Debates between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn

There have been 34 exchanges between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn

1 Mon 11th May 2020 Covid-19: Strategy
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (345 words)
2 Wed 25th March 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
30 interactions (3,686 words)
3 Wed 18th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Northern Ireland Office
13 interactions (2,067 words)
4 Wed 11th March 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,413 words)
5 Wed 4th March 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,592 words)
6 Wed 26th February 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,458 words)
7 Wed 12th February 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (962 words)
8 Tue 11th February 2020 Transport Infrastructure
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (2,401 words)
9 Wed 5th February 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,512 words)
10 Wed 29th January 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,659 words)
11 Wed 22nd January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,437 words)
12 Wed 15th January 2020 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,408 words)
13 Wed 8th January 2020 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (1,456 words)
14 Fri 20th December 2019 European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (362 words)
15 Tue 17th December 2019 Election of Speaker
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,414 words)
16 Wed 30th October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
17 interactions (2,600 words)
17 Wed 30th October 2019 Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (735 words)
18 Tue 29th October 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election Bill
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,247 words)
19 Mon 28th October 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election
Cabinet Office
9 interactions (1,407 words)
20 Wed 23rd October 2019 Oral Answers to Questions
Cabinet Office
14 interactions (2,005 words)
21 Tue 22nd October 2019 European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (830 words)
22 Sat 19th October 2019 Prime Minister’s Statement
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,218 words)
23 Sat 19th October 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Acts
Department for Exiting the European Union
2 interactions (392 words)
24 Mon 14th October 2019 Debate on the Address
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,340 words)
25 Thu 3rd October 2019 Brexit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (2,466 words)
26 Wed 25th September 2019 Prime Minister's Update
Cabinet Office
9 interactions (1,023 words)
27 Mon 9th September 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election (No. 2)
Cabinet Office
11 interactions (1,426 words)
28 Wed 4th September 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (984 words)
29 Wed 4th September 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
19 interactions (1,885 words)
30 Tue 3rd September 2019 G7 Summit
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,602 words)
31 Tue 3rd September 2019 Points of Order
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (456 words)
32 Thu 25th July 2019 Priorities for Government
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (2,457 words)
33 Tue 29th January 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (89 words)
34 Tue 4th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (266 words)

Covid-19: Strategy
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 11th May 2020

(3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

Out of this tragedy and this disaster, we hope that some changes and some opportunities will come. I certainly see a huge opportunity for cleaner, greener transport. The UK will continue its mission to be a net-zero nation by 2050—we know that we can do it. As the House will know, we have committed £2 billion to investing in cleaner transport, including walking and cycling.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) [V] - Hansard

Does the Prime Minister recognise that the covid crisis has exposed grotesque levels of inequality in our society? His statement yesterday has given carte blanche to many employers to try to force people to come back to work, without proper consideration of their health and safety and the dangers they will suffer in travelling to work. Does he recognise that, while the death rate is so high and the reinfection rate continues, his statement will probably make the situation worse, not better? Will he reconsider carefully and not lift the restrictions and the lockdown until it is absolutely clear that we have the corona crisis under control? It is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society the worst, and I believe his statement will make the inequalities in this country even worse at the centre of this crisis.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I reject that characterisation of what we are doing. We are effectively restating the position of 23 March, but with a change of emphasis, to make it clear that those who cannot work from home, in sectors such as construction and manufacturing, should go to work, provided that that work is going to be covid-compliant and covid-secure—the right hon. Gentleman is right to raise the vital issue of safety—and the transport to get those workers there is covid-secure and covid-compliant. We are publishing papers today and tomorrow about how we propose to do that. It is a small step forward, but I believe it is the right step forward. The country has made huge exertions to bring the R down and to get this virus under control. It is right now that we should make some small steps forward.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 25th March 2020

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, midnight

I fully echo my hon. Friend’s tribute to our amazing NHS workers, and it is in order to protect them and help them that we are taking the extraordinary measures that this country is. I repeat my advice to the nation, which is to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, midnight

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for making the best arrangements possible today to ensure not only that as many Members as possible can ask questions, but that the Government are held to account, which is the function of Parliament.

Many more people will be mourning the loss of loved ones as a result of coronavirus this week. Our hearts go out to all of them and to those suffering from the disease at the present time. Across our country people are working day and night to keep us safe, fed and warm: our wonderful NHS staff; police; firefighters; prison and probation workers; teachers; civil servants; local government staff; and social care workers. All of them are showing the value of public service. They are the unsung heroes, keeping the transport system running, the post delivered, utilities running and our supermarkets properly stocked. I wish to give a special mention to one group who are usually ignored, forgotten and decried as “unskilled workers”—cleaners. All around the country, and in this building, they are doing their best to keep our places hygienic and safe.

Over the past few weeks, I have asked the Prime Minister many times what action is being taken to ensure that testing is being prioritised, and I have received assurances that everything that could be done was being done. Yet a leaked email shows that it was just three days ago that the Prime Minister wrote to UK research institutes to ask for help, saying that there were “no” testing machines “available to buy”. Why was that not done weeks ago, if not months ago, when the Government were first warned about the threat of a global pandemic? What action is now being taken to get testing machines?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:04 a.m.

Perhaps I could begin by pointing out that this is the right hon. Gentleman’s last Prime Minister’s questions, and it would be appropriate for me to pay tribute to him for his service to his party and, indeed, to the country over the last four years, in a very difficult job. We may not agree about everything, but no one can doubt his sincerity and his determination to build a better society. I pay particular tribute and thanks to him and all his colleagues for their co-operation in the current emergency as far as possible across party lines.

I very much agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said about cleaners. They do an extraordinary job and they deserve all the protection and support that we can give them in this difficult time.

On testing, the right hon. Gentleman is quite right that testing is vital to our success in beating the coronavirus. As the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has explained many times, we are massively increasing our testing campaign, going up from 5,000 to 10,000 to 25,000 a day. In answer directly to the right hon. Gentleman’s question, testing has been a priority of this Government ever since the crisis was obviously upon us—for weeks and weeks.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for his very kind remarks. I believe in a decent, socially just society. He was talking as though this was a sort of obituary—just to let him know: my voice will not be stilled, I will be around, I will be campaigning, I will be arguing and I will be demanding justice for the people of this country and, indeed, the rest of the world.

We can protect the health of us all only if we protect the health of our carers, yet the Sue Ryder charity, which provides care to people with neurological conditions, has said that its workforce is depleting daily as it has no access to tests. When will all social care staff have access to regular testing? They are very important and obviously very vulnerable in this crisis.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely right. I do not want to repeat what I just said, except to say that social care staff, in common with NHS staff and, indeed, other public sector workers, need to be tested as fast as possible. The answer to his question is that we will do it as fast as possible.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:06 a.m.

Obviously, if carers have to self-isolate because they suspect they have the disease and cannot get a test, their work is lost for a week and those who need care and support do not get it during that time.

There are reports that care-home workers are being turned away from supermarkets in relation to priority shopping and not being allowed to buy more than certain items that they desperately need to feed their residents. What is the Prime Minister’s plan for making sure that care workers can get the vital food and supplies that they need for the people they are caring for?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman and the House can imagine, we have been in regular contact with all the retailers—all the supermarket chains. I had a conversation with all of them a couple of days ago, and they were absolutely determined to ensure that key workers do get time in supermarkets. If there is a particular problem, I will raise it with them again.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:07 a.m.

I hope the Prime Minister will, because care workers are on the frontline looking after the most vulnerable people in our society. Keeping our care homes safe and well should be, and must be, an absolute priority.

The Prime Minister has been saying for quite a long time that NHS staff will get the equipment they need, yet the Health Care Supply Association—get that: the Health Care Supply Association—has been forced to use Twitter to ask DIY shops to donate protective equipment to NHS staff. This is an appalling situation. When will NHS staff, social care staff and community nurses, and all other staff relating to healthcare, get the PPE equipment that they absolutely, desperately need?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise this issue, which I know has been a concern. We had a long meeting on it this morning. I am assured that not only are the stocks now there but the Army is now distributing the supplies to all the NHS staff and all the hospitals that need it, and in the past 24 hours has distributed 7.5 million pieces of equipment.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:08 a.m.

It is important that they get that equipment because, yesterday, 77% of NHS chiefs who responded to a survey said that the lack of staff testing and staff shortages were the two biggest areas of concern for them.

Last week, the Prime Minister stood in this Chamber at the Dispatch Box and said that he would

“protect private renters from eviction.”—[Official Report, 18 March 2020; Vol. 673, c. 995.]

He absolutely said that, yet some renters will be getting eviction notices as early as next week. The Prime Minister appears to have gone back on his word. Will he now, finally, absolutely ban evictions for six months in line with the renewal period of the emergency legislation, which is going through its parliamentary process at the moment?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:09 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman raises a very important point about the need to protect renters, which is why I answered in the way that I did last week. We have actually gone further now, as he knows, by lifting up the local housing allowance to the 30th percentile of median rent, which will be very important for many people on low incomes across the country, but we are also, as he knows, making sure that no-fault evictions are no longer legal, and that is part of the Bill.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, midnight

Unfortunately, that is not the reality on the ground, as many of my colleagues will point out. Constituents are getting in touch with us, saying that they are being threatened with eviction now. They are in rent arrears because they cannot work during this shutdown over coronavirus. To be absolutely clear about this, will the Prime Minister make sure that it is legislated that nobody can be evicted from the private rented sector during the first six-month period of this emergency?

I will continue my questions shortly in the second part of this session, but I just want to ask this question of the Prime Minister. Many British people abroad feel a bit abandoned by their Government, with many fast running out of medicines, with the host countries in lockdown, with flights and accommodation being cancelled, and with insurance either about to expire or not covering the much-needed costs until they are able to return home. These British citizens have a right to turn to their own Government for help. Hour-long delays on phone calls are not acceptable. These people feel abandoned. Will the Prime Minister update the House, as the Foreign Secretary was asked to do yesterday, on what his Government are doing to bring people home and to provide the emergency costs for the medical needs that many British residents abroad have at the present time?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:01 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman can take it that we are certainly doing everything we can to bring back British citizens from abroad. A huge operation is going on now to repatriate them, as he will have heard from both the Health Secretary and, indeed, the Foreign Secretary. We are also protecting renters in spite of what he says. We are doing everything that we can to protect our fantastic NHS. As a society and country, we are doing a quite extraordinary thing: for the first time in our history, to get through this crisis, we, as a country, are putting our arms around every single worker and every single employee in this country. It is a quite unprecedented step and he will be hearing more about that—[Interruption.] I know that there are concerns about the self-employed, but he will be hearing more in the next couple of days from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

The right hon. Gentleman said something the other day about how this country would come through this experience changed, and changed for the better. On that, he and I completely agree. We will get this country through this crisis with these exceptional steps, and I can tell him that we will do absolutely everything that it takes. We will do whatever it takes to get our country through this together. We will beat this virus together, but the most important advice that I can give him as he retires—[Interruption.] I am delighted to hear that he is not retiring. That will be warmly welcomed by his successor. The most important thing that we can all do is stay at home to protect our NHS and to save many thousands of lives.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

I thank you again, Mr Speaker, for making these arrangements today, so that more colleagues can come into the Chamber. It is a little odd, however, that we are having to have a double session of Prime Minister’s Question Time to question the Prime Minister, when he himself should have volunteered to come here and make a statement at some length on the subject, rather than just doing it through press conferences and television addresses. This House is the place where the Government should be held to account.

Construction sites are still operating and still working on non-emergency work, despite the new rules. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said yesterday that sites will continue to stay open. We heard this morning on the radio a call from a self-employed construction worker who said that he had contracted coronavirus and was suffering from it—he knew he had got it—but he had no option other than to get on the London tube and go on to a site to work, putting himself at greater risk and putting all other passengers and all other workers on that site at risk. Why was he doing it? Because his site had not been closed down, and he had no other source of income to feed his family, so he is going to work, putting all of us more at risk as a result. Can the Prime Minister be absolutely clear and give unequivocal guidance now that non-emergency construction work should stop now?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Everybody should work at home unless they must go to work—unless they have no alternative and they cannot do that work from home. If a construction company is continuing with work, clearly it should do so in accordance with the guidance of Public Health England, and it has a duty of care to its employees. But overwhelmingly, what we are saying to the people of this country is that, unless you need to leave the house to take exercise, for medical reasons or to buy essential supplies, you should stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Obviously people should stay at home and protect others, but if they have no other source of income, then these very difficult, very personal choices are going to be made, and we are all put at greater risk as a result of it. The self-employed are having to choose whether they go to work or stay at home and face losing their entire livelihood, relying instead on an overstretched welfare system, which could pay as little as £94 per week. One self-employed person said that they need to pay for baby food, rent, council tax and insurance for the car they use for work, being “faced with a decision to feed your family and pay your bills, or stay at home and not get paid”. Why has it taken the Prime Minister so long to guarantee income for all self-employed workers? There are millions of them—our economy has changed.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

We are making it absolutely clear to everybody in this country that they should stay at home and save lives, but when it comes to the self-employed and the particular pressures that the right hon. Gentleman raises, as I think I have now said several times in this Chamber in answer to other hon. Members, we are shortly bringing forward a package. I think that he would recognise that the steps that the Government have taken to provide support for workers, for employees in this country, are quite exceptional and unprecedented, and they were warmly welcomed, I may say, by the trade unions themselves.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

I am asking questions about the self-employed, those on zero-hours contracts and those with no recourse to public funds, who have no support. They are in a very difficult situation, and the Prime Minister should understand that many of our constituents —constituents of every Member of this House—lead a hand-to-mouth existence. A few days’ pay lost is catastrophic for them.

Time and again, Government Ministers have told us that workers affected by the crisis could get help via universal credit. Last night, there were queues of over 110,000 people trying to get on to the Department for Work and Pensions system in order to register to apply for universal credit. Will the Prime Minister now put in extra resources and funding to boost DWP capacity and relax the often quite draconian requirements on people claiming, so that money gets where it is needed quickly—to those people who have got to feed the kids, got to pay the rent, got to survive somehow.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, and that is why we have increased the funding for universal credit so that it goes up by £1,000 a year. That will benefit 4 million of the most vulnerable households in the country. Overall, we are putting another £7 billion into the welfare system altogether. And, as I say, we will be bringing forward a package for the self-employed. What we are not doing—and this is fully in accordance with the scientific and medical advice—is closing down the whole UK economy, and he will understand the reasons for that.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

We are not asking for the entire UK economy to be closed down. We obviously want people to be safe, but clearly things have to go on. My question was about the DWP resources, which the Prime Minister did not answer. [Interruption.] Well, it was not an answer that was satisfactory to me. [Interruption.] One of his colleagues is claiming it was a yes. I will take that, so that means more staff now for the DWP quickly so we do not have 110,000 people waiting.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Hang on, I have not finished yet. My question, while he is about it—and this will give him time to think of the answer—

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I’ll give you time to think of a question.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

This is not a time for levity.

The statutory sick pay level is £94.25 a week, which the Health Secretary admitted he could not live on, and despite the Prime Minister promising he would ensure workers get the support they need, we still have not seen action on that. Unless we increase statutory sick pay and give protection and access to benefits for those on zero-hours contracts, the dangers we are all aware of—of people going into work or trying to work when they should not—are going to continue. We do need very urgent action on this.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: this is not a time for levity; it is time for serious action and a serious response to the crisis. That is what he is seeing from this Government, and that is why, from day one, we insisted that statutory sick pay should be payable from day one and that is why we have advanced universal credit. Just to repeat the answer I gave a moment ago, we have increased universal credit by £1,000 a year. That will benefit 4 million people in the poorest families in the country. I pay tribute, by the way, among the many fantastic workers in this country—not just in the NHS, in social care, and of course in the teaching profession—to those in the DWP itself. They are doing an incredible job. They are facing huge, huge new demands, and they are doing an outstanding job. And yes, we will support them, and that is why we are putting another £7 billion, as I said just now, into our welfare system.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:09 a.m.

I do not want to appear totally negative, but it would be better if the whole place had been better staffed in the first place. But I will take it from what the Prime Minister said that there is going to be an increase in DWP staff in order that people can access universal credit more quickly.

It is right that Parliament be virtually closed today, and that the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers continue to deliver daily public information sessions. That is absolutely correct. However, I understand that it may be some time before the House meets again. There has to be scrutiny of what Governments do. That is what Parliament is for and what Oppositions exist for. I would therefore be grateful if the Prime Minister could indicate how, over the weeks until Parliament opens again, he will make himself open to some form of scrutiny—electronic or whatever it happens to be—so that Parliament can hold Government to account, given the levels of stress and concern of all the constituents we represent.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, midnight

The right hon. Gentleman is entirely correct. We have tried to handle this crisis by being as open and transparent as we possibly can be with all our working and all our thinking. I will work with you, Mr Speaker, if I may, on how we can ensure that Parliament is kept informed throughout the recess.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:02 a.m.

All I can say to the Prime Minister is: please make sure you make yourself available for scrutiny by this House and everybody else, because we represent people who are desperately worried about their health and economic wellbeing. If you are living in a small flat and you are told to isolate, when you have a large family with a large number of children, the levels of stress are going to be huge. The levels of stress throughout our society are huge. It is up to all of us to do what we can to reduce those levels of stress and bring this whole situation to a conclusion as quickly as we can. We need clarity, not confusion; we need delivery, not dither.

This crisis shows us how deeply we depend on each other. We will come through this as a society only through a huge collective effort. At a time of crisis, no one is an island, no one is self-made. The wellbeing of the wealthiest corporate chief executive officer depends on the outsourced worker cleaning their office. At times like this, we have to recognise the value of each other and the strength of a society that cares for each other and cares for all.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Mar 2020, 12:03 a.m.

I really want to do nothing else except associate myself fully with the closing words of the Leader of the Opposition. What this country is doing now is utterly extraordinary. We are coming together as a nation in a way that I have not seen in my lifetime to help defeat a disease and to help save the lives of many, many thousands of our fellow citizens. We all understand that that will involve a sacrifice, but we are gladly making that sacrifice.

The most important point I can make to the House today is that that sacrifice is inevitable and necessary, but the more we follow the advice of the Government, the more strictly we obey the measures we have put in place, the swifter and more surely this country will come back from the current crisis and the better we will recover, so I repeat my message in case the right hon. Gentleman would like to hear it one more time: the best thing we can do is stay at home, protect our NHS and save many, many thousands of lives.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 18th March 2020

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Northern Ireland Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:05 p.m.

I join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the staff at Stoke Mandeville and to all the staff in our fantastic NHS for the way they are coping at this extremely difficult time. We not only put another £5 billion into the NHS last week, as he heard from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, but we will certainly do whatever it takes and provide whatever funding is necessary to help our NHS through this crisis and, indeed, to support the whole country with Government-guaranteed loans, as he will have heard yesterday.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard

Thank you for your statement, Mr Speaker. I thank MPs for the very responsible approach they have taken to today’s Question Time by sitting a suitable distance apart to avoid cross-fertilisation of this horrible disease.

I also want to join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Lance Corporal Brodie Gillon, who was killed in Iraq last week. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.

Today people are mourning the loss of loved ones, and many more will be suffering from the effects of coronavirus, including those already losing work or losing their jobs who are worried about whether they can keep a roof over their head. Our greatest thanks must go to the frontline medical and public health staff who are fighting to combat the spread of the disease, to the public servants, particularly postal workers, who have made such sacrifices today, and to the cleaners who are providing vital support. We must also thank those working round the clock to make sure our shops and warehouses are stocked with the essential food supplies that everybody needs.

We on these Benches will do our duty to hold the Government to account. Together, we need to ensure that the most effective action is taken to protect people, and it is in that spirit that I ask questions of the Prime Minister today.

Every member of the public will make sacrifices in the effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, but those on low pay, self-employed workers and small business owners are understandably worried. Sue wrote to me this week. Her family is in isolation, and she says the current £94.25 a week statutory sick pay is

“not enough to pay for their food shopping.”

Can the Prime Minister do what the Chancellor repeatedly refused to do yesterday and pledge to increase statutory sick pay to European levels?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:03 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which the Opposition have approached the issue generally and for the co-operation so far between our Front Benches on this matter. As he rightly says, this is a national emergency, and we are asking the public to do things and take actions in a way that is unprecedented for a Government in peacetime, and perhaps even unprecedented in the last century.

When we ask people to take action to isolate themselves if they or a member of their household has the disease, or to take steps that jeopardise businesses and cause people to risk losing their job, it is absolutely right that, whatever their circumstances, we should ensure workers get the support they need. So in addition to the package of business support that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor outlined yesterday, we will be working with the unions and colleagues across the House, and bringing forward further measures to support workers of all kinds throughout this crisis.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:06 p.m.

UK sick pay levels lag far behind those of European counterparts. The Scandinavian countries are giving many people 100% of wages during this crisis, and I hope that when the Prime Minister brings forward proposals on this they will reflect the reality of people’s lives—you cannot feed a family on 90-odd quid a week. Those people are therefore putting everybody at risk because they have to go out to work in order to put food on the table. In order to claim statutory sick pay, workers need to prove that they earn a minimum of £118 per week, so I hope that when the Prime Minister brings forward proposals he will give confidence to the millions of people who work in low-income jobs, are in insecure work or are self-employed, and will commit to extending very much enhanced statutory sick pay to all workers.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:07 p.m.

As I have told the House before, of course we will ensure that nobody is penalised for doing the right thing, protecting not just themselves but other members of society and making sure that our NHS is able to cope. Clearly, statutory sick pay will, typically, be supplemented by other benefits, but I repeat what I said to the right hon. Gentleman: as the state is making these demands of the public and of business, it is only right that throughout this period we should be doing whatever it takes to support the workers of this country throughout this crisis.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:04 p.m.

What it takes is a recognition of the social injustice and inequalities that exist in this country, and I hope that when the Prime Minister makes the proposals on statutory sick pay levels that will be recognised. A quarter of the people who are most crucial to support us in the crisis, social care staff, and almost half of home care workers are on zero-hours contracts, so they are therefore automatically not entitled to sick pay. By not extending statutory sick pay to all workers, the Government are forcing social care staff—the people who could, unwittingly, be transmitting the disease among the most vulnerable in our community—to choose between health and their own hardship.

Yesterday the Chancellor, unfortunately, offered nothing to the 20 million people living in rented homes, including 3 million households with children. These people are worried sick that they will not be able to pay their rent if they get ill, lose pay or feel that they need to self-isolate. It is in the interests of public health, of the health of all of us, that people do not feel forced to go to work in order to avoid eviction when they know that they may be spreading this terrible disease, so will the Prime Minister now confirm that the Government’s emergency legislation will protect private renters from eviction?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is making a series of very powerful points, and I can indeed confirm that we will be bringing forward legislation to protect private renters from eviction. That is one thing we will do, but it is also important that, as we legislate, we do not simply pass on the problem, so we will also be taking steps to protect other actors in the economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:09 p.m.

We look forward to seeing the details of that, because we all represent private sector tenants in our constituencies and we know the stress that they are going through now. They need something to be said urgently about this issue, so I hope that the Government will say something as soon as possible. Today would be appropriate.

NHS staff and those who work in the care sector are on the frontline of caring for patients suffering from coronavirus. Sadly, however, those workers have no idea whether they are transmitting the virus themselves—they may not be obviously suffering from it, but they could still be transmitting it—whether they are ill or not, and what effect it will have when they return to work on the frontline. Will the Prime Minister please explain why the Government are not prioritising the testing of all healthcare staff—those in the NHS and those doing such a vital job in the care sector?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

In point of fact, we are prioritising the testing of NHS staff, for the obvious reason that we want them to be able to look after everybody else with confidence that they are not transmitting the disease. This country is actually far ahead of many other comparable countries in testing huge numbers of people. We are increasing our tests from 5,000 a day to 10,000 a day. It may be of interest to the House to know that we are getting much closer to having a generally available test that will determine whether or not someone has had the disease. That will truly be of huge benefit to this country in tackling the outbreak.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:11 p.m.

The World Health Organisation said “test, test, test.” We should be testing on an industrial scale. When I met the Prime Minister on Monday evening, he assured me that 10,000 tests were going on per day. That is better than none, obviously, but it is nowhere near even the number of people working in the NHS and the care sector. It is a massive undertaking and I wish there was a greater sense of urgency from the Government in getting testing available for all staff.

NHS staff are obviously on the frontline, and many are scared because the guidance has been changed to say that they do not need to wear full protective equipment when caring for patients. A senior doctor has said:

“The rest of the world is providing staff with full protective gear and we are restricting it”.

This is a doctor saying, “I am scared.” We should not be scaring doctors and nurses. Is there or is there not a policy for them to have full protective equipment? I believe that that should be the case.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:12 p.m.

Quickly, on testing, I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman that we are moving up to 25,000 tests a day.

On personal protective equipment for NHS staff, the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to raise the issue. It is obviously of huge concern to everyone that our NHS staff should feel that they are able to interact with patients with perfect security and protection, so there is a massive effort going on, comparable to the effort to build enough ventilators, to ensure that we have adequate supplies of PPE, not just now but throughout the outbreak.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Generations to come will look back on this moment and they will judge us—they will judge us on the actions we take now. Our response must be bold and it must be decisive. The market cannot deliver what is needed; only collective public action, led by Government, can protect our people and our society. That collective action must not allow the burden to fall most on those who lack the resources to cope, as happened after the financial crash. People across the country do understand the need for temporary restrictions on our way of life to protect us all, and we will work with the Government, but the Prime Minister must understand that that will require balancing action to protect the most insecure and vulnerable, in the interests of public health as well as of social justice. The health of us all depends on the health of the most vulnerable, so I ask the Prime Minister: will he step up now—not tomorrow—and give support to those vulnerable people who live on the margins of our society, who are vulnerable themselves and make us all vulnerable, and give them the support and the assurance that they are desperately searching for today?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
18 Mar 2020, 12:13 p.m.

