tv BBC News BBC News November 25, 2018 11:00am-11:31am GMT
i'm christian fraser, live in brussels, where eu leaders are meeting for a special brexit summit. european union leaders have endorsed the terms of theresa may's brexit deal after 18 months of negotiations. they've also agreed the text which will outline the terms of britain's relationship with the eu for years to come, with negotiators now hoping they will be able to move on to the next stage of the brexit talks. we need to build, in the next phase, this unprecedented and ambitious partnership. we will remain allies, partners and friends. with the deal approved, next it will face a much tougher vote in westminster. theresa may has written an open letter to the british public, appealing for support. throughout the hour, we'll be turning to our reality check correspondent for clarity on what exactly is in both agreements — and where we go from here. hello and welcome to brussels.
european leaders gathered here for a special summit, to sign off on the deal that will see the united kingdom leave the european union. they have endorsed it this morning. the announcement came from the european council president donald tusk and came less than an hour into the meeting of leaders. after months of intense negotiations, the two sides have reached agreement on two separate texts — a legally—binding withdrawal agreement and that much shorter political declaration, which sets out what the relationship between the uk and the eu might look like after brexit. the last—minute hitch over the future status of gibraltar was overcome yesterday. theresa may, who arrived at the summit a few moments ago,
—— aboutan —— about an hour ago, will still need to win a vote on the deal in the uk parliament, and that is looking tricky. we'll be bringing you all the latest here from brussels, examining the deal, and what it might mean for the uk and europe. we are expecting press conferences in the next hour or so. as those press c0 nfe re nces in the next hour or so. as those press conferences take place, we will bring new those. well, theresa may has written an open letter to the british people, urging support for her brexit plan. in it, she describes the agreement as being in the national interest — she writes... she looks ahead to the 29th march next year — the day the uk officially leaves the eu. she says... she acknowledges the challenge she now faces of getting parliament to back the deal and says... so things happened pretty quickly
this morning. they endorsed the agreement within half an hour of sitting down to read it. the political declaration, they have proved that as well. i spoke to our political editor laura kuenssberg for her reaction. it's done, you know? 18 months of argument, 18 months of us all coming here, fighting about what was going to be on the table, what was not going to be on the table, who was going to be a winner, who was going to be a loser. it was really interesting this morning, the european leaders arriving. i felt they'd all read the same script, which says no one's happy but this is a decent deal and also this is the only one on the table. that was made... that was loud and clear. that was made painfully clear byjean—claude juncker. he said were not reopening this. yes, and mark rutte, the dutch leader, and emmanuel macron, the french president. one after the other, after the other, they were all asked what happens if mps at home
vote it down? this is the deal, this is what's on the table. but they're painfully aware of how difficult it's going to be. absolutely, and i think that's exactly why they were at pains to say this is it. but by strange coincidence of timing, if the vote fails, and let's see, it's still possible that it might get through, the next european summit is scheduled for the day after when we think the meaningful vote is going to be in the british parliament. so, imagine that. the next time we all might be here will be the day after it's either gone through the houses of parliament, in which case you'll be able to hear the sighs of relief from brussels, or it's been rejected by parliament and then theresa may will be here, asking for, frankly, who knows what? some kind of lifeline. and today we've got the start of a two week public relations exercise. oh, yeah. yes, absolutely. this open letter in the newspaper to the public, going above the heads of her fractious mps. do you think that's working? i think it's really hard to tell yet. i mean, we know consistently, her supporters always say, look, theresa may polls better than people expect. people have grudging
respect for her. many members of the public think look, she's kept going. she's carried on in the face of all these warring colleagues, all these people resigning, going off in a huff, all these people who are out to get her. i think it's simply too early to tell. but you're absolutely right, we are at the beginning of what is a very planned, very scripted number 10 operation to persuade the nation that this is something that is imperative. that there is no other real option. this is the deal, and also somehow mps are being irresponsible or childish or are out for themselves if they don't allow it to go through. that's very much the tone of what we're going to see. i think it's going to be pretty bumpy and i think at times it might feel almost like... we joked about a bit but i think it's right, it's a kind of x—rated version of project fear. it's going to be this or armageddon. that's the way number 10 think they can get this through. what do you make of what we're reading in the newspapers this morning?
