Highlights of proceedings in Parliament on Wednesday 1 February, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello and welcome to Wednesday in Parliament,
to the bill beginning the process of exiting the EU.
So the ayes have it, the ayes have it.
Jeremy Corbyn demands the Prime Minister retracts the invitation
for Donald Trump to come to the UK and meet the Queen.
Just what more does the President Trump have to do
before the Prime Minister will listen to the 1.8 million people who
have already called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?
and says Labour has nothing to offer the UK.
And the Trade Secretary dismisses accusations that his department
Do you regret the title to your press release?
Because it wasn't really your Department that
I think the more good news we give to the public,
After two days of debate and passionate speeches on all sides,
the moment finally came for MPs to vote on the bill
allowing the Government to trigger our exit from the EU.
The ayes to the right, 498. The noes to the left, 114.
CHEERING The ayes to the right, 498. The noes
to the left, 114. So the ayes have it, the ayes have it.
That result was the culmination of a process started
when the Government's right to trigger Brexit
without Parliament's consent was challenged in the courts.
There had been nearly 12 hours of debate on Tuesday,
and a further six hours on Wednesday -
At the start of day two, a former Labour leader saw a danger
in the UK now looking to forge a closer relationship
with the President of the United States.
I can go along with the Prime Minister that Brexit means Brexit.
But I cannot: with the idea that Brexit means Trump. Nor do I believe
that that is inevitable, nor do I believe that is what the British
people want. But the danger is this. The Prime Minister feels it is an
inevitable consequence of leaving the EU that we are driven into the
arms of resident Trump. We will see sweep aside the political damage. We
will not accept the proposals from Scotland to follow the votes of
people and a nation of Scotland that retain our European connection.
We're not interested in preserving Scottish jobs. That is the criteria
and attitude of government. If that is what this Prime Minister wants to
do with Scotland, if she's determined to throw down the
gauntlet, then she can be absolutely sure that Nicola Sturgeon as First
Minister will pick it up. We will need to have a bridge that we seek
with the European Union. At the same time, the European Union needs from
us financial commitments that it believes we entered into to pay for
European projects that were undertaken while we were a member.
In practice what that means is that the negotiation will be a trade-off,
as all divorces are, between access and money.
The debate featured a maiden speech from the House's newest MP.
I'm not a lawyer, but I fail to understand how one can ask the
electorate a question and then even consider disregarding the result. I
believe that the referendum is not advice but an instruction to us. We
asked the people, and the people said out, so out we must go. When
all is said and done, the decision on whether the deal but Prime
Minister negotiates is good enough will be decided by someone. Someone
will make that decision. Should it be the Prime Minister? Should it be
those privileged to be here? Or should it be the British people who
have delivered that decision? I say it should be put to the people in a
referendum. That is why the Liberal Democrats are fighting for the
British people to have the final vote on the deal this government
negotiates. Democracy! Democracy means accepting the will of the
people. At the beginning of the process and at the end of the
process. I would caution those thinking of voting against the night
to be careful what they wish for and to be careful for wishing for a
second referendums. I think the people, advocates of free speech and
free press in a powerful democracy would view their wishes dimly. So
much of this has been about how we defend democracy by voting for
Article 50. It should not be about that, it is how we strengthen
democracy over the next two years. This is the moment we begin to take
back control of outlaws, how borders and our money. Once again, we become
a sovereign nation state in command of our own destiny, and I'm
absolutely delighted about that. I campaigned like others fall remain
but I accept the Democratic revolt and I think we should allow the
article 50 notice to be triggered. I do agree with those that said that
if we do not do that, a crisis in our democracy helps no one. A Labour
A Labour MP who resigned from her front bench position
explained why she couldn't vote for the Bill.