Indeed I can, and that is why we have announced another £500 million to go straight to councils to help them immediately with the needs of the poorest and the most vulnerable; that is why we have announced immediate cash injections into business, to help them through an unquestionably very difficult time; and that is why will be bringing forward further measures to ensure that every worker receives support throughout this difficult period.

Be in no doubt: the right hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the unprecedented nature of this crisis. We are asking the public to do quite extraordinary things and we are asking business to shoulder quite extraordinary burdens. But the more effectively we can work together to comply with the very best scientific advice, which is what has actuated this Government throughout the crisis—which is what has guided this Government throughout the crisis—the better our chances of relieving the burden on the NHS; the more lives we will save and the more suffering we will avoid; and the quicker we will get through it. Be in no doubt that—the right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right—this is an enormous challenge for this country, but I think the people of this country understand what they need to do to beat it. They also, I think, understand that we will beat it, and that we will beat it together.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:01 p.m.

My hon. Friend is spot-on, and he will be hearing more about that in just half an hour’s time. He is quite right that we should be building on brownfield sites, and building the beautiful homes that people actually want.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard

Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those who have sadly died after contracting the coronavirus, and those who are still suffering from the disease, including the hon. Member for Mid Bedfordshire (Ms Dorries). I want once again to pay tribute to our medical staff, who are working so hard to combat the spread of this disease and care for those affected. I think we should all express our gratitude to the chief medical officer and the chief scientific adviser, who have shown exceptional leadership throughout, and we will continue to follow their advice.

Sunday was International Women’s Day—a day when we celebrate the achievements of women around the world, recognise the advances made in working towards a goal of gender equality and, most importantly, reflect on how far we have to go to achieve that. A quarter of social care workers, who are overwhelmingly women, are on zero-hours contracts. It is essential that care workers self-isolate if they experience symptoms of coronavirus, but many may feel they have no choice but to continue working. Will the Prime Minister finally bring in emergency legislation to guarantee sick pay for zero-hours workers to help contain the spread of the virus?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:01 p.m.

I know the whole House will wish to join the right hon. Gentleman in wishing my hon. Friend the Mental Health Minister a speedy recovery; having talked to her, I know that she will make one. I know, Mr Speaker, that you have issued a letter to everybody across the parliamentary estate, and as you say in your letter, we will be

“guided by Public Health England…in our response to this situation”.

It is also providing guidance to hon. Members and to their offices.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, in just a few minutes we will be hearing from my right hon. Friend the Chancellor about what measures we are taking to protect everybody. As he knows, we have already brought forward statutory sick pay from day 4 to day 1, but for those who are on all types of contracts, we will ensure that they get the protection that they need and nobody who does the right thing by staying at home is penalised.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:03 p.m.

I hope that legislation comes rapidly, and that it does guarantee that people do not have to make a choice between spreading the virus because they have to go to work, and staying at home and self-isolating, as obviously they should do if they have the symptoms.

Can the Prime Minister explain why, according to a report by the Institute of Health Equity, life expectancy has gone down for the poorest women in our society?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Overall life expectancy stands at its highest level—the highest level ever—which is a tribute to the consistent work of this Government and others, but it is absolutely true that there are too many instances in too many parts of the country where we are seeing life expectancy not rise in the way that we would like. It is true that there are parts of this country where, for instance, only one in 50 pregnant women are smokers, and parts of the country where one in four pregnant women are smokers. What we want to see is a uniting and a levelling up across this whole country. That is why we are putting record sums—£12 billion—into public health, and that is why this is the Government and this is the party of the NHS, who are now putting record investment into our NHS, precisely for that purpose.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:04 p.m.

I don’t think the Prime Minister answered my question. It is no surprise that life expectancy has gone down, when 86% of the cuts made by successive Tory Governments have landed disproportionately on the shoulders of women. We are one of the richest countries in the world, and it is mind-boggling that life expectancy should be falling in this country. [Hon. Members: “It’s not!] For the poorest people in our society, life expectancy is falling, and the Government should have an answer to that.

The Prime Minister supports the absolutely horrendous rape clause in the child tax credit rules. Why does he think it right that 200 mothers have to prove to the Government that their child was conceived as a result of being raped, so that they can keep their child tax credits?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:06 p.m.

I want to correct a point that the right hon. Gentleman made earlier: as has been revealed in the last few days, mortality is at its lowest level in this country since 2001. [Interruption.] Since 2001. On his point about the recipients of benefits, he draws attention to an injustice, and we will do everything we can to rectify it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:07 p.m.

Well, I would hope that means that the Prime Minister is going to introduce regulations to end the two-child policy in the benefits strategy, because that is exactly what happens—women who are victims of rape have to prove they have been raped in order to get benefits for their child.

Fifty years ago, the Labour Minister Barbara Castle introduced the Equal Pay Act, yet women are still paid 17% less than men. Under this Government, it is estimated that the gender pay gap will take another 60 years to close. Why has the Prime Minister not followed Labour’s lead and set a target for closing that gap by 2030?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:07 p.m.

Not only are there now record numbers of women in employment in this country, but the gender pay gap is at a record low. It was this Conservative Government who made sure that companies have to report on the gender pay gap.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:08 p.m.

There is a still a 17% gap. It is too big, too wide, and should be closed, and the Government should do something about it.

Every fortnight, three women are killed by their partner or ex-partner, and domestic violence is likely only to increase if large numbers of people have to self-isolate. Ten years of austerity has denied councils the funding they need to support victims of domestic abuse. Will the Prime Minister commit to the extra £173 million that is needed every year to ensure that survivors get the support they so desperately need?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:08 p.m.

We have just put record funding back into councils to support them in all their responsibilities. The right hon. Gentleman talks about domestic abuse, and we are committed to bringing forward a victims’ law, to guarantee the rights of victims. The Government have an outstanding record in tackling violence against women and girls, and that is why we are taking forward in this Parliament our landmark Domestic Abuse Bill.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Without funding, the Domestic Abuse Bill will simply be a piece of paper. There has to be funding to ensure that those who are victims of domestic violence get the support they need in the centres they need, which are underfunded by this Government.

The Prime Minister has made repeated offensive remarks against single mothers and their children. [Interruption.] Yes; he described them as

“ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate.”

He made remarks against Muslim women, saying that they look like “bank robbers”, and against working women, by suggesting that the best way of dealing with advice from a female colleague is to “just pat her on the bottom and send her on her way.” Words have consequences, and the Prime Minister’s offensive words are backed up with offensive and discriminatory policies, from the rape clause to dismantling local services on which women— particularly black, Asian and minority ethnic women, or disabled women—disproportionately rely. Will the Prime Minister apologise for his offensive comments, and ensure that those discriminatory policies are reversed by his Government?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

I am proud of what the Government have done to promote the rights of women. I am proud that we have a record number of female MPs in our party today. I am proud that this is the only party that has produced not one, but two female Prime Ministers. Wouldn’t it be an extraordinary and amazing thing if the Labour party were to produce a female leader of its own? Don’t hold your breath, Mr Speaker. I will take no lessons on sexism from a party where good female MPs are bullied out of their party just because they have the guts to stand up against the climate of antisemitism in the Labour party.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 4th March 2020

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:02 p.m.

My hon. Friend is entirely right. We are of course monitoring the situation and are prepared to support individuals, businesses and the economy to maintain economic confidence, quite rightly. Our action plan—our battle plan—points to mitigations that already exist, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs’ Time to Pay arrangements, which are available on a case-by-case basis to support firms struggling with payments.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:02 p.m.

I am sure the whole House will join me in congratulating the Prime Minister and his partner on the news that they are expecting a baby. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”]

I join the Prime Minister in wishing the people Salisbury well. It is a wonderful city and I have visited it many times, and what happened to them was of course utterly appalling. Their safety and security is paramount for all of us.

I pay tribute to all the medical staff and, indeed, expert public servants, here and overseas, who are doing vital work to combat the spread of coronavirus and are looking after those affected.

Yesterday, our part-time Prime Minister finally published the steps that his Government will take to tackle the outbreak of the disease. The strategy broadly has our support, but a decade of Tory austerity means that our national health service is already struggling to cope. Bed-occupancy levels are at 94% and hundreds of our most vulnerable people are being treated on trolleys in corridors. What additional funding will our overstretched and underfunded NHS be given to deal with this crisis?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:05 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, this Government have put record funding into the NHS and we have pledged that we will give it everything that it needs to cope with the crisis.

It might be for the advantage of the right hon. Gentleman and the House if I update the House on where we are with the coronavirus outbreak. As yesterday’s plan made clear, we are not at the point yet where we are asking large numbers of people to self-isolate, but that, of course, may come if large numbers of people have the symptoms of coronavirus. If they stay at home, the House will understand that they are helping to protect all of us by slowing the spread of the virus and that is what the best scientific evidence tells us. If they stay at home and if we ask people to self-isolate, they may lose out financially, so I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency coronavirus legislation, measures to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day you are sick, instead of four days under the current rules. That is the right way forward. Nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:06 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for that, but I want to ask him a couple more questions on this subject. Is it true, as has been reported, that police forces are likely to become so overstretched by coronavirus that 999 response times will have to be extended and that even investigations into some murders will have to be halted as a result of this?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

We are not at that stage, or anything like that stage, yet. The right hon. Gentleman knows that our police forces are well able to cope with all types of eventualities and have long-standing arrangements to prepare them for such pressures.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Under this Government, there are 2 million workers on low pay, many of them women in the care sector who are not eligible for statutory sick pay at the present time. It is not clear whether the Prime Minister’s statement just now covers them or not, and those on social security could face sanctions if they miss appointments and, therefore, they and their families will face terrible hardship. When the Prime Minister brings forward the emergency legislation, will he guarantee that workers’ rights to sick pay from day one—he has just indicated that that will apply on statutory sick pay—will apply to all claimants? Those people who are not currently eligible for statutory sick pay will have to make a terrible choice between health and hardship.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:08 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is raising a very important point. We are, of course, very much aware of the issues faced by the self-employed and those on zero-hours contracts. I should stress that some of them will be entitled to statutory sick pay—[Interruption.] A great many. Others will be entitled to help through the existing system, such as universal credit. We are urgently looking at the application process to reflect on the advice on self-isolation. I think that members of the public have appreciated the way that, hitherto, Members have come together across the Floor of this House to deal with the crisis. I think it would be common ground between us all that we would want to do everything we can to avoid penalising those who are doing the right thing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:09 p.m.

The Prime Minister is not being clear about this. The reality is that, if a person is on universal credit or has just been put on to it, they have a five-week wait before they get any benefits. Will he be absolutely clear that nobody—nobody—will have to choose between health and hardship, because it is a matter of public health concern for everybody?

Our part-time Prime Minister failed to turn up on Monday to answer a question about a breach of the ministerial code. In his own foreword to that code, the Prime Minister wrote:

“There must be no bullying and no harassment”.

Will he now commit to an independent investigation into the Home Secretary’s conduct, led by an external lawyer, and commit to a date when its findings will be made public?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

Of course, it is right that there should be an investigation into any allegations of bullying, and that is what the Cabinet Office and Sir Alex Allan will be doing. Since the right hon. Gentleman mentions the Home Secretary, let me just remind him that she is keeping this country safe by putting in place record numbers of police officers, she believes in stopping the early release of offenders, and she is bringing in an Australian-style, points-based system to tackle our migration crisis. The right hon. Gentleman would scrap stop and search, he believes in getting rid of our security services and he certainly would not tackle our immigration system.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:10 p.m.

This is about whether the Prime Minister will release the findings of an investigation into the Home Secretary’s behaviour. I repeat to him that a Government cannot be judge and jury over their own conduct; there has to be an independent element to that investigation. Overnight, further allegations have emerged that the Home Secretary repeatedly harassed and humiliated her private secretary while she ran the Department for International Development. If that is true, it suggests a shocking and unacceptable pattern of behaviour across three Government Departments. On each occasion, tens of thousands of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers’ money has been spaffed up the wall to buy their silence. Was the Prime Minister aware of these allegations about the Home Secretary? If he was, why did he appoint her?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:11 p.m.

I repeat the point I just made—the Home Secretary is doing an outstanding job and I have every confidence in her. If there are allegations, of course it is right that they should be properly investigated by the Cabinet Office, and that is what is happening. But I take no lessons about bullying from the leader of a party where female MPs were bullied so badly in the matter of antisemitism that they actually left the party, and where the shadow Chancellor has still not apologised for his call for a Member of our party to be lynched.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Mar 2020, 12:12 p.m.

The Prime Minister said, “If there are allegations”. Is he completely unaware of all the allegations that have been made over the last few days? Is he completely unaware of the resignation of a permanent secretary because of his treatment by the Home Secretary? We have a part-time Prime Minister who barely turns up but is determined a cover up for bullies in his Government. There cannot be one rule for workers across this country, and another for him and his Ministers. His Home Secretary has been accused of repeated bullying and harassment, leading to hard-working staff attempting suicide by overdose, and he has given her his full support. How can the people of this country have faith in a Prime Minister who cannot be bothered to turn up and, when he does, has no shame in defending bullying in his own Government?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

That is a question from a full-time neo-Marxist who has failed to stamp out bullying in his own party. I am very proud of the record of this Government, just over the last 82 days. We have taken back control of our borders, our laws and our money. We have got Brexit done. We have set out a new points-based immigration system. We have put more money into people’s pockets through the biggest ever increase in the living wage, and have guaranteed more funding for schools by increasing the minimum funding for every pupil. We have restored the nurses’ bursary, introduced a Bill to set out a record cash boost for our NHS and ensured that there will be free hospital car parking for everybody who attends a hospital. And we are delivering gigabit broadband for the entire country. That is to say nothing of the police we are recruiting. That is just in the last 82 days. We are getting on with delivering the people’s priorities.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 26th February 2020

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:02 p.m.

Indeed I can, and I thank my right hon. Friend. We have been ensuring that the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is able to extend the Bellwin scheme where appropriate. Of course, we are also investing massively in flood defences—£2.6 billion has already gone in and, as he knows, we have pledged to commit another £4 billion to defend this country against flooding.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:03 p.m.

My thoughts are with those across the world who are suffering from the coronavirus. I praise medical and emergency staff all over the world for what they are doing to try to stop the spread of the disease. I hope that public health services in Britain will get the resources they need; there is an urgent question on this topic after Prime Minister’s Question Time—[Hon. Members: “It is a statement.”]

Thousands of people across the country are still struggling with the devastating impact of the floods. I pay tribute to the work of the Environment Agency, the Scottish and Welsh Governments, council staff, the fire service, and the huge number of community volunteers who have pitched in to help their neighbours. Does the Prime Minister agree with the Conservative leader of Derbyshire County Council that he has turned his back on the people affected by the floods?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:03 p.m.

Since the flooding began, this Government have been working flat out night and day to ensure that the people of this country get the support they need. We have activated the Bellwin scheme, ensured that businesses get the rate relief that they need and, as I told the House just now, put £2.6 billion into flood defences, with £4 billion more to come.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

“You can’t give local authorities the clear message you are going to support them and then turn your back on them”—not my words, but the words of a Conservative council leader. When I visited Pontypridd last week, I saw at first hand the damage and destruction that the floods have caused to people’s lives, homes and businesses, but the Prime Minister was silent, sulking in his grace-and-favour mansion in Chevening. After two weeks of flooding, memes are being produced, asking not, “Where’s Wally?” but, “Where’s Boris?” When is he going to stop hiding and show people that he actually cares, or is he too busy going about some other business? If he is too busy, he could send his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings. I am sure that he would be very well received in all the flooded areas.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:04 p.m.

I am very proud of the response that the Government have mounted over the past few days. We convened the national flood response centre on 14 February. Since the flooding began, there has been a constant stream of ministerial activity led by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Housing, Communities and Local Government. No one should underestimate the anguish that flooding causes, and of course it is an absolute shock to the households that are affected, but it is thanks to the measures that this Government have put in place that 200,000 households have been protected from flooding. We do not hear that from the right hon. Member.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

During the election campaign, I wrote to the Prime Minister demanding that Cobra be convened to deal with the floods at that time. He very reluctantly agreed and eventually did call a meeting of Cobra. The situation across the country is now even worse than it was then, and no Cobra meeting has been called. Is he just pretending to care when he does not really care at all, because there are no votes on the line at this moment?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, there has been a stream of ministerial meetings since the flooding began. The national flood response centre was convened on 14 February, and I have been directing things, as he perfectly knows. Cobra is a reference to Cabinet Office briefing room A, which is not the only room in which meetings can take place.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

The issue is very serious for people around the country whose homes are being flooded. They need help and support. They do not need trite answers like that from their Prime Minister.

Time and again, communities and lives are being put at risk and the Government simply refuse to acknowledge the scale of the problem. Does he agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies), who said the Government have done “precious little” to stop the floods happening again?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:07 p.m.

Let me repeat for the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman that this Government have a fantastic record of investing in flood defences and will continue to do so. The reason we can do so, the reason we have been able to commit £2.6 billion for flood defences and the reason we are able to pledge another £4 billion is because this Government are running a strong, successful and robust economy, which he would ruin.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

If that is the case, why are the Government investing less than half the money the Environment Agency of England says is necessary to improve flood defences across the country? It says that £5.6 billion is needed. So far as I am aware, the Government are investing less than half of that.

I have visited many areas and many households, and do you know what, I have learned a lot from visiting the victims of floods—the Prime Minister should try it one day. They have told me that they cannot afford the insurance on their homes, as costs have skyrocketed. Recent studies have shown that 20,000 homes are not protected by the Government’s insurance scheme and are also not protected by flood defences. That is 20,000 homes with no insurance and in danger of being flooded imminently. Is it not time that the Prime Minister found a very urgent solution to this problem?

Just imagine what it is like to live in a home that is in danger of being flooded when you cannot get it insured and, if you own it, you cannot sell it or cannot move—you are totally stuck. They are looking for the Government to help them out at their time of crisis.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in the sense that there are particular problems to do with insurance, as anybody who has visited a flood-affected household will know. Flood Re, on the other hand, has provided cover for over 164,000 households since 2018-19.

Since last December’s events, we are now looking at what we can do to protect households that do not have proper insurance, but the right hon. Gentleman also knows that there are measures in place to ensure that householders get £500 and £5,000 to compensate themselves for the worst damage that flooding can do. That is cash we can put in thanks to the investment we have made in flood defences, which, believe me, would be beyond the capacity of any Government led by the right hon. Member.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
26 Feb 2020, 12:09 p.m.

The Welsh Government have done their best to step up to the crisis, despite the underfunding from Westminster. The Prime Minister was keen to pose for cameras when there was a crisis on during the election, but he often goes AWOL: he was late to respond to the London riots because he was on holiday; he was on a private island when the Iranian general was assassinated; and last week he had his head in the sand in a mansion in Kent. The hon. Member for Calder Valley (Craig Whittaker), another of his colleagues, said that it “is not good enough”. How can the country trust a Prime Minister, a part-time Prime Minister, who last night was schmoozing Tory party donors at a very expensive black-tie ball instead of getting out there and supporting the people who are suffering because of the floods? This Government need to step up to the plate, invest in defences and ensure that there is real insurance for people whose homes are being ruined by these floods as we speak.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman asks what this Government have been doing in the past few days, so let me tell him. Not only have we been investing massively in flood defences and compensating those who have suffered from flooding, but we have been stopping the early release of terrorists; we have restored the nurses’ bursary; we are beginning work on 40 new hospitals; and we are recruiting 20,000 more police officers. We can do that because we have a strong and dynamic economy, with employment at record highs, unemployment down to the lowest levels since the early ’70s, wages going up and home ownership up. What are the Opposition doing? They are still deciding—[Interruption.] Listen to them jabbering away.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 12th February 2020

(3 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:01 p.m.

I understand very well the point that my right hon. Friend makes. I can assure him that the integrated review will be the deepest review of Britain’s security, defence and foreign policy since the cold war. I can also assure him that by transforming this country’s economy and by raising productivity, we will ensure that both defence and security are amply provided for.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, midnight

I join the Prime Minister in expressing sympathy and support to the victims of flooding and thank the Environment Agency and all the emergency services that are doing their best to help people.

Our thoughts are also with those who suffer from the coronavirus and with the Chinese community in this country, who are, I am sorry to say, facing increasingly alarming levels of racism within our country. As this virus spreads, I also thank public health workers who are helping those affected and raising awareness of the danger of the virus.

Does the Prime Minister think that someone who came to this country at the age of five, was the victim of county lines grooming and compelled to carry drugs, was released five years ago and has never reoffended deserves to be deported?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, midnight

I think the whole country would agree that, while I cannot comment on individual cases, it is entirely right that foreign national offenders should be deported from this country in accordance with the law.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, midnight

The Government have learned absolutely nothing from the Windrush scandal. This cruel and callous Government are trying to mislead the British people into thinking that they are solely deporting foreign nationals who are guilty of murder, rape and other very serious offences. This is clearly not the case. Take the example of a young black boy who came to the UK aged five and is now being deported after serving time for a drugs offence. If there was a case of a young white boy with blond hair who later dabbled in class A drugs and conspired with a friend to beat up a journalist, would the Prime Minister deport that boy; or is it one rule for young black boys from the Caribbean and another for white boys from the United States?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:04 p.m.

Quite frankly, I think the right hon. Gentleman demeans himself and besmirches the reputation of the Windrush generation, who came to this country to work in our public services, to teach our children and to make lives better for the people of this country. He has no right to conflate them with the foreign national offenders we are deporting today.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The Windrush generation have been disgracefully treated by a Government who deliberately created a hostile environment. While the Government were fighting to deport people who legally came to this country as children, the Foreign Secretary refused to tell the family of Harry Dunn the reason the US is blocking the extradition of the woman who is alleged to have killed him. I now ask the Prime Minister straight: is Anne Sacoolas being shielded from justice because she is a former CIA officer?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The whole House will know that the Foreign Secretary and I, and the Government at every level, have tirelessly sought the extradition of Anne Sacoolas for justice in this country, and we will continue to do so.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

It is widely reported that Anne Sacoolas is in fact a CIA operative. Now we know that the Foreign Secretary misled the Dunn family, who are being denied justice by the US Government, will the Prime Minister commit to his removal from office tomorrow in his reshuffle?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the Foreign Office has been told that Anne Sacoolas was notified to the UK Government as a spouse with no official role. We will continue, without fear or favour, to seek justice for Harry Dunn and his family, and we will continue to seek the extradition of Anne Sacoolas from the United States.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:07 p.m.

This morning Charlotte Charles, Harry’s mum, said: “We thought we had bridged the gap with the Government. But they have not been honest with us”. This is only the latest case of our country’s one-sided extradition treaty with the USA. This lopsided treaty means the US can request extradition in circumstances that Britain cannot. While the US continues to deny justice to Harry Dunn, will the Prime Minister commit today to seeking an equal and balanced extradition relationship with the United States?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:07 p.m.

To be frank, I think the right hon. Gentleman has a point in his characterisation of our extradition arrangements with the United States. I do think that elements of that relationships are unbalanced, and it is certainly worth looking at, but that is totally different from the case of Harry Dunn and Anne Sacoolas. We continue to seek the extradition of Anne Sacoolas to face justice in this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

It has everything to do with the relationship with the USA that Anne Sacoolas has not been extradited back to Britain, because the US refuses to do it because of this lopsided treaty. I am glad the Prime Minister at least acknowledges that point about the treaty. This deep disparity with the US is about to be laid bare, when the courts decide whether the WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange will be extradited to the US on charges of espionage and for exposing war crimes, including the murder of civilians and large-scale corruption. Does the Prime Minister agree with the parliamentary report that is going to the Council of Europe that this extradition should be opposed and the rights of journalists and whistleblowers upheld for the good of us all?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I am not going to comment on any individual case, but it is obvious that the rights of journalists and whistleblowers should be upheld, and this Government will clearly continue to do that.

Transport Infrastructure
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 11th February 2020

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
11 Feb 2020, 12:39 p.m.

Thank you. We will be installing new signalling at Harrogate, one of North Yorkshire’s busiest stations. Further south, I can today announce that we will be upgrading the Bristol east junction, a major pinch point in the rail network of the south-west that limits access to the Brunel-designed Victorian splendour of Bristol Temple Meads station.

This transport revolution is local, because it must be local. We can unite and level up across the country with fantastic local improvements: better rail; less congested roads; and beautiful, British-built buses that are cleaner, greener, quieter, safer and more frequent. Above all, we can improve the quality of life for people and improve their productivity. We can make places more attractive to live in and to invest in. But we cannot make these improvements in isolation from one another, because we will be doing only half the job; we will not fix the great musculoskeletal problem of UK transport. Yes, we must fix the joint between the knee bone and the thigh bone and the shin bone and the ankle bone. Yes, we must fix the arthritis in the fingers and the toes, but we also have to fix the spine, and our generation faces a historic choice. We can try to get by with the existing routes from north to south. We can consign the next generation to overcrowding and standing up in the carriageways, or we can have the guts to take a decision—unlike the party opposite—no matter how difficult and controversial, that will deliver prosperity to every part of the country. This will take 50 minutes off the journey time to Glasgow.

