See more like "Grenfell Tower Inquiry"

Grenfell Tower Inquiry
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 30 October 2019

(2 months, 4 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 2:25 p.m.

That is a first, Mr Speaker: someone rises to intervene but does not actually do it. I thank my hon. Friend; he represents a community with mixed housing so also has to deal with these issues.

There are serious questions to be asked about what the Government have done, about what has been happening with the funding of the London fire service and, of course, about the performance of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The night of 14 June will never, ever be forgotten. I have never forgotten talking in my office that evening to my hon. Friend the Member for Kensington (Emma Dent Coad)—who has been and is a wonderful representative for the people there—about what it was like being an MP. She had been an MP for only for a few days. I said, “It’s great, but it’s hard work and you need to get into it slowly.” She went home and had probably the greatest test of her life two hours later. The way she has spoken up for her community and what she has done is something we should all be very proud of.

The shameful fact is that feet have been dragged. The exact same cladding is on similar high-rise blocks; sprinklers have not been fitted; and thousands of people in this country will go to bed tonight, and tomorrow night, not feeling safe. I pay tribute to the firefighters and, most of all, I pay tribute to the dignity and solemnity of the survivors and the bereaved, who continue to campaign for justice so that no one else has to suffer like them.

I welcome Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s report and look forward to the second part of the inquiry. I want us to have a properly funded fire service in all parts of the country. I thank Grenfell United and all the survivors for everything they have done to try to bring people together and keep communities together. I welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has said that an appropriate memorial will be constructed near or on the Grenfell site, but the real memorial will be a properly funded fire service. The real memorial will be safety for people in every tower block throughout the country. Currently, 60,000 people are unsure of their own safety, and there are many more tower blocks with other kinds of composite materials that are just as dangerous. We need very tough regulation to ensure that all our people can sleep safely and soundly in their beds at night, rather than having in their minds the image of that burning monstrosity of a fire, which took the lives of so many wonderful, wholly innocent people.

Mrs Theresa May (Maidenhead) (Con) - Hansard
30 Oct 2019, 2:28 p.m.

I thank the Government for scheduling this debate, which gives the House the very earliest opportunity to debate the recommendations from Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s report on part 1 of the public inquiry into what happened at Grenfell Tower. I thank the Prime Minister for his commitment to make time for further debate on this issue when Members from all parties will have had an opportunity to look more fully at the report and its recommendations.

Today’s debate gives us an opportunity to recognise, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition did, the appalling nature of the tragedy that took place at Grenfell Tower in June 2017. I thank my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for the tone that he took in his speech and the understanding that he showed. This was a horrific loss of life and, of course, it was a tragedy that should never have happened. I pay tribute to the survivors and to the families and friends of those who died for the dignity and fortitude that they have shown in circumstances that none of us would ever want to face. They have shown not just dignity and fortitude, but commitment and dedication in their struggle for the justice they want for all those who lost their lives and also for those who lost everything they possessed and the home that they had built up.

I also thank and pay tribute to the survivors who gave evidence to the public inquiry. Reliving those horrific times cannot have been easy, but without their evidence it would not have been possible for Sir Martin Moore-Bick to produce his report. I also thank him for his thoroughness and for the considerate and thoughtful way in which he has produced this report. It is detailed, and aspects of it are shocking.

The public inquiry was set up not only to get to the truth of what happened on that night, but, crucially, to understand why it happened. As has already been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition and by others in interventions, there are many questions as yet unanswered because they lie in phase 2 of the inquiry. Crucially, they are issues around building regulations, the cladding, the enforcement of regulations, and why cladding that was non-compliant with the regulations was put up—and it was agreed it be put up—on this building. It is significant that Sir Martin Moore-Bick found himself able to say clearly that the cladding was non-compliant. That was an important aspect and finding of phase 1 of the inquiry, although greater detail in relation to those matters will be gone into in phase 2 of the inquiry.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 24 July 2019

(6 months ago)

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Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First of all, I thank my hon. Friend for all his work on the Homelessness Reduction Act, which, crucially, we are seeing actually having an impact—that is so important for the people who are benefiting from the work he did. I know that he has been doing a lot of work as part of the all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health. I agree that we need to start viewing health as an asset to protect throughout our lives. That is why we have taken bold action on smoking and childhood obesity. I am proud that we have delivered not only the biggest ever cash boost in the history of the national health service, but a long-term plan that, as he said, will focus on prevention—as well as on cancer care and mental health—trying to ensure that people do not get ill in the first place. Preventing smoking and obesity are key parts of better lives for people in the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:04 p.m.

