Prime Minister Theresa May addresses Grimsby audience with a message for the EU

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 8 Mar 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May sent a clear message to the European Union as she gave a key speech in Grimsby today, while also emphasising the potential of the town post-Brexit.

Speaking in front of an audience of employees, MPs, business leaders and journalists at Orsted's East Coast Hub, Mrs May ramped up pressure on the EU to help push through a Brexit deal - twice repeating the words "Let's get it done".

She also pointed to the signing of Grimsby's Town Deal, saying it was a model for other towns to follow.

Here are the main points of the Prime Minister's speech, delivered from the mouth of a major trading gateway.

Why MPs should back her Brexit deal

Mrs May's speech came ahead of a vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday, where MPs will decide whether to back her EU Withdrawal Agreement.

The deal was heavily defeated by a margin of more than 200 votes when it last went before Parliament in January.

Her message today for MPs was simple - back her deal next week and Brexit is delivered. Defeat it and there is no knowing what will happen.

She said: "The only certainty would be ongoing uncertainty." 

The referendum and negotiations over leaving the EU

Speaking about the EU membership referendum, the Prime Minister said: "The vote was close but the result was clear. The decision was to leave and that’s what we must do.”

She acknowledged discussions with the EU have at times been "difficult and robust" but said both were working to get a deal over the line.

Mrs May said Brexit does not belong to MPs in Parliament but whole country. It belongs to those who voted for it and prosperity it will bring. She said: "Everyone now wants to get it done."

She also said her deal addressed changes which people had voted for by opting to leave the EU.

She said it would stop money going to the EU and the UK would be able to spend on its "own priorities".

On immigration, she said the Government does not have control of how many people come here from EU but said her deal would end free movement.

Also, she said UK judges would take control of adjudicating on UK and the UK would do its own trade deals and there would be an end to unfair practises.

She said: "These are the changes people voted for."

Why Grimsby has 'huge potential'

One of the most eye-catching parts of the Prime Minister's speech - to those in North East Lincolnshire at least - was her view that Grimsby has a lot of potential post-Brexit.

She said: "Like many towns, Grimsby has its difficulties but it also has huge potential."

Mrs May said Brexit was recognition that people were "working too hard" and described the move to withdraw from the EU as not just leaving Brussels but "empowering local communities".

She said Grimsby is a place determined to build that better future. It has its fair share of challenges but last year became the first to sign a Town Deal.

The Town Deal represents a collaboration with Government, local government and the community to make use of Grimsby’s strongest assets and it was described as a model for other towns to follow.

Mrs May praised Grimsby MP Melanie Onn and Cleethorpes MP Martin Vickers for their part in making the deal happen.

She also said Grimsby's standing on the Humber estuary would make it a gateway to the UK after Brexit, not to mention the work of Orsted and other offshore wind companies.

She said London is a great city but it is no good having all economic activity there and that Brexit will allow UK to rebuild its communities.

Workers' rights concessions

Earlier this week, the Government announced concessions over workers' rights post-Brexit following calls by Grimsby MP Melanie Onn, among others.

Today's speech touched on how MPs will be able to vote on whether to keep EU protections, even when the EU makes future improvements.

This is something Ms Onn has been calling for since the referendum result and the move by the Government earlier in the week prompted suggestions it could help persuade some, including the Grimsby MP, to help get the Brexit deal through Parliament.

Now, there can be little doubt that announcing the concession just days before the Prime Minister's visit to Grimsby was well choreographed for Ms Onn and other Labour MPs' benefit.

What about the backstop?

One of the most controversial measures in Mrs May's Withdrawal Agreement has been the so-called Northern Irish backstop, designed to prevent a hard border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member.

In her speech in Grimsby today, the Prime Minister emphasised it is a insurance policy that no one wants to use but admitted concerns that there are not enough guarantees the UK would be able to get out of it and the customs union with the EU.

A strong message to the EU that now is the moment to act

Mrs May said the ball is in the EU's court when it comes to outcome of the vote in the House of Commons on Tuesday, March 12.

She said: "My message to them [the EU] - now is the moment to act. We have worked hard together on a deal. It needs just one more push to address the specific concerns of our Parliament.

"Let’s do what is necessary for the MPs to back the deal."

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