Theresa May defends Brexit deal in parliament
The UK prime minister's agreement faced a series of setbacks on Tuesday as parliament debated the deal
Footage from Reuters.
We now come to motion number four on Section 13 (1b) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018. To move the motion, I call the prime minister.
Mr Speaker. Membership of any union that involves the pooling of sovereignty can only be sustained with the consent of the people.
In the referendum...
In the referendum of 2016, the biggest democratic exercise in our history, the British public withdrew that consent.
It is unfortunate for government to be in contempt of parliament. Would she agree that it is worse for parliament to be in contempt of the British people? Which is what will happen if we do not deliver on Brexit?
Well, can I...
Can I say to my honourable friend, I absolutely agree that it is the duty, I believe, of this parliament, it is the duty of us as politicians, to deliver on the result of the vote that the British people gave in 2016 in the referendum. They voted. We gave them the choice. They voted to leave the EU.
It is up to us to deliver that leaving of the European Union in the interests of our country.
Can I ask the prime minister, obviously in terms of the views and all of that I'm quite happy to put it to a test any time. We will happily go to the electorate and put our views to the people if needs be. And I'm quite certain that we would be returned in greater numbers than we are today. So I'm quite happy to take on the challenge that has been put down.
But can I ask the prime minister, in terms of guaranteeing Northern Ireland's position, she will remember that in paragraph 50 of the joint report that we spent four days negotiating there were guarantees given to Northern Ireland. Never mind the words that have been said in this house today. It was actually in the text. Why has that been deleted? Why has she not kept that in the withdrawal agreement? Why has it not been translated?
And that is what we have a problem with. Words are good. It's the legal text, it's what's in the agreement that matters.
So the backstop is not a trick to trap us in the EU. It actually gives us some important benefits of access to the EU's market without many of the obligations. And that is something the EU will want to let happen, let alone persist for a long time.
What it would say about the state of our democracy if the biggest vote in our history were to be rerun because the majority in this house didn't like the outcome?
And what it would do to that democracy, and what forces it would unleash? This house voted to give the decision to the British people. This house promised we would honour their decision. If we betray that promise, if we betray that promise, how can we expect them to trust us again?
If we put aside our differences and remember what unites us, if we broker an honourable compromise in the interests not of ourselves but of those we were sent here to serve, if we come together and do our duty to our constituents, then we will pass the test that history has set for us today.
It's not easy when the passions run so deep. But looking around this chamber, I know we can meet this moment. So I promise you today, this is the very best deal for the British people. I ask you to back it in the best interests of our constituents, and our country. And with my whole heart, I commend this motion to the house.