When it comes to advocating HS2, it must be said that the task is not made easier by HS2 Ltd, the company concerned. Speaking as a Member of Parliament whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. As everybody knows, the cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project. The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House, leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail: a vast increase in capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats, making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country. That means faster journey times. It means not just more capacity, but faster journey times—extraordinarily fast journey times. Passengers arriving at Birmingham Airport will be able to get to central London by train in 38 minutes, which compares favourably with the time it takes to get from Heathrow by taxi, a point I just draw to the attention of the House.

But this is not just about getting from London to Birmingham and back. [Interruption.] It is also considerably faster than the Piccadilly line. This is about finally making a rapid connection from the west midlands to the northern powerhouse—to Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds—and simultaneously permitting us to go forward with northern powerhouse rail across the Pennines, finally giving the home of the railways the fast connections they need. None of that makes any sense without HS2. The Infrastructure and Projects Authority considers that the first phase can be delivered for its current projected cost of £35 billion to £45 billion in today’s prices. The designs have been improved immeasurably thanks to the tireless contributions of campaigners, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), who I do not think is in her place.

If we start now, services could be running by the end of the decade, so today the Cabinet has given high-speed rail the green signal. We are going to get this done, and to ensure that we do so without further blow-outs on either cost or schedule, we are today taking decisive action to restore discipline to the programme. I will be appointing a Minister whose full-time job will be to oversee the project, a new ministerial oversight group will be tasked with taking strategic decisions about it, and there will be changes to the way HS2 Ltd is managed. In line with Mr Oakervee’s recommendations, we will interrogate the current costs to identify where savings could be made in phase 1 without the costs and delays that would be associated with a detailed redesign, and so that the company can focus solely on getting phases 1 and 2a built on something approaching time and budget, I will create new delivery arrangements for both the grossly behind-schedule Euston terminus and phase 2b of the wider project.

Before those designs are finalised and legislation is introduced, we will also present an integrated plan for rail in the north. Informed by an assessment from the National Infrastructure Commission it will, in line with the findings of the Oakervee review, look at how we can best design and integrate rail investments throughout the north, including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Leeds and Manchester. I have just spoken to the Mayor of Greater Manchester, who has warmly welcomed the project, which I committed to supporting, I seem to remember, during my first days in office.

I want the plan to identify the most effective design and sequencing of all relevant investments in the north. For example, with many in the north crying out for better east-west links instead of improved north-south ones, which we have heard about many times in the House, some have suggested delaying or even cancelling HS2 in order to get Northern Powerhouse Rail done more quickly. I say to the House that it is not an either/or proposition: both are needed and both will be built as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. To make sure that that happens we will, working closely with northern leaders, explore options for creating a new delivery vehicle for Northern Powerhouse Rail, and we will start treating HS2 north of Birmingham, Northern Powerhouse Rail and other local rail improvements as part of one integrated masterplan: high-speed north.

Something has to change. Those who deny that—those who say that we should simply build phase 2b and Northern Powerhouse Rail according to the plans currently on the table—are effectively condemning the north to get nothing for 20 years. That would be intolerable, so as we draw up this plan, we are not asking whether it is phase 2b or not 2b. That is not the question; the question is how we can bring a transport revolution to the north sooner.

Altogether, this revolution in local and national transport has the potential to be truly transformative for the entire country. Yes, it is ambitious, but ambition is what we have lacked for far too long. Two centuries ago our ancestors could have been content with breeding faster horses; instead, they invented the railways—they created the transport network on which the United Kingdom rose to economic pre-eminence. They looked to the future of transport and they made it happen. Today, it is our duty to do the same. Let us bring about a future where high-speed trains glide between our great cities, where electric buses convey us cleanly around our towns, where self-driving cars roam along roads that are free of the congestion that causes so much pollution, and where a new generation of cyclists pedal safely and happily to school and work in tree-dappled sunlight on their own network of fully segregated cycle paths—[Interruption.] As we did in London.

This Government will deliver a new anatomy of British transport—a revolution in the nation’s public transport provision. It will be a sign to the world that, in the 21st century, this United Kingdom still has the vision to dream big dreams and the courage to bring those dreams about. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
11 Feb 2020, 12:45 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement.

Once again, we see the Government taking ideas from the Labour party, adopting our language, but falling a very long way short on the substance of it. This is a Government who are unwilling to make the scale of investment needed to revive parts of this country that have been decimated by successive Conservative Governments. This is a Government who have proved themselves unable to manage infrastructure projects properly and incapable of keeping a lid on the costs.

Today’s piecemeal announcements do not add up to a serious plan to rebalance the economy or to tackle the serious climate emergency that we all face. They do not even come close to repairing the damage done by a decade of Tory Government—[Interruption.] Well, it is true—they know it. The Prime Minister laments our inadequate infrastructure, yet it is his party that has been starving the country of investment over the past 10 years, resulting in the worst regional inequality in Europe. Today, the Prime Minister is selling his announcement as a prize for parts of the midlands and the north. I simply tell him this: people in those regions to whom he promised so much in the general election are going to be sorely disappointed when they see what actually happens.

Let us take HS2, for example. The Labour party supports HS2 as a means to boost regional economies and to reduce climate emissions. It is essential for boosting rail capacity and freeing up other lines for increased freight use and so on, but we do not see why the Government should get a slap on the back for announcing that it is going ahead. After all, it is only because of the abject failure of successive Conservative Governments to keep on top of the costs that the project’s future was put in doubt in the first place.

Today’s proposed boardroom shake-up comes far too late to avoid the public having to fork out tens of billions more than was forecast in the first place. It is money that has already been wasted because of the incompetence of this Tory Government and their predecessors. The leaked Oakervee review, which apparently will come out later, was correct to say that HS2 must be fully integrated as part of the modern railway system. It must extend to the great northern cities, linking up with Northern Powerhouse Rail, and eventually to Scotland to end the need for domestic flying in this country at the earliest possible opportunity.

We are concerned that the links to Manchester and Leeds are now under review and could, reportedly, be even downgraded. HS2 must be developed with more sensitivity to local communities and much more sensitivity to the environmental impact, particularly on modern and ancient woodlands across the country. If it is to have public support, the fares on HS2 must be affordable and comparable with the rest of the fare system on the railway network. Will the Prime Minister tell us where the trains will be built? Will those jobs and training be done in this country? What about other parts of the country such as, for example, the far south-west? When will the Prime Minister match the £2.5 billion commitment to upgrade the Great Western main line as our only train line into the south-west? We need better connectivity beyond Bristol to Devon and Cornwall.

We believe that the case is now unanswerable that our railways should be publicly owned and publicly run, to improve the service and to cut fares by 33%. Does the Prime Minister recognise that too many people are simply priced off the railways? The average commuter is now paying £3,067 for their season ticket, £873 more than when the Conservatives came into office in 2010. Why will the Prime Minister not cut the cost of travelling? Why should people in Britain have to pay so much for expensive fares—much more expensive than those in any other comparable country?

When I first raised the question of buses at Prime Minister’s Question Time, I was ridiculed by many Tory MPs and by many in our media. From the look of the front pages of our papers today, those same quarters now regard the focus on buses as a political masterstroke. Well, I will take the credit for it. It is fine. In reality, however, what the Government have said today about buses is frankly woeful. They have cherry-picked policies from the Labour manifesto but have underfunded them. That does not make up for the deep cuts since 2010. Funding for buses has fallen by £645 million a year in real terms since 2010, 3,300 routes have been cut or withdrawn, and fares have soared at two and a half times the rate of average wages.

It is councils that keep bus routes open. We need long- term funding for local authorities, which have suffered such severe cuts and now face a further £8 billion black hole over this Parliament because of underfunding. The Government are still refusing to give all councils the powers to improve local bus services and the option of public ownership of their services.

On cycling, all the Prime Minister is actually offering is 250 miles of cycle routes. Our manifesto promised 3,300 miles of cycle routes all across the country. Again, that is just plain inadequate from this Government.

Underinvestment by the Conservatives has created problems that they are forced to acknowledge, but they simply are not serious about fixing them. Is regional inequality going to be solved by 10 freeports? Is this not just a gimmick creating the storage spaces for the super-rich to dodge taxes and launder money?

The Prime Minister is clearly fond of announcing big shiny projects, such as the scheme to build a bridge over the Irish sea. Why not go the whole hog and make it a garden bridge, connected to an airport in the sea? It stands as much chance of actually being built as any of those failed projects put forward by the former Mayor of London. Or why not make it a cable car between Scotland and Northern Ireland, or better still a giant zip wire? The Prime Minister could be the first to try it out.

The saddest thing about today’s announcement is the high likelihood that so much of it will not be delivered, with the Prime Minister demanding 5% cuts in the very Departments that are supposed to carry out these policies. I fear that the communities that desperately need investment in new infrastructure will be let down when today’s headlines become yesterday’s news and they find that nothing has changed.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 5th February 2020

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. With better education, better infrastructure and high technology, we will unite and level up this country and deliver, as he is doing for the people of Bridgend.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard

We were all appalled by the terror attack in Streatham on Sunday, and I want to join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to the bravery and dedication of the police, security services and all the other emergency response staff for the way in which they dealt with a terrifying and terrible situation.

Last Friday, this country left the European Union. Britain’s place in the world is at a crossroads, and while there are different views across the country, we will be holding the Government to account as the negotiations begin. My hope is that we will now truly come together to shape our common future and build an internationalist, diverse and outward-looking country. Indeed, we will get an opportunity to do that when Britain hosts the UN climate change conference, COP26, later this year. Despite the fact that we are at the 11th hour to save the planet, the former Tory Minister and now ex-president of COP26 Claire O’Neill said that there has been a

“huge lack of leadership and engagement”

from this Government. What on earth did she mean?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, midnight

If we look at what the Government are achieving and already have achieved on climate change, it is quite phenomenal. The right hon. Gentleman will know that last year was the first year on record that renewables produced more of this country’s energy than fossil fuels. He will know that 99% of all the solar panels that have achieved that miracle were installed since the Conservatives came to power in 2010. We are delivering for the people of this country. We are reducing greenhouse gases. All he would produce, I am afraid, is a load of hot air.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, midnight

The problem is, the Government’s own figures show that they are missing the carbon budget —let alone 2050, it will be 2099 before this country meets net zero.

We discovered this morning that two former Conservative leaders have also turned down the job formerly done by Claire O’Neill. It might be third time lucky if we make a joint approach to the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith)—perhaps he would like to take on that job. He is in the Chamber, ready for it.

The Prime Minister’s own former Minister said that we should have “clear actions”, “an agreed plan” and

“a roadmap for the Year of Action”,

but we do not. Why is the Prime Minister failing so spectacularly to measure up to the scale of the climate crisis that this country and this planet are facing?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:04 p.m.

This is beyond satire. This is the first country, the first major economy in the world, to have set a target of being carbon neutral by 2050. It is an absolutely fantastic thing. We are leading the world in our ambitions, and we will have a wonderful summit in Glasgow, one of the most fantastic cities in our country, at the end of the year.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:05 p.m.

This country is not meeting its target and it is not due to meet its target, and I think the Prime Minister should recognise that. Even the Paris targets are not enough. The UN says that we have just a decade to change course if we want to avert a climate catastrophe. Let us look at something else his ex-Minister said—that the Prime Minister promised to “lead from the front” and guaranteed there would be “money” and “people”, but these promises are not close to being met. What on earth could she have been talking about?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

As so often, I am not entirely sure what the right hon. Gentleman is talking about, because if we look at what this Government have actually delivered—if we look at our Conservative policies of backing green tech, of backing innovation, of supporting a dynamic market economy, which is the solution to these problems—we have cut CO2 emissions in this country since 2010, on 1990 levels, by 42%. That is an astonishing achievement, and at the same time, the economy has grown by 73%, thanks to free-market, dynamic, one nation Conservativism. That is our approach. What is his?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:06 p.m.

The Prime Minister’s former Minister said: “My advice to”—[Interruption.] Well, Government Members may not like it, but I am going to read it:

“My advice to anybody to whom Boris is making promises—whether it is voters, world leaders, ministers, employees or…family members—is to get it in writing, get a lawyer to look at it and make sure the money is in the bank.”

Not my words—hers. The Prime Minister’s failure in government means this country will not meet its net zero target until 2099. This Government have banned offshore wind, and this Government are funding billions on fossil fuel projects abroad. Is this what his ex-Minister means by the “absence of leadership”?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

I think the grotesque failure of the Leader of the Opposition to understand what is happening in this country’s economy, let alone in the fight against climate change, is quite mind-boggling. I can inform him today not just that this country is leading in producing the technology to generate offshore, but that the north-east of this country leads the world in producing and designing those fantastic turbines. It is because of that technological innovation that we are able massively to expand our renewables. I can tell him —I think he may know this—that in 1990 this country was 70% dependent on coal power. And, by the way, he would want to reopen the coalmines. Today, we are down to 3%, and by 2024 it will be zero. That is our plan. What is his?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:08 p.m.

It was the Labour party that proposed the climate change emergency motion to this House on 1 May. The Prime Minister is quoting things that happened in 1990 and afterwards. During that time, of course, he was a climate sceptic who did not say anything about this at all.

Poor leadership is nothing new to this Prime Minister. When he was Foreign Secretary, he cut the number of climate attachés across the world by 60% in our embassies, and reportedly said to his staff, “You’re not going to spill this all out to the media, are you?” Considering his monumental failure in advance of COP26, is it not really just a continuation of his climate change denial statements that he was regularly making up until 2015?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:09 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is talking absolute nonsense. This Government are delivering a fantastic agenda in tackling climate change; we lead the world in going for a zero-carbon approach. His own approach is utterly unclear and has indeed been condemned by the GMB as a disaster for the UK economy. He would confiscate people’s cars and prevent them from having foreign holidays. We have a plan that will allow the UK economy to continue to grow and create jobs and that will tackle climate change.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:11 p.m.

I really do admire the Prime Minister’s very vivid imagination, but unfortunately his vivid imagination seems to have taken over from his memory, because he might recall saying that climate change is a “primitive fear…without foundation”. The Prime Minister of Bangladesh said:

“Any consequence of failure to deliver a climate action plan must fall equally on every country…the cost of our inaction is devastating for every living person”,

but our Prime Minister is failing on the biggest stage on the most important issue of our time. And now his former Minister has described preparations in Whitehall as

“Whitehall knot-tying, infighting and obfuscation, petty political squabbles and black ops briefings”.

No wonder the Prime Minister is shutting newspapers out of No. 10 because he does not like the briefings. When will he face up to the climate emergency and take the action necessary to turn Glasgow into the turning point when this world will stop the levels of pollution and climate change we are having and go forward to a sustainable future? Because his Government’s policies simply do not take us there.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
5 Feb 2020, 12:12 p.m.

This Government are showing world leadership in tackling climate change, and we are going to have a fantastic summit at Glasgow and I look forward to it very much.

The right hon. Gentleman mentions the media. Labour finally conducted an inquest into what happened in the general election, and they discovered in the Labour party that it was not the leadership that was at fault, and it was not Brexit; it was the media. They blame the media for it. I do not blame them; I am a journalist—I love journalism. The people of this country do not blame the media; they can see that the media do their best to represent the reality, and the reality is that this is a Government who are getting on with delivering 40 new hospitals and 20,000 more police, tackling climate change, and £30,000 starting salaries for every teacher in the country. It is not about the presentation of the facts, it is about the reality, and the right hon. Gentleman cannot cope with the reality.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 29th January 2020

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

My hon. Friend raises a most important point that I know is of great concern to Members from all parties. I assure the House and, indeed, the country that it is absolutely vital that people in this country have access to the best technology available, but that we also do absolutely nothing to imperil our relationship with the United States, do anything to compromise our critical national security infrastructure, or do anything to imperil our extremely valuable co-operation with Five Eyes security partners.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

I am sure that the whole House will want to send our thoughts to the family and friends of the Royal Marines soldier who sadly died in a training incident earlier this week.

If you will forgive me, Mr Speaker, may we take just a minute to pay tribute to Nicholas Parsons, who passed away this week? We thank him for his work in broadcasting.

This Friday, the UK will be leaving the European Union. The actions that we take over the months and years ahead will shape our future role in the international community for generations to come. Britain’s role in the world will face one of its most important tests later this year when COP26 meets in Glasgow to discuss the need for drastic action to tackle the climate emergency. Given the scale of the crisis, does the Prime Minister think that we as a country should be financing billions of pounds-worth of oil and gas projects all around the world?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:03 p.m.

Let me first say, in memory of Nicholas Parsons, that we should all avoid hesitation, deviation or repetition in this House.

I do think it important that the UK continues to campaign against hydrocarbon emissions of all kinds, as we do. The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed that we have just decided to ban support for all extraction of coal around the world. That is a massive step forward by this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

The report from the BBC and Unearthed investigation has revealed that a Government agency has helped to finance oil and gas projects that will emit 69 million tonnes of carbon a year—nearly a sixth of the total emissions from this country alone. The effects of climate change have been felt in this country, with flooding in Yorkshire and the midlands, and of course we have seen the wildfires in Australia. Despite pledging to reach net zero emissions by 2050, the Government are currently on track to meet that target only by 2099. Can we afford to wait another 79 years before we reach net zero in this country?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:04 p.m.

This Government have doubled spending on tackling climate change internationally to £11.6 billion. I am not surprised by what the right hon. Gentleman has said because he is so pessimistic. We should not forget that this country has reduced CO2 emissions already by 42% on 1990 levels, while the economy, under this Conservative Government, has grown by 73%. That is our record; we can do both.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:09 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman voted against every proposal to take action on climate change until he became Prime Minister. I hope, for the sake of our future, that he changes his mind before COP26 meets in Glasgow.

Speaking of failing to take a global lead on climate change, the US Secretary of State is visiting later today. President Trump’s latest middle east peace plan is not a peace plan. It will annexe Palestinian territory, lock in illegal Israeli colonisation, transfer Palestinian citizens of Israel, and deny Palestinian people their fundamental rights. When the Government meet the US Secretary of State later today, will they make it clear that they will stand for a genuine, internationally backed peace plan rather than this stuff proposed by Trump yesterday?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

Let us be clear that this is a problem that has bedevilled the world, and the middle east in particular, for decades. No peace plan is perfect, but this has the merit of a two-state solution—it is a two-state solution. It would ensure that Jerusalem is both the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people. Rather than being so characteristically negative, I urge the right hon. Gentleman to reach out to his friends and my friends—our friends—in the Palestinian Authority, and to Mahmoud Abbas, for whom I have the highest respect, and, for once, to engage with this initiative and to get talking rather than to leave a political vacuum.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:07 p.m.

I have the greatest respect for President Abbas and those in the Palestinian Authority; I have met them many times—[Interruption.] This is actually a very serious issue. The Prime Minister should acknowledge that President Trump’s plan will not bring any move towards peace and that it has no support from any Palestinian anywhere in the world. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity for the British Government to say frankly and candidly to the US that, on this, it is wrong. There needs to be a two-state solution with international support.

The kind of test for this country for the future has to be how we work to end conflict abroad. The Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen has led to the needless deaths of innocent men, women and children, yet this Government have broken the ban on Saudi arms sales three times, while Donald Trump has vetoed a ban on arms exports three times. Will the Prime Minister confirm that he will respect his own ban and will he, when he meets the US later today, ask it to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia while it continues the bombardment of the people of Yemen?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Saudi-led operation in Yemen is supported by the UN—a UN mandate to restore the Government of Yemen—and that is absolutely vital. He is completely correct that the crisis in Yemen continues, and that it is a tragedy for the people of Yemen, but what he should be doing is supporting the activity of the British UN negotiator, Martin Griffiths, who is doing a fantastic job in trying to bring the sides together and to get a peaceful solution led by Yemenis.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:08 p.m.

Of course, attempts are being made to bring about a peace process, but it is not helped when one country supplies arms to Saudi Arabia, which has led to the deaths of 100,000 people in Yemen last year alone. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi authorities have stepped up their arbitrary arrests, trials and convictions and the killing of peaceful dissidents and activists, including a large-scale crackdown on the women’s rights movement. When the Prime Minister heads to Riyadh later this year for the G20, will he make it clear that any future trade arrangement with Saudi Arabia will be dependent on an improvement of its human rights laws and its human rights record, particularly in respect of women in that country?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

It will not have escaped the House’s attention that the right hon. Gentleman is a supporter and defender of the Iranian regime in Tehran, which has grossly exacerbated the tensions in Yemen by sending missiles to attack the civilian population of Saudi Arabia. Of course we raise the matter of human rights in Saudi Arabia. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised the rights of women in Saudi Arabia only the other day. We will continue to do that, and we will do that ever more vigorously and ever more energetically as we pursue our policy of a global Britain doing free trade deals around the world, which will give us the leverage to make exactly these points.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
29 Jan 2020, 12:10 p.m.

I condemn human rights abuses in every country in the world, including Iran, Russia and anywhere else where such abuses are committed. My question was: what is being done to ensure that our future trade deals are dependent on good human rights in the countries that we deal with? Nine women are in Saudi prisons at the present time, merely for standing up for equal rights for women. Four of them have received electric shock treatment during interrogation. Is that the kind of human rights we tolerate? I sincerely hope not.

Britain is at a crossroads. We are leaving the EU, and our place in the world is going to change. The question is what direction it will take. The signs are that this Government are prepared to sacrifice our country’s interests and values for short-term political advantage and a sell-out trade deal with Donald Trump. As Foreign Secretary the Prime Minister embarrassed this country, and as Prime Minister he shows every sign of being prepared sell it off. When will he accept that the only chance of a truly internationalist Britain is to work with our global partners to tackle the climate catastrophe, expand trade, fight human rights abuses and promote peace?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The difference between this Government and the way we treat international affairs, and the Labour party under its present leadership, can be summarised as follows: the right hon. Gentleman, as leader of the Labour party, has consistently stood up not just for Tehran, but for Vladimir Putin, when he poisoned innocent people on the streets of this country; he has said that he would scrap the armed services of the United Kingdom, end our nuclear deterrent and abolish NATO, which has been the bulwark of our security for the past 70 years. This Government are leading the world in tackling abuses, sticking up for human rights, championing the struggle against climate change, and leading the fight for every single girl in the world to have access to 12 years of quality education. That is what global Britain is delivering under this Government. The right hon. Gentleman would isolate this country and deprive us of our most crucial allies. We are going to take this country forward and outward into the world, and—in case I forgot to mention it before—we are going to deliver on our promises and take us out of the European Union this Friday, despite everything that he and all the Opposition parties tried to do.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:01 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the threat that we face. That is why this Government are putting more resources into catching terrorists, and it is why we have announced a major shift in the UK’s approach to the sentencing and management of terrorist offenders. This Government will do all that we can to keep our people safe.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 11:56 a.m.

Next Monday, we will be commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day. It is a time for us all to reflect on the horrors of the past and to remind ourselves of the evils of Nazism, genocide, antisemitism and, indeed, all forms of racism, which we must always be implacably determined to root out wherever it appears.

This Saturday, hundreds of millions of people will be celebrating Chinese new year around the world, and I am sure that the Prime Minister will join me in welcoming the year of the rat and inviting all Chinese people to have a great time.

If a worker earning just over £12,500 a year receives a £300 bonus, how much of that bonus does the Prime Minister think that worker should be allowed to keep?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:03 p.m.

Let me join the right hon. Gentleman in what he has said about the importance of Holocaust Memorial Day and of stamping out the resurgence of antisemitism in our country. On his point about the low-paid, I think perhaps the best answer I can give him is to remind him that just this week this Government increased the living wage by the biggest-ever amount so that people on the living wage will be receiving an extra £1,000 a year. If he wants further elucidation on his point, perhaps he could ask a better question.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:04 p.m.

Greggs is currently giving 25,000 workers a £300 bonus, but some of those workers who are on universal credit will be allowed to keep only £75 of that £300. If the Prime Minister can answer my question and show me that that is just and fair, I will buy him a vegan roll from Greggs myself. The first aim of universal credit, which is set to affect 6 million people, was to make work pay, but when low-paid workers cannot even keep their own bonuses, it is clear that the Government are punishing, not supporting, people. Will the Prime Minister do something to ensure that workers at companies such as Greggs who are on low pay will be allowed to keep their bonuses?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Under this Government, people on low pay will be able to keep more of the money that they earn. It is this Government who are cutting national insurance contributions for everybody in the country, and it is this Government who were increasing the living wage. It was the right hon. Gentleman who voted against tax cuts for the low-paid to the tune of £7,800.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The Prime Minister himself fought with unbelievable levels of energy to protect the bankers’ bonus. Why can he not do something about the low-paid on very low wages who need to be allowed to keep their bonuses? The Resolution Foundation report published yesterday highlighted the serious distress caused by the dysfunctional nature of the universal credit system. One claimant says, “Sometimes you are starving”, another said, “It was…horrendous”, and another said:

“It was very hard for me because I’m not very good at computers.”

Does the Prime Minister think that universal credit is meeting its second aim of making the social security system simpler?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:06 p.m.

Yes, indeed; we are making the social security system simpler because we have massively reduced unemployment. On the right hon. Gentleman’s specific point about Greggs, as far as I can understand the situation, Greggs is producing record figures—£7 million extra. One person, I believe, has complained about the bonus system that the right hon. Gentleman remarks upon, but that is in the context of unparalleled growth in employment, with 359,000 more jobs in this country this year than last year and the International Monetary Fund now confirming that the UK economy will grow faster than the eurozone. When is he going to stop talking Britain down and start recognising the extraordinary achievements of the UK economy?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:07 p.m.

