Debates between Boris Johnson and John Bercow

There have been 47 exchanges between Boris Johnson and John Bercow

1 Wed 30th October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (310 words)
2 Wed 30th October 2019 Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,493 words)
3 Tue 29th October 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election Bill
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (466 words)
4 Mon 28th October 2019 Points of Order 8 interactions (602 words)
5 Wed 23rd October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
6 interactions (217 words)
6 Wed 23rd October 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (206 words)
7 Tue 22nd October 2019 European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Cabinet Office
18 interactions (1,363 words)
8 Sat 19th October 2019 Speaker’s Statement 20 interactions (3,448 words)
9 Sat 19th October 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Acts
Department for Exiting the European Union
2 interactions (414 words)
10 Mon 14th October 2019 Debate on the Address
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (158 words)
11 Thu 3rd October 2019 Brexit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
5 interactions (159 words)
12 Wed 25th September 2019 Prime Minister's Update
Cabinet Office
41 interactions (3,512 words)
13 Mon 9th September 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election (No. 2)
Cabinet Office
26 interactions (2,333 words)
14 Wed 4th September 2019 Early Parliamentary General Election
Cabinet Office
10 interactions (991 words)
15 Wed 4th September 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
13 interactions (566 words)
16 Wed 4th September 2019 Engagements
Cabinet Office
7 interactions (331 words)
17 Tue 3rd September 2019 G7 Summit
Cabinet Office
16 interactions (2,610 words)
18 Thu 25th July 2019 Business of the House
Leader of the House
19 interactions (3,485 words)
19 Mon 4th February 2019 Knife Crime Prevention Orders
Home Office
2 interactions (141 words)
20 Tue 29th January 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (98 words)
21 Thu 6th December 2018 Members’ Interests 2 interactions (133 words)
22 Tue 4th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
10 interactions (330 words)
23 Mon 15th October 2018 EU Exit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
3 interactions (153 words)
24 Wed 18th July 2018 Personal Statement 3 interactions (1,490 words)
25 Tue 26th June 2018 Illegal Wildlife Trade
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (50 words)
26 Tue 26th June 2018 United States: Human Rights and Diplomatic Relations
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (48 words)
27 Tue 15th May 2018 Girls’ Education
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (91 words)
28 Tue 27th March 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
8 interactions (442 words)
29 Tue 27th March 2018 The Commonwealth
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (262 words)
30 Mon 26th March 2018 National Security and Russia
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (382 words)
31 Tue 6th March 2018 Government Policy on Russia
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
3 interactions (82 words)
32 Mon 26th February 2018 Points of Order
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
3 interactions (108 words)
33 Mon 26th February 2018 Syria: De-escalation Zones
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (299 words)
34 Tue 20th February 2018 New Channel Link
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (100 words)
35 Tue 20th February 2018 Topical Questions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (94 words)
36 Tue 20th February 2018 Institute for Free Trade: Launch Cost
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
3 interactions (88 words)
37 Tue 20th February 2018 Oral Answers to Questions
Department for International Development
9 interactions (282 words)
38 Tue 9th January 2018 Topical Questions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
3 interactions (140 words)
39 Tue 9th January 2018 The Commonwealth
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (96 words)
40 Mon 11th December 2017 Brexit Negotiations
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,010 words)
41 Tue 21st November 2017 Rohingya People
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (76 words)
42 Tue 21st November 2017 Topical Questions
Department for International Development
2 interactions (69 words)
43 Tue 21st November 2017 Freedom of Expression
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (65 words)
44 Wed 15th November 2017 Zimbabwe
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
5 interactions (242 words)
45 Mon 13th November 2017 Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
2 interactions (807 words)
46 Tue 17th October 2017 Oral Answers to Questions
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
25 interactions (798 words)
47 Mon 26th June 2017 Brexit and Foreign Affairs
Department for Exiting the European Union
2 interactions (479 words)

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 30th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Indeed. As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, the advantage of the partnership we will build is that not only—[Interruption.] I am sure the talks will go well. We will have a zero-tariff, zero-quota arrangement with our European friends and partners. Under the current deal, which is a fantastic deal, we will also be able to do free trade deals around the world. There will be many ways in which we will stay very close to our European friends partners, but there will also be important ways in which we may seek to do things differently and better.

I have already mentioned animal welfare; I might mention tax breaks for new technology, I might mention cutting VAT on sanitary products, I might mention free ports. There are all sorts of ways to do this. I might mention different regulation on biotechnology or in many of the areas in which this country now leads the world. That is the opportunity for our country: to do a great free trade deal with our European friends and partners of a kind of which I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend would thoroughly approve, while also being a champion of free trade around the world. That is what we are going to do.

Mr Speaker Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 12:51 p.m.

As the Father of the House leaves this place after 49 years without interruption, I for one want to salute him. [Applause.] The right hon. and learned Gentleman is one of the most popular and respected politicians in our country. For his service to this place, for his service to his constituents and for his service to our country, he deserves the warmest appreciation. For my part, I thank him for his support and friendship over decades. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, as most sensible people know, whether they agree with him or not, is a great man.

Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 30th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

I now ask the House to rise to observe a minute’s silence to reflect on the Grenfell tragedy and those whose lives were lost.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 1:20 p.m.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the report from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry.

I will be making quite a lengthy speech this afternoon, reflecting the comprehensive nature of the report, so if hon. Members will bear with me, I am sure that I will address many of the issues on which they may be planning to intervene.

The bereaved, the survivors and the members of the north Kensington community joining us in the Galleries today each have their own story to tell, their own perspective on what happened at Grenfell, but over the past two and a half years, they have been united in their fight to uncover the truth. It is not a fight they would ever have chosen, but it is one they have taken up with determination, dedication and great dignity. Yet their exceptional tenacity in seeking justice has not always been matched by their faith in the system’s ability to deliver. This is no surprise. After all, they have been let down many times before, too often overlooked and ignored in the months and years before the tragedy and shamefully failed by the institutions that were supposed to serve them in the days and weeks after it.

Since then, the survivors, the bereaved and the local community have endured one unbearable milestone after another—the funerals, the anniversaries, giving and hearing evidence at the public inquiry, the painful process of building a new life in a new home without loved ones and without treasured possessions, and then the publication of this report today—all the while carrying with them the unimaginable trauma suffered that night. I am very much aware that no report, no words, no apology will ever make good the loss suffered and the trauma experienced, but I hope that the findings being published today and the debate we are holding this afternoon will bring some measure of comfort to those who suffered so much. They asked for the truth. We promised them the truth. We owe them the truth. And today the whole country and the whole world is finally hearing the truth about what happened at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017.

When the sun rose over London that morning, it revealed an ugly scar of black smoke cutting across an otherwise clear blue summer sky, and on the streets of north Kensington a scene of horror and desperation. Shortly before 1 o’clock that morning, a faulty fridge freezer had started a small fire in the kitchen of a flat on the fourth floor of the 24-storey Grenfell Tower. The resident of the flat did everything right. He raised the alarm, called the fire brigade and alerted his neighbours. Within five minutes, firefighters arrived to deal with what appeared to be a routine incident, and in the normal course of events, the fire would have been contained and extinguished, and that would have been that, but what happened that night was anything but normal.

Even before firefighters began to tackle the blaze on the inside of the tower, unbeknown to them flames were already beginning to race up the outside. Just seven minutes after the first firefighters entered the kitchen on the fourth floor, a resident on 22nd floor dialled 999 to report the blaze at her level, almost 200 feet higher up. By 1.27 am, a column of fire had reached the roof, one whole side of the building was ablaze and dense smoke and searing flames, visible across the capital, began wrapping around the tower, penetrating its heart. By 1.30 am, less than three quarters of an hour after it began, it was clear to those watching below that the inferno was completely out of control.

Grenfell Tower, filled that night with almost 300 souls in its 129 flats, was beyond saving. The fire that shocked the nation and the world that June morning took the lives of 72 men, women and children. The oldest, known simply as Sheila, was a poet, artist and great grandmother who had brought joy to many and seen and experienced much in her 84 years. The youngest, Logan Gomes, had never even seen his own parents. He was stillborn hours after his mother made a narrow escape from the choking, noxious smoke. Many who lived together died together: husbands and wives, parents and children were found in each other’s arms. Those who survived saw everything they owned reduced to dust and ash: wedding dresses, irreplaceable photographs, beloved children’s toys—all gone. The true scale of the trauma, the impact of the fire not only on those who survived but on those who lost loved ones or who witnessed its destruction, is unlikely ever to be known.

Grenfell represented the biggest loss of life in a single incident in the UK since the Hillsborough tragedy 28 years previously, but my predecessor as Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), was determined that there would be no repeat of the travesty that followed that disaster, which saw the friends and families of those who died forced to fight the establishment tooth and nail, year after year, decade after decade, to secure justice for their loved ones. That is why just 15 days after the tragedy she appointed one of our most experienced and respected former judges, Sir Martin Moore-Bick, to lead a rigorous public and completely independent inquiry into what happened.

Sir Martin has today published his report on the first phase of that inquiry, covering the events of 14 June: the cause of the fire and its rapid spread, and the way in which emergency services and others handled the immediate response. As the sponsoring Minister under the terms of the Inquiries Act 2005, I laid copies of the report before Parliament this morning. I was in no doubt that the House should have the opportunity to debate it on the day of publication.

Grenfell was a national tragedy, and this is a report of great national importance. However, I recognise that Sir Martin has produced a very substantial piece of work—almost 1,000 pages across four volumes—and that therefore the vast majority of Members will have not yet have had an opportunity to digest and analyse it in any great detail. I believe that Members have an important role to play in scrutinising such reports and the Government’s response to them, so let me reassure the House that we will seek to schedule a further debate on Sir Martin’s findings at the earliest suitable opportunity so that Members can debate the report in detail. Obviously that may be after the election, but we will certainly ensure that it will happen.

Of course, what happened during the hours in which the fire raged is only half the story. Phase 2 of the inquiry, which will start taking oral evidence earlier in the new year, will look at the wider context, including the nature and application of building regulations, the way in which local and central Government responded to the fire, and the handling of concerns raised by tenants over many years. Phase 1 sets out what happened; phase 2 will explain why. Such a complex process will inevitably take time—longer than any of us would wish—but, as I have said, we owe it to the people of Grenfell Tower to explain, once and for all and beyond doubt, exactly why the tragedy unfolded as it did, and with the standard set by this first report, I am confident that that is exactly what will happen.

Sir Martin’s work is exhaustive in its detail. He provides an authoritative, and often harrowing, minute-by-minute account of the fire and its terrifying spread. Led always by the facts, his recommendations are clear and numerous, and where there are failings to be highlighted, he does so without fear or favour. Nowhere is that clearer than in his verdict on the single biggest cause of the tragedy. He leaves no doubt that the cladding on the exterior of Grenfell Tower was the defining factor in the rapid and all-consuming spread of the blaze.

It was the cladding—the aluminium composite material rainscreen—and the combustible insulation behind it that ignited because of the fire in flat 16. It was the cladding that allowed the flames to climb so rapidly up the outside of the tower, causing compartmentation to fail. It was the cladding that turned into molten plastic raining fire on the streets of north Kensington and causing the blaze to travel up and down the building. In short, it was the cladding that turned a routine and containable kitchen fire into a disaster of unprecedented proportions that cost 72 people their lives. Sir Martin is clear that the cladding on Grenfell Tower was fitted in breach of building regulations. Why that was allowed to happen, and who was responsible for it, will be covered in phase 2 of his inquiry.

Early Parliamentary General Election Bill
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 29th October 2019

(7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

Before I invite the Prime Minister to move the Second Reading, I must announce my decision on certification for the purposes of Standing Order No. 83J (Certification of bills etc. as relating exclusively to England or England and Wales and being within devolved legislative competence), with which I feel sure colleagues will be closely familiar. On the basis of material put before me, I certify that in my opinion the Bill does not meet the criteria required for certification under that Standing Order.

I will make a public service announcement now. Under the terms of the business of the House motion, as amended, which the House has just passed, amendments for the Committee stage of the Bill may now be accepted by the Clerks at the Table only. Members may continue to table amendments up until the start of proceedings in the Committee of the whole House. For the benefit of everyone, however, I would encourage Members to table their amendments as soon as possible. The Chairman of Ways and Means will take a provisional decision on selection and grouping on the basis of amendments tabled a quarter of an hour after the beginning of the Second Reading debate. That provisional selection list will be made available in the Vote Office and on the parliamentary website before the start of proceedings in Committee. If necessary, an updated amendment paper will be made available as soon as possible during proceedings in Committee. The Clerk at the Table is happy, and therefore we can all be happy.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
29 Oct 2019, 2:24 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

It is now a week since Parliament voted to delay Brexit yet again. It is a week since this Parliament voted yet again to force Brussels to keep this country in the European Union for at least another three months, at a cost of £1 billion a month. In the days since then, the Government have tried to be reasonable and to ascribe the best possible motives to our friends and colleagues around the House. [Interruption.] I have twice offered more time for debate. I offered more time last week and I made the same offer last night. I said that we were prepared to debate this Bill—[Interruption.] I said we were prepared to debate the withdrawal Bill around the clock to allow Parliament time to scrutinise it, to the point of intellectual exhaustion. We must bear in mind that not only has this House been considering this issue for three and a half years, but last week when this Bill was being debated there was not a single new idea and not a single new suggestion. All they wanted was more time, more weeks, more months, when they could not even provide the speakers to fill the time allotted.

Points of Order
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 28th October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Mr Speaker Hansard

I will certainly take advice on it—I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman—and if, having taken advice, I have something to report to him and to the House, I will.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) -

I beg to move,

That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.

I think it is fair to say that nobody in this House relishes the idea of a general election, because nobody wants to put the public to this inconvenience—[Interruption.]—particularly, as one hon. Gentleman says, during this season. But across the country, there is a widespread view that this Parliament has run its course, and that is because I simply do not believe that this House is capable of delivering on the priorities of the people, whether that means Brexit or anything else.

Of course, I would rather get Brexit done. I share the blazing urgency of many colleagues across the House. Indeed, last Tuesday, we briefly allowed hope to bloom in our hearts when, for the first time in three and a half years, Parliament voted for a deal to take this country out of the EU, and I repeat my admiration for the way MPs came together across the House to do that. In many ways, it was an astonishing moment. They said that we would never reopen the withdrawal agreement. They said that we would never be able to get rid of the backstop. They said we would never do a new deal with the EU. We did all of them. They said we would never get Parliament to agree.

Break in Debate

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.

Mr Speaker

For the avoidance of doubt, such matters are not matters for the Chair, but the Prime Minister has made his own point, apparently to his own satisfaction.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister -

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition literally and figuratively has run away from the judgment of the people. For the third time, he has turned down our offer to get Brexit done, in spite of the fact that he and every member of the Labour party stood on a promise to deliver Brexit in this Parliament. I think, frankly, that the electorate will find his behaviour utterly bewildering.

