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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.”
Coming up on tonight’s program, the Brexit vote is finally here and I’m live outside Parliament as British lawmakers decide the constitutional
future of the United Kingdom, as it breaks away from a decades-long relationship with the European Union.
And despite at least two years of negotiation, Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal is still expected to fall short.
We’ll cover all the angles from opposing views inside the prime minister’s Conservative Party to views from the House of Lords and from the European
Welcome to the program, everyone. I’m Christiane Amanpour in London.
Behind me tonight is the British Parliament. Lawmakers are weighing up the most consequential vote since the Second World War, Prime Minister Theresa
May, her Brexit deal and the divorced from the European Union.
So, what happens next will determine the course of this nation for generations and decades to come, never has a defeat been so widely heralded
or expected over a constitutional issue so monumental. Like so many of the embarrassing parliamentary losses inflicted on the government over the past
two-and-a-half years since the referendum.
Now, the referendum on membership of the E.U. was a decision taken, it has to be said, mostly in the dark with little focus on the real facts and the
real substance of what it would take to dismantle a 45-year marriage with Europe. Affecting issues from fishing and farming, trade and scientific
research, even women’s rights and workplace protections and regulations, not to mention, the overarching themes of the national economy and national
The vote has divided people on these British Isles squarely down the middle. Perhaps, you can hear a little of that in the cacophony that’s
going on behind me. Whatever happens today, it will not be the end but perhaps the beginning of the end game over a serious plan to exit the E.U.
Now, over the coming hour, lawmakers will start debating and voting on four amendments to Prime Minister May’s Brexit and that’s before voting on the
bill itself and on her deal.
Sam Gyimah is one of the politicians voting against. He’s a member of Theresa May’s Conservative Party and a former universities and science
minister. He resigned in protest over the Brexit deal saying that it is fatally flawed and he’s called for a second referendum.
So, welcome to the program, Member of Parliament Sam Gyimah.
SAM GYIMAH, FORMER BRITISH UNIVERSITIES AND SCIENCE MINISTER: Good evening.
AMANPOUR: OK. You say it’s fatally flawed, why?
GYIMAH: For a very simple reason, that Theresa May’s deal requires us to give up our veto, our voice and now our vote in the E.U. in return for best
endeavors. So, it is not a deal at all. What it is, is a list of aspirations that we would be negotiating over the next two to four years
with our hands tied behind our back.
And what I see is that is a recipe for our interest as a country to be weakened and to make us poorer.
AMANPOUR: So, are you saying this because you are at heart a Remainer and you want to see this bill go down to defeat and that you think it might lay
the table for a second referendum?
GYIMAH: No. Actually, I didn’t resign at all because of a second referendum. I have spent the last three years implementing Brexit as the
universities and science minister.
As part of my role, I was responsible for space technology and exploration, which we collaborate with the E.U. on. So, I had firsthand experience of
how these negotiations are playing out and how our exit is currently damaging our industry but also how the negotiations were actually damaging
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you about that. Lay out why you think they’re damaging and then why you don’t think voting no on this deal would be
GYIMAH: Well, just take one simple example. At the moment, we run on a par with France and Germany in the E.U. under Theresa May’s deal, because
nothing has been agreed yet on the principle aspects of our future relationship with the E.U., every one of the 27 countries in the E.U. can
veto what we want. Whatever we want will come at a price of what they want.
So, we go from a country that is a ruling to a rule maker to a country that is rule taker from the E.U. We go from a country with a seat at the table
to being a country that is basically a nation of lobbyists around Europe. That cannot be a recipe for getting what Theresa May promised, which is a
spoke (ph) deal that will in our internationally interest.
AMANPOUR: Well, she did set herself up to an extent by always saying that, you know, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” And now, she’s saying,
“This deal is better than a no deal,” which would be —
GYIMAH: Oh, now, it’s a bad deal is better than no deal?
AMANPOUR: Right. Exactly Well, yeah, exactly. This deal but she says it’s the best deal she can possibly get.
GYIMAH: It is the best deal she can get given the red lines that she set for the negotiations. Theresa May arbitrarily set red lines for the
negotiations. And what the Europeans are saying as well, “Theseyou’re your red lines. Then this is the deal that you get.”
AMANPOUR: So — OK. So, what are the — where should those red lines move then? What are the red lines that you’re particularly talking about?
Because we aren’t talking about trying to put a square peg in a round hole, everybody says that. You know, up to 45 years of trying to divorce and
trying to get the best of all worlds, it’s really tough.
GYIMAH: Absolutely. But I think there was — there is a principle on option more like the Switzerland option, you know, where you might actually
agree to set of things. Theresa May absolute decided against freedom of movement, she wanted to be out of the supermarket, out of the customs
union. That was an arbitrary interpretation of —
AMANPOUR: But didn’t the Brexiters, to be fair, vote for an end to freedom of movement? They may not have understood the single market and the
customs union. But freedom of movement was a prime Brexit demand.
GYIMAH: But to go into negotiations and try to retrofit the entire relationship with the E.U. based around an end to freedom of movement
weakened her position.
But my point around a new referendum is really that I’ve taken that people knew what they were voting for. I think it’s insulting to voters to say
they didn’t know what they were voting for.
AMANPOUR: Really? You think they knew all the facts and figures?
GYIMAH: But what we know.
AMANPOUR: None of us did.
GYIMAH: But what we do know now is what is negotiable. And knowing what is negotiable now, which shouldn’t be — Theresa May should not be asking
MPs to choose a Third Reich future for our country.
AMANPOUR: So, what are you saying? Are you saying that it should go back to the people or are you saying that she should go back to Brussels and get
a better deal and this defeat is going to make her go and get a better deal somehow from the European leaders?