we've got these groups within the cabinet that are now forming. you've got the remainer group, you've got the michael gove brexiteer group. are we reading too much into that or is it realfor her? oh, for a long time it has been absolutely the case that there are different groups in the cabinet, no question about that. there is a group of sort of purist brexiteers who are very unhappy about elements of the deal that they've decided to stay on. then you have maybe sort of latter—day brexiteers, people who are likejeremy hunt, for example, who was a remainer but is now trying to push for the kind of deal that he thinks could get through parliament. and then you have former remainers, who are very much in the camp of don't dare open pandora's box, because this is what we have to do. so there are multiple factions inside the cabinet, far more complex than brexiteers versus remainers. and, of course, if the deal were to fall... that would put forward some very difficult decisions for different groups of ministers, and particularly the ministers
of state, so the level just underneath cabinet. there are ministers who i've spoken to in the last couple of weeks who say at that point, they might consider leading government in order to argue for something else. so there all sitting on their hands for now, forming their plans, waiting for the day after the vote? i think the people who haven't resigned up until this moment have made a decision already, which is to go with this. this is the best case scenario. to try and push for this, to try and persuade them backbench colleagues that this is the best case scenario, this deal. it's a decision in and of itself, but, of course, there are ministers thinking about what they'd do if this falls. of course there are, because right now if you look at the numbers, it's very, very hard to see how it gets through. but, of course, we can't even begin to imagine ourselves into the minds of mps in two weeks‘ time. we just can't. i think you cannot underline enough how much things could change in the next fortnight. so to say today, oh, there's no way it's going to get through parliament, we just can't say that. no.
we really can't say that because two weeks of debate, of probably very angry argument, of questions, of doubts, of decisions are yet to take place and ijust... it's wrong to imagine we can make a call on that right now, we just simply can't. laura is right, we can't pre—empt what will happen in the vote because we don't know what mps will do when their toes over the edge of the cliff and they are faced with the prospect of no deal. that is a private moment for them and they get to the lobby. jeremy hunt has been speaking to the bbc today and he says when you look at the numbers, it is looking pretty challenging that the government at the moment. they certainly recognise that here in this building. what he did say that interview with the bbc and we will bring you some of it a little later, is that this should be seen asa later, is that this should be seen as a staging post. there is still the potential the british side could
get everything they want. there is plenty more negotiation to go. that may be the case but i think as we have all been saying throughout the course of the week, this political declaration is a sliding scale. you can have full access to the single market if you want, but that means taking up the rules and regulations at the eu. we can have a three—year deal but we won't have the same access to the single market. that is made painfully clear by the european union in these documents. the dup leader, arlene foster, has been speaking to the bbc about the task theresa may faces to get the agreement backed by mps in the house of commons. this is what she had to say. as far as as farasi as far as i can see there doesn't seem a great deal of enthusiasm in the house of commons for the still, quite the contrary. let's wait until we get to that vote. i don't see any circumstances at present where that vote will be able to go ahead in theresa may's favour. so then we will have to go back. what we've been saying and what i said that my conference yesterday is why waste time? why not look for a better deal
110w time? why not look for a better deal now instead of wasting time and having to do that after the vote is taken? is your deal with theresa may to support her government still live? it is but you should remember also that the deal was signed to deliver an brexit and to do that in a way that had shared principles between the democratic unionist party and the conservative party. but the reality is, there are many in the conservative party who don't like what is on the table today either. at what point would expire, that agreement? i think about this before, if it came to the situation that parliament did decide, and there's no evidence to say they will, but if they did decide to back this still, we would have to review the confidence supply agreement. arlene foster a little earlier. tony blair has also been speaking, telling the bbc why he's backing second referendum. the whole basis of theresa may's case to the british people is this honour is the brexit
mandate and it settled the issue. and actually, neither is correct. it doesn't honour the brexit mandate because the people who most fervently believe an brexit say this is an brexit. and it doesn't settle theissue, is an brexit. and it doesn't settle the issue, because actually there is so the issue, because actually there is so much still to be discussed that even those people who stay in the cabinet at the moment, who are really anti—her plan but stain it tactically, want to carry on the fight. therefore, the only way you are going to unite the country, ultimately, is to get this back to the people and say you have a mandate, whether the government does a proper brexit, the sort of brexit borisjohnson a proper brexit, the sort of brexit boris johnson wants, or we a proper brexit, the sort of brexit borisjohnson wants, or we stay. that is the only way of resolving this now, because i think her deal will fail because in the end it will satisfy no one. it's only succeeded in uniting people in opposition to it. tony blair speaking earlier. there has been lots of speculation about