As I said when moving the motion, however, we will not allow the paralysis to continue, and one way or another we must proceed straight to an election. So, later this evening, the Government will give notice of presentation of a short Bill for an election on 12 December, so that we can finally get Brexit done.

There is no support in the House, as we heard earlier from those on the Opposition Benches, for the withdrawal agreement Bill to proceed, but this House cannot any longer keep this country hostage. Millions of families and businesses cannot plan for the future, and I do not believe that this paralysis and this stagnation should be allowed to continue. Now that no deal is off the table, we have a great new deal, and it is time for the voters to have a chance to pronounce on that deal and to replace this dysfunctional Parliament with a new Parliament that can get Brexit done so the country can move on.

Mr Speaker

Thank you.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 23rd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:27 p.m.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. I can say to him that our policy remains unchanged: we should leave the EU on 31 October, at the end of this month. We will leave the EU on 31 October if Opposition Members will comply. That is what I will say to the EU, and I will report back to the House in due course. On his other two requests of a—

Mr Speaker Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:27 p.m.

A duchess and a city.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:27 p.m.

On a duchess and a city, may I undertake to report back to the House on the progress we are making, Mr Speaker?

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I must correct the hon. Gentleman, who just said this is our decision. It is the decision of the BBC. [Interruption.] No, come on, Opposition Members should be clear about what is happening. It is up to the BBC to fund these licences. The hon. Gentleman’s point about scamming is a reasonable one. We will ensure that we give people the protection and security they need—not least through another 20,000 police officers on the streets of our country.

Mr Speaker Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:43 p.m.

Given that there is widespread sadness that the very popular and respected hon. Member for Watford (Richard Harrington) will be standing down at the next general election, it gives me great pleasure to call him now.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 23rd October 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - 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.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
23 Oct 2019, 12:14 p.m.

Order. Mr Russell-Moyle, you are an incorrigible individual, yelling from a sedentary position at the top of your voice at every turn. Calm yourself man; take some sort of soothing medicament from which you will benefit.

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

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 1:29 p.m.

I inform the House that I have now considered advice on the certifiability of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill under Standing Order No. 83J, with which I am sure colleagues are all closely familiar—Certification of bills etc. as relating exclusively to England or England and Wales and being within devolved legislative competence—and I have concluded that the Bill does not meet the criteria for certification.

I inform the House that I have not selected either of the reasoned amendments.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 1:24 p.m.

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

We come together now, in the very best traditions of this House, to scrutinise this Bill and then take the decision that this country expects: to make the verdict of the British people the law of the land so that we can leave the European Union with our new deal on 31 October.

I of course wish that this decision on our national future had been taken through a meaningful vote on Saturday, but I respect perfectly the motives of my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), although I disagree with the effects of his amendment.

I regret, too, that after Saturday’s vote the Government have been forced to act on the advice of the Cabinet Secretary and to take the only responsible course, which is to accelerate our preparations for a no-deal outcome.

Today, we have the opportunity to put all that right, because if this House backs this Bill and if we ratify this new deal, which I believe is profoundly in the interests of our whole United Kingdom and of our European friends, we can get Brexit done and move our country on—and we can de-escalate those no-deal preparations immediately and turn them off next week, and instead concentrate on the great enterprise of building a new relationship of the closest co-operation and friendship, as I said on Saturday, with our European neighbours and on addressing our people’s priorities at home.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I apologise for interrupting the Prime Minister, but a lot of Members are bellowing in a rather bellicose fashion at him, although he has already made it clear that at the moment, he is not giving way. He has taken a lot of interventions and he may take more, but he is proceeding with the development of his case.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 1:58 p.m.

Mr Speaker, I give way to the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson).

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:01 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman is an experienced denizen of the House. His point of order is a matter of consuming interest within the Chamber and beyond, but he is a cheeky chappie, because it is not a matter for adjudication by the Chair. He has made a point, in his own way and with considerable alacrity, to which the Prime Minister can respond if he wishes and not if he does not.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:01 p.m.

I will respond by just repeating the point that those arrangements are automatically terminated after four years unless a majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly expressly decide to retain any or all of them, so those arrangements naturally and legally dissolve into full alignment with the whole of the UK. The default position is alignment with the UK unless, as I say, there is a majority vote in the Assembly against that alignment. In any event, those arrangements can be replaced by the future relationship based on the free trade agreement that we will conclude with the EU.

At the same time, the agreement ensures that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and benefits immediately from any UK trade deals. Clause 21 gives effect to those measures in the protocol. Apart from those special provisions, there are no level playing field provisions covering only Northern Ireland. Nothing in the new deal requires different treatment of Northern Irish services, which account for over 70% of the economy, and nothing in the revised political declaration would oblige Northern Ireland to be treated differently in the future relationship with the EU, which we will soon begin to negotiate.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I can indeed give the hon. Gentleman that assurance. [Interruption.] There will be no race to the bottom. For hon. and right hon. Members who wish to be involved in the building of our future partnership, there will be every opportunity at every stage for the House to be involved, and quite properly so. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:06 p.m.

Order. There is so much noise in the Chamber that I fear that the hon. Member for North Dorset (Simon Hoare), who enjoys the exalted status as Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, cannot draw attention to the fact that he wishes to intervene in the debate, which is regrettable for the hon. Gentleman.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:06 p.m.

I am delighted to repeat our unequivocal commitment to consumer standards and protections.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:23 p.m.

The Prime Minister has not given me any indication on that matter, and we must leave him to develop his case.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Let me be very clear, to come to exactly the point the hon. Gentleman raises, that I will in no way allow months more of this. [Interruption.] No, I will not give way. If Parliament refuses to allow Brexit to happen and instead gets its way and decides to delay everything until January, or possibly longer, in no circumstances can the Government continue with this. And with great regret I must go directly to the point that the hon. Gentleman raises: with great regret I must say that the Bill will have to be pulled, and we will have to go forward, much as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition may not like it, to a general election. I will argue at that election—[Interruption.] No, I will not give way. At that election I will argue “Let’s get Brexit done,” and the Leader of the Opposition will make his case to spend 2020 having two referendums—one on Brexit and one on Scotland—and the people will decide.

There is another path. [Interruption.] No, I won’t give way. And that is to accept, as I have done, that this deal does not give us everything that we want, and all of us can find clauses and provisions to which we can object, as we can in any compromise, but it also gives us the opportunity to conclude that there is no dishonour in setting aside an entirely legitimate desire to deliver the perfect deal in the interests of seizing the great deal that is now within our grasp—of seizing the opportunity to begin healing the divisions, and to satisfy the aching desire of the British public that we would just get Brexit done and to move on to do what those who sent us here want us to do, which is to address their priorities.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2019, 2:25 p.m.

Order. Notwithstanding the fact that the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull East (Karl Turner) must emphatically be the loudest Member of any Parliament anywhere in the European Union, he cannot insist that the Prime Minister gives way if the Prime Minister is disinclined to do so. I think the Prime Minister may be approaching his peroration, to which we should listen.

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.

Speaker’s Statement
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Saturday 19th October 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Mr Speaker Hansard

Before I call the Prime Minister to make a statement, I want to make a very few brief introductory remarks.

First, I want to thank—and I am sure that colleagues across the House want to join me in thanking—all the staff of the House who have worked so hard to facilitate the sitting today. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I know that many of them have had to make special arrangements to be here, as have many hon. and right hon. Members.

Secondly, I remind hon. Members of what I said in my statement at the start of the Session less than a week ago about the need to be mindful of the impact of what they say, not only upon other hon. and right hon. Members, but upon on others who follow our proceedings.

Thirdly, I can inform the House that I have selected amendment (a), in the name of Sir Oliver Letwin and others, to motion 1, and the manuscript amendment in the name of Peter Kyle and others to motion 2.

Fourthly, it may be to the convenience of the House to know that although the second motion is debatable, I think it will be convenient for the two motions to be debated together so that reference to the second motion may be made in the debate. If the second motion is moved, I will put the Question or Questions on that motion without separate debate.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 9:37 a.m.

Mr Speaker, I want to begin by echoing what you have just said and expressing my gratitude to all Members of the House for assembling on a Saturday for the first time in 37 years, and indeed to all members of our House of Commons staff who have worked to make this sitting possible. I know that it has meant people giving up their Saturday and breaking into their weekend at a time when families want to be together, and of course it means missing at least the end of England’s world cup quarter final. I apologise to the House for that; I wish I could watch it myself. I know that the hon. Member for Cardiff West (Kevin Brennan) has postponed his 60th birthday party—if not his 60th birthday—to be here. The House has gone to a great deal of trouble to assemble here on a Saturday for the first time in a generation, and I do hope that in assembling for the purposes of a meaningful vote, we will indeed be allowed to have a meaningful vote this evening.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the new agreement with our European friends. The House will need no reminding that this is the second deal and the fourth vote, three and half years after the nation voted for Brexit. During those years, friendships have been strained, families divided and the attention of this House consumed by a single issue that has at times felt incapable of resolution, but I hope that this is the moment when we can finally achieve that resolution and reconcile the instincts that compete within us.

Many times in the last 30 years, I have heard our European friends remark that this country is half-hearted in its EU membership, and it is true that we in the UK have often been a backmarker—opting out of the single currency, not taking part in Schengen, very often trying to block some collective ambition. In the last three and a half years, it has been striking that Members on all sides of this House have debated Brexit in almost entirely practical terms, in an argument that has focused on the balance of economic risk and advantage. I do not think I can recall a time when I have heard a single Member stand up and call for Britain to play her full part in the political construction of a federal Europe. I do not think I have heard a single Member call for ever closer union, ever deeper integration or a federal destiny—mon pays Europe. [Interruption.] Perhaps I missed it, but I do not think I have heard much of it. There is a whole side of the debate that one hears regularly in other European capitals that is simply absent from our national conversation, and I do not think that has changed much in the last 30 years.

If we have been sceptical, if we have been anxious about the remoteness of the bureaucracy, if we have been dubious about the rhetoric of union and integration, if we have been half-hearted Europeans, it follows logically that with part of our hearts—with half our hearts—we feel something else: a sense of love and respect for European culture and civilisation, of which we are a part; a desire to co-operate with our friends and partners in everything, creatively, artistically, intellectually; a sense of our shared destiny;, and a deep understanding of the eternal need, especially after the horrors of the last century, for Britain to stand as one of the guarantors of peace and democracy in our continent—and it is our continent.

It is precisely because we are capable of feeling both things at once—sceptical about the modes of EU integration, as we are, but passionate and enthusiastic about Europe—that the whole experience of the last three and a half years has been so difficult for this country and so divisive. That is why it is now so urgent for us to move on and build a new relationship with our friends in the EU on the basis of a new deal—a deal that can heal the rift in British politics and unite the warring instincts in us all. Now is the time for this great House of Commons to come together and bring the country together today, as I believe people at home are hoping and expecting, with a new way forward and a new and better deal both for Britain and our friends in the EU. That is the advantage of the agreement that we have struck with our friends in the last two days. This deal allows the UK, whole and entire, to leave the EU on 31 October in accordance with the referendum while simultaneously looking forward to a new partnership based on the closest ties of friendship and co-operation.

I pay tribute to our European friends for escaping the prison of existing positions and showing the vision to be flexible by re-opening the withdrawal agreement and thereby addressing the deeply felt concerns of many in this House. One of my most important jobs is to express those concerns to our European friends. I shall continue to listen to all hon. Members throughout the debate today, to meet with anyone on any side and to welcome the scrutiny the House will bring to bear if, as I hope, we proceed to consider the withdrawal Bill next week.

Today this House has a historic opportunity to show the same breadth of vision as our European neighbours and the same ability and resolve to reach beyond past disagreements by getting Brexit done and moving this country forwards, as we all yearn to do. This agreement provides for a real Brexit, taking back control of our borders, laws, money, farming, fisheries and trade, amounting to the greatest single restoration of national sovereignty in parliamentary history. It removes the backstop, which would have held us against our will in the customs union and much of the single market. For the first time in almost five decades, the UK will be able to strike free trade deals with our friends across the world to benefit the whole country, including Northern Ireland.

Article 4 of the protocol states:

“Northern Ireland is part of the customs territory of the United Kingdom”.

It adds

“nothing in this Protocol shall prevent”

Northern Ireland from realising the preferential market access in any free trade deals

“on the same terms as goods produced in other parts of the United Kingdom.”

Our negotiations have focused on the uniquely sensitive nature of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and we have respected those sensitivities. Above all, we and our European friends have preserved the letter and the spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, and have upheld the long-standing areas of co-operation between the UK and Ireland, including the common travel area. As I told the House on 3 October, in order to prevent a regulatory border on the island of Ireland we propose a regulatory zone covering all goods, including agrifood, eliminating any need for associated checks at the border.

But in this agreement we have gone further by also finding a solution to the vexed question of customs, which many in the House have raised. Our agreement ensures

“unfettered market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom’s internal market.”

It ensures that there should be no tariffs on goods circulating within the UK customs territory—that is, between Great Britain and Northern Ireland—unless they are at risk of entering the EU. It ensures an open border on the island of Ireland, a common objective of everyone in the House. And it ensures for those living and working alongside the border that there will be no visible or practical changes to their lives: they can carry on as before.

I believe that this is a good arrangement, reconciling the special circumstances in Northern Ireland with the minimum possible bureaucratic consequences at a few points of arrival in Northern Ireland, and it is precisely to ensure that those arrangements are acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland that we have made consent a fundamental element of this new deal. So no arrangements can be imposed on Northern Ireland if they do not work for Northern Ireland. Under this agreement, the people of Northern Ireland will have the right to express or withhold their consent to these provisions by means of a majority vote in their Assembly four years after the end of the transition. If the Assembly chooses to withhold consent, these provisions “shall cease to apply” after two years, during which the Joint Committee of the UK and EU would propose a new way forward, in concert with Northern Ireland’s institutions.

As soon as this House allows the process of extracting ourselves from the EU to be completed, the exciting enterprise of building a new relationship with our friends can begin. That enterprise has been too long delayed, and the Labour party would delay it further. I do not wish this to be the project of any one Government or any one party, but rather to be the endeavour of the United Kingdom as a whole. Only this Parliament can make this new relationship the work of the nation, and so Parliament should be at the heart of decision making as we develop our approach. I acknowledge that in the past we have perhaps not always acted in that spirit.

So as we take forward our friendship with our closest neighbours and construct that new relationship, I will ensure that a broad and open process draws upon the wealth of expertise in every part of this House, including Select Committees and their Chairs. Every party and every Member who wishes to contribute will be invited to do so, and we shall start by debating the mandate for our negotiators in the next phase.