GYIMAH: Well, she delayed the vote by five weeks and went to Brussels to get improvements to the deal principally around the Northern Ireland
backstop, nothing has changed, nothing has been delivered.
So, I don’t think that going back will actually yield that but I do think that we need to engage the people more in this process. Everyone said
quite rightly that the Brexit vote was a roar for democracy. But what hasn’t happened since that vote is any engagement of the public on the
difficult tradeoffs, as you said, of unwinding a 45-year marriage.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, tell me this bit about democracy. Because, obviously, the Brexiters say, “Look, if you do not respect this and do this, then you
are denying democracy.” How do you think whatever happens this country can be knitted together again? Because it wasn’t as if 99 percent voted one
way and one percent vote, it was very close this vote.
I know is definitive, 52-48, but it’s still not — you know, it’s not an overwhelming majority. How does one knit the country together again, do
GYIMAH: That is a big challenge but I think the start of the process is actually engaging people with the difficult tradeoffs. I think we’re all
trapped, many people are trapped in the pre-referendum positions because no one is saying, “Well, if you want to get rid of freedom of movement, these
are the consequence.”
AMANPOUR: So —
GYIMAH: “If you want frictionless trade, then maybe you can’t have this.” And I think until we actually begin to engage with people on the facts,
there is no chance of moving forward.
Now, when people say about the referendum, you know, if there was a new referendum, I think the principle case —
AMANPOUR: Well, the problem with that is though, (INAUDIBLE) poll says that there’s no support for that or there’s much less support for a new
referendum than against a new referendum.
GYIMAH: I think two points, I’ll mix that. Parliament is deadlocked. We are the hung parliament, there is no majority for any Brexit option. So,
how do you —
AMANPOUR: Except against a no deal.
GYIMAH: Against no deal. So, how do you resolve deadlock? And what I’m saying is although I don’t — well, I didn’t originally want a new
referendum, that might be the way to resolve deadlock.
AMANPOUR: And how do you persuade the people who, right now, don’t say that?
GYIMAH: The second point you said is the poll say people don’t want that. Well, we politicians are meant to lead. No change would have ever come
about in life if politicians started off by saying the polls say it’s not possible.
And I think what we — the brain and necessary thing to do is for us to be honest with the public about the difficulties here and they have their say.
They can say, “We want exactly the same thing as before. That is absolutely fine but we’re not leveling with the public and that is why
we’ve got deadlock in Parliament.”
AMANPOUR: So, before I let you go. Quickly, what do you think Theresa May will do if, as expected, she loses and she was pretty badly?
GYIMAH: I think what she is most likely to do in the immediate aftermath of defeat is carry on as usual. But I think what Parliament needs, given
that — there are not enough Conservative votes to pass this bill, is actually for her to reach across the aisle and for us to work together as
Parliament to solve what is a national political and constitutional emergency. It has to be done across Parliament, it can be done by the
prime minister on the road or the Conservative Party on (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: MP Sam Gyimah, thank you very much. I know you have to run back in and cast your vote, which is going to be against. Is that correct?
GYIMAH: It is definitely going to be against.
AMANPOUR: All right. OK. Thank you so much.
GYIMAH: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Good luck to this nation.
Tonight’s vote comes after five days of debate over the deal negotiated by Theresa May and Brussels. Criticism has come from every corner, as we’ve
just heard, from the opposition party, the government’s party, as well as from former cabinet ministers and members. Let’s just listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC GRIEVE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: The truth is that for two-and-a- half years and during the period of the referendum, we have been living in a fool’s paradise in relation to expectation.
DOMINIC RAAB, FORMER BRITISH BREXIT SECRETARY: The deal before us involves the most severe and injuring risk for our economy, our democracy while
stifling the opportunities of Brexit that fired up over 70 million people with optimism and hope to vote in June 2016.
BEN BRADSHAW, BRITISH LABOUR MP: The country is crying out for decisive leadership. So, let us have a motion of no confidence tomorrow, let’s test
Parliament’s appetite for an election. If we don’t secure one, let’s rule out no deal, test if colleagues wish to Norway option but then quickly
pursue the only rational choice left for our country, which is to give this decision back to the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, here’s another soundbite, this is from Member of Parliament and Justice Minister Rory Stewart. He plans to vote for the prime
minister’s deal. And this is why as he told me not so long ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RORY STEWART, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: I support the deal partly about national healing. So, this is an incredibly divisive polarizing toxic, as
you know. If I go on social media at the moment, I almost can’t tell whether I’m being attacked by a Remainer or an extreme Brexiteer, they’re
both talking about having a monopoly of democracy, they represent the people, I’m a traitor, I’m never going to be forgiven.
This kind of language can only be healed by having a moderate pragmatic deal in the middle that knowledge is on the one hand the Brexit vote
happened and that means, leaving the E.U., but also, they point of the Remainers, which is this is economically very risky unless we retain a
close trading relationship with Europe, and that’s what this deal does and it’s the only deal that does that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, let us turn now to another member of Theresa May’s Conservative Party. He is voting tonight, John Redwood. A veteran skeptic
of the European Union, one of the most prominent supporters of Brexit and he’s extremely critical of the deal negotiated by the prime minister.
So, John, welcome to the program.
JOHN REDWOOD, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: You just heard me talk to Sam Gyimah, also in your party. He also plans to vote against but has somewhat different views. Rory Stewart
has just said or did say that he plans to vote for because he thinks it’s a way to heal the party, heal the nation because it does two things, gets out
of the E.U. as you want but protects the national economy and protects people in the best way possible.
You’re vigorously shaking your head.
REDWOOD: Well, he’s wrong on both counts.
AMANPOUR: Is he?
