tv British Prime Minister Theresa May Discusses Brexit Plan CSPAN May 7, 2019 1:30pm-2:01pm EDT
recently agreed to a brexit extension through october. >> good afternoon, prime minister, it's been reported the government has canceled the no deal brexit contracts. is that the case? if so how much will it cost? prime minister: if i can can come on to the contracts. i wonder if it would be helpful if i set the scene if you're interested in where we are on negotiation answer what we are doing. we have quite a lot of questions. it may be my setting the scene will answer some of those questions. because i think if i update -- it's our policy to leave the union sfass possible. i regret -- haven't built a a majority. everybody knows the house has also rejected no deal and other actions including the people's vote. by the legislation that was passed and compelled to seek an
extension. as you know i sought that extension until the 30th of june but the council after deliberations gave that extension until the 31st of october, but it's term minnable, so we can leave at any point up until that time. we will leave at the end of the month in which parliament ratifies the withdrawal of the agreement. i want that to happen before the october deadline. i think that once the consensus is reached, members should look to pass the necessary legislation and end the uncertainty as soon as possible. we have been making concertered efforts to build on that consensus. discussions on workers' rights for example. making it clear we would accept the amendment table. on the role of parliament. and after the withdraw agreement itself which the house chose not to do, but obviously then following that the cabinet agreed the right thing to do would reach the
opposition to decide how we can can build a majority for the withdraw of the agreement in leaving. i think that was unprecedented. i'm convinced it was the right thing to do because the public wants to see us working together to deliver the result of the reverend rum. we have been having constructive talks. there are differences on issues. there are many of the key areas, common ground, we know that we need to end this uncertainty and do it as soon as possible. obviously i think there will be technical questions. but the choice of the house remains which has always been the choice, which is we can can
full majority ratify to leave with the deal. decide to leave with no deal. go back to the people and ask them to think again. or revote the brexit. those are the choices. the only acceptable is form a majority to ratify the withdrawal agreement. meanwhile, will i continue to work and do everything i can can to do that because i think that's what's right in the national interest. what we do meanwhile is continue our preparations. part of the issues around the preparations for no deal, which i have just been asked about in relation to the contract, those very contracts -- in the light of extension i just referenced, we are reviewing the contingency planning that's taking place in relation to no deal. we have decided to terminate the contracts with f.d.s. those contracts were vital contingency measure in showing the critical group to could enter the u.k. in the event of disruption along the short straits and no deal. but they both included early
termination fees to ensure we would not have to pay the full contract cost in the event the capacity was no longer needed. >> cans the contracts? prime minister may: less than it would to continue running the contract. >> it would be around 50 million quid. could you confirm that? prime minister may: i think if we are talking about the question of cost, the point i just made is an important one which is combined termination costs with the operators is substantially lower than the -- cuse me, lower an the term nation costs thanks to the decisions we took. it's also in keeping those contracts on, i'm sure everybody would agree we have to make the decision that is best in terms of the use of taxpayers' money. >> i understand that. does that mean that the government has now accepted that there won't be a no deal
brexit? in other words, if you have accepted that, i can can see why you cancel the contracts and won't need them, or might you have to stand them up again if we come to the 31st of october without an agreement? what is the government's policy now on the no deal? prime minister may: we want to leave the european union with a deal. that's what we continue to work for. but of course it is not entirely in the hands of the government as to what happens there. first of all, parliament has to ratify an agreement that enables us to leave with a deal. and so far parliament has not been willing to do that. they have not been willing to accept no deal. but the extension and decision at the end of that were we to get to that is it of october date, and without having left the european union, i sincerely hope we don't come to that position, it would not simply be tea significance for the government as to what happened, because obviously at that point were there to be request for further extension that would be