The ambition for our future friendship is contained in the revised political declaration, which also provides for the House to be free to decide our own laws and regulations. I have complete faith in this House to choose regulations that are in our best tradition—our best tradition—of the highest standards of environmental protections and workers’ rights. No one, anywhere in this Chamber, believes in lowering standards. Instead—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 9:49 a.m.

Order. There is a lot of gesticulation. The statement by the Prime Minister must be heard, and it will be.

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.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:09 a.m.

I wish to agree with at least part of my right hon. and learned Friend’s analysis, because he says that there is scepticism across the continent about federalism and the desire to build a European Union superstate, and I think that he is right, but unfortunately that scepticism has not percolated up to the elites who run the EU and set the agenda in Brussels. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:10 a.m.

Order. Every Member who has the Floor must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:12 a.m.

I am making a valid point, which is that in Brussels my right hon. and learned Friend’s message has not really been perfectly understood, because they are continuing with a large number of federalist projects. At the European Council, only a couple of days ago, I heard the distinguished President of France calling for a union bancaire—a banking union, Mr Speaker; spelt b-a-n-c-a-i-r-e. There is a strong desire to intensify the process of integration—for example, by creating a defence pact— in a way that I think would meet the scepticism of not just my right hon. and learned Friend, but millions of people across the EU. I can give him an absolute reassurance that in the course of negotiations—in which we would want the entire House, or as many Members who want to be involved as possible, to take part—we will ensure that we get exactly what I think he desires: a zero-tariff, zero-quota free trade partnership so that there is maximum trade, and increasing trade, between our economies.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:47 a.m.

I am afraid the hon. Lady has totally misread or misunderstood the provisions in the agreement. It is stated plainly in the political declaration that we will maintain the highest possible standards, and it is up to this House to do so. I think it is the will of this House, and this Government, to have even higher standards. This is the party and Government who have banned microbeads and are cracking down on plastics. We are leading the world in going for zero-carbon by 2015. We are world leaders in environmental and animal welfare protection, and we will continue to be so outside the EU.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:47 a.m.

The time has come to uncork the Gauke.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point—indeed, that was really the substantive point that I have been discussing with our European Union friends in the past couple of days. That is where they want to go now. They are interested in our timetable and in whether 14 months is enough, and it is absolutely right to focus on that. I think that it is enough; I think we can do it in 14 months. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) asks why from a sedentary position. She may not know that we are already in perfect regulatory alignment with the European Union, and it may have escaped her that we already have zero-tariff and zero-quota arrangements with the EU. We have a fantastic opportunity to do a free trade deal. Yes, 14 months is a blistering pace, but we can get it done. I remind doubters and sceptics—[Interruption]—there they all are. They said that it was impossible to reopen the withdrawal agreement, they said we would never get rid of the backstop, and they said we would never get a deal. There is a very good deal on the table here today, and I hope they vote for it.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 10:50 a.m.

Patience rewarded. I call Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 11:05 a.m.

If I may say so respectfully, I do not believe that such Acts have necessarily been conducive to a stable negotiating position. By the way, I have not done enough in this statement to thank my team and those in the Foreign Office, the Department for Exiting the European Union and all the Departments of State, as well as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, David Frost and the many others who have worked to make this deal happen. I want to thank them very much for what they have done. I respectfully say to the right hon. Gentleman that I do not think their position has been made easier by measures passed in the name of the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). Not a good idea!

Mr Speaker Hansard

I call David Top Cat Davies.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken with his customary honesty and insight. I think it would be a good thing if the House were able to have what I think was promised to it and to the country, namely a meaningful vote tonight, but my fear is that the vote that we have will not prove to be meaningful, and I think that, given the solemnity of this occasion, that would be a great pity.

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Oct 2019, 11:12 a.m.

In the name of breadth and equality, having called Mr Stephen Crabb, I now call Mr Marcus Fysh. [Laughter.]

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

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Speaker Hansard

We now come to motion 2 on Section 1(2)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019. I remind the House that I have selected the manuscript amendment. Minister or Whip to move. It is not being moved.

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.

Debate on the Address
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 14th October 2019

(7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
14 Oct 2019, 4:03 p.m.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for her intervention. I must direct her back to the answer I gave a moment ago: we are looking very carefully at HS2, and she should wait until the review concludes.

We have a vision of a balanced, just and fair society, where we fight crime and demand justice for victims, where we educate in prison and demand rehabilitation, where we fund superb education and healthcare, not in spite of our belief in the free market—again, the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) flinches at the mention of the free market—but because we understand that a dynamic wealth-creating economy is essential to pay for those public goods. That is the vision for the society I believe in: a generous, tolerant, outward looking and humane society. That is the vision at the core of this Queen’s Speech, and I commend it to the House.

Mr Speaker Hansard
14 Oct 2019, 4:04 p.m.

I call Mr Ian Blackford.

Brexit Negotiations
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Thursday 3rd October 2019

(8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Oct 2019, 12:28 p.m.

I will strain every sinew, Mr Speaker. In fact, it was only my desire to appear before you and the House today that restrained me from going off to other European capitals and selling this project.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Oct 2019, 12:28 p.m.

I am delighted to hear it.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

That is indeed the case, as the hon. Gentleman will understand, but if he invites me to draw an analogy with the people of Scotland, I remind him that the people of Scotland were repeatedly promised that their referendum was a once-in-a-generation question.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

In thanking the Prime Minister and colleagues, I would just say that there are issues of substance and issues of tone. The substance of policy is absolutely not a matter for the Chair, but I would like to say that the tone of yesterday’s very important debate on the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill, and the tone of the exchanges today, represent a huge improvement on last week. I thank the Prime Minister and colleagues.

Prime Minister's Update
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 25th September 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

I call the Prime Minister to make a statement.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:30 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. [Hon. Members: “Resign!” If they want a change of Government, let them have an election. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:30 p.m.

Order. There will be ample opportunity for everybody who wants to question the Prime Minister, in conformity with usual practice, to do so, but the statement must and will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:31 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. With your permission, I shall make a statement on yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict and the way forward for this paralysed Parliament.

Three years ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than had ever voted for any party or proposition in our history. Politicians of all parties promised the public that they would honour the result. Sadly, many have since done all they can to abandon those promises and to overturn that democratic vote. After three years of dither and delay that have left this country at risk of being locked forever in the orbit of the EU, this Government that I lead have been trying truly to get us out. Most people, including most supporters of the Labour party, regardless of how they voted three years ago, think the referendum must be respected. They want Brexit done, I want Brexit done, and people want us out on 31 October, with a new deal if possible, but without one if necessary.

Some 64 days ago, I was told that Brussels would never reopen the withdrawal agreement; we are now discussing a reopened withdrawal agreement in the negotiations. I was told that Brussels would never consider alternatives to the backstop—the trap that keeps the UK effectively in the EU but with no say; we are now discussing those alternatives in the negotiations. I was told that Brussels would never consider arrangements that were not permanent; we are now discussing in the negotiations an arrangement that works on the principle of consent and is not permanent. I was told that there was no chance of a new deal, but we are discussing a new deal, in spite of the best efforts of the Labour party and this Parliament to wreck our negotiations by their attempts to take no deal off the table.

The truth is that a majority of Opposition Members are opposed not to the so-called no deal; this Parliament does not want Brexit to happen at all. Many of those who voted for the surrender Act a few weeks ago said then that their intention was to stop a no-deal Brexit. They have said every day since that Parliament must vote against any deal at all. The people of this country can see very clearly what is going on. People at home know—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. People are gesticulating wildly. I can scarcely hear the Prime Minister myself, and I wish to hear the statement, as other colleagues should also wish to do.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:34 p.m.

The people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on. They know that Parliament does not want to honour its promises to respect the referendum. The people at home know that this Parliament will keep delaying, and it will keep sabotaging the negotiations, because Members do not want a deal.

The truth is that Opposition Members are living in a fantasy world. They really imagine that somehow they are going to cancel—[Interruption.] This is what they want to do. They are going to cancel the first referendum and legislate for a second referendum, and Parliament will promise—this is what the hon. Lady opposite said—that this time it really, really will respect that vote. They think that the public will therefore vote to remain, and everybody will forget the last few years.

I have to say, Mr Speaker, that that is an extraordinary delusion and a fantasy, a fantasy even greater than the communist fantasies peddled by the Leader of the Opposition. It will not happen. The public do not want another referendum. What they want, and what they demand, is that we honour the promise we made to the voters to respect the first referendum. They also want us to move on: to put Brexit behind us and to focus on the NHS, on violent crime, and on cutting the cost of living.

That is why I brought forward a Queen’s Speech. This Government intend to present a programme for life after Brexit, but some Members could not stand that either. Instead of facing the voters, the Opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran to the courts. And despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in that process for the first time ever. It is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say that I think that the court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question, at a time—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:36 p.m.

Order. Whatever the strength and intensity of feeling and the passions to which these matters give rise, we must hear what is being said in the Chamber, and I wish to hear the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I think that the court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question, at a time of great national controversy.

So we have Opposition Members who block and delay everything, running to the courts to block and delay even more measures, including legislation to improve and invest in our NHS, and to keep violent criminals in jail. I think that the people outside this House understand what is happening. They know that nothing can disguise the truth.

It is not just that this Parliament is gridlocked, paralysed, and refusing to deliver on the priorities of the people. It is not just unable to move forward. It is worse than that, Mr Speaker. Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice, Opposition Members are unwilling to move aside and give the people a say. They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say one week, and then running away from the election that would provide the people with a say. Worst of all, they see ever more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the Labour party, which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “We know best”, and to thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people. The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to throw out the referendum result, whatever the cost. They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay. They do not care if another year or more is wasted in arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago. All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result. While we want to take our country up a gear—to go forward with a fantastic programme, an accelerated programme of investment in infrastructure, health, education and technology, they are throwing on the hand brake.

We will not betray the people who sent us here; we will not. That is what the Opposition want to do. We will not abandon the priorities that matter to the public, and we will continue to challenge those Opposition parties to uphold democracy. If Opposition Members so disagreed with this Government’s commitment to leaving on 31 October, they had a very simple remedy at their disposal, did they not? They could have voted for a general election. I confess that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly, and in the most strident terms, demanded an election—I heard them—is the very same party whose members already this month, not once but twice, refused to allow the people to decide on their next Government. For two years they have demanded an election, but twice they have voted against it.

The Leader of the Opposition changes his mind so often, I wonder whether he supports an election today, or whether the shadow Chancellor, or the shadow Attorney General, have overruled him again because they know that the voters will judge their manifesto for what it is—more pointless delay. Perhaps he is going to demand an election and then vote against it—just as he says that he wants to negotiate a new Brexit deal and then vote against that, too. Is he actually going to vote no confidence in this Government? Is he going to dodge a vote of no confidence in me as Prime Minister, in order to escape the verdict of the voters? I wonder, does he in his heart even want to be Prime Minister any more? He says that I should go to Brussels on 17 October and negotiate another pointless delay, but he does not want to go himself. And even if he did, his colleagues would not let him, because quite frankly they recoil at the idea of him negotiating on the people’s behalf, representing this country with the likes of Vladimir Putin, let alone the EU or the mullahs of Tehran.

Or is it perhaps that he wants a Conservative Government? It would be a curious state of affairs indeed if Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition had every faith in the Government of the day. So if in fact the party opposite does not have confidence in the Government, it will have a chance to prove it. It has until the House rises—[Interruption.] I think they should listen. It has until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the Government—[Interruption.] Come on! Come on, then. And we can have that vote tomorrow. Or if any of the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion and we will give them the time for a vote. Will they have the courage to act, or will they refuse to take responsibility and do nothing but dither and delay? Why wouldn’t they act? What are they scared of? If that is what you are scared of, then have the—

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 6:43 p.m.

Order. I appeal to the House to have some regard to how our proceedings are viewed by people watching them in the country at large. [Interruption.] Order. Let the remainder of the statement be heard. I am grateful for the Prime Minister’s exhortation but I do not require it; I am perfectly content. What I want to hear is the rest of the statement and then questioning on it.

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.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:40 p.m.

I have already explained once. Let me explain to the hon. Gentleman again, in terms that brook no misunderstanding, that now is not the time for points of order. That time will come, and if the hon. Gentleman is still interested, he will be heard, but he needs to learn the procedures for those matters.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:41 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Lady very much for her question. I am glad that she is such an assiduous reader of my column, but I must make clear two important points. First, the Supreme Court did not impugn the Government’s motives. Secondly, the right hon. Lady should bear in mind that Wales voted leave.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I must say to my right hon. Friend—my friend with whom I have worked happily over many years—that, actually, I do think that the surrender Act has done grave damage. What it would try to do—[Interruption.] I speak as somebody who has to sit in with—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:56 p.m.

Order. I appeal to colleagues in all parts of the House to calm down. Let us have the exchanges. Everybody must speak in terms that he or she thinks fit, but I know we are all conscious of the premium that is placed by “Erskine May” on moderation and good humour in the use of parliamentary language.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:57 p.m.

I repeat that the experience of negotiating with our European friends and partners over the last few weeks has, I am afraid, confirmed me in my view that the surrender Act—[Interruption]—has made it more difficult for us to get a deal. That is the sad truth. What they hear is a Parliament that is not just determined to stop a no-deal Brexit. That is not its intention. Its intention is to stop any kind of deal at all. That is what it wants to do.

I can tell my right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening) that we will come out of the European Union on 31 October, and we will not be extending.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 7:59 p.m.

I have to say that I have never heard such humbug in all my life. [Hon. Members: “ Shame!”] The reality is that this is a Bill—[Interruption.] This is a Bill—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 8 p.m.

Order. [Interruption.] Order. [Interruption.] Order. I appeal to the House as a whole to debate these issues calmly. I can see the gesticulation from colleagues, and I am not—[Interruption.] Order. Mr Linden, please; allow me to respond. I am not unmindful of the purport of that gesticulation. I have reminded colleagues across the House of the very long-established precepts of “Erskine May” in relation to the conduct of debate. I must simply say that nothing disorderly—[Interruption.] No, nothing disorderly has been said. Everybody must make his own or her own judgment as to how to behave in this place, and all Members will operate at the level that they think appropriate. If I see that there is disorderly behaviour I will rule accordingly, and if I hear disorderly words I will rule them out of order. I wanted to hear—[Interruption.] Order. I wanted to hear the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Paula Sherriff), and did so in full, as she absolutely had to be heard. I have listened to the reply. Let’s try to respect—[Interruption.] Order. No assistance is required. Let’s try to respect each other.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 8:01 p.m.

