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British Prime Minister to Address Parliament; CNN Briefed on Audio Recording of Khashoggi Murder; Juncker Says, We Will Not Renegotiate Brexit; Macron to Address Nation Amid Ongoing Protests; Prime Minister May Announces Brexit Vote Won't Be Held Tuesday; Jeremy Corbyn Says the Government Has Lost Control of Events. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired December 10, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[10:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello, I'm Becky Anderson in Abu Dhabi where it is bang on 7:00 p.m. Welcome to what is an extraordinary
news hour, as we follow two major stories for you.
One from right here in this part of the world. New exclusive details on the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi for you. We are going
to tell you all of that ahead.
First up though, a monumental moment in Brexit for you. Let's get you to my colleague Julia Chatterley who is right outside the mother of all
Parliaments facing the mother of all problems -- Julia.
JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR AND INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much, Becky. I mean we've been sitting here of
course, debating what the likelihood is that we ultimately see a vote coming in the next couple of days. We were supposed to be just a day away
from that make or break vote on Theresa May's Brexit plan. But now, you are wondering, if it will even go ahead at all. Then honestly, I have to
say, your guess right now is as good as mine.
In the past few hours, a source has said that vote will now be delayed. We don't know until when. But we hope to get more clarity in less than 30
minutes, when the British Prime Minister is due to speak in Parliament. Mrs. May is not the only leader of course facing a frustrated call for
However, over in France, the President Emmanuel Macron is preparing to address the yellow vests movement in a speech to the nation. He has
already met with the union and business leaders, and with scenes like these that we are now showing you, time is truly of the essence and for another
weekend of violence. We are talking four straight weekends of violence. Remember, Monday, we saw disruptions up to 120 schools in France, many
completely blockaded by students.
So, there is a lot to cover. Thankfully our correspondents are here to do just that for us. Bianca Nobilo at Downing Street, Erin McLaughlin has the
reaction from Brussels. Jim Bittermann is standing by in Paris, more from him in just a few moments time. Our Matthew Chance is not far away from
me. He is just outside Parliament. Matthew, I know, you and I can both hear the protesters on both sides of this debate behind us right now. But
what we're looking ahead to is Theresa May's speech here, and we're expecting her perhaps to delay this vote after a really tough weekend of
negotiations back and forth and noise.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. That's the expectation. I think it is perhaps, she was confronted with the
reality of the situation. Which was the probability of a huge defeat in the Commons, the House of Commons behind me, for that plan that she had
been negotiating for several months. It sounds like she is going to formally announce the postponement of it in the next half an hour or so to
Parliament, and whether or not that will be problematic or not still remains to be seen.
Outside, it's reinvigorated all of those various strands of opinion that have divided this country really over the last couple of years, since this
referendum about whether or not Britain should be in the European Union was instituted. There're all sorts of different opinions outside the Houses of
Parliament here at the moment. People who want a referendum, a second referendum to decide whether or not Britain should even leave the European
Union. People who want to back Theresa May's deal -- even though we understand she'll now be going back to Brussels to try and extract some
concessions from the European Union. There are people here as well that want to crash out of the European Union with no deal at all and to trade on
the WTO rules. Others that want a general election for this to be decided at the ballot box. So, this continues to be an immensely divisive issue in
British politics and really, no matter Theresa May says in the next 30 minutes, no matter what scenario plays out, political chaos is what is
confronting this country from here on in -- Julia.
CHATTERLEY: You are so right, Matthew, so divisive here in terms of choosing to go ahead with this vote or even not going ahead with this vote.
Bianca, I want you to come in here and talk to me here as well. Because there are those who believe that she needed to see a large loss here in
this vote and in order to be able to go back to the EU and try and renegotiate something. The problem is, has she lost the vote? Here at
home, she could face challenges from all sides. Whether it's her own party or the Labour Party, too here.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, she could, Julia. She was staring down the face of one of the most historic defeats that Parliament has ever
[10:05:00] And MP's within her own party that I've been speaking to this morning are a mixture of really irritated. One of them said that this
decision was eyeball rolling irritating. He was a remain supporting MP that had decided to support the government because he wanted to get Brexit
done and dusted and deliver on the results of the referendum. And now, he is seeing this. And he is wondering what on earth are you doing, for those
reasons that you just stated, Julia.
Others who want to see Theresa May toppled and replaced with another leader from within the Conservative Party, are also very annoyed, because they too
thought that a defeat in Parliament would be a great mandate to go back to the EU and strike harder negotiating stance and say you really need to give
us more concessions here if you don't want us to leave with a no deal.
