(9 months, 1 week ago)Read Full debate
We do want to bring our divided country together. First of all, in order to do that, we need to have agreement across this House for a deal that can ensure that we can deliver Brexit and then move on to the second stage where we will indeed be having that commitment both in terms of the responsibilities and involvement of this House but also of businesses, trade unions and civil society.
(9 months, 4 weeks ago)Read Full debate
Over time, the Government have taken a number of actions to ensure that we can deal with introducing more control into our immigration system. One of the advantages of ending free movement is that we can put an entirely new immigration system in place that enables it to be skills-based rather than based on the country somebody comes from. But I also believe that for many people what underpinned their vote and decision to leave the EU was a desire to see free movement end and that is why it is absolutely right that the proposals the Government have put forward would indeed do that.
(10 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend has raised a particularly important issue, but if I may, I will pull him up on just one point. The unemployment rate across the UK is actually 3.9%. Employment in Scotland has risen by 239,000 since the 2010 election, and we saw in the spring statement that the economy is growing every year, borrowing is lower than expected and debt is falling, but I absolutely recognise my hon. Friend’s concerns. That is why we will continue to work as a UK Government to deliver more jobs, healthier finances and an economy that is fit for the future across the whole of the United Kingdom.
The hon. Lady is absolutely right that politicians at all levels need to think very carefully about the terms in which we address others and in which we put our arguments. There are many Members across this House who have suffered significant verbal abuse and online abuse of various sorts. This is a matter that we should all be taking seriously, and I will be ensuring that, across this House, we work to ensure that people are not subject to the sort of abuse that, sadly, some Members have been subjected to from outside this House.
(1 year ago)Read Full debate
I thank my right hon. Friend for his intervention. I note what he said and I am happy to carry on discussing with him the different views we have had on the European issue. It is absolutely clear that what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is trying to do is not going to help to resolve the issue of ensuring that we deliver on Brexit for the British people.
I said last night that we would be having discussions across the House. There are many different opinions in the House on the issue of how to deliver Brexit; indeed, there are some views in the House on how not to deliver Brexit. I believe that we should deliver Brexit for the people. I made it clear that, should the Leader of the Opposition table a motion of no confidence, the first priority would be to debate that motion. I am confident that the Government will retain the confidence of the House. When that happens, I shall set out the further steps that we will take on discussions with Members from across the House.
(1 year ago)Read Full debate
I thank my hon. Friend. When I have visited Copeland, I have seen very clearly not only its population’s expertise and skills in the nuclear industry but the importance of that industry. The Moorside site will revert to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, and we are considering options for its future. The site remains eligible for nuclear new build, and we are committed to seeing new nuclear as part of our future energy mix. It might be helpful if the relevant Minister from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy met her and that group to explore this issue further.
As I said in the House last night, I will be talking to parliamentarians in my own party, in the DUP and in other parties across this House, looking to see what can secure the support of this House, but I say to the hon. Lady, as I have said to her right hon. and hon. Friends, that what this House must always have in mind is the importance of delivering on the vote of the people to leave the European Union.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
Yes, I am very happy to give that confirmation to my hon. Friend. He is right to raise this issue. It was an issue in the early stages of the negotiations, when many Members of this House raised the question of citizens’ rights. Now we hear a lot about the backstop, but people omit to mention that the crucial issue of citizens’ rights is reflected in the protections and guarantees in the withdrawal agreement.
It was the vote that took place in 2016 that determined that we should leave the European Union. I believe that we should leave the European Union with a good deal, and this is a good deal. I believe that the alternatives that have been put forward in some cases do not deliver on the referendum and in other cases make the use of a backstop even more likely.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
I do not believe that the scenario my right hon. Friend sets out is the correct one. The date of 21 January has been set in legislation—the vote on that took place last week—and we are conscious of the requirement that that places on the Government. It is right, however, that we recognise the concerns expressed in the House and attempt to find a way through them and to resolve them.