REDWOOD: But he’s paid to say that because he’s a government minister. And the role of the game, as you well know, is if you take money to be a
government minister you have to support everything the government says it believes in. And we’ve had 21 resignations from the government and from
the Conservative Party, senior positions, over this matter.
There have never been any resignations over a single issue because most of us recognize that this agreement is not a deal, it doesn’t solve the trade
problems, it doesn’t offer a future partnership, it doesn’t get us out of the European Union, it leaves us a lot tons of their law coats, paying them
huge sums of money on a far worse basis than just staying in as a member.
AMANPOUR: Well, right.
REDWOOD: So, it’s united remain and leave voters.
AMANPOUR: It was always going to be worse. You’re right, it’s united.
REDWOOD: It is massively unpopular.
AMANPOUR: But it was always going to worse. There was no amount of mathematics or juggling figures that was going to say that leaving this
productive relationship in terms of economics and other things –
REDWOOD: But it’s not productive.
AMANPOUR: — was going to be better —
REDWOOD: We do just want to leave.
AMANPOUR: — in the immediate future.
REDWOOD: We voted to leave. We didn’t vote to have an agreement. We voters knew exactly what we were voting for. We were promised by Remain in
the government that we’d be leaving the single market and the Customs Union because they get in the way of our competitiveness and our prosperity.
AMANPOUR: So, you —
REDWOOD: They aren’t good news, they’re bad news. We want to cut our tariffs, we want free trade agreements with many countries around the world
we’re not allowed to sign, we want to spend our own money on our priorities, $39 billion is a lot of money to the United Kingdom but it
would be more than and that is the cost of this shocking agreement, which no sensible MP could conceivably vote for. And the public is more clever
than the MPs and the public know it is a lousy agreement, the Brexit voting public know this is nothing like Brexit and Remain public don’t want it
AMANPOUR: But you know what —
REDWOOD: So, this parliament will reject it decisively —
AMANPOUR: We know that.
REDWOOD: — and we need to leave without an agreement.
AMANPOUR: But you see, this is —
REDWOOD: It’s very simply.
AMANPOUR: — something that almost nobody can understand you saying and you’re very vehement and you are very passionate but you ignore the fact
that there is no majority back there for what you are saying right now and you seem to ignore the fact —
REDWOOD: But there is.
AMANPOUR: No, there isn’t. Not for a no deal.
REDWOOD: Parliament has legislated for —
AMANPOUR: Not for a no deal.
REDWOOD: Parliament has legislated for a no exit. That is what we have done.
AMANPOUR: I mean, that’s the default option.
REDWOOD: Well, that’s what Parliament legislated for. We legislated the E.U. withdrawal agreement and the Article 50 letter, and those two things
take us out we’ve no agreement. I explained it to Parliament at the time when —
AMANPOUR: You might have done but there —
REDWOOD: — when they voted for it.
AMANPOUR: — is still no majority for it. And the people of this county – –
REDWOOD: But it doesn’t matter. There was a —
AMANPOUR: — don’t want it.
REDWOOD: — majority for two years for a no deal Brexit, which is exactly what we’re going to have —
REDWOOD: — unless somebody in Parliament finds a way —
REDWOOD: — to create a majority to change the law.
AMANPOUR: But it’s almost as if —
REDWOOD: And they do not have a majority to agree to change the law.
AMANPOUR: It’s almost as if you are so passionate about this having, by the way, put a no confidence vote in the prime minister and lost and yet
you seem to want to —
REDWOOD: No, I didn’t do that.
AMANPOUR: Well, your group did, the Hardliners, the so-called Hardliners, ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg, people who you support did it and you lost the vote.
And yet, you’re still trying to rule the debate. And I want to know why you —
REDWOOD: Well, because we speak for the majority.
AMANPOUR: — who are so smart —
REDWOOD: We speak for the majority.
AMANPOUR: Sir, there is no majority in Parliament for —
REDWOOD: We speak for the 17.4 million —
AMANPOUR: — a hard Brexit no deal.
REDWOOD: — voters who won the referendum. We’ve had 46 years in the European Union and those are the two losses, the first referendum, were as
good as gold. We didn’t challenge the E.U., we stayed in it for 25 news before we demanded another referendum when it had completely change. We
REDWOOD: And we expect people to behave democratically —
AMANPOUR: Everybody is talking about —
REDWOOD: — when we win a referendum.
AMANPOUR: — democracy and everybody wants to respect democracy.
REDWOOD: And we speak for majority and the majority in the House voted to leave with no agreement.
AMANPOUR: Well, OK, you did say that.
REDWOOD: But —
AMANPOUR: Fine, fine.
REDWOOD: It’s a fact.
AMANPOUR: There is still no majority for a no deal Brexit. Now —
REDWOOD: But they voted for it.
AMANPOUR: Well, they may be changing their minds then.
REDWOOD: They may have changed their minds.
AMANPOUR: Fine, fine.
REDWOOD: But how are they going to change their minds —
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you facts and figures.
REDWOOD: — and express legislation.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you facts and figures and you are very economically and financially savvy.
REDWOOD: Yes. And we will grow faster.
AMANPOUR: In fact, you’ve called people to take their investments out of this country.
REDWOOD: No, I did not. That is completely untrue.
AMANPOUR: But you wrote it. You wrote it in the F.T. and you were criticized for it.
REDWOOD: No, I did not. That is completely untrue.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, I’ll get it and read it then.
REDWOOD: You must get that correctly.
AMANPOUR: I certainly will. I’ll get it and read it.
REDWOOD: Most unfair. I’ve always said that Brexit will add to our GDP, not subtract from it, and I’ve shown how with the right policies, with the
money we can spend, we will improve the growth rate, not reduce it.
AMANPOUR: Time to look further afield as the U.K. economy hits the brakes.