So mounting frustrations, rumors swirling as they have been perpetually the last year that this could be the moment that the 48 letter goes in to
challenge Theresa May for leadership. But we will wait to see what she says. However, all of the MP's that I've spoken to, Julia, have said that
they have expecting her to formally announce that they will be pulling the vote this week and they'll be delaying it for another week.
CHATTERLEY: That speech coming within the hour. Bianca, thank you for that. Erin, Jim and Matthew, guys, stand by, we will be back to you and
speak to you later this hour as things continue to develop. Becky, I'll hand back to you.
ANDERSON: Thank you very much, indeed. An important day. An extremely important day in Britain. Stand by, more from Julia and the gang shortly.
To CNN exclusive reporting here on a story now that we have been covering for weeks. That of the murdered Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. Before
we get to that have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We don't need, you know, direct evidence that he ordered the code red on this thing. The bottom line is that there
is no way that 17 people close to him got on a charter plane, flew to a third country, went into a consulate, killed and chopped up a man and flew
back and he didn't know about it, much less order it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, that key U.S. senators, like Marco Rubio, they were briefed by the CIA on the agency's assessment of Jamal Khashoggi's killing.
They were horrified. And they said so publicly. Now, sources are giving CNN a briefing on a transcript of an audio recording capturing Khashoggi's
final moments inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. CNN's Nic Robertson was provided with details of the transcript, reproduced in this report of
that audio. It correlates with the CIA finding that the Saudi team was sent to Istanbul with the intent to kill.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: CNN can now reveal Jamal Khashoggi's last words. I can't breathe. I can't breathe.
These previously undisclosed details of what happened that afternoon in October come from a source who's been briefed on the investigation. The
source has read a full transcript of an audio recording of Khashoggi's horrific final moments.
Within moments of his fateful steps into the consulate, Khashoggi recognizes someone, asks why they are there. The answer? You are coming
According to a CNN source, the Turkish transcript identifies that person as Maher Abdulaziz Mutreb, a former Saudi diplomat and intelligence official,
working for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman whom Khashoggi knew.
Khashoggi is clearly alarmed. And replies, you can't do that. People are waiting outside for me.
According to the source, the conversation ends right there. The transcript indicates noises, as people set upon Khashoggi, and very quickly Khashoggi
can be heard saying, I can't breathe. He repeats it again. I can't breathe. I can't breathe. What happens belies initial Saudi claim, his
death was a grave mistake.
A CNN source says it is clear from his reading of the transcript Khashoggi's murder was no botched rendition attempt but the execution of a
pre-meditated plan to murder the journalist. But it is what happens next that is really horrific. The transcript records many voices and noises.
Then says scream from Jamal. Again, scream. Then gasping. Noises are identified as saw and cutting.
Then, a voice Turkish authorities identified as the Dr. Salah Muhammad al- Tubaiqi, the head of forensic medicine at Saudi Arabia's interior ministry.
[10:10:03] He says, if you don't like the noise, put your earphones in. Or listen to music like me.
According to the source, Mutreb, the apparent leader of the team makes at least three phone calls during the murder, to a number Turkish officials
identify as being in the Saudi royal court. Only Mutreb's side of the conversation can be heard. But there is no sense of panic or of an
operation gone wrong. Mutreb tells the person in Riyadh, tell yours -- that the source takes to mean your boss or your senior -- the thing is
done. It's done.
CNN reached out to Saudi officials to get a response from those named in this report. And we're told Saudi security officials have reviewed the
transcript and tape, and nowhere in them is there any reference or indication of a call being made. The Saudi source close to the Saudi
investigation says both Mutreb and Tubaiqi deny making phone calls. And while the transcript provides no smoking gun directly tying Prince Mohammed
bin Salman to the killing, it seems to echo Senator Lindsey Graham's sentiments after hearing the CIA's assessment of Khashoggi's killing.
There's not a smoking gun. There's a smoking saw. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
ANDERSON: Well, CNN shared our source's detailed description with the office of a U.S. Senator, who was briefed by the CIA last week and we were
told that the CNN report of the transcript was consistent with the briefing that the Senator received.
One U.S. Senator convinced the killing of Jamal Khashoggi was orchestrated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is Lindsey Graham. And he's not
mincing words. Telling Fox News on Sunday that Saudi Arabia's military, quote, can't fight out of a paper bag without U.S. backing, and quote, if
it weren't for the United States, they would be speaking Farsi within a week. End quote.