The real issue is that many people in work are also in poverty and have to access universal credit, with almost 1 million on zero-hours contracts and more people rough sleeping than ever before. Those are the issues that ought to be concerning the Prime Minister. The third aim of universal credit, it was claimed, was to reduce poverty, but we know that it is having the opposite effect. Under this Government, 65 million meals were handed out by the Trussell Trust food banks over the past five years. The five-week delay for new claimants is leaving people without enough money to cover basic needs. Why is the Prime Minister not taking action to end this punitive and vicious five-week wait for benefits?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Universal credit has in fact succeeded in getting 200,000 people into jobs. Contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman says, the number of people in poverty has diminished by 400,000 under this Government and wages have been increasing solidly for the last 22 months. Labour is supposed to have had a period of reflection since the last election—it is supposed to have been reflecting on the result of the general election. Labour has decided, as far as I understand it, that what it wants is even more Corbynism—a four-day week, increases in taxes on working people and uncontrolled immigration from everywhere. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer that the British people gave to him four weeks ago.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:08 p.m.

Wouldn’t it be truly wonderful if the Prime Minister answered a question about universal credit? He has dodged every question on it. The reality is that about half the people going on to universal credit are worse off as a result. The same is true of the very cruel and callous two-child limit under universal credit, which caps benefits for larger families. There are half a million more children living in poverty than there were in 2010 and the number of children in deprivation has soared in the last few years. Why does the Prime Minister just not have the guts to admit that there is a link between poverty and the two-child limit?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman cannot accuse me of failing to answer the question when I have answered it very clearly a couple of times. There are 400,000 fewer people in poverty and there has been a substantial reduction in child poverty. He does not like the answers. The reality is that there is a massive increase in employment and growth in this economy. I really think it is time that the Labour party changed its tune, although I have some good news for the leader of the Labour party. He was voted by Labour members as the most popular Labour leader since records began. I want him to know that those sentiments are warmly shared by many on this side of the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:10 p.m.

The Labour party will never abandon the poor of this country. The levels of child poverty are a national scandal. The Prime Minister seems unable, incapable or unwilling to answer that question.

Universal credit had three aims. It was meant to make work pay, but low-paid workers are not even allowed to keep their bonuses. It was meant to be simple, but it has created mind-numbing complexity. It was meant to reduce poverty, but it is driving people to food banks. As we have seen today, the Prime Minister is not able to answer questions on it. The fact is that this Government have baked in austerity for tens of millions of people. When will he finally accept that the universal credit system is broken, damaging and dangerous to people’s living standards, and that it should go?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
22 Jan 2020, 12:11 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman wants to do nothing else except keep people in the welfare trap and stop helping people out of welfare and into work. I think he should pay tribute to all the people who, by their own hard work, have found fantastic jobs over the last year. He should pay tribute to the growth in employment in the UK economy.

Quite frankly, it is this Government who are getting on with delivering on the priorities of the British people: 40 new hospitals, 50,000 more nurses and 20,000 more police officers. The Labour party is still split from top to toe about whether to stay in the EU or to remain run by the EU. It still cannot make up its mind, and he still cannot make up his mind. We deliver on the people’s priorities.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

Yes, the Cotswolds needs broadband and the Cotswolds is going to get gigabit broadband. That is why we are putting £5 billion into the roll-out of gigabit broadband. My hon. Friend asks for a deadline and he will get it—2025.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

May I just put on record our pleasure at the return of the Northern Ireland Assembly and, hopefully, the restoration of the peace process in Northern Ireland? I know there is a statement coming on this after Prime Minister’s Question Time.

Will the Prime Minister let the British people know why, after almost 10 years of Tory Government, patients are waiting longer for essential NHS care, whether it is in A&Es, on waiting lists or for a GP appointment?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

We are investing record sums into the NHS. Indeed, I think the House should be very proud today that we are passing the NHS Funding Bill, which will guarantee such funding not just this year but into the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:03 p.m.

Well, passing legislation that will guarantee underfunding of the NHS, yes. The number of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E is now at its highest on record for the second month in a row. We have had months of promises, but people need action. There probably is not a family in the United Kingdom that has not been affected in some way by cancer, yet last year we saw one in four patients waiting more than two months for the start of their cancer treatment. How many more patients will face life-threatening delays because our NHS is understaffed and underfunded?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:04 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there is a massive demand on the NHS, which, as he also knows, is doing a fantastic job, particularly in oncology, where tremendous progress has been made. He is right to signal the delays that people are facing. They are indeed unacceptable. That is why we are investing in 50,000 more nurses, that is why we are investing in 6,000 more GPs, and that is why this Government are investing record sums in the NHS. We will get those waiting lists down.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Twenty thousand of those 50,000 already work for the NHS, actually, Mr Speaker.

Delays in cancer treatment can reduce a patient’s chance of survival. The target of 85% of patients being seen within two months was last met four years ago, in December 2015. Action is needed urgently.

Last week, we heard of the heart-rending case of a 92-year-old RAF veteran in Leicester who had to go through the indignity of waiting almost 12 hours on a hospital trolley because there were no beds available. I want the Government to apologise to him and many others and to explain why, despite the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff all over the country, over 2,000 patients had to wait more than 12 hours before they could get into a hospital bed last month alone.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the case of the RAF veteran, and I think everybody in this House will have every sympathy for people who have a bad and unacceptable experience in the NHS. We all share that. On the other hand, I would say that most people in this country—most patients of the NHS—have a fantastic experience of our healthcare, and we should pay tribute to our nurses and our staff. The hospital he mentions, Leicester, is one of those that, as he knows, we are rebuilding under this programme, with 40 new hospitals and 20 upgrades under this Conservative Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The A&E has already been rebuilt in Leicester, actually, as I understand it. The problem is that the Prime Minister promised 40 hospitals. In reality, it was 20 and then it became six. The issue of people waiting on trolleys is a very serious one. The number doubled in December and it is now at the highest ever level on record. The Prime Minister promised to put the Conservative party’s inadequate NHS funding pledge into law. Can he explain why it is necessary to cement into law a pledge that the Health Foundation has said is

“below the amount needed to maintain current standards of care”?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

It is only under this Conservative Government that we have the resources that will enable us to invest in our NHS, and it is because of our stewardship of the economy, after the wreckage that Labour left when it was in office, that we have been able to make those colossal investments. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that not only was it this Conservative Government who rebuilt the A&E, as he correctly points out, but it is this Conservative Government who will be rebuilding the entire hospital in Leicester. We are putting more money into the NHS as a direct result of our careful management of the economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:07 p.m.

Well, I understand that another hospital has been closed to pay for it. The question is: why would the Government need to put into law an inadequacy of funding for our national health service? Health professionals have said that the NHS needs more money than the Government are saying in order to keep patients safe.

It has now been almost three years since the Government promised a Green Paper on social care and seven months since the Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street and said he had prepared a clear plan to fix the crisis in social care. Well, what is the hold-up? Where is the plan?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I am delighted by the right hon. Gentleman’s constructive attitude, because as he knows, we intend to begin cross-party talks to build a consensus. I think there is a growing consensus in this country on the need to tackle the issue of social care, so that everybody has dignity and security in their old age and nobody has to sell their home to pay for the cost of their care. We can do it, and we will do it. With the help and co-operation of the Labour party and other parties in this House, we will go ahead with a fantastic plan for social care. I look forward to his support, but I point out to him that it is thanks to the Conservatives’ stewardship of the economy, and indeed the mandate of the people that we have, that we are now able to tackle a problem that was shirked not just by the Labour party, but Governments for decades after decades. We are going to do it now.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:08 p.m.

I do not know if the Prime Minister had a chance to read the Labour manifesto in the election, but we made it very clear that we have a plan—a very clear one: free personal care, more funding and support for carers. I am very happy to send him another copy of our manifesto so he can read it.

The Prime Minister said many times that he is going to put the NHS funding issue into law, but all this gimmick means is even longer waiting lists, more delays for cancer patients and more A&E departments bursting at the seams, while patients continue to suffer while he continues to provide excuses. If he is really committed to fixing the crisis that his Government have created over the last decade, he should end the empty rhetoric and back our proposals to give the NHS the funding it needs, rather than putting into law an insufficiency of funding. The NHS is our most precious national institution. Fund it properly so that everyone can rely on it—those that cannot afford private healthcare.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
15 Jan 2020, 12:09 p.m.

I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman is still fighting on the manifesto he submitted to the attention of the British people at the last election. It was pretty clear what they thought of it and of the credibility of the promises he made. It was also clear what they thought of what we were going to do. They see that we are the party of the NHS and that it is this Government who invest in hospitals, in schools, in policing and in bringing down crime. That is because the Government’s careful stewardship of the economy has led to record employment and record low unemployment, which is what delivers the tax revenues that enable us to pay for it all. Whenever Labour are in office, they wreck the economy, make unemployment higher and make us less able to pay for great public services. We are taking the country forwards; they would take it backwards.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 8th January 2020

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the work that he is doing for those suffering from motor neurone disease, which is indeed a terrible illness. We are doing everything that we can to ensure that the welfare system works for sufferers of that illness. That is why the Department for Work and Pensions is indeed looking at how it can change the way that we help people nearing the end of their life with the most severe conditions, including motor neurone disease. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions will be only too happy to meet my hon. Friend at the earliest opportunity.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:02 p.m.

I wish to start by paying tribute to Andrew Miller, the former Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston, who sadly died on Christmas eve. He is a sad loss to this place. He spent more than 20 years here, was an expert on science and technology, and made an enormous contribution to this House. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. He is deeply mourned by Labour Members because of the great contribution that he made.

I join the Prime Minister in sending sympathy and support to our friends in Australia, where the fires have claimed the lives of more than 20 people. Along with the loss of human life, hundreds of millions of animals have also been destroyed as a result of the fires. This is a warning about global warming and what it does to us all, and we must take the threat of climate change very seriously.

I also join the Prime Minister in sending our thoughts to the friends and families of those who sadly died in the Ukrainian plane that crashed in Tehran last night.

Following last night’s attack on the United States bases in Iraq, will the Prime Minister confirm that, in this situation, he opposes any further retaliation or escalation in violence, as the region is at real risk of going into a full-scale war?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Of course I can confirm that. Let me point out to the right hon. Gentleman that the United Kingdom has been working solidly since the crisis began to bring together our European allies in particular in their response. The House will have noted the E3 declaration that was issued by France, Germany and the United Kingdom, in which we drew particular attention to the baleful role played in the region for a very long time by Qasem Soleimani. That is a collective European view, but it is a view that does not yet appear to be shared by the right hon. Gentleman. I have been interested that, in all his commentary, he has not yet raised that matter.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:04 p.m.

Following the Government’s support for the United States over the assassination of General Soleimani, is the Prime Minister confident that United Kingdom troops and civilians are not at further risk in the region and beyond?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

That is an important question. I can confirm that, as far as we can tell, no casualties were sustained last night by the US and no British personnel were injured in the attacks. We are of course doing everything we can to protect UK interests in the region, with HMS Defender and HMS Montrose operating in an enhanced state of readiness to protect shipping in the Gulf. As the House heard yesterday from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, we have relocated non-essential personnel from Baghdad to Taji, and we will do everything we can to prevent an escalation.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:05 p.m.

The Government have said that they are sympathetic to the assassination of General Soleimani. What evidence has the Prime Minister got to suggest that this attack on General Soleimani, and his death, was not an illegal act by the United States?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:06 p.m.

Clearly, the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine, since it was not our operation. I think that most reasonable people would accept that the United States has a right to protect its bases and its personnel. I remind the House that the individual concerned—General Qasem Soleimani—was, among other things, responsible over many years for arming the Houthis with missiles with which they attacked innocent civilians; arming Hezbollah with missiles, which again they used to attack innocent civilians; sustaining the Assad regime in Syria, which is one of the most brutal and barbaric regimes in the world; and, of course, supplying improvised explosive devices to terrorists who, I am afraid, killed and maimed British troops. That man had the blood of British troops on his hands.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

If we stand by international law, as I am sure the Government do and would want to, surely killing somebody in a foreign territory is an illegal act and should be condemned as such. If we believe in international law, it should be the solution to the problems in the world. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, could the Government say what representations have been made to ensure that the Iranian officials who want to attend the Security Council to try to bring about a resolution to the very dangerous situation in the region will be allowed to attend? In the event of the US Administration blocking them, what representations will the Prime Minister personally make to President Trump to ensure that the UN can operate in the way in which it should and must be able to?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is probably well aware that the United States has a duty under international law to allow people to visit the UN, and that is indeed the position that the UK supports.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

The Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution calling for foreign troops to leave its country. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the British Government will respect any decision made by a sovereign Parliament and Government in Iraq that may make such a request in the future and will respect the sovereignty of Iraq as a nation?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As the House can imagine, I have spoken extensively to our friends around the world, including our friends in Baghdad and Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi, who, like many people in Iraq, has come to rely and depend on the support of coalition forces, not least from the UK. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, there is a very significant NATO mission in Iraq at the moment, helping in the fight against Daesh. It is my wish and the wish of this Government—and it should be the wish of this House—that we do everything we can to support the security and integrity of Iraq and the Iraqi people.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:08 p.m.

My question was whether the Government would respect the sovereignty of Iraq, its Parliament and its Government, and the Prime Minister did not answer that question.

The actions of the United States have undoubtedly escalated the risk of a dangerous conflict in an already destabilised region, putting civilians, UK troops and nationals at risk and leaving the Iran nuclear deal in danger of being dead in the water. This Government’s response is not putting the interests of this country first but instead seems more interested in prioritising the Prime Minister’s relationship with President Trump over the security of the region and of this country. Is not the truth that this Prime Minister is unable to stand up to President Trump because he has hitched his wagon to a trade deal with the United States, and that takes priority over everything else that he ought to be considering?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
8 Jan 2020, 12:10 p.m.

I was waiting for the little green men thing to come out at the end about the trade deal. This is absolute fiction.

But what I will say is that the UK will continue to work for de-escalation in the region. I think we are having a great deal of success in bringing together a European response and in bridging the European response with that, of course, of our American friends, and working both with the Iranians and with the Iraqis to dial this thing down. The right hon. Gentleman should be in absolutely no doubt—this is, of course, a Leader of the Opposition who has famously received £10,000 from the Iranian Press TV—that we are determined to guarantee with everything that we can the safety and security of the people of Iraq, whereas he, of course, would disband NATO. It is this Government who will continue to stick up for the people across the middle east who have suffered at the hands of Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian revolutionary guard Quds force that he has led and whose terrorism he has promoted. I am very surprised at the end of these exchanges that the right hon. Gentleman has yet to condemn the activities of Qasem Soleimani and the revolutionary guard.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Friday 20th December 2019

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Dec 2019, 9:49 a.m.

No. We should be fortified by a renewed sense of confidence. [Interruption.] In all fairness, I think that I have given way quite a few times.

The policy of the Liberal Democrats is now to have another referendum. They have abandoned revoke and now want another referendum. When they have worked out their policy, I will give way.

We should be fortified by a renewed sense of confidence that while our democratic institutions have been tested as never before, if this House comes together now to support the Bill, as I hope it will, history will record that the first act of this new Parliament, in its earliest days, was to break the ice floes and find a new passage through to unsuspected oceans of opportunity. So now is the moment to come together and write a new and exciting chapter in our national story, to forge a new partnership with our European friends, to stand tall in the world and to begin the healing for which the people of this country yearn. And it is in that spirit of unity that I commend this Bill to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard

Over the past three and a half years, the Government’s mishandling of Brexit has delivered nothing but political gridlock, chaos and economic uncertainty. It has paralysed our political system, divided communities and nations, and become a national embarrassment on an unprecedented scale.

We recognise the clear message from the British public last week, however they voted in the referendum of 2016, and understand their determination to end the never-ending cycle of the Brexit debate, and get back to solving the day-to-day issues that challenge them in their daily lives. We must listen and understand that we cannot go on forever debating what happened in 2016. We have to respect that decision and move on.

However, understanding all that does not mean that we as a party and a movement should abandon our basic principles or ever give up the demand for a fairer and more just society. We warned before the general election that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal was a terrible deal for our country, and we still believe that it is a terrible deal today.

Election of Speaker
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 17th December 2019

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
17 Dec 2019, 2:58 p.m.

Mr Speaker-Elect, I am sure that the whole House will join me in sending condolences to the families and friends of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, who were murdered in the terrorist attack near London Bridge during the election campaign. We pay tribute once again to the emergency services and to members of the public for the bravery they showed.

Mr Speaker-Elect, I congratulate you on your office, and the hon. Member for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) who has just spoken. I do not know about you, Mr Speaker-Elect, as you survey the House from your eminence, with the characteristic beam that has brought you such deserved popularity, but I mean no disrespect to those who are no longer with us when I say that I think this Parliament is a vast improvement on its predecessor. Indeed, I would say it is one of the best Parliaments that this country has ever produced, with more female Members than ever before and more black and minority ethnic Members than ever before. It is also, incarnated in your person, Mr Speaker-Elect, a vastly more democratic Parliament, because it will not waste the nation’s time in deadlock, division and delay. On Friday, this Parliament will put the withdrawal agreement in the popty ping, as we say in Wales. Then this new democratic Parliament—this people’s Parliament—is going to do something. I wonder, Mr Speaker-Elect, if you can guess what it is. What is this Parliament going to do? We are going to get Brexit done. [Hon. Members: “Get Brexit done.”] Even your parrot would be able to recite that one by now.

We are going to get on with delivering the priorities of the British people—transforming the NHS; investing massively in education and the police; and uniting and levelling up across the whole UK. It is my belief that most hon. Members in this House believe we should resist the calls of those who would break up the United Kingdom. As the Parliament of the United Kingdom, we should politely and respectfully defend that partnership and the Union. I can tell the House that, after three and a half years of wrangling and division, the Government will do whatever we can to reach out across the House to find common ground, to heal the divisions of our country and to find a new and generous spirit in which we conduct all our political dealings with one another that will last beyond the immediate season of Christmas goodwill.

In that spirit, Mr Speaker-Elect, I congratulate you once again on your election and I look forward to the months and years ahead under your guidance.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
17 Dec 2019, 3:01 p.m.

May I join the Prime Minister in remembering the horror of what happened at London Bridge just three weeks ago? It is the third time in the last two general election campaigns that we have witnessed appalling and depraved terrorist attacks on our communities. Our hearts must go out to the families of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt. When the Prime Minister and I attended a memorial event at the Guildhall, I had the honour of meeting many of the students who had been at college with Jack, and they were just devastated. In his memory, they wanted his work and his message to carry on. We should also remember the very good words of his father David about how proud he was of his son on that day. That attack was an attempt to damage our democracy, to halt the process. It did not succeed and it never should succeed, because we have to make sure that our democracy is fully intact.

I would like to offer my congratulations to the Prime Minister on winning the election and being returned to office, and I want to pay tribute to those Members, from my party particularly, who sadly lost their seats in the election and therefore will not be here. In particular, although many will be remembered, obviously Dennis Skinner is somebody who comes very much to mind on this occasion.

In the campaign, the Prime Minister made many promises and therefore has tremendous responsibilities to live up to. He will be judged on whether he keeps those promises by the communities that he has made them to. Our job in the Labour party will be to hold the Government to account and stand up for the communities we represent and for the more than 10 million people who voted for our party in the general election. Because that is what parliamentary democracy is about—holding the Government to account and representing the people who sent us here on their behalf.

I also offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) on taking up his position as Father of the House. I first encountered him at the Woolwich West by-election in 1975. I was a trade union organiser at the time, and I made a very strong recommendation to all the members of my union that they should vote for the Labour candidate, not him. I do not want to embarrass the hon. Gentleman, but some of them went to see him and said, “He seems such a very nice man. We might well vote for him.” I do not want to tarnish his reputation further, but whenever I was trying in the past to get an all-party consensus together on an early-day motion—sometimes a difficult task—he would often give it a Conservative character by supporting such moves. I thank him for that and wish him well as Father of the House.

May I take this opportunity to welcome all newly elected Members to the House? It is a very daunting day for them—their first day here after being elected to this place on behalf of their constituents, with all the responsibility that goes with that. There is no greater honour than to be elected to this House to represent our constituents, and one of the greatest strengths of our political system is that every one of us represents a community and every one of us has a constituency. We are here to represent the homeless and the desperate as well as those who are better off and lead more comfortable existences. We are here to represent all of them, and that surely ought to be the watchword of our House and our democracy.

This is the first time that a majority of Labour MPs are women, and I congratulate them all on being elected. Twenty of the 26 newly elected Labour MPs are women, which compares rather favourably to the Conservative party’s performance in that regard. This is also the most diverse Parliament in history, and I am proud that 41 of the 65 black and minority ethnic MPs are on the Labour Benches. I know they will do a fantastic job representing their constituencies and wider community interests.

Finally, Mr Speaker-Elect, I offer my warmest congratulations to you as you resume your place in the Speaker’s Chair. It is great to see you back. Your role goes beyond the pomp and ceremony, as you well understand. I am keen to work with you, as many others are, on all the issues facing this House. This House cannot function without Members’ staff and House staff—vsecurity, administration, caterers, cleaners and officials—who do so much good work here; they all make a contribution to ensure that our democracy functions properly. But there is also enormous pressure on MPs, staff and many others, and I know that you take very seriously the mental health and wellbeing of us all. I hope that we in this House ensure that that is taken seriously.

Mr Speaker-Elect, there are portraits of all your predecessors in Speaker’s House. One of the most famous, of course, is Speaker Lenthall, who resisted the autocracy of Charles I in support of the freedoms of Parliament. Our democracy needs you as a Speaker who will stand firm against abuses of power by the Executive or anybody else. In doing so, you are defending the rights not just of this House, but of millions of people who put their faith in a democratic system to elect a Parliament, and therefore a Government, who are answerable to them. Our rights and freedoms are always precious, but also often precarious. Democracy is not a given. It is something that we have to extend and defend. I am sure that you, in your role as Speaker-Elect—and hopefully Speaker very soon—will do exactly that. I congratulate you on your election and look forward to working with you.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 30th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:08 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on everything he does for his constituents and the thalidomide victims. I reassure him that the current health grant, which as he rightly says is subject to review in 2023, will be reviewed. I am getting confirmation of that from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health. I hope that my hon. Friend will pass those assurances to the thalidomide victims as fast as he can.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Mr Speaker, I hope you will indulge me one moment while a say a word about you—I am sure you will. I want to thank you for the way you have used your speakership over your decade-long tenure. You have done so much to reform this House of Commons, and our democracy is stronger for the way you have done it.

You have served for 10 years. You have given real power to Back Benchers, vastly expanded the use of urgent questions, which has been overwhelmingly popular with all Ministers, and opened up the number of emergency debates, which is even more popular with even more Ministers. In the traditions of the great Speaker Lenthall and others, you have stood up for Parliament when it has to be stood up for, and we thank you for that. You have also carried that message internationally in terms of the role of parliamentary democracy and Parliaments holding Governments to account. As we hope to form a Government in the future, we hope to be held to account by Parliament as well.

I also think, and I am sure the whole House would agree with me, that you have done excellent work in opening up Parliament to visitors, exhibitions and children. You have reduced some of the strange customs and strange garments that people wear in this building—[Interruption.] It’s all right. I know you are all jealous of my tie, but it is okay. You have used your office to increase diversity among the staff in the House and make this a much more LGBT-friendly place. You have taken it from being a gentlemen’s club that happens to be in a royal palace to being a genuinely democratic institution.

I want you to accept our thanks and pass on our best wishes to Sally, Freddie, Oliver and Jemima, your wonderful family, for the support they have given you. There will be a great celebration today—I am sure the whole House will join us in this—when you and I celebrate Arsenal beating Liverpool tonight. [Interruption.] The Labour party loves a debate and loves a bit of banter.

The Prime Minister’s planned sell-out deal with Donald Trump means yet more national health service money being siphoned off into private profit. Channel 4’s “Dispatches” reported that the cost of drugs and medicines has repeatedly been discussed between United States and United Kingdom trade representatives. Why did the Prime Minister previously say the health service was not on the table in any post-Brexit trade deal?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:13 p.m.

The answer to that is very simple: it is because it is not on the table. I pay tribute to officials of the NHS, who have just done a brilliant job in reducing the cost of Orkambi—made in America, by the way—so that cystic fibrosis sufferers in this country get the treatment they need, at a cost that is reasonable to the taxpayers of this country. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to know how the people of this country are able to afford the stupendous investments we are now making in the NHS—£34 billion, the biggest ever investment in the NHS, with 40 new hospitals that we are building as a result of the decisions we are taking—I can tell him that it is because this is the party that supports wealth creation. The reason we are able to invest in the NHS is that for the last nine years this economy has been growing. It has grown by 19% since the Conservatives first came into office, and he would ruin this economy and ruin our ability to fund the NHS. That is the reality.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

We all welcome the fact that Orkambi will now be able to be provided in this country under the NHS, and we thank those who campaigned for it. The shame is that we are not told what the deal is with the company concerned. As for the fabled 40 hospitals, that figure dropped to 20 and then finally dropped to six.