in the hands of the 27 members of the european union. >> you referred to the talks of the opposition. if they can can reach agreement, as you said, are you going to put a number of options to the house, will that include an option for the customs union? prime minister may: what we intend to do to discuss with the opposition, we would want this to be a process with which we have discussed with the official opposition and which he they were ready to support. we will discuss with them the options puts before the house. >> arguing for customs union, one would have thought they would be happy to see that put to a vote wofment it include a customs union? prime minister may: one of the discussions we have been having and i have said this sort of thing publicly as well is the whole question about custom arrangements for the future. various terms are used. sometimes people use different terms to mean the same thing. sometimes meaning different approaches. what i think would be important
when we come to that process is that anything that is put before the house, obviously customs union being put before the house previously have been rejected by the house, anything -- i would hope we would be able to get agreement with the opposition so that a process that everybody can stand behind. >> could it include a a second referendum? prime minister may: that's a question of a different order, isn't it? that's not a question of a substance of the deal that would be required in order to ratify the withdrawal agreement. that's about process in relation to an issue. as we know there are differences of opinion in relation to the second referendum. and either we as the party government or official opposition, have the policy of the second referendum in all circumstances. >> it's a perfectly coherent proposition, do you agree? >> a proposition brought by a number of members of the house inside this house and elsewhere. prime minister may: my view
about a second referendum we should get on with delivering the first referendum. that's what people want us to do. that's what people expect us to do. it is what the government at the time of the referendum said we would do. >> can can i turn secondly to the u.k.'s plans in negotiating observations -- objectives for phase two if a deal is agreed. can can you confirm who leads those negotiations with the u.k. side? the secretary of state and the european union? prime minister may: we'll have a different arrangement for the negotiations. i think most likely it would be led by the secretary of state. if i can can just explain obviously the next stage of negotiations, phase two of negotiations, includes wide range of issues. of course it would be necessary to be able to draw cross expertise from a cross government on all matters that were involved. for example, one element that will be security aspects. obviously making sure that those who are expert, part of
those negotiations will be important. >> what would be your role or role of your successor if that's what happens in the negotiations? how would that be habbled? prime minister may: the secretary of state would operate according to policies set by the government. there would be not just a role for that individual and the rolls, but roll for the cabinet. >> is the government ready for negotiations? i ask because the discriminate -- secretary of state announced mon-b a month ago the government was looking to set up an advisory group of experts in trade and customs. has that group be teashed? prime minister may: there are various pieces of work being done. some of the announcements have been made. in relation to work that we will do on looking for example at alternative arrangements to the withdrawal agreement, we would want to extend the input that we had on these matters in the second phase of negotiations. that's why we have referenced
not just experts on issues but also a greater interaction with business generally, trade unions, and society. >> have any of them been established? prime minister may: well -- >> it took the government a year and a half to decide what to ask for. what i'm trying to establish is whether, in fact, the government is ready for phase two negotiation it is we get to that point? the question i'm asking is, you announced you want to set up a group of technical experts, has it been established yet? prime minister may: what you have seen -- it didn't take the government a year and a half to decide what it was going to ask for not negotiations. i set out the outline in a house speech in early 2017. we then obviously fleshed that out in a letterer in article 50. we went through -- obviously we had the discussions focusing initially on the withdrawal agreement aspects of the arrangements with the european union. as you look at the declaration, you will a' see a great deal in there which has been from the
government's point of view. a lot hard fought. in order to ensure that we can can can have a situation going into the second phase of negotiations that meets the requirements for the united kingdom. as we go forward at the moment obviously the whole question of what those objectives should be, we have seen, as i said, the amendment, about parliament having a greater role, that whole issue is one that is for further discussion. >> are you concerned that time has been lost because with each month of extension of article 50 that is a month of the transition period? prime minister may: i would the house of commons voted the way i did he we would already no longer been a member of the european union. >> civil ver's and no deal preparation.