Well, I put Saudi Arabia's apparent dependence on America to Prince Turki, a former ambassador of the United States. This is what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE TURKI AL FAISAL, FORMER SAUDI DIRECTOR OF GENERAL INTELLIGENCE: The Saudi idea, if you like, has survived for three centuries now. As far as
survivability is concerned, I don't think throughout those centuries that we relied on American goodwill. We never forget that America stood with us
when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The Americans gave lives in support of Saudi Arabia and that is much appreciated and remember and will continue to
be an historic factor.
But we also stood by America at the time when America was much reviled in the Middle East in the '50s, '60s and '70s, and yet we stuck to America,
and bore the burden of that friendship with America by attacks by anti- American forces in the Middle East. So, it has been a history of mutual benefit, mutual respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Up next, back to our top story, this hour, where there is quite a lot of chaos behind my colleague Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Thanks very much, Becky. We are counting down just around 15 minutes away from when we're expecting Theresa May to announce in the
Houses of Parliament that she is going to delay this vote. What next? We will have all of the context for you. And will continue to hear from the
protesters here, as you can see, on both sides of what is an incredibly divisive debate. Stay with us. All the update, all the news, here on CNN.
[10:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Brexit is being shot in the foot, really. We all voted to leave, and that's how it should be, we should leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not a vote, nothing. I think the decision is out of our hands. It is what it is. And whatever they decide, we are going to
have to ride the storm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to the show. As you can see, there's simply a lot of confusion. There is frustration. And there is concern among the
people of the U.K. over the rocky path towards Brexit. We are just moments away now from the next step along that path. Prime Minister Theresa May is
about to address Parliament and no one seems to know what she will say. A source tells CNN that she sees the Parliamentary vote on Brexit is off.
But we won't know for certain until the Prime Minister herself tells us that fact.
Let's bring in our international Brexit panel. Bianca Nobilo is at Downing Street. Jim Bittermann is in Paris. Erin McLaughlin is in Brussels, while
Matthew Chance is with me outside Parliament. And Matthew, this is where we're expecting to hear Prime Minister Theresa May speak within the next 10
or 15 minutes. What can she say here to justify the decision to postpone this vote, if indeed that is what she chooses to do here?
CHANCE: Well, I think that Theresa May, as we've been reporting over the course of the past several hours, as they're starting to emerge, has come
to grips with the reality that she was facing a massive defeat in the House of Commons when it came to her deal. It was a deal that essentially
pleased no one. The Brexiteers felt it gave too much away. The people who favored remained felt that among other things staying in the European Union
is better than the deal that she was offering that she spent months negotiating with the European Union.
And so, she has obviously made the calculation if this indeed does go ahead, that it's better for her to go back to the European Union, to cancel
this vote and see if she can come back with some kind of concessions to then put to Parliament. Perhaps with the hope -- definitely with the hope
that she has, that she can then turn opinion inside the House, and get some support from MP's to get it scraping through.
But as you can see, outside Parliament where we are right now, there is a whole load of different opinions that have come to the fore once again as a
direct result of this day and the way it has opened up wounds. People who want an exit from the European Union without a deal, people who want a
second referendum, people who want a general election. They are all out here, chanting, calling outside the Houses of Parliament as we wait for
Theresa May to address the Commons -- Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, there's is no better reflection I think than what is going on behind you. The fact that there are people on both sides of this
debate out in front of the Houses of Parliament protesting here. Bianca, I want to bring you back in here too, because obviously if we do see the
Prime Minister step out here and say look, we are going to delay this vote. Is that the best way you think that she can hold on to being Prime
Minister, here, and give herself the opportunity to try and renegotiate yet again here, without facing some kind of confidence vote or having to step
NOBILO: Well, kicking the can down the road is the strategy that Theresa May has employed every single time. Her Brexit strategy and indeed her
leadership seems in question, and that everybody around her is doubting how long it can truly continue. And that's what she is seemingly doing today,
[10:20:00] And it's interesting, because it is very loud where you and Matthew are, but here, it is pretty quiet. And it feels like it is the eye
of the storm.
