Theresa May

Full text: Theresa May defends her Brexit deal

Full text: Theresa May defends her Brexit deal
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Serving in high office is an honour and privilege. It is also a heavy responsibility. That is true at any time - but especially when the stakes are so high. And negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the EU after 40 years, and building from the ground-up a new and enduring relationship for the good of our children and grandchildren is a matter of the highest consequence. It touches almost every area of our national life: our whole economy and virtually every job; the livelihoods of our fellow citizens; our integrity as a United Kingdom of four nations; our safety and security – all of these are at stake.

My approach throughout has been to put the national interest first. Not a partisan interest. And certainly not my own political interest. I do not judge harshly those of my colleagues who seek to do the same but who reach a different conclusion. They must do what they believe to be right, just as I do.

I am sorry that they have chosen to leave the government and I thank them for their service. But I believe with every fibre of my being that the course I have set out is the right one for our country and all our people. From the very beginning, I have known what I wanted to deliver for the British people to honour their vote in the referendum.

Full control of our borders, by bringing an end to the free movement of people – once and for all. Full control of our money, so we decide ourselves how to spend it on priorities like our NHS. Full control of our laws, by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. Getting us out of the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy for good. 

That is exactly what this agreement will deliver. Free movement – ended. Vast annual payments – stopped. The jurisdiction of the ECJ – over. Out of the CAP. Out of the CFP.

This is a Brexit that delivers on the priorities of the British people. In achieving these objectives, I am also determined to protect the things that are important to us. Protect the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs that put food on the tables of working families right across the UK. Those jobs rely on cross-border trade in goods, with parts flowing easily in and out of the UK allowing for integrated supply chains. 

This agreement protects that. Protect the close security co-operation that helps keep us safe.  This agreement does that. Protect the integrity of the United Kingdom and the peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland by leaving the EU as one United Kingdom, and having no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. This agreement does that as well.

Yes, difficult and sometimes uncomfortable decisions have had to be made. I understand fully that there are some who are unhappy with those compromises. But this deal delivers what people voted for and it is in the national interest. And we can only secure it if we unite behind the agreement reached in Cabinet yesterday.

If we do not move forward with that agreement, nobody can know for sure the consequences that will follow. It would be to take a path of deep and grave uncertainty when the British people just want us to get on with it. They are looking to the Conservative Party to deliver.

To deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK; a strong economy that keeps jobs safe and wages rising; and first-class public services we can rely on – an NHS there for all of us, great schools for every child and the homes that families need. That is what the people we serve expect and that is what we owe it to them to deliver.