In the past hour.
In the House of Commons in London.
Further to the Brexit deal-no-deal from the other day…
Britain’s Prime Minister and Tory leader Theresa May was questioned by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn about the ongoing Brexit negotiations.
They had this exchange:
Jeremy Corbyn: “The Prime Minister was unable to support her Brexit secretary when he tried to explain that a deal was supposed to be done in October but still hasn’t been done in December. The leader of the DUP [Arlene Foster] told Irish television she only got sight of the deal on Monday morning, five weeks after she first asked for it, two months after the original deadline for the first phase of talks and after Monday’s shambles. Is the Prime Minister now able to end the confusion and clearly outline what the Government’s position is now with regard to the Irish border?”
Theresa May: “I’m very happy to outline the position that I’ve taken on the Irish border with Northern Ireland. It’s exactly the same position that I took in the Lancaster House speech, that I took in the Florence speech, that we have taken consistently in the negotiations which is that we will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”
“We will do that while we respect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and while we respect the internal market and protect the internal market of the United Kingdom.
“And to those Labour members who shout ‘how?’, that’s the whole point of the second phase of the negotiations when we, because we will deliver, we aim to deliver this as part of our overall trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union and we can only talk about that when we get into phase two. We have a plan, he [Corbyn] has none.”
May reconfirmed what the UK’s Brexit secretary David Davis told the UK’s Exiting the European Union Committee earlier this morning that there have been no sector-by-sector assessments carried out in relation to the impact of Brexit.
May: “The House requested, as I understand it, 58 sectoral impact assessments. There were no 58 sectoral impact assessments. There was sectoral analysis. Over 800 pages of sectoral analysis has been published and made available to the select committee and arrangements have been made available for members of this House to see it.
“We are very clear that we will not give a running commentary on negotiations. But what we will do, what we will do, is work for what this country wants. We will ensure we will leave the European Union in March 2019. We will leave the internal market, we will leave the customs union at the same time and we will ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland when we do it.”
Corbyn: “Mr Speaker, this really is a shambles. All they’ve done, all they’ve done is offer a heavily redacted, abbreviated version that has not been widely shared. And the Brexit secretary said in September, Mr Speaker, that €50billion divorce payment was complete nonsense. The Foreign Secretary rejected any payment and said the EU could go whistle.
“So can the Prime Minister put before the House a fully itemised account that could be independently audited by the Office of Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office on any proposed payment?”
May: “Because we haven’t actually, we’re at the point of progressing on to the next stage, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So the final settlement won’t be agreed until we’ve actually got the whole of the deal agreed.
“But I have to say to the right honourable gentlemen, he asked me questions earlier about hard borders. You know, half the Labour Party wants stay in the single market, half of Labour Party wants to leave the single market, the only hard border is right down the middle of the Labour Party.”
Corbyn: “Mr Speaker, eighteen months since the referendum, no answers to the questions. Today they haven’t yet concluded phase one. No answers to the questions and the DUP appear to be ruling the roost and telling her what to do. Mr Speaker, whether it’s Brexit, the National Health Service, social care, our rip-off railways, rising child poverty, growing pensioner poverty, or universal credit, this government, this government is unable to solve important issues facing this country. In fact, it’s making them worse. The economy is slowing, more people are in poverty, Brexit negotiations in a shambles. This government is clearly not fit for the future. If they can’t negotiate a good deal, wouldn’t it be better if they just got out of the way.”
Previously: ‘I Suspect It Will Look Very Like What It Looks Like Today’