Prime minister Theresa May answers YOUR questions
PUBLISHED: 10:49 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:49 07 December 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
As Theresa May battles to get the country onside with her Brexit deal, EDP readers had the chance to put their questions to the prime minister.
Mrs May said: “Brexit presents a huge opportunity for this country, as people in this part of the country recognised when they voted to leave, and I’m pleased to be able to answer questions from Eastern Daily Press readers about what the deal means for them.
“From taking back control of our borders, to taking us out of the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, and bringing back control of our money so we can invest more in local NHS services, this is a deal that works across the east of England and the UK as a whole.
“Now it’s time for us to come together and back this deal, so we can start on a bright new future for the UK outside of the European Union.”
Kathryn Hunt: As you have previously said “No deal is better than a bad deal” Do you think it is time to go with a no deal?
What we have on the table is a good deal – one that works for Eastern Daily Press readers, and people right across Norfolk, Suffolk and the region who voted resoundingly to leave. Every sector and region will be better off with this than in a no deal scenario and if MPs don’t back this deal, we will just face more uncertainty. Businesses right across the east of England, including big employers like Green King in Bury St Edmunds, have said a no deal Brexit would cause significant risks – and it is now incumbent on MPs to back it in the interests of protecting jobs and livelihoods in this region and beyond.
Jimmy Pond: How hard was it to hold your tongue when being criticised while you were working hard to get the best deal for all in UK? What do you plan on doing after all this, as a way to relax and get some normality back to your life?
Politics is tough, and like any job there are times when it feels really tough. I’ve got a good team around me, and Philip is a huge support – whether it is pouring me a drink or coming with me for walks. You’re not going to please everyone as Prime Minister but I think the deal we have agreed is one that everyone should back, so we can get on and work on other priorities for this country.
John Dell: Why did she tell us that “Brexit means Brexit” and pursue such an extreme Brexit instead of trying to heal this divided country?
I actually think this is a Brexit deal that the nation can unite behind. It delivers on the referendum result – taking back control of our laws, our borders and our money – and it protects jobs, security and our Union. The EU is our neighbour, and closest security and trading partner, and the deal we have agreed reflects those shared interests, while giving the UK the chance to step out into the world and forge a new path for itself.
Alan Butters: Why do we not challenge Europe to accept freedom of movement of people but with limits based on national population density?
The country voted decisively to leave the EU, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Freedom of movement of people is something you have to accept to be a member of the EU Single Market – and the message came in the 2016 referendum that people wanted to take back control of our borders. So the deal we have agreed with the EU will see us leave the Single Market, and free to design our own immigration system that works for the UK – based on skill, not nationality.
Jonathan Smalley: Given that there is widespread opposition to exiting without a deal from both MPs and businesses, isn’t the only real alternative to remain a member of the EU if your deal is not passed?
No – we are leaving the EU on 29 March 2019, because the people of the United Kingdom voted for us to. My government has been preparing for the unlikely scenario that we leave the EU without a deal, but the deal on the table – agreed with the EU after months of negotiations – is the best way of ensuring we leave the EU in a smooth and orderly way.
If MPs reject this deal on Tuesday, they will take us back to square one and we will not be acting in the interests of the British people, who voted decisively for us to leave the EU. We have to respect that decision, and get on with the job in hand.
Wilbert Davies: How can I, as an individual, best ensure that the UK leaves the EU on March 29, 2019, in all circumstances, deal or no deal?
We’re leaving the EU next year, but this deal is about leaving on the best possible terms. So my message to you Wilbert is simple: tell your MP why this deal matters to you. Let them know why it’s the only option to make sure we leave the EU on 29 March in the best way. Because people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit – they want a good deal that’s in our national interests, and which fulfils the vote of the British people to leave. Let’s come together to make that happen.
Jim Elliott: While there is so much uncertainty on several important issues like trade, fisheries policy and on immigration, how can we give you a mandate to continue with the agreement being presented?
Jim, I know you’ll have heard me say this many times before, but what I’m doing is delivering on the mandate of the British people. So really, that mandate has already been granted and what I’m doing now is delivering on the vote of the people and getting the UK a Brexit deal that takes back control of our borders, laws and money. The deal I’m proposing will set us on course for a better future outside the EU, as a globally trading nation, seizing trade opportunities with some of the fastest-growing, dynamic countries across the world.
On fisheries, I’ve been clear that the UK will be leaving the Common Fisheries Policy and that we’ll become an independent coastal state again with the ability to decide who has access to our waters. And I’ve been clear on immigration as well, because this deal will allow us to take back control of our borders and decide who comes to live and work the UK – and this will be based on what skills and expertise they can bring, rather than where they’re from.
Audrey Naylor: Why also are you not treating the referendum as the advisory process it is, and not taking the economically advantageous route to stay in Europe given the narrow margin?
It’s my duty to deliver on the referendum result. Nearly two million people across the east of England voted to leave the EU. The result was a bigger popular vote than won by any government in history and that mandate should be respected.
The economic analysis shows that every region and sector in the UK would be better off with this deal compared with no deal – showing it is the best one for our economy that honours the result of the referendum. It will see us set up a new free trade with the EU with no fees or tariffs on goods, it gives us a good deal on services and the ability to do trade deals with other countries around the world. It is the best deal for the UK.