Today marks the final day in office for the Prime Minister, and I pay tribute to her sense of public duty. Public service should always be recognised. Being an MP, a Minister or indeed a Prime Minister is an honour that brings with it huge responsibility and huge pressures personally and, I am sure the Prime Minister and probably the whole House would agree, on those very closest to us, who are often not able to answer back for the criticisms made against them. I hope she has a marginally more relaxing time on the Back Benches. Perhaps, like the Chancellor, she will even help me oppose the reckless plans of her successor. [Interruption.] If I may continue—[Interruption.] I am glad the Government party is in such good heart today, for tomorrow it won’t be.

In the past three years, child poverty has gone up, pensioner poverty has gone up, in-work poverty has gone up, violent crime has gone up, NHS waiting times have gone up, school class sizes have gone up, homelessness has gone up and food bank use has gone up. Does the Prime Minister have any regrets about any of the things I have just said?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

It is very good to see the Conservative party in good heart; it is more than I can say for the Labour party. But let me just say something to the right hon. Gentleman about my record over the past three years and how I measure it. It is in the opportunity for every child who is now in a better school. It is in the comfort for every person who now has a job for the first time in their life. It is in the hope of every disadvantaged young person now able to go to university. It is in the joy of every couple who can now move into their own home. At its heart, politics is not about exchanges across the Dispatch Box. Nor is it about eloquent speeches or media headlines. Politics is about the difference we make every day to the lives of people up and down this country. They are our reason for being here, and we should never forget it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

Yes, politics is about real life and politics is about what people suffer in their ordinary lives. I did not mention that per-pupil school funding has gone down, police numbers are down and GP numbers are falling. In the 2017 Conservative manifesto, the Prime Minister promised that no school would have its budget cut, that she would protect TV licences for the over-75s and that she would halve rough sleeping. Which of those pledges is the Prime Minister most sorry not to have achieved?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:08 p.m.

I am pleased to hear that the right hon. Gentleman spent some time reading the Conservative party manifesto from 2017—he has not been known for always reading the documents he stands up and talks about. Had he read the manifesto properly, he would know that we made a pledge on rough sleeping: to halve it by 2022 and to stop rough sleeping by 2027. I am pleased to say that in the past year we have seen rough sleeping going down. In particular, rough sleeping is going down in those areas where this Government have been taking action.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

I do not quite know where the Prime Minister gets her figures from on rough sleeping. All I know is that I travel around this country, just like other Members of this House, and I talk to people who have had a disaster in their lives and end up rough sleeping. We are the fifth richest country in the world. It is surely wrong that anyone should end up sleeping on the streets of this country. We can and should do something about it.

I have often disagreed with the Prime Minister and have many criticisms of her policies, but I welcome the reduction in the stake on fixed odds betting terminals, the adoption of the children’s funeral fund and the scrapping of employment tribunal fees. Which of those policies is the Prime Minister most proud of?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I am proud of all the policies that we have introduced that have been improving people’s lives. I am proud of the fact that through the balanced management of the economy that we have done, we now see more people in work in this country than ever before. I am proud of the fact that there are more children in good and outstanding schools. I am proud of the fact that the attainment gap between the disadvantaged and the advantaged has been narrowed under this Government. And I am proud of the fact that we are putting the biggest cash boost in its history into our national health service. We are ensuring that the national health service—the most beloved institution in this country—will be there for people into the future. This is a Conservative Government—my Government—delivering on the things that matter to people in their day-to-day lives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The Prime Minister may have noticed that none of those things that I mentioned were actually in the Conservative party manifesto in 2017, but every one of them was a Labour pledge in 2017. On Brexit, the Prime Minister’s own red lines ruled out any sensible compromise deal. Only after she had missed her own deadline to leave did the Prime Minister even begin to shift her position, but by then, she no longer had the authority to deliver. Her successor has no mandate at all. Does she have confidence that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson) will succeed where she has not?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I worked tirelessly to get a good deal for the UK, and I also worked hard to get that deal through this Parliament. I voted for the deal. What did the right hon. Gentleman do? He voted against a deal. He voted to make no deal more likely, and when there was a prospect of reaching consensus across this House, the right hon. Gentleman walked away from the talks. At every stage, his only interest has been playing party politics, and frankly, he should be ashamed of himself.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

We have had three years of bungled negotiations, and we now have the spectacle of a Prime Minister coming into office with no electoral mandate looking for a Brexit deal that has been ruled out by the European Union, or in the case of a no deal, ruled out by the majority in this House and by anyone who understands the dangers to the British economy of a no deal. The next Prime Minister thought the Isle of Man was in the European Union and that the European Union made rules about kippers that, in fact, were made by the Government that he was part of. He also said that the UK could secure tariff-free trade through article 24 of the general agreement on tariffs and trade, despite the International Trade Secretary, the Attorney General and the Governor of the Bank of England all confirming that that is not possible.

