PM given mandate to take negotiations back to Brussels

MPs have given the PM a clear mandate to return to Brussels to address the issue of the backstop. I have consistently said that I believed a withdrawal agreement could secure the support of enough MPs if concerns over the backstop could be addressed. It is for Parliament, not Brussels, to decide when we fully leave the EU. 

Theresa May's speech following Brexit amendment votes. 

"A fortnight ago this House clearly rejected the proposed withdrawal agreement and political declaration with just 202 members voting in favour. Tonight, a majority of Honourable Members have said that they would support a deal with changes to the backstop, combined with measures to address concerns over Parliament’s role in the negotiation of the future relationship and commitments on workers rights in law where need be.

It is now clear that there is a route that can secure a substantial and sustainable majority in this House for leaving the EU with a deal. We will now take this mandate forward and seek to obtain legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement, that deals with concerns on the backstop, while guaranteeing no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. My colleagues and I will talk to the EU about how we address the House’s views. As I said this afternoon, there is limited appetite for such a change in the EU and negotiating it will not be easy, but in contrast to a fortnight ago, this House has made it clear what it needs to approve a withdrawal agreement.

Many Honourable Members have said that the continuing protection of workers rights after Brexit is something that needs to be strengthened. My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Business will intensify our work, with Honourable Members across the House and the Trade Unions this week. My Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will do the same on how we engage this House further in our approach to negotiating our future partnership with the EU.

As well as making clear what changes it needs to approve the withdrawal agreement, the House has also re-confirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement and future framework. I agree that we should not leave without a deal, however, simply opposing no deal is not enough to stop it.

The Government will now re-double its efforts to get a deal that this House can support and to that end, I want to invite my Right Honourable Friend the Member for Meriden, the Honourable Member for Birmingham Erdington, and all those who tabled amendments in opposition to no deal to discuss how we can deliver that by securing a deal. In light of the defeat of the Right Honourable Member, the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment, I again invite him to take up my offer of a meeting to see if we can find a way forward. Mr Speaker if this house can come together, we can deliver the decision the British people took in June 2016, restore faith in our democracy, and get on with building a country that works for everyone. As Prime Minister I will work with Members across the House to do just that."

We have given the Prime Minister a clear mandate from the House of Commons to renegotiate arrangements in place of the backstop and bring back a deal on which the United Kingdom will leave the EU on the 29th March 2019.