member states


as early as we can. That is set out clearly in the letter as an early


priority for the talks ahead. We will ensure workers' rights are


protected and maintained and under my leadership not only with the


government protect the rights of workers, but we will build on them.


We will pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the European


Union that allows for the freest trading goods and services between


Britain and the EU member states. That gives British companies the


maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets and


let European businesses do the same in Britain, because European leaders


have said many times we cannot cherry pick and remain members of


the single market without accepting the four freedoms that are


indivisible. We respect that position and as accepting those


freedoms is incompatible with the expressed will of the British


people, we will no longer be members of the single market. We will make


sure that we can strike trade agreements with countries from


outside the European Union. Because important though trade with the EU


is and will remain, it is clear the UK needs to increase significantly


its trade with the fastest-growing export markets in the world. We hope


to continue to collaborate with European partners in science,


education, research and technology, said the UK is one of the best


places for science and innovation and we seek cooperation with our


European partners in important areas such as crime, terrorism and foreign


affairs and it is our aim to deliver a smoother quarterly Brexit,


reaching agreement about future partnership by the time the Article


50 process has concluded and moving into a process of implementation in


which Britain, EU institutions and member states prepare for the new


arrangements that will exist between us. We understand that there will be


consequences for the UK of leaving the EU. We know we will lose


influence... We know that we will lose influence


over the rules that affect the European economy. We know that UK


companies that trade with the EU will have to align with rules agreed


by institutions of which we are no longer part. Just as we do in other


overseas markets. And we accept that. However, we approach these


talks constructively, respectfully and in a spirit of Cisse


Corporation, for it is in the interest of both the UK and the


European Union that we use this process to deliver our objectives in


a fair and orderly manner. Is it is in the interests of both the United


Kingdom and the European Union that there should be as little disruption


as possible, and it is in the interests of both the United Kingdom


and the European Union that Europe should remain strong, prosperous and


capable of projecting its values in the world. At a time when the growth


of global trade is slowing and there are signs the protectionist


instincts are on the rise in many parts of the world, Europe has a


responsibility to stand up for free trade in interest of all our


citizens. With Europe's security more fragile today than at any time


since the end of the Cold War, weakening our Corporation and


failing to stand up for European values would be a costly mistake.


Our vote to leave the EU was no rejection of the values we share as


fellow Europeans. As a fellow European country, we will continue


to play our part in promoting and supporting those values during the


negotiations and once they are done. We will continue to be reliable


partners, willing allies and close friends. We want to continue to buy


goods and services from the EU and sell them hours. We want to trade


with them as freely as possible, and work together to make sure we are


all safer, more secure and more prosperous through continued


friendship. Indeed in an increasingly unstable world, we must


continue to forge the closest possible security cooperation to


keep our people safe. We face the same global threats from terrorism


and extremism. That message was only reinforced by the Borren to tack on


Westminster Bridge and this place last week. -- the abhorrent attack.


So there is no reason why they should not be a special partnership


between the UK and the EU that works for us all. Mr Speaker, I know that


this is a day of celebration for some disappointment for others. The


referendum last June was divisive at times. Not everyone shared the same


point of view or voted the same way. The arguments on both sides were


passionate. But Mr Speaker, when I sit around the negotiating table in


the months ahead, I will represent every person in the United Kingdom,


young and old, rich and poor, city, town, country and all the villages


and hamlets in between. And yes, those EU nationals who have made


this country their home. And it is my fierce determination to get the


right deal for every single person in this country. For as we face the


opportunities ahead of us on this momentum journey, our shared values,


interests and ambitions can and must bring us together. We all want to


see a Britain that is stronger than it is today. We all want a country


that is fairer so that everyone has the chance to succeed. We all want a


nation that is safe and secure for our children and grandchildren. We


all want to live in a truly global Britain that gets out and build


relationships with old friends and new allies around the world. These


are the ambitions of this Government was my plan for Britain, ambitions


that unite us so we are no longer defined by the vote we cast but by


our determination to make a success of the result. We are one great


union of people and nations with a proud history and a bright future.