And this is where the Prime Minister has been meeting, senior members of her cabinet, over the last few days. And even just this morning, Michael
Gove, one of her leading Brexiteers in the cabinet, was out saying to people the vote is going ahead. That's been the line from Downing Street
for the last few days. But there seems to have been a U-turn in the last few hours and there is a lot of frustration among MP's that she is taking
this path. Many think she is just postponing the inevitable now. And even MP's in the Conservative Party think that she is only saving her own skin
by doing this. Others hold out some sort of hope that she can pull a rabbit out of the hat, and maybe extract another concession from the EU, or
exchange letters with Donald Tusk, confirming something about the future relationship. But none of that seems clear at the moment, Julia. So, the
Prime Minister I think, by choosing this strategy, electing to try and suspend disbelief, rather than proving beyond all doubt that she cannot
carry the confidence of the House on her Brexit deal.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, you can get and depend on the curve here is something that we more recently have seen in Brussels. Let's go down to Erin now and
get her take. Because, Erin, we know that Prime Minister Theresa May has been on the phone talking to the Council President, to the Commission
President, too, recognizing the challenge of getting this vote passed. The question is what will the EU be willing to give her here to perhaps will
allow her to hold a vote back in the U.K. and actually pass a deal?
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it remains to be seen at this point, Julia. It is worth pointing out that the center of this impasse is
the so-called North Ireland backstop solution. The EU's insistence on an assurance that at no point in time there will be a hard border on the
island of Ireland. It's the backstop that MP's on both sides of the aisle want Theresa May to return to Brussels to renegotiate.
And earlier today, we heard from the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar. He was pressed in Dublin this morning about the possibility of renegotiating
and he was very clear. He said if you open up one part or one aspect of that withdrawal agreement for renegotiation, you need to renegotiate the
whole thing. Open up all aspects to renegotiation. The implication, of course, there, being that other member states could come forward with their
own interests. The member state that comes to mind of course is Spain. Which was pushing and was rebuffed for concessions on, at the last minute,
prior to that emergency Brexit summit, on the question of Gibraltar.
We're also hearing from EU leaders' sense of frustration in all of this. The reports of a delay, or possible delay, definitely have reached
Brussels. We heard earlier from Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Parliament. The European Parliament will be
needed to ratify this deal as well.
He tweeted out, saying quote, I can't follow anymore. After two years of negotiations, the Tory government wants to delay the vote. Just keep in
mind that we will never let the Irish down. This delay will further aggravate the uncertainty for people and businesses. It's time they make
up their mind.
And we also heard in the new briefing at the Commission just behind me, from a spokeswoman from the Commission, she was saying that the EU will not
renegotiate this deal. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MINA ANDREEVA, EUROPEAN COMMISSION SPOKESWOMAN: This deal is the best and only deal possible. We will not renegotiate. Our position has therefore
not changed and as far as we are concerned, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on the 29 the of March 2019.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLAUGHLIN: So, should Theresa May return to Brussels to try to renegotiate, it is clear that there will be no easy answers for her here --
CHATTERLEY: Yes, just a huge challenge at this stage. Erin, thank you so much for that. Clearly, not the only issue that Europe is dealing with
right now. And the ongoing issue with the Brexit negotiations.
The pillar of stability that it had become of course over in France, and Emmanuel Macron facing a fourth weekend this weekend of protests. Jim
Bittermann joins us now from Paris. Jim, we're waiting for Emmanuel Macron to speak later on this evening too. What can he say to try to assure
confidence, or reassure the people that he is on their side, and he can do something here to actually support them, a real challenge for him also?
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Julia. You got a few minutes of anticipation there, before Theresa May's speech,
but we got 3 1/2 hours ahead of us here before Emmanuel Macron speaks.
[10:25:00] And in many ways, it is going to be just as fateful for France as what Theresa May has to say about Britain's future. Basically, he's
been consulting all day today, 37 leaders of political party, of unions, of businesses, all giving him advice, and asking demands of the President,
basically to calm things down on the street. That's the goal, is to get out of this crisis that he's in, four weeks of setting demonstrations here,
every Saturday. And that have cost over a billion in damages according to some estimates. It's taken about one-tenth of a percent off the fourth
quarter growth estimates for France. And it's been costly in many, many specific ways.
A lot of people in the yellow jackets' movement, the yellow vest movement are demanding all kinds of things that Emmanuel Macron just not going to be
able to satisfy no matter how long of a speech he delivers tonight. But in any case, he's going to try and he has to try, if he wants to calm things
down. He is in a very, very delicate position and as you mentioned, France, the stable pillar of Europe, is now much diminished by all this
that's gone on.
It was only four weeks ago that President Macron was here on this very avenue with 70 world leaders at the commemoration for the end of World War
I, and he was very full of himself, and lecturing others on how they should behave. Now much diminished after four weeks of rioting -- Julia.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, it raises questions over just how able the EU leaders are here, to renegotiate the Brexit deal, in light of his weakened state. Jim
Bittermann, thank you so much for that.
