Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington filled in for the Prime Minister at the weekly Commons clash – while Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry stood in for Jeremy Corbyn. See how it all unfolded and grab the FULL quotes here.
That was a pretty sombre PMQs, marked by the death of Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland and the Easter weekend attacks in Sri Lanka.
Emily Thornberry and David Lidington both condemned the killings, although Thornberry said the unrest in Derry made a fresh case for the Government to solve the Northern Ireland Brexit border problem.
There was some low-level back-and-forth about Brexit talks, with both sides condemning the other for not giving ground in the attempt to find a deal.
A few Conservative MPs warned about the ongoing Brexit delay – while Lidington faced a grilling from both sides of the House on climate change, acknowledging the UK had “more to do” to tackle the problem. And that’s your lot.
|AIWA! NO!|Mr Speaker, I beg to move, That this House has considered the Prime Minister’s unprecedented decision not to proceed with the final two days of debate and the meaningful vote despite the House’s Order of Tuesday 4 December 2018 and her failure to allow this House to express its view on the Government’s deal or her proposed negotiating objectives without the agreement of this House.
Mr Speaker I have had the privilege of serving in this House for 35 years and I’ve had strong disagreements over policy with every Prime Minister in that time.
But, I have never in all those 35 years witnessed such an abject mess as this Prime Minister has made of these crucial Brexit negotiations and in presenting her deal to this House.
Every Prime Minister loses votes and gets things wrong.
But yesterday the Prime Minister demeaned her office by unilaterally taking her discredited deal off the table and running away rather than face the verdict of this House.
There’s nothing wrong with standing by your principles but this deal is not one of principle and she’s not even prepared to stand by it.
Yesterday Mr Speaker they didn’t even have the decency to allow this House a vote on withdrawing the business.
She let down all MPs and the people we represent on both sides of this House, the overwhelming majority of whom know that this deal is dead and want to get on with putting a realistic solution in place.
However, Mr Speaker, I want to thank those Conservative MPs who boldly stood up yesterday to secure this debate the Hon members for Totnes, for Wellingborough, for Stone, for Rayleigh & Wickford, for Putney, for Beaconsfield, for Broxtowe, for Morley & Outwood, for Nuneaton.
This is no longer a functioning government and the Prime Minister must admit her deal is dead. Her shambolic negotiations have ended in failure and she no longer has the authority to negotiate for Britain when she doesn’t even have the authority of her own party.
Parliament may not have had the chance to vote down her deal, but as she herself has admitted if she had put it before this House it would have been defeated by a significant margin.
She has no authority to go to Europe and negotiate when she can’t even command a majority in this House.
She’s wasted £100,000 of public money in just seven days on Facebook adverts trying and failing to sell to the public her dog’s dinner of a Brexit deal.
In the days when she and I served on local councils, council leaders would have been surcharged for wasting public money like that.
She has failed to convince this House, failed to convince the public and she now seems doomed to fail to convince the European Union to accept any meaningful changes.
She cancelled her own Cabinet meeting this morning – presumably she’s not even sure if she commands a majority there anymore?
And who can blame them? About a dozen of them were sent into the TV and radio studios to deny the Prime Minister would pull the vote shortly before she phoned to tell them she was pulling the vote.
The Northern Ireland Secretary was quoted saying: “the UK must move on with Brexit or risk being riven with division”, shortly before the Prime Minister decided not to move on with Brexit.
This is the same Prime Minister who said hers was the best deal and the only deal.
“Overall, the Chequers proposals represent the intellectual error of believing that we can be half-in, half-out: that it is somehow safer and easier for large parts of our national life to remain governed by the EU even though we are no longer in the EU,” he writes.
“They are in that sense a democratic disaster. There is nothing safe or ‘pragmatic’ in being bound by rules over which we have no say, interpreted by a federalist court.
“The Chequers proposals are the worst of both worlds. They are a moral and intellectual humiliation for this country. It is almost incredible that after two years this should be the opening bid of the British government.”
Johnson, who quit the cabinet in July, also argues for a new withdrawal agreement which states that the Irish border question will be settled as part of the deal on the future economic arrangements.
His trade deal proposal is based on the agreement Canada has with the EU, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA).
CETA allows Canada to access the European market on improved terms while not being a member, so it does not have to pay into the EU budget, follow ECJ laws or adopt freedom of movement.
Nearly all tariffs are being eliminated on imports and exports between the countries, while there are increased opportunities for companies to do business and workers to move between the territories.
As a result, Johnson has christened his proposal “SuperCanada” and says the UK should spend the Brexit implementation period negotiating the agreement.
He adds: “This is the time to get it right. This is the approach that allows this country really to exploit the opportunities of Brexit, to diverge and legislate effectively for the new technologies and businesses in which the UK has such a lead.
“This is an opportunity for the UK to become more dynamic and more successful, and we should not be shy of saying that – and we should recognise that it is exactly this potential our EU partners seek to constrain.”
Johnson concludes with a rallying cry to the his fellow Conservative MPs, saying “this is the moment to change the course of the negotiations and do justice to the ambitions and potential of Brexit”, and warning “that future generations will not lightly forgive us if we fail”.
His comments come just two days before the start of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham where Brexit is expected to feature heavily.
Just days ago, the current Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for calm over the current Brexit impasse – claiming there was always going to come a point in negotiations “where everyone was looking into the abyss”.
Hunt also backed the prime minister’s resolve and warned the EU and doubters in the UK that “underestimating Theresa May is one of the biggest mistakes that you could make right now”.
May’s Chequers plan was publicly rejected by EU leaders in Salzburg last week and both Labour and Tory Eurosceptics said they would vote against any such proposal.