Mr Speaker, let me just explain why I call it the surrender Act. That is because it would oblige us to stay in the EU for month after month, at a cost of a billion pounds per month. It would take away from this country the ability to decide how long that extension would be, and it would give that power to the EU. It would absolutely undermine our ability to continue to negotiate properly in Brussels; it takes away the fundamental ability of a country to walk away from the negotiations, and I am afraid that is exactly what it does. If I may say so respectfully to Opposition Members who are getting very agitated about this, the best way to get rid of the surrender Act is not to have voted for it in the first place, to repeal it, and to vote for the deal that we are going to do. That is the way forward.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend is entirely right, and the way forward for this House and for this country is to get Brexit done. I think there are people around this country, who are watching these proceedings, who will agree very profoundly with what I am saying: get Brexit done, and let’s take this country forward.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 8:04 p.m.

In these proceedings Members must say what they think—and they do, and that is right—on both sides of the House and on different sides of this argument, but I would emphasise that I am keenly conscious of the fact that there are Members on both sides of the House, and indeed on both sides of the Brexit argument, who have been personally threatened, and whose families have been threatened, and it is incredibly—[Interruption.] No, but Members on both sides of the House and on both sides of the argument have been threatened, and I have stated very publicly my revulsion at such behaviour, whether it has affected Members on one side or the other, people who are anti-Brexit or Members who are pro-Brexit, whose families have been wrongly threatened, or whose parents have been abused in their presence.

I would simply appeal to responsible colleagues in all parts of the House to weigh their words. That is all I am saying. I think that is a reasonable request of Members in all parts of the House. It is in our wider interest as a Parliament, and it is in the public interest, that we respect each other. That is a point which I think should not be difficult to understand.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 8:18 p.m.

The hon. Lady has made an allegation about my conduct as a student that I am afraid, if it were allowed to stand, would enter the record. She has no evidence for it whatever because it is completely untrue, Mr Speaker, and I would like you to ask her to withdraw it.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

I am most grateful to the Prime Minister. The hon. Lady has said what she said, but the Prime Minister—[Interruption.] Order. The Prime Minister, from the Dispatch Box and with the full authority of his office, and knowing his own background and recognising the duty of every Member to speak the truth in this Chamber, has exercised his freedom, and quite rightly so. I think the Prime Minister would readily acknowledge that, in light of all that, he does not require any additional protection from me. He has put the record straight and it is there. It is on the record.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

I appreciate the good humour of the hon. Gentleman. I am sorry that he was struggling with his throat, but it was suggested to me that he could usefully take a herbal remedy.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I thought that was coming, Mr Speaker. I thank my hon. Friend. He makes a very good point. All that I will say, at the risk of further inflaming my friends opposite, is that the legislation in question—the capitulation Act—has done material damage to this country’s ability to negotiate, and I think that they should reflect on that. In an international negotiation, it is very important that the UK is able to deploy every possible arsenal—every possible negotiating tool. I am afraid that an attempt has been made to weaken our hand—there is no question of it.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The best way to shut down democracy in this country and to erode trust in our political institutions is to fail to deliver on the will of the 17.4 million people who voted to leave, and that is what we are going to do.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

I call Mr Bob Seely.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

With your leave, Mr Speaker, I will keep my answers pretty staccato from now on, because I have answered these points quite a lot. If people care about their constituents—it is quite proper, of course, that they should in every possible way—they should honour the will of their constituents and respect our democratic proceedings.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:14 p.m.

Of course I completely understand that the Prime Minister will offer his own answers, short or long, as he thinks fit. I just innocently make the observation, en passant, that repetition is not a novel phenomenon in the House of Commons and never has been.

The hour is still quite early. I have been in the Chair since 11.30 am, but I feel that I am just getting started. We have a lot more energy left. I am not remotely perturbed, and I am sure that the Prime Minister is not running out of energy. I should be very worried if he were, but I am sure that he is not.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

How about you, Mr Speaker?

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:15 p.m.

Oh, don’t worry about me. I can more than hack it. We are a bit longer here than the Prime Minister and I were on the tennis court, but never mind.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Sep 2019, 9:41 p.m.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me occasion to remind him that this Government are massively increasing investment in the NHS—another £34 billion. The policy to which he and the Leader of the Opposition are committed would keep this country in the EU at the cost of another £1 billion a month, when we could spend £250 million a week building a new hospital. Is that really what they think is in the interest of this country or of their constituents? It is absolutely absurd.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. I thank the Prime Minister, and the Front-Bench spokespersons and 111 right hon. and hon. Members who have questioned him over the past three and a bit hours.

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

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

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

I beg to move,

That there shall be an early parliamentary general election.

Before I begin, Mr Speaker, I join others hon. Members in thanking you for your long and distinguished service to the House. We may not have always agreed on everything, but I believe you have always acted in what you judge to be the national interest.

I move the motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Last Wednesday, the right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) became the first Leader of the Opposition in the history of our country to show his confidence in Her Majesty’s Government by declining the opportunity to have an election with a view to removing the Government. When he spoke last week, it seemed that he might recover his nerve tonight, and I wait to see how he responds. Referring to his surrender Bill, he said last week:

“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 surrender Bill—the surrender Act—has now passed. It has gained Royal Assent. He has done his level best to wreck this country’s chances of a successful negotiation. By his own logic, he must now back an election, so I am re-tabling the motion for an early general election. I do not want one, and I hoped this step would be unnecessary, yet I have accepted the reality that an election is the only way to break the deadlock in the House and to serve the national interest by giving whoever is Prime Minister the strongest possible mandate to negotiate for our country at next month’s European Council.

Labour, too, has accepted this reality. In its own leaflets this weekend, it says:

“We need a General Election now”.

That is what it says, yet throughout the weekend, the right hon. Gentleman’s cronies, together with those of other Opposition parties, have been trying to disguise their preposterous cowardice by coming up with ever more outrageous excuses for delaying an election until the end of October, or perhaps November, or when hell freezes over, in the dither, delay and procrastination that has become the hallmark of the Opposition. Why are they conniving to delay Brexit, in defiance of the referendum, costing the country an extra £250 million a week for the privilege of delay—enough to upgrade more than five hospitals and train 4,000 new nurses? The only possible explanation is that they fear that we will win it, and I will win it, and secure a renewed mandate to take this country out of the EU, a policy they now oppose. That is the sorry tale of this Opposition and this Parliament. For the last three years, they have schemed to overturn the verdict of the British people, delivered in a referendum which, in a crowning irony, almost all of them voted to hold. In fact, they did not just vote to hold it; some of them even—

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister -

If that is what the hon. Lady thinks, why does she not have a word with her right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and tell him to reverse his absurd policy of spending an extra £1 billion a month to keep us in the EU, when we are spending £1 billion on 20,000 more police officers on the streets of this country?

The Liberal Democrats also called for a referendum on our membership of the EU, and once they got it—by the way, they lost that referendum, of course—they did nothing but try to overturn the result, arrogating to themselves the authority to decide which democratic elections they respect and which they reject. Now—where are they, the Liberal Democrats? There they are—they want a second referendum, but they are already planning to campaign against the result. When asked whether she would implement Brexit if the people voted for it a second time, the party’s new leader, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson), replied no. Every time the Liberal Democrats lose a referendum, they just call for a new one over and over again. It turns out she is the new leader of the referendum party, the Jimmy Goldsmith of our times.

But the Liberal Democrats are models of coherence by comparison with the Leader of the Opposition. His strategy, mysterious as it is, is that by some process he becomes Prime Minister—but without an election, because he is against elections. He then goes to Brussels and negotiates a new deal, presumably keeping us in the customs union and the single market. He then comes back and passes that deal through the House and takes it to the country in a second referendum, whereupon he campaigns against his own deal. [Interruption.] That’s the plan, isn’t it? Perhaps he can clarify. He would urge the nation to reject his own handiwork.

We know the real reason Labour does not want a general election under his leadership. Most of them do not want one because they fear that their party will lose, but there is a small terrified minority of Labour MPs who do not want an election because they actually think the Leader of the Opposition might win, ladies and gentlemen.

As for the Scottish National party, last week the First Minister for Scotland correctly said:

“It’s starting to feel like Labour doesn’t want an election at all”.

She then issued a clarion call to her assembled armies in Westminster to “force an election”. What are they doing? How do those brave stalwarts of Scottish separatism propose to force that election? By heroically abstaining!

The common thread joining all these parties is their extraordinary belief that the national interest requires them pre-emptively to protect the British people from the consequences of their own democratic decisions. The truth is they believe in democracy only when it delivers the results they want. Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition have a constitutional duty—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. There is far too much noise in the Chamber. The decibel level needs to reduce. The Prime Minister should not have to shout to make himself heard, and the same will apply when the Leader of the Opposition gets to his feet.

The Prime Minister -

I am grateful, Mr Speaker. [Interruption.] They say they can’t hear. [Laughter.] How’s that? [Hon. Members: “Yeah!”] Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition have a constitutional duty to oppose the Government and to seek to replace them. For this task, they are handsomely paid to the tune of almost £10 million of taxpayers’ money. They are! That is what they are paid to do by the taxpayer.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker

I say as much for the benefit of the watching public as for anybody else that that is an example of what I call the norm: superficially a point of order but entirely bogus. The right hon. Lady has made her point in her own way with suitable alacrity and it is on the record.

The Prime Minister -

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for your characteristically impartial judgment.

The Leader of the Opposition: there he sits. His party is paid £10 million by the taxpayer and he himself is entitled to more than £140,000 of taxpayers’ money, yet today we see the extraordinary spectacle of the entire Opposition collectively deciding to abrogate their most fundamental responsibility. They have their job. They know what they should be doing. In this era of creative litigation, are there not grounds for legal challenge to compel them to do it? [Interruption.] Hon. Members can have their say in a minute. I am concluding my remarks.

Sometimes the Leader of the Opposition says that we should leave the EU; sometimes he says that we should have another referendum; sometimes he says that we should negotiate a new deal; sometimes he says that he would accept whatever Brussels offers. Over the past few days, the Labour party has said that it wants to delay Brexit, then negotiate a new deal, then have another referendum, then campaign against its own deal in that referendum. Perhaps its next policy will be to have a referendum on whether to have a referendum.

The Leader of the Opposition cannot lead. He cannot make a decision. He cannot work out whether he is for Brexit or against it—for a referendum or against it. The only options that he likes are dither and delay. I say to Opposition Members—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker

That was an ingenious effort, but let me say to the hon. Gentleman that the motion would not be on the Order Paper unless it was orderly. I am happy to conduct a seminar for his benefit outside the Chamber at a later date, but it is, at this time, given the context, orderly. The hon. Gentleman has made his own point, but it is a different one, and it does not meet the needs of the case.

The Prime Minister -

I say again to everyone on the Opposition Benches: if you really want to delay Brexit beyond 31 October, which is what you seem to want to do, then vote for an election and let the people decide whether they want to delay or not. If you refuse to do that tonight, I will go to Brussels—our Government will go to Brussels—on 17 October and negotiate our departure on 31 October, hopefully with a deal, but without one if necessary. I will not ask for another delay.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker

Order. I recognise the hon. Lady’s sincerity and the strength of her conviction. If she wishes to contribute to the debate in an orderly way, on her feet, in a speech, because she has caught my eye, she can do so, but she should not use the device of a bogus point of order.

The Prime Minister -

Mr Speaker, I repeat my point—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker

I would be immensely grateful if the hon. Gentleman did not feel it necessary to keep pointing at me. I know he feels strongly, but that is not a point of order. [Interruption.] Order. And I would say in terms of the seemliness of these proceedings, come on, let’s have fair play: the Prime Minister is entitled to make a speech and be heard, as will be the Leader of the Opposition.

The Prime Minister -

Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you for allowing me to repeat my salient point: I will not ask for another delay. The people of this country have had enough of the delectable—[Interruption.] The people of this country have had enough of the delectable disputations—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker

Order. This is profoundly disorderly. Members must not be shouted down in the Chamber. There are standards to be upheld, and they must be upheld.

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.

Break in Debate

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.]

Mr Speaker

Order. Mr Docherty-Hughes, calm yourself. Is the Prime Minister satisfied that he has made his intervention, or does he wish to complete it?

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?

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker

I say by way of explanation for those who observe our proceedings—the nods suggest they are well ahead of me, which I would expect—that the majority does not satisfy the requirements of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 for the purpose of engendering the election that some seek—[Hon. Members: “Shame!”] I am simply the messenger, and I have reported the facts. I am glad that the matter is of interest to those who are looking upstairs. Thank you very much indeed.

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.

Early Parliamentary General Election
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
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.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 8:14 p.m.

The Ayes have it, but the House will be aware that the motion has not obtained the majority required under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 8:14 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I note that the Leader of the Opposition is once again not in his place, in what I think is a slightly symbolic way. Forty-eight hours ago, he was leading the chants of “Stop the coup and let the people vote,” and now he is saying, “Stop the election and stop the people from voting.” There is only one solution: he has become, to my knowledge, the first Leader of the Opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election. I can only speculate—[Interruption.] I can only speculate as to the reasons behind his hesitation. The obvious conclusion is, I am afraid, that he does not think he will win. I urge his colleagues to reflect on the unsustainability of this position overnight and in the course of the next few days.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

I note—

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 8:14 p.m.

No, I am dealing with one point at a time. One has to proceed in an orderly manner in these matters, I say to the Prime Minister. I am dealing with one point of order, and when I have dealt with it, I shall happily attend to another. It is evident from the smile on the face of the hon. Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin) that he is very pleased with the point he has made.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I was just going to elaborate by saying that this is the first time in history that the Opposition have voted to show confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Thank you.

Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill

Bill to be considered tomorrow.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(9 months ago)

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

Of course we are preparing for a no-deal Brexit if we absolutely must have one. I do not think that the consequences will be anything like as bad as the merchants of Project Fear have said, but the way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to allow this Government to get on and do a deal at the summit on 17 October. The choice for this country is who they want doing that deal: this Government or that Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:28 p.m.

Order. We do not name people in the Chamber. People must observe the rules—[Interruption.] Order. I am simply and politely informing the Prime Minister of the very long-established procedure with which everybody, including the Prime Minister, must comply. That is the position—no doubt, no argument, no contradiction—and that is the end of the matter.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. Leave me to control the proceedings; I should be immensely grateful for your assistance in that regard. The heckling must cease and we will hear the reply.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:42 p.m.

I am not going to take any lectures from anybody in the Labour party about how to run a party. Theirs is a party in which good, hard-working MPs are daily hounded out by antisemitic mobs. Let us be absolutely clear: if the hon. Gentleman is interested in democracy, I hope he has been listening to what I have been saying today. In an anti-democratic way, the Bill that will come before the House today would hand over this country’s right to decide how long to remain in the EU, and it would hand it over to the EU itself. That is what the Bill involves. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that is a good idea, let him submit it to the judgment of the British people in an election.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:49 p.m.

rose—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The response from the Prime Minister will be heard.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:51 p.m.