Coming up, more on this story, as the U.K. battles over Brexit rages on. We are following it all from across Europe, live in London. You're
[10:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHATTERLEY: Welcome back to the show. Where we are live outside the Houses of Parliament. You can hear the protesters behind me, on both sides
of this debate. Those that want to remain and those that want a firm Brexit here.
We are counting down, waiting for U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May to address Parliament any moment now. A source says the Prime Minister is set
to postpone that key vote on the Brexit deal originally meant to take place tomorrow. Our senior international correspondent Matthew Chance joins us
again in Westminster. Also, with us, Bianca Nobilo and Erin McLaughlin in Brussels. Matthew come in here, because if we do indeed see the Prime
Minister delay the vote, my question is very simple. Then what?
CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's a good question. And it's a question to which we don't have the answer. We're all waiting -- all of us -- with
anticipation to see what she's going to say. Obviously, we expect she's going to announce a formal postponement of this much-awaited meaningful
vote. And the reception for that, I expect, is going to be raucous. Just like the level of debate outside the Parliament building here in central
London where we're both standing.
There're all sorts of different opinions being expressed here. From people who want support for the May deal, from people who want us to exit the
European Union, without any negotiated settlement on WTO terms. People who want a general election. People who want a second referendum. I mean, the
list goes on.
The recipe for all of that, or the result for all of that, whatever scenario eventually plays out, whatever she agrees with Brussels and comes
back to the Parliament with, the result is going to be political chaos. Because no deal that any Prime Minister is going to announce to this
country, which is so divided, in so many ways, is going to satisfy everybody and so this issue is likely to, I expect, dominate the political
debate in this country for years, if not decades to come.
And so, it's an unenviable position that Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, is currently in. And we are going to wait, because in the next
few minutes, we are expecting for her to address the House of Commons and to set out perhaps what her plan from here on in is. At the moment, it's
just speculation. We don't know. We are waiting for her to speak.
CHATTERLEY: Yes, Matthew, you know, we can see the protesters behind you. WTO rules of course. What the U.K. would revert to if indeed it weren't
remaining within the prism of the EU and those kind of rules. You can see the challenge that she's got. And Bianca, come in here, because all the
way along it's been trying to please all sides here, has been the challenge. If she delays this vote, what can she do here in order to
change it, to get a vote ultimately passed here in Parliament?
NOBILO: Well, the problem is, Julia -- as one MP put it to me the other day -- is everybody hates this deal for different reasons. So, it makes it
very difficult for the Prime Minister to know what even to go back to the EU with and try and renegotiate even if that were to be possible. Because
she knows that each of these interest groups within Parliament are still going to still have problems with it for their own reasons. So, she needs
to decide who it is she is trying to target here.
CHATTERLEY: Theresa May has entered the Houses of Commons here and she is speaking. Let's listen in.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- EU and the political declaration, setting out our future relationship after we have left.
I've listened very carefully to what is being said in this chamber and out of it. To what has been said in this chamber and out of it. By members
from all sides. From listening to those views, it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one
issue on one issue, the North Ireland backstop, there remains widespread and deep concern.
As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow, the deal would be a rejected by a significant margin. We will therefore defer the vote
scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time.
I set out in my speech opening the debate last week the reasons why the backstop is a necessary guarantee to the people of North Ireland. And why
whatever future relationship you want, there is no deal available that does not include the backstop.
[10:35:03] Behind all of those arguments are some inescapable facts. The fact that North Ireland shares a land border with another sovereign state.
The facts that the hard-won peace, the fact that the hard-won peace, that has been built in North Ireland, over the last two decades, has been built
around a seamless border. And the fact that Brexit will create a wholly new situation. On the 30th of March, the North Ireland/Ireland border
will, for the first time, become the external frontier of the European Union's single market and customs union.
The challenge, the challenge this poses must be met, not with rhetoric, but with real and workable solutions. Businesses operate across that border,
people live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day. I've been there and spoken to some of those people. They do not want their everyday
lives to change as a result of the decision we have taken. They do not want a return to our hard border. And if this House cares about preserving
our union, it must listen to those people, because our union will only endure with their consent.
We had hoped that the changes we've secured to the backstop would reassure members that we could never be trapped in it indefinitely. I hope the
House will forgive me if I take a moment to remind it of those changes. The customs element of the backstop is now U.K.-wide. It no longer splits
our country into two customs territories. This also means that the backstop is now an uncomfortable arrangement for the EU. So, they won't
want it to come into use, or persist for long, if it does. Both sides are now eagerly committed to using best endeavors to have our new relationship
in place before the end of the implementation period, ensuring the backstop is never used.