OK. So, this is what researches at the, you know, (INAUDIBLE) Center for Economic Study says, “A total loss of gross value added in the U.K. would
amount to a 4.47 percent of GP. Unemployment would rise over half a million.”
REDWOOD: Well, that was what they said —
AMANPOUR: This is from the MIT.
REDWOOD: — between voting to leave and that was all completely untrue. A pack of lies.
AMANPOUR: No, but — no, no, no. That’s voting.
REDWOOD: They —
AMANPOUR: You know better than I do —
REDWOOD: They said —
AMANPOUR: I know.
REDWOOD: — the short-term —
AMANPOUR: — that you know —
REDWOOD: — treasury official —
REDWOOD: — forecast —
REDWOOD: — and the IMF forecast was (INAUDIBLE) by now has 500,000 more people out of work. We’ve got hundreds of thousands more people in work.
It was a lie then and what you’re saying is a lie again.
AMANPOUR: And you don’t — what I’m saying.
REDWOOD: Well, you’re just quoting it.
AMANPOUR: I’m reading quotes.
REDWOOD: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: And, you know, I’m not questioning people’s patriotism like you did of Rory Stewart, saying that they’re paid to say their views.
REDWOOD: Well, that’s just a statement of fact.
AMANPOUR: Well, I don’t know. I mean, are you paid too?
REDWOOD: No, I’m not paid by the government. And I was wouldn’t —
AMANPOUR: But you’re an MP.
REDWOOD: — able to serve in this government all the time, it follows this policy.
AMANPOUR: Right. Now, a hard Brexit. According to the Bank of England would mean an immediate deep recession for the U.K., permanently lower
living standards for many its citizens.
REDWOOD: Well, that’s completely wrong.
AMANPOUR: And that’s what “Forbes” says. And I’m not quoting “Pinko (ph) left these rags,” I’m quoting —
REDWOOD: Well, my forecast is —
AMANPOUR: You know.
REDWOOD: — that we will have 1 percent extra grace in —
AMANPOUR: But what is it based on?
REDWOOD: Based —
AMANPOUR: What if you’re wrong? And —
REDWOOD: Well, let me explain what it’s based on. Because these other forecasts are based on nothing, all they are based on the assumption —
AMANPOUR: But these are experts whose jobs it is.
REDWOOD: Well, I’m an expert as well. So, what — different experts disagree.
AMANPOUR: On the assumption?
REDWOOD: Yes, indeed.
REDWOOD: And my forecast says that if you spend the 39 billion in two tranches, about 20 billion a year in each of the first two years after we
leave in March, that gives you a bonus. I have assumed there will be some reduction in exports to the E.U. There will be a bonus in trade with non-
E.U. because I’m projecting cutting the tariffs on the rest of world while we bring the tariffs in lie for everybody. And I’m also assuming there
will be quite a lot of import substitution because of the impact of tariffs on E.U. exports.
REDWOOD: And comes out at a 1 percent net gain.
AMANPOUR: What happens when this is defeated in Parliament tonight?
REDWOOD: Well, the prime minister, if she’s wise, will then see that we gave a very good advice of this agreement couldn’t (INAUDIBLE) go through
and she will accept the verdict of Parliament and she will then go to Brussels where her negotiating team and complete the negotiations on all
the other issues that we need to tidy up for when we leave on the 29th of March with no withdrawal agreement. And the work is well advanced.
AMANPOUR: I’m going to come back to you after the no withdrawal and a no deal Brexit.
REDWOOD: The work is well advanced.
AMANPOUR: And in a few moments I’m going to ask you, what do you think about.
REDWOOD: And it’s — I look forward to completing it.
REDWOOD: But we’ve heard that (INAUDIBLE) will run perfectly smoothly. The —
AMANPOUR: But I’ve heard the opposite.
REDWOOD: The (INAUDIBLE) doesn’t want to lose our business.
AMANPOUR: I’ve heard the opposite, that they’re very different on north vehicles going into Dover than for instance Ponsworthy. So, a lot of stuff
that we’ve been told is not necessarily true.
REDWOOD: Yes. But (INAUDIBLE) is going to work. (INAUDIBLE) is going to work because the head of (INAUDIBLE) is putting the necessary facilities,
made a public declaration, he doesn’t want to lose any business over this, so it will run smoothly.
AMANPOUR: All right.
REDWOOD: Stop scaremongering.
AMANPOUR: All right.
REDWOOD: It’s all nonsense.
AMANPOUR: I’m not scaremongering.
REDWOOD: I want an independent country just as America is an independent country. Why can’t I have an independent country now the public have voted
for it and we’re already better off if we govern wisely, which I wishes to do.
AMANPOUR: OK. And we will have you back once this has all been resolved and we’ll see what the facts and figures tell us.
REDWOOD: They will be wonderful as long as we just leave.
AMANPOUR: John Redwood, thank you very much indeed. I know you have to go and vote.
AMANPOUR: Coming up after a break, we go to Europe, to Brussels, to speak to a member of the European Parliament, a member from the Netherlands.
That’s right after a break.
Welcome back to our special coverage of the British Parliament voting on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Now, the significance of this vote for the future of the United Kingdom cannot be overstated. And as you’ve seen so far at this hour, passions run
very high within the prime minister’s own party. Despite the government delaying the vote from December, it is still widely expected to lose later
We’ve already heard two opposing views. And now, we are going to get some insight from a member of the European Parliament, Marietje Schaake. She is
a Dutch member of the European Parliament and she’s part of the alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Marietje Schaake, welcome to the program.
You’ve been following this, you know, a lot and you’ve been talking about it a lot, we always come to you with questions. So, what do you think is
going to happen when, apparently, according to conventional wisdom and the mathematics, this prime minister’s deal is not going to pass the House
tonight? What is the next step, vis-a-vis, Europe?