We learned this week that Government officials have met US pharmaceutical companies five times as part of the Prime Minister’s planned trade deal. The US has called for “full market access” to our NHS, which would mean prices of some of our most important medicines increasing by up to sevenfold. While the Government are having secret meetings with US corporations, it is patients here who continue to suffer. Can the Prime Minister explain why the number of people waiting longer for urgent cancer treatment has tripled over the past nine years?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:14 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, this Government are investing £34 billion in the NHS. We are seeing improvements in cancer survival rates throughout the country, thanks to the investment that the Government are making. I think it absolutely satirical that he should claim credit for getting Orkambi and other drugs delivered at a reasonable price; that is the work of the UK Government and the NHS, supporting the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to ensure that people in this country get affordable treatments. He may not be aware of it, but Vertex, the company that makes Orkambi, comes from America. Is he seriously suggesting that the NHS should not engage in negotiations to ensure that British patients get the drugs they deserve? Is he so phobic of American companies that he would forbid the NHS from having those discussions?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Not for the first time, the Prime Minister is talking nonsense. Of course we need to import medicines from various places; I just want it to be done in an open and transparent way. I do not want secret talks between Government officials, on behalf of Ministers, and big pharma corporations in the USA.

Last year, 34,000 cancer patients waited more than two months for treatment. Although early detection is obviously very important, the longer people wait, the less chance there is of their surviving cancer. The Prime Minister knows that, I know that, the whole world knows that—why can he not get it, and put the necessary resources into the NHS to cut the waiting times?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:16 p.m.

rose—

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:17 p.m.

If he could just be patient for 30 seconds.

The Prime Minister claims that the NHS is safe in his hands; why, then, has NHS privatisation doubled under this Government, with nearly £10 billion being spent on private companies in our NHS?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:18 p.m.

The NHS is receiving unrivalled and unprecedented sums of taxpayers’ money. If the right hon. Gentleman is seriously saying that he would not like dentists, opticians and Macmillan care nurses to work with the NHS, he must be out of his mind. Cancer survival rates have actually increased year on year since 2010, and more and more people are seen within the right waiting time, thanks to the investments that we are making. I think he should pay tribute to the hard work of NHS staff, stop talking down their incredible achievements, and recognise that if we are allowed to come back as the next Government, we will invest massively in the NHS and take it forward with the funds that we will make available from a strong and growing economy. The reality is that he would wreck that economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:19 p.m.

What we do not want is private companies like Virgin Care suing our NHS for contracts that they did not get. Our NHS should be focused on making people better, not making the wealthy few richer.

National health service A&E departments have just had their worst September on record. This morning, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine said that this winter the NHS needs more than 4,000 extra beds. Will the Prime Minister explain why, under his Government, the number of people in England waiting for an operation has now reached a record high of 4.4 million?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:19 p.m.

There is a reason why more people are receiving NHS care: it is that the NHS is working harder and achieving more than ever before. If the House wants to see what Labour would be like in office, it should look at its performance. By the way, I should say that the SNP Government negotiated a much higher price for Orkambi in Scotland. [Interruption.] They did. They got the price totally wrong. The Leader of the Opposition should have a word with them.

If the people of this country want a horrific foretaste of what life would be like under a Labour-run NHS, they should look at the NHS in Wales where all health targets are routinely missed, where the A&E waiting target has not been met since 2008; and where the target for in-patients and out-patients has not been met since August 2010. The right hon. Gentleman talks about cancer treatment—that target has not been met since June 2008. That is how Labour runs the NHS.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:21 p.m.

I am surprised that the Prime Minister can keep a straight face saying that, while his Government have cut so much from the Welsh Government’s budget. And that from a Government who have cut 15,000 beds from the NHS and who have cut £7 billion from social care. I do not know how he has the brass neck to say what he has just said. The reality is that his words are hollow. That is clear to anyone who has tried to get a GP appointment, who sees how overworked our NHS staff are when they visit a hospital and who sees the stress that NHS staff go through when they cannot deal with all the patients who are coming in. He needs to think about this.

Let me give an example. A lady called Gillian wrote to me this week. [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Yes, it is a real case of a real person, and I will quote her letter if I may, Mr Speaker. Gillian says:

“My mother died in February as a direct result of the GP shortage in the UK. Her last years were marred by long waits for treatments and for interventions…Whenever she got care, it was given by overstretched but dedicated people, but it always came after painful and debilitating delays.”

Why should that happen to Gillian’s mum or anybody else’s mum? The problem is the shortage of GPs, the shortage of nurses and the excessive waiting time for people with very difficult conditions and deep pain. They should be sympathised with and supported.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:23 p.m.

I can certainly say that we will deal with the concerns of the right hon. Gentleman’s constituent Gillian, but I can tell him that there are 17,300 more doctors and over 17,000 more nurses on our wards since 2010. Frankly, it is time to differentiate the politics of protest and the politics of leadership. He should apologise for continually striking attitudes that I do not think are in the interests of the people. It is all very easy to be an Islingtonian protester and say that you side with Russia over what happened in Salisbury, or say that you have a £196 billion programme of renationalisation, or continually flip-flop one way or the other—now leave, now remain—refusing to respect the verdict of the people in the EU referendum. Leadership means standing up for the people of this country, standing up for our police, standing up for our NHS and making sure that it gets the funding that it needs, and standing up for our economy and for our wealth creators. Above all, it means getting Brexit done and ending the dither and delay. The time for protest is over. It is time for leadership, and that is what this Government provide.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:23 p.m.

Coming from a Prime Minister who withdrew his own Bill, that seems a bit odd. My question was about somebody whose mother had died and who believes that that is because of the shortage of staff within the NHS. I had hoped that the Prime Minister would have shown some empathy and answered that question, because GP numbers are falling, there is a 43,000-nurse shortage in the NHS, and the NHS has suffered the longest spending squeeze ever in its history. The choice at this election could not be clearer. People have a chance to vote for real change after years of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts, privatisation and tax handouts for the richest. This Government have put our NHS into crisis, and this election is a once-in-a-generation chance to end privatisation in our NHS, give it the funding it needs and give it the doctors, nurses, GPs and all the other staff it needs. Despite the Prime Minister’s denials, our NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a Trump-style trade deal. Is it not the truth—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

Despite the Prime Minister’s denials, the NHS is up for grabs by US corporations in a Trump trade deal. Is it not the truth—the Government may not like this—that this Government are preparing to sell out our NHS? Our health service is in more danger than at any other time in its glorious history because of the Prime Minister’s Government, his attitudes and the trade deals that he wants to strike.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:28 p.m.

I do indeed agree that there is a stark choice facing this country at this election, and one of the options is economic catastrophe under the Labour party, with a £196 billion programme that will take money away from companies and spend it on a pointless renationalisation programme. Labour will put up taxes on corporations, on people, on pensions and on businesses—to the highest level in the whole of Europe. That is the economic catastrophe that the Leader of the Opposition offers. But it is worse than that because he also offers a political disaster, consigning next year, which should be a wonderful year for our country, to two more referendums: another referendum on the EU because he cannot make up his mind what he thinks, flip-flopping this way and that; and another referendum on Scottish independence. Why on earth should the people of this country spend the next year, which should be a glorious year, going through the toxic, tedious torpor of two more referendums thanks to the Labour party?

We want next year to be a great year for our country. We are going to invest more in frontline NHS services. We are going to reduce violent crime, with 20,000 more police officers on our streets. That is what I pledged on the steps of Downing Street, and we have done it. We are going to invest in every one of our primary and secondary schools across the country. That is what I pledged on the steps of Downing Street, and we are delivering it. We are going to invest in a fantastic infrastructure programme for our country, with gigabit broadband across the whole nation. That is what I pledged on the steps of Downing Street, and that is what we are going to deliver. And we are going to deliver a fantastic deal by which this country will come out of the European Union—a deal that the Leader of the Opposition has tried to block but which we will deliver. That is the future for this country: drift and dither under the Labour party, or taking Britain forward to a brighter future under the Conservatives. That is the choice this country faces.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 30th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 1:57 p.m.

No, I am winding up.

We will continue to make sure that those affected by the fire have an active and engaging role to play in implementing the lessons of Grenfell, including working closely with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to develop the policies in our social housing White Paper. We will continue to implement the findings of the Hackitt review of building regulations, and I have asked the civil servants responsible for implementing Sir Martin’s recommendations to provide me with regular and frequent updates on their progress. I will not allow the lessons of this tragedy to fall through the cracks.

The night of 14 June was horrendous, but in the darkness we have also seen the best of humanity: the residents who sacrificed their lives to save their children or neighbours, the local community that rallied round in such an incredible fashion, holding the survivors in a tight embrace as the authorities failed to step up, and the bereaved and survivors here with us today. Those who would have every reason to hide away have instead fought to uncover the truth about what happened that terrible night. They have forced themselves to relive time and again the kind of trauma that most of us, mercifully, cannot begin to imagine. They have dedicated so much of their lives in so many ways to ensure that those who died on the night of 14 June 2017 will always be remembered. To them, I say once again that the truth will out, that justice will be done, and that Grenfell Tower and the people who called it home will never be forgotten.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 2:03 p.m.

May I start by thanking the Prime Minister for the serious way in which he has approached this matter and for his speech today on the findings of Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s first report? I also thank you, Mr Speaker, for ensuring that we had a minute’s silence at the start of the debate for those who lost their lives on that terrible, terrible night.

I start by paying tribute to the survivors of the fire and their family members, who have campaigned with such dignity and determination for the past two years—two long years. Many of them are here today in the Gallery or watching the debate on television. For them, it is yet another horrible day of remembering a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a cousin, a nephew, a niece who they will never see again and who will never come back. Those memories will never go away. With sympathy we should have an understanding of our responsibility to ensure that everyone is able to live in safety, wherever they are in this country.

Seventy-two people lost their lives on that night in June 2017. That situation rocked the community and shocked the whole country. It brought together help from lots of people—people from local churches, mosques and synagogues, and from different community organisations. People rushed to Grenfell as the fire was still blazing with gifts of food and toys, and with support. That simple human understanding from so many people is something we have to cherish and begin to understand, because it demonstrates that there is a natural human instinct to help people.

I cannot forget going there straight after the fire and talking to dazed people who did not really understand what had happened and to exhausted firefighters, police officers and many others who were trying to comprehend the enormity of the situation. It was truly horrific. I pay absolute tribute to all those volunteers and others who turned out that day to help. Local government officers from all across London immediately volunteered to try to help, because the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea seemed to have difficulty in responding to the enormity of the situation—I say no more than that at the moment.

It was a tragedy, Mr Speaker, but it was an avoidable tragedy. A tragedy is when there is an earthquake, a tidal wave or a volcano that we cannot understand or predict. This was an avoidable tragedy. All the survivors—all of them—deserve a new home and safety and security in this country, as my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary demanded at the time. All those responsible for this avoidable tragedy must understand that justice must prevail. Every necessary measure must be put in place to prevent a fire such as Grenfell from ever happening again.

Early Parliamentary General Election Bill
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 2:29 p.m.

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, who I know wants to deliver Brexit. I am afraid that the idea he puts forward is one that we have tried twice. We tried it last week and we tried it last night. It would have been a good offer for the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) to take up. He refused to take it up, and we are left with no choice but to go to the country to break free from this impasse, and to allow us all to submit, as we must in all humility, to the judgment of the electorate—to allow us to make our case and, above all, to allow a new and revitalised Parliament, with a new mandate to deliver on the will of the people and get Brexit done.

That new Parliament, in just a few weeks’ time, will have before it a great new deal with the EU—a great new deal, which brings together Members from across the House, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips) mentioned earlier. It will be the job of that new Parliament, in just a few weeks’ time, to ratify the withdrawal deal and put an end to this long period of parliamentary dither and delay.

I am glad to say that since I first put forward the idea of a general election as a way out of this impasse, the ice floes have begun to crack. The Lib Dems are now in favour, and the Scots Nats—the Scottish National party—is now in favour of it. There is only one blockage still standing in the way of democracy. There is only one party that refuses to trust the judgment of the people. There is only one party that is still running scared of an election and that is the main party of opposition, which is failing in its defining function—[Interruption.] Well, we have not heard anything to the contrary. Dogs bark, cows moo and Oppositions are meant to campaign for elections—except for this one.

I have no way of knowing what the right hon. Member for Islington North is going to say. He has called for an election 35 times in the last year alone. I have no idea why he has been so opposed to an election. Maybe it is because he has been following the precepts of his intellectual mentor, Fidel Castro, whose adoring crowds used to serenade him with the cry, “Revoluciones sí, elecciones no!” Maybe he is congenitally opposed. Maybe he has been listening to the shadow Chancellor, the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), or the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), who I gather have been arguing against an election. He should beware of their motives in counselling him against a general election. It is not so much that they fear a general election, though they probably do; it is just that they do not want a general election with him as their leader.

I do not know what has been holding the right hon. Gentleman back from this obvious democratic exercise, but whatever it is, I hope that he will now stand up and say that he has mastered his doubts and that he is finally willing to submit to the electorate. He has mentioned that he is a great eater of porridge. All I can say is that when it comes to the offer of elections, he reminds me of Goldilocks in his fastidiousness—one offer is too hot and one is too cold. I hope he will be able to stand up this afternoon and say, “This time, this offer of an election is just right.”

If he does, and I hope he does, we will then be able to put that choice to the people of this country. We can go his way, which is for an economic recipe that would mean the destruction of the UK’s wealth-creating system and over-taxation of a kind that is derived from revolutionary Venezuela, combined with the political nightmare agenda of not one, but two, referendums—one on the EU and one in Scotland—with all their potential for further rancour and recrimination. As I understand it, that is his policy. Or we can go forward with this Government—a Government that have secured a great deal that allows us to leave the EU as one whole United Kingdom—as England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—able together to do free trade deals around the world, able to set our own path, to make our own laws, to take back control of our borders, our money and our regulations, able to deliver all the benefits and all the freedoms of Brexit, from new free ports to more humane treatment of animals, which the right hon. Gentleman would block, from tax breaks for new technology to cutting VAT on sanitary products.

It is a deal that they said was impossible three months ago. They said we could not change the withdrawal agreement. They said that we would never get rid of the backstop, and we did. The deal is there. It is ready to be approved by a new Parliament, with a Government yearning with every fibre of their being to be able to get on and deliver our one-nation Conservative agenda, with a vision for uniting this country and levelling up with record investments in health, like nothing else in a generation, with 20,000 more police officers and more funding for every primary and secondary school in the country—levelling up across this whole United Kingdom. It will be a Government able to commit to fantastic public services and infrastructure, precisely because we believe in free markets and enterprise. We believe in free markets and enterprise and the wealth-creating sector of the economy in a way that causes a shadow of Transylvanian horror to pass over the semi-communist faces of the Opposition Front Bench.

That is the argument I want to have with the Leader of the Opposition. That is the biggest and most important difference between us—between us one-nation Conservatives and the socialists on the Opposition Benches. There is only one way now to move this country forward and to have that debate, and that is to get Brexit done. There is only one way to get Brexit done, in the face of this unrelenting parliamentary obstructionism—this endless, wilful, fingers crossed, “Not me, guv!” refusal to deliver on the mandate of the people—and that is to refresh this Parliament and to give the people a choice.

I say to the whole House and to all those who may still be hesitating about whether to vote for the Bill that there is only one way to restore the esteem in which our democracy is held and to recover the respect in which Parliament should be held by the people of this country, and that is, finally, to offer ourselves to the judgment of the people of this country. I commend the Bill to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 2:38 p.m.

Labour backs a general election because we want this country to be rid of this reckless and destructive Conservative Government. They are a Government that have caused more of our children to live in poverty, more pensioners to be in poverty and more people to be in work and in poverty, more families to be without a home and more people to sleep rough on our streets. They are a Government that have cut and sold off so much of our important public services.

Early Parliamentary General Election
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 28th October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister -

I can tell the House that we have an excellent deal for the whole of the UK and that we will campaign on the basis of that deal. If the hon. Gentleman wants more time to debate and scrutinise it, as I take it from his question he does, he can have it, but we must have 12 December as a hard stop, a parliamentary terminus, that everybody can believe in.

An election would fulfil exactly that purpose. It would allow a new Parliament and a new Government to be in place by Christmas. Without that hard stop of an election, without that moment of truth, the electorate will, I am afraid, have a sense that we are all like Charlie Brown, endlessly running up to kick the ball, only to have Parliament whisk it away yet again, only to find that Parliament is willing to go on delaying and delaying, to the end of January, to February and beyond. The frustration will go on, the anxiety will go on, and the angst and uncertainty felt by millions of people and businesses across the country will be unnecessarily and unfairly prolonged and exacerbated. That is what the Opposition’s course condemns the country to.

If I am wrong, the remedy is very simple: the Opposition—the Leader of the Opposition and all his cohorts on the Front Bench—can vote for this motion tonight. Then we can bring the Bill back and get Brexit done and then go our separate ways and make our cases to the country to reboot our politics in the way our people want. If he does not wish to take that opportunity—if he wants simply to delay Brexit and frustrate yet again the democratic will of 17.4 million people, frustrate democracy in this country—I am afraid we must have an election now. We cannot continue with this endless delay.

I don’t know about you, Mr Speaker, but I think the Leader of the Opposition has now run out of excuses for running away. First he said of the Benn Act:

“Let this Bill pass and gain Royal Assent, and then we will back an election”—[Official Report, 4 September 2019; Vol. 664, c. 292.]

The Bill passed and gained Royal Assent, but he still shrank from an encounter with the voters. Then he said he would wait until the Act had been complied with. The letter was sent over a week ago—not my letter, of course, but Parliament’s letter—and he is still coming up with ever more ludicrous excuses for hiding from the British people. Now he says we have to take no deal off the table at the end of the transition period in December 2020. I repeat: he wants to take no deal off the table at the end of the transition period in December 2020. Of course I think his so-called anxieties are absurd, because I am confident that we will negotiate a fantastic new trade deal. [Interruption.] If the Opposition vote for this motion, we will bring the Bill back. We will negotiate a fantastic new trade deal that will bring thousands of new jobs to businesses and communities across this country.

Even if the Leader of the Opposition disagrees, would it not make sense, even according to his logic, for him to agree to an election now, so that he can have the opportunity to take no deal off the table himself? Is that not the logic of his position? He can run, but he cannot hide forever. Across Parliament, his supposed allies are deserting. The SNP, I now read, is in favour of an election. The Liberal Democrats are in favour of an election. What an incredible state of affairs. There is one party tonight that is actually against a general election. There is one party that does not trust the people of this country, and that is the principal party of opposition. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition accepts tonight that he is snookered and that this charade has gone on for long enough, and that he will agree to allow Brexit to get done and then allow us to make our cases to the people.

When that election comes, the people of this country will have to make a choice between a Government who deliver, a Government who not only got a great Brexit deal when others said it was impossible but who are putting 20,000 more police on the streets, delivering the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, investing £14 billion more in our schools and levelling up education funding across the country—a great one-nation Conservative Government, which is what we represent—and a Labour Opposition who would turn the year 2020 into a toxic, tedious torture of two more referendums, one on the EU and one on Scotland. That is the choice.

It is time for the Leader of the Opposition to move his rusty Trabant from the yellow box junction where it is currently blocking progress, and it is time for us to get Brexit done by 12 December and then go to the people. It is now overwhelmingly clear that the only way to get Brexit done is to go to the people of this country, and I believe it is time that we all, each and every one of us in this House, had the courage finally to face our ultimate bosses, the people of this country.

I commend the motion to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live -

This is a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted. Having illegally prorogued Parliament for five weeks for his Queen’s Speech, he now abandons that Queen’s Speech. He got his deal through on Second Reading, then abandoned it. He promised us a Budget on 6 November, and then he abandoned that too. He said he would never ask for an extension, and he said he would rather die in a ditch—another broken promise! Every promise this Prime Minister makes, he abandons. He said he would take us out of the European Union by 31 October—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

I think this section is very important, so I will go through it again. Thanks to a Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme we learn that secret meetings have taken place between UK Government officials and representatives of US pharmaceutical firms at which the price of national health service drugs has been discussed.

We have a Prime Minister who will say anything and do anything to get his way. He will avoid his responsibilities and break his promises to dodge scrutiny. And today he wants an election and his Bill. Well, not with our endorsement. He says he wants an election on 12 December. How can we trust him to stick to that date when we do not yet have legal confirmation of the extension? The Prime Minister has not formally accepted, and the other 27 have not confirmed following that acceptance. The reason I am so cautious is quite simply that I do not trust the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister -

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am afraid that the Leader of the Opposition is mistaken. As I have always said, this Government obey the law. We have complied with the law, and that has taken its course. Parliament asked for this delay, and now it is up to the right hon. Gentleman to go to the country in a general election. That is what he should do.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention, and for the stoic way in which she has dealt with the most appalling abuse that has been thrown at her. After the threats that she and other colleagues have received, the damage that has been done to MPs’ offices and the abusive language that has happened in so many parts of this country, I would be happy to give way to the Prime Minister now if he wants to get up and apologise to my hon. Friend for what he said about her during that debate. Mr Speaker, the Prime Minster has an opportunity to apologise for the language he used, but he seems unable to do so. The treatment she received was disgusting by any standards. I would also point out that numbers—

The Prime Minister -

I will happily apologise if, for instance, the shadow Chancellor will apologise for inviting the population to lynch the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

Well, sorry seems to be the hardest word, doesn’t it?

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 23rd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:04 p.m.

As so often, my right hon. Friend has spoken with complete good sense. I do think it was remarkable that so many Members of the House were able to come together last night and approve the Bill’s Second Reading. I think that it was a great shame that the House willed the end but not the means, but there is still time for the Leader of the Opposition to do that and to explain to the people of this country how he proposes to honour his promise—which he made repeatedly—and deliver on the will of the people and get Brexit done. Perhaps he will enlighten us now.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I join others who have expressed their deep sadness at today’s news that 39 people have been found dead in a lorry container in Grays. Can we just think for a moment about what it must have been like for those 39 people, obviously in a desperate and dangerous situation, to end their lives suffocated to death in a container?

This is an unbelievable human tragedy, which happened in our country at this time. We clearly need to look at the whole situation and look for answers to what has happened. I do, however, also pay an enormous tribute to those in the emergency services who went to the scene to deal with it. All of us should just think for a moment about what it is like to be a police officer or a firefighter and about what it was like to open that container and have to remove 39 bodies from it and deal with them in an appropriate and humane way. We should just think for a moment about what inhumanity is done to other human beings at this terrible moment.

Yesterday, before the Prime Minister decided to delay his own withdrawal Bill, he promised to maintain—[Interruption.] Let me finish. Before he decided to delay his own withdrawal Bill—[Interruption.] If Members care to look at Hansard, they will see what it says. The Prime Minister promised to maintain environmental, consumer and workers’ rights. Why, then, did he have those commitments removed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I do not think we could have been clearer yesterday in our commitment to the highest possible standards for workers’ rights and environmental standards. Indeed, I think that one of the things that brought the House together was the knowledge that, as we go forward and build our future partnership with the EU, it will always be open to Members in all parts of the House to work together to ensure that whatever the EU comes up with, we can match it and pass it into the law of this country. That, I think, commanded a lot of support and a lot of assent across the House.

I must say that I find it peculiar that the right hon. Gentleman now wants the Bill back, because he voted against it last night, and he whipped his entire party against it. I think it remarkable that the House successfully defied his urgings and approved that deal. What I think we would like to hear from him now is his commitment to getting Brexit done. That is what the public want to hear, and I am afraid they are worried that all he wants is a second referendum.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:08 p.m.

The Prime Minister does not answer the question that I put to him, which was about environmental, consumer and workers’ rights. I am not surprised, because he once said that “employment regulation” was “back-breaking”, and he voted for the anti-Trade Union Act 2016, which stripped away employment protections. The provisions in the Bill offer no real protection at all.

Yesterday, during the debate on the Bill, the Prime Minister pledged that the NHS was safe in his hands. If that is the case, will he be backing our amendment in the Queen’s Speech debate tonight, which would undo the very damaging privatisation of so much of our NHS?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman is showing complete ignoratio elenchi—a complete failure to study what we actually passed last night in that historic agreement. It is very clear that it is open to the House to do better, where it chooses, on animal welfare standards or social protections, as indeed this country very often does. We lead the way: we are a groundbreaker in this country. I am afraid to say that the right hon. Gentleman has no other purpose in seeking to frustrate Brexit than to cause a second referendum.

As for the NHS, this is the party whose sound management of the economy took this country back from the abyss and enabled us to spend another £34 billion on the NHS—a record investment—and, as I promised on the steps of Downing Street, to begin the upgrade of 20 hospitals, and as a result of the commitments this Government are making, 40 new hospitals will be built in the next 10 years. That is this party’s commitment to the NHS. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

Two questions and we are still waiting for an answer, although we could do with a translation of the first part of the Prime Minister’s response.

I hate to break it to the Prime Minister, but under his Government and that of his predecessor, privatisation has more than doubled to £10 billion in our NHS. There are currently 20 NHS contracts out to tender, and when he promised 40 hospitals, he then reduced that to 20, and then it turns out that reconfiguration is taking place in just six hospitals. So these numbers keep tumbling down for the unfunded spending commitments that he liberally makes around the country.

The Prime Minister continues to say that he will exclude our NHS from being up for grabs in future trade deals. Can he point to which clause in the withdrawal agreement Bill secures that?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is completely wrong in what he says about privatisation of the NHS, and I must resist this, because those 40 new hospitals and those 47,000 extra clinical staff, including 17,000 nurses, were not paid for out of private funds; they were paid for by the NHS, and the reason we are able to pay for them is because the Conservative party and this Government believe in sound management of the economy—not recklessly putting up corporation tax, not recklessly wrecking the economy and renationalising companies in the way that he would do.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about the NHS in any future free trade deal, and I understand his visceral dislike of America and his visceral dislike of free trade.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:13 p.m.