If our new relationship isn't ready, we can now choose to extend the implementation period. Further reducing the likelihood of the backstop
coming into use. If the backstop ever does come into use, we now don't have to get the new relationship in place, to get out of it. Alternative
arrangements that make use of technology could be put in place instead. The treaty, the treaty is now clear, that the backstop can only ever be
temporary, and there is now a termination clause.
But I am clear, from what I have heard in this place, and from my own conversations, that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of
colleagues the reassurance that they need. I spoke to a number of EU leaders over the weekend, and in advance of the European Counsel, I will go
to see my counterparts in other member state, and the leadership of the Council and the Commission.
I will discuss with them the clear concerns that this House has expressed. We are also looking closely, at new ways of empowering the House of
Commons, to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the
government, to enable the House to place its own obligations on the government, to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.
Mr. Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the detail of Brexit, listening to the public's ambitions and yes, their fears, too
and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I'm in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one. It honors the result
of the referendum. It --
SPEAKER: The remainder of the statement must be heard and I invite the House to hear it with courtesy. And for the avoidance of that, also the
benefit of those attending our proceedings who are not members of the House, I emphasize as per usual, I will call everyone who wants to question
the Prime Minister, but meanwhile, please hear her. The Prime Minister.
MAY: It honors the result of the referendum. It protects job security and our union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually
negotiable with the EU. I believe, as do many members of this House, and I still believe there is a majority to be won in this House in support of it,
if I can secure additional reinsurance on the question of the backstop. And that is what my focus will be in the days ahead. But Mr. Speaker, if
you take a step back, it is clear that this House faces a much more fundamental question. Does this House want to deliver Brexit?
[10:40:00] And a clear message from the SMP, but if the House does, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU? If the answer is
yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this House, then we all have to ask ourselves, whether we are prepared to make a compromise.
Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate.
Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal, including the backstop, are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit.
Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered. And do so and
do so without ducking its implications.
So, if you want a second referendum, to overturn the result of the first, be honest, that this risks dividing the country again. Be honest that this
risks dividing the country again when as a House, we should be striving to bring it back together. If you want to remain part of the single market
and the customs union, be open that this would require free movement, rule taking across the economy, and ongoing financial contributions. None of
which are in my view compatible with the result of the referendum.
If you, if you want to leave without a deal, be upfront, that in the short- term, this would cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden. I do not believe that any of
those courses of action command a majority in this House. But notwithstanding that fact, for as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk
of an accidental no deal increases. So, the government, so the government will step up its work in preparation for that potential outcome, and the
cabinet will hold further discussions on it this week.
The vast majority of us, Mr. Speaker, accept the result of the referendum and I want to leave with a deal. We have a responsibility to this charge.
If we will the ends, we must also will the means. And I know that members across the House appreciate how important that responsibility is. And I'm
very grateful to all members on this side of the House, and a few on the other side, too, who backs this deal and have spoken up for it.
Many others I know have been wrestling with their consciences, particularly over the question of the backstop. Sees as the need to face up to the
challenge posed by the Irish border but generally concerned about the consequences. I have listened. I have heard those concerns. And I will
now do everything I possibly can to secure further assurances.
If I may conclude, Mr. Speaker, on a personal note. On the morning after the referendum, two and a half years ago, I knew we had witnessed a
defining moment for our democracy. Places that didn't get a lot of attention at elections, and which did not get much coverage on the news,
were making their voices heard, and saying that they wanted things to change. I knew in that moment that Parliament had to deliver for them.
But of course, that doesn't just mean delivering Brexit. It means working across all area, building a stronger economy, improving public services,
tackling, tackling, tackling social injustices. To make this a country that truly works for everyone.
SPEAKER: The Prime Minister must be heard. The Prime Minister.
MAY: Tackling social injustices. To make this a country that truly works for everyone. A country where nowhere and nobody is left behind. And
these matters are too important to be after-thoughts in our politics. They deserve to be at the center of our thinking. But that can only happen if
we get Brexit done and get it done right. And even though I voted remain, from the moment I took up the responsibility of being Prime Minister of
this great country, I've known that my duty is to honor the result of that vote. And I've been just as determined to protect the jobs that put food
on the tables of working families and the security partnerships, and the security partnerships that keep each one of us safe.
And that's what this deal does. It gives us control of our borders, our money, and our laws. It protects job security and our union. It is the
right deal for Britain.
[10:45:02] I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line, and deliver for the British
people, and I commend this statement to the House.
SPEAKER: Jeremy Corbyn.
