Brexit

William Hague: Well, there are all the normal election issues, the health service, housing, law and order, employment, how to continue the amazing success of the UK in generating millions of jobs over the last decade. And of course, who people want and don't want as their Prime Minister.

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Is a general election going to result in another hung parliament?

William Hague: Well, as things stand in polls today, there must be a 50 percent chance of that. But the big decision coming up this week is will the Brexit Party fill the full slate of candidates? If it doesn't, the chances of a hung parliament go down and the chances of a conservative majority go up.

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David Miliband: I think that the general election is going to produce a more polarized parliament. The Conservative Party is going to elect a parliamentary party that is more uniformly Brexitier, with less room for people in the middle ground. And obviously on the Remain side, there is going to be a greater commitment, I think, to follow through on a referendum. Whether or not that will resolve the Brexit saga is a matter of how you think the election will resolve. Boris Johnson obviously thinks that the odds are in his favor and the bookmakers agree with him. But he faces an uphill struggle in Scotland. He's got the Lib Dems snapping at his heels and he's going to have to make up quite a bit of ground in Labour seats. The Labour people I'm talking to feel that they can make sure that the election doesn't just become a referendum on Jeremy Corbyn, who can, in fact, be about bigger issues for the future of the country.

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Lord William Hague:

Is this the Brexit endgame? Well, I would say it's the end of the beginning-game. It's the first time the British Parliament has actually seen a way forward, approved a specific form of Brexit. It's the first time we can say there's a deal here, that one way or another is probably going to get through. But even if it does, there's a lot more to come next year on how long is the transition? What's the future free trade agreement?

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What will come out of this week's "super Saturday" sitting?


David Miliband: Firstly, please, let's never again use the phrase "super Saturday" to describe a sitting of Parliament. If it's a national emergency for us to meet on a Saturday, it can hardly be super. Now, we do not yet know whether or not Parliament will meet. If it does, it probably means that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has got a deal with the European Union and wants to have it ratified.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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David Miliband: The answer to that depends on whether or not you believe the opinion polls, because the opinion polls are clear that Boris Johnson the Conservative Party are ahead of a divided opposition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The lead ranges from 5 to 15 points. What does seem to be overwhelmingly clear, what is overwhelmingly clear, is that the leader of the opposition is immensely unpopular, with an unpopularity rating of about minus 50 percent. And that leads many conservatives to believe that it will be propitious for the conservatives to call or affect a general election and it leads many Labour MPs and supporters to be extremely fearful of the outcome.

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What are the EU and UK positions on the Irish backstop?

Lord William Hague: In a sentence, the UK position is that there should be a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But you manage it remotely, sensitively. The EU and Irish position is you can't have a border at all, a customs border even managed away from the border.

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