the prime minister could stay on if this vote goes down in the house of commons in a few weeks' time. i suppose it depends how much the deficit is that the prime minister. jeremy hunt has been speaking this morning and he is saying she possibly could stay on the other side of that vote. of course, what some people within the cabinet don't wa nt some people within the cabinet don't want is a sort of vacuum at the top when britain is facing such a dire situation, not really having a deal 01’ situation, not really having a deal or knowing where we are going. jeremy hunt saying is entirely possible bid prime minister could stay on at the other side of that vote. she was asked about this on the bbc this week and did at that question. but some support from jeremy hunt. we can bring in chris morris. lots of people commenting on twitter today, some very displeased with what has happened here. some rejoicing. some people pointing to something we have not talked about, and that is the legal challenge to article 50, which is still going through the courts.
there is a case going to be heard next week at the european court of justice, i believe. it was originally put before the court of session, the highest court in scotland. about whether article 50 camby overturned. there are two questions which will be asked. number one, is it possible to overturn it? and is it a unilateral decision for the united kingdom or bilateral decision, do they have to negotiate with drawing article 50 with the rest of the eu? the department for exiting the european union tried very hard to prevent this case for actually getting to the european court ofjustice. it it went as far as the supreme court in the uk last week the supreme court rejected their arguments. there will be this argument next week. the key thing is, ithink be this argument next week. the key thing is, i think most lawyers believe article 50 can be revoked. the key question will be, is it a unilateral uk decision something that has to be negotiated with the
other side? if it's unilateral, just up other side? if it's unilateral, just up to the uk, that, in theory, gives mps quitea up to the uk, that, in theory, gives mps quite a bit of power. because then mps could try to pass or amend legislation in effect instructing the government to withdraw the article 50 process. it's a theoretical construct at the moment and we may think in the year's time this court hearing may be just a sideshow. but it may be something that when we look back was an important moment. so we want to keep oui’ important moment. so we want to keep our eye on that. without that, let's park that for a second the timetable from here. if the vote was to go down, there is a summit properly a few days afterwards, the last end of year summit in brussels, at which they would tapped to discuss looking some of the detail. i know
jean—claude juncker is digging looking some of the detail. i know jean—claudejuncker is digging his heels in today but they would have to look at something. is it possible in the new year that they could extend the article 50 process? theoretically possible, yes. if all 28 eu countries, a 27 plus the uk ee, 28 eu countries, a 27 plus the uk agree, then the article 50 process can be extended. there's not much appetite for it. if they thought it was just appetite for it. if they thought it wasjust going to appetite for it. if they thought it was just going to keep going appetite for it. if they thought it wasjust going to keep going round in the same argument we've been going through in the last year i did think they'd want to do that. if it's a case of a deal, maybe this deal or a slightly amended deal, although i am not sure about that... we need a few more weeks to complete ratification, if it really went on to the wire then i think the way could be found to do that. don't forget, there are a european elections at the end of may which means from about mid april to about mid—july, the european parliament doesn't sit. so if you had a ratification process, you need them to ratify it. if they are not sitting and we are waiting for a new parliament to be formed, it becomes technically complicated. i think it's not something anyone wants to do unless there is a very different political situation in play. thinking of all the imponderables but this is the forum to do this on
a day like today. imagine a scenario where it is revoked or there is another referendum or a general election and the decision is reversed, how would that work? there area reversed, how would that work? there are a lot of countries who have spent a lot of money and the no deal preparations. we certainly wouldn't have mps in the european parliament. how would the uk go back to the european union, even if it was feasible? if we hadn't left by the time the european elections take place, if article 50 was extended beyond those elections, then the presumption is that we would actually have meps, because we would still be a full member stay and would still... that would have to happen before may? yes, but if no decision, if we don't leave on the 29th of march and the article 50 negotiation process is continuing, i think provision would have to be found. this is uncharted territory, no one has tried to do this before, but