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I thank the Prime Minister for a copy of the statement before
we met here this afternoon.
We are in extremely serious and unprecedented situation. The government has lost control of events and is in complete disarray. It's been evident
for weeks that the Prime Minister's deal did not have the confidence of this House. Yet she plowed on regardless reiterating this is the only deal
Can she be clear with the House, is she seeking changes to the deal or mere reassurances? Does she therefore accept the statement from the European
Commission at lunchtime, saying, that it was the only deal possible, we will not renegotiate our position has not changed.
Ireland's Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has said it is not possible to renegotiate the Irish border backstop, stating that it was the Prime
Minister's own red lines that made the backstop necessary. So, can the Prime Minister be clear, is she now ready to drop further red lines in
order to make progress?
Mr. Speaker, can the Prime Minister confirm that the deal presented to this House is not off the table, but will be re-presented with a few assurances.
Bringing back the same botched deal, either next week, or in January, and can she be clear on the timing, will not change its fundamental flaws, and
deeply-held objections, right across this House, which go far wider than the backstop alone.
Mr. Speaker, this is a bad deal for Britain, a bad deal for our economy, and a bad deal for our democracy. Our country deserves better than this.
The real, the deal, the deal damages our economy, and it isn't just the opposition saying that. The government's own analysis shows this deal
would make us worse off. If the Prime Minister cannot be clear that she can and will renegotiate a deal, then she must make way.
And if she is, and Mr. Speaker, if she is going back to Brussels, then she needs to build a consensus in this House. And since it appears business
has changed for the next two days, then it seems not only possible but necessary that this House debates the negotiating mandate that the Prime
Minister takes to Brussels. There is no point, no point at all, in this Prime Minister, bringing back the same deal again, which clearly does not
support the -- is not supported by this House.
Mr. Speaker, we have endured two years of shambolic negotiation. Red lines which have been boldly announced then cast aside. We are now on our third
Brexit Secretary. And it appears even one of them has been excluded from these vital negotiations. We are promised a precise and substantive
document, and got a vague, 26-page wish list. And have become the first government ever in British history to be held in contempt of Parliament.
The government is in disarray. Uncertainty is building for business. People are in despair at the state of these failed negotiations. And
concern about what it means about their jobs, their livelihood, and their communities. And the fault for that lies solely at the door of this
shambolic government. The Prime Minister is trying to buy herself one last chance to save this deal. If she doesn't take on board the fundamental
changes required, then she must make way for those who can.
MAY: If I can respond fairly briefly to the right honorable gentleman. The right honorable gentleman appeared to argue on one hand that it wasn't
possible to change the deal because the EU had said this is the only deal. And on the other hand, that the only thing he would accept was the deal
[10:50:00] So, the right honorable gentleman quoted the European Union as saying this was the only deal, and then goes on to say that the whole deal
needs to be renegotiated. This is, the fundamental question, that members of this House have to ask themselves, is whether they wish to deliver
Brexit, and honor the result of the referendum. If you wish to -- all of the analysis shows, that if you wish to deliver Brexit, if you wish to
honor the result of the referendum, then the deal does that, that best protects jobs and our economy, is the deal that is on, that the government
has put forward. That --
SPEAKER: Everybody will have his or her chance. But the questions have been put, and the answers must similarly be heard. The Prime Minister.
MAY: That is the fundamental question for members of this House. To deliver on and honor the result of the referendum. But to do it in a way
that protects jobs and our economy. And that is what this deal does.
The right honorable gentleman talks about a number of issues. He wants to be in the customs union, such that free movement would have to, and the
single market and free movement would have to be accepted. He refuses to accept that any deal requires a backstop, because that is our commitment to
the people of North Ireland. He claims he wants to negotiate trade deal, yet wants to be in the customs union, fully in the customs union, that will
not enable us to negotiate those trade deal. And finally, he says about the uncertainty, he says about uncertainty for British business, I can tell
the right honorable gentleman, that the biggest uncertainty for British business lies not in this deal, but on the front bench of the Labour Party.
SPEAKER: Order, order. Before I look to the father of the House, and then other colleagues, I want to say the following. Whether the government's
intention to hold this debate, this inordinately late stage, has been widely leaked to the media in advance, I felt it only appropriate to hear
what is proposed before advising the House.
Holding the debate after no fewer than 164 colleagues have taken the trouble to contribute will be thought by many members of this House to be
deeply discourteous. Indeed, in the hours since news of this intention emerged, many colleagues from across the House have registered that view to
me, in the most forceful terms. Having taken the best procedural advice, colleagues should be informed that there are two ways of doing this.