And now that the decision to leave has been made and the process is


under way, it is time to come together. For this great national


moment needs a great national effort. An effort to shape a


stronger future for Britain. So let us do so together. Let us come


together and work together. Let us together choose to believe in


Britain with optimism and hope. For if we do, we can make the most of


the opportunities ahead. We can together make a success of this


moment. And we can together will they stronger, fairer, better


Britain, a Britain our children and grandchildren are proud to call


home. I commend this statement to the House.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I would like to thank the Prime Minister for an


advance copy of her statement. Today we embark on the country's most


important negotiations in modern times. The British people made the


decision to leave the European Union, and Labour respect that


decision. The next steps along this journey are the most crucial. If the


Prime Minister is to unite the country as she says she aims to do,


the Government needs to listen, consult and represent the whole


country, not just the hardline Tory ideologues on our own benches.


Britain is going to change as a result of leaving the European


Union. The question is, how? There are Conservatives who want to use


Brexit to turn this country into a low-wage tax havens.


Labour is determined to invest in a high skill, high-tech, high wage


future, to rebuild and transform Britain, so that no one and no


community is left behind. Mr Speaker, the direction the Prime


Minister is threatening to take this country in is both a reckless and


damaging. And Labour will not give this Government a free hand to use


Brexit to attack rights, protections and cut services, or create a tax


dodgers' paradise. So let me be clear, Mr Speaker. The Prime


Minister says that no deal is better than a bad deal. But the reality is,


no deal is a bad deal. Less than a year ago, the Treasury estimated


that leaving the European Union on World Trade Organisation terms would


lead to a 7.5% fall in our GDP. And ?45 billion lost in tax receipts.


Has the Treasury updated those figures, or do they still stand? If


updated, can they be published? If not, what deal could be worse than


those consequences of no deal? It would be a national failure of


historic proportions if the Prime Minister comes back from Brussels


without having secured protection for jobs and living standards. So we


will use every Parliamentary opportunity to ensure this


Government is held to account at every stage of the negotiations. Mr


Speaker, we all have an interest in ensuring the Prime Minister gets the


best deal for this country. To safeguard jobs, living standards, we


do need full access to the single market. The Secretary of State for


exiting the EU seems to agree on this. He stated in this House on the


24th of January the Government plan is, and I quote, a comprehensive


free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that


will deliver the exact same benefits as we have. So that is what they


pledged. So will the Prime Minister confirmed today that she intends to


deliver a trade and customs agreement with the exact same


benefits? The same goes for protecting workers' right and


environmental standards, protecting Britain's nations and regions,


protecting Britain's financial sector and services and making sure


there is no return to a hard border in Northern Ireland. And when, Mr


Speaker, does she expect to be able to guarantee the rights of all those


EU nationals who live, work and make such a massive and welcome


contribution to this country? And for those British and is who live in


all parts of the European Union, including guaranteeing that they


were a pensions will not be frozen post-Brexit. Brexit would be a huge


task for any Government. But so far they seem utterly complacent about


the scale of the task ahead. The Government Ministers cannot make up


their minds about the real objective. The Foreign Secretary, he


is here today, said in October, our policy is having our cake and eating


it. How apposite from the Foreign Secretary. Today, the Chancellor on


BBC Radio 4 said, we can't have our cake and eat it. Maybe they should


get together and talk about it. These at one level Mr Speaker might


seem like a flippant exchanges from Ministers, but they do reflect


serious differences about Britain's negotiating aims. The Government


must speak with a united voice. However, the Foreign Secretary is


the same man who promised our National Health Service ?350 million


a week once we left the EU. Now he believes that leaving the EU without


a deal would be perfectly OK. It would not be perfectly OK, it would


damage our economy and people's living standards. Will the Prime


Minister confirmed that she rejects such complacency? Labour set out our


tests for this Government 's Brexit negotiations, and we will use all


means possible to make sure we hold the Government to this word. An full


access to the single market, on protecting Britain from being


dragged into a race for the bottom, and ensuring our future relationship


with the European Union is strong and cooperative. A relationship


where we can work together to bring prosperity and peace to our


continent. If the Prime Minister can deliver aid Eildon meets our tests,


that will be fine, we will backfire. More than ever, Britain needs a


Government that will deliver for the whole country, not just a few, and


that is the ultimate test of the Brexit deal, that the Prime Minister


must now secure. I'm grateful to the right honourable gentleman.