At the start of 2018, the—[Interruption.] It’s coming, don’t worry. At the start of 2018, the Prime Minister herself set up a new unit to counter fake news, charged with “combating disinformation”. How successful does she think that has been?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that I fear that our success has not been what we wanted it to be from the amount of fake news and fake information that he uses at that Dispatch Box.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:14 p.m.

Maybe the Prime Minister can have a word with her successor on the way out, but let me conclude—[Interruption.] For today. Let me conclude by welcoming some of the Prime Minister’s notable U-turns over the last couple of years. The cruel dementia tax was scrapped. Plans to bring back grammar schools were ditched. The threat to the pensions triple lock was abandoned. The withdrawal of the winter fuel payments was dumped. The pledge to bring back foxhunting was dropped, and the Government binned their plan to end universal free school meals for five to seven-year-olds. The Prime Minister has dumped her own manifesto. Given that her successor has no mandate from the people—no mandate on which to move into office—does she not agree that the best thing that the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip could do later on today when he takes office is to call a general election and let the people decide their future?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jul 2019, 12:14 p.m.

My first answer to the right hon. Gentleman is no. If he wants to talk about people ducking manifesto commitments and commitments made during general election campaigns, might I remind him that the Labour party and he said that they would abolish student debt? After the election, he rowed back on that promise. What else did he say during the general election campaign? He said he was committed to Trident. What did he say afterwards? He said, no, he was not committed to Trident at all. He has broken promise after promise to the people of this country.

As this is the last time that the right hon. Gentleman and I will have this exchange across these Dispatch Boxes—[Hon. Member: “Are you going to answer the question?”] I was going to say that it is a strength of our British democracy that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have these exchanges across the Dispatch Boxes every week, two swords’ lengths apart, and that no quarter is sought and none is given. That is as it should be in our adversarial parliamentary democracy. But he and I are very different people and very different politicians and we approach the issues the country faces in different ways. I have spent all but one of my years in the House on the Front Bench trying to implement the policies I believe in, while he has spent most of his time on the Back Benches campaigning for what he believes in, often against his own party, but what we have in common is a commitment to our constituencies. I saw that after the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park mosque in his constituency. Perhaps then I could finish by saying this: as a party leader who has accepted when her time is up, might I suggest that perhaps the time is now for him to do the same? [Hon. Members: “More!”]

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 17 July 2019

(6 months, 1 week ago)

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Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I recognise the way in which my hon. Friend has championed a number of cases—he has referenced one of them—over the years in this House. Indeed, I had a number of meetings with him when I was Home Secretary in relation to that case. It is important that our police are able to operate to the highest professional standards. They have operational independence as to who they investigate and how they conduct those investigations, but I am sure the whole House would want to say that we expect our police to conduct those investigations properly and fairly, and to ensure that, when a crime is committed, they are investigating that crime.

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

I agree with the Prime Minister’s congratulations to Lewis Hamilton on winning on Sunday and to the fantastic cricket team, which ended up winning the world cup. I also thank New Zealand—what a brilliant final it was, and what a great advertisement for the wonderful game of cricket.

“Time is running out” on climate change—that is what the Environment Secretary said yesterday. Why did the all-party Environmental Audit Committee accuse the Government of “coasting” on climate change?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

The Government have a fine record on climate change, including our recent legislation on net zero emissions, but there is an issue that needs to be addressed in this House. Before the right hon. Gentleman stands up and parades himself as the champion of climate change, the champion of the people or the defender of equality and fairness, he needs to apologise for his failure to deal with racism in the Labour party.

Just today, 60 distinguished members of the Labour party have written in the newspapers:

“The Labour party welcomes everyone*…(*except, it seems, Jews)…This is your legacy Mr Corbyn…You still haven’t opened your eyes…You still haven’t told the whole truth…You still haven’t accepted your responsibility…You have failed…the test of leadership.”

Apologise now.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

rose—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

This party was the first to introduce anti-racist legislation into law in Britain. This party totally opposes racism in any form whatsoever. Antisemitism has no place in our society, no place in any of our parties and no place in any of our dialogues. Neither does any other form of racism.