No. We have recognised that a specific aspect of the deal is raising concerns here in this House, and we will seek reassurances on that specific aspect of the deal, but I continue to believe that overall this deal is the right deal for the United Kingdom.
(1 year, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
I thank my right hon. Friend for his comments in relation to what I have been doing. I recognise that that concern has been raised, but there are a number of reasons why I believe that it is met by the arrangements in the withdrawal agreement. It is very clear in the withdrawal agreement that, if the backstop is implemented—and it does not have to be implemented—it is only temporary. It is clear from the point of view of the European Union that the legal base of the withdrawal agreement is article 50, and that that cannot be used to set up a permanent arrangement. Finally, if the backstop is exercised, we have the ability to ensure that it is superseded by the future relationship, and the intent to develop that future relationship in time for the backstop not to be used is clear throughout the document.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
I am very happy to answer my right hon. Friend’s question. In a customs union, it would be necessary to be part of the common commercial policy, which would not enable us to sign trade deals with other countries around the world. In the arrangement that we have put forward, we will be free to sign trade deals around the rest of the world.
That is one of the areas in which we will be entering negotiations with the European Union. We want to ensure that we see recognition in a number of areas in relation to professionals and professional services but, of course, that is something that we have to agree with the European Union.
(1 year, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
I thank my right hon. Friend for her warm words about the On Course Foundation, which is doing excellent work, as she says. It is really important that we ensure that those of our armed forces who are injured and who are veterans are given the support that they need. She has highlighted a particular area in which that is happening. Armed Forces Day on Saturday gave me the opportunity to announce that, next year, we are going to have the first national games for wounded, injured and sick veterans and personnel of our armed forces. That has been inspired by the Invictus games, but these games will focus on those in our British armed forces. As she mentioned the police and fire services, I will ensure that the relevant Home Office Minister will meet her.
The hon. Lady raises a very serious issue. The terrorist attack that she refers to was indeed appalling. As she said, too many victims lost their lives as a result of that attack that took place in Afghanistan. It is important that we ensure that we are providing support, as we do through our contribution in Afghanistan. That is a contribution to security in the Kabul area specifically from our forces, but it is also about working with others to ensure that the Afghan security forces are able to provide security and safety for all communities living in Afghanistan. Tremendous achievements have been made in Afghanistan today, compared with the situation before these efforts, but sadly, as the hon. Lady highlights, too many terrorist attacks are still taking place in Afghanistan. We will continue to work with our allies and the Afghan Government to prevent these in future, and to ensure that people can go about their daily lives in safety and security and with confidence.
(1 year, 9 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Russia has the ability within the Security Council, and also in its relationship with the Syrian regime, to stop the use of chemical weapons, but it has not done so.
As I have said, I recognise that, in relation to the wider Syrian conflict, we need to ensure that we press ahead with every effort possible to bring that conflict to an end, but this is not just about the position that the United Kingdom has taken. There are other parties that need to be willing to come to the table and to develop that political solution for the future of Syria, not least the Syrian regime and its backers.
(1 year, 10 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend has raised an important point that nobody else has referenced: this agreement needs to endure. The worst thing would be if we came to an agreement that in a few years was beginning to unravel. It is important that the agreement be an arrangement and partnership with the EU that will, as she says, stand the test of time.
The idea that we can benefit only from carrying on working in exactly the same way is wrong. We will have a different partnership and relationship with the EU. Yes, there are some hard choices for us to make and some areas where access will not be the same as in the past, but that does not mean that the country’s economy cannot go from strength to strength as a result of getting the right relationship with the EU and trading around the rest of the world.
(2 years, 1 month ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We recognise the importance of Dover as a border port and, indeed, that of other ports around the United Kingdom. The future customs relationship will be a key part of negotiating the trade deal. We have said that we want to be as tariff-free and frictionless as possible, and that is what we will be working to.
We have been very clear that we were looking at a variety of areas in which the question will be asked as to whether we wish to retain the same arrangements, or arrangements that achieve the same outcomes but are not necessarily the same arrangements, or if we wish to diverge completely. We recognise the importance of the pharmaceutical industry to the United Kingdom—it is a key industry in the industrial strategy, which my right hon. Friend the Business Secretary published only a couple of weeks ago—but these will be matters for negotiation in the second phase.