Live coverage is continual BBC Parliament. At this point, we also


welcome viewers on the BBC News Channel.


We can show you a picture of the actual letter being handed over.


There is our man in Brussels. Handing over the letter, five or six


pages. Donald Tusk is the chairman of the Council Of Ministers. That Is


The Body In The Eu In Which Every Member, Or 28 Members, Including


Britain, So Far Set. They Determine The Broad Negotiating Position that


the EU 27 will have in these talks. They then asked the commission, the


European Commission, to carry out the talks. Michel Barnier is the


representative that will be the lead negotiator. The European Parliament


then has a say if and when the deal is done. An historic moment, as


Britain's triggering of the departure of the European Union is


handed over to Donald Tusk in Brussels. The Prime Minister said


that there can now be no turning back. She thought it was a great


turning point, she thought our best days lie ahead. She wanted to see


outside of the EU a stronger, fairer, more united country, a


magnet for talent, a global Britain that continued to trade with the


European Union, but also traded far beyond the European Union as well.


She said, a significant point of process, that she wants to agree the


terms of our departure, as well as any sort of divorce bill. She did


not use that phrase, divorce bill, but in negotiating any costs that


Britain may incur to leave the EU, she wants to negotiate the terms of


our relationship with the EU once we leave. That is going to be a nearly


stumbling block, because the Europeans want to agree any kind of


divorce Bill first, before they talk about new relationships. In the end,


she did point out that, in or out, we face the same global threats as


the European Union. She wanted a new, deep and special partnership


with the European Union, even after we left. I suppose, although there


is nothing greatly new in the content of the Prime Minister's


statement, nor is there anything greatly new in the letter that we


have just had a chance to skim, that you saw Donald Tusk getting, the


tone was interesting. It was a highly conciliatory tone. It was an


attempt to position Britain as even outside the EU, a big supporter of


the EU. There were no threats in the Prime Minister's statement, no


statement like no deal is better than a bad deal. I think the Prime


Minister is trying to set the tone for the talks as they get under way,


tried to create an amicable environment in which they get under


way. Whether or not that succeeds or not is another matter. Let's get


reaction from Laura Kuenssberg, our political editor, who was listening


to that. The key thing about this is exactly as you say, the tone here is


a world away from Theresa May Mark 1, as you might say, in her


conference speech in October, where she was much more strident. Then the


Lancaster House speech, which she made to a room of diplomats. But she


have that threat in her speech to walk away if it didn't happen. Then


here, some people might say she is being pragmatic because it is time


to talk, a very different tone. A lot of warm language about European


values. Indeed, that Britain would stay part of those. Donald Tusk, a


pivotal figure in the upcoming negotiations, he is now speaking in


Brussels. Let's hear what he has to say.


well, we would like to hear what he had to say. We could lip-read.


Interrupting Laura Kuenssberg, in full flight, to listen to a man that


we cannot here is unforgivable! You are talking about the importance of


the tone? The bold threat that no deal is better than a bad deal, that


is nowhere to be seen in here. What one senior MP was saying late last


night, the challenge for Theresa May was to seem resolute, but also


constructive, to be the iron fist in a velvet glove. I think this is very


much a velvet glove, not iron fist. We might be able to hear Donald


Tusk. In essence, this is about damage control. Our goal is clear.