Some 60% of Tory party members think Islam is a threat to western civilisation. The Prime Minister has said that she will act on Islamophobia within her own party. I hope she does. I look forward to seeing that being dealt with, as we will deal with any racism that occurs within our own party as well.

Last week, the Committee on Climate Change published its annual report, which described the Government’s efforts on climate change not a bit like what the Prime Minister just said; it described them as being run like “Dad’s Army”. The Government’s target is to reduce carbon emissions by 57% by 2030. Can the Prime Minister tell us how much progress has been made on that?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:08 p.m.

On the climate change issue, the chairman of that committee said:

“The UK is the first major economy to set a net-zero emissions target and intends to host the world’s leaders at next year’s landmark climate conference (COP26). These are historic steps forward and position the UK at the forefront of the global low-carbon transition.”

The right hon. Gentleman, I note, did not apologise in response to my first questions. We deal with Islamophobia in the Conservative party. Any allegations of Islamophobia are dealt with, unlike his way in the Labour party where he is failing to deal with antisemitism. He can stand up and say all he likes about the Labour party introducing anti-racism legislation. Just last week, Trevor Phillips, the former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said the following:

“Labour today presents like a textbook case of institutional racism.”

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:10 p.m.

This party opposes racism in any form whatsoever in our society. And coming from a Prime Minister who encouraged the hostile environment, sent “go home” vans around London, and deported British citizens, which she has now had to compensate them for, I think that she might look to her own party and her own Government’s record as well.

The issue of climate change is obviously crucial, and we support the zero emissions target. The latest figures, however, released in April show that the Government are going to miss that target by 10%—the gap is widening. At the current rate, they will not meet their 2050 target until 2099, and, at that point, it will be too late for our planet and our children. Clean energy investment has fallen three years in a row. Why does the Prime Minister think that that is the case?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Still no apology, I note, from the right hon. Gentleman.

We have outperformed in our first and second carbon budgets, and we are on track to meet the third. We have taken the historic step of legislating for net zero emissions by 2050. We have yet to see all the policies and proposals in our clean growth strategy coming into play and having an effect on our target. This is a party that is acting on climate change; this is a party that is delivering for the people of this country; this is a party that is dealing with the issues that matter to people day to day. The right hon. Gentleman needs to start dealing with the issues that matter to the members of his Labour party, as shown in the newspapers this morning.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:13 p.m.

It was a Labour Government who introduced the Climate Change Act 2008. It is the Labour party that is committed to dealing with the issues of climate change. Let me give the Prime Minister a few suggestions on why renewable investment is falling: her Government scrapped the feed-in tariff; they failed to invest in the Swansea tidal lagoon; and they slashed investment in onshore wind. If we are serious about tackling this climate emergency, we need to fully acknowledge the scale of the problem. Labour is committed to measuring total UK emissions—not just what we make here, but what we buy from abroad also—so that we have an accurate figure of what the emissions really are by consumption in this country. Will the Prime Minister match that commitment?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman knows that we measure our targets according to the international definitions of those targets, and that is exactly the right thing for us to do. He talks about renewables. Let us just look at the record on renewables: last year, renewables generated a record amount of electricity in this country—33%; and over the past year, we have generated record levels of solar and offshore wind energy. He talks about what the Labour Government did, but 99% of solar power deployed in the UK has been deployed under Conservative Governments.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:13 p.m.

I think that we are actually hiding the scale of the problem by passing the buck to other countries as well. If all emissions are counted, the figures would actually be 69% higher in this country.

Every year, air pollution kills 40,000 in this country. In 2017, the Conservative manifesto promised to take action against poor air quality in urban areas. What actions have been taken?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Air pollution has reduced significantly since 2010 under the Conservatives in government. Our clean air strategy is the most ambitious air quality strategy in a generation, described by the World Health Organisation as

“an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jul 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Those are wonderful words, they truly are. The only problem is, air pollution levels breach legal limits in 37 of 43 areas of this country. Two thirds of our children are growing up in an area where pollution breaches legal limits. This crisis is literally suffocating our children and damaging their health. Once again, this Government are dodging their responsibility while Labour leads the way. For example, the Mayor of London is leading the way on better air quality in the capital city.

