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The Morality of Compromise

Combative, provocative and engaging debate chaired by Michael Buerk. With Michael Portillo, Claire Fox, Shiv Malik and Tim Stanley.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit plan is now on the table, but the table is looking very wobbly. We learned this week that the Chequers proposal, backed by cabinet ministers in July, was not so much a lollipop as a spoonful of castor oil, an “undesirable compromise” to be grudgingly accepted rather than greeted with enthusiasm. When the deal goes to Parliament for approval, will MPs and peers have a moral duty to support Theresa May's compromise, however unsatisfactory they believe it to be? Some will say ‘No, it’s a matter of moral principle to reject it,’ either because it’s not what the country voted for or because it’s not in the nation’s interests, or both. Others will accept that the reality of Brexit has turned out to be very different from the idea; it’s not a yes-no question any more, it’s a deck of political and economic priorities being shuffled and dealt round a crowded poker table. If ever there was a time to play the odds and cut our losses, they insist that this is it. Compromise can be a dirty word, especially where moral conviction is involved. To concede any ground in a deal is to risk being accused of weakness or lack of principle. Conversely, those who refuse to give ground can be seen as impractical or downright mulish. In our politics, our business deals and our personal relationships, how should we balance flexibility and integrity?

Producer: Dan Tierney

Available now

43 minutes