provision would have to be found to have european elections in the uk, which would have to be organise quickly. would it be for a limited period? difficult to tell because no one would know how long that article 50 process could be extended for. these are raw difficult technical issues. you listen to the prime minister and the one line she keeps coming back to the words taking back control of her money, borders and laws. we will be leaving on the 29th of march next year. she's adamant about that. also adamant they will be leaving the uk family. what did you make of the row yesterday with the spanish prime minister over the fate of gibraltar? i think there's a lwa ys fate of gibraltar? i think there's always going to be something, last—minute drama. it could have been fishing, it nearly was. it could have been going back again to all the disputes and arguments about the irish border. in the end, the one thing that kept officials involved in these sorts of things in the last 48 hours busy, it was gibraltar and it was the clarifications spain wanted, something that had been set down by
the european council in previous declarations, wasn't superseded by the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration. in essence, that means that in the future, if any agreement between the uk and the eu happens there needs to be a separate agreement between the uk and spain if it is to apply to gibraltar. the spanish stay this is incredibly significant. you probably saw the spanish foreign minister tweeting yesterday, saying this is the most important results in 1713. i think the british side, they are keeping a lid on that saying, listen, as far as we're concerned, nothing has changed, gibraltar is still sovereign uk territory. a good one to wave ahead of the election, that one. let's look at the detail you've been looking at in terms of the milestones from here, where we go from this point. talk us through that. one thing that's worth staying is there have been so many times when we were told this is going to work. we weren't going to get an agreement money or the irish border. now it's not we won't get agreement
through the house of commons. let's see. the ratification process from here onwards, what we know today is the 27 leaders have approved and endorsed this withdrawal agreement. they still need —— there still needs to bea they still need —— there still needs to be a majority vote. they have to formally do that at ministerial level later in the process but only if, number one, it gets through the uk parliament. we have worried you discussed at length the problems that are bare and the numbers don't look good for the government but they still seated —— seem determined they still seated —— seem determined they can do that. if it does get through the uk parliament, it also has to be ratified by the european parliament. if it is ratified by both the parliaments and signed off bya both the parliaments and signed off by a qualified majority, at least 20 out of 27 member states, then indeed, as theresa may promises, we will be leaving on the 29th of march next year. ok. whilst we're talking i want to revert to what is going on in the background here. you can see people lining up, we are waiting for
jean—claude juncker and donald tusk to come out. there they are, look at that, right on cue. donald tusk and jean—claude juncker on their way to the press conference. we have heard some pretty strong language from jean—claude juncker today, as probably you might expect. in saying that this withdrawal agreement is what it is, and it stays on the table. there won't be reopening the negotiation and he said he expects the wide—— wise uk parliament voted through. michel barnier was alongside him. he was praised today brides donald tusk for the work he has done on it. important as well, because you could be looking at a future european commission president. it was important for him to get something. important to see what he does next. will he take on the second part of these negotiations? everything that has been agreed today, it's no guarantee of the future relationship. there will be years ahead of us of negotiations on what the future
relationship actually looks like. those negotiations can only start formally once we have actually left. we willjoin a press conference when it starts but let's talk up to when the two men take the stage. it starts but let's talk up to when the two men take the stagelj it starts but let's talk up to when the two men take the stage. i think now we've seen them leave this room... let's dip in and have a listen to what they have to say. in its article 50 formation. now without further ado, i invite the president donald tusk to take the lead. today the european council endorsed the agreement and the withdrawal of the agreement and the withdrawal of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland from the european union and the european energy community. on this basis, the european council invited the commission, the european parliament and the council to take the necessary steps to ensure that the
agreement can enter 29th of march 2019 for an orderly withdrawal. the european council approved the political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the european union and the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland. the european council restated the union's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the united kingdom in the future. i quote this passage of today's conclusions. it contains the essence of our meeting. ahead of us is the difficult process of ratification, as well as further negotiations. but regardless of how it will all end, one thing is
certain. we will remain friends until the end of days, and one day longer. thank you. thank you, and now jean—claude juncker. president of the european commission. translation: it is a day on which we are satisfied with the results we've obtained but it is a very sad day, to see a country like the uk and the same would have applied to any other country. a country leaving the eu doesn't give rise to the raising of champagne glasses or applause, it's a sad day and everybody spoke today during the european council attempted to express their sadness. it was broadly shared, if not unanimously shared.