The Tories promised the greenest Government ever. They have failed on carbon emissions. They have failed on air pollution. They have failed on solar. The Prime Minister says that she wants action, but she supports fracking and has effectively banned onshore wind. The climate emergency simply cannot be left to the market. We all need to take responsibility to secure our common future. Labour led the call to declare a climate emergency and has pledged a green industrial revolution with new jobs. When will this Conservative Government face up to the situation, get a grip on this crisis and deal with it?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We have already seen over 400,000 new jobs in the area of renewables and clean growth, and we expect to see up to 2 million more. I am not going to take any lectures from the Labour party on this issue, when the last Labour Government ignored advice that diesel fumes would damage our environment and incentivised diesel cars through the tax system.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about dodging responsibility. The person who has been dodging his responsibility during this PMQs is the right hon. Gentleman. The real disgrace is his handling of racism in the Labour part. Activists protesting, MPs leaving and staff resigning—what would his great heroes Attlee, Bevan and Benn think? Look what he has done to their party. We will never let him do it to our country.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 10 July 2019

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I know my hon. Friend has been campaigning on this matter for some time and has met Ministers to discuss it. I understand that the area is about to benefit from refurbished modern trains on the Crewe to Derby line from December this year, as part of the new east midlands rail franchise. The Department for Transport will have heard my hon. Friend’s call to reopen the station at Meir, and I know that he will continue to campaign on behalf of all his constituents.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I too regret the resignation of Sir Kim Darroch. I think the comments made about him are beyond unfair and wrong. He has given honourable and good service, and he should be thanked for it. The whole House should join together in deeply regretting his feeling that he has to resign.

I join the Prime Minister in passing condolences to the family of Tammy Minshall, who died providing emergency services to our people.

Many people welcomed the powerful points the Prime Minister made when she was first appointed about burning injustices in Britain. Does she agree that access to justice is vital in order to tackle burning injustices?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

There are many burning injustices and they can be tackled in a variety of ways. That is the action I have taken not just as Prime Minister but as Home Secretary. I will give the right hon. Gentleman one example: the race disparity audit, which shines a light on inequality in public services, is enabling us to put into place action that helps to ensure that people across this country, whatever their background, have access to the public services they need.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:08 p.m.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Legal Aid and Advice Act 1949. That Act, introduced by the post-war Labour Government, gave all people access to justice, not just the rich, and was an essential pillar of a welfare state and a decent society. The Tory-Lib Dem coalition slashed legal aid in 2013 and the results are clearly very unfair. The number of law centres and other not-for-profit legal aid providers has more than halved, and there are now legal aid deserts across the country. Does the Prime Minister think that has helped or hindered the fight against burning injustices?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:09 p.m.

The point I was making to the right hon. Gentleman, which he seems to fail to recognise, is that the whole question of burning injustice is not about just access to the legal system—[Interruption.] It is all very well Opposition Members shouting about this. If the Labour party really cared about burning injustices, they would have done a darned sight more when they were in power to deal with them.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Some people have very short memories; the Tory-Lib Dem coalition cut legal aid but also brought in fees for employment tribunals. The then Minister for employment relations, the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson), piloted that through the House. Since that time, my union, Unison, took the Government to court and won, and, as a result, employment tribunal fees were cancelled. The cuts to legal aid affect people such as Marcus, a 71-year-old on pension credit, a leaseholder who is threatened with being evicted. He says:

“I’ve paid taxes and national insurance all my life. How is it right that when I’m being bullied and threatened with homelessness, the state won’t protect me?”

He goes on to say:

“I’ve been working to 2 am every night for the past six months collecting evidence…I’ve got no idea if I’ve prepared my evidence correctly”.

Doesn’t Marcus, trying to save his own home, deserve legal aid, in order to get proper representation in a court and be fairly heard?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:11 p.m.

Obviously I recognise the concerns that Marcus has about taking his case, but the right hon. Gentleman might reflect on the fact that a quarter of the Ministry of Justice’s budget is spent on legal aid. We spent £1.6 billion on legal aid last year. We are committing to ensuring that people can access the help they need into the future, but that is only one part of the picture. We have published a plan for legal support, to maintain and improve access to support for those in need, and we are conducting a fundamental review of criminal legal aid fee schemes, which will consider criminal legal aid throughout the life cycle of a criminal case. So there are aspects of this issue that we are indeed looking at, but it is important that we ensure that we are careful with the provisions we make for legal aid, and as I say, a quarter of the MOJ budget is spent on legal aid.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Just so that everyone is aware of this, Labour is committed to restoring legal aid funding for family law, housing, benefit appeals, judicial review preparation and inquests, and real action on immigration cases. And, as we announced yesterday, we will end the leasehold scandal.

The Department for Work and Pensions is failing disabled people. The MOJ has spent tens of millions of pounds each year defending appeals, over two thirds of which were won by the claimants. Rather than spending millions defending incorrect and often immoral decisions, would that money not have been better used increasing poverty-level benefits and providing legal aid to disabled people wrongly denied their basic dignity?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:13 p.m.