MARIETJE SCHAAKE, DUTCH MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: Well, I don’t think anyone really knows. But the promises of — you know, simply talking
to parliament and then going back and renegotiating a deal with the E.U. 27-member states I think is highly unrealistic.
I mean, look at how much time has gone into the deal that is now on the table. But also imagine what it is like to look from the E.U. 27 and the
chaos that is now unfolding in the U.K. and then wondering why anyone would break open those negotiations. Because one of the key conditions, really,
of a successful negotiation is a reliability of the other partner is an anticipation of how the other side will respond, how solid their position
And if you look at London over the past months and increasingly so, it is very chaotic, everybody knows what they’re against but not what they’re for
and there really is no plan B. I mean, we’re planning for contingency on the European side for a no deal Brexit, but all those people that know
better than the prime minister how they would want to strike a deal with E.U. 27 have not spelled out how they would do it and I think that they’re
highly unrealistic about the realities of negotiations.
AMANPOUR: So, what would a no deal Brexit look like to you? I had a very spirited discussion with one of the Hardliners, John Redwood, who believes
that Brexiters voted for a no deal, for a hard cliff edge Brexit, that’s what he believes despite the figures that show that Parliament does not
have a majority for a no deal.
So, what in terms of Europe would a no deal Brexit it look like?
SCHAAKE: It would lead to an immense amount of uncertainty for the people in the U.K. And I think that that is a story that has not been told.
There are so many lofty promises of a global Britain and trade deals with everybody, but there is no articulation of what tradeoffs that would take,
what legal uncertainty it would mean for citizens, for the digital economy, for financial services, for transport and all the truck drivers, for health
care and personnel.
I think it is really a missed perspective that I haven’t heard amidst all the back and forth in the U.K. that it’s really going to be a big chaos
with a lot of uncertainty for the British people and also for us, of course, in Europe. Because the U.K. will remain an important partner for
I’m very sad to see this chaos and the result of irresponsible political brinkmanship unfolding, but we are where we are and we’ll have to make the
best of it. But to deny that there will be an extraordinary chaos and uncertainty is simply not taking voters and people in the U.K. seriously.
AMANPOUR: Marietje Schaake, hold on one second, standby. We’re just going to go to the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who is speaking live during
this last and final debate before the vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, BRITISH LABOUR LEADER: After losing her majority in the 2017 general election, the prime minister could have engaged with members
across this House, she could have listened to the voices of trade unions. And if she had been listening, both businesses and trade unions would have
told her they wanted a comprehensive and permanent Customs Union to secure jobs and trade.
The decision to rule out a new Customs Union with a British say and the lack of certainty in the deal risks business investment being differed on
an even greater scale, threatening jobs and threatening living standards. Or even worse, it risks many companies relocating abroad, taking jobs and
investment with them.
Mrs. Speaker, many workers know exactly this situation because they are facing this reality now. Their jobs are at risk and they know their jobs
are at risk. Both the first ministers of Whales and Scotland have also made clear to the prime minister their support for a Customs Union, to
protect jobs and the economy/
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we’ve been listening to Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition, put his last points forth before this formal vote starts to
take shape in the next hour — over the next hour. Of course, what he was talking about was the Customs Union, the single market, the threat to the
British people’s economy and to their personal finances.
Let’s go back to Europe and to MEP, Marietje Schaake, and ask her about how it looks from there.
Marietje, you just heard the leader of the opposition and you know that he’s already committed to tabling a motion of no confidence in the
government if indeed — well, if, as predicted, the vote is going to be lost tonight.
What can you say about the European side of this in terms of the British economy? I realize you’re not going to interfere in the British, you know,
politics. But how, in facts and figures, will this affect each and everybody’s economic situation?
SCHAAKE: Well, I think every country’s government, at least, the Dutch government has made a prediction of how much, you know, GDP it would cost
over years and it really depends. I mean, after Ireland, the Netherlands is the most affected by Brexit. And, of course, that is why we’ve had a
task force planning for this, the businesses are encouraged to prepare themselves and the government is prepared as well.
So, I think it is hard to say anything in general about it because it will differ a great deal per sector, per country. But the fact of the matter is
that the leaving of a significant economy and the breaking of the closest possible economic and other ties between the U.K. and the E.U. will have
And if you don’t create a predictable path of withdrawal agreements and then a negotiation on the kind of relationship, whether it would be a
Customs Union or a trade agreement or what it would look like, this uncertainty in and of itself will create hesitation for businesses, will
creates an adoption period that is not smooth and I think that that should be prevented.
And I — you know, I only hear from the people who are now going to vote against the deal that the prime minister puts on the table why it’s not
good enough. But I don’t really hear how they would like to change it.
And even if they say that they would have negotiated a much better deal, I think they have to understand that there are 27 governments on the other
side. Look at how chaotic it is for this one government and one Parliament to deal with it. I have never seen such unity of European side as I have
had with regard to Brexit.
So who would be interested in looking at the chaos in London to reopen these negotiations?
AMANPOUR: Well, that’s a really good question. And I know you’re going to stand by for a while. We’ll come back to you and ask you about potential
opening up of negotiations on your side. But first, we’re going to take a break.
AMANPOUR: So in just 30 minutes, at the top of the hour, 7 p.m., London time, British lawmakers will begin voting on amendments to the government’s
Brexit deal and then they will vote on the deal itself.
Let us get the thoughts of Baroness Helena Kennedy. She’s a member of the House of Lords and she’s one of the nation’s leading human rights lawyers.
She’s written several books on issues that affect women, especially her latest called, “Eve was Framed.” Kennedy says we women could be Brexit’s
biggest losers. Welcome to the program.