I actually asked the Prime Minister which clause in the Bill protects our NHS, and obviously there is time for him to help us with an answer on that. He should also be aware that no public capital allocations have been made for the funding commitments that he has announced; all he is said is that there is seed funding. I am not sure what seed funding is, but it does not sound like the commitment we were seeking, and it sounds awfully like private finance going into the NHS to deal with the issues it faces.

Less than one year ago, the Prime Minister said that any

“regulatory checks and…customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”

would damage

“the fabric of the Union”.

Given that this deal clearly does damage the fabric of the Union, does he still agree with himself?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I know that this was raised many times in the House yesterday, and I believe that the Union is preserved, and indeed we are able to go forward together as one United Kingdom and do free trade deals in a way that would have been impossible under previous deals. This is a great advance for the whole UK, and we intend to develop that together with our friends in Northern Ireland. But I must say to the right hon. Gentleman and indeed his colleagues on the Front Bench that I think it is a bit rich to hear from him about his sentimental attachment to the fabric of the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland when he has spent most of his political lifetime supporting the IRA and those who would destroy it by violence.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The Prime Minister has a habit of not answering any questions put to him. Northern Ireland will remain on single market rules within the EU on goods and agricultural products, and the rest of the UK will not. As the right hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) pointed out yesterday, that will create a very real border down the Irish sea, which the Prime Minister told a DUP conference, in terms, he would never do—and it was not that long ago; it might have been when he was trying to become the Tory party leadCowaner.

The Prime Minister told the House on Saturday there would be no checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, yet yesterday the Brexit Secretary confirmed to the Lords European Union Committee that Northern Irish businesses sending goods to Britain would have to complete export declaration forms. Is the Prime Minister right on this, or is the Brexit Secretary right? They cannot both be right.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:15 p.m.

Let us be absolutely clear that the United Kingdom is preserved, whole and entire, by these arrangements, and indeed the whole of the UK will be allowed to come out of the European Union customs union so that we can do free trade deals together. There will be no checks between Northern Ireland and GB, and there will be no tariffs between Northern Ireland and GB, because we have protected the customs union. This lachrymose defence of the Union comes a little ill from somebody who not only campaigned to break up the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland by his support of the IRA but also wants to spend the whole of the next year not just on a referendum on the EU but on another referendum on Scotland. That is what he wants. This is the threat to our United Kingdom—on the Labour Front Bench.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:17 p.m.

I really do wonder whether the Prime Minister has read clause 21 of his own Bill. The Good Friday agreement was one of the greatest achievements of this House, led by a Labour Government at that time. The Prime Minister unlawfully prorogued Parliament. He said he would refuse to comply with the law. He threw Northern Ireland under a bus. He ripped up protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards, lost every vote along the way and tried to prevent genuine democratic scrutiny and debate. He once said that “the whole withdrawal Bill, as signed by the previous Prime Minister, is a terrible treaty”, yet this deal is even worse than that. Even if he is not that familiar with it, does the Prime Minister accept that Parliament should have the necessary time to improve on this worse-than-terrible treaty?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:18 p.m.

It is this Government and this party that deliver on the mandate of the people. I listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman just said, but has he said it before. They said we could not open the withdrawal agreement, and we did. They said we could not get rid of the backstop, and we did. They said we could not get a new deal, and we did. Then they said that we would never get it through Parliament, and they did their utmost to stop it going through Parliament, but we got it through Parliament last night. This is the party and this is the Government that deliver on their promises. We said we would put 20,000 more police officers on the streets of this country, and we are. We said we would upgrade 20 hospitals, and we are. We said we would upgrade and uplift education funding around the whole country, and, even more than that, we are increasing the minimum wage, the living wage, by the biggest amount since its inception. This is the party that delivers on Brexit and delivers on the priorities of the British people.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 22nd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:27 p.m.

I think I have given way quite a lot during this speech and I wish to wind up because I know that hon. Members will wish to make their own contributions to the debate.

For three and a half years this Parliament has been caught in a deadlock of its own making, and the truth is that all of us bear a measure of responsibility for that outcome, yet by the same token we all have the same opportunity now. The escape route is visible. The prize is visible before us: a new beginning with our friends and partners; a new beginning for a global, self-confident, outward-looking country that can do free trade deals around the world as one whole entire United Kingdom. The deal is here on the table. The legislation to deliver it is here before us. A clear majority in the country is now imploring us to get Brexit done in this House of Commons. I say to the House: let us therefore do it and let us do it now and tonight. I commend this Bill to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard

On Saturday, we warned that, if the House passes the Government’s deal, it would be a disaster for our country. Now, as we look through the details of the Bill, we see just how right we were: page after page of what amounts to nothing less than a charter for deregulation and a race to the bottom; a deal and a Bill that fail to protect our rights and our natural world, fail to protect jobs and the economy, and fail to protect every region and nation in the United Kingdom. The Bill confirms that Northern Ireland is really in the customs union of the EU and goods will be subjected to tariffs. On Saturday, the Prime Minister said there would be no checks, but yesterday the Brexit Secretary confirmed to the Lords European Union Committee that under the Government’s proposals Northern Irish businesses that send goods to Great Britain will have to complete export declaration forms, and today the Government estimate—this is the Government’s estimate—that exit declaration forms will be between £15 and £56 per customs declaration. So the Prime Minister was at best—I am being generous here—mistaken on Saturday. The more divergence, the harder that border will become and the greater danger and risk it will put on the historic Good Friday agreement.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 6:19 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Saturday, this House emphatically rejected the Prime Minister’s deal. [Interruption.] Conservative Members are too hasty; I have not finished yet. Tonight the House has refused to be bounced into debating a hugely significant piece of legislation in just two days, with barely any notice and no analysis of the economic impact of this Bill. The Prime Minister is the author of his own misfortune. I make this offer to him tonight: work with us—all of us—to agree a reasonable timetable, and I suspect that this House will vote to debate, scrutinise and, I hope, amend the detail of this Bill. That would be the sensible way forward, and that is the offer I make on behalf of the Opposition tonight.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 7:34 p.m.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Let me say in response how welcome it is—even joyful—that, for the first time in this long saga, this House has accepted its responsibilities, come together and embraced a deal. I congratulate Members across the House on the scale of our collective achievement. Just a few weeks ago, hardly anybody believed that we could reopen the withdrawal agreement, let alone abolish the backstop, and certainly nobody thought that we could secure the approval of the House for a new deal. We should not overlook the significance of this moment. I pay particular tribute to those Members of the House who were sceptical and who had difficulties and doubts, but who decided to place the national interest ahead of any other consideration.

However, I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK was in a position to leave the EU on 31 October with a deal. We now face further uncertainty, and the EU must now make up their minds about how to answer Parliament’s request for a delay. The first consequence is that the Government must take the only responsible course and accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome. Secondly, however, I will speak to EU member states about their intentions and, until they have reached a decision, we will pause this legislation.

Let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay and that we should leave the EU on 31 October. That is what I will say to the EU, and I will report back to the House. One way or another, we will leave the EU with this deal, to which this House has just given its assent, and I thank Members across the House for that hard-won agreement.

Prime Minister’s Statement
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Saturday 19th October 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Sep 2019, 10:34 a.m.

Mr Speaker, I am grateful.

No one believes in lowering standards. Instead, we believe in improving them, as indeed we will be able to do, and seizing the opportunities of our new freedoms. For example, free from the common agricultural policy, we will have a far simpler system where we will reward farmers for improving our environment and animal welfare, many of whose provisions are impossible under the current arrangements, instead of just paying them for their acreage. Free from the common fisheries policy, we can ensure sustainable yields based on the latest science, not outdated methods of setting quotas.

These restored powers will be available not simply to this Government, but to every future British Government of any party to use as they see fit. That is what restoring sovereignty means. That is what is meant in practice by taking back control of our destiny. Our first decision, on which I believe there will be unanimity, is that in any future trade negotiations with any country, our national health service will not be on the table.

I am convinced that an overwhelming majority in this House, regardless of our personal views, wishes to see Brexit delivered in accordance with the referendum—a majority. In this crucial mission, there can no longer be any argument for further delay. As someone who passionately believed that we had to go back to our European friends to seek a better agreement, I must tell the House that with this new deal the scope for future negotiation—for fruitful negotiation—has run its course.

The Opposition said that we could not reopen the withdrawal agreement. They said that we could not change a comma of the withdrawal agreement. They said that we could not abolish the backstop. We have done both. But it is now my judgment that we have reached the best possible solution. So those who agree, like me, that Brexit must be delivered, and who, like me, prefer to avoid a no-deal outcome must abandon the delusion that this House can delay again, and I must tell the House in all candour that there is very little appetite among our friends in the EU for this business to be protracted by one extra day. They have had three and a half years of this debate. It has distracted them from their own projects and their own ambitions, and if there is one feeling that unites the British public with a growing number of officials in the EU, it is a burning desire to get Brexit done.

I must tell the House again, in all candour, that, whatever letters they may seek to force the Government to write, it cannot change my judgment that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust, and people simply will not understand how politicians can say with one breath that they want delay to avoid no deal and with the next breath that they still want delay when a great deal is there to be done.

Now is the time to get this thing done, and I say to all Members, let us come together as democrats to end this debilitating feud. Let us come together as democrats to get behind this deal—the one proposition that fulfils the verdict of the majority, but which also allows us to bring together the two halves of our hearts, to bring together the two halves of our nation. Let us speak now, both for the 52 and for the 48.

Let us go for a deal that can heal this country and can allow us all to express our legitimate desires for the deepest possible friendship and partnership with our neighbours, a deal that allows us to create a new shared destiny with them, and a deal that also allows us to express our confidence in our own democratic institutions, to make our own laws, to determine our own future and to believe in ourselves once again as an open, generous, global, outward looking, free trading United Kingdom. That is the prospect that this deal offers our country. It is a great prospect and a great deal. I commend it to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 9:56 a.m.

I join you, Mr Speaker, in thanking all the staff—cleaning staff, catering staff, security staff, officials and our own staff—who have come into the House this morning. They have given up a weekend to help our deliberations. I also thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement.

The Prime Minister has renegotiated the withdrawal agreement and made it even worse. He has renegotiated the political declaration and made that even worse. Today, we are having a debate on a text for which there is no economic impact assessment and no accompanying legal advice.

The Government have sought to avoid scrutiny throughout the process. Yesterday evening, they made empty promises on workers’ rights and the environment—the same Government who spent the last few weeks negotiating in secret to remove from the withdrawal agreement legally binding commitments on workers’ rights and the environment.

This Government cannot be trusted, and the Opposition will not be duped; neither will the Government’s own workers. Yesterday, the head of the civil service union Prospect met the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and, at the conclusion of that meeting, said:

“I asked for reassurances that the government would not diverge on workers’ rights after Brexit… He could not give me those assurances.”

As for the much-hyped “world-leading” Environment Bill, its legally binding targets will not be enforceable until 2037. For this Government, the climate emergency can always wait.

This deal risks people’s jobs, rights at work, our environment and our national health service. We must be honest about what it means for our manufacturing industry and people’s jobs: not only does it reduce access to the market of our biggest trading partner, but it leaves us without a customs union, which will damage industries across the country in every one of our constituencies. From Nissan in Sunderland to Heinz in Wigan, Airbus in Broughton and Jaguar Land Rover in Birmingham, thousands of British jobs depend on a strong manufacturing sector, and a strong manufacturing sector needs markets, through fluid supply chains, all across the European Union. A vote for this deal would be a vote to cut manufacturing jobs all across this country.

This deal would absolutely inevitably lead to a Trump trade deal—[Interruption]—forcing the UK to diverge from the highest standards and expose our families once again to chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-treated beef. This deal—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10 a.m.

This deal fails to enshrine the principle that we keep pace with the European Union on environmental standards and protections, putting at risk our current rules on matters ranging from air pollution standards to chemical safety—we all know the public concern about such issues—at the same time that we are facing a climate emergency.

As for workers’ rights, we simply cannot give the Government a blank cheque. Mr Speaker, you do not have to take my word for that. Listen, for example, to the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, who says—[Interruption.] She represents an organisation with 6 million affiliated members, and she says:

“This deal would be a disaster for working people. It would hammer the economy, cost jobs and sell workers’ rights down the river.”

Listen to Make UK, representing British manufacturers, which says—[Interruption.] Government Members may care to listen to its comments on the deal. Make UK says that

“commitments to the closest possible trading relationship in goods have gone. Differences in regulation between the UK and the EU will add cost and bureaucracy and our companies will face a lack of clarity inhibiting investment and planning.”

Listen also to the Green Alliance, which says that the deal amounted to a

“very sad Brexit read from a climate perspective.”

The message is clear that this deal is not good for jobs and is damaging for our industry and a threat to our environment and our natural world. It is not a good deal for our country, and future generations will feel the impact. It should be voted down by this House today.

I also totally understand the frustration and fatigue across the country and in this House, but we simply cannot vote for a deal that is even worse than the one that the House rejected three times. The Government’s own economic analysis shows that this deal would make the poorest regions even poorer and cost each person in this country over £2,000 a year. If we vote for a deal that makes our constituents poorer, we are not likely to be forgiven. The Government are claiming that if we support their deal, it will get Brexit done, and that backing them today is the only way to stop a no-deal exit. I simply say: nonsense. Supporting the Government this afternoon would merely fire the starting pistol in a race to the bottom in regulations and standards.

If anyone has any doubts about that, we only have to listen to what the Government’s own Members have been saying. Like the one yesterday who rather let the cat out of the bag by saying that Members should back this deal as it means we can leave with no deal by 2020. [Hon. Members: “Ah.”] The cat is truly out of the bag. Will the Prime Minister confirm whether that is the case? If a free trade agreement has not been done, would that mean Britain falling on to World Trade Organisation terms by December next year, with only Northern Ireland having preferential access to the EU market?

No wonder, then, that the Foreign Secretary said that this represents a “cracking deal” for Northern Ireland, which would retain frictionless access to the single market. That does prompt the question: why is it that the rest of the UK cannot get a cracking deal by maintaining access to the single market?

The Taoiseach said that the deal

“allows the all-Ireland economy to continue to develop and… protects the European single market”.

Some Members of this House would welcome an all-Ireland economy, but I did not think that they included the Government and the Conservative and Unionist party. The Prime Minister declared in the summer:

“Under no circumstances… will I allow the EU or anyone else to create any kind of division down the Irish Sea”.

We cannot trust a word he says.

Voting for a deal today will not end Brexit, and it will not deliver certainty. The people should have the final say. Labour is not prepared to sell out the communities that it represents. We are not prepared to sell out their future, and we will not back this sell-out deal. This is about our communities now and about our future generations.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:05 a.m.

I must confess that I am disappointed by the tone the right hon. Gentleman has taken today, because I had thought that he might rise to the occasion and see what the electorate—and, I believe, his own electorate—broadly want us to do, which is to get Brexit done. I thought he would wish to reflect the will of the people who voted for Brexit in such numbers in 2016 and have waited for a very long time.

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong about environmental and social protection. This Government and this country will maintain the very highest standards, and we will lead in environmental protection and social protection across Europe and the world. We lead, for instance, in our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, and as I have told him many times, Brexit gives us the freedom and the opportunity to do things that we have not been able to do and that are deeply desired by the British people, such as banning the live export of animals—that is to say nothing of shark fins—and many other things we can do differently and better.

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong about business. The overwhelming view of business is that there are great opportunities from Brexit. Also, both Stuart Rose, who is a former chairman of the remain campaign, and the Governor of the Bank of England have said today that this is a good deal for the British economy. As I look ahead, the only risks I see to the British economy are the catastrophic plans of the right hon. Gentleman and his semi-Marxist party. What British business wants is the certainty and stability of getting Brexit done on 31 October, and then the opportunity to build a new future with our European partners and to do free trade deals around the world.

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong about Northern Ireland, which, along with the rest of the UK, will exit the EU customs union, in defiance of what the European Commission and, indeed, the Irish Government had intended.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about trust. I do not wish to be unnecessarily adversarial today, but he patently does not trust his own party—he does not trust the shadow Chancellor—and, above all, he has not been willing to trust the people of this country by granting them the right to adjudicate on him and his policies in a general election. He will not trust the people, and he does not trust the people by delivering on the result of their referendum in 2016.

I suggest to the House, in all humility and candour, that it should ignore the right hon. Gentleman’s pleadings and vote for an excellent deal that will take this country and the whole of Europe forward.

European Union (Withdrawal) Acts
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Saturday 19th October 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am very grateful to you, the House of Commons staff, and everybody who has put themselves out and given up their time for the debate today. It has been a very important debate, and an exceptional moment for our country and our Parliament. Alas, the opportunity for a meaningful vote has effectively been passed up, because the meaningful vote has been voided of meaning, but I wish the House to know that I am not daunted or dismayed by this result. It became likely once it was obvious that the amendment from my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) was going to remain on the Order Paper. I continue in the very strong belief that the best thing for the UK and the whole of Europe is for us to leave with this new deal on 31 October.

To anticipate the questions that will come from the Opposition, I will not negotiate a delay with the EU; neither does the law compel me to. I will tell our friends and colleagues in the EU exactly what I have told everyone in the 88 days in which I have served as Prime Minister: further delay would be bad for this country, bad for our European Union, and bad for democracy. Next week, the Government will introduce the legislation needed for us to leave the EU with our new deal on 31 October, and I hope that our European Union colleagues and friends will not be attracted, as those on the Opposition Benches—or rather, I should say, the Opposition Front Bench—are, by delay; I do not think that they will be. Then, I hope that hon. Members, faced with a choice on our new deal for the UK and the European Union, will change their mind—because it was pretty close today—and support this deal in overwhelming numbers.

Since I became Prime Minister, I have said that we must get on, and get Brexit done on 31 October, so that this country can move on. That policy remains unchanged. No delays! I will continue to do all I can to get Brexit done on 31 October, and I continue to commend this excellent deal to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 3:39 p.m.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I welcome today’s vote. Parliament has clearly spoken. [Interruption.]

Debate on the Address
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 14th October 2019

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
14 Oct 2019, 3:23 p.m.

Freedom of movement has given opportunities to millions of British people to live, work and retire across Europe. It has benefited our economy immensely, with European Union workers playing a key role in sustaining many of our industries and public services. No responsible Member would vote to rip that up, unless there is a proper plan in place. In the shadow of the Windrush scandal, the settled status scheme for European Union citizens risks another round of wrongful denial of rights and shameful deportations. I look forward to the Prime Minister assuring those European Union citizens, who have made such an enormous contribution to our lives and our society, that they will have a secure future in this country.

The Government say that they will be at the forefront of solving the most complex international security issues and global challenges, yet they are playing precisely no role in stopping the horrors unfolding in the Kurdish areas of northern Syria, ending the war and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, or standing up for the rights of the Rohingya, the Uighurs, or the people of Palestine, Ecuador or Hong Kong. They are continuing to cosy up to Donald Trump, and sitting idly by as he wrecks the world’s efforts to tackle climate change and nuclear proliferation.

As the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said in an intervention, the crisis of our age is the climate emergency as declared by this House in May, but there is no action announced in the Queen’s Speech. I pay tribute to the climate school strikers and to Extinction Rebellion. Sadly, the Government have not listened. The Prime Minister derided them as “nose-ringed…crusties”, although I note that their number included a Conservative former Member of the European Parliament, who I believe is related to the Prime Minister. So many people are concerned about bad air quality, the failure to invest in renewable energy, the pollution of our rivers and seas, and the loss of biodiversity. Only this Government have the power and resource to tackle the climate emergency if they wanted to, but they are missing with inaction. It is Labour that will bring forward a green new deal to tackle the climate emergency.

The legislative programme is a propaganda exercise that the Government cannot disguise. This Government have failed on Brexit for over three years. They are barely beginning to undo the damage of a decade of cuts to our public services. It does nothing for people struggling to make ends meet. It does nothing to make our world a safer place or tackle the climate emergency. The Prime Minister promised that this Queen’s Speech would dazzle us. On closer inspection, it is nothing more than fool’s gold.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Oct 2019, 3:27 p.m.

This Government exist to serve the British people and this Queen’s Speech delivers on their priorities by strengthening our NHS with the biggest programme of hospital building for a generation, by putting 20,000 more police on the streets and by unlocking the potential of the whole country with new infrastructure, better education and high technology, from gigabit broadband to a new national space strategy. We aim to create a new age of opportunity for the whole country.

As we prepare to get Brexit done by 31 October, we are setting out now our vision of an open, global, free-trading United Kingdom: a high-wage, low-tax economy with the highest environmental standards and new protections for animal welfare, the best place to invest, the best place to start a business, and the best place to start a family and send your kids to school. Without being chauvinistic or disrespectful to anywhere else in the world, in important respects this country is the greatest place to live and to be—the greatest place on earth.

Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech was proposed superbly by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley)—the first Conservative to represent his seat since 1935, when presumably, the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) departed for Bolsover. If hon. Members are wondering whence my hon. Friend derives his passion and his oratorical gifts, it may interest them to know that his aunt was secretary to Arthur Scargill. I doubt that he shares many of the convictions of the former miners’ leader, except one: that we should obey the democratic will of the people and get Brexit done by 31 October. My hon. Friend is also a passionate collector of airline memorabilia. His home is allegedly stocked—a museum of airline washbags, airline socks and a vast fleet of model planes, including a model Extinction Rebellion protester glued to the roof. All I can say to him is: “Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross-check”, because his career is “planely” about to take off, and his speech was in the very finest traditions of the House.

The Loyal Address was brilliantly seconded by my hon. Friend the Member for Truro and Falmouth (Sarah Newton), who comes, if I can continue with the aeronautical metaphor, from a very different wing of the party—the modern Tory party is a vast and capacious low-carbon plane, by the way—and who has been highly successful as a campaigner for the rights of disabled people. Though she is known for her calm manner and her dulcet tones, when it comes to defending the interests of her native Cornwall or protecting the pasty against the fiscal depredations of former Chancellors, she can be as fearsome as any Falmouth seagull going for your chips. On the most divisive issue in modern Britain, which plagues us to this day, it is well known that she has come down on one side and will not be budged: it is jam first, not cream, on scones. She is Cornish to her roots and her speech too was in the best traditions of the House.

Let me join the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) in paying tribute to the much loved and greatly missed Paul Flynn, who served his constituency of Newport West for 31 and a half years. He was a proud and witty Welshman who earned this obituary from Goldie Lookin Chain, a south Wales rap ensemble, straight outta Newport. They said:

“As an MP he was well respected, since 1987 when first elected.

Across the parties Paul was revered, and it’s just possible he was born with that beard.

Across the floor, far and wide, respected across the political divide,

Regardless of your own stance, left or right, raise a glass to Paul tonight.”

I have no idea as to the political preferences of the band members 2Hats or Eggsy—[Interruption.] The hon. Lady’s sedentary interjection may be right, but I have no doubt that the whole House will agree with that tribute to Paul Flynn.

The speeches from my hon. Friends the Members for North East Derbyshire and for Truro and Falmouth were in the finest traditions of the House, and the speech from the Leader of the Opposition was in the finest tradition of the tergiversating Leader of the Opposition. First he was opposed to no deal; now he seems to be opposed to any deal. First he was in favour of delivering Brexit; now he wants a second referendum. First he wanted an election—actually, he had wanted an election for quite a long time; but now he would much rather not. He resembles a Janus, a pushmi-pullyu facing in both directions at once and unable to decide for either. His policy on cake is neither having it nor eating it. Frankly, I fear for his political health, because we can all see the Soviet-era expulsions that are taking place in his circle, as one by one his lieutenants are purged, as Lenin purged the associates of poor old Trotsky. There is Lenin, the veteran fabricator of GLC budgets. As the shadow Chancellor tightens his icy grip on the Labour party, the contrast becomes ever starker. Contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition just said, we are putting up wages with the biggest expansion of the living wage ever seen. He would put up taxes. We will control immigration with a points-based system—

Brexit Negotiations
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Thursday 3rd October 2019

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the Government’s proposals for a new agreement with our European friends that would honour the result of the referendum and deliver Brexit on 31 October in an orderly way with a deal.

This Government’s objective has always been to leave with a deal, and these constructive and reasonable proposals show our seriousness of purpose. They do not deliver everything we would have wished. They do represent a compromise. But to remain a prisoner of existing positions is to become a cause of deadlock rather than breakthrough, so we have made a genuine attempt to bridge the chasm, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, and to go the extra mile as time runs short.

Our starting point is that this House promised to respect the referendum before the vote. More people voted leave than voted for any political party in our history. The referendum must be respected. Both main parties promised at the 2017 election that they would respect the referendum and that there would be no second referendum. This House voted to trigger article 50 and has voted repeatedly to leave, yet it has also voted three times against the previous withdrawal agreement and for repeated delay. So, as I have emphasised time and again, there can be no path to a deal except by reopening the withdrawal agreement and replacing the so-called backstop.

While, as I stand here today, we are some way from a resolution, it is to the credit of our European friends that they have accepted the need to address these issues. I welcome the constructive calls that I have had over the past 24 hours, including with President Juncker, Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Varadkar, and the statement from President Juncker that the Commission will now examine the legal text objectively.