To minimise the cost for the EU citizens, businesses and members. We


will do everything in our power, to achieve this goal. What we should


stress today is that, as for now, nothing has changed. Until the


United Kingdom leaves the European Union, EU law will continue to apply


to and within the UK. Finally, I would like to say that you have just


released an official statement by the European Council, in which the


leaders stressed that we will act as one and start negotiations by


focusing on key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal. On Friday, I


will share a proposal on the negotiating guidelines with the


member states, to be adopted by the European Council on the 29th of


April. I will refer to this, and I will present our proposals on


Friday, during the press conference in Malta. What can I add to this?


Thank you and goodbye. Donald Tusk, the President of the Council Of


Europe, which contains all 28 members of the EU. They meet as


heads of state, heads of government, a sombre, almost sad mood on


receiving Britain's Article 50 application to begin the process of


withdrawal from the European Union. There was no talk of punishment


beatings or being angry because Britain is leaving. Sad, clearly, as


you could see, but not anger. He talked of damage control, that he


wanted to say that the job of the EU 27 is to control the damage that


Britain's withdrawal from the European Union could do to the


remaining 27 members. He said the council of Europe will act as one in


negotiations. What happens now is that Donald Tusk has drawn up some


guidelines for the EU 27's negotiating position. They are


becoming public, they will be debated within the 27, and then


heads of state and heads of government of the EU 27 will meet


towards the end of April, I think it is the 28th 29th of April, and they


will endorse the bargaining position of the EU 27 as they begin


negotiations, probably sometime, I doubt before the end of may or early


June. The negotiations are with Michel Barnier, tasked with carrying


out the negotiating positions, and he will meet with David Davis, the


Secretary of State for Brexit. Just as the Prime Minister's tone was


interesting, so Donald Tusk's tone was interesting in the press


conference he just gave in Brussels. Many people in London suggest that


he would be something of an ally in these negotiations. He wants to get


a deal done. He is Polish, and Eastern Europe, he said all 27 will


have to have the same position, but we know that there are differences


between the original members of the Treaty of Rome and the Eastern


European members that came late to the game. They come in particular,


want a deal done for EU nationals living in the United Kingdom.


Theresa Villiers, what has been your reaction to the Prime Minister's


statement and Donald Tusk? I think both are trying to be very positive


and set a constructive tone. I hope that reflects a recognition that,


actually, these negotiations could leave both sides better off. It


doesn't have to be a 0-sum game. It is in the interests of the


continuing EU and UK that we come out of this with a flourishing


trading relationship between us. The Prime Minister, a symbolic moment,


the pulling of the trigger. In some ways, an anti-climax, because she


was repeating the points we knew from the white Paper. This is the


irony about taking back control. You get the sense that attention is very


much an Donald Tusk as to what the negotiating stance will be. Until


now, this has all been about what the UK Government's reaction to the


referendum will be. I am very worried, because I think the tone


that we heard from Donald Tusk was certainly one of regret. He is


obviously very sad. He said he was sorry to lose you. When they say


damage control, from my conversations with those in the rest


of the European Union, they also recognise, politically, that to glue


the rest of the EU together they have to make sure that Britain does


not Prospero is well outside the EU as it did within it. Apart from


saying they are going to approach the talks constructively, he says


that the union will act as one and preserve its interests. That is the


self-interest point, as you would expect. What kind of union is it, if


somebody wants to leave you have to give them a bad time so nobody else


leaves? Oh, no, certainly I want Britain to do the best possible


thing. We have negotiations. But if the EU is under strain is as it was


recently, they want to glue it together. Let's just stand back. The


geopolitics of this does not get coverage. Let's look at Europe's


position at the moment. To the east it faces a group of autocrats, come


dictators, who are threatening its borders from hard and soft power. To


the west, a hostile American administration. For the first time


ever, an administration that doesn't seem to care about the EU, whether


it lives or dies. To the south, the continued outflow and carnage of the


Arab Spring, and the huge refugee problem that has brought. When you


look at Europe come on three sides, with real problems on its hands, why


would you pick a fight with Britain? You picked the right way of


characterising it. I was in Germany last week, talking to politicians.


They put Brexit in the same basket, with all of these threats and


challenges. For them, it is just one of many. The mood that I picked up


is that they are trying to glue each other together. In doing so, that


might mean proving that you are better off staying within the


European Union. That, I worry about. I think they will have to illustrate


that we are losing out. But the European Union may well come to the


view that for at least two Matt Rodda three problems it faces it


really needs Britain's help. -- the two or three problems. It needs to's


help on its eastern border, and it needs their help to get some sense


out of the trap administration, as they would see it. Again, why would


you want to pick a fight? That is one of the things that Number 10 is


banking on. That is why, privately, it is clear that part of the


strategy is to divide and rule, for Britain to appeal to countries on an


individual basis, particularly confusing Eastern Europe, they need


is for security for the reasons you have outlined. They will be looking


at the 27 different countries around the table, looking at individual


agendas and interests, all of the individual ways where they can be


persuaded that they need Britain. That is why we have heard so much


out of Brussels about the importance of sticking together. What Britain


wants to do is go around. One minister put it like this, I said


the further you go from Brussels, the more optimistic I feel about


getting a deal that actually works for us. That is one of the tactics


they are going to employ. Security get a prominent mention in this


letter. I remember the first summit that Theresa May went to as Prime


Minister, in the very, very short window she was given to speak at the


end of the dinner. She tried, even at that early stage, to nudge the


leaders gathered there, to start thinking about security. Most of the


focus has been on trade. But Number 10 has been trying to edge them into


thinking about security as well, partly because it is so important.


Also, just to reflect on, that is the area where Theresa May, as a


politician, feels more comfortable, because of her background as Home


Secretary. There is also increasing resentment in the Eastern European


countries that too much is determined by the original Treaty of


Rome countries. They have a different perspective on this. We do


know something is already about the European position, the EU position,


Michel Barnier will be a seminal article in The Financial Times this


week. He also wanted a deal and reciprocal rights for EU citizens in


the UK and UK citizens in the EU. He wanted it done quickly. Is that


looking likely? I think there is a hope on both sides that it can be


done. One of the interesting things that was suggested to me is, had


Theresa May broached this early on with the European Council, rather


than going straight to Angela Merkel, she might have been able to


get a deal and get it off the table. But there was offset in European


capitals, rather than going through what they have been determined to


see as the proper processes, that it was not possible for Angela Merkel


to say yes or no to anything as an individual item. It seems on both


sides, genuinely, that there is a desire to get this done and get it


off the table. Every politician has come in their own countries, people


that are anxious about this. And they need reassured? Exactly, it is


hard to see the advantage to anybody in playing this long. That is one of


the advantages for the British Government. The other priority that


reads through almost every line is there hope to be able to get both


aspects done at the same time. To be able to talk about withdrawal, the


divorce, if you like, as well as the future trade deals. So, the British


Government, reciprocal rights, that might come good. You have just moved


on to something that could combat? That could come back, and this is


likely to be the first really big fight. It is known as parallelism


versus sequential -ism. I mentioned it on other programmes, so I thought


it was right to mention that on the daily politics as well. The


government is determined that we talk about this stuff, how we leave,


and what happens afterwards at the same time. In Brussels, not


necessarily every European capital, but in Brussels they wanted tie of


the divorce, get it done, settled the cash before talking about the


next bit. The two documents that have come out, the 6-page letter


from the Prime Minister and the short response from the European


Council, they display how much they are at odds. The British hope is to


be able to agree the principles of the divorce deal, if not every


dotted I and crossed T, they can at least get on with it. That will be


the first fight, not least because the Brexit bill is part of that.


What about the draft resolution. We do not want to overstate because


they will not be critical to the negotiations but it has been leaked


and it has a tougher tone that we have heard from Theresa May or


Donald Tusk about the timescale, the trade deal and a transitional


arrangement. The European Parliament has magically managed to put into


the public domain there early response. Not as if they are trying


to get into this process and have a more prominent role, they are not in


the driving seat, they do have a role. They say we could only have a


transitional deal of three years maximum and essentially saying you


cannot do this on your timetable, it is not realistic. To overstate it


would be a mistake that it is important. There is scepticism about


our timetable. There are plenty of people who do want to make it hard,


make it tough. They said they have Michel Barnier's mark all over it. A


couple of things briefly. Worth picking out from the letter, the


difference about tone. A couple of things are significant, it says


plainly the government wants early agreement on phased implementation


some ministers have been careful not to advocate full transitional


agreements, a separate deal, leaving the EU with stabilisers. It is plain


from this letter they think there will have to be a soft departure in


some parts of the deal. The other thing, in black-and-white, the Prime


Minister was at pains to mention, significant powers coming back from


Brussels will go to the devolved administrations, she was clear to


point that out. There will be suspicion in SNP circles about how


much would end up going to Hollywood. -- Holyrood. Chris


Leslie, do you think that Britain over a large exit bill, a


multi-billion pound exit bill? This will be the big early debate and I


doubt very much the European Union side of the negotiation will cede


the parallelism. While they want to sort out that bill. There might be


liabilities in terms of commitments we have made historically. We might


have had the UK say spending on European projects to 2020, but there


are also assets. In any divorce... You have to split them up. Do you


think it will be 50 billion? It sounds like an opening gambit. The


worry I have is that, and we should have been on top of parallelism


months ago. I have been banging on about it for months because it


should have been a condition of the trigger, to sort out the process


before we handed them what they wanted, but I worry about the hard


Brexiteers view because any compromise they might say, no deal,


let's go to WTO. We are going to Ben Brown in Brussels. Before that,


Theresa Villiers, it would be politically difficult if not


impossible for the Theresa May government to agree any kind of


Brexit bill, any divorce bill, without having a good idea what our


future relationship with the EU would be after we leave? You make a


good point. It was a question. In most negotiations there is a


principle nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and I think if


the government is going to compromise on money, they will not


want to make the decision at an early stage, divorce from the debate


on our future relationship. I think we can expect the initial skirmishes


of the negotiations. Whether they are parallel or not. That might be


one of the first things David Davis and Michel Barnier have to resolve.


We can go to Ben Brown in Brussels. Give us a feeling, what is the mood


now that this historic event has taken place?


Probably a mood of sadness in Brussels as you might expect. Which


was reflected in Donald Tusk's tone, sadness, a bit of sarcasm perhaps in


his tweets that after nine months the United Kingdom has triggered


Brexit, almost saying, why has it taken so long after the referendum?


You have to remember the EU throughout its history has only


grown and had countries knocking out its door, saying please let us into


your club and suddenly you have got the British permanent representative


handing a letter to Donald Tusk saying we want out of your club, so


it is a new experience for the EU and their identity, I think.


One thing we have not quite cottoned onto enough is the importance of


money for the EU 27, that Britain is one of only a handful of net donors


to the EU. And that with Britain going it leaves a hole in finances.


Net donors do not want to pay more and net recipients are worried they


could lose out. I would suggest it is a factor in the EU position.


I think it absolutely is, it is a lot of money. The EU will be poor


all-round with Britain leaving and that is an issue in the coming


negotiations and what you have to remember is there are 27 countries


left. The EU has rules and likes to stick by rules because if you have


27 members, you have to have rules because all the countries are so


different. I think that will be... Their emphasis during negotiations,


they have to stick by their rules. They can make compromises here and


there but too many and it will be difficult because it will undermine


their system of rules and as you suggest, the money they earn from a


country like the United Kingdom. What should we make of this leaked a


resolution, draft resolution from the European Parliament? It could


change before it goes before Parliament. Is this the party at


trying to muscle in, get it say in the negotiations? Is it


representative of a strong strand of opinion? It certainly represents a


strand of opinion but I think we will hear more clearly later what


the European Parliament think because we will hear from their


negotiator Guy Verhofstadt and their president, Antonio Tajani, this


afternoon, from the European Parliament and that might give us


more clarity and also, we have only heard a little from Donald Tusk, the


president of the European Council. We will hear more from him on Friday


when he outlines his response to Theresa May's letter and his broad


negotiating position, and possibly the EU red lines. Perhaps we have to


wait for Friday for more clarity. Thanks. Theresa Villiers, is the


British timetable realistic? We need to negotiate the terms of the


divorce and that will involve money. The mat could be debatable. We need


to agree a complicated new trade deal to replace the membership of


the single market involving 27 countries and put in place new


security arrangements, like the Europol arrangement, whether we have


a health card as we go around and then it has to be ratified by the


European Parliament and 27 members as well as our own government. Given


the negotiations are not likely to be under way until October and after


the German election, is it realistic it could be done by 2018? I think it


can be done but it is going to be a difficult process. Are we looking


more that there will have to be some kind of transition period, that it


cannot all be resolved in that period of time? The government has


talked about phased implementation. That is different. You are right. It


depends on what transitional arrangements. Some might be


acceptable but anything that leaves us locked into EU rules three years


in the future would not be acceptable. Donald Tusk we heard


earlier saying how sad he is that Britain has triggered Article 50 and


he referred when he was talking to the press about a statement from the


EU 27, the other member states. I will read an excerpt. We regret the


UK will leave the European Union but we are ready for the process we have


to follow and for the European Union the first step will be the adoption


of guidelines the negotiations by the European Council. These


guidelines will set out the overall positions and principles in light of


which the union represented by the European Commission will negotiate


with the United Kingdom. Their key negotiator Michel Barnier. In these


negotiations the union will act as one and preserve its interests and


the first priority will be to minimise the uncertainty caused by


the decision by the UK for our citizens and member states and we


will focus on key arrangements for an orderly withdrawal. Let's get


some reaction to that and the day's events.


We're joined now by the former Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett,


from Sheffield and the Ukip Deputy leader, Peter Whittle,


Welcome. Peter Whittle, what is your reaction on this momentous day and


the facts Theresa May has triggered Article 50? This is something we


have waited for a long time. It is a hugely historic day and I am very


pleased. It is a long time coming. David Cameron said that he would


trigger it the day after the referendum, we could have done that,


we could have spared ourselves. The ten months of this toing and froing


and drip of negativity and indeed billions of taxpayers' money paid


into the EU, but it is done now and we are on our way. We have to make


sure people get exactly what they voted for at the end of the


negotiations. How will you be the guard dogs of Brexit, a term used by


someone in Ukip? How will you hold Theresa May's feet to the fire? My


party has a unique reputation for managing to put pressure on the


political world without even having representation. We got the


referendum in the first place. Nobody believes it would have


happened without us. By putting pressure on the government to ensure


we have complete control of our borders, complete control over


legislature in this House, behind me, and that all of these vital


parts of Brexit are upheld and there is no backsliding. We have managed


to do that already. We will hear from Natalie Bennett. What is your


reaction, are used satellite Donald Tusk about what is happened? Very


much so and I think we need to reflect on the sadness of millions


of Britons, particularly young people whose lives now look a bit


smaller. People like a student I met in Sheffield Hallam University who


is about to go off on the Rasmus scholarship, an exciting time, but


he was thinking of younger people coming behind him who might not have


the same opportunity and the risk of the loss of free movement means his


life does not have the same freedoms his parents and grandparents enjoy.


We need to think of young people and the parents and grandparents and


acknowledging we have lost something today. We have lost the risk of


losing free movement. We have risks presented now, we had environmental


and workers' rights protections and for consumers that came from the EU


and they are now at risk. People feel sad and worried. They will be


disappointment, the word used by the Prime Minister, what is a party will


you do to shake the negotiations? We will present a different vision.


Theresa May seem to be in and only and mood. We see different Theresa


Mays and get different messages from the government but many are about a


hard bordered Britain, that is a tax haven, where workers' rights are not


protected and we do not see environmental, consumer protections.


Members of the government talk about getting rid of red tape. Those are


the protections that keep us safe and help clean-up Britain's beaches,


pushing to clean up our air, those things we will fight for as the


Green Party and fighting against the idea we can be a tax haven. Having


multinational companies being parasites and not paying workers


properly. What do you say to what Natalie Bennett and the party will


argue against? It is rubbish. The last thing we will be as small, we


will be bigger, breaking out of something that is smaller and going


into the world, a world developing economically far-away from Europe.


Also when she talks about free movement, the fact is people voted


in their millions last year to have control of our borders. It is a pure


denial, denial on the part of people like Natalie who will not accept the


result that that was one of the main concerns of the majority of people


and the fact is uncontrolled mass migration as a result of membership


of the EU. I would say we have to get the best for Britain but we also


have to have complete confidence in what is the most extraordinary


opportunity now. Chris Leslie, what do you say to that, that Britain


will be bigger and breaking out of something smaller and the government


will be able to respond to concerns about immigration as a significant


part of that vote in the referendum? The realities of geography actually


go against that because we are a European country. Even the Prime


Minister said we are a European country. When you look at the trade


and economic soffit, we would love to do deals with Australia and the


States but half of our trade is with the EU. The other 27 countries. What


is worse it is not just tariffs, the slowing down of the customs


transactions, with 80% of the economy in the service sector, the


risks of being allowed to trade in some sectors, financial services,


insurance, there are big questions and if you work in those sectors,


you should ask employers what certainties we have got that we will


be able to do business in the way we could before today? Do you have


concerns about workers' rights? About the claim made by Labour that


we will become a tax haven, that to use the phrase of Jeremy Corbyn, it


will be bargain basement where regulation is stripped away?


Workers' rights will stay as they are or arguably be strengthened


after Theresa May the's review and in terms of the environment, I


believe the government has a commitment to retain almost all EU


law, and we will need to look at how we regulate on environmental


matters. We will continue to share the same goals as the EU but in a


number of instances we can find a way to achieve these goals in a


manner not so costly and over burdensome to the economy. Before we


say goodbye, Peter Whittle, can you say what you thought about the tone


of Theresa May's statement, the fact she talks in her letter of this


special and deep partnership that she wants to retain with the EU? She


talks of cooperation and talks in ebullient terms, is that what you


would have done -- emollient. We cooperated with Europe before the


EU. We have been at it 44 years. Just that amount of time. The fact


is in all sorts of areas we would co-operate, security being one of


them. The problem is for Theresa May, she has a good way of talking


the talk, she talks tough and has done it on migration, Islam, and the


EU. We have to make sure she walks the walk. That there is no


backsliding between now and two years' time and that is vital. Peter


Whittle, thanks. Natalie Bennett, a final thought, looking ahead to the


negotiations. It needn't be two sides fighting each other, it could


be cordial? Possibly it could be, but when we look at the British


Government, the obvious fissures. A Tory party torn apart by different


views on what the future looks like, it will be a difficult position for


Theresa May. Peter Whittle said in Westminster we have a democratic


government, but the Tory party only won the support of 24% of eligible


voters in the 2015 election. Take back control, the hashtag, I agree


with. We need political reform within Britain, which is where some


of the crucial issues lie. All right. Thank you both.


Just looking at the figures and money, Germany is the biggest net


contributor. 14 billion euros a year and Britain's second with 12, France


way down in six because of the Common Agricultural Policy and net


contributors, a few others, but everybody else is a net recipient


which shows money will be important. There's just time to put you out


of your misery and give Chris Leslie, press that in front of


you and we will see who won. You triggered Article 50! Trevor


Arce, congratulations. You have won these special mug. That is it today


and we thank our guests. At 7pm on BBC One I will interview the Prime


Minister about plans for Brexit negotiations and at 7:30pm I will be


joined by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Lib Dem leader Tim


Farron. I hope you can join me 7pm tonight on BBC One. And we will be


back tomorrow with the reaction to these historic events today.




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