BARONESS HELENA KENNEDY, BRITISH HOUSE OF LORDS: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Well, it’s a bit of a disaster to hear that. You have said that this could be a dramatic and historic loss for British women. What do you
KENNEDY: I mean basically, economically, the costs of this — if you leave on a hard Brexit is going to be very damaging to the lowest paid. And, of
course, women are the lowest paid. They’re the people who on the hold of disaster family budgets. And the damage generally is going to be felt
hardest by women.
And the other thing is that Europe has given us very good protections on maternity rights, on part-time worker’s rights and so on. And that is
something that people feel will be in jeopardy. So there are many aspects of this that I think women feel.
And women are also feeling very anxious about what it means for their children. That’s not to say that it’s not felt by men too but I mean
women often take the brunt of this.
AMANPOUR: And you — I mean we know because the government has said it, Teresa May has said it and the others that a lot of these protections, the
rights for maternity leave and worker regulation in the workplace and all the other things that came to Britain, thanks to European laws, would be
incorporated. A lot of the regulations in protections would be incorporated into British law.
How does that seem to be going? You know that’s —
KENNEDY: Well, I mean — and inside —
AMANPOUR: Although it’s not — because it’s not in the E.U. withdrawal bill.
KENNEDY: It’s not in the withdrawal.
KENNEDY: And so that’s what is making people feel rather anxious is that it’s not solid. And, of course, the sense is that another government might
renege on those promises, whereas beings — moving into the European fabric gives those long-term protections.
So those are one of some of the things that are worrying people. But generally, I mean a hard Brexit is hugely damaging to the economy. And I
know that this is being rehearsed over and over again but it really is going to be very very damaging to us given that these are our nearest
neighbors, the people we trade most with. And so there are real problems about all of that.
AMANPOUR: So you see, I just had a very spirited discussion with one of the hardliners who, you know, who — Chancellor Theresa May, they lost in
the no-confidence vote but they’re still dominating debate. They’re trying to.
So John Redwood who said that’s just fear-mongering that, you know, everybody predicted precisely that, that there’d be a massive spike in
unemployment, that the economy would suffer right after the vote. And it didn’t. In fact, it got stronger.
KENNEDY: But they didn’t because we actually — because of conscious of easing. Tons of money was poured into the system to make sure that we
didn’t have the recession and we didn’t have the economic consequences that that may in the downturn.
So we’ve got to be very clear that there were steps taken by the chancellor who really had to work pretty hard to maintain the level that we were at.
But we have been seeing economic consequences in the last year. We haven’t been actually doing well in the last year.
So I think generally, there’s a recognition. But there are people who are hardliners who will say that’s a price we’re prepared to pay because in the
long-term, you know, 10 years —
AMANPOUR: Well, that’s what they are saying.
KENNEDY: Ten years down the line, they’ll all come good. Well, I mean enough or a lot of people are going to suffer a lot of pain in those 10
years and that’s one of the things. But you know, there are all the other things, Christiane.
I chair the Justice Committee here in the House of Lords. And the links that we have with Europe on justice, on collaborations or on things like —
you know, there’s a sort of European wide protection order so that women who are trafficked or women who are just battered women can get — can be
protected. Even if they’re traveling abroad, they’re on holiday and suddenly a former partner turns up threatening to kill them, they can use
the legislation that runs across the whole of Europe.
There are all sorts of collaborations which are going to be huge, a European of a wide arrest warrant. How do we collaborate on many of those
things which are, you know, about to cross border crime and so on? Those are the sort of things are going to be really put in jeopardy. So
security, dealing with crime, dealing with that litigation will not be as easy as it once was. And never mind the queues of (INAUDIBLE) that
(INAUDIBLE) taking goods here and that.
AMANPOUR: So tell us a little bit about the European Court of Justice. Because that’s another thing that Brexiteers just hate. It was one of
these sort of talismans, this bogeyman that was used to sort of — the slogans take back serenity, take back control, you know, we want our
country back. What actually does the European Court of Justice do?
KENNEDY: Well, the European Court of Justice listen. You can’t do trade with another nation without having somewhere some core to our arbitration
system that deals with conflict. Because sometimes, you know, you’ll just not be able to resolve things amicably and they have — you have to end up
having some sort of a judicial —
AMANPOUR: Standby one second. Theresa May, the prime minister is speaking. We’re going to take that and come back. Let’s listen.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Honorable sincerity to move 200 honorable and right honorable members. It has been historic for our
parliament and for our country.
We have heard contributions from every perspective, looking at all aspects of this complex and vital question. We’ve seen this house at its most
passionate and vigorous and I thank everyone who has contributed. No one watching this debate can be in any doubt about the strength of this House
of Commons as the fulcrum of our democracy.
This a debate about our economy and security, the livelihoods of our constituents and the future for our children and for generations to come.
It goes to the heart of our Constitution. And no one should forget but it is the democratic process that has gotten us to where we are today.
In 2015, my party stalled on an election manifesto that had as a centerpiece the promise of an in-out referendum on the U.K.’s membership of
the European Union. The British people responded by electing a conservative government to follow through on that promise. That is what we
did when this House voted overwhelmingly to hold the referendum and put the choice in the hands of the British people.
Indeed 470 current members voted in favor of it and only 32 opposed it. That campaign was kingly, caught the public imagination like few campaigns
before it. Turned out, it was 72 percent higher than for any national poll for a quarter of a century. Overwhelming, the result was clear and it was
decisive, something this house accepted when we voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50.
Four hundred and thirty-six current members voted to do so. Only 85 opposed. Parliament gave the people a choice. We set the clock ticking on
our departure. And tonight, we will determine whether we move forward with a withdrawal agreement that honors the vote and sets us on course for a
better future. The responsibility of each and every one of us at this moment is profound for this is a historic decision that will set the future
of our country for generations.