The essence of our proposal is a new protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland consisting of five elements. In the first place, all our actions are based on our shared determination to sustain the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and the fundamental basis of governance in Northern Ireland, the protection of which is the highest priority of all.

From that follows the second principle, namely that we shall of course uphold all the long-standing areas of co-operation between the UK and our friends in Ireland, including the rights of all those living in Northern Ireland, north-south co-operation, and the common travel area, which predates both the Good Friday agreement and the European Union itself.

Thirdly, we propose the potential creation of a regulatory zone on the island of Ireland covering all goods, including agrifood. For as long as it exists, the zone would eliminate all regulatory checks for trade in goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

However, fourthly, unlike the so-called backstop, such a regulatory zone would be sustained only with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, as expressed through the Assembly and Executive. They will give their consent during the transition period as a condition for these arrangements entering into force. Thereafter, the Assembly will vote again every four years. If consent were withheld, these arrangements would then lapse after one year.

Fifthly, it has always been a point of principle for this Government that, at the end of the transition period, the UK should leave the EU customs union whole and entire, restoring sovereign control over our trade policy and opening the way for free trade deals with our friends around the world. That is a fundamental point for us.

Under the proposals in this new protocol, Northern Ireland will be fully part of the UK customs territory, not the EU customs union, but there will be no need for checks or any infrastructure at or near the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Indeed, I have already given a guarantee that the UK Government will never conduct checks at the border, and we believe that the EU should do the same, so there is absolute clarity on that point.

Instead, under this new protocol, all customs checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland would take place either electronically or, in the small number of cases where physical checks would be necessary, at traders’ premises or other points in the supply chain. We have put forward a method for achieving this based on improving and simplifying existing rules, trusting certain traders and strengthening our co-operation with Ireland, in a spirit of friendship and sensitivity to the particular circumstances.

While these proposals will mean changes from the situation that prevails today in Ireland and Northern Ireland, it is their driving purpose to minimise any disruption. To support the transition further, we propose a new deal for Northern Ireland that will boost economic growth and competitiveness and set in train new infra- structure, particularly with a cross-border focus.

The previous withdrawal agreement and political declaration would have permanently anchored the UK within the orbit of EU regulation and customs arrangements, and an indefinite so-called backstop provided a bridge to that vision of the future. This Government have a different vision: basing our future relationship with our European neighbours on a free trade agreement and allowing the UK to take back control of our trade policy and our regulations. We propose to amend the political declaration to reflect this ambition. Our proposals should now provide the basis for rapid negotiations towards a solution in the short time that remains.

I do not for one moment resile from the fact that we have shown great flexibility in the interests of reaching an accommodation with our European friends and achieving the resolution for which we all yearn. If our European neighbours choose not to show a corresponding willingness to reach a deal, then we shall have to leave on 31 October without an agreement, and we are ready to do so. But that outcome would be a failure of statecraft for which all parties would be held responsible. When I think of the conflicts that have wracked Europe in the past, of the immense challenges that we have together surmounted, of the 74 years of peace and prosperity that we have together achieved, I believe that surely, we can summon the collective will to reach a new agreement.

This Government have moved; our proposals do represent a compromise; and I hope that the House can now come together in the national interest behind this new deal to open a new chapter of friendship with our European neighbours and move on to our domestic priorities, including education, infrastructure and our NHS. Let us seize this moment to honour our overriding promise to the British people, respect Brexit and get Brexit done. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Oct 2019, 11:51 a.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement, but what we have before us is a rehashed version of previously rejected proposals that would put the Good Friday agreement at risk and trigger a race to the bottom on rights and protections for workers, consumers and our precious environment. Given the seriousness of this issue and the vagueness of the proposals so far, will the Prime Minister tell the House if and when he plans to publish the full legal text that he must submit to the EU?

These proposals would lead to an even worse deal than that agreed by the former Prime Minister. The Prime Minister signed up to the backstop in Cabinet, and as a Back Bencher he voted for the withdrawal agreement. His letter to the President of the Commission yesterday claims that both are now unacceptable, so perhaps he can tell us what has changed. Why did he support the agreement then but oppose it now? The letter makes his intentions clear: it rejects any form of customs union—something demanded by every business and industry body in Britain, and by every trade union.

The Government want to ditch EU standards on workers’ rights, environmental regulations and consumer standards and engage in a race to the bottom. Deal or no deal, this Government’s agenda is clear: they want a Trump deal Brexit that would crash our economy and rip away the standards that put a floor under people’s rights at work and protect our environment and consumers. No Labour MP could support such a reckless deal that would be used as springboard to attack rights and standards in this country.

The truth is that after three years this Government still have not found an answer to solving the issue of the Irish border and the Good Friday agreement. Where once they were committed to having no border in Ireland, they now propose two borders in Ireland, ripping up the UK-EU joint report from December 2017. Will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government have now abandoned their commitment to the people of Northern Ireland, which was to ensure no

“physical infrastructure or related checks and controls”

on the island of Ireland? [Interruption.] I am sorry, but I am only quoting what the Government said.

While EU leaders have been lukewarm, the response from businesses in Northern Ireland has been stark. Glyn Roberts, the head of Retail NI, said that the proposal would lead to north-south tariffs with “huge negative impacts” on farmers and the agrifood sector. He went on:

“It would also mean two borders requiring renewal after four years, surveillance in border communities without their consent, and checks north-south and west-east.”

Tina McKenzie, chair of the Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland, was absolutely clear:

“All the promises of unfettered access have been abandoned… Northern Ireland is a small business economy and this is a death knell for some of those businesses.”

These plans are simply unworkable. What we have before us is not a serious proposal to break the deadlock. Instead, the proposals are nothing more than a cynical attempt by the Prime Minister to shift the blame for his failure to deliver. We can conclude only that his political adviser was telling the truth when he called negotiations with the EU a “sham”. Will the Prime Minister give a clear answer to one question: if he does not get a deal at the October Council summit, will he abide by the law of this country and the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.2) Act 2019 and request an extension to avoid a disastrous no deal?

The Government’s proposals are neither serious nor credible. Labour consulted with UK industry, businesses and unions about the need for a comprehensive customs union, close single market alignment and robust protections for workers’ rights and environmental standards. We need an extension for a serious negotiation towards the sort of deal that Labour has set out, and then let the people decide whether to leave with a sensible deal or remain.

The current proposals would damage the whole UK economy, and the Northern Irish economy especially, and would undermine the Good Friday agreement. They would lead to a race to the bottom on workers’ rights and environmental rights and strip back even the limited protections that the Prime Minister’s predecessor had agreed to.

Instead of spending the last few months building consensus in Parliament and across the EU, the Prime Minister has put forward proposals he knows will not be acceptable either in Brussels or Westminster and that would damage UK industry, people’s jobs and living standards. The only people who would not suffer are the Prime Minister’s hedge fund donors who are currently betting against the pound and running down our fragile economy. He is doing nothing but seeking to divide and risking this country’s future for his own political gain—an America first deal with President Trump. The proposals are unrealistic and damaging, and they will be—as I think the Prime Minister knows full well—rejected in Brussels, in the House and across the country.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Oct 2019, 11:52 a.m.

I must confess that I am disappointed by the tone and some of the remarks that the right hon. Gentleman has made, because I think that this is a very good basis for a deal. To take his points in turn, and to take his questions seriously, he asks what the advantage is of this deal over the previous withdrawal agreement. Simply, it is that the objections on all sides of the House to the previous withdrawal agreement were based on the backstop, which would, as he knows, keep the UK locked in the customs union and single market with no say on those arrangements. I listened carefully to hon. Members on both sides of the House during those debates and that was the burden of the House’s objections to the backstop.

The right hon. Gentleman asked a reasonable question about standards and environmental and social protections. I think that it would be the will of the House under any circumstances to keep our standards the highest in the world. The advantage that we have in coming out of the EU, as I am sure he would accept if he reflected on it, is that we can go further. There are some things that we can now do that have been long called for by the British people—for instance, on animal welfare—that would be very advantageous. For instance, we can now ban the cruel export of live animals. I am sure that he will see that advantages will flow from that approach.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about physical infrastructure at the border, and I have been clear many times—and the Government have been clear many times, as were the previous Administration under my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May)—that under no circumstances would the UK institute physical infrastructure at or near the border.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the concerns of businesses in Northern Ireland. Of course they must be at the forefront of our minds, and we will ensure that their needs are properly looked after. That is indeed why we have made the compromises that we have for the immediate future to protect their immediate interests. He asked about unfettered access to the GB market, and they will of course have unfettered access to the GB market with no checks whatever. That goes without saying. One thing that is certain about those businesses is that they want a deal. I have talked to them, as I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has. I believe that this is their chance, and our chance, to get a deal.

I listened to what the right hon. Gentleman said about delay and keeping this country in the EU beyond 31 October. That option does not commend itself to me: it would incur another £1 billion a month to no advantage whatever. The people of this country have had enough unnecessary dither and delay. They want to get Brexit done; they want to get on and do a deal. This is a very good basis for a deal, I commend it to the House and I hope that right hon. and hon. Members across the House will support it.

Prime Minister's Update
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 25th September 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard

Mr Speaker, thank you. As I commend this statement to the House, I say it is time to get Brexit done. Get Brexit done, so we respect the referendum. Get Brexit done, so we can move on to deal with the people’s priorities—the NHS, the cost of living. Let’s get Brexit done so we can start to reunite this country after the divisions of the referendum, rather than having another one. It is time for this Parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions. We decided to call that referendum. We promised time and again to respect it. I think the people of this country have had enough of it. This Parliament must either stand aside and let this Government get Brexit done, or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.

I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:45 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for giving me an advance copy of his statement. Unfortunately, it was like his illegal shutting down of Parliament—“null” and

“of no effect and should be quashed”,

in the words of the Supreme Court. This was 10 minutes of bluster from a dangerous Prime Minister who thinks he is above the law, but in truth he is not fit for the office he holds. I am glad to see so many colleagues back here doing what they were elected to do: holding the Government to account for their failings. Whether it is their attempt to shut down democracy, their sham Brexit negotiations, their chaotic and inadequate no-deal preparations, the allegations of corruption, their failure on climate change or their failure to step in to save Thomas Cook, this Government are failing the people of Britain, and the people of Britain know it—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:57 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Quite simply, for the good of this country, the Prime Minister should go. He says he wants a general election. I want a general election. It is very simple: if he wants an election, get an extension and let us have an election.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:57 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman asked several questions, and I will try to deal with them in order.

On the first point, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General made it absolutely clear that this is a judgment with which he disagrees, although of course he respects the judgment of the Supreme Court.

On the second point, about the Benn-Burt Act, I will say what I am sure the Leader of the Opposition understands. We will, of course, obey the law and we will come out of the EU on 31 October.

On the point about preparations for a no-deal Brexit, I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who just spoke for two hours on this matter. Our preparations are very far advanced, and I think this country can be entirely confident that we will be ready, deal or no deal.

On the point about whether or not we are on the verge of getting a deal, it is absolutely true that negotiations are difficult, but we are making progress. All I will say to the Leader of the Opposition and his friends is that the negotiations have not been made easier by the surrender Act he passed.

On the next point, I am very proud about everything I did as Mayor of London. I may say to the current Mayor that he would be better off spending less on press officers and more on police officers in London, because we were funding 20,000 more on our streets. As for being trusted on Iran, the Leader of the Opposition took the shilling of the mullahs from Press TV.

I was rather sad that the Labour conference was interrupted by the ruling, because I was awestruck by some of the things I heard, which doubtless were designed to obscure the inanity of the right hon. Gentleman’s policy on Brexit. He wants to abolish fee-paying schools, at a cost to the taxpayer of £7 billion. He wants a four-day working week, cutting the incomes of the lowest paid in this country. He wants to abolish Ofsted, and now we hear he wants to abolish all controls on immigration from the EU.

But it turns out a crucial passage was missing from the right hon. Gentleman’s speech. There is something slightly pitiful about him, because it seems that he actually did want to call an election now. There was a passage in his speech calling for an election now, but it was censored by the Stasi in the form of the shadow Chancellor—or perhaps the shadow Lord Chancellor. The right hon. Gentleman is being gagged, muzzled, held captive by his colleagues. They will not let him say what he wants to say. I say, “Free the Islington One!”

Why will the right hon. Gentleman’s colleagues not allow him to have an election? Why will they not allow him to unleash his charms on the electorate? It is because they are not only terrified that he would lose, but even more terrified by the remote possibility that he would win. He cannot control his own party. He cannot decide whether he is for leave or for remain. He is being held captive by his colleagues, the electorate are being held captive by this zombie Parliament and this zombie Opposition, and the right hon. Gentleman wants the entire country to be held captive in the EU after 31 October, at a cost of more than £1 billion a month. We say, “No!” I say, “No!” Let us get Brexit done and let us take this country forward. [Applause.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:39 p.m.

Obviously I congratulate Nissan on what it is doing and on its stunning manufacturing performance, and we are working very hard to protect supply chains, not just for Nissan but for all our motor manufacturing companies. The best thing for those companies—

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:39 p.m.

Is to stop a no deal.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:39 p.m.

The best thing for those companies, as the Leader of the Opposition shouts from a sedentary position, is to get a deal and not to enfeeble the Government’s negotiating position by trying to take no deal off the table, which is what he has tried to do.

Early Parliamentary General Election (No. 2)
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 9th September 2019

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister -

It is plain from the turbulent reaction of those on the Benches opposite that they simply want another delay, and I will not have that. The public have had enough of the delectable disputations of this House, and I must warn Members that their behaviour in thwarting the will of the people is undermining respect for this House in the country.

If hon. Members want another delay, the only proper way to do it is to ask permission from our masters, the people—from our masters, the voters—and I commend this motion to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) -

The only point of any importance that the Prime Minister has just included in his speech is his clear indication that he does not intend to follow the law that has just been passed that requires him to ask for an extension in certain circumstances. He also gave no answer on the two decisions this House has already made today concerning the publication of Yellowhammer documents and his own behaviour as Prime Minister in respect of laws agreed by this House. He seems to have failed to grasp that those on the Opposition Benches have actually been very clear and that the House has expressed its will: until the Act has been complied with and no deal has been taken off the table, we will not vote to support the Dissolution of this House and a general election.

I want an election, as the Prime Minister pointed out, and the Conservative party has very generously broadcast footage of me and my friends saying that we want an election. I do not retreat from that at all; we are eager for an election, but as keen as we are, we are not prepared to risk inflicting the disaster of no deal on our communities, our jobs, our services, or indeed our rights. [Interruption.]

No deal would not be a clean break. It would not mean just getting on with it. It would start a whole new period of confusion and delay, but this time set against a backdrop of rising unemployment, further de-industrialisation and deepening poverty all across this country. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

First, where are the Prime Minister’s proposals for the renegotiations? Where are they? When were they published? What is their content?

Secondly, if the Prime Minister seeks no deal, why does he not argue for it and seek the mandate for it that the Government do not so far possess? There is no mandate for no deal. [Interruption.] No, I am not giving way. Thirdly, if, as he claims, the Prime Minister is making progress—

The Prime Minister -

If the right hon. Gentleman really wishes to avoid a no-deal Brexit, will he explain why he is unwilling to call an election, go to Brussels and seek—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister -

If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to avoid a no-deal Brexit, why does he not call an election, get a mandate, go to Brussels and negotiate a deal himself? What is his objection to that?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

We are the responsible party in this room, and we do not want to crash out with no deal. There is also the issue of trust in a Prime Minister who is unable to answer any questions and is desperate to suspend Parliament to avoid any scrutiny.

Thirdly, if the Prime Minister is making progress, as he told the House last week, why did the Taoiseach tell him only this morning that he was yet to receive realistic, legally binding and workable plans. That was only this morning, so the Prime Minister must be able to remember it. Perhaps he could explain why the Taoiseach felt the need to say that. [Interruption.] I realise the desperation of the Tory party when all it can do is rearrange the mics on the Titanic.

Finally, since the Prime Minister did not bother to turn up—[Interruption.] With great respect, I inform Conservative Members that I have no intention of giving way to any of them, okay? Since the Prime Minister did not bother to turn up for the previous debate, will he respect the law and implement the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 if he has negotiated an agreement that is backed by this House on 19 October?

This Parliament is not a platform for the Prime Minister’s games. It is a Chamber in which the elected representatives of the people hold the Executive to account. That is what parliamentary democracy is about. The Prime Minister has been asked four simple questions—[Interruption.] I am not giving way.

The Prime Minister is talking up no deal to one wing of his party and talking up getting a deal to another. The sad reality is that he is not preparing adequately for the first and not negotiating at all for the other. Sunday 15 September is International Day of Democracy, when the UN celebrates Governments being held accountable to their national Parliaments in a democracy. This Government are only interested in shutting down Parliament to avoid any scrutiny. The Prime Minister’s obfuscations and evasions are being rumbled both at home and abroad, and that is why he does not answer questions and is so keen to avoid any scrutiny.

Tonight the Prime Minister will be attempting to prorogue Parliament for one of the longest Prorogations there has ever been—shutting down Parliament, shutting down democracy, avoiding questions, and taking this country over the cliff of a no-deal exit, with all the damage that will do to many of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in our society and all the damage it will do to trade and jobs, and all because he wants to take this country in the direction of a trade deal solely with the USA rather than anybody else. We are not walking into traps laid by this Prime Minister.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister -

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I earlier urged the House to trust the people, but once again the Opposition think they know better. They want the British Prime Minister to go to a vital negotiation without the power to walk away. They want to delay Brexit yet again, without further reference to those who voted for it, handing over to Brussels an extra £250 million a week for no purpose—enough to upgrade more than five hospitals or train 5,000 new nurses. And most egregiously of all, not only have they refused to choose the way ahead; they have now twice denied the British people their say in an election. The House cannot choose; it will not let anyone else choose. It resolves only to be irresolute and decides only to be undecided, determined to dither, adamant for drift, so now the House will move to adjourn and resume with the state opening and the Queen’s Speech on 14 October. I hope the Opposition will use that time to reflect. Meanwhile, the Government will press on with negotiating a deal, while preparing to leave without one. I will go to that crucial summit in Brussels on 17 October, and no matter how many devices this Parliament invents to tie my hands, I will strive to get an agreement in the national interest.

This Government will not delay Brexit any further. We will not allow the emphatic verdict of the referendum to be slowly suffocated by further calculated drift and paralysis. While the Opposition run from their duty to answer to those who put us here, they cannot hide forever. The moment will come when the people will finally get the chance to deliver their verdict on how faithfully this House executed their wishes, and I am determined that they will see that it was this Government who were on their side.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn -

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] I think we have had quite enough playground politics from the Conservative party this evening. The one thing the Prime Minister did not say was that he was going to obey the law of this country. He did not say that he acknowledged or accepted three votes that have taken place in this Parliament. At his request, the House is now apparently due to be prorogued this evening for one of the longest prorogations in history simply in order to avoid any questioning of what he is doing or not doing, simply to avoid discussion about Yellowhammer, and particularly to avoid any discussion about the proposals that have been put to the European Union that he has or does not have or that do or do not exist. This Government are a disgrace, and the way the Prime Minister operates is a disgrace—[Interruption.]

Early Parliamentary General Election
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I beg to move,

That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.

The House of Commons has passed a Bill devised by the Leader of the Opposition, who, I see, is not in his place. He is characteristically evasive, if not frit. It is a Bill that effectively ends the negotiations; a Bill that demands an extension at least until next year, and perhaps for many more years to come; and a Bill that insists that Britain acquiesces to the demands of Brussels and hands control to our partners. It is a Bill designed to overturn the biggest democratic vote in our history, the 2016 referendum. It is therefore a Bill without precedent in the history of this House, seeking as it does to force the Prime Minister, with a pre-drafted letter, to surrender in international negotiations. I refuse to do this. It is clear that there is therefore only one way forward for the country. The House has voted repeatedly to leave the EU, yet it has also voted repeatedly to delay actually leaving. It has voted for negotiations, and today, I am afraid, it has voted to stop—to scupper—any serious negotiations.

What this Bill means is that Parliament, or the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, who is still not in his place—[Interruption.] I really do not know where he is. He refuses to give battle, or at least to engage in argument tonight. Perhaps that is a sign of how he intends to pursue things in the weeks ahead. [Interruption.] I am glad that he has now favoured the House with his presence. His Bill, among its other functions, will take away the right of this country to decide how long it must remain in the EU and hand that power to the EU. That is what it does, and I am afraid that it is time for this country to decide whether that is right.

The country must now decide whether the Leader of the Opposition or I go to those negotiations in Brussels on 17 October to sort this out. Everybody knows that if the right hon. Gentleman were the Prime Minister, he would beg for an extension and accept whatever Brussels demanded. We would then have years more dither and delay, yet more arguments over Brexit and no resolution to the uncertainty that currently bedevils this country and our economy. Everyone knows, by contrast, that if I am Prime Minister, I will go to Brussels and I will try to get a deal. Believe me, I know that I can get a deal. If they will not do a deal—I think it would be eminently sensible for them to do so, and I believe that they will—then, under any circumstances, this country will leave the EU on 31 October.

It is completely impossible for Government to function if the House of Commons refuses to pass anything that the Government propose. In my view, and in the view of this Government, there must be an election on Tuesday 15 October—I invite the Leader of the Opposition to respond—to decide which of us which goes as Prime Minister to that crucial Council on Thursday 17 October. I think it is very sad that MPs have voted like this—[Interruption.] I do; I think it is a great dereliction of their democratic duty. But if I am still Prime Minister after Tuesday 15 October, we will leave on 31 October with, I hope, a much better deal.

The Leader of the Opposition now has a question to answer. He has demanded an election for two years while blocking Brexit. He said only two days ago that he would support an election. Parliament having passed a Bill that destroys the ability of Government to negotiate, is he now going to say that the public cannot be allowed an election to decide which of us sorts out this mess? I do not want an election, the public do not want an election and the country does not want an election, but this House has left no option other than letting the public decide who they want as Prime Minister. I commend this motion to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

This is the second time I have replied to a Conservative Prime Minister who has sought to dissolve Parliament and call an election because they did not have a deliverable Brexit policy. Although I am not condemning the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) by comparing her to her successor, she at least made detailed speeches setting out her Brexit policy—even if we fundamentally disagreed with them. This Prime Minister claims he has a strategy, but he cannot tell us what it is. The bigger problem for him is that he has not told the EU what it is either.

At Prime Minister’s Question Time today, as in the statement yesterday, the Prime Minister was unable even to say whether he has made any proposals whatsoever to the EU. Basically, the policy is cloaked in mystery because, like the emperor’s new clothes, there really is absolutely nothing there. The naked truth is that the reality is deeply unpalatable: a disastrous no-deal Brexit to take us into the arms of a trade deal with Donald Trump that would put America first and Britain a distant second.

The Prime Minister knows there is no mandate for no deal, no majority support for it in the country and no majority for it in this House. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—the co-convenor of the Vote Leave campaign—said in March this year that

“we didn’t vote to leave without a deal.”

Even the leaders of the leave campaign are absolutely clear that the referendum conferred no mandate for no deal. No deal is opposed by every business group, every industry body and every trade union—and by this House, as today’s vote and others have shown.

We want an election because we look forward to turfing this Government out.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent suggestion. As he knows, we currently apply the reduced 5% rate on domestic fuel and power, which is the lowest allowed under EU law, but of course when we leave the EU on 31 October, it will be open to us to change this to the benefit of the people of Harlow.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:05 p.m.

I start by paying my deepest respects to PC Andrew Harper, who died in the line of duty. It is a reminder of the risks that he faced and that police officers face all the time trying to protect communities. We send our sympathies to his family, colleagues and friends.

I also send our condolences to those affected by Hurricane Dorian, which hit the Bahamas at the weekend. I hope and am sure that the Government and the Department for International Development will do all they can to send all the help that is necessary.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the Prime Minister’s negotiating strategy was to run down the clock and that the Attorney General told him that his belief that the EU would drop the backstop was a complete fantasy. Are these reports accurate, or can the Prime Minister provide the detail of the proposals he has put forward to the EU?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:06 p.m.

Our negotiating strategy is to get a deal by the summit on 17 October, to take this country out of the EU on 31 October and to get Brexit done. The right hon. Gentleman’s surrender Bill would wreck any chances of the talks. We do not know what his strategy would be if he took over. He is asking for mobs of Momentum activists to paralyse the traffic. What are they supposed to chant? What is the slogan? “What do we want? Dither and delay. When do we want it? We don’t know.” That is his policy. Can he confirm now that he will allow the people of this country to decide on what he is giving up in their name with a general election on 15 October? Or is he frit?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:07 p.m.

My first question to the Prime Minister, and no answer given! I asked what proposals had been put to the EU. We asked yesterday—many colleagues asked—and he seems utterly incapable of answering. Any rational human being would assume therefore that none have been put and there is no answer. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have said he is making progress. The EU’s chief negotiator, the Chancellor of Germany and the Taoiseach of Ireland say that no proposals have yet been made by the UK. If the Prime Minister thinks he has made progress, will he publish the proposals he has put forward to replace the backstop?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, you do not negotiate in public. We are making substantial progress and we will get that backstop out. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Let us be absolutely clear. This Government will get a deal from our friends in Brussels and we will get the backstop out. We will get an agreement that I think the House can agree with. The only thing standing in our way is the undermining of our negotiations by this surrender Bill, which would lead to more dither and delay. We delayed in March; we delayed in April; and now the right hon. Gentleman wants to delay again for absolutely no purpose whatever. What does he intend by this? The Government are spending £1 billion to put 20,000 more police officers on the streets. He wants to spend £1 billion a month—net—to keep us in the EU beyond 31 October. I will never allow that.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I really fail to see how I can be accused of undermining negotiations, because no negotiations are taking place. The right hon. Gentleman has been Prime Minister for six weeks, and he promised to get Brexit sorted. In six weeks, he has presented nothing to change the previous Prime Minister’s deal, which he twice voted against. The negotiations that he talks about are a sham. All that he is doing is running down the clock.