>> the question is whether the civil service is still preparing for leaving without a deal. you confirmed that that's still the default legal position. what exactly is the policy of the government? as a matter of fact an international law the moment at which the 29th of march deadline article 50 period was extended, was when you accepted the extension offered to you at that european council on the 21st of march, that's correct, isn't it? prime minister may: the first extension -- yes. >> you accepted the extension. that's when article 50 was extended. prime minister may: yes. >> and the -- it was not when parliament passed the s.i. changing the exit date? prime minister may: the changing of the exit date was necessary to ensure u.k. domestic law was in line with
international law. >> so in the government's response to my committee's inquiry into the ray status of rulingses of the house of commons, the government -- resolutions of the house of commons, the government said for motions of return of humble addresses, such motions this is the government's response, lacks statutory force and a mere motion can cannot be, be used to change the law, compel the government to legislate, or lay a regulation, or tell ministers how to perfecter form a statutory function. -- perform a statutory functions. whatever political pressures were on you, you were under no legally binding obligation of any kind to accept the extension, were you? prime minister may: the government took the decision it was right to and appropriate at that time to accept that extension. that was, as you know, unlimited. that was a limited extension. that was done. with the expect -- intent of
trying to ensure that in that first space of time we could leave with a deal. as i indicated earlierer it remains the government's position that the best option for the united kingdom and our national interest is lead with a deal. a at the sum summit you made the same choice. prime minister may: it was a an obligation. the second summit because the house of commons had passed legislation that required government to ask for an extension. >> required the government to seek an extension but didn't require you to accept any terms that were offered. that's what you did. prime minister may: i accept with a significant discussion -- from the council. i did accept the terms offered. there were crucial elements that we insisted on-- made clear that we wanted to see that was the termibility of any period of time should it go beyond the period of extension that we had asked for. i think that the facts that the house of commons had actually
not just -- your first question referenced a motion of the house of commons, it wasn't just a motion of the house of commons, it was an act of parliament that was passed. requiring the government to seek an extension and setting certain parameters for that extension. >> you were obliged to seek an extension. you weren't obliged to accept an extension? prime minister may: the expectation is that one is going to accept an extension. no point asking for extension and then say -- let me explain that. we said we were going to ask for an extension to the 30th of june. the house confirmed that. if i asked for an extension for 30th of june and european council come back to the 30 of the june. you want me to say no, sorry. that's not what we want. >> i think you find if you take advice from the attorney general you weren't actually under an obligation to accept
any extension. you were under osama bin laden fwation to offer an extension not accept it. the point is this, under what conditions would you be prepared to setaside the pressures are you under in order to deliver the referendum resolve and exercise your legal right to refuse an offer of further extension under article 50 and leave without a deal? prime minister may: i want us to leave the european union. i have been working for us to leave the european union. i have voted consistently in parliament for us to leave the european union. had everybody in parliament voted in the same we we would no longer be a member of the european union. >> please, i take that to mean that you're not going to contemplate leaving the european union of your own choice without a withdrawal agreement. prime minister may: i'm making a simple point which is that -- i'm answering your question in a way i choose to answer it.
the point is very simple. i remain -- i stand by the references i made in the past that no deal is bert than a bad deal. i actually happen to think we have a good deal. when i first made that reference, i was talking the object stract. it was in lancaster house. we now are no longerer talking the abstract. we are talking against a background of a negotiated deal, hard fought, which has -- i believe is a good deal for the united kingdom. that's why i say it remains the government's position we will continue to work to leave with a deal. >> if the house of commons declines to approve the withdrawal agreement, and declines to approve leaving without a deal, your choice will be remain in the european union indefinitely. prime minister may: no, my choice -- i do not believe we should remain in the european union indefinitely. i believe that the -- that is why i want to see the house of commons agree -- >> choosing to leave without a
deal we'll stay in, won't we? prime minister may: we would only stay in if article 50 is revote. i have been clear that i believe that it is the best option for the united kingdom is to leave with a deal. that's what we are continuing to work for. >> one final question. why haven't you helped the house of commons already by publishing the withdrawal agreement bill? prime minister may: we will publish the withdrawal agreement bill when we have completed the work we are doing on the withdrawal agreement bill. >> the withdrawal agreement is certainly not going to change. what's going to change in the bill? the withdrawal agreement hats been the same since -- you agreed at the end of last year. prime minister may: we have already seen a number of things that have changed that need to be reflected in the withdrawal agreement bill. from the withdrawal agreement that we find in november. the issues that have been agreed -- further issues, legally bipeding issues that have agreed with the european union and commitments the government has govern. i referenced one, in relation
to the amendment from guidance now. and commitments that we have given in the house of commons to workers' rights. it is not the case the withdrawal agreement bill that will be presented to parliament today will be the same. there have been changes. including nonnegotiations with the european union. >> unusual for the government to publish draft bills and produce a final -- introduce a a bill that's different or amended or introduce amendments during the passage of the vote. wouldn't help the house of commons very great deal to withdrawal the deal now? prime minister may: i think it would be helpful for the house of commons to withdrawal the agreement bill when we do so having considered all the issues that have changed since the withdrawal agreement in november of last year. and when we can are able to enable the house to have proper consideration of that bill. >> continuing the theme of provisions coming on to william cash. >> thank you.
you just said i want to leave the e.u., prime minister. why don't you get on with it and begin the commencement order for starts? that wouldn't be a bad way to begin. while you claim you carried out the referendum that in leaving the e.u. and our manifesto when the withdrawal agreement legally requires united kingdom citizens, businesses, and workers to obey laws made by the majority vote of the other 27 member states going on for years without our involvement, give the u.k. courts the right to override united kingdom acts of parliament, undermines the constitutional status of northern ireland, and thereby undermines our national interest. why do you repeatedly and again today say that what you are doing in the withdrawal agreement is in our national interest? it most obviously is not. prime minister may: you said at the beginning of your question that i said as i just have that i wanted to leave the european union. you thought i should get on with it. i have been trying to get on with it. i voted three times now for the
withdrawal agreement that would nable us to ratify that. i repeat, the first meaningful vote gone through we could have gotten the legislation through and be out already. i do not accept description that you have given as the positions the united kingdom will be in. following the basis of the withdrawal agreement and future proposed fuhr relationship we are negotiating. we'll be negotiating with the european union. i could go through the specific issues fud he' like, but it is not the case. it is very clear it is not the case that we are going to see the continued use of the european justice here in the united kingdom. >> when i called on you to resign the other day in the house, you said that the withdrawal agreement was a a good deal for the united kingdom. how can can it be so when it deliberately undermines the
repeal of the european union in 1972. i mentioned already there is no commencement to all that. this shackles us to all e.u. treaties and laws. your 108 promises not to extend the time have been overridden by what many regard as an inlawful statute instrument which is now before the committee. you gave instructions to conservative m.p.'s to defeat my amendment in the bill which would have stopped our taking part in the european elections. we pass the european union with your act, and you know perfectly well and we agree about this if nothing else, that puts enormous amount of time and effort as we all did in getting that withdrawal actually on the 26th 6 june 2018. that would have taken us out of the e.u. not this withdrawal agreement. furthermore, why have you gone back on the repeal of the 1972
act? prime minister may: first of all, i would hope we would also now agree on both wanting to leave the european union. >> in the proper way. prime minister may: i want to ensure we can can bring that about. we have the exchange about the 197 act on the floor of the house. -- 1972 act on the floor of the house. the act has already been passed. but what we have negotiated within the withdrawal agreement is that implementation period or or transition period as it's referred to in the documentation for a period of time up to the end of december, 2020 and during that period of time, yes, we will be continuing to operate very much as we do today. we wouldn't be a member but we would be continuing to operate as we do today and it would be necessary to reintroduce -- >> we'll have laws passed upon