So what are the alternatives that present themselves? First, we could decide it’s all too difficult and give up either by revoking Article 50 or
passing it back to the British people in a second referendum. But I believe we have a duty to deliver on the democratic decision of the British
people and to do so in a way that brings our country together.
A Second referendum would lead instead to further division. Let be no agreement to the question, let alone the answer. It would sanction the
people we were elected to serve that we are not willing to do what they had instructed.
Now, the second possible outcome is that we leave on the 29th of March without a deal. But I don’t believe that’s what the British people voted
for because they were told that if they voted to leave, they could still expect a good trading relationship with the European Union. And neither
would it be the best outcome.
Our deal delivers certainty for businesses with a time-limited implementation period to prepare for the new arrangements with a future
relationship. No deal means no implementation period. Our deal protects the rights of the E.U. citizens living in the U.K. and U.K. citizens living
in the E.U. So they can carry on their lives as before.
No deal means no reciprocal agreements to protect those citizens’ rights. Our deal delivers the deepest security partnership in the E.U.’s history so
our police and security services can continue to work together with their European partners to keep all our people safe. No deal means no such
Our deal delivers the foundations for an unprecedented economic relationship with the E.U. which is more ambitious, that is —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sit down. It’s becoming really rather annoyed at the unseemly atmosphere and that has now resumed. It must stop. The prime
minister must be heard. Prime Minister.
MAY: Our deal delivers the foundations for an unprecedented economic relationship with the E.U. but it’s more ambitious than anything they have
ever entered into with the third country. It will give us the benefits of trading with the European Union and the ability to force new trade deals in
our own right.
No deal means those new trade deals come at the expense of a trade deal with Europe, not in addition to it. So while it is categorically wrong to
suggest that our country could not ultimately make a success of no deal, it is equally wrong to suggest that this is the best outcome.
Now, third, there was a path advocated by the leader of the opposition and we’ve heard it again of calling a general election. But today’s vote is
not about what’s best for the leader of the opposition. It is about what is best for the country.
And at the end of a general election, whatever the result, the choices facing us will not have changed. It will still be no Brexit
leaving with no deal or leaving with a deal. And there’s no guarantee that the election would make the parliamentary arithmetic any easier. All it
would gain is two more months of uncertainty and division.
In 2017, the two main parties both stood on manifestos but pledged to deliver the results of the referendum. They got over 80 percent of the
vote. People had the opportunity to vote for a second referendum by supporting the Liberal Democrats in 2017. Seven — just seven percent of
voters did so.
It is the job of Parliament to deliver on the promises made at the last election not to be seeking a new one. Now, some suggest there’s a fourth
option, to agree that we should leave with a deal on the 29th of March but to vote this deal down in the hope of going back to Brussels again and
negotiating an alternative deal. But no such alternative deal exists.
The political declaration sets the framework for the future relationship and the next phase of negotiations will be our chance to shape that
relationship. But we cannot begin those talks unless or until we agree on the terms of our withdrawal. And the European Union will not agree to any
of the deal for that withdrawal.
So having ruled out all of these options, we’re left with one, to vote for this deal tonight. One that delivers on the core tenets of Brexit taking
back control of our borders, laws, money, trade, and fisheries. But in a way that protects jobs, ensures our security and the integrity of our
Well, that’s like a fair balance between the hopes and desires of all our fellow citizens, those who voted to leave and those who voted to stay here.
And if we leave with the deal I’m proposing, I believe we can lay the foundations from which to build a better bridge.
And as Prime Minister, I would not stand at this dispatch box and recommend a course of action that I do not believe is in the best interests of our
country and our future. And there are differences in this House today but I believe we can come together as we go forward.
But let me reassure anyone who’s in any doubt whatsoever, the government will work harder at taking parliament with us. And as we move on to the
next phase of negotiations, we will be looking to work with Parliament to seek such consensus.
But Mr. Speaker, let me turn to the most contentious elements of our deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My right honorable friend, the Prime Minister knows that what concerns many of us is the possibility of the permanent nature of
the Northern Ireland backstop. May I refer her to my Amendment B on the order paper which says — sets a deadline for that backstop and may I ask
her what is the answer of the government to my amendment.
MAY: And I thank my honorable right noble friend for the question he’s asked and for the work that he has been doing to try to find a way through
on this particular issue. And I know he spent a long time consulting with international lawyers on this issue.
The government isn’t able to accept the amendment that has been selected, that my right honorable friend has put on has been selected because we have
a different opinion and a different interpretation of the Vienna Convention. But I note that my right honorable friend has put out an
alternative proposal in relation to this issue. The government is willing to look at creative solutions and we will be happy to carry on working with
my right honorable friend in relation to that particular issue.
I said I would turn to the North Ireland —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order, order, order. The House must calm itself. Restraint, patience. Prime Minister.
MAY: I set out the government’s position in detail on my statement yesterday so I’m not going to go over it again. But the key thing to
remember is this isn’t a commitment we’re making to the European Union. It’s a commitment to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland that they
will be able to carry on living their lives as they do today.
It’s about saying that whatever happens when we leave the E.U., we will honor the Belfast Agreement. Its success has been built on allowing people
from both communities in Northern Ireland to feel that their identities are respected under the principle of consent. For many people
in Northern Ireland, that means having a seamless land border between the U.K. and Ireland which is also essential to their economy.
For others, that remains fully respecting the fact that Northern Ireland is an intrinsic part of the United Kingdom. No one wants to see the return of
a hard border. And as a proud Unionist, I share the concerns of members who are determined that we do not undermine the strength of our United
But it is not enough simply to make these assertions. We have to put in place arrangements that deliver those ends. And it’s not just as simple as
some would like it to be.