I feel I would be abandoning my duty to my constituents who have over one
in the and unwaveringly made their point that they do not want to leave
the European Union. 75% of my constituents voted to remain in the
European Union. The DUP's Westminster
leader rejected warnings of dire consequences
for Northern Ireland of Brexit. The fact is that when we remained in
sterling and the Irish Republic join the euro along with other European
partners states, this would cause all sorts of problems on the island
of Ireland, this would lead to destruction, economic and political.
None of that happened. People adapted.
Well, that second and final day of debate was wrapped up
with the Shadow Minister for Exiting the EU confirming Labour would back
the bill before the house triggering the start of Brexit.
But she issued a warning to the Prime Minister.
This must be a deal worth the of the consent of this House. If she and
her negotiators failed to achieve a deal worthy of our country, they
will not achieve our consent. The Prime Minister must deliver the deal
she claims that she can. This is a straightforward Bill. It delivers on
the promise made do the people of the United Kingdom to honour the
outcome of the referendum. We must trust the people. I commend this
Bill to the House. attempting to stop
the bill in its tracks, but that was rejected
by 336 votes to 100. Then it was onto the main vote,
which won by 498 to 114. The cover for majority means the legislation
will now go on to be debated in more detail in the Commons next week.
Theresa May had faced the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn,
for the regular round of Prime Minister's Questions.
He pressed the Prime Minister over her recent visit to the US
Theresa May was the first overseas leader to meet Mr Trump last week.
before giving a joint news conference.
Just hours after Mrs May left Washington,
the President announced a ban on people from seven mainly Muslim
The Labour leader took Theresa May back to what she'd said
to the Commons just ahead of her visit.
The Prime Minister told the House, I'm not afraid to speak frankly to
the President of the United States. What happened? I'm happy to say to
the right honourable gentleman that when I visited the United States,
I'm pleased to say I was able to build on the relationship we have
without most important ally, and do get some very significant
commitments from President Trump. And crucial among those was a 100%
commitment to Nato. Nato, which gives us safe and keep Europe safe
as well. Downing Street has not denied that the prime Esther was
told by the White House that the executive order on travel to the US
was imminent. Let's be clear, was the Prime Minister told about the
ban during her visit, and did she tried to persuade President Trump
otherwise? If the is asking me whether I had advance notice of a
ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he is asking me if I had advance
notice that the executive order could affect British citizens, the
answer is no. If he is asking if I advanced notice of the travel
restrictions, the answer is that we all did because President Trump said
he was going to do this in his election campaign. The question is
how you respond. The job of government is not to chase the
headlines. The job of government is not to take to the streets in
protest. The job of government is to protect the interest of British
citizens, and that is what we are doing. President Trump has torn up
international agreements on refugees, she has threatened to dump
international agreements on climate change, he's praised the use of
torture, he has incited hatred against Muslims. He has directed
attacked women's rights. What more does the President Trump have to do
before the Prime Minister will listen to the 1.8 billion people who
have already called for his state visit invitation to be withdrawn?
The right honourable gentleman's foreign policy is to object to add
insult the democratically elected head of state of our most important
ally. Let's just see what he would have achieved in the last week.
Would he have been able to protect British citizens from the impact of
the executive order? No. Would he have been able to lay the
foundations of a trade deal? No. Would he have got a 100% commitment
to Nato? No. That is what Labour has to offer this country. Less
protection for British citizens, less prosperous molest safe. -- less
prosperous, less safe. He can lead a protest, I'm leading a country.
You're watching Wednesday in Parliament with me, Alicia McCarthy.
Up on the committee corridor, the International TradeSsecretary
told MPs that the UK is already having talks over potential trade
deals with countries including Australia,
Liam Fox told the Commons International Trade Committee
that the new trading relationships could not be a "substitute"
for the EU's single market, but hoped they would be in addition
to a free trade deal with the remaining member states.
A Labour MP questioned him about claims made by the department.