If the hon. Gentleman took the trouble to read the article in question, he would see that it was a strong liberal defence of—as he began his question by saying—everybody’s right to wear whatever they want in this country. I speak as somebody who is proud not only to have Muslim ancestors, but to be related to Sikhs like him. I am also proud to say that, under this Government, we have the most diverse Cabinet in the history of this country. We truly reflect modern Britain. We have yet to hear from anywhere in the Labour party any hint of apology for the virus of antisemitism that is now rampant in its ranks. I would like to hear that from the hon. Gentleman.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:52 p.m.

Order. The reply must be heard. If the House were to want as a matter of course to allow clapping, by decision of the House, so be it, but it should not otherwise become a regular practice. We have heard the question, pungently expressed. Let us hear the answer from the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:53 p.m.

I am used to breasting applause from Labour audiences, particularly since, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, we are actually devoted to delivering on the mandate of those Labour constituencies and we are going to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October. As for the excellent question that my hon. Friend asked, be in no doubt that we are deciding on a policy to take this country forward, not backwards, as the Leader of the Opposition would do.

Engagements
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
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.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:08 p.m.

Order. Forgive me for interrupting, Prime Minister, but there is a long way to go and a lot of questions to be reached. The questions must be heard, and the Prime Minister’s responses must and will be heard.

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.

Break in Debate

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.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Sep 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Order. It is very difficult to hear the responses from the Prime Minister. Members must calm themselves. There is a long way to go.

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?

G7 Summit
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:35 p.m.

Before I begin my statement, I am sure that the whole House will join me in remembering that this country entered the second world war 80 years ago today. It is of course true that the horror of that conflict surpasses all modern controversies. It is also true that this country still stands—then as now—for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the fight against racial and religious hatred, and I know that this whole House is united in defending those values around the world.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a statement about the G7 summit in Biarritz. As I speak, vast tracts of the Amazon rainforest are on fire, free trade is in retreat, 130 million girls worldwide are not in education and our oceans are being foully polluted, so it has never been more important for a global Britain to use our voice as an agent for change and progress. It is only by exerting our influence at a global level and only by sticking up for our values and beliefs that we can create the international context for Britain to prosper and to ensure that this is the greatest place on earth to live, work, start a family, open a business, trade and invest. So at the G7, I made the case for free trade as an engine of prosperity and progress that has lifted billions out of poverty, yet the reality is that trade, as a share of the world economy, has been stagnant for the last decade. In the leaders’ declaration, the G7 unanimously endorsed open and fair world trade and was determined to reform the World Trade Organisation and to reach agreement next year to simplify regulatory barriers.

Britain is on the verge of taking back control of our trade policy and restoring our independent seat in the WTO for the first time in 46 years. Our exports to the United States—[Interruption.] I wish my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) all the best. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:35 p.m.

Order. I ask the House to have some regard to how our proceedings are viewed by people outside the Chamber. I will always facilitate the expression of opinion by this House. [Interruption.] Order. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is making a statement. That statement should be heard, and he will be heard, as will every other Member. End of subject.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Britain is on the verge of taking back control of our trade policy, as I said. [Interruption.] On the verge. We could achieve even more in our trade with the United States by using the powers we will regain to do a comprehensive free trade deal—a deal in which both President Trump and I have agreed that the NHS is not on the table. Unlike some in the House, I consider the United States to be a natural ally and a force for good in the world, and I recoil from the visceral, juvenile anti-Americanism that would do such profound damage to this country’s interest.

I know the whole House will share my concern about the gravity of the situation in Hong Kong. As a nation with a deep belief in freedom of expression and assembly, we stand firm in upholding Hong Kong’s way of life, guaranteed by one country, two systems. I welcome the unwavering support of my G7 counterparts on this vital matter. The UK is at the forefront of a new campaign to end the tragic loss of species around the world. We cannot bequeath a planet where the Sumatran tiger and the African elephant, and entire ecosystems like the great barrier reef, live in the shadow of destruction, so I am delighted that the G7 accepted UK proposals for more ambitious targets to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. Britain is responsible for 2.6 million square miles of ocean, the fifth largest marine estate in the world. Our blue belt programme will ensure that marine protected areas encompass 1.5 million square miles and, at the G7, I announced a further £7 million for this vital effort.

I also announced another £10 million to protect the rainforest in Brazil, where 41,000 fires have raged so far this year—more than twice as many as in the same period in 2018. Britain is bidding to host the UN’s 26th climate change conference next year. If we succeed, we shall focus on solutions that harness the power of nature, including reforestation. There is one measure that would address all those issues. [Interruption.] If Opposition Members think that is a waste of money, it tells us all we need to know about the modern Labour party.

One measure that will address all those issues is to ensure that every girl in the world receives the education that is her right. That would not only curb infant mortality, eradicate illiteracy and reduce population pressures but would strike a blow for morality and justice. In Biarritz the G7 therefore endorsed the UK’s campaign for 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world, and I announced £90 million of new funding so that 600,000 children in countries torn by conflict, where girls are twice as likely as boys to be out of the classroom, get the chance to go to school.

As well as my G7 colleagues, I was delighted to meet other leaders, including President Ramaphosa of South Africa, Prime Minister Modi of India and Prime Minister Morrison of Australia, who, heroically, masked his emotions in the face of the historic innings of Ben Stokes. In every conversation, I was struck by the enthusiasm of my colleagues to strengthen their relations with this country, whether on trade, security and defence, or science and technology. I was also able to use the G7 to follow up my conversations in Berlin and Paris with Chancellor Merkel and President Macron on Brexit, as well as with Prime Minister Conte, Prime Minister Sánchez and President Tusk. I have since spoken to Commission President Juncker and many other leaders. I was able to make it clear to them all that everyone in this Government wants a deal. [Interruption.] We do. We do. But it is a reality that the House of Commons has rejected the current withdrawal agreement three times, and it simply cannot be resurrected. [Interruption.] And that is why I wrote to President Tusk—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:40 p.m.

Order. Mr Sheerman, I look to you as a senior and distinguished elder statesman in the House to set an example of good behaviour, analogous to the Buddha-like calm of the Father of the House, which is exhibited at all times.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

That is why I wrote to President Tusk on 19 August to set out our arguments why any future agreement must include the abolition of the anti-democratic backstop. [Interruption.] Which, by the way, is opposed on all sides of the House. We have also been clear that we will need changes to the political declaration, to clarify that our future relationship with the EU will be based on a free trade agreement and giving us full control over our regulations, our trade, and our foreign and defence policy. This clarity has brought benefits; far from jeopardising negotiations, it is making them more straight- forward.

In the last few weeks, I believe that the chances of a deal have risen. This week, we are intensifying the pace of meetings in Brussels. Our European friends can see that we want an agreement and they are beginning to reflect that reality in their response. President Macron said—[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, Opposition Members don’t want to hear the words of our counterparts across the channel. They don’t want to hear about any progress that we might be making. [Interruption.] They don’t. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. I want to hear everything said—

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:42 p.m.

I have never had any difficulty hearing the Prime Minister, but if it is necessary for him to speak up, I am certain that he will overcome his natural shyness in order to do so.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:44 p.m.

Mr Speaker, I think they are wilfully closing their ears to the reality that our friends and partners are increasingly seeing the possibilities of an agreement. Again, I quote President Macron of France, who said:

“If there are things which, as part of what was negotiated by Michel Barnier, can be adapted and are in keeping with the two objectives I’ve…mentioned, stability in Ireland”—

which we all support—

“and the integrity of the single market—we should identify them in the coming months.”

Is that the negative spirit of those on the Opposition Benches? No, it is not. And speaking in Berlin of possible alternatives to the backstop, Chancellor Merkel of Germany said:

“Once we see and say this could be a possible outcome, this could be a possible arrangement, this backstop as a sort of placeholder is no longer necessary.”

That is a positive spirit, which we are not, I am afraid, hearing echoed on the other side of the House today. I believe there are indeed—[Interruption.] Opposition Members are fleeing already. There are indeed solutions—they don’t want to hear about solutions. They don’t want to hear about any of them. There are practical arrangements that we can find which avoid anyone putting infrastructure on the Irish border—I say that to the departing back of the right hon. Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw), and he knows it well. These have been well worked out and involve measures such as trusted trader schemes, transit provisions, frontier zones, reduced bureaucracy for small and local traders, and many others.

In particular, we recognise—[Interruption.] I advise Opposition Members to pay attention to what is being said. We recognise that for reasons of geography and economics, agri-food is increasingly managed on a common basis across the island of Ireland. We are ready to find a way forward that recognises this reality, provided that it clearly enjoys the consent of all parties and institutions with an interest. We will discuss that with the EU shortly, and I will discuss it with the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, when I see him in Dublin on Monday.

It is simply wrong to say that we are not making progress. There is a lot to do in the coming days, but things are moving. A major reason for that is that everyone can see that this Government are utterly determined to leave the EU on 31 October, come what may, without a deal if necessary. That is why over the summer my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been leading the Government’s efforts, seven days a week, to accelerate our national preparations for that possibility. He will make a statement on that subject shortly. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has made all the necessary funds available. We have already reached agreements with our partners to roll over trade deals worth around £89 billion of exports and imports. We have secured air services agreements around the world. We have increased the capacity of our Border Force, strengthened the resilience of our ports, bolstered our freight capacity and worked in meticulous detail to ensure the uninterrupted supply of critical goods, including medicines. We will be ready.

I returned from the G7 with real momentum in the Brexit discussions. I want to return from next month’s European Council in a similar way, with a deal that this House can debate, scrutinise and endorse in time for our departure on 31 October. But there is one step that would jeopardise all the progress that we have made in the G7 and around the capitals of Europe, and that is if this House were to decide that it was simply impossible for us to leave without a deal and to make that step illegal. [Interruption.] That is what they want—to undermine our negotiations; to force us to beg for yet another pointless delay. If that happens, all the progress we have been making will have been for nothing.

Yesterday, a Bill was published—a Bill that the Leader of the Opposition has spent all summer working on. It is not a Bill in any normal sense of the word: it is without precedent in our history. It is a Bill that, if passed, would force me to go to Brussels and beg for an extension. It would force me to accept the terms offered. It would destroy any chance of negotiation for a new deal. It would destroy it. Indeed, it would enable our friends in Brussels to dictate the terms of the negotiation. That is what it would do. There is only one way to describe the Bill: it is Jeremy Corbyn’s surrender Bill. That is what it is. It means running up the white flag—the Bill is shameful. I want to make it clear to everybody in this House: there are no circumstances in which I will ever accept anything like it. I will never surrender the control of our negotiations in the way that the Leader of the Opposition is demanding. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. People must not keep ranting from a sedentary position. However long it takes, the statement will be heard and the response to it will be heard. That is the reality and nothing can gainsay it.

The Prime Minister - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 3:50 p.m.

We promised the people that we would get Brexit done. We promised to respect the result of the referendum, and we must do so now. Enough is enough. The country wants this done and it wants the referendum respected. We are negotiating a deal, and though I am confident of getting a deal, we will leave by 31 October in all circumstances. There will be no further pointless delay. This House has never before voted to force the Prime Minister to surrender such a crucial decision to the discretion of our friends and neighbours overseas. What this Bill would mean is that, unless we agreed to the terms of our friends and partners, they would be able to keep us in the EU for as long as they want and on their terms. I therefore urge this House to reject the Bill tonight, so that we can get the right deal for our country, deliver Brexit and take the whole country forward. I commend this statement to the House.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no vote on a Bill tonight. There is a vote on a motion, and if that motion is successful there will be a Bill tomorrow. [Interruption.] Order. I say this simply because the intelligibility of our proceedings to those observing them is important, and I am sure that everybody from all parts of the House will recognise that fundamental truth.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:04 p.m.

As my right hon. and learned Friend knows, I am a keen fan and a lifelong fan of —[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:04 p.m.

Order. I want to hear what the Prime Minister has to say in response to the question, and that response must be heard.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Sep 2019, 4:05 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. As the Father of the House knows, I am a long-standing admirer of his. Indeed, I was the only member of the 2001 intake to vote for my right hon. and learned Friend as leader of the Conservative party. [Interruption.] I was—a fact that I do not think he much thanked me for at the time. I have long been a fan of his, and indeed in many ways we are ad idem in our views. I agree with him—I do not want an election. We do not want an election. I do not think the Leader of the Opposition wants an election, by the way, as far as I can make it out. We do not want an election; we want to get the deal done, and the best way to get a deal is to support the Government in the Lobby tonight.

Business of the House
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Thursday 25th July 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Leader of the House
Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. We must now move on, but in thanking the new Leader of the House, I note that there will be many opportunities to question him about future business in the weeks and months ahead.

The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 11:32 a.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on the mission of this new Conservative Government.

Before I begin, I am sure that the whole House will join me in paying tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May) for all that she has given to the service of our nation. From fighting modern slavery to tackling the problems of mental ill health, she has a great legacy on which we shall all be proud to build.

Our mission is to deliver Brexit on 31 October for the purpose of uniting and re-energising our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on earth. When I say “the greatest place on earth”, I am conscious that some may accuse me of hyperbole, but it is useful to imagine the trajectory on which we could now be embarked. By 2050, it is more than possible that the United Kingdom will be the greatest and most prosperous economy in Europe, at the centre of a new network of trade deals, which we have pioneered. With the road and rail investments that we are making and propose to make now and the investment in broadband and 5G, our country will boast the most affordable transport and technological connectivity on the planet. By unleashing the productive power of the whole United Kingdom—not just of London and the south-east, but of every corner of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland—we will have closed forever the productivity gap and seen to it that no town is left behind ever again and no community ever forgotten.

Our children and grandchildren will be living longer, happier and healthier lives. Our kingdom in 2050—thanks, by the way, to the initiative of the previous Prime Minister—will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet, brought about by carbon emissions, because we will have led the world in delivering that net-zero target. We will be the home of electric vehicles—cars and even planes—powered by British-made battery technology, which is being developed right here, right now. We will have the free ports to revitalise our coastal communities, a bio-science sector liberated from anti-genetic modification rules, blight resistant crops that will feed the world, and satellite and earth observation systems that are the envy of the world. We will be the seedbed for the most exciting and dynamic business investments on the planet. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. I apologise for interrupting the Prime Minister. There is far too much noise in this Chamber, and there are far too many Members who think it is all right for them to shout out their opinion at the Prime Minister. Let us be clear: it is not. The statement will be heard, and there will be ample opportunity, in conformity with convention, and as established by me over the last decade, for colleagues to question the Prime Minister, but the statement will be heard, and heard with courtesy.

