Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
I congratulate the Prime Minister on her excellent Florence speech. It was widely welcomed, not just by British business but by people across the country, and it marked a real attempt by her to form a consensus on Brexit between the 48% and the 52% that everyone is crying out for. Forgive my throat, Mr Speaker—women with bad throats will not be silenced. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]
I may not have heard properly or understood, but did the Prime Minister say that if by the end of March 2019 we do not have a deal on the final Brexit arrangements, we will jump off the cliff and there will be no deal? Or did she say that we will go into a period of transition and during that time those vital negotiations can continue?
The Prime Minister
The period after March 2019 is an implementation period to implement the practical changes necessary to move to the final arrangement and the new partnership we will have with the European Union. As the article 50 process sets out, the expectation is that it is a two-year process to negotiate the arrangements—to negotiate withdrawal and take into account, and therefore know, what the future relationship is going to be. I expect, and we are working on, having that future arrangement negotiated by 29 March 2019, but because the chances are that the details of that may come quite late in the process, it will not have been possible for anyone—Governments, businesses or individuals—to have taken the practical steps necessary to move to that position. To get as smooth as possible a withdrawal, so that there is not a cliff edge, we have that period of implementation. That moves us to the final arrangement that has been negotiated by March 2019.