At the weekend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that food prices would go up under no deal. Will the Prime Minister publish the Yellowhammer documents so that people can see which food prices will go up and by how much?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said absolutely no such thing, and I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that, thanks to my right hon. Friend’s good offices and thanks to his efforts, preparations for no deal are very far advanced. I can also tell him that the surest way of getting no deal is to undermine this country’s ability to negotiate, which is what he is doing.

If this Bill is passed this afternoon—I do not want an election, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants an election, but there is a petition on his own Labour website in which 57,000 people, including Carol, Nigel, Graham and Phoebe, have called for an election. I do not know whether there is a Jeremy on the list. I do know that the right hon. Gentleman is worried about free trade deals with America, but I can see only one chlorinated chicken in the House, and he is sitting on the Opposition Front Bench. Will he confirm that he will let the people decide on what he is doing to this country’s negotiating position by having a general election on 15 October?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us what the negotiating position actually is.

The Prime Minister may have forgotten the question that I asked, given his rather lengthy peroration. When the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster denied that there would be shortages of fresh food, the British Retail Consortium said that that was “categorically untrue”.

I hope that no more young female staff are going to be frogmarched out of Downing Street, because there was another Government leak at the weekend, concerning disruption of our ports. The leaked documents, written by the Government in the last fortnight, show that no deal would lead to shortages on the shelves and shortages of medical supplies in hospitals. People need to prepare. So I ask the Prime Minister again: will he publish the Yellowhammer documents in full, so that people can see which foodstuffs are not going to be available, which medicines are not going to be supplied and what will happen given the shortages of vital supplies in every one of our hospitals all over the country?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman is guilty of the most shameless scaremongering. We have made ample preparations for coming out of the EU. What his party is recommending is yet—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:14 p.m.

What the right hon. Gentleman is recommending is yet more dither, yet more delay and yet more uncertainty for business. What we in the Government want to do is deliver on the mandate of the people. The right hon. Gentleman used to be a democrat. He used to believe in upholding the referendum result. Can he say now whether he would vote in favour of leave or remain, and can he say now whether is in favour of a second referendum or not?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:15 p.m.

The Prime Minister failed to answer my questions about food supplies, about medicine supplies and about the problems in hospitals. He refuses to publish the Yellowhammer documents. He talks about scaremongering. Where does the information come from, other than his office in his Government? He is obviously so confident of the position that he has adopted that he is now prepared to spend £100 million of our money on an advertising campaign to try to persuade people that everything is fine. He knows it is not, and they know it is not. He is hiding the facts.

The Government have refused to publish their impact assessments on how a no-deal Brexit would affect poverty in this country. They received a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Glasgow-based Poverty Alliance; the DWP replied that the public interest would not be served by that disclosure. Will the Prime Minister publish that analysis? If he won’t, what has he got to hide?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Unlike the right hon. Member, who would squander £1 billion a month of taxpayers’ money on staying pointlessly in the EU, this Government are getting on with running a sound economy so that the poorest people in our country are seeing increases in their wages for the first time in more than a decade. I am proud to say that those on the living wage are now taking home £4,500 more every year than they were in 2010, thanks to this Conservative Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:15 p.m.

Mr Speaker, you don’t have to go very far from the portals of this House to see real destitution: people begging and sleeping on the streets; child poverty is up compared with 2010; pensioner poverty is up; and in-work poverty is up. The Prime Minister will not give us any of the information of the assessments of increased poverty that could come from his Government’s proposals.

We are less than 60 days away from leaving the EU with no deal. The Prime Minister had two days in office before the summer recess and then planned to prorogue Parliament. Yesterday, he lost one vote—his first vote in Parliament—and he now wants to dissolve Parliament. He is desperate—absolutely desperate—to avoid scrutiny. [Interruption.] In his third day in office, after five questions from me, we have not had an answer to any of them. I can see why he is desperate to avoid scrutiny: he has no plan to get a new deal—no plan, no authority and no majority. If he—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

If the Prime Minister does to the country what he has done to his party in the past 24 hours, a lot of people have a great deal to fear from his incompetence, his vacillation and his refusal to publish known facts—that are known to him—about the effects of a no-deal Brexit.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I really do not see how with a straight face the right hon. Gentleman can accuse anybody of being unwilling to stand up to scrutiny when he will not agree to submit his surrender Bill to the verdict of the people in an election. He is frit; he is frightened.

He makes a contrast between this Government and his own proposals. The contrast could not be clearer: we think that the friends of this country are to be found in Paris, in Berlin and in the White House, and he thinks that they are in the Kremlin, in Tehran and—[Interruption.] He does. And in Caracas—and I think he is “caracas”!

We are putting 20,000 police on the street, we have 20 new hospital upgrades, we are growing the economy. The right hon. Gentleman, by contrast, would put a £300 billion tax on every company in the country, he wants a tax on homes, and he is calling incessantly for a general strike. The shadow Education Secretary says that Labour’s economic policy is—and I quote, by your leave, Mr Speaker,—“shit-or-bust”; I say it is both.

What this country needs is sensible, moderate, progressive Conservative government and to take this country out of the EU on 31 October, and that is what we are going to deliver.

G7 Summit
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:51 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement. I join with him in recognising the great human suffering of world war two and the great human bravery that took place during that awful conflict that began 80 years ago, which was essential in defeating the disgusting ideology of the Nazis and of fascism at that time.

The Prime Minister met EU leaders over the summer and EU Council President Tusk at the G7 summit. After those meetings, the Prime Minister struck an optimistic note, saying that the chances of a deal were, in his words, “improving”. His optimism was not shared by those who had been at the same meetings. The Prime Minister may claim that progress is being made, but EU leaders report that the Government have so far failed to present any new proposals. Can the Prime Minister clear this up? Can he tell us whether the UK has put forward any new proposal in relation to the backstop? If it has, will he publish them so that these proposals can be scrutinised by Parliament and by the public?

It is becoming increasingly clear that this reckless Government have only one plan: to crash out of the EU without a deal. The reality is exposed today in the in-house journal of the Conservative party—otherwise known as The Daily Telegraph—which reports that the Prime Minister’s chief of staff has called the negotiations “a sham”, that the strategy is to “run down the clock”, and that the proposal to alter the backstop is “a complete fantasy”—and those are the words of the Attorney General.

No deal will mean food shortages, reduced medical supplies and chaos at our ports. It is not me saying that; it is the Government’s own leaked analysis that says that, and it warns of chaos across the board. Today, we had expected the publication of the Government’s no deal preparations. The Government are hiding from scrutiny and hiding from the people and they are trying to hide us from their true intentions. This is not just a Government in chaos, but a Government of cowardice. Thankfully, some in Whitehall are putting those vital documents into the public domain, but we should not have to rely on sporadic leaks. Will the Prime Minister set out today when these documents will be published so that the people and Parliament can scrutinise and debate them? Many on the Government Benches would relish a no deal. They see it as an opportunity to open up Britain to a one-sided trade deal that puts us at the mercy of Donald Trump and United States corporations and that will increase the wealth of a few at the expense of the many.

When it comes to the crunch, too many on the Government Benches who once opposed a no-deal outcome are now putting their own careers before the good of the people of this country. Just look at all those Tory leadership candidates who said that it would be wrong to suspend Parliament in order to make no deal more likely, but who sit passively as their principles of just a few short weeks ago are cast aside—I do not know what they were doing over their summer holidays, but something has changed. And it gets worse, because not only have they all stood by while the Prime Minister launches his latest attack on democracy, but some have repeatedly refused to rule out the possibility of the Government ignoring any law passed by Parliament that attempts to stop a no-deal Brexit. Will the Prime Minister therefore take this opportunity, when he responds in a moment, to assure the country that his Government will abide by any legislation passed by Parliament this week?

The attack on our democracy in order to force through a disastrous no-deal Brexit is unprecedented, anti-democratic and unconstitutional. Labour will do all we can to protect our industry, protect our democracy and protect our people against this dangerous and reckless Government.

I condemn the rhetoric that the Prime Minister used when he talked about a “surrender Bill”. I really hope that he will reflect on his use of language. We are not surrendering because we are at war with Europe; they are surely our partners. If anything, it is a no-deal exit that would mean surrendering our industry, our jobs, and our standards and protections in a trade deal with Donald Trump and the United States.

The UK should be using its position in the G7 to promote policies to tackle the climate emergency. The climate emergency is real, but instead of standing up to President Trump, it was in fact agreed this time, in order to save his blushes, that there would be no joint communiqué on this at the G7. That is not leadership; that is fiddling while the Amazon burns. The situation across the Amazon should be a wake-up call to the Prime Minister, who once described global warming as a “primitive fear…without foundation”. As we watch fires rage, and not only across the Amazon but in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, does he stand by those sentiments?

While funds to protect and restore the Amazon rain forest are welcome, the Prime Minister knows that this is merely a drop in the ocean, so will more money be pledged for the Amazon, and are additional funds being made available to tackle fires in sub-Saharan Africa? Will he be introducing measures to stop UK companies aiding, abetting and profiting from the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, and indeed rain forests in west Africa? On 1 May the UK Parliament became the first state Parliament anywhere in the world to declare a climate emergency, and I was proud to move that motion. We must continue to show global leadership on the issue.

On Iran, it is notable that the Prime Minister fails to condemn President Trump’s unilateral decision to tear up the internationally agreed Iran nuclear deal, creating a crisis that now risks a slide into even deeper conflict. Does the Prime Minister plan to work with European partners to restore the Iran nuclear deal and de-escalate tensions in the Gulf? We are clear that in government Labour would work tirelessly through the UN for a negotiated reinstatement of the nuclear deal, and to defuse the threat of war in the Gulf. Effective diplomacy, not threats and bluster, must prevail. Will he call on the Iranian authorities to end the unjust detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and what actions has he taken so far to ensure her release from the terrible situation that she has been plunged into?

We are all concerned about the situation in Hong Kong. No Government anywhere should get to shut down rights and freedoms, or to pick and choose which laws they adhere to. Will the Prime Minister urge the Chinese Government to stick to the joint declaration of 1984 and stand up for the rights of citizens in Hong Kong?

Later today, this House has a last chance to stop this Government riding roughshod over constitutional and democratic rights in this country, so that a cabal in Downing Street cannot crash us out without a deal, without any democratic mandate and against the majority of public opinion. The Prime Minister is not winning friends in Europe; he is losing friends at home. His is a Government with no mandate, no morals and—as of today—no majority.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:03 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman knows full well that this country has engaged actively with our European friends and partners to make sense of the Iran nuclear deal and to ensure that that deal continues. He will know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary continues to work actively not only to secure the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but on all the very sad consular cases that we are currently dealing with in Iran. I pay tribute to the Foreign Secretary and the work of all his officials.

I am glad for what the right hon. Gentleman said about the importance of preserving democracy in Hong Kong, and he will observe the strength of the G7 statement on that matter. But quite frankly, when it comes to the Bill that he is assisting to bring forward tomorrow, with the procedure that is coming forward tonight, let us be in no doubt that this man is a former Bennite. In fact, I believe that he is still a Bennite. He voted against every single piece of EU legislation. He voted against Maastricht. He voted against Lisbon. Time and time and time again, he has said that we must uphold the result of the EU referendum. Time and time again, he has said that he is on the side of democracy and vindicating the will of the people. And what do we see now? He has been converted—with his hordes of Momentum activists trying to take over the streets—into the agent of those who would subvert democracy and overturn the will of the people. That is what he wants to do. He wants to entrust the decision about how long this country remains in the European Union to our friends and partners in Brussels, and not to this House. That is not democracy.

I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman, inadvertently or not, has become the agent of further delay, further confusion and further uncertainty for business in this country and abroad. That is what he is prescribing. That is what he stands for. That is the result of his policy. I urge everybody on all sides of the House not to support his approach. Let us go forward, and not back with the right hon. Gentleman.

Points of Order
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 10:14 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Let there be no doubt about the consequences of this vote tonight. It means that Parliament is on the brink of wrecking any deal that we might be able to strike with Brussels, because tomorrow’s Bill would hand control of the negotiations to the EU. That would mean more dither, more delay and more confusion, and it would mean that the EU itself would be able to decide how long to keep this country in the EU.

Since I refuse to go along with that plan, we are going to have to make a choice. I do not want an election. The public do not want an election. I do not believe the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) wants an election. But if the House votes for the Bill tomorrow, the public will have to choose who goes to Brussels on 17 October to sort this out and take this country forward. Everybody knows that, if the right hon. Gentleman is the Prime Minister, he will go to Brussels and beg for an extension, he will accept whatever Brussels demands, and we will have years more arguments over Brexit. By contrast, everyone knows that, if this Government are in charge and I go to Brussels, I will go for a deal and I believe I will get a deal, and we will leave anyway—even if we do not, we will leave anyway on 31 October.

The people of this country will have to choose. The Leader of the Opposition has been begging for an election for two years. He has crowds of supporters outside calling for an election. I do not want an election, but if MPs vote tomorrow to stop negotiations and to compel another pointless delay to Brexit, potentially for years, that would be the only way to resolve this, and I can confirm that we are tonight tabling a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I welcome tonight’s vote. We live in a parliamentary democracy. We do not have a presidency; we have a Prime Minister. Prime Ministers govern with the consent of the House of Commons representing the people in whom sovereignty rests. There is no consent in this House to leave the EU without a deal. There is no majority for no deal in the country. As I have said before, if the Prime Minister has confidence in his Brexit policy—when he has one he can put forward—he should put it before the people in a public vote. So he wants to table a motion for a general election. Fine—get the Bill through first in order to take no deal off the table. [Interruption.]

Priorities for Government
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Thursday 25th July 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 11:40 a.m.

Mr Speaker, I applaud your intervention. I also think there is far too much negativity about the potential of our great country, as I think you will agree. Our constitutional settlement, our United Kingdom, will be firm and secure; our Union of nations beyond question; our democracy robust; our future clean, green, prosperous, united, confident and ambitious. That is the prize, and that is our responsibility, in this House of Commons, to fulfil. To do so, we must take some immediate steps. The first is to restore trust in our democracy, and fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people by coming out of the European Union, and by doing so on 31 October.

I and all Ministers are committed to leaving on this date, whatever the circumstances. To do otherwise would cause a catastrophic loss of confidence in our political system. It would leave the British people wondering whether their politicians could ever be trusted again to follow a clear democratic instruction. I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal; I would much prefer it. I believe that it is possible, even at this late stage, and I will work flat out to make it happen, but certain things need to be clear. The withdrawal agreement negotiated by my predecessor has been three times rejected by this House. Its terms are unacceptable to this Parliament and to this country. No country that values its independence, and indeed its self-respect, could agree to a treaty that signed away our economic independence and self-government, as this backstop does. A time limit is not enough. If an agreement is to be reached, it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop.

For our part, we are ready to negotiate, in good faith, an alternative, with provisions to ensure that the Irish border issues are dealt with where they should always have been: in the negotiations on the future agreement between the UK and the EU. I do not accept the argument that says that these issues can be solved only by all or part of the UK remaining in the customs union or in the single market. The evidence is that other arrangements are perfectly possible, and are also perfectly compatible with the Belfast or Good Friday agreement, to which we are, of course, steadfastly committed. I, my team, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union are ready to meet and talk on this basis to the European Commission, or other EU colleagues, whenever and wherever they are ready to do so.

For our part, we will throw ourselves into these negotiations with the greatest energy and determination and in a spirit of friendship. I hope that the EU will be equally ready and will rethink its current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement. If it does not, we will of course have to leave the EU without an agreement under article 50. The UK is better prepared for that situation than many believe, but we are not as ready yet as we should be.

In the 98 days that remain to us, we must turbo-charge our preparations to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible to our national life, and I believe that is possible with the kind of national effort that the British people have made before and will make again. In these circumstances, we would of course have available the £39 billion in the withdrawal agreement to help deal with any consequences. I have today instructed the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to make these preparations his top priority. I have asked the Cabinet Secretary to mobilise the civil service to deliver this outcome, should it become necessary. The Chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available—[Interruption]—£4.2 billion has already been allocated.

I will also ensure that preparing to leave the EU without an agreement under article 50 is not just about seeking to mitigate the challenges, but about grasping the opportunities. This is not just about technical preparations, vital though they are; it is about having a clear economic strategy for the UK in all scenarios—something that the Conservative party has always led the way on—and producing policies that will boost the competitiveness and productivity of our economy when we are free of EU regulations.

Indeed, we will begin right away on working to change the tax rules to provide extra incentives to invest in capital and research. We will now be accelerating the talks on those free trade deals, and we will prepare an economic package to boost British business and lengthen this country’s lead, which seems so bitterly resented by Opposition Members, as the No. 1 destination in this continent for overseas investment—a status that is made possible at least partly by the diversity, talent and skills of our workforce.

I therefore want to repeat unequivocally our guarantee to the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us. I thank them for their contribution to our society and for their patience. I can assure them that under this Government they will have the absolute certainty of the right to live and remain.

I want to end by making clear my absolute commitment to the 31 October date for our exit. Our national participation in the European Union is coming to an end, and that reality needs to be recognised by all parties. Indeed, today there are very many brilliant UK officials trapped in meeting after meeting in Brussels and Luxembourg, when their talents could be better deployed in preparing to pioneer new free trade deals or promoting a truly global Britain. I want to start unshackling our officials to undertake this new mission right away, so we will not nominate a UK commissioner for the new Commission taking office on 1 December—under no circumstances—although clearly that is not intended to stop the EU appointing a new Commission.

Today is the first day of a new approach that will end with our exit from the EU on 31 October. Then I hope that we can have a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals and as friend and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead. I believe that is possible, and this Government will work to make it so. But we are not going to wait until 31 October to begin building the broader and bolder future that I have described; we are going to start right away by providing vital funding for our frontline public services, to deliver better healthcare, better education and more police on the streets.

I am committed to making sure that the NHS receives the funds that it deserves—the funds that were promised by the previous Government in June 2018—and these funds will go to the frontline as soon as possible. That will include urgent funding for 20 hospital upgrades and for winter readiness. I have asked officials to provide policy proposals for drastically reducing waiting times for GP appointments.

To address the rising tide of violent crime in our country, I have announced that there will be 20,000 extra police keeping us safe over the next three years, and I have asked my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to ensure that this is treated as an absolute priority. We will give greater powers—powers resisted, by the way, by the Labour party—to the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime. I have also tasked officials to draw up proposals to ensure that in future those found guilty of the most serious sexual and violent offences are required to serve a custodial sentence that truly reflects the severity of their offence and policy measures that will see a reduction in the number of prolific offenders.

On education, I have listened to the concerns of so many colleagues around the House, and we will increase the minimum level of per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools and return education funding to previous levels by the end of this Parliament.

We are committed to levelling up across every nation and region of the UK, providing support to towns and cities and closing the opportunity gap in our society. We will announce investment in vital infrastructure, full fibre roll-out, transport and housing that can improve the quality of people’s lives, fuel economic growth and provide opportunity.

Finally, we will also ensure that we continue to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world. No one believes more strongly than I do in the benefits of migration to our country, but I am clear that our immigration system must change. For years, politicians have promised the public an Australian-style points-based system, and today I will actually deliver on those promises: I will ask the Migration Advisory Committee to conduct a review of that system as the first step in a radical rewriting of our immigration system, and I am convinced that we can produce a system that the British people can have confidence in.

Over the past few years, too many people in this country feel that they have been told repeatedly and relentlessly what we cannot do. Since I was a child, I remember respectable authorities asserting that our time as a nation has passed and that we should be content with mediocrity and managed decline, and time and again—[Interruption.] They are the sceptics and doubters, my friends. Time and again, by their powers to innovate and adapt, the British people have shown the doubters wrong, and I believe that at this pivotal moment in our national story, we are going to prove the doubters wrong again, not just with positive thinking and a can-do attitude, important though they are, but with the help and the encouragement of a Government and a Cabinet who are bursting with ideas, ready to create change and determined to implement the policies we need to succeed as a nation: the greatest place to live, the greatest place to bring up a family, the greatest place to send your kids to school, the greatest place to set up a business or to invest, because we have the best transport and the cleanest environment and the best healthcare and the most compassionate approach to care of elderly people.

That is the mission of the Cabinet I have appointed, and that is the purpose of the Government I am leading. And that is why I believe that if we bend our sinews to the task now, there is every chance that in 2050, when I fully intend to be around, although not necessarily in this job, we will be able to look back on this period—this extraordinary period—as the beginning of a new golden age for our United Kingdom.

I commend this future to the House just as much as I commend this statement.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his position and thank him for an advance copy of his statement.

No one underestimates this country, but the country is deeply worried that the new Prime Minister overestimates himself. He inherits a country that has been held back by nine years of austerity that hit children and young people the hardest. Their youth centres have closed, their school funding has been cut and their college budgets slashed, and with the help of the Liberal Democrats, tuition fees have trebled. Housing costs are higher than ever, and jobs are lower paid. Opportunity and freedom have been taken away. Austerity was always a political choice, never an economic necessity—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, noon

The office of Prime Minister requires integrity and honesty, so will the Prime Minister correct his claim that kipper exports from the Isle of Man to the UK are subject to EU regulations? Will he also acknowledge that the £39 billion is now £33 billion, due over 30 years, and has been legally committed to be paid by his predecessor? This is a phoney threat about a fake pot of money, made by the Prime Minister.

We also face a climate emergency, so will the Prime Minister take the urgent actions necessary? Will he ban fracking? Will he back real ingenuity like the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon? Will he increase investment in carbon capture and storage? Will he back our solar industry and onshore wind—so devastated over the last nine years? Will he set out a credible plan to reach net zero?

I note that the climate change-denying US President has already labelled the Prime Minister “Britain Trump” and welcomed his commitment to work with Nigel Farage. Could “Britain Trump” take this opportunity to rule out once and for all our NHS being part of any trade deal—any trade deal—with President Trump and the USA? Will the Prime Minister make it clear that our national health service is not going to be sold to American healthcare companies? People fear that, far from wanting to “take back control”, the new Prime Minister would effectively make us a vassal state of Trump’s America.

Will the Prime Minister ask the new Foreign Secretary to prioritise the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and is he working with European partners to restore the Iran nuclear deal and de-escalate tensions in the Gulf?

The challenge to end austerity, tackle inequality, resolve Brexit and tackle the climate emergency will define the new Prime Minister. Instead, we have a hard-right Cabinet staking everything on tax cuts for the few and a reckless race-to-the-bottom Brexit. He says he has “pluck and nerve and ambition”; our country does not need arm-waving bluster; we need competence, seriousness and, after a decade of divisive policies for the few, to focus for once on the interests of the many.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I struggled to discover a serious question in that, but I will make one important point that it is worth making: under no circumstances will we agree to any free trade deal that puts the NHS on the table. It is not for sale. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that for 44 of its 71 years of glorious existence, the NHS has benefited from Conservative policies and Conservative government, because we understand that unless we support wealth creation, unless we believe in British business, British enterprise and British industry, we will not have the funds; unless we have a strong economy, we will not be able to pay for a fantastic NHS. That is a lesson that the right hon. Gentleman simply does not get.

I struggled to see the country in the right hon. Gentleman’s description of the United Kingdom today. The reality is that unemployment is, of course, down under the Conservatives to the lowest level since the 1970s. Crime is down a third since 2010. We have record inward investment into this country of £1.3 trillion. We have fantastic new electric car factories—[Interruption.]

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 29th January 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Jan 2019, 2:48 p.m.

Obviously a customs union would be negotiated, would be inclusive and would be designed to ensure that our jobs and investment are protected, that there is frictionless and seamless trade with the European Union, and that we have a say in future trade arrangements—something the Prime Minister has absolutely failed to achieve. The fault for not achieving it lies absolutely with the Prime Minister. She claimed she would have a deal agreed by October, then she delayed the vote by a month, and she still suffered the worst—

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 4th December 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:30 p.m.

I have given way a great many times, and I will draw my remarks to a close soon.

The responsibility for the state of anxiety lies solely with the Government. Two years of botched negotiations have led us here. Members of this House have a very important decision to make one week today. To vote for the deal would be to damage our economy, to make our constituents poorer and to take a leap in the dark with the future of this country. Do not take my word for it—the Government published their own economic assessment, which found that the Chequers proposals would make our economy nearly 4% smaller than it would otherwise be, thus knocking £100 billion out of our economy within 15 years. For those who like to break down those sorts of figures into weekly amounts, that is nearly £2 billion a week less. That definitely was not seen on the side of a bus.

Labour will vote against this deal. It is a bad deal for Britain, a bad deal for our economy and a bad deal for our democracy. Our country deserves better.

Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:32 p.m.

It is perfectly clear from listening to the leader of the Labour party that he is joining the shadow Chancellor and the shadow Brexit Secretary and is now determined to frustrate Brexit and the result of the referendum in 2016. That is absolutely clear from what he just said.

I must regretfully say to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that I cannot believe that a single Member sincerely believes that the deal before us is good for the UK.