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.

Break in Debate

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.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 12:01 p.m.

Order. Mr McDonald, you really are at times a reckless delinquent. Calm yourself, man. I know you get very irate because you feel passionately. I respect your passion, but I do not respect your delinquency. Calm yourself, man; take some sort of soothing medicament and you will feel better as a consequence.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

They do not like the truth that more homes were built in this country last year than in any of the last 31 years bar one. Wages are now outperforming inflation for the first time in a decade. The living wage—a Conservative policy that I am proud to say I championed in London and that was then stolen by our wonderful Conservative Government and made into a national policy—has expanded the incomes of those who receive it by £4,500 since 2010. That is a fantastic achievement, and it is a Conservative achievement.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about trust and asks, “Who can you trust to run the Government?” How on earth? He asks about Iran—a right hon. Gentleman who has been paid by Press TV of Iran and who repeatedly sides with the mullahs of Tehran rather than our friends in the United States over what is happening in the Persian gulf. How incredible that we should even think of entrusting that gentleman with the stewardship of this country’s security.

Worse than that by far, this is a right hon. Gentleman who is set on an economic policy, together with the shadow Chancellor who was sacked by Ken Livingstone for being too left wing—[Interruption.] Quite rightly, he was sacked for fabricating a budget. He forged a budget—sacked for forging a budget. He would raise taxes on inheritance; he would raise taxes on pensions—[Interruption.] I am answering; I am telling you—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. Mr Lavery, you are another over-excitable denizen of the House. Calm yourself; it would be therapeutic for you to do so. There is far too much noise on both sides of the House, and I fear that the noise on the Front Bench is proving contagious. I note that certain Back Benchers are becoming over-excitable. They must restrain themselves. I know that the Prime Minister will, of course, be both passionate and restrained.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is only with an effort that I can master my feelings here, Mr Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman would not only put up taxes on inheritance, pensions and corporations; he would put up taxes on income to 50p in the pound. [Interruption.] There he is, the shadow Chancellor—the forger of the budget of 1984, Mr Speaker.

Give the Leader of the Opposition a chance and he would put up taxes not just on homes, but on gardens. He speaks about trust in our democracy. I have to say that a most extraordinary thing has just happened today. Did anybody notice? Did anybody notice the terrible metamorphosis that took place, like the final scene of “Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”? At last, this long-standing Eurosceptic, the right hon. Gentleman, has been captured. He has been jugulated—he has been reprogrammed by his hon. Friends. He has been turned now into a remainer! Of all the flip-flops that he has performed in his tergiversating career, that is the one for which I think he will pay the highest price.

It is this party now, this Government, who are clearly on the side of democracy in this country. It is this party that is on the side of the people who voted so overwhelmingly in 2016, and it is this party that will deliver the mandate that they gave to this Parliament—and which, by the way, this Parliament promised time and time and time again to deliver. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman and all his colleagues promised to deliver it. The reality now is that we are the party of the people. We are the party of the many, and they are the party of the few. We will take this country forwards; they, Mr Speaker, would take it backwards.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

As the hon. Lady knows full well—not that we will get to that situation, and not that I wish to rely remotely on article 5(c)—we intend of course, if we have to, to confide absolutely in article 5(b), which provides ample—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 1:08 p.m.

Order. I do not know what the hon. Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) is looking so dissatisfied about. I am quite sure the Prime Minister would be able to quote it verbatim—in Latin—by 3 September, when the House returns.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I think the people of the north-east should be left to decide what they admire most about that fantastic region, and it would be patronising of anybody to say what they admire about any particular region of the UK. The north-east is the only region of the UK that is a net exporter—[Interruption.] Yes—I bet she didn’t know that! The hon. Lady is not interested in economic success. We are interested in backing business and industry—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Jul 2019, 1:11 p.m.

Order. We must restore some calm. I have been listening with rapt attention to the Prime Minister, but I do not want his arm to collide with the microphone. That would be analogous to a tennis player crashing into the net, which I know he would never do, knowingly or otherwise.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

It really is extraordinary that the Scottish nationalist party is returning to the issue of fish. It is now clear that its whole policy is not just to join the euro and submit to the whole panoply of EU regulations, but to hand over control of Scottish fisheries—Arbroath smokies, kippers and all—to the EU. That is its policy, and I would like to see it try to get elected on that.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard

Order. I thank the Prime Minister most warmly on this his debut outing at the Dispatch Box for his answers and his patience and courtesy, and for responding to 129 inquisitors.

Knife Crime Prevention Orders
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 4th February 2019

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Home Office
Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Feb 2019, 3:49 p.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend and the Home Secretary on what they are doing to tackle this very difficult problem. There are no easy answers, but I remind her that 11 years ago, the Met instituted Operation Blunt 2, which, in the course of about 18 months, took 11,000 knives off the streets of London and was one of the factors that led to serious and sustained falls in knife crime and indeed, in the murder rate. Does my hon. Friend agree that the biggest supporters of stop and search are the families who might otherwise face a lifetime of pain, and does she not agree that the present Mayor of London is therefore grotesquely pessimistic in saying that this will take 10 years to resolve?

Mr Speaker Hansard

I think the right hon. Gentleman is telling us that he was doing jolly well.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 29th January 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The former Foreign Secretary does not seem to be very well versed in the traditions of the House of Commons and debate. [Interruption.] Order. I am telling the right hon. Gentleman what the position is, and he will learn from me. When he seeks to intervene, he waits to hear whether the person on his or her feet is giving way, and the Leader of the Opposition is not giving way. In that case, with the very greatest of respect, it is for the right hon. Gentleman to know his place, which is in his seat.

Members’ Interests
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Thursday 6th December 2018

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Dec 2018, 11:45 a.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will be aware that the Committee on Standards has today published a report on nine payments, mainly unexpected foreign royalties, which I am very sorry to say were recorded late on the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. I fully accept that the delay was a breach of the House’s rules and, though I am grateful to the Committee for recognising that there was no intention to mislead the House and that I have been completely transparent, I therefore offer the House a full and unreserved apology.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said, and for the way in which he has said it. He has been very prompt, and that is appreciated. We will leave the matter there.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 4th December 2018

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:36 p.m.

Order. Resume your seat. I am sorry to have to bark at the hon. Lady, but the intervention is just too long—end of. Enough.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:37 p.m.

A very good point none the less, Mr Speaker. It is exactly on the point. As I have been saying, the EU has no incentive whatever to let us out of this backstop precisely because they have a massive trade surplus with us. Furthermore, when they look at UK manufacturing and UK business, they realise that they will have, in that backstop and through the whole of the implementation period and beyond, unchecked and unmediated power effectively to legislate for the UK with no UK representation.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I was coming to that. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:42 p.m.

Order. Members must not shout across the Chamber at the right hon. Gentleman. It is extremely unseemly—[Interruption.] Order. I have no doubt that he is well able to look after himself. I am not really concerned about him; I am concerned about the reputation of the House.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:42 p.m.

I have been told, by your leave, Mr Speaker, that I have an unlimited time to speak, so I will come to the solution that my hon. Friend the Member for North Thanet craves in just a minute.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:48 p.m.

I do not see it that way. If we go on like this, with the backstop as it is, we will be thrashed out of sight. [Hon. Members: “Let Carol in!”] I will come to Carol in a minute. Having studied the UK’s negotiating style in detail, I do not think that it believes—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 7:48 p.m.

Order. There is excessive noise in the Chamber. My understanding, in so far as I can hear—[Interruption.] Order. Calm yourselves. My understanding is that Mr Johnson is not currently giving way.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I think the House will agree that I have given way quite a lot so far, and I am very happy to do so again in the future, but I want to come to the point that has been raised by my hon. Friends.

EU Exit Negotiations
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 15th October 2018

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

I know that my right hon. Friend will appreciate that, in deciding to remain in the customs union, the Leader of the Opposition is guilty of a shameless U-turn and a betrayal of millions of people—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 3:57 p.m.

Order. I want to hear the right hon. Gentleman. Let’s hear the fella.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Oct 2018, 3:58 p.m.

In that case, I will repeat that the right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, is guilty of a shameless U-turn and a betrayal of millions of people who voted leave. Will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirm, as I think she has just said, that the very latest deadline by which this country will take back control of our tariff schedules in Geneva and vary those tariffs independently of Brussels in order to do free trade deals will be, as I think she has just said, December 2021? If that is not the deadline, will she say what it is?

Personal Statement
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 18th July 2018

(1 year, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Boris Johnson (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 2:57 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting me this opportunity, first to pay tribute to the men and women of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who have done an outstanding job over the last two years. I am very proud that we have rallied the world against Russia’s barbaric use of chemical weapons, with an unprecedented 28 countries joining together to expel 153 spies in protest at what happened in Salisbury. We have rejuvenated the Commonwealth with a superb summit that saw Zimbabwe back on the path to membership and Angola now wanting to join. As I leave, we are leading global campaigns against the illegal wildlife trade and in favour of 12 years of quality education for every girl, and we have the Union flag going up in nine new missions in the Pacific, the Caribbean and Africa, and more to come. We have overtaken France to boast the biggest diplomatic network of any European country.

None of this would have been possible without the support of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. Everyone who has worked with her will recognise her courage and resilience, and it was my privilege to collaborate with her in promoting global Britain, a vision for this country that she set out with great clarity at Lancaster House on 17 January last year: a country eager, as she said, not just to do a bold, ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, out of the customs union and out of the single market, but to do new free trade deals around the world. I thought that was the right vision then; I think so today.

But in the 18 months that have followed, it is as though a fog of self-doubt has descended. Even though our friends and partners liked the Lancaster House vision—it was what they were expecting from an ambitious partner, what they understood—and even though the commentators and the markets liked it—the pound soared, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will have observed—we never actually turned that vision into a negotiating position in Brussels. We never made it into a negotiating offer. Instead, we dithered. We burned through our negotiating capital. We agreed to hand over a £40 billion exit fee with no discussion of our future economic relationship, we accepted the jurisdiction of the European Court over key aspects of the withdrawal agreement and, worst of all, we allowed the question of the Northern Irish border, which had hitherto been assumed on all sides to be readily soluble, to become so politically charged as to dominate the debate—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. The statement by the right hon. Gentleman must be heard, and by long-standing convention, it is heard with courtesy and without heckling.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
18 Jul 2018, 2:59 p.m.

I am grateful, Mr Speaker.

No one on either side of this House or anywhere wants a hard border. We could not construct one if we tried. However, there certainly can be different rules north and south of the border to reflect the fact that there are two different jurisdictions. In fact, there already are. There can be checks away from the border and technical solutions, as the Prime Minister rightly described at Mansion House, and, in fact, there already are. However, when I and other colleagues—I single out my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis)—proposed further technical solutions to make customs and regulatory checks remotely, those proposals were never even properly examined, as if such solutions had become intellectually undesirable in the context of the argument. After the December joint report, whose backstop arrangement we were all told was entirely provisional and never to be invoked, it somehow became taboo even to discuss technical fixes.

After 18 months of stealthy retreat, we have come from the bright certainties of Lancaster House to the Chequers agreement. We can compare them side by side. Lancaster House said that laws will once again be made in Westminster. Chequers says that there will be “ongoing harmonisation” with the common EU rulebook. Lancaster House said that it would be wrong to comply with EU rules and regulations

“without having a vote on what those rules and regulations are.”

Chequers now makes us rules takers. Lancaster House said that we do not want

“anything that leaves us half-in, half-out… We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave.”

Chequers says that we will remain in lockstep on goods and agri-foods and much more besides, with disputes ultimately adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.

Far from making laws in Westminster, there are large sectors in which Ministers will have no power to initiate, innovate or even deviate. After decades in which UK Ministers have gone to Brussels and expostulated against costly EU regulation, we are now claiming that we must accept every jot and tittle for our economic health—with no say of our own and no way of protecting our businesses and entrepreneurs from rules that may be not in their interests. My right hon. Friend Chancellor was asked to identify the biggest single opportunity from Brexit. After some thought, he said “regulatory innovation.” Well, there may be some regulatory innovation post Brexit but, alas, it will not be coming from the UK, and certainly not in those areas. We are volunteering for economic vassalage, not just in goods and agri-foods, but we will be forced to match EU arrangements on the environment, social affairs and much else besides. Of course, we all want high standards, but I say to my hon. Friends that it is hard to see how the Conservative Government of the 1980s could have done their vital supply-side reforms with those freedoms taken away.

The result of accepting the EU’s rulebook, and of our proposal for a fantastical Heath Robinson customs arrangement, is that we have much less scope to do free trade deals, which the Chequers paper actually acknowledges and which we should all acknowledge. If we pretend otherwise, we continue to make the fatal mistake of underestimating the intelligence of the public, saying one thing to the EU about what we are really doing and saying another thing to the electorate. Given that in important ways this is BINO or Brino or “Brexit in name only”, I am of course unable to support it, as I said in the Cabinet session at Chequers, and I am happy to be able to speak out against it now.

It is not too late to save Brexit. We have time in the negotiations. We have changed tack once, and we can change again. The problem is not that we failed to make the case for a free trade agreement of the kind spelt out at Lancaster House—we have not even tried. We must try now, because we will not get another chance to get this right. It is absolute nonsense to imagine, as I fear some of my colleagues do, that we can somehow afford to make a botched treaty now, and then break and reset the bone later on. We have seen even in these talks how the supposedly provisional becomes eternal.

We have the time, I believe the PM has the support of Parliament—remember the enthusiasm for Lancaster House and for Mansion House—and it was clear last night that there is no majority for going back to the customs union. With good will and common sense, we can address concerns about the Northern Irish border and all other borders. We have fully two and a half years to make the technical preparations, along with the preparations for a World Trade Organisation outcome, which we should now accelerate. We should not and need not be stampeded by anyone, but let us explicitly aim once again for the glorious vision of Lancaster House: a strong, independent, self-governing Britain that is genuinely open to the world, not the miserable permanent limbo of Chequers and not the democratic disaster of “ongoing harmonisation” with no way out and no say for the UK.

We need to take one decision now before all others, and that is to believe in this country and in what it can do, because the UK’s admirers—there are millions if not billions of them across the world—are fully expecting us to do what we said, to take back control, to be able to set new standards for technologies in which we excel, to behave not as rules takers but as great independent actors on the world stage, and to do proper free trade deals for the benefit and prosperity of the British people. That was the vision of Brexit that we fought for, that was the vision that the Prime Minister rightly described last year and that is the prize that is still attainable. There is time, and if the Prime Minister can fix that vision before us once again, I believe that she can deliver a great Brexit for Britain with a positive, self-confident approach that will unite this party, unite this House and unite the country as well.

Illegal Wildlife Trade
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 26th June 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am delighted to say that we will do everything in our power to stick up for the wildcat wherever it is found—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 12:15 p.m.

The hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross (Jamie Stone) seems to have a compendious knowledge of rare species, and we are very grateful to him.

United States: Human Rights and Diplomatic Relations
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 26th June 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 11:38 a.m.

Too long. Hopelessly long.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
26 Jun 2018, 11:38 a.m.

With great respect, I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers that I have already given. The President of the United States has repealed the policy in question, and he remains the Head of State of our most important economic, military and security ally.

Girls’ Education
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 15th May 2018

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and the statistics are truly horrifying. There are countries around the world, including in sub-Saharan Africa, where female illiteracy is running at 60%, 70% or sometimes 80%, which is why the UK is in the lead in campaigning at the UN, the G7 and the G20 for focus on this issue. That is also why the Prime Minister announced a further £212 million for girls’ education at the recent Commonwealth summit.

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 May 2018, 11:36 a.m.

As he is the father of lots of daughters, I call Mr Barry Sheerman.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 27th March 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Department for International Development
Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2018, 11:58 a.m.

My hon. Friend anticipates developments that may unfold in the next couple of months. I do not wish to steal my own thunder, though, so he will have to contain his impatience on that.

Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Mar 2018, 11:57 a.m.

I call Mike Gapes.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Hansard

I passionately agree. [Interruption.] “Say no”, say Labour Front Benchers. That is their attitude. Is that not extraordinary? “Say no”, says the noble and learned Lady, the Baroness, whatever it is—I cannot remember what it is. [Interruption.] Nugee. What an extraordinary thing. The Commonwealth is an institution that encompasses 2.4 billion people and some of the fastest growing economies in the world. We have an unrivalled opportunity to embrace them here in London, and we are going to do it.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I do not want to be unkind or discourteous to the Foreign Secretary, but I say on advice, as the Clerks swivel round to me, two things. First, we do not name-call in this Chamber. Secondly—I am dealing with the matter, and the right hon. Gentleman will listen and benefit from listening—we do not address people by the titles of their spouses. The shadow Foreign Secretary has a name, and it is not Lady something. We know what her name is. It is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms, and I am not having it in this Chamber. That is the end of the matter. No matter how senior a Member, that parlance is not legitimate. It will not be allowed, and it will be called out. I require no chuntering from a sedentary position from any occupant of the Treasury Bench. I have said what the position is, and believe me, that is the end of the matter. I hope I have made the position extremely clear to people who are not well informed about such matters.

Break in Debate

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2018, 12:15 p.m.

Mr Speaker, may I crave your indulgence to prostrate myself before you and to apologise for any inadvertent sexism or discourtesy that you may have deemed me to be guilty of? I heartily tender my apologies to the right hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Emily Thornberry) if she was offended by what I said. I meant no harm, and I apologise unreservedly if I have offended her feelings.

Following the abhorrent chemical attack in Salisbury, the UK Government have engaged closely with our international partners on this and other issues, but the holding of sports events and the choice of venues is a matter for the relevant sporting authorities—in this case, FIFA.

Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Mar 2018, midnight

I thank the Foreign Secretary for his gracious apology. As far as I am concerned, if I can use the expression again, that is the end of the matter.

The Commonwealth
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 27th March 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard

I passionately agree. [Interruption.] “Say no”, say Labour Front Benchers. That is their attitude. Is that not extraordinary? “Say no”, says the noble and learned Lady, the Baroness, whatever it is—I cannot remember what it is. [Interruption.] Nugee. What an extraordinary thing. The Commonwealth is an institution that encompasses 2.4 billion people and some of the fastest growing economies in the world. We have an unrivalled opportunity to embrace them here in London, and we are going to do it.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I do not want to be unkind or discourteous to the Foreign Secretary, but I say on advice, as the Clerks swivel round to me, two things. First, we do not name-call in this Chamber. Secondly—I am dealing with the matter, and the right hon. Gentleman will listen and benefit from listening—we do not address people by the titles of their spouses. The shadow Foreign Secretary has a name, and it is not Lady something. We know what her name is. It is inappropriate and frankly sexist to speak in those terms, and I am not having it in this Chamber. That is the end of the matter. No matter how senior a Member, that parlance is not legitimate. It will not be allowed, and it will be called out. I require no chuntering from a sedentary position from any occupant of the Treasury Bench. I have said what the position is, and believe me, that is the end of the matter. I hope I have made the position extremely clear to people who are not well informed about such matters.

National Security and Russia
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 26th March 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard
26 Mar 2018, 9:58 p.m.

We will be doing more to tackle disinformation in all sorts of ways, including by making sure that we monitor the output of the Russians properly. We will be hardening our defences, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) rightly recommended. We will be going after the money, as the hon. Member for Rhondda, the right hon. Member for Exeter and many others recommended. As my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) has said, we are unconditionally committed to the defence of our Baltic friends and, yes, we will continue to spend more than any other major European country on defence. Tomorrow all that work goes on, but tonight we mark what I hope will be a watershed moment and a turning point when after all the lies, all the clouds of deceit and all the deployment of Russia’s wearying and sarcastic intercontinental ballistic whoppers—after all the outrage and the provocation that we have had from it—the countries of the world have come together, in numbers far greater than Putin can possibly have imagined, to say that enough is enough.

We want to be friends with Russia and we want to be friends with the Russian people, but it is up to the Russian Government to change, and to change now. I am proud that it is the British Government who have been in the lead, and I thank Members on both sides of the House, including those on the Opposition Front Bench, for the clarity and moral certainty with which they have spoken today.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House has considered national security and Russia.

Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Mar 2018, 10 p.m.

I am about to call the right hon. Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth). It seems to me quite inexplicable that significant numbers of Members are leaving the Chamber, but if they feel inclined to do so—[Interruption.] It is no good the right hon. Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) chuntering that he has been here for several hours; he could stay here another half an hour and indulge the right hon. Member for Knowsley. If people wish to leave the Chamber, they should do so quickly and quietly, so that the rest of us can attend to the intellectual oratory of the right hon. Member for Knowsley.

Government Policy on Russia
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 6th March 2018

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
6 Mar 2018, 12:46 p.m.

Order. Unfortunately, the Foreign Secretary arrived slightly later than scheduled and addressed the House for slightly longer than the time limit allows, but by virtue of my generosity of spirit, he has thus far escaped unsanctioned in respect of either offence. His acknowledgement of same would of course be appreciated by the House.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
6 Mar 2018, 12:46 p.m.

indicated assent.

Mr Speaker Hansard
6 Mar 2018, 12:46 p.m.

I must now make some allowance for the shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry—[Interruption.] Oh, only once we have heard from Mr Tugendhat; I am ahead of myself.

Points of Order
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 26th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Bill Main Page
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

The hon. Lady has found her own salvation. The Foreign Secretary is nodding approvingly from a sedentary position, which I think is confirmation that he accepts the truth of what the hon. Lady has said. There is a satisfactory conclusion, and I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary—[Interruption.] He may come to the Dispatch Box if he wishes.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard

Further to that point of order, I am happy to accept the hon. Lady’s assurances that she was not in fact calling for military intervention.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Thank you. From memory, I think the record will confirm that the hon. Lady was not advocating that. I am grateful to the Foreign Secretary.

Syria: De-escalation Zones
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 26th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2018, 3:54 p.m.

As I am sure the right hon. Lady will appreciate, United Nations Security Council resolution 2401 was, in fact, a considerable success of diplomacy, given the position that the Russians had previously taken. I think that it represents a strong commitment to a ceasefire on the part of the entire international community. It is now up to the Russians to enforce that ceasefire, and to get their client state to enforce it as well. That is the point that we are making, and the point that we will definitely make to ambassador Yakovenko. As for the issue of humanitarian corridors, I think that all these ideas are extremely good and we certainly support them, but it will take the acquiescence of the Assad regime to achieve what we want.

The right hon. Lady asked about the UK Government. The UK Government have been in the lead in Geneva and the United Nations in driving the process of holding the Assad regime to account through Security Council resolutions, and we continue to do that. We are calling again for the Security Council to meet to discuss the failure to implement resolution 2401 today. As the right hon. Lady knows, the UK Government are part of the Syria Small Group, which is working to counterbalance what has turned out to be a doomed—or perhaps I should say “so far unsuccessful”—Russian venture at Sochi. That is because we think it is our job to bring the international community together. I am not talking about the Astana process or the Sochi process. We should bring the members of the international community together, as one, in Geneva, with a single political process. That is what the job of the UK Government is, and that is where we will continue to direct our efforts.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Tom Tugendhat.

New Channel Link
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 20th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 2:46 p.m.

Order. On the subject of crowbarring, or indeed shoehorning, I remind the Foreign Secretary—I am sure that he requires no reminding—that the question is not about Brexit; it is about a fixed link across the channel. That is the pertinent matter upon which he will focus.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 2:47 p.m.

If I may say so, I think that my hon. Friend has hit upon the notion of a metaphorical fixed link: a great, swollen, throbbing umbilicus of trade—I will not say which way it is going—with each side mutually nourishing the other. I very much approve of the note of optimism that he strikes.

Topical Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 20th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard

The universal spanner—a device that will solve almost any problem. I truly believe that female education is at the heart of solving so many other global problems, which is why we are putting it at the very centre of the Commonwealth summit in April and the upcoming G7 summit. Across our network, female education is at the heart of everything that we do.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:25 p.m.

Order. There is a lot of chortling going on in the Chamber, but we have had an update on the spanner situation, for which we are indebted to the Foreign Secretary.

Institute for Free Trade: Launch Cost
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 20th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:08 p.m.

I don’t think it was a meeting, I think it was a booze-up.

Boris Johnson - Hansard

I hesitate for an age before correcting you, Mr Speaker, but it was a serious discussion of the advancement of free trade. The subject of free trade in the African Union, which my hon. Friend raises, is a very good one. The only advice I would give to the African Union is not to acquire a parliament, a court or a single currency.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:09 p.m.

I readily defer to the Foreign Secretary’s knowledge of this important event.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 20th February 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Department for International Development
Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 2:46 p.m.

Order. On the subject of crowbarring, or indeed shoehorning, I remind the Foreign Secretary—I am sure that he requires no reminding—that the question is not about Brexit; it is about a fixed link across the channel. That is the pertinent matter upon which he will focus.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 2:47 p.m.

If I may say so, I think that my hon. Friend has hit upon the notion of a metaphorical fixed link: a great, swollen, throbbing umbilicus of trade—I will not say which way it is going—with each side mutually nourishing the other. I very much approve of the note of optimism that he strikes.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:08 p.m.

I don’t think it was a meeting, I think it was a booze-up.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I hesitate for an age before correcting you, Mr Speaker, but it was a serious discussion of the advancement of free trade. The subject of free trade in the African Union, which my hon. Friend raises, is a very good one. The only advice I would give to the African Union is not to acquire a parliament, a court or a single currency.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:09 p.m.

I readily defer to the Foreign Secretary’s knowledge of this important event.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Hansard

The universal spanner—a device that will solve almost any problem. I truly believe that female education is at the heart of solving so many other global problems, which is why we are putting it at the very centre of the Commonwealth summit in April and the upcoming G7 summit. Across our network, female education is at the heart of everything that we do.

Mr Speaker Hansard
20 Feb 2018, 3:25 p.m.

Order. There is a lot of chortling going on in the Chamber, but we have had an update on the spanner situation, for which we are indebted to the Foreign Secretary.

Topical Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 9th January 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Mr Speaker Hansard

The Foreign Secretary is beetling to the Box. If he wishes to stand up at the Box to offer us a product of his lucubrations, we will be happy to hear it.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
9 Jan 2018, 12:39 p.m.

I am not exactly sure what is in order here, but doubtless you will guide me, Mr Speaker. I must redirect the right hon. Lady and indeed the House to her words of 14 May 2017 on the “The Andrew Marr Show”, when she said:

“I think we have to welcome the American President to Britain. We have to work with him.”

I rest my case. [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. I think honour is served. The shadow Foreign Secretary has offered us her thoughts and the Foreign Secretary has, with some alacrity, beetled back to the Box in order to respond. I think we should, at least for today, leave it there.

The Commonwealth
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 9th January 2018

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard
9 Jan 2018, 11:30 a.m.

I can reassure the hon. Gentleman—as I am sure he reassures anybody who makes that point—that our position on the Security Council is absolutely secure. In fact, the only thing that threatens our position on the Security Council, as my hon. Friends will know, is the unilateralist disarmament policy that used to be adopted by the Labour party and its leader. It is the retention and possession of an independent nuclear deterrent that guarantees our membership of the Security Council, as the hon. Gentleman knows full well.

Mr Speaker Hansard

On promotion of the Commonwealth, I call James Duddridge.

Brexit Negotiations
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 11th December 2017

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Cabinet Office
Mr Speaker Hansard
11 Dec 2017, 5:19 p.m.

I am most grateful to the Prime Minister. She was at the crease for an hour and 45 minutes, which was a very substantial commitment, although I am not sure that Geoffrey Boycott would view it in those terms. He would probably think that it was a pretty short space of time for him to get his first few runs on the board.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2017, 5:23 p.m.

With your permission, Mr Speaker, and following my undertaking to the House, I will make a statement about my visit to the middle east, from where I returned this morning.

This is a crucial time in the region. On the one hand we have a moment of hope, with scores of countries having come together to break the grip of Daesh on Iraq and Syria. Britain’s armed forces have played a proud role in a military campaign that has freed millions, and Iraq’s Government declared on Saturday that all their territory had been liberated. During her successful visit to Iraq last month, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister thanked the British servicemen and women who have helped to bring about the territorial defeat of Daesh. In Jordan, she reaffirmed Britain’s absolute commitment to the peace and stability of one of our closest allies in the region. However, the setbacks inflicted upon Daesh have coincided with a dangerous escalation of the war in Yemen, where one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world is now unfolding.

This morning I returned from my first bilateral visit as Foreign Secretary to Oman, the UAE and Iran. My aim was to take forward Britain’s response, diplomatic and economic, to the crisis in Yemen. The Government strongly believe that the only way to bring this tragic conflict to an end is through a political solution. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman, whom I met in Muscat last Friday, entirely shared this analysis. The sultan and I discussed in detail the tragedy in Yemen, with which Oman shares a 180-mile border. We also agreed on the importance of settling the dispute between Qatar and its neighbours, and I was pleased to see that the summit of the Gulf Co-operation Council went ahead in Kuwait last week.

From Muscat I travelled to Tehran, where I met Iran’s senior leadership including President Rouhani, Vice-President Salehi and the Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif. I was frank about the subjects where our countries have differences of interest and approach, but our talks were constructive none the less.