now, just over a year ago the european commission was given a mandate to conduct negotiations with the united kingdom. we agreed, donald and i, to ask our friend michel barnier to conduct the detailed negotiations, which i have followed very, very closely, increasingly closely. i met michel barnier very, very readily to exchange views on how things were going. sometimes we disagreed, but only occasionally. more generally, we tended to agree and, in fact, we a lwa ys we tended to agree and, in fact, we always did agree, because the difficulty was, the challenge was to maintain the unity of the 27. so it's no mean performance, i think, if we consider that despite the pressure which came quite often from the uk, pressure upon member states, that we have been able to ensure that we have been able to ensure that we have been able to ensure that we maintained the unity the 27,
not only for the duration of the negotiations but on a daily basis, as well. because often we had representatives of member states, ambassadors and so on, and we'll so had members of the steering committee of the european parliament. you have to remember that as regards europe, the european parliament will have the final say. ultimately, we did have a difficult problem with our spanish friends, who i very much alike, along with their country. that applies to their prime minister predecessor. we agreed ultimately and the agreements that applied to gibraltar. for those who are not spanish, please don't underestimate the importance of this question for the kingdom of spain. i talked on numerous occasions about
this to the prime minister as well as to his majesty, the king, more recently. i would point out today that the agreement we have obtained here today is an agreement which is good for spain. so we are with spain. we very much appreciated and admired the work done by my friend michel barnier. the commission was charged with conducting these negotiations. nobody other than the commission could have done so, so i would like to pay special tribute to michel barnier, and also to those around him, because there are those who appear on the television, work, and then you have those who allow those who appear on the television screens to work. i would like to pay
tribute to michel barnier‘s main right—hand persons. and as was michel barnier was negotiated on behalf of the commission, also a word of gratitude to my secretary general, to my head of private office and also to all of those around them. without all of these people, this agreement would not have been possible. i'm inviting those who have too rectify this deal in the house of commons to take this into consideration. this is the best deal possible for britain, this is the best deal possible for europe. this
is the only deal possible. the only deal possible. and i would like to add one sentence, concerning the civil servants coming with those who are at the service of the commission. nobody, nobody of them will be pushed out. nobody will be ejected. i have always admired the professionalism, the loyalty, the commitment of those coming from britain to serve the commission. so i can't promise promotions there will be but nobody will be ejected from the commission's system. good deal. sad dealfor stock not from the commission's system. good deal. sad deal for stock not the deal. sad deal for stock not the deal itself, but brexit is a sad
moment for the european union. and i wa nt to moment for the european union. and i want to say for britain, to foster the future will prove this. this is the future will prove this. this is the best deal possible, this is the only deal possible. i'm convinced that those having to ratify this deal, in westminster and the european parliament, will have this in their minds when they are taking their difficult decisions. every member of the european parliament, when this comes to ratification, this is europe. the same applying to the members of the house. thank you. thank you, and finally over to michel barnier. the eu chief negotiator. good afternoon to all of you. first of all, thank you to you donald on jean—claude for inviting me to be actual site for this press conference. today we have reached a
fairand conference. today we have reached a fair and balanced agreement with the uk. this is the best deal possible, given the circumstances. throughout this extraordinary complex and difficult negotiations, we worked with the uk, never against the uk. the uk worked with us and thanks, if i made, to the british team. the agreement must now be ratified. it is time for everybody, everybody to ta ke is time for everybody, everybody to take their responsibilities. today's agreement will help create the trust and confidence needed for negotiating our claws and —— ‘s and unprecedented future relationship. we will remain allies, partners and friends
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