I am not going to take any lectures from the right hon. Gentleman on what this Government have done for disabled people. We are committed to tackling the injustices facing disabled people, so that everyone can go as far their talents will take them. Our spending on support for disabled people and people with health conditions is at a record high. We are seeing many more people—over 900,000 more disabled people—in work as a result of what this Government have done. If he is really interested in tackling injustices, let me tell him that the biggest injustice he should tackle is in his own Labour party—he should deal with antisemitism.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

My party is totally committed to eliminating racism in any form and antisemitism in any form. While the Prime Minister is about the lecturing, how about the investigation into Islamophobia in her party? [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 11:55 a.m.

This is one lecture the Prime Minister might not want to take from me, but she might care to listen to what the United Nations said when it condemned the UK Government for their “grave” and “systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people. The Windrush scandal has resulted in the Government having to allocate £200 million in compensation to people wrongly deported from this country and denied services, with their lives totally pulled apart. These are people who have given their life to this country and our services. Does she think that scandal would have happened if legal aid had not been slashed by the Government and so many of those people had not been denied any representation in court?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman really needs to think rather more carefully about his arguments. Let us look at the issue of people of the Windrush generation. I have apologised for what happened to people of the Windrush generation. I have been very clear that they are British, they are here and they have a right to be here, and that these things should not have happened. We have apologised for the mistakes that have been made.

The right hon. Gentleman raises issues relating to people who were incorrectly deported. The initial historical review looked at around 11,800 detentions and removals and identified 18 people who were most likely to have been wrongly deported or removed. Of those, six were removed or detained under the last Labour Government.

The way the right hon. Gentleman talks, we would think he was a man of principle, but what do we actually see from him? Labour policy is to ban non-disclosure agreements, but his staff have to sign them. He was an anti-racist; now he ignores antisemitism. He has been a Eurosceptic all his life; now he backs remain. He is truly living up to the words of Marx: “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them, well, I have others”—

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:16 p.m.

rose—

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:16 p.m.

I know the right hon. Gentleman is keen to get to the Dispatch Box when the name Marx is mentioned. I was merely going to point out to him that those were the words not of Karl but of Groucho.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Coming from the Prime Minister who created the hostile environment that brought about the Windrush scandal, who ordered “Go home” vans to drive around London, who refuses to acknowledge Islamophobia in her own party, and whose party consorts with racists and antisemites in the European Parliament and sucks up to those Governments across Europe, we do not need those kinds of lectures.

One legal aid firm said:

“We see people more desperate and in more extreme need than they were five years ago, and there is nowhere to send them. Those people are invisible to the system.”

That is a denial of people’s basic rights. The United Nations says that legal aid cuts have

“overwhelmingly affected the poor and people with disabilities”.

Without equal access to justice, there is no justice. Today, in modern Britain, millions are denied justice because they do not have the money. Isn’t that a disgrace? Isn’t that a burning injustice?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Jul 2019, 12:18 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman may do his best to ignore the antisemitism in his party, but I think—[Hon. Members: “Answer the question!”] I think he should listen to the words of the former Labour party general secretary, the noble Lord Triesman, who said:

“We may one day be the party of anti-racism once again but it certainly isn’t today.”

The right hon. Gentleman has asked questions about injustice; let me tell him about an injustice. It is an injustice when you force people who are working hard day and night to earn an income for their family to pay more taxes because of a Labour party economic policy in government that led to the destruction of our economy. What do we see from the Labour party? You earn more; they want you to pay more tax. You buy a home; they want you to pay more tax. You want to leave something to your children; they want you to pay more tax—Labour’s £9 billion family tax. Labour used to have a slogan of “Education, education, education”; now, it is just “Tax, tax, tax. Injustice, injustice, injustice.”

See more like "G20 and Leadership of EU Institutions"

G20 and Leadership of EU Institutions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 03 July 2019

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 1 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on my final G20 and final European Council as Prime Minister.

At this G20 summit in Japan we discussed some of the biggest global challenges facing our nations, including climate change, terrorist propaganda online, risks to the global economy and rising tensions in the Gulf. These discussions were at times difficult, but in the end productive. I profoundly believe that we are stronger when we work together. With threats to global stability and trade, that principle is now more important than ever, and throughout this summit my message was on the overriding need for international co-operation and compromise. Alongside discussions with international partners on economic and security matters, I made it clear that Britain would always stand by the global rules as the best means of securing peace and prosperity for all of us. I will take the main issues in turn.