The first, and the democratic term, the infinitely preferable way is for a minister to move at the outset of the debate that the debate be adjourned.
This will give the House the opportunity to express its view in a vote. Whether or not it wishes the debate to be brought to a premature and
I can reassure ministers that I would be happy to accept such a motion, so that the House can decide. The alternative is for the government
unilaterally to decline to move today's business, which means that the House is not only deprived of its opportunity to vote upon the substance of
the debate tomorrow, but also that it is given no chance to express its view today, on whether the debate should or should not be allowed to
I politely suggest that in any courteous respectful and mature environment, allowing the House to have a say, its say, on this matter, would be the
right and dare I say the obvious course to take. Let us see if those who have assured this House and the public over and over and over again, that
this supremely important vote is going to take place tomorrow, without fail, wish to rise, to the occasion.
Mr. Kenneth Clark.
[10:55:00] KENNETH CLARKE, CONSERVATIVE MP, RUSHCLIFFE: Mr. Speaker, on the question of Europe, this House is not just divided of parties, it is
divided into factions and it becomes clear at the moment there is no predictable majority for any single course of action going forward. So,
would my right honorable friend the Prime Minister agree, that no other governments are going to start negotiations with us on any new arrangement,
whilst the British continue to explore what exactly it is, they can get a Parliamentary majority to agree to.
Furthermore, we are strictly bound, quite rightly, to the Good Friday Agreement and the issue of a permanently open border in Ireland. So, does
she agree that it is particularly folly for a large faction in this House to continue further the argument -- that argument, that we should insist to
the other governments that the British will have a unilateral right to declare an end to that open border at the time their choosing, which is why
the backstop remains inevitable.
MAY: I will say to my right honorable and learned friend that I certainly agree. I think none of the alternative arrangements that have been floated
and suggested in this House, actually would command a majority of this House. But he is also right that we retain our absolute commitment to the
Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and to the commitments with the United Kingdom government made, within that agreement. And any agreement which
had to be, was being negotiated with the European Union, be that either of the other two options that are normally quoted, the Norway option of some
form, or the Canada option of some form. Would require negotiation, could risk the possibility of there being a period of time when that relationship
was not in place, and therefore would indeed require a backstop.
SPEAKER: Kirsty Blackman.
KIRSTY BLACKMAN, SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY MP, ABERDEEN NORTH: I would like to thank the Prime Minister in advanced for the statement and thank you
Prime Minister for benefit of your words in relation on how this can proceed.
The events of past few hours have highlighted that this is a government in a total state of collapse. The Prime Minister has been forced to kill
tomorrow's vote in a stunning display of pathetic cowardice. The vote tomorrow night would have showed the will of this House but this government
is focused on saving the Prime Minister's job and her party instead of doing what is right for this country. She is abdicating her
Her deal will make people poorer. It will lead to years of further uncertainty and difficult negotiations with no guarantee that a trade deal
can even be struck. It does not have the support of her back benches. Indeed, no support from the majority of benches across this place. No
support from the Scottish Parliament. And no support from the Welsh.
Why has it taken the Prime Minister this long to face up to reality? Her deal was dead in the water long before this morning. Last week, it was
this deal or no deal. She now needs to be clear with this House about what has changed.
Mr. Speaker, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. But yet again, our views are being ignored. As they have been throughout this
disastrous and incompetent Brexit process. Back in 2014, Scotland was promised the strength and security of the U.K. but the reality has been
Westminster collapse and chaos. We were promised an equal partnership. But we have been treated with contempt.
Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has lost the confidence of her own benches and she has failed to convince this House of her plan for exiting the EU.
We simply cannot go on like this. It is clear that the Prime Minister is incapable of taking decision about the future and that Downing Street
cannot negotiate any more, either with the EU or with the 20 back benches.
What she is really scared of is allowing this House to determine the way forward. And allowing the public the opportunity to remain in the EU. She
knows she has lost, but she is still wasting precious time.
Mr. Speaker, we need the Prime Minister to be clear about when the House will vote on this deal. This government, and the Prime Minister, have
failed. It's time they got out of the way. Prime Minister, members across this House, don't want your deal. The EU don't want to renegotiate. Isn't
the only way to break this deadlock, to bring it to the people.
MAY: The honorable lady asked what I have been doing. Actually, what I have been doing is listening to members of this House who have identified a
very specific concern with the deal as it -- with the deal that was negotiated. As I said, we had negotiated within that deal a number of
aspects to address the issue around the permanent or otherwise at the backstop.