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Theresa May defends her plan to keep Brexit negotiation details secret from Parliament

The Prime Minister would only commit to transparency at 'various stages'

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Sunday 02 October 2016 10:17 BST
Theresa May
Theresa May

Theresa May has defended her plan to keep key details of the EU exit negotiations secret from Britain’s Parliament.

The Prime Minister said that though MPs would be informed at “various stages”, they would not be privy to precisely what her negotiators were doing.

Last month Brexit Secretary David Davis told a Parliamentary Committee that he would “not be able to tell you everything, even in private”.

The approach is a stark contrast to the course being set by the EU, with plans reportedly being formed to keep the European Parliament informed with regular updates.

Questioned on the secrecy ahead of the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said transparency could jepordise Britain’s negotiating position.

“First of all, of course parliament will be involved in this process. The Great Repeal Bill, Parliament will be having its say on that,” she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“Of course at various stages we will be keeping parliament informed. This is not about keeping silent for two years but its about making sure that we are able to negotiate, that we don’t set out all the cards in our negotiation.

“Because as anybody will know who’s been involved in these things, if you do that up front, or if you give a running commentary you don’t get the right deal. What I’m determined to do is get the right deal for Britain.”

Her defence comes as the PM sets out the timescale for the triggering of Article 50. Ms May said she would start negotiations sometime in the first quarter of 2017 – no earlier and no later.

She also this morning outlined details of a so-called Great Repeal Bill that would by Act of Parliament confirm that EU law no longer applied to the UK.

Ms May will speak alongside her Brexit cabinet ministers at Tory conference this afternoon, on the subject of leaving the EU.

She will also address the annual gathering again on Wednesday in a closing keynote speech.

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