Coherent Identifier About this item: 20.500.12592/p94172

Joanna Penn - Deputy Chief of Staff to Prime Minister July 2016 – July 2019

4 January 2022

Summary

To be honest, I don’t know how much detail and how much that debate would end up relating to the debate that we had towards the end of the process, but just the fact of having it and the fact of both MPs and party members, although not the general public, having – well, the public could see the debate and hear it. [...] We felt that March gave us quite a bit of time to prepare and do the work that needed to be done, and was the maximum in terms of the time it gave us to Page 3/25 prepare, whilst also not testing the tolerance of those who had just been on the other side of the debate. [...] There was a feeling that, for the EU side, the ‘four freedoms’ of the Single Market and the integrity of the Single Market and the Single Market’s border, was the overriding concern when it came to resolving the issue in Northern Ireland. [...] I think at this point, this was when there was a hub set up in the Cabinet Office, to try and overcome the geographic boundaries of Number 10 and put together a team from the different parts of the building to be able to communicate the deal, to have people out there making the arguments for it, and that kind of thing. [...] But I think it was more a judgement call of which does more damage in the very immediate term: the decision to delay the vote, which we knew would do damage, or going ahead with the vote, and the scale of the loss that we expected? UKICE: What did you think you could do between the meaningful vote in December and the meaningful vote in January, when you did take it back and have the vote? What wer.

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