On no other issue is the need for international collaboration greater than in the threat to our countries and our people from climate change. As I arrived in Osaka last week, I was immensely proud that Britain had become the world’s first major economy to commit in law to ending our contribution to global warming by 2050. I urged other G20 countries to follow Britain’s lead and set similarly ambitious net zero targets for their own countries. Those gathered at this year’s summit are the last generation of leaders with the power to limit global warming, and I believe we have a duty to heed the call from those asking us to act now for the sake of future generations.

Taken together, the G20 countries account for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Discussions were not always easy, but 19 of the G20 members agreed to the irreversibility of the Paris climate change agreement and the importance of implementing our commitments in full. It remains a disappointment that the United States continue to opt out on such a critical global issue.

I outlined Britain’s continued determination to lead the way on climate change through our bid to host, along with Italy, COP 26 next year. And, recognising that more needs to be done to support developing countries in managing the impacts of climate change, I announced that the UK’s aid budget will be aligned with our climate change goals and used to support the transition to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Both as Prime Minister and previously as Home Secretary, I have repeatedly called for greater action to protect people from online harms and remove terrorist propaganda from the internet. In 2017, the attacks in Manchester and London showed how technology could be exploited by terrorists. Following those events, the UK took the lead and put this issue squarely on the global agenda. Through our efforts, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism was established—a body that has leveraged technology to automate the removal of propaganda online. But the horrendous attack in Christchurch reminded us that we must maintain momentum, and ensure a better co-ordinated and swifter response to make sure that terrorists are never able to broadcast their atrocities in real time. I therefore welcome the pledge by G20 leaders at this year’s summit to do more to build on existing efforts and stop terrorists exploiting the internet. The UK will continue to lead the way in this, including through our support of the major technology companies in developing a new crisis response mechanism.

At this summit, discussions on the global economy were held against the backdrop of current trade tensions between the United States and China. In this context, I reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to free and fair trade, open markets and the rules-based trading system as the best means to bolster prosperity and build economies that work for everyone. The UK has long argued that the rules governing global trade need urgent reform and updating to reflect the changing nature of that trade. We continue to press for action to build upon the agreement reached at last year’s summit for World Trade Organisation reform, and I believe the best way to resolve disputes is through a reformed and strengthened WTO, rather than by increasing tariffs.

This G20 was also an opportunity to discuss wider global issues with others, including Prime Minister Abe, President Erdoğan, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and United Nations Secretary-General Guterres. In my conversation with Prime Minster Abe, I paid tribute to him for hosting this G20 and thanked him for his role in strengthening the relationship between the UK and Japan—a relationship that I have every confidence will continue to grow over the coming years.

In a number of my meetings, I discussed Iran and rising tensions in the Gulf. Escalation is in no-one’s interest, and engagement is needed on all sides to find a diplomatic solution to the current situation and to counter Iran’s destabilising activity. At the same time, I was clear that the UK will continue to work intensively with our Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action partners to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place. The breach of that deal by Iran is extremely concerning, and together with France, Germany and the other signatories to the deal, we are urging Iran not to take further steps away from the agreement, and to return to compliance. The deal makes the world safer and I want to see Iran uphold its obligations.

I believe wholeheartedly in never shying away from difficult conversations when it is right to hold them. In my meeting with President Putin, I told him that there can be no normalisation of our bilateral relationship until Russia stops the irresponsible activity that threatens the UK and its allies. The use of a deadly nerve agent on the streets of our country was a despicable act, which led to the death of Dawn Sturgess. I was clear that the UK has irrefutable evidence that Russia was behind the attack, and that we want to see the two individuals responsible brought to justice. While the UK remains open to a different relationship, for that to happen the Russian Government must choose a different path.

In my discussion with UN Secretary-General Guterres, we spoke about the importance of the multilateral system and the UK’s strong support for it. I also raised concerns about the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need to ensure a comprehensive response, as well as emphasising the critical nature of continued humanitarian assistance in Yemen.

I am proud that the UK continues to play its part in trying to provide relief in countries such as Yemen, and that we remain committed to spending 0.7% of our gross national income on development assistance. That commitment puts us at the forefront of addressing global challenges, so I am pleased that at this summit we announced our pledge of £1.4 billion for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, to help save lives.