You wrote in the Telegraph on the 18th of January, embraced the Brave
new world of free trade, and you talked about... The headline was,
Liam Fox confirms Brexit talks with 12 countries across the world. Could
you list those 12 countries? I won't list them all because some of them
we are still in confidential discussions with. But I can say that
in terms of Australia, we have a trade working group. In terms of
China, we have a trade working group and I'm chairing the committee in
Beijing in April. With the collection of Gulf states, we are
working with them to determine what our relationship would be, given
that they are keen on our potential future FTA with India, we have a
working group. We have embarked on a process of trade on it. If you were
to add up all of those potential countries, the level at their
exports that you are talking about, all the lists you have that, it
doesn't come anywhere near the level of exports that we have today you.
Relative to our primary block, that set of relationship comes nowhere
close, does it? I'm sure the former chief secretary is aware that adding
a small mummers gets bigger in the end. Of course, it is not an either/
or. We are looking at either we trade with the EU IP body else. But
it is not a substitute, is it? Nobody has said it is a substitute.
Your Department released a press release at the beginning of the
dear, securing over 60 billion of foreign investment. The financial
Times went through the lists that you had here. In fact, most of those
had already been secured long before the referendum. Fake news?
It's the continuity of what UKTI is doing. And it was an antidote to the
idea that people are not going to be investing in the United Kingdom. We
will be chairing the UK Qatar investment conference in March. Do
you regret the title to your press release? I don't regret it at all.
Liam Fox. The former UK ambassador to the EU,
Sir Ivan Rogers, has told MPs that Brussels could issue a Brexit bill
of up to 60 billion euros. Sir Ivan made the headlines
in December after the BBC reported his private remarks
to the Prime Minister about how long
Brexit negotiations could take. Sir Ivan stepped down last month -
ten months earlier than expected. In his resignation letter,
he told officials to challenge "muddled
thinking" in the Brexit process. Now, in his first public appearance
since his resignation, he has told
the European Scrutiny Committee that Brexit negotiations
could be difficult. It is a negotiation on the scale
that we haven't experienced, probably ever but certainly since
the Second World War. I think there's always a danger in
generalising from specific experience in budget negotiations
I've had all tax negotiations or emissions. They all have a
specificity to them. This is going to be on a huge scale, we will have
enormous amounts of business running up various different channels. And
they involve difficult trade-offs for Her Majesty's governments and
difficult trade-offs for the other 27 on the other side of the table.
Sir Bill Cash asked him about an assertion in the letter
last October that exit negotiations could take ten years.
You said that it was going to take ten years. Can you confirm whether
in fact you actually said that? Or was that meant to be, was it a leak?
Was it an intention that you thought you would be able to get across a
message without anyone really knowing quite... Can you give us
some more information about that? I can indeed. I never said it would
take ten years. I think what I put in print, as I say, I have the
formula here somewhere but I'm not shy can lay my hands on it. What I
put in print was that Mike summary of the Beltway wisdom from the
people I talked to on a daily basis was that a negotiation on FTA and a
ratification process from all 28 parliaments would probably take
until the early born mid-2020s for ratification. I think those were my
exact words. Is this reporting by BBC based on off the record remarks
and observations that you made them? No. It isn't? No. Where do you think
it came from? I had no idea. I know the origin of it in terms of which
bit of text it comes from and I've just given you the more accurate
account of what that bit of text said and wrote that before the first
Council appearance. The route by which it got to the BBC by December
15 which was the day of the European Council issue when it exploded and I
was all over the screens on the 15th, why it took two months to get
there and buy what route it got where I couldn't possibly say. But
to be very clear, I never leak, I never have never would, never have
under any Government. The origin of this has nothing to do... We hear
threats and I can only issue they are threats that we will have to pay
billions of pounds to leave this club. You don't pay to leave a club.