The latest chapter of Britain’s relations with Iran opened with the achievement of the nuclear deal, the joint comprehensive plan of action, in July 2015. In every meeting, I stressed that the UK attaches the utmost importance to preserving this agreement. For the JCPOA to survive, Iran must continue to restrict its nuclear programme in accordance with the deal, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has verified Iran’s compliance so far, and other parties must keep their side of the bargain by helping the Iranian people to enjoy the economic benefits of re-engagement with the world.

The House knows of Iran’s disruptive role in conflicts across the region, including in Syria and Yemen. Our discussions on these subjects were frank and constructive, although neither I nor my Iranian counterparts would claim that we reached agreement on all issues. If we are to resolve the conflict in Yemen, Houthi rebels must stop firing missiles at Saudi Arabia. The House will recall that King Khalid International airport in Riyadh—Saudi Arabia’s equivalent of Heathrow—was the target of a ballistic missile launched from Yemen on 4 November. I pressed my Iranian counterparts to use their influence to ensure that these indiscriminate and dangerous attacks come to an end.

On bilateral issues, my first priority was the plight of the dual nationals behind bars. I urged their release on humanitarian grounds, where there is cause to do so. These are complex cases involving individuals considered by Iran to be their own citizens, and I do not wish to raise false hopes, but my meetings in Tehran were worthwhile, and while I do not believe it would be in the interests of the individuals concerned or their loved ones to provide a running commentary, the House can be assured that the Government will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to secure their release.

I also raised with Mr Zarif the official harassment of journalists working for BBC Persian and their families inside Iran. I brought up Iran’s wider human rights record, including how the regime executes more of its own citizens per capita than almost any other country. But where it is possible to be positive in our relations with Iran—for instance, by encouraging scientific, educational and cultural exchanges—we should be ready to be so.

I then travelled to Abu Dhabi for talks yesterday with the leaders of the UAE, focusing on the war in Yemen, joined by the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, and colleagues from the United States. We agreed on the importance of restoring full humanitarian and commercial access to the port of Hodeidah, which handles over 80% of Yemen’s food imports. We also agreed on the need to revive the political process, bearing in mind that the killing of the former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, by the Houthis may cause the conflict to become even more fragmented, and we discussed how best to address the missile threat from Yemen, welcoming the United Nations investigation into the origin of the weapons launched.

Our concern for the unspeakable suffering in Yemen should not blind us to the reality that resolving a conflict of this scale and complexity will take time and persistence, and success is far from guaranteed. But it is only by engagement with all the regional powers, including Iran, and only by mobilising Britain’s unique array of friendships in the middle east, that we stand any chance of making headway. I am determined to press ahead with the task, mindful of the human tragedy in Yemen, and I shall be meeting my Gulf and American colleagues again early in the new year. I commend this statement to the House.

Rohingya People
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 21st November 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 11:44 a.m.

In answer to the hon. Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden), I detailed what we have been doing with our EU friends and partners. We have secured agreement to suspend military visits, and we will review matters with our friends and partners as things develop.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 11:44 a.m.

I would have called the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mary Robinson) if she had been standing, but she was not, so I did not, but now she is, so I will.

Topical Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 21st November 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Department for International Development
Boris Johnson - Hansard

I do. It is shameful, and another aspect of Russia’s continual abetting of some of the worst excesses of the Assad regime. That is certainly one of the things that I will take up when I go to Russia at the end of next month.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 11:30 a.m.

The right hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Ann Clwyd) should not worry; I have preserved her contribution for the belated adoration of the House.

Freedom of Expression
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 21st November 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard

We have made it absolutely clear to our Chinese partners that the joint declaration is absolutely valid and operative, and that one country, two systems, enshrining all the values the hon. Gentleman rightly draws attention to, remains in force.

Mr Speaker Hansard
21 Nov 2017, 12:24 p.m.

Our early lunchtime exchanges would be incomplete if we did not have the participation of the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne).

Zimbabwe
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Wednesday 15th November 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Boris Johnson - Hansard
15 Nov 2017, 1:09 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend, notably for his recent mission to Zimbabwe. I was very interested to hear of his meetings there. I know that he personally, in a way, incarnates the historic ties between our two countries. He knows whereof he speaks. Zimbabwe has fantastic potential. It is a country with a very well-educated population, and it has a great future if it can secure the right political system. That is all it takes. They have fantastic natural resources, and my right hon. Friend can be absolutely reassured that the UK Government—who, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said just now, contribute about £80 million or £90 million in DFID spending—will be continuing to invest in Zimbabwe and its future.

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Nov 2017, 1:10 p.m.

Henceforth we shall all view the right hon. Member for Mid Sussex (Sir Nicholas Soames) as an incarnation.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
15 Nov 2017, 1:33 p.m.

Indeed, as the hon. Gentleman pertinently observes.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Nov 2017, 1:34 p.m.

I have had the good fortune to meet representatives of ZANE over the years, as I am sure have many hon. Members on both sides of the House. ZANE does fantastic work, in common with other voluntary organisations that have kept the flame of hope alive for 37 years. Now is the moment when there really could be a new dawn. There is an opportunity and a moment of hope. We must not overdo it, but we must foster and sedulously protect what could be a real opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 13th November 2017

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson) - Hansard
13 Nov 2017, 3:33 p.m.

I should like to make a statement on the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in response to the right hon. Lady.

The whole House will join me in expressing our deep concern about the ordeal of this young mother, who has spent the last 19 months in jail in Iran. Every hon. Member will join the Government in urging the Iranian authorities to release her on humanitarian grounds.

I spoke by phone to her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, yesterday, and we agreed to meet later this week. I told Mr Ratcliffe that the whole country is behind him and we all want to see his wife home safely.

In view of the understandable concern, I propose to describe the background to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case and the efforts the Government are making to secure her release. In April last year, she was visiting her relations in Iran, along with her daughter, Gabriella, who was then only 22 months old, when she was arrested at Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran while trying to board her flight back to the UK. The British Government have no doubt that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran on holiday and that that was the sole purpose of her visit. As I said in the House last week, my remarks on the subject before the Foreign Affairs Committee could and should have been clearer. I acknowledge that words I used were open to being misinterpreted, and I apologise to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family if I have inadvertently caused them any further anguish.

The House should bear in mind that Iran’s regime, and no one else, has chosen to separate this mother from her infant daughter for reasons that even it finds difficult to explain or describe. On 9 September 2016, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was brought to a secret trial and sentenced to five years in prison, supposedly for plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic. The House will note that so far as we can tell, no further charges have been brought against her and no further sentence has been imposed since that occasion over a year ago.

Eleven days after Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was sentenced, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised her case with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in New York on 20 September 2016. Two days later, I raised her case with my Iranian counterpart, Mr Zarif. For the sake of completeness, the House should know that the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron, raised Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment with President Rouhani on 9 August 2016, and my predecessor as Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), wrote to the Iranian Foreign Minister about her plight, and other consular cases, on 29 August 2016. [Official Report, 14 November 2017, Vol. 631, c. 1MC.]

At every meeting with our Iranian counterparts, my colleagues and I have taken every opportunity to raise the cases of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other nationals held in Iranian jails. We have expressed our concerns at every level—official, ministerial, and prime ministerial—on every possible occasion during the 19 months that she has been in jail. In addition, Mr Ratcliffe has held regular meetings with my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), formerly the Minister for the Middle East, and with the current Minister for the Middle East, my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Bedfordshire (Alistair Burt).

A situation where a British mother is held in these circumstances is bound to cast a shadow over Britain’s relations with Iran at a moment when, in the aftermath of the agreement of the nuclear deal in July 2015 and the easing of sanctions, we had all hoped to witness a genuine improvement. So I shall travel to Iran myself later this year to review the full state of our bilateral relations and to drive home the strength of feeling in this House, and in the country at large, about the plight of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and other consular cases. In order to maximise the chances of achieving progress, I would venture to say that hon. Members should place the focus of responsibility on those who are keeping Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe behind bars and who have the power to release her whenever they so choose. We should be united in our demand that the humanitarian reasons for releasing her are so overwhelming that if Iran cares about its reputation in this country, then its leaders will do now what is manifestly right. I commend this statement to the House.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Just for the avoidance of doubt, the Foreign Secretary has responded to an urgent question in the course of which he has very properly made remarks, but it is important, as others in the House can testify from past experience, to distinguish between a response to an urgent question, on the one hand, and the proffering by Government of a statement, on the other.

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Tuesday 17th October 2017

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson) - Hansard

The whole House can be proud of the way the country responded. We have committed £62 million to meet the immediate—[Interruption.] Excuse me, Mr Speaker; I am answering Questions 10 and 15 together with Question 8—

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:02 p.m.

Or even Questions 10 and 14. I realise that these are not the sort of matters with which the right hon. Gentleman ordinarily has to preoccupy himself. They may seem a mere trifle, but they are quite important in parliamentary terms.

Boris Johnson - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:02 p.m.

I am obliged and I stand corrected, Mr Speaker. I am answering Questions 8, 10 and 14 together, because they all relate to the impact of the hurricane.

The House can be proud of the way in which the country responded. We have provided £62 million to meet the immediate humanitarian needs. We deployed 2,000 military personnel and delivered 600 tonnes of aid. We fielded fantastic quantities of calls, not least from colleagues, some of whom I see are present behind me. I am chairing an inter-ministerial group to support a long-term recovery plan to get those overseas territories and British citizens back on their feet.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:22 p.m.

I must very humbly and apologetically correct the right hon. Lady, because she is not faithfully representing what I said. [Hon. Members: “She is.”] She is not. What I said in answer to an hon. Friend on these Benches was that some of the sums I had heard spoken of were, in my view, or in the view of my hon. Friends, eye-watering and far too high. The figure I heard was €100 billion. Would Labour Members cough up €100 billion? Would you, or you, or you? I think they would, the supine, protoplasmic, invertebrate jellies. I think that is the sort of money they would readily fork out. I think it is too much.

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:23 p.m.

I hope the Hansard reporters caught the full flavour of that. We will inspect the Official Report tomorrow.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:25 p.m.

Not the name, but merely the mention of it. It is unseemly and insufficiently reverential.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard

I would not dream of calling the right hon. Lady by any name other than Lady Nugee. May I say to her that, in fact, there is a ruthless and an iron consistency that applies not just to everything I have said, but to all the statements made by Conservative Members? We are united behind the principles of the Lancaster House speech, the article 50 letter and every jot, tittle, comma, syllable and every other item of punctuation in the Florence speech. I suggest that she adopts it as well.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Hansard

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who I know has campaigned assiduously for the rights of this particular constituent, and I congratulate her on everything she has done. Unfortunately, that kind of agreement would set all sorts of precedents, but we will look at the particular case and we will certainly see whether we can come up with a payment plan to extend the period of the loan.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Splendid.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. This tendency to name people is very unseemly. I said earlier that it was vulgar. If it was vulgar from the illustrious figure of the shadow Foreign Secretary, it is also vulgar from the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Helen Whately). The tendency must cease.

Boris Johnson - Hansard

I am very grateful for my hon. Friend’s excellent question. If we study the output of Russia Today and consider the state of the press in Russia at present, we see that it is a scandal that Labour Members should be continuing to validate and legitimate that kind of propaganda by going on those programmes. [Interruption.] I am assured by my ministerial team that none of them does so.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:45 p.m.

Emotional intelligence has a premium.

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:45 p.m.

I am looking forward immensely to the trip with my right hon. Friend, and I can tell him from my own experience that an immense amount can be accomplished in 45 minutes.

Break in Debate

Boris Johnson - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:46 p.m.

The SNP contrives to govern neither in poetry nor in prose. It should begin governing to start with.

Mr Speaker Hansard

Finally and—he has promised—briefly, I call Sir Hugo Swire.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 12:48 p.m.

I have understood the hon. and learned Lady, but we do not need to delve into the archives and refer back to 2002 and comparable examples. I recognise it is something that a distinguished legal practitioner is accustomed to doing, but we are short of time. If Ministers want to apologise, they can, but they are not under any obligation to do so.

Boris Johnson - Hansard

indicated dissent.

Mr Speaker Hansard

I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary is shaking his head. It is clear that he does not wish to apologise. The hon. and learned Lady has made her point with force and eloquence, however, and it is on the record; it will be in the Official Report. If that does not satisfy her, I hope it at least mollifies her.

Brexit and Foreign Affairs
Debate between Boris Johnson and John Bercow
Monday 26th June 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Department for Exiting the European Union
Boris Johnson - Hansard
26 Jun 2017, 9:54 p.m.

As the right hon. Lady will understand, we are absolutely bound to protect the economic interests of the people of Gibraltar, not least—this point can be made in respect of the whole argument about Brexit—because of course a strong Gibraltar and a robust Gibraltar economy are in the interests of Andalucia and the rest of Spain. We will get that done.

We have many networks around the world, not only in the territories and dependencies, but in the 52 Commonwealth nations that will come to London next year for a landmark summit, and through our languages, universities and broadcasting. It is a stunning fact that we sell £1.3 billion of TV programmes abroad. That is almost 10 times as much as the French, I am delighted to say—without in any way wishing to be chauvinistic about this. Indeed, our biggest single market for UK TV programmes in Europe is France. I am absolutely delighted that it is.

We project ourselves through our music, and the broadcasting of that music and great musical festivals, in which this country specialises. When this weekend the BBC broadcast Glastonbury around the world—[Hon. Members: “Glahstonbury?”] It is “Glahstonbury”; it is in the south-west. Of course, I know it was perhaps different for the people who spent £285 to go and be among the crowd there to watch elderly people such as Kris Kristofferson, but I can tell you, Mr Speaker, that when those extraordinary scenes on the stage at Glastonbury were broadcast, friends and admirers of this country around the world were genuinely alarmed that at a time of such uncertainty, the leader of the main Opposition party in this country should have exercised such an orphic spell on those who had previously been his opponents that they have meekly acceded to his desire not just to run down our defences but, as he said on the stage of Glastonbury—“Glahstonbury”—to scrap our nuclear defence. That was what he said, and it will have gone around the world.

It will have gone around the world that the leader of the main Opposition party in this country is actually committed to getting rid of the fundamentals of our nuclear defence, imperilling—this is the crucial point—not merely our own safety, but the safety of our friends and allies. That is not this Government’s way, and that is not the right way for this country. That is why we need a strong, open, confident, outward-looking and global Britain—for the good of our people and for the good of the world. I commend the Gracious Speech to the House.

Ordered, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Craig Whittaker.)

Debate to be resumed tomorrow.

Mr Speaker Hansard
26 Jun 2017, 9:59 p.m.

If Members insist inexplicably upon leaving and denying themselves the opportunity to hear the Adjournment debate, perhaps they will do so quickly and quietly, so that the rest of the House can attend to the words and messages of Mr Jim Fitzpatrick.