Turning to the European Council, the focus of these discussions was on what are known as the EU’s top jobs—the appointments at the head of the EU’s institutions and the EU’s High Representative. As I have said before, this is primarily a matter for the remaining 27 EU member states, but while we remain a member of the EU, I also said that we would engage constructively, which we did throughout. After long and difficult discussions over the last few days, the Council voted for a package of candidates with an important balance of gender, reflecting the diversity of the European Union. The Council formally elected Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as President of the European Council. The Council also nominated German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen as candidate for President of the European Commission; Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell Fontelles as candidate for High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy; and the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, as candidate for president of the European Central Bank.

The Commission President will now be voted on by the European Parliament in the coming weeks. After being approved by the Commission President, the High Representative will then be voted on as part of the College of Commissioners by the European Parliament before the college is appointed by the European Council. After consultations with the European Parliament and the ECB governing council, the European Council will appoint the president of the ECB. The European Parliament will also vote on its President today. Subject to the approval of the European Parliament, this will be the first time that a woman will be made President of the European Commission, and I would like to congratulate Ursula von der Leyen on her nomination.

This was a package supported by the UK, and it is in our national interest to have constructive relationships with those who are appointed. Once we leave the European Union, we will need to agree the details of our future relationship. We will continue to share many of the same challenges as our closest neighbours, and we will need to work with them on a variety of issues that are in our joint interests. But that will now be a matter for my successor to take forward. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 1:01 p.m.

I want to say thank you to my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris) for the fantastic campaign she has mounted and the comfort that she has brought to those who have been through the unimaginable strain of losing a child. Those who, sadly, will lose a child in future will at least know that, because of her work, one part of the commemoration of that child’s life will be made a little bit easier. On behalf of so many families, may we just say thank you very much for everything you have done?

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement. While this year marks the 20th anniversary of the G20, there is little progress to commemorate in tackling the urgent challenges that we face. Where the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries fail, we look instead to civil society, trade unions and community groups, and to an inspirational generation of young people, for the transformative change that is required.

This summit’s communiqué did not make the necessary commitments on climate change. Does the Prime Minister agree that President Trump’s failure to accept the reality of man-made climate change, his refusal to back the Paris accords and his attempts to water down the communiqué’s commitments are a threat to the security of us all, all over this planet? Is the Prime Minister concerned that he could soon be joined by one of her possible successors, who has described global warming as a “primitive fear … without foundation”? It is the responsibility of the G20 to lead efforts to combat climate change, as the Prime Minister herself acknowledged. These nations account for four fifths of global greenhouse gas emissions. As I confirmed last week, we back the UK’s bid to host COP 26 next year. In 2017, the Government agreed to:

“Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions”

in developing countries. So can the Prime Minister explain why 97% of the UK’s export finance support for energy in developing countries goes to fossil fuels, and less than 1% is for renewable energy? The Government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 2050 is an empty one. They have no serious plan to invest and continue to dismantle our renewable energy sector while supporting fracking.

The Prime Minister says that the international community must stand against Iran’s destabilising activity in the region. The Iran nuclear deal agreement was a multilateral agreement signed up to by President Obama, and a number of other Governments, but reneged on by President Obama’s successor. Beyond just saying that we need to protect the deal, what action has the Prime Minister taken to ensure this? What conversation did she have with President Trump on this issue?

Is it not about time that the Prime Minister’s Government stood up to our supposed ally, Saudi Arabia? She says that she met Crown Prince bin Salman but gives no details. So can I ask her: did she raise the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, did she raise the killing of thousands of Yemenis, and did she pledge to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia? Did she raise with him the Saudis’ financing and arming of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who is fighting the UN-recognised Government of Libya, and who, only last night, has been held responsible for an airstrike on a migrant centre in Tripoli that killed 40 people and injured dozens more? The Prime Minister rightly points to the need to protect people from terrorist propaganda, so before she leaves office, will she finally release, in full, the report she suppressed on the Saudi Government’s funding of extremist groups?

The Prime Minister talks of confronting countries that interfere in the democracy of other nations, including Russia. I remind her that it was Labour that delivered amendments to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which introduced the Magnitsky powers. The truth is that the Conservatives have questions to answer about the almost £1 million-worth of donations from wealthy Russians to their party under her watch. If we stand up to corruption and condemn human rights-abusing regimes, then politicians should not be trading cash for access.

The Prime Minister mentioned the worrying outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Could she outline what assistance the Department for International Development is providing in that terrible situation? I welcome the Government’s £1.4 billion for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. However, the main conclusion from the G20 is that the world deserves better leadership for the urgent challenges facing humanity.

Moving on to the EU summit in Brussels, it has taken leaders three days to come up with a decision on who should take the EU’s top jobs. But a three-day summit pales into insignificance next to the three years of failure that this Government have inflicted on us all over Brexit. I would like to congