19/04/2017 Daily Politics

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Damian Green and John Healey join Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn to discuss Theresa May's decision to call a general election in early June.

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Good morning from Westminster, where, following Theresa May's


stunning call for a snap poll, MPs are preparing to vote


24 hours in, how is this election campaign shaping up


and where will the battle lines be drawn?


The parties are scrambling to write their manifestos.


So this afternoon, MPs are likely to give Theresa May the go-ahead


There's the economy, the NHS, but will this campaign really


Jeremy Corbyn says he can win a snap election.


But one of his own MPs said he could not countenance him


as Prime Minister and called for him to stand down.


So how do Labour MPs feel about their job prospects?


It is the right time for a second referendum on Scottish independence,


but not, according to Nicola Sturgeon, for a UK general election.


Why are the SNP trying to block Theresa May's plans?


And the Prime Minister says she won't debate


Jeremy Corbyn in a TV studio - but she will today.


We'll bring you one of the last PMQs before the election, live at midday.


And with us for the duration today, two of the people who will be


out of a job in two weeks' time if and when Parliament prorogues.


But I think both of them will hope to get their job back


If not, as Work and Pensions Secretary, Damian Green knows


And John Healey should be able to keep a roof over his head -


he's currently Shadow Housing Secretary.


So MPs are expected to vote shortly for a general election on June 8th.


In the old days, it was entirely down to the PM to call an election.


But the last Coalition Government changed the rules, and you now need


a 66% Commons vote to call a snap poll.


But with just about everyone but the SNP on board,


Battle lines are already being drawn in the coming contest.


So what can we expect in the seven weeks until polling day?


It's going to be busy, I can say that.


This afternoon, after PMQs, the Government will put a motion


before MPs asking them to authorise an early general election


in exactly 50 days' time - on Thursday, June 8th.


Because of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, ministers need to


secure a two-thirds supermajority in the House of Commons.


But, with the support of opposition parties,


We'll then enter the so-called wash-up period.


This is the time, just before an election,


when the Government tries to pass outstanding legislation.


It's thought that the top priority will be the Finance Bill,


which sets out the Government's tax and spending policies.


And there are several other outstanding bills


on a wide range of issues, such as higher education,


In each case, ministers will either have to rush the bills through


or start the legislative process from scratch


in the next Parliament - if they're re-elected.


Meanwhile, on Saturday, April 29th, the leaders of all EU countries,


apart from the UK, will meet to try and agree their Brexit


Back in Westminster, the dissolution of Parliament


This is when the election campaign begins in earnest.


One day later, it's the local elections.


This will see councils elected across England,


Wales and Scotland, and mayoral elections in several cities.


The Manchester Gorton by-election is currently scheduled to take place


on this day, but it's now likely to be cancelled,


In fact, we have just heard that it will be cancelled.


And it's not just us going to the polls.


On Sunday, May 7th, we'll know the identity


And polling day here in the UK should be Thursday, June 8th,


with the result announced in the early hours of Friday, June 9th.


There we are. We are off to the races, the parties will be working


on and releasing their manifestos very soon. See if we can get a


flavour of what might be in them. Damian Green, will the Conservative


manifesto commits to privatising the NHS? I am sure you will be trying to


get me to release the manifesto, but I can guarantee that the


Conservative Party has never been about and is not about privatising


the NHS. OK, that's clear. What about imposing VAT on children's


clothes? Well, as I say, I'm sure you are going to spend a lot of time


trying to get the manifesto out of me... Is that a runner, do you


think? You can come up with any number... You have brought out


private in the NHS, so what about VAT on children's clothes of food,


will you rule that out? I'm not going to go into what might be in


the manifesto. If you are going to put a series of faintly ridiculous


propositions to me, we could happily go through them. It's a bit silly.


What have let's file both of these as under, using your words, faintly


ridiculous. What about keeping the triple lock on pensions? I'm not


going to go through the manifesto. But it's your area. The manifesto


will be published in a few weeks and I'm sure you can contain your


patience. But you are the pensions minister, aren't you? I am. But what


is your view? You won the election in 2015 on the triple lock on


pensions, whether it is inflation or average earnings or 2.5%, whichever


is the higher. Would you like to continue with you will see what we


are going to say on pensions and everything else when the manifesto


is published. What are you arguing for in the manifesto? It is your


area of ministerial irresponsibility. We have both been


around long enough to know that my private views which I might be


expressing in private in the run-up to the publication of a manifesto


should and will remain private. Let me put it another way. What would be


the logic of putting the triple lock into your manifesto in 2015 and not


putting it in in 2017? You will have to wait see the manifesto. You can


put it in a number of ingenious ways, but I'm not going to


pre-release any part of our manifesto. Have you got any


policies? You will see in the manifesto. Of course, there will be


a full set of policies... Should you not have decided them before you


decided to call an election? You will see the manifesto when it is


published but I'm not going to give you the fun of partially releasing


it. I'm trying to find out if you had actually made these decisions


yet. You will see when it is done but these are private discussions


that go on and they made public when should make them public, which is


when the campaign has formally started, and I'm not proposing to go


into either the process or any of the decisions that have been made.


Is Labour committed to the triple lock? Yes. So that will be in your


manifesto, to the best of your knowledge? Yes, there was a strong


logic to this. These are people who have retired, they don't have the


capacity to supplement or to earn additional income, and so therefore


the triple lock makes sense. How much will it cost to maintain the


triple lock between 2017 and 2022? Like with the Conservatives, the


detail of the policy plans and the evidence to support that will be in


the manifesto. So you have made a promise you haven't yet costed. This


has been a promise from Labour for some time. Like a ?10 minimum wage,


like free school meals for all primary kids, like a big boost to


affordable house-building... And more money for the NHS and social


care. Yes. Because some of this... It's always about the record as well


but if people want to know about the NHS commitment from the Labour


Party, look at what we did in 13 years. At you costed any of it? How


much? This is not the detail I'm going to go in. Jeremy Corbyn


promised to keep the triple lock last November, so this was a long


time ago, but you are telling me that here, in April 2017, you still


don't know the cost? We have made the commitment and it's part of our


fiscal and spending plans. They will be set out in the manifesto. You


will see the detail. What people need to know for the commitment of


this campaign is that the triple lock stays, there is a commitment to


the NHS and a boost to the adult social care fund, which we have


costed at an immediate need... And tuition fees are going as well is to


mock you have to see this in the round. Lets see it in the round trip


because money does matter here. You have said you are going to keep the


triple lock. At this current spending. You're going to spend more


on the NHS, that is current spending. You are going to spend


more on social care, that is current spending. There are a number of


other current spending promises you have made, but John McDonnell, your


Shadow Chancellor, has something called a fiscal credibility rule


which says that he will balance current spending with revenues of


helping you spend all that and balance the budget? Some of this is


capital investment... Everything I mentioned is current spending. How


can you balance the budget with all of that extra current spending? You


and the public will see the detail in the manifesto and you will be


able to make your judgments. In housing, I have shown 18 months ago


how we can be building 100,000 affordable new homes by councils and


housing associations each year and how we could pay. That this capital


spending but crucially, savings on housing benefit bill, despite


punitive cuts under the Tories. You are going to add about 2 million --


?2 billion to ?3 billion per year to the NHS, another ?2 billion to


social care, you are going to save on the triple lock and abolish


tuition fees, which is also current spending. You are going to add


billions and billions to current spending. They married -- they may


well all be good causes in your view. How do you do that and balance


current spending? You will see the detail and the planned in the


manifesto. You don't know. My point is that any election is about a


government's track record. When we look at the track record of the last


seven years, Theresa May can't duck the decisions made by Conservative


ministers and she has been at the heart of them. But you are unable to


tell our viewers about Labour policy by simply attacking him. Is it true


that Mrs May at officials in Downing Street looking at the feasibility of


an election since last autumn? I don't think so. Gary Gibbon -- Gary


Gibbon, Channel 4 News, excellent report. He said that Stephen


Parkinson, a veteran of the Vote Leave campaign, was in charge of a


secret Downing Street unit working from last autumn on the feasibility


of an election. I haven't heard anything about that. It goes to the


heart of trust, doesn't it? Mrs May has tried to build a brand of trust


and her people like to compare her to Tony Blair or David Cameron. She


is more of a straight shooter. But, if she's looking at the feasibility


of something, while telling the British people she wasn't going to


have an election, that goes to the heart of trust. I have never heard


that, and I think she has been completely upfront. She has said she


has changed her mind. She reluctantly changed her mind because


it became clear that, with these hugely important Brexit negotiations


coming up, Tim Farron was saying he was going to grind parliament to a


halt, more than 100 Lib Dem peers in the House of Lords were going to


make it difficult... You have got everything through! Yes, but the


negotiations are coming up. And 21% ahead in the polls is nothing to do


with it?! Is in the interests of the British people that we get the best


result in the strongest government. A Prime Minister with a new mandate


will be able to negotiate better with the EU. And the Prime Minister


accused the others claim political games. I don't say anything at this


point! Now, the speculation has already


begun as to which MPs might try There has also been backtracking


from some who had previously said they'd stand down


at the next election. So where are we with some


of these personalities? We are still waiting for to hear


from some Conservatives, like Ken Clarke, who had said he'd


stand down at the next election. And could George Osborne bow out,


now he has his new job After trying several times to get


a seat in Westminster, could the time be right now


for the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, and where


would he choose to stand? The party's current leader,


Paul Nuttall, has said Another battle to watch will be


in Clacton, where Ukip's biggest financial backer,


Arron Banks, has confirmed he will stand in


former-Ukip-now-independent-MP He's refused to rule out rejoining


the Conservatives again. Some of the big Lib Dem names have


already confirmed they will return to stand again on an


anti-Brexit platform. And Simon Hughes


in Bermondsey Old Southwark. For Labour, the former


Home Secretary Alan Johnson has said he will stand down after 20


years in Parliament. And Tom Blenkinsop has said


he will not stand again, citing "significant and irreconcilable


differences" with Jeremy Corbyn. Another Labour MP, John Woodcock,


has said he will stand but will not In a video message, he said,


"I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn


Britain's Prime Minister." And last night, one MP,


on leaving the weekly gathering of Labour MPs,


told reporters, "Go back to your constituencies and prepare


for the Guardian jobs page". Not exactly a ringing endorsement,


John Healey. How do you feel about your job prospects when the


Conservatives, according to two poles, are 21 points ahead of you?


You get these stories in Westminster, this kind of humour all


the time. You know that as well as Damian and I. We are not strong in


the polls, seven weeks of an election campaign, so a big


challenge ahead of us. But I am confident, moving into the campaign,


day two, and this will not be a narrow campaign about just Brexit,


it will be which party has the best plan for Britain after Brexit. Who


is going to rescue the NHS? Who is best for family living standards?


Who will raise the standards in schools for all of our kids? Who is


going to build the affordable homes to rent and buy that we badly need?


Do some MPs think this is a chance to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. Is it


time for him to stand down? No, he was recently elected, he leads us


through to June 8th. End of story. For all parties, the principal


concern is to make sure the voters will support us in the election. And


get the message across. But why should the voters support Labour if


Labour MPs and candidates standing for election, in the case of John


Woodcock, cannot actually say they want to see Jeremy Corbyn as the


next Prime Minister? Because first and foremost, everybody votes for


their local MP. Second, led by Jeremy Corbyn, and people like me


from the Shadow Cabinet and the party, we will put forward an


alternative to what we have seen in the last seven years of the


Conservatives. This will be a choice. Do people want five more


years of the same or a fresh start under Labour? That is the choice


people will have, and Theresa May will find it is very difficult to


keep seven weeks of attention just on Brexit. Politicians come onto


programmes like this and say there is nothing worse than a divided


party, in terms of the electorate. Is it acceptable that anyone seeking


to become a Labour MP can stand on a platform and say, I will not


countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain's Prime


Minister. Is that acceptable? Divided parties always struggle to


win elections. That is why, from today onwards, we are into the


campaign... John Woodcock has said that since the announcement of a


general election. Should a party like Labour accept that sort of


insubordination? Yes, because our concentration and our main focus


now, the one concern must be winning over the public. These are internal


arguments. We set those aside and the argument now is with the


Conservatives, and to win support on June 8th. So I presume you can see


him as Prime Minister? You will see Labour MPs devoting themselves over


the next seven weeks to that. Of course I can see Jeremy Corbyn


winning this election. Will his picture be all over your literature?


Of course I can see Labour winning this election because we will set


out a very different picture from the last seven years of the


Conservatives, a plan to deal with the matter is that concern people


every day. Will you put Jeremy Corbyn's picture on your election


literature? I will do it the way I have done before, to get support


from my local voters. That is not an answer. Well Jeremy Corbyn, elected


twice as Labour or the Labour Party, feature on your election literature?


I can't tell you yet. That doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement. I


haven't written it yet. This is day two of the election. Would you like


some help? I could always do with a sharp word or two! Maybe I will come


back to you. I thought you were going to offer... ! I just asked. If


I offered, I would have to offer it to every party, as you know! Have


you seen his drawing? If Labour loses the election, would you expect


Jeremy Corbyn to stand down. I'm not going to go into that. We have seven


weeks of an election campaign. It is wrong at the start to ask at Weston


that might or might not be relevant at the end. -- to ask a question. We


want day voice and an alternative, as a Labour government. That is our


task and Jeremy Corbyn's task. Now, the SNP have said they will


abstain in this afternoon's vote. Party leader and First Minister


Nicola Sturgeon called it a "huge political miscalculation"


and an "extraordinary U-turn" Let's talk to the SNP's John


Swinney. He is the Deputy First Minister. He joins me from


Edinburgh. The SNP say they are going to add stain. Why? -- to add


stain. Because we are believers in the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. We


have it in the Scottish Parliament and we supported the legislation for


that in the House of Commons as well. It's very clear that the Prime


Minister has decided to abandon the legislation is she supported for a


Fixed-Term Parliaments Act to essentially seize the opportunity of


the Labour Party's weakness and call a quick election. If you support the


Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, why did the Scottish Nationalists attack


Theresa may when she became Prime Minister, saying she had not been


elected and she had no mandate? It is a statement of fact, she had not


been selected, not even by the Conservative Party. But that is a


consequence of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. It is a consequence


of the fact that David Cameron got into such a political mess, a


disastrous referendum with the European Union, which he managed to


lose, that he had to leave office... So why can you attack somebody for


having no mandate and then when that person seeks a mandate, you attack


them? Quite simply because we are believers in the Fixed-Term


Parliaments Act. We don't believe the Prime Minister should be able to


play political games... So if you take that position, it does follow


that whenever there is a change of Prime Minister, by definition, they


have no mandate if they can't call another election and they haven't


been elected. That is a feature of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act that


you support. So it is surely an unfair criticism to have a go at


somebody by saying the PM is not yet collected by anybody. Why would you


make that criticism? Is a fair criticism because it is a statement


of fact, based on the fact the Prime Minister has not been collected so


far by anybody. She is obviously going to the country and we won't


stand in the way... But you are against it. People will regard this


as an absurd position you are in. Parliament decided there should be


fixed Parliamentary terms and everyone thought that was a great


idea. The reason we are departing from that in the vote today is


because the Prime Minister sees a political opportunity, a lead in the


opinion polls ahead of the Labour Party, to entrench long-term right


winger Tory rule. But she is sticking to the act. It allows for


the road to be called if 66% of the Commons votes for it. She is


entirely compliant with the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. -- the


vote. She is seizing on the weakness of the Labour Party and that will be


exposed in the campaign. A political party seizing on the weakness of


another political party... When did that last happen? The Prime Minister


was very quick to come to Scotland and lecture us about politics not


being a game. And what she is doing today is playing a political game,


seizing the opportunity of the Labour Party's weakness to try to


entrench long-term right wing Tory rule in the UK and the SNP would be


a bulwark against that on behalf of Scotland by promoting Scottish


interest. If Labour is so weak as you say in Scotland and England as


well, Nicola Sturgeon has been talking about the possibility of a


progressive alliance involving Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP in


Westminster. Is that a road you would consider going down? We want


to make sure we have a Parliament elected that will not be a pro


austerity Parliament, that will not be a Parliament that is going to


deliver a hard Brexit upon the citizens of the United Kingdom. So


we will be arguing in this election campaign in Scotland to be the


protection against... What about the progressive alliance point? We are


certainly happy to co-operate with people of like minds if the electric


gives an outcome that supports that proposition. The voters will have a


chance to have their say on remember is Parliament and obviously the SNP


will work very hard in every constituency in Scotland to win


Parliamentary support and make sure we have enough MPs to protect


Scottish interests and to be a bulwark against austerity. Thank


you. Do you fancy a progressive alliance with the SNP? No, I see no


circumstances at all of that sort of coalition. We are fighting to win


this election as a Labour government. Coalitions over the last


Parliament have got a bad name and going into any sort of arrangement


with a party like the SNP, which is set to break up Britain as their


sole purpose, and failing as a government in their own country in


Scotland, is not for us. A clear enough answer. I may have been a bit


hasty... The cancellation of the Manchester, Gorton by-election. They


are actually seeking legal advice. We will have to wait.


It would be true to say that there is some excitement


here in SW1 at the prospect of a general election.


has become a tented media village overnight - a sort of Glastonbury


But it has come to our attention that some might be


less delighted at the prospect of what's at least the fourth


opportunity to go to the polls in little more than two years.


Brenda from Bristol, for example, has become a social media


sensation after giving Theresa May a piece of her mind


If you're watching, Brenda, don't let the election


campaign wear you down - put the kettle on and enjoy


a traditional British past-time, a nice cup of tea


If you want a chance to win one, let us know when this happened.


# And you cast your fears aside...#


# Dreams can come true Look at me, babe, I'm with you


# You know you've got to be strong... #


# Take me up to a place So far away in your heavenly space


# One night One night


# In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep


# Through the desert of truth...#


With regret, I have accepted his resignation.


# We all end in the ocean We all start in the streams


# We're all carried along by the river of dreams


# I go walking in the, in the middle of the...#


To be in with a chance of winning a Daily Politics mug,


send your answer to our special quiz email address - dpquiz@bbc.co.uk


Entries must arrive by 12.30pm today.


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on our website - bbc.co.uk/dailypolitics


And they don't change in a general election! Thank goodness, because I


would never cope reading them! BBC compliance will have heard that and


think, we have to change it! You know it is a big day because


there is a helicopter over Westminster. More than one! A lovely


helicopter shot over the millennium wheel. Modern Britain and


19th-century Britain together. A lovely shot.


Prime Minister's Questions today, obviously it will be all election


oriented. And probably another one next week, and then that's it? We


think so. We expect dissolution on the third, that would mean the House


would sit... Parliament would be gone by that Wednesday? Precisely.


But this afternoon's packing up business has to be dealt with. The


SNP will abstain. -- technical business has to be dealt with.


Goodbye, Fixed-Term Parliaments Act. It didn't last long! It will still


be on the statute books, but Theresa May will demonstrate today that as


an idea, if a Prime Minister wants to get around it, you can do it.


Because no opposition can really say no? Basically it wasn't worth the


paper it was written on, some might say. At the time, it was very


important for the stability of the coalition. Changing the constitution


to keep the beautiful rose garden together, the Lib Dems and Tories


both wanted the guarantee that the other would not flounce out when


things got pretty. But when the polls look good, you can still do


what you always did. Indeed. A few Labour MPs have been a bit nervous.


They were already on record as saying they would be up for an


election. Mrs May made a big deal of the need to get a bigger majority to


get a mandate for her form of Brexit, to be able to push that


through, and the Lord's, whatever. Those of us old enough to remember


when Ted Heath called an election in February 1974 on who governs the


country... Within a week, that had ceased to be the issue, and he went


on to lose. Certainly echoes of that very direct call for an individual


mandate, and that hasn't happened from a party leader for quite some


time. In terms of how Parliament had been frustrated, it has been a bit


tricky over Brexit, doing their job, but they have not been blocking


things left, right and centre. So one of the things that actually


changed was EU response to the exit letter. There was hope to have talks


at the same time about the trade deals and the divorce, and the EU


said not a bit of it. So guess what, this might be as difficult as the


critics warned, and that is one of the factors that changed the balance


of the decision, if you like. However your Western, unlike me to


rattle on, was, will the campaign be about what Theresa May promised


yesterday in Downing Street? Brexit is the context for this election.


But campaigns take on lives of their own. Exactly. Even things you have


never even thought about. Definitely things that might be very


inconvenient for the Government. We are going to be in a strange


situation, as your guests have already demonstrated. Both parties


will go into this with pretty flimsy manifestoes. We have proved that


this morning! I was being diplomatic! We will have a very


strong manifesto, I can tell you that. Do you want a hand?


Mr Speaker, I am sure that members across the house will wish to join


me in offering our condolences to the families and friends of Andrea


Christie, who died following the London attack, and Chris Bevington,


who was among those killed in the terrorist attack in Sweden, and our


thoughts are also with the Army and friends often -- of Hannah Bladon,


murdered in Jerusalem last week. This week, I had meetings with


colleagues and others. I shall have further such meetings later today. I


would also like to join the Prime Minister in offering the condolences


of the people of south C and myself to the individuals and their


families. -- South Leicestershire. Strong countries need strong


economies. Strong countries need strong defences. Strong countries


need strong leaders. As the nation prepares to go to the polls, as the


nation prepares to go to the polls, apart from my right honourable


friend, who else in this house can provide the leadership that is


needed at this time? My honourable friend is absolutely


right. There are three things that a country needs, a strong economy,


strong defence and strong, stable leadership. That is what our plans


for Brexit and our plans for a stronger Britain will deliver, and


that's what the Conservative Party will be offering at this election,


and we will be out there, fighting for every vote. Whereas the right


honourable gentleman opposite would bankrupt our economy, would weaken


our defences and is simply not fit to lead. Thank you, Mr Speaker.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I concur with the condolences the Prime Minister


just sent to the families of those three people who so sadly and


needlessly died, and it's important we recognise that as a cross-party


proposal today. I think the Prime Minister for that. We welcome the


general election. But... But this... But this is a Prime Minister who


promised there would be one. -- there would not be won. A Prime


Minister cannot be trusted. She says it is about leadership, yet he is


refusing to defend her record in television debates. -- yet she is


refusing. And it's not hard to see why. The Prime Minister says we have


a stronger economy. Yet... Yet she can't explain why people's wages are


lower today than they were ten years ago, or why more households are in


debt, 6 million people earning less than the living wage, child poverty


is up, pensioner poverty is up, so why are so many people getting


poorer? Well, I can assure the right honourable gentleman, first of all,


I would point out to the honourable gentleman that I have been answering


his questions and debating these answers -- debating these matters


every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime


Minister, and I will be taking out to the country in this campaign a


proud record of a Conservative government. A stronger, -- a


stronger economy, and economy with the deficit down, 30 million people


with a tax cut, 4 million people taking out an income tax altogether,


record levels of employment and ?1250 more per year for pensioners.


That's a record we can be proud of. Mr Speaker, if she is so proud of


her record, why won't she debate it? Wages... Wages are falling. More


children are in poverty but in the last Tory manifesto, page 28, it


said, we will work to eliminate child poverty. They only eliminated


the child poverty targets, not child poverty. In 2010, they promised to


eradicate the deficit by 2015. In 2015, they promised to eradicate the


deficit by 2020. Austerity has failed. So does the Prime Minister


know which year the deficit will now be eradicated? The right honourable


gentleman, I know that it's taken... I know that it's taken the right


honourable gentleman a little time to get the hang of these Prime


Minister's Questions, but I have to say to him that week in, week out,


he stands up and asks me questions and I respond to those questions,


and what... Order, order. The Leader of the Opposition must be heard and


the Prime Minister must be heard. Prime Minister. A stronger economy


with a deficit two thirds down, but people will have a real choice at


this election. They will have a choice between a Conservative


government that has shown we can build a stronger economy and a


Labour Party whose economic policy would bankrupt this country but what


voters know is that, under Labour, its ordinary working people who paid


the price of the Labour Party. They hate it with their taxes, -- they


pay it with their taxes, with their jobs and their children's futures.


Only this year, the new Chancellor pledged to eradicate the deficit by


2022. I do admire Tory consistency but it's always five years in the


future. Another Tory broken promise. The Prime Minister leaves a


government that has increased national debt by ?700 billion, more


than every other Labour government in history put together. Debt has


risen every year that they have been in office. We know that their


economic plan was long-term. Does the Prime Minister want to tell us


how far into the long term it will be before we get debt falling? The


right honourable gentleman stand up and he talks about debt. This is a


Labour Party that will be going into the election pledged to borrow an


extra ?500 billion. And what does that mean for ordinary working


people? Well, I'll tell the right honourable gentleman what it means


that we know what Labour's lands would entail, because we've been


told either former Labour Shadow Chancellor. -- Labour's plans. He


said, if Labour were in power, you'd have to double income tax, you'd


have to double national insurance, you'd have to double council tax and


you'd have to double VAT as well that Labour's plan for the economy.


All that her government has delivered, Mr Speaker, is more debt


and less funding for schools and hospitals. Schools funding has been


cut for the first time in a generation. The Prime Minister is


cutting ?3 billion per year from school budgets by 2020 fourth she


says they have created a stronger economy. So why are their tax


giveaways to the richest corporations, while our children's


schools are starved of resources that they need to educate our


children for the future? He talks about levels of funding into schools


and the NHS. There are record levels of funding going into schools and


record levels of funding going into the NHS. But let's just talk about


schools, because it's not just a question of funding, it's actually a


question of the quality of education provided in the schools. 1.8 million


more children are in good or outstanding schools under this


Conservative government. That's 1.8 million more children with a better


chance for their futures. What would Labour give us? He same old, one


size fits all, authority run schools. No choice, good or bad,


trust your luck. We don't trust to luck and we won't trust the Labour


Party. We will provide a good school place for every child. Parents


taking their children back to school for the summer term, many will


receive a letter from the school begging for funds to buy books and


to fund the school. The Conservative manifesto promised the amount of


money following your child into school will be protected. It isn't.


It's another Tory broken promise. For the first time in its history,


NHS funding per pupil, per patient will fall this year. The NHS has


been put into an all year round crisis by this government. Why are


more people waiting in pain, and millions of elderly people not


getting the care and the dignity that they deserve? I'm proud of the


record we have on the NHS. We see more doctors, more nurses, more


midwives, more GPs, more people being treated in our National Health


Service last year than ever before, and record levels of funding going


in the NHS. You only can do that with a strong economy. What do we


know we'd get from the Labour Party? Bankruptcy and chaos. Mr Speaker,


that's a very good reason why we should have a debate about it.


Because that is another Tory broken promise, a broken promise of a Tory


manifesto which said, they will continue to spend more on the NHS in


real terms say that to those waiting in A departments, say that to


those who can't leave hospital because social care is not


available. Mr Speaker, isn't the truth that, over the last seven


years, the Tories have broken every promise on living standards, the


deficit, yet, the National Health Service and schools funding? --


debt, the NHS and schools funding. Why should anyone believe a word


they say over the next seven weeks? I can assure the right honourable


gentleman that I will be out campaigning and taking to voters the


message of the record of this Conservative government, but


crucially, of our plans to make Brexit a success and to build a


stronger Britain for the future, and every vote for the Conservatives


will make it harder for those who want to stop me from getting the job


done. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger


when I negotiate for Britain with the EU, and every vote for the


Conservatives will mean that we can stick out plan for a stronger


Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future


for this country. Thank you, Mr Speaker. For years, I


have been campaigning for fairer funding in Wiltshire schools. Will


Prime Minister reaffirm her commitment to this? And to a review


of pupil premium to encompass other forms of key disadvantage, such as


being a health carer, mental health problems and other bereavement? This


way, we can create a country that will work for everyone. My


honourable friend raises an important point. I know she has


campaigned long and hard in her constituency and worked hard on this


and other issues. We want to ensure young people irrespective of


background at the opportunity to make the most of their talents, and


the point of our reforms is to end the postcode lottery in school


funding and support our plans for a fairer society where success is


based on merit not privilege. The pupil premium is worth ?2.5 billion


per year. It is an important part of policy because it gives schools


extra support for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. But I


think it is right that schools are best placed to prioritise the needs


of their pupils and can use their funding to ensure they support any


pupil facing disadvantage, financial or otherwise. May I join in the


condolences extended by the Prime Minister and the leader of the


Labour Party. Mr Speaker, the tone and content of Democratic debates,


including a general election, is very important to all of us. Does


the Prime Minister Trudeau political opponents are not saboteurs, and all


electric mainstream parties and parliamentarians have a mandate, and


that should be respected? -- elected mainstream parties. In this House


and in this Parliament, it is right that we have proper debate and


scrutiny of proposals put forward by the Government, and that arguments


on both sides of the House are rightly challenged. And those


discussions take place. But I said to the right honourable gentleman


that what the British able, the people of the UK voted for last


year, was for the UK to leave the European Union. -- the British


people. There is no turning back. But it is clear from statements made


by the Scottish Nationalists and others that they do want to use this


House to try to frustrate that process. I will be asking the


British people for a mandate to complete Brexit and to make a


success of it. It's disappointing the Prime Minister didn't take the


opportunity to condemn the intemperate language when describing


either Democratic politicians. There is heckling from the other side and


the Prime Minister should take the opportunity to underline something


we should all agree on, that describing people in the way we have


read in some daily newspapers by leading politicians is not


acceptable. Most people know that the reason why we are having a


general election is because of the woeful state of the Labour Party. If


the Prime Minister is so confident that her hard Brexit pro austerity,


anti-immigration case is right, she should debate it with opposition


leaders during the campaign. We look forward to the straight fight


between the SNP and the Tories, can the Prime Minister tell the people


why she is running scared of a televised debate with Nicola


Sturgeon? First of all, can I say to the right honourable gentleman, one


of the crucial thing is we have in this country that underpins


democracy is a free press. I believe that is important and that people in


this chamber should stand up for the freedom of the press. As for the TV


debates, I can assure the right honourable gentleman that I will be


out there, campaigning in every part of the United Kingdom, taking our


proud record of a Conservative government that has delivered for


every part of the United Kingdom. And I might suggest to the Scottish


Nationalists that actually now is the time for them to put aside...


Wait for it. Now is the time for them to put aside their tunnel


vision on independence. And actually explain to the Scottish people why,


under the SNP, they are not putting as much money into the health


service as they have been given from the UK. They are not exercising the


powers they have been given, and Scottish education is getting worse.


It's time they got back to their day job.


Thank you, Mr Speaker. I also welcome the announcement from the


Prime Minister yesterday and I look forward to the general election, and


taking my positive message to my constituents. Over the last two


years, I have pressed for first-class transport infrastructure


in Cheadle, and this week I launched a transport survey so my


constituents can have their say on what is needed to keep them moving


and for us to be at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse. Does my right


honourable friend agree that residents in Cheadle need to vote


Conservative on June 8th to continue getting investment in transport and


infrastructure, not only in Cheadle but across the Northwest? I


absolutely agree with my honourable friend on that point. I know she has


been working very hard for her constituents in Cheadle on this


transport issue and others. It is under this government that we are


investing ?290 million to improve transport links to Manchester


Airport through Cheadle, and ?2.1 million committed to improving


walking and cycling routes around the Cheadle Hume district centre.


That is why the choice is clear. If you want to see that funding into


infrastructure, we need a strong economy and only the Conservatives


can deliver that strong economy. Because of the Prime


Minister'schanges to education funding, every school in the country


will face real terms cuts. Manchester is hit harder than


anywhere outside London... With Chorlton high school and another in


my constituency each losing the equivalent of over 30 teachers. So I


asked the Prime Minister the same question a head teacher asked me.


What would the Prime Minister cut to balance the books? What subjects


which you choose to sack teachers from? As the honourable gentleman


knows, there are record levels of funding going into our schools.


Everybody across this House has recognised for many years that the


current funding formula is not fair across the country. And it's


necessary for us to look for a fairer funding formula. We have


consulted on that and will be responding to that consultation. But


I say to the honourable gentleman, as he faces up to the election, I


note that last year he failed to back, he opposed the leader of his


party... If he wasn't willing to support him as leader of his party,


why should his voters support him as leader of the country?


Thank you, Mr Speaker. The only way to fund crucial infrastructure is


with a strong economy. To that end, does my right honourable friend


agree that the St James link road in Northampton would help with traffic


flow in the town and on the development in the enterprise zone,


and will the next Conservative government continue to support me as


the MP in backing the scheme? My honourable friend is absolutely


right that you need to have a strong economy to be able to fund that


crucial infrastructure. That's why, since 2015, we have increased annual


investment in economic infrastructure by almost 60%, ?22


billion by 2021, including ?2.6 billion for improvements in


transport projects. I am happy to see the link road proposal being put


forward by his local LEP, which I think will improve access to


business and unlock development in the area. My honourable friend has


worked hard to see this happen and I am sure he will continue to campaign


on issues like that which matter so much to his constituents. Recent


changes to housing benefit entitlement for 18-21 olds will


affect 195 young people in Merthyr Tydfil. The Government is constantly


challenging people to leave benefits for the world of work, but we are


concerned these changes will be a major barrier to learning and


training for youngsters who do not have a safe and secure environment


at home. Does the Prime Minister agree we should do everything we can


to help young people in the job market, including offering financial


support for housing? And will she pledged to strengthen the guidelines


so no more young people risk falling through the net and ending up on the


streets? The principle behind what is being done in terms of the change


in housing benefit is right, which is to say it's only fair that people


who are not able to make decisions when they are on benefits, that they


wouldn't be able to make when they are in work. But it is right that we


ensure for those young people for whom staying at home, for whom there


is a particular difficulty are supported through the system, so


significant exceptions have taken place, and we recognise that need.


Closed question, Mr Philip Hollobone. I would be happy to visit


the Kettering constituency in future if my diary allows. I suspect in the


next few weeks I will be visiting quite a few constituencies. Life for


ordinary working families is harder than many people at Westminster


realise. You have a job but not necessarily job security. You are


just about managing but you are worried about the cost of living and


getting your kids into a good school. You are doing your best and


a Conservative government will do all it can to make sure you have


more control over your life. Mr Speaker, these were the inspiring


words of the Prime Minister when she took office last July. Will the


Prime Minister come to Kettering, Britain's most average town, and


repeat these, her core beliefs? Because if she does so, I know she


will be warmly and widely acclaimed as the Prime Minister this country


needs for the next five years. Well, my honourable friend is


absolutely right to highlight ordinary working families who do


rely on the Government to provide stability and certainty for them.


And that's what this Conservative government has done. We have


supported jobs through significant new investment in skills. We have


invested in public services like childcare and the NHS. And we have


enhanced consumer protections. I am happy to repeat the words I said


outside Downing Street on July 13th last year, but it's Conservatives in


government that have delivered strong and stable leadership and


that is the message I will take to the country during this election.


Does the Prime Minister support the people of Darlington when they


oppose the downgrading of their A and maternity services? They want an


answer they can trust, Prime Minister. Is it yes or no? The


proposals for the configuration of health services in local areas is a


matter that is being determined by local permissions in the best


interests of services in the local area. But I am interested, the


honourable lady refers to the views of her constituents in Darlington.


She has said, the Leader of the Opposition, the leader of her party,


my constituents in Darlington have made it clear to me they cannot


support the Labour Party under your leadership. How can they possibly


support him as leader of the country?


Thank you, Mr Speaker. Can I welcome the fact that because the


Conservatives have managed the economy so well, there is record


funding... In East Sussex, for example, some of the best performing


schools in the country, they are set to receive an increase of 3%.


However in Lewes in my constituency, many small, normal primary schools


are set to see a reduction. Could the Prime Minister look at the issue


of rural primary school funding so we can even out fairer distribution


of the money? She is absolute right to point out the record levels of


funding going into schools. It is also the case, as I said earlier,


that there has been over the years a general acceptance across this House


that the current system of funding is not there in certain parts of the


country. That is why we want to end the postcode lottery and look at a


system that is fairer and more up-to-date. A system that will


support our plan for a society where progress is based on merit, not


privilege. I am happy to look at the concerns, I recognise small rural


schools have particular issues and I am happy to look at those two ensure


we get funding right and we can spread the money as fairly as


possible. Every school in my area is facing a massive budget cut. Why is


a child there worth less than a child in Tory heartlands in the


South? We currently have a situation where there are significant sums of


money going into children in certain schools, sometimes double the amount


of money going to a child in another school. We need to find a fairer


system. We have consulted on that system and we will be responding to


that system. But I note from the honourable gentleman about what he


has said about his leader, the leader of his party, the Leader of


the Opposition. He said, he's not fit to rule. The public see this is


a man who doesn't take responsibility serious lie. And he


can't take the party forward other than in a divisive way. -- serious


and dry. If we can't take the party forward, how can he hope to take


Small businesses provide the lion's share of jobs in Cornwall and the


Isles of Scilly. The difficulties of attracting credit, rising


operational costs and red tape make running a small business


increasingly difficult. What can the Prime Minister do to help these


small businesses so that they can continue to be the engine of rural


economies like west Cornwall's? My honourable friend is absolutely


right that small businesses are the engine of the economy. I know he has


been a champion for small businesses in his constituency, and he


recognises that, if we are going to insure we can create those jobs, we


want to encourage small businesses. That is why at the budget the


Chancellor provided ?435 million to support businesses in England facing


the steepest business rate increases. It is why we have cut


business rates by nearly ?9 million, we will do over the next five years,


and why we have listened to small businesses and given an extra year


to prepare for making tax discs -- making tax digital for over 3


million businesses. I recognised the importance of small businesses in


Cornwall and I look forward to visiting Cornwall and being able to


talk to him and others about the importance of small businesses in


there. Can I join with the Prime Minister, with the expressions of


condolence led by the Prime Minister early on? This election can change


the direction of our country, from the consequences of potential hard


Brexit outside the single market to the future of our NHS and social


care. Our schools and our environment. The British public


deserve to hear the party leaders set out their plans and debate them


publicly, but the Prime Minister has refused to take part in televised


leaders debates. The Prime Minister and I, back in 1992, debated


publicly, forcibly and amicably when we were both candidates together.


Indeed, Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister called out the then


incumbent, who didn't show up for the debate. Why will she not debate


those issues publicly now? What is she scared of? I can assure the


honourable gentleman that I will be debating these issues publicly


across the country, as well every single member of the Conservative


team. We will be taking a proud record of the Conservative


government but, more than that, we will be taking our plans for the


future of this country, for making Brexit a success in delivering a


stronger Britain. He talks about the possibility of changing the future


of this country. What do we know that the leader of Labour, the Lib


Dems and the Scottish Nationalists have in common? Corbynite, Farron


and sturgeon. They want to unite together and divide our country and


we will not let them do it. The government wishes to pursue a


national industrial strategy. Cumbria has some specific strengths,


such as tourism, agriculture, nuclear among others, but also some


weaknesses. In the next parliament would the Prime Minister agree that


any industrial strategy must take into account regional and


subregional factors, and would she be receptive to a Cumbrian strategy


that works within a national one? My honourable friend 's body to an


important part of our plans for the future of Britain, the modern


industrial strategy. We want an economy that works for everyone,


that delivers good, high skilled, high-paid jobs and create conditions


for a competitive, world leading business to prosper in the UK. But


he is right, as we look at that industrial strategy, we need to look


at the particular factors in parts of the country. He has long been a


champion not just for Carlisle but for Cumbria, and I recognise the


need, as does the business department, as we look at that


industrial strategy to tailor it according to the needs of particular


areas. The Prime Minister yesterday said she was calling a general


election because Parliament was blocking Brexit but but three


quarters of MPs and two thirds of the laws voted for Article 50, so


that isn't true, is it? A month ago, she told her official spokesman to


rule out an early general election, and that wasn't true either, was it?


She wants us to believe that she is a woman of her word. Isn't the truth


that we can't believe a single word? Order, order. The house is rather


overexcited. The question has been heard. The answer will be heard.


Prime Minister. This house and this Parliament voted to trigger Article


50, but the Labour Party made it clear that they were thinking of


voting against the final deal. The Scottish Nationalists... The


Scottish... The Scottish Nationalists... The Scottish


Nationalists have said that they will vote against the legislation


necessary to leave the European Union. The Liberal Democrats say


they are going to grind government to a standstill, and the House of


Lords have threatened to stop us every inch of the way I think is


right now to ask the British people to put their trust in me and the


Conservative Party to deliver on their vote last year, a Brexit plan


that will make a successful this country and deliver a stronger,


fairer global Britain in the future. Mr Speaker, I see rats and


fly-tipping as a result of beans having not been emptied for up to


three weeks across Lib Dem Ryan Sutton. -- Lib Dem run Sutton. That


follows a shambolic change to refuse collections. Does my right


honourable friend agree that accepting greater delegated powers,


elected councillors must plan changes carefully and take full


responsibility as accountable representatives when things go


wrong? I don't know about the howling of derision coming from the


opposition benches, because my honourable friend raises an


important point on an issue that actually matters to people up and


down the country, and it is our goal to dues littering in England to make


sure that our high streets and villages, our parks and green


places, that they are pleasant. We have published the first ever


national litter strategy for England and we are supporting comprehensive


and frequent bin collections, but from what he says, that the Liberal


Democrats run Sutton council is doing, it shows that the Liberal


Democrats charge the highest council taxes but, under the Lib Dems, you


pay more and you get less. Will the Prime Minister join the Scottish


Government, North Ayrshire Council and all Ayrshire local authorities


and pledge today to support the Ayrshire growth deal, requiring ?250


billion of investment targeted to regenerate Ayrshire and improve the


lives and prospects of all the people of Ayrshire? -- ?250 million.


Is the honourable lady will know, we have already shown our commitment to


growth deals in Scotland from the deals that have been agreed. I


understand the Secretary of State for Scotland has met with the


Scottish Government to discuss the growth deal for Ayrshire she has


referred to, and we are in discussion about it. We have already


shown our commitment through the deals that have already been struck,


for example, for Aberdeen. As part of Southend's celebrations as the


alternative city of culture, on the morning of Monday the eighth --


Monday the 1st of May, stilt walkers will book nonstop from Southend to


number ten Downing St to raise money for the region -- the music meant


project to help people with Downing -- people with learning difficulties


and a charity for child refugees. Would my right honourable friend


arranged on the morning of Tuesday the 2nd of May for somebody on her


behalf to receive the stilt walkers and accept from Southend's town


crier the proclamation that, in this, the 125th anniversary of the


founding of the borough, Southend be declared a city? Can I say to my


honourable friend that, when I first heard this issue of the stilt


walkers, I thought it sounded a bit of a tall order myself. But I am


sure they will be making great strides as they approach Downing


Street, and we will look carefully at that. I am pleased to hear what


he says about Southend's celebrations but also the efforts


being made to raise money for important causes, and we will


certainly look into what can be done in Downing Street when they arrive.


Will the Prime Minister give a guarantee that no Tory MP who is


under investigation by the police and the legal authorities over


election expenses in the last general election be a candidate in


this election because, if she won't accept that, this is the most


squalid election campaign that has happened in my lifetime? I stand by


all the Conservative MPs who are in this house and who will be out


there, standing again, campaigning, campaigning for a Conservative


government that will give a brighter and better future for this country.


I am proud that my party in government has ensured that we


fulfil in this country our commitment to Nato, to spend 2% on


defence, and our commitment to the UN, to spend 0.7% of GDP on overseas


aid. Will my right honourable friend please omit a future Conservative


government to do the same? -- please commit. My right honourable friend


is correct. We have committed to meet our Nato pledge of 2% being


spent on defence every year this decade. We are to bring on it. We


have a 36 billion defence budget, rising to almost 40 billion by


20-21, the biggest in Europe and the second-largest in Nato. We are


meeting our commitment to spend 0.7% of GM eye on overseas development


assistance, and I can assure my honourable friend that we remain


committed as a Conservative Party to ensuring that we ensure for the


defence and security of this country and work for a stronger world.


Schools in Westchester already underfunding by ?400 per pupil on


average before the new fair funding formula came in, and now every


school in Chester is cutting staff and racing class sizes. That is the


education budget. Can she explained the house why is it that the


national fair funding formula provides neither fairness nor


funding? As I have said in this chamber before, we need to look at


the funding formula. We have published proposals and consulted on


them and, in due course, the government will respond to those


proposals for fair funding. I was interested to see the honourable


gentleman being interviewed yesterday and being asked whether he


would put a photograph of his leader on the election literature, and he


said that the only photo he wanted on his literature was his own. He


wasn't prepared to support the leader of his party.


So Prime Minister's Questions comes to an end. House has some other


business to get through but then we hope to go back to the House of


Commons when Theresa May will move the motion to dissolve this


Parliament and pave the way for a general election on the 8th of June.


The Commons has to vote with a 66%, 66% of the Commons has to vote on to


the fixed term Parliament act for an election to be called outside the


fixed term of this Parliament, which was meant to run through till 2020


until Mrs May surprised us yesterday. She could just call it,


she had to say that she intended to call it once she got the support of


the Commons. We had some breaking news while that was going on, George


Osborne, the former Chancellor, has decided not to contest Tatham, his


constituency in the north-west, in Cheshire. The only source we have


for that if the Evening Standard, so we are going out on a limb! On the


other hand, he is about to become the editor of the Evening Standard,


so I assume he would give them an accurate scoop in that regard. But,


you know, we always like to make sure. Laura is onto it. It is good


to see the Standard getting a scoop from its editor to be. He did say


the interesting words, "For now". Maybe he will go back into politics


after he makes a success of the Standard, who knows. That was a bit


of breaking news. PMQs, an interesting question from Dennis


Skinner on the status of those Conservative MPs from constituencies


currently under investigation, potentially maybe even charged,


because of electoral misspending, overspending in the last election.


We have covered that story many times, because a lot of the work


that was done by Channel 4 News, but it was an interesting question and


the Prime Minister didn't confront it. She said she supported full


Conservative candidates, but I think that will come up again. The matter


remains to be resolved, and the police have been talking about


moving on this before the end of now all what did our viewers make of


it? Paul said, Jeremy Corbyn outlined what is important to the


vast majority. If Theresa May and the media think it is just going to


be about Brexit, they are going to get a shock. An obvious win for


Prime Minister May against Corbyn. But I suspect the Lib Dems will do


much better than current polls. Martin says, no one ever won an


election by telling a country how terrible things are. That is why


things can only get better work test for Labour in the past. Seven weeks


of running country down will not cut it and will drive most of the


country completely doolally. And, if Theresa May think she will get away


without TV debates, she is living in cloud cuckoo land. A lot of e-mails


like that. If Jeremy Corbyn will make a useless Prime Minister and


Bob bankrupt the country, why is Theresa May so terrified of engaging


in a live TV debate with him? -- and will bankrupt. George Osborne hasn't


quite got the hang of this journalism thing yet. He got the


story online in the Standard but missed the deadline for the print


edition, which is handed out on every street corner in London. Looks


like he missed his own deadline there. These things happen. Laura,


what would you like to talk about? It is very clear that Brexit has set


the context for this election. Very cleared limbs is on both sides of


what the leaders are going to try to push beyond Brexit. -- clear


glimpses. Theresa May came back to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership every


chance she had. Every Labour MP, she would make a scathing remark. And


she said very strong words, that he was not fit to lead. On the other


hand, Jeremy Corbyn, with some meandering questions, in his final


question he did get to what seems to me to be a theme, which we will


hear, that the Tories stand for broken promises. Whether it is


Theresa May's first broken promise, that she wouldn't have an election,


or promises on the NHS, schools funding... You could see he was


building that case. That is the main takeaway for me. On one side,


Theresa May will do everything she can to make it about his leadership.


He will be trying to do everything he can to make it about the Tory


record and policy. Labour knows that when people look at their policies,


with their taken off, looking at them blind, rather than looking at


Jeremy Corbyn, some of them have been quite popular. If they have


their of Labour, they have a different result. -- their of


labour. Theresa May will be pushing to keep it about Jeremy Corbyn's


leadership. What is the argument for not having leadership debates? It is


not the way the Prime Minister has ever done politics. She is slightly


unusual, she likes engaging with people on a normal basis as it were.


