Let me first welcome to the debate, the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa Maynot. Prime Minister, if I may, what will happen should you lose the vote in the Commons next Tuesday?
Well, my government has been quite clear on this point. We think the deal we have negotiated with the European Union represents the best deal available and I urge the House to pass it without delay.
But, forgive me Prime Minister, my question was this: what would the government’s position be should the House reject that deal.
Let me be perfectly clear on that. We have put to the House the deal we think is best for Britain and the British people. I am confident that the House will understand that when the time comes.
But Mrs Maynot, the consequences of a no vote are to most of us perfectly unclear, so perhaps I can put it another way: what is Plan B, if there is one, should you fail to win the vote?
I’ve been absolutely clear on this all along. The House has an opportunity to bring about Brexit on the best deal we have been able to negotiate. I can’t be clearer than that.
Prime Minister, forgive me, but the latest reckoning we have is that the deal will not pass.
Clearly, that is for the House to decide. And I want to be clear on this: the House has a solemn duty to vote in accordance with the will of the people, as clearly expressed in the referendum.
In the event of a government defeat, is there not a real prospect that a second referendum will be required to break the deadlock?
We have been as clear as we can possibly be on that: a second referendum would break faith with the British people who clearly want to see clarity.
Let me turn, now to one of your fellow Conservatives, who I am going to characterize as an ardent Brexiteer. Mr Jacob Fleece Smog, what do you think the outcome will be next Tuesday, and where does that leave the country, in your opinion?
I have clearly stated, as you will know from every statement I have ever made, that this is a bad deal, and not in the national interest. It should and will be rejected.
But Mr Fleece Smog, what would your position be should the deal be rejected?
A good question, and frankly, and to be perfectly clear on the matter, those of us who oppose the deal will be working as hard as my scullery maids to bring about a solution.
Are you talking about a hard Brexit – that is, Britain leaving the EU without a deal?
I could not have been clearer on this point. Some other way must be found to bring about an alternative.
But our viewers, not to mention the British voters, want details, Mr Fleece Smog.
Yes, and quite right, too. So I’m going to be very clear about that. There is clearly another way forward, and it will be found, to end all this uncertainty, which is doing no good for business or for my investments.
I now bring in Jeremy Hasbyn, the leader of the Opposition. First, Mr Hasbyn, there seems to be some confusion about the Labour Party’s policy on the EU. Are you for leaving, or not? And do you see circumstances in which Britain might remain in the EU?
I think we have been crystal clear on that point. Our policy is to wait and see what happens in next Tuesday’s vote.
But assuming, as most people do, that it goes against the government, what will you do then?
Lest there be any confusion, let me be clear. We shall be tabling a vote of no-confidence in this government, which has failed to bring clarity to the British people and reduced the country to a state of chaos. A Labour government will end that chaos.
But, Mr Hasbyn, should you win the no-confidence vote, and bring down the government, what is the first thing a Labour administration would do?
That much we have made very clear: we will go back to the negotiating table to secure a better deal for the British people. We want to stay in the customs union and have a trade deal with our European friends.
But, with respect, hasn’t Europe made it clear that there will be no new negotiations?
Our position in the Labour Party couldn’t be clearer on that point. We shall seek, and secure, a better deal.
Does your policy exclude the possibility of a second referendum, which some of your shadow cabinet colleagues seem to favour, and which opinion polls seem to indicate would be favoured by a growing number of voters?
We have been meticulously clear on this. If all else fails – not that we expect to fail, mind you – clearly a second referendum can’t be absolutely ruled out. Our position meanwhile, which I have clearly stated, is that we shall have to wait and see.
Thank you all very much, ladies and gentlemen, for bringing clarity to a complex situation. Clearly, if I may be so bold, there remains much work to be done.