30 Nov 2018

Prime Minister seeking support from “all MPs” ahead of Brexit vote

In her interview with me for tonight’s Channel 4 News, the Prime Minsiter emphasised that she was addressing her pleas for support to “all MPs.”

Having first started stuffing envelopes for the Conservative Party in the early years of secondary school, Mrs May is a deeply partisan and proud Tory. She finds herself having to contemplate a very different approach to what she repeatedly emphasised was a massively important vote. How good will she be at reaching across the divide?

Some see her invitation to debate Jeremy Corbyn as an attempt to win over Labour MPs who can’t stand him, some argue it’s an attempt to shore up Tory support. The very fact the strategy isn’t clear must worry some of her supporters. Rather like the “meet the people” strategy that ran this week. I asked if the PM what she wanted angry voters to do to harness their energy to her cause? Should they email their MPs or march maybe? She didn’t, I think it’s fair to say, engage with that.

Mrs May insisted “trade deals” were still possible under her approach – trying to get as close to frictionless trade as you can while ending freedom of movement. I suggested that wasn’t how the EU saw it and she would have limited, discrete trade agreements on specific areas which would get more limited the less friction she wanted – a sliding scale approach. Mrs May, I think it’s fair to say, didn’t fully engage with that and insisted “trade deals” would happen.

The UK Ambassador’s residence where the PM gave media interviews this morning

President Trump has just been on quite good behaviour at a press conference with the outgoing Mexican President and the Canadian Prime Minister. That itself will have shocked some here as word got round the delegations overnight that President Trump had arrived in a “foul mood,” having heard about his latest difficulties with Robert Mueller’s investigation while he was on Air Force One flying south.

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