So as Prime Minister for the whole U.K., it’s my duty to provide a solution that works for the people of Northern Ireland. The answer lies in agreeing
to our future economic relationship but we need an insurance policy to guarantee there will be no hard border if that future relationship is not
in place by the end of the implementation period.
I’ll give way to the age of the Democratic Party.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very grateful to the Prime Minister for giving way. And would she agree that whatever one’s view on this withdrawal agreement,
whatever arguments the people deploy, that we should not be using the peace or the political process in Northern Ireland as arguments for voting for
this deal or voting against it? Would you agree that that is completely and utterly out of order? Make that clear to all of our cabinet colleagues
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hear, hear.
MAY: The right honorable gentleman, I think everybody, everybody across this house is committed to ensuring that we maintain the arrangements of
Belfast, the Friday agreement that we also ensure that we maintain the many benefits that have come from the peace process in Northern Ireland. And
that should not be disrupted and that not should be — should not be affected in any sense.
But I also say that whatever future relationship is going to be negotiated or people want to see being negotiated, that insurance policy is essential.
Any of the other proposals, Canada, Norway, any number of variations of those models, all of them require the insurance policy and that is the so-
And no backstop simply means no deal now and for the foreseeable future. And I don’t want to see anybody being able to exploit no deal and bringing
doubt about the future of our union as a result of that.
And let’s remember, if I may say to this House, what the withdrawal agreement does deliver for the people of Northern Ireland. An
implementation period certainty for businesses, protection of citizens’ rights, certainty to thousands of families, no hard border, unfettered
access to British and E.U. markets, protection of the single electricity market across the island of Ireland, securing energy supply in Northern
Ireland, continued security cooperation with our European allies, that the police service of Northern Ireland say is essential. And above all, the
protection of the historic Belfast Good Friday Agreement. The deal we have puts our union first.
Now, let me turn to the contribution of the leader of the opposition. Characteristic — a characteristic speech, characteristic whole approach to
Brexit, long on criticism and short on coherence. He claims that he’ll be able to renegotiate the deal in a matter of weeks, get a vastly different
outcome and despite the European Union making clear that it’s impossible. But everything he does is designed to avoid taking any difficult decisions,
saying one thing to one group and another thing to another.
In the general election, he said his manifesto — in his manifesto, freedom of movement will end. On Sunday, he said I’m not against the free movement
of people. When asked by Brexit in a German newspaper, he said we can’t stop it, the referendum took place. Article 50 is being triggered.
In his speech at Wakefield last week and again this evening, he said a second referendum was an option on the table. He says Labour would run an
independent trade policy but he wants to join the Customs Union. He says he’s opposed to no deal but he says he’s opposed to withdrawal agreement on
the backstop without which there is no deal.
So the question is what is his position because he has failed in his responsibility to provide a credible alternative to the governments of the
day. By just hearing from the start a cynical course designed to serve his political interest and not the national interest. He’s forfeited the right
to demand loyalty from those of his MPs who take a more pragmatic view because he doesn’t care whether we leave or not, with a deal or
not as long as he can maximize disruption and uncertainty and the likelihood of a general election.
And I hope that members of opposite who faithfully pledge to their constituents that they would respect the results of the referendum that
they think carefully before voting against the deal which delivers Brexit. And I hope that those who fear leaving without a deal, whose constituents
rely on manufacturing jobs think very carefully about rejecting a deal that is the only guaranteed way to take no deal off the table.
Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is the most significant vote that any of us will ever be part of in our political careers. After all the debate, all
the disagreement, all the division, the time has now come for all of us in this House to make a decision.
A decision that will define our country for decades to come. A decision that will determine the future for our constituents, their children, and
their grandchildren. A decision that each of us will have to justify and live with for many years to come.
We know the consequences of voting for this deal. They are laid out in black and white in the pages of the withdrawal agreement. But no one who
votes against this deal will be able to tell their constituents what real- world outcome they voted for because the vote against this deal is a vote for nothing more than uncertainty, division and the very real risk of no
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I’m very grateful for the Prime Minister for giving way. Prime Minister, on any of the analysis of Brexit, economic growth
will be lower than staying in the U.K. Union. Will the Prime Minister not realize on the basis of the knowledge and on the fact that people are going
to lose opportunities as a consequence of Brexit? The alternative is to extend Article 50, go back, give these people a seat. Let’s act on all our
interest on the basis of the information that we now have.
MAY: I thank the right honorable gentleman. Parliament gave the British people a choice. The Parliament — the government at the time, all
parties, all those campaigning in that referendum were absolutely clear that whatever the decision of that referendum, it would be respected by
government and by Parliament.
And I believe that we have a duty to deliver on that referendum vote and to do so in a way that does protects people’s jobs and protects our security
and protects our union. A vote against this deal is a vote for nothing more for an uncertainty, division and the very real risk of no deal or no
Brexit at all.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. Tonight, we can choose certainty over uncertainty. We can choose unity over division. We can choose to deliver
on our promise to the British people, not break that promise and endanger trust in politics for a generation.
Because as members of Parliament, we have a duty to serve not our own self- interest nor that of our parties but the people we were elected to represent. It is the people of this country that we were sent here to
serve. The people of this country who queued up at polling stations, who cast their ballots so they might put their face in us. It is the people of
this country who entrusted us with a sacred right to build for them and their children and grandchildren the brighter future they expect and
And if we act in the national interest and back this deal tonight, then morrow we can begin to build that future together. If we act in the
national interest and back this deal tonight, we can build a country that works for everyone. Together, we can show the people we serve that their
voices have been heard, that their trust was not misplaced, that our politics can and does deliver, that politicians can rise above our
differences and come together to do what the people asked of us.