(2 years, 3 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is of course right that the trading relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union is very important to the EU, as well as important to the UK. What I did in my Florence speech was set out a vision—a proposal—for the future relationship between the UK and the EU, based on our current relationship, showing how we can develop that relationship in a way that is in the interests of both sides. This has switched the dial in our negotiations, and obviously we look forward to being able to enter negotiations on those aspects in more detail.
(2 years, 6 months ago)Read Full debate
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is very important that decisions relating to services provided by the NHS are taken on a clinical basis by those who understand the needs and requirements of people in different areas. That is why we set up NHS England, which has a plan for developing services in the NHS over a five-year period. It is important that politicians allow clinicians and others in the NHS to make the decisions they need to.
The hon. Lady is right to raise the concerns of her constituents in this matter. I am sure that the thoughts of all Members of the House are with the family and Charlie at this exceptionally difficult time. It is an unimaginable position for anybody to be in, and I fully understand and appreciate that any parent in these circumstances would want to do everything possible and explore every option for their seriously ill child. I also know that no doctor ever wants to be placed in the terrible position of having to make such heartbreaking decisions. The hon. Lady referred to the fact that we have that court process. I am confident that Great Ormond Street hospital has considered, and always will consider, any offers or new information that have come forward along with the wellbeing of a desperately ill child.
(2 years, 7 months ago)Read Full debate
The right hon. Gentleman refers to control orders. What was happening with the control orders, which were introduced by a previous Labour Government, was that they were increasingly being knocked down in the courts. We introduced terrorism prevention and investigation measures, and we have subsequently enhanced those measures. Through the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which we introduced when I was Home Secretary, we have also ensured that our police and our intelligence and security agencies have the powers that they need. What we have seen is an increase in the tempo of attack planning. We have seen the terrible terrorist attacks that have taken place, and we should remember that over the same period, five other plots have been foiled by our police and security services. That shows the increasing scale and tempo, and it is in that context that we need to look to ensure that our security services and our police have the powers that they need in the future. I look forward to the right hon. Gentleman joining us and ensuring that we give those powers to our agencies.
As I am sure the hon. Lady is aware, we have protected counter-terrorism policing. We are providing funding for an uplift in armed policing, but we are also protecting police budgets, which of course is a different approach from the view that was put forward by the former shadow Home Secretary—he is now the Mayor of Manchester—who said that the police could take 10% cuts in their budget. We did not listen to that; we protected them.
I would also like to say a few words about the disaster at Grenfell Tower. The whole country was heartbroken by the horrific loss of life and the utter devastation that we have seen. I am sure that the whole House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to the friends and families of all those who lost loved ones. Today, we also think of those who survived but lost everything. One lady I met ran from the fire wearing no more than a T-shirt and a pair of knickers. She had lost absolutely everything.
Let me be absolutely clear. The support on the ground for families in the initial hours was not good enough. People were left without belongings, without a roof over their heads, and without even basic information about what had happened, what they should do and where they could seek help. That was a failure of the state—local and national—to help people when they needed it most. As Prime Minister, I apologise for that failure and, as Prime Minister, I have taken responsibility for doing what we can to put things right. That is why each family whose home was destroyed is receiving a down payment from the emergency fund so that they can buy food, clothes and other essentials, and all those who have lost their homes will be rehoused within three weeks.
There will also be an independent public inquiry, chaired by a judge, to get to the truth about what happened and who was responsible, and to provide justice for the victims and their families who suffered so terribly. All those with an interest, including survivors and victims’ families, will be consulted about the terms of reference, and those affected will have their legal costs paid. Because it is clear that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has not been able to cope with the scale of the tragedy, we will also develop a new strategy for resilience in major disasters, which could include a new civil disaster response taskforce that can help at times of emergency. We must learn some of the lessons of this and previous disasters when bereaved families have not had the support they need.