Brexit (Supplementary) [4]

Session date: 
January 17, 2019
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Thank you, Chairman.  Getting back to reality rather than UKIP unicorns, would you agree that the meaning of the meaningful vote this week in Parliament was that the Prime Minister has suffered the biggest ever defeat of a Government in history with a majority of 230 against her deal, which scale of loss in normal times would have led inevitably to her resignation - not, as Churchill might say, KBO [“Keep buggering on”] - and regardless sticking to red lines that have been rejected by the Commons?  Is it not about time the Prime Minister looked to the interests of the country and not just tried to paper over the massive cracks of the irreparably fractured Humpty Dumpty that is the Conservative Party?


Supplementary To: 


Brexit (Supplementary) [4]

Brexit (Supplementary) [4]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Chairman, one of the things I did in literally the hours before the vote and in the days and weeks before the vote was to call upon parliamentarians of all parties to look at the consequences of the Prime Minister’s bad Brexit deal on their constituents of today and on future generations.  I am really pleased that of the 73 MPs in London, only eight supported this bad Brexit deal.  I welcome the 118 Conservative MPs who rejected Theresa May’s bad Brexit deal.  I was in Parliament for the vote and talked to MPs from all sides.  I was shocked by the scale of the defeat, as many MPs were from all sides.


It is quite breath-taking that Prime Minister May is carrying on like nothing has happened.  She did not lose this vote by two votes or 12 votes.  She lost it by a record 230 votes.  It is breath-taking that she can give the impression of being flexible, pragmatic and willing to reach across.  She has had two and a half years to do so and has failed to do so.  This leopard is not changing her spots.


Andrew Dismore AM:  Whilst there is a clear absence of a Commons majority for anything except crashing out with a no-deal Brexit, do you agree that this must not be allowed to happen by default and do you agree with what London First said, which is:


“We need to stop the clock and revoke Article 50 to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.  If the Government can’t come up with a plan that commands parliamentary support, the decision should go back to the people.”


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  We have seen it from today’s newspapers that the Chancellor of the Exchequer [Rt Hon. Philip Hammond MP] has been relaying and explaining the concerns of businesses about a no-deal Brexit.  I welcome London First coming out with that stance over the last few weeks.


The simplest thing that the Prime Minister and the Government could do and one that would have the support of nearly the entire House of Commons and nearly all business and industry is to stop the clock running down.  The Prime Minister can either withdraw Article 50 or extend it, which takes the pressure off and gives Parliament and the Government time to reach a sensible decision.  In my view, bearing in mind that Parliament is clearly in gridlock, the sensible course of action is to give the public back the control, give them a say for the first time on whether they accept the options given by the Government, with the option, of course, given to the public of staying in the EU as part of the ballot.


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thanks for that.  Is it not the case that a people’s vote and a second referendum is in fact a strengthening of democracy, not an undermining of it, bearing in mind the lies, distortions, illegal funding and overseas interference in the first referendum?  Now we can see what is actually on offer, is it not essential to give the people the chance to decide on a clear choice between what is on offer from the Prime Minister and remaining in the EU?  Is it not the case that the antidemocrats are a minority of hardcore leavers who are frightened that an informed electorate might come to a different conclusion?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The thing is that we now know, two and a half years on, the reality as opposed to some of the promises made during the referendum campaign.  The British public can now make an informed choice, now that we know what leaving the EU means, whether they decide to proceed with that - as they are perfectly entitled to do so as citizens - or whether they want to stay in an imperfect EU and try to reform it with all the benefits that brings.


The argument that it is not democratic to give more democracy to the people I find a strange one.  It is interesting how there are some people who are scared to give the British public a say on the deal that they are so keen to support, one rejected overwhelmingly by Parliament.