us by 27 other member states without our involvement, taken behind closed doors without given the transcripts. that is not anything less than castigating the united kingdom parliament. prime minister may: first of all, if you look at the timetables that have taken place in relation to directives from the european union, actually with your experience in the european scrutiny committee, i'm sure you know it isn't the case you suddenly get a lot of laws passed by the european union within the period of what would effectively be 12 months. secondly, what we are talking about is the implementation period. we are not talking about the future relationship with the european union. we are talking about a transition perioder that enables people to be able to have a smoolt and orderly exit at the point of which we leave. that gives businesses an absolute certainty about the basis on which they will be operating at that point in
time. and give them the time to prepare for the -- give them time to prepare for the future relationship that would obviously be negotiated during that period of time. >> don't agree. >> who knew? >> the europeans committee recommended on 61 occasions that the government reverser its original proposal to go from a negative procedure to an affirmative procedure. the government accepted all of them. i'm grateful for that cooperation. and when the committee of the house has said that they want something to be changed, the government would be willing to change it. in your view now, as far as you are concerned, following the cooperer bill, is it your view that it is impossible for to us leave without a deal? prime minister may: what i
think is that parliament will --the u.k. it government is not willing to leave without a deal. as i said, actually leaving without a deal is not entirely in the hands of the u.k. government. because the issue of extensions of article 50 rest was the whole of the european union. and sitting around that table. >> you didn't doubt the fact that the bill that was passed i did not support, but the bill that was passed actually said that the deal has to be done. your view as prime minister is that you have to as prime minister and any future prime minister would have to ensure a deal to satisfy the house of commons. prime minister may: the house of commons has expressed its view. as it happens the view that the house of commons has expressed it wants to leave with a deal is the same view the government has in terms of ourpolicy.
we believe leaving with the deal is the bets --this deal is the best for the united king tomorrow. >> you did -- you have said in the past that leaving with no deal is bert than leaving with our deal. you believe the deal you negotiated and come to aa agreement after two years of hard negotiations is a deal that's in the best interests of the united kingdom as a whole. something which has been followed through by a lot of business leaders and industry as well. i would pressure you to reconsider the publication of the withdrawal agreement bill because it isn't uncommon for governments to make lots of amendments during passage of the bill. i think that one could make and then do amendments is a a good reason not to publish it. i think i would ask you to reflect whether that would help parliament. the frustration not only across the house of commons but also i think across the country is just exactly where we are going
and what is the direction of travel. that is something which is causing a lot of can concern from people i speak to be they business leaders or be they individuals. i think one of the things i'll ask you to consider fairly quickly, hopefully we are going to know the outcome of a a cross party talk soon. they do seem to have been going on as long as the original discussions, but i realize that's a a slight exaggeration. hopefully we are going to know in the next week or so, thank you very much. >> good afternoon, prime minister. prime minister, you mentioned workers' rights in your earlier statement. the government published some. do you think they go far enough in protecting and enhancing workers' rights? prime minister may: it is important that we have in the legislation the commitment we have given in the withdrawal
agreement about nonaggression in terms of workers' rights. as you will know actually this government and this country has workers in many areas, workers' rights that are above those provided by the european union legislation. obviously the issue with workers' rights is one of those raised with us by members across the house but particularly the official opposition. it's one of the issues that we will look at to see whether -- how we can can ensure the commitments given by the government on workers' rights can be enshrined and clear for the future. > i think much fair, section 1 , applies to relevant bills. while section 2 exactly which areas of legislation. if you decide what's relevant -- >> watch the rest of this discussion on brexit negotiations online at c-span.org.
the house about ready to return for speeches. they'll be back at 4:00 eastern to deal with three feels dealing with foreign affairs, including two that reaffirm the u.s. commitment to taiwan. any votes will be held after 6:30. in order. the prayer will be offered by our chaplain, father conroy. chaplain conroy: let us pray. eternal god, we give you thanks for giving us another day. we look upon our world, men and women being born and being laid to rest, some getting married and others getting divorced, the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the happy and the sad. so many people, aimless, despairing, hateful, and killing. so many undernourished, sick, and dying. so many struggling