You saw the picture of her acting as a martial in a road race. That


wasn't a gimmick done as Prime Minister. She has done that ever


since she has been the MP there. She likes getting out and talking to


people. TV debates are rather artificial. The other point, you


have had e-mails from people, a select and wonderful group of people


watching this programme, but nevertheless out their most people


do not think the election will be about whether there is a TV debate


or not. But it is interesting, because almost every major democracy


in the world now has leadership debates -- leaders' debates. They


ran incredibly highly. There was one night when the US Republican Party


debate, that got higher ratings than the American Football League, the


NFL. I have just come back from France, there were two big debates,


three hours long by the way... Huge ratings. The Italians have debates.


Even the Germans, which have more of a Parliamentary system, they have


debates as well. If you want to reach a wide audience, broadcast TV


is the medium of the modern democratic election. So what is the


calculation that you wouldn't do it? Particularly since neither Mrs May


or Mr Corbyn, neither of them have been in government before... Would


it not be a good chance for the country to see them perform? I think


the country will see them perform hugely over the next six weeks in


all sorts of environments. As I say, the TV debates have become almost


artificial mouth. The amount of preparation and rehearsal that goes


into them. You are not seeing the person in a real environment. And in


a sense I suspect they would have been more useful 50 years ago, when


you just had two parties. How many parties would you have to have? We


had debates in the last election with six or seven people, and


everyone agreed they were less satisfactory. Hold on, the


Republican -- hold on the Republican primary had 14 candidates. The


French debate, 11 candidates... Of course the numbers are greater, but


in the 21st century not everything is a binary choice any more.


Absolutely. That is the difference. And the other interesting point, TV


is in a sense passed its peak as a medium... Really? Social media has


taken over hugely. But why were the ratings so big, so huge in France


and the US? As you have alluded to, in France and the US, they have a


presidential system. We have a Parliamentary system. So there is a


huge mediation... But surely people want to see and hear from the


politicians putting themselves up for election, to be potentially


Prime Minister? This raises further questions about Theresa May, just


like going back on her promise not to call the election. A desperate


attempt to get that in! This is not a Prime Minister that thinks this


election is a done deal. Seven weeks to go. If she is so confident of her


position, if she is confident about the propositions she wants to put to


the people, why would you turn down the medium that gives the public the


best view of what she has got to say? I can guarantee the public will


not feel... Will not feel that they are deprived of the views and the


performance of the Prime Minister or Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron, Nicola


Sturgeon, anyone else over the next seven weeks. I suspect the real


reason is why David Cameron turned down the head-to-head debates,


choosing a studio audience format. The incumbent, the people out in


front, have everything to lose by taking part in a debate. The


underdogs have everything to gain. So on a simple calculation, last


time around, Lynton Crosby, who will direct this campaign as in 2015,


will think, what do we stand to gain? Not very much. What do we


stand to lose? Potentially a lot. Let's not do it. He was the main


voice against Mr Cameron appearing in 2015. Many people think the only


reason they had to do a coalition in 2010 was because Nick Clegg was new


to many members of the TV audience and he shone and David Cameron fell


back. Although TV debates is only a small part of what is going to


happen or not in the next seven weeks, in previous elections,


particularly 2010, they are thought to have been a major contributor to


the dynamics of the campaign that led to the eventual result. What


does this say about the confidence and quality of her leadership? Tony


Blair always turned it down too. Incumbents never want them. If she


has the courage of her conviction and she has a plan for post-Brexit,


which is what this election will be about, she should set that out. If


you have confidence in your leader, will you put him on your election


literature, if we are talking about confidence in leaders? You spend


five minutes avoiding the question. Will you put Jeremy Corbyn on your


election literature? Don't underestimate Jeremy Corbyn. I'm not


going to put him on my election literature, that's not a secret.


People will see his passion, his consistency, his commitment. They


will see the way he is not ignoring the issues that face people


day-to-day. ITV say they will hold a leaders debate, so it will be up to


Number Ten to respond. Will they go ahead if the Prime Minister says she


will not attend? It will be a stand-off. No doubt ITV will issue


the invitation and see the response. Presumably Jeremy Corbyn will say


yes. I am certain he will say yes, and Theresa May should say yes. It


doesn't seem now like it will take centre stage but it could sour the


mood depending on whether the opposition parties decide to act


together, whether they somehow have a joint campaigning stance to


embarrass Theresa May. We saw not just Labour asking this, but the SNP


leader trying to push on this. First Minister versus potential Prime


Minister... That is another completely different dynamic. I


would expect that probably in the next couple of days, this will not


take off, but it may well do. Is it just in the Westminster bubble we


are worried about debates or is there a public appetite? It is hard


to tell. The ratings are really high, and that is important. We say


people don't care about politics, but they rated particularly well,


particularly with the younger demographic as we understand it. In


2010 and 2015, seeing leaders tested on TV against each other was a


really big way that some people got involved. You say TV is past its


peak, which I'm not sure is verifiable, but let's not go there.


The point is that social media, which you think is overtake --


overtaking, it feasts off the debates. All media these days is


symbiotic with itself. Who is MP for that constituency? Ashford is a


great place... Let me interrupt. We are going back to the House of


Commons. Theresa May is moving the motion to dissolve Parliament and


call a general election. Every member of this House has a


clear and simple opportunity. The chance to vote for a general


election battle secure a strong and stable leadership that the country


needs to see us through exit and beyond. It invites each one of us to


do the right thing for Britain and to vote for an election that is in


our country's national interest. My priority when I became Prime


Minister was to provide the country with economic certainty, a clear


vision and strong leadership after the long and passionately fought


referendum campaign. This government has delivered on those priorities.


Despite... In the time-honoured fashion, my right honourable friend


has called election in what she considers and I consider to be the


national interest. It will be a brave man or woman who votes against


this motion. And therefore, the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act is seen


to be an emperor without clothes, it serves no purpose. Many of us have


questioned it. Will the first part of our manifesto be to scrap it? My


honourable friend is trying to tempt me down a road. What is clear is the


Fixed-Term Parliaments Act gives us an opportunity, notwithstanding the


Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, to have elections at another time. But it is


of course for this House to vote for that election. I think it is very


clear that every member of this House should be voting for this


election. I will take one more... The Prime Minister pledged time and


again not to call an early election. In her Easter message, she talked


greatly for Christian values. Could the Prime Minister Trudeau why she


has such a loser and complicated relationship with telling the truth?


-- the Prime Minister explain. The Prime Minister is perfectly able to


fend for herself, but in terms of order, what the honourable gentleman


has said is a breach of it, and I must ask him... He is versatile in


the use of language, and he used to write articles as a journalist.


Withdraw and use some other formulation if you must. Withdraw. I


am very happy to withdraw and reformulate. Why does the Prime


Minister have such a complicated and whose relationship with giving the


country a clear indication of her intentions? Just to say to the


honourable gentleman, I think yesterday I gave the country a very


clear indication of my intentions. If he has a little patience, he will


hear the reasons why I have done that. The Government has delivered


on the priorities I set out last year, despite predictions of


immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have


seen consumer confidence remaining high, record jobs and economic


growth that has exceeded all expectations. At the same time, we


have delivered on the mandate we were handed by the referendum


result, by triggering Article 50 before the end of March, as we


pledged to do. As a result, Britain is leaving the EU and there can be


no turning back. Doesn't it takes some brass neck to


call a general election when you are facing allegations of buying the


last one? I have to say, that intervention was not worthy of the


honourable gentleman. Can the Prime Minister clarify, does she support


fixed term Parliaments? We have a fixed term Parliament act that


enables us to have fixed term Parliaments. I believe that, at this


point in time, it is right for us to have this debate and this vote in


this house and I believe it is right for members of this house to vote,


and I will explain why, to have a general election at this stage. No,


I'm not going to take any further interventions for a while. This is a


limited time debate and honourable members wish to make their


contributions. Today, we face a new question. How best to secure the


stability and certainty we need over the long term in order to get the


right deal for Britain, in Brexit negotiations, and make the most of


the opportunities ahead, and I have come to the conclusion that the


answer to that question is to hold a general election now in this window


of opportunity before the negotiations begin. I believe it is


in Britain's national interest to hold a general election now. A


general election is the best way to strengthen Britain's and in the


negation is a because securing the right deal for Britain is my


priority and I'm confident we have a plan to do it. We have set out our


ambition, a deep and special partnership between a strong and


successful European union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart


its own way in the world. It means... Just a minute. It means we


will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own


borders, and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends


and new partners all around the world. I am grateful to the Prime


Minister for giving way, and I can understand she wants to give the


house the opportunity to determine there should be an election but, if


the house determines now is not the time, why is it that the Prime


Minister stands in the face of the Scottish parliament and the Scottish


Government, that have voted for a referendum on Scotland's future? If


it is right that the people here have a voice and a vote on the


future this country, why shouldn't the Scottish people be given a vote


as well? Now is the time for a general election because it will


strengthen our hand in the negotiations on Brexit. Now is not


the time for a second Scottish independence referendum, because it


will weaken our hand on negotiations on Brexit. Strength and unity with


and seven seats, division with the Scottish Nationalists. National


strength and unity with the Conservatives. I believe this


delivers on the will of the British people but it is the right approach


for Britain and it will deliver a more secure future or our country


and a better deal for all our people, but it is clear, Mr Speaker,


that other parties in this house have a different view about the


right future for our country, while members of the other place have


vowed to fight the government every step of the way. The people of


Rossendale and Darwin in the referendum gave her and her


government a mandate to exercise Article 50. She has done that. We


are grateful to have the opportunity to strengthen the Prime Minister's


and so she can go out there and get the best possible deal for the


people who live in Rossendale and Darwin, our manufacturers and every


family there. We should be united in this Parliament in wanting to get


that best possible deal, not just for the country as a whole but for


everybody across the whole of the country, and I commend my honourable


friend for the work he has done in Rossendale and Darwin in supporting


his constituents on this. I will give way to the right honourable


gentleman and then I will make progress. I can see how it suits the


Prime Minister's purpose is to make this election all about but can she


accept the possibility it may just become a referendum on hope model


cuts, which have left older people that care, schools sending begging


letters to parents and a record number of homeless people on the


streets of greater register? -- Greater Manchester. Of course, the


general election, when we come into the campaign, people will look at a


wide range of issues. They will look at the fact that pensioners are


?1250 per year better off because of the Conservatives, they will look at


the fact that we have 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding


schools, but if the right honourable gentleman wants to talk about impact


on the economy I suggest he searches in his memory for the time that he


spent as Chief Secretary to the Treasury when Labour were trashing


the economy of this country and leading us to virtual bankruptcy.


I'm going to make some progress. I have set out the divisions that have


become clear on this issue. They can and will be used against us,


weakening our hand in the negotiations to come, and we must


not let that happen. I believe that, at this moment of enormous national


significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, not division,


and that is why it is the right and responsible thing here for all of us


today to vote for general election, to make our respective cases to the


country, to respect the result of the mandated provides to give


Britain and the strongest possible hand in the negotiations to come.


The mandate it provides. In the last election, the Conservatives gave a


manifesto commitment to stay in the single market. Will she be


withdrawing that commitment from the new one investor and, if she does,


will that not weaken her negotiation position as well as removing two


months from the negotiating window? We gave a commitment in the last


manifesto to provide the people of the UK with a vote on whether or not


to leave the EU. That was supported by Parliament. We gave them that


vote and they gave a clear message that they want the UK to leave the


EU. That is exactly what we are going to do. I fully support the


fact that the Prime Minister needs a stronger hand going into the


negotiations, as we leave the EU. Does she not think it perverse that


some people who didn't want a referendum in the first place now


want a second referendum at the very end of the procedure, just in case


the British patent doesn't get a good deal from Brussels? Doesn't she


believe that, if we were to have a second referendum, it would deeply


weaken the position of the Prime Minister in the negotiations that


she has with the EU? My right honourable friend is absolutely


right in his description of what would happen. For those who say they


want a second referendum, actually, that is denying the will of the


people, because people voted for us to leave the European Union and we


are going to go out there and get the best possible deal. Waiting to


held the next election in 2020 would mean that the next negotiations with


which their most difficult and sensitive stage at an election was


looming. A general election will provide a country with five years of


strong and stable leadership to see us through negotiations and to


ensure we are able to go on and make a success as a result, and that is


crucial. That is the test. It is not solely about how we leave the EU but


what we do with the opportunity that Brexit provides that counts. Leaving


offers us a unique, once in a generation opportunity to shape a


brighter future for Britain. We need a strong and stable and to seize it,


a government with a plan for a stronger Britain, a government with


the determination to see it through, and one that will take the right


long-term decisions to deliver a more secure future for Britain. The


Conservative Party that I lead is determined to be that government. Is


the Prime Minister at all concerned that, having tried her best to build


up a reputation for political integrity, both as Home Secretary


and Prime Minister, she is now seen, after all the denials that there


will be a snap election, simply a political opportunist? I have not


denied the fact that, when I came into this role as Prime Minister, I


was clear that the country needed stability, and they need a


government that was going to show it would deliver on the vote taken in


the referendum on leaving the EU. We have provided that over the last


nine months. Now it is clear to me that, if we are going to have the


strongest possible hand in the negotiation, we should have an


election now. Leaving the election until 2020 would mean we would be


coming to the most sensitive and critical part of the negotiations in


the run-up to an election, and that would be a nobody's interest. I said


that the Conservative Party that I lead is determined to be that


government that has the determination to see through its


plans a stronger Britain. We are determined to provide leadership, to


bring stability to the UK for the long term, and that is what this


election will be leadership and stability. I thank the Prime


Minister for giving way. Does she, like me, appreciates decisiveness,


and does she agree that voting yes in this motion signifies strength,


whereas abstaining is a symbol of weakness? I think absolutely that


voting yes is a sign of strength. I would say a little more about


abstaining, but I think anybody that abstains and thinks we should have a


general election presumably is endorsing the record of the


Conservative government. Would the Prime Minister agree with Lord Hill,


who was commissioned in Europe, when asked in front of the Foreign


Affairs Committee what the best strategy for negotiation is, is


response was, we have to come together because our interlocutors


would be watching this place and they were absolutely exploit any


weakness in our political system? My honourable friend is absolutely


right, and I'm grateful to him for reminding us what Lord Hill, with


his experience, said in relation to this. It is important that we come


together, that we don't show the divisions that have been suggested


in the past, and that we are able to show a strong mandate for a plan for


Brexit and making a success of that. We are determined to bring stability


to the UK for the long-term, and that is what this election will be


about, leadership and stability, and the decision facing the country will


be clear. I will be campaigning strong and stable leadership in the


national interest, with me as Prime Minister. And I will be asking for


the public's support to continue to deliver my plan for a stronger


Britain, to lead the country through the next five years and to give a


complete the certainty and stability that we need. I thank the Prime


Minister for giving way. On the timetable before yesterday, but I


Minister would have concluded her negotiation by 2019. We would have


gone into the general election in 2020, a year later, talking about


the Prime Minister's deal. That would have given the country and


outlook as to what they would be voting for. The Prime Minister is


asking the country to strengthen her hand. What she is doing, does she


not agree, is asking the country to vote for a blank cheque? I am not


asking the country to vote for a blank cheque. We have been clear


about what we intend in terms of the outcome of the negotiations. I set


out in January, it has been set out in the White Paper and in the


Article 50 letter when we triggered Article 50 and submitted that to the


president of the European council. I say to the house that the choice


before us today is clear. I have made my choice. It is to do


something that runs through the veins of my party more than any


other, a choice to trust the people, so let us vote to do that today. Let


us lay out our plans for Brexit. Let us put for our plans for the future


of this great country. Let us put our fate in the hands of the people,


and then let the people decide. We overran a bit today to bring you


a flavour of the debate going on in the Commons, opened by the Prime


Minister to get a boat to dissolve the current Parliament and for a


general election on the 8th of June. If you want to watch more of that,


it is live on BBC Parliament. We have one more thing before you get


to the snooker. That is coming up in a few minutes. Apologies for that


for you. There's just time to put


you out of your misery, and give you the answer


to Guess The Year. You get to press the red button.


It's an honour and a privilege. Sam Warburton in Nottingham won. You


have won the mark. The one o'clock news has already started on BBC One.


Snooker is coming up on BBC Two. We will be back tomorrow. I will be


back. With all of the big political stories of the day and maybe a bit


more about the election. Bye-bye.


Work and pensions secretary Damian Green and shadow housing secretary John Healey join Andrew Neil and Jo Coburn to discuss Theresa May's decision to call a general election in early June. Plus full coverage of Prime Minister's questions.