You say thank you very much indeed and leave. So do you think this is a
genuine threat to us to have to pay billions of euros to a club that we
are leaving? Do you think that is a reasonable thing? I think it can be
both genuine and reasonable, if I may say so. I think it is genuine
and you have seen the coverage in various Bahrain newspapers so it is
being said by others in the commission that the total financial
liability as they see it might be in the order of 40- 60 billion euros on
exit. I think they do believe that. I don't know the origin of that
figure but I think I can guess it. I think they will mount up that
figure. He called it a predictably very hard
line coming from the EU commission A Foreign Office Minister has told
peers that President Assad cannot be trusted and is incapable of bringing
an end to Syria's bloody conflict. Last week the Foreign Secretary,
Boris Johnson, appeared to suggest to a Lords committee that the UK
might have to reconsider Answering questions in the Lords,
Lady Anelay was adamant Could we not have a new realistic
approach recognising that we cannot remove Assad? In the words of the
patriarch of the Orthodox Church here a few months ago, he should be
a candidate in any election, far be it from me to suggest that if he
wins he be invited on a second state visit... But my Lords, should we not
establish diplomatic representation in Damascus and be at the centre so
that when peace is eventually restored, we have played a
constructive part in restoring it? This is, my Lords, a country where
Assad has shown he is incapable of protecting his own people. But my
Lords, where I agree with my honourable friend is that we should
not dictate an outcome. What we are saying is that Assad has not proved
that he can bring peace to the country. Can the noble minister tell
us whether the Foreign Office are considering any increase or any
installation of diplomatic presence in Damascus? My Lords, certainly
not. What we found in the past is that Assad is an unreliable person
come in dealings we had with him. It would not be appropriate to show
that we trust him in anyway, because he isn't to be trusted.
the SNP's Westminster leader offered his congratulations.
The Prime Minister had a very successful international visit in
this last week. To Ireland! And there she spoke publicly about her
commitment. And it's very important, I think, this. Commitment not to
have a hard border on these islands, that there should continue to be
free movement of peoples on these islands and that trade should be
protected and enhanced. So given that people will be watching this
not just in Britain but in Ireland, would she take the opportunity now
to explain how she will deliver these sensible and important
outcomes? These are absolutely the outcomes that we want to see. I was
very pleased to meet and discuss the joint intent that both his
Government and mine have to ensure that we don't see a return to the
borders of the past in Northern Ireland. Just do say that of course
we focus on the land border that is between Northern Ireland and the
Republic of Ireland. Of course the issue of movements from Ireland
affects other places as well, it affects sports in Wales and of
course Stranraer. The Prime Minister has very helpfully explained that it
is perfectly possible for parts of these islands to be in the single
market, without hard borders, with free movement of people, and at the
same time protecting and trading with one another. This is very, very
welcome, Mr Speaker. So a commitment to work with the Irish Government
and to work with the Scottish Government to deliver all of these
things... He really should listen to the answers that are given because
he is trying to imply something that isn't there. Yes. We're very clear
that we want to see the frictionless border between Northern Ireland and
the Republic of Ireland. But I'm also clear that one of our
negotiation objectives is to see as frictionless a border as possible
between the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union. And of
course, if he is so worried about having a frictionless border between
Scotland and the European Union, he shouldn't want to take Scotland out
of the European Union with independence!
A Conservative stood up next and asked when MPs would see
the Government's policy document, or white paper, on Brexit.
EU nationals provide a vital and experts that this in my local
hospital in Basingstoke. And along with thousands of others, they face
an uncertain future. I know this is something the Prime Minister wants
to give priority to in sorting out. Will we be hearing more about it in
the forthcoming White Paper? I hope we will be working to ensure that
this is an issue we can deal with in the early stage. It was one of the
objectives I set out in the plan and it will be referenced in the White
Paper which will be published and I can inform my right honourable
friend and the house that that paper will be published tomorrow.
Theresa May announcing the publication
of the Government's Brexit policy paper.
but do join me at the same time tomorrow,
MPs will debate the harm caused by alcohol.
But for now from me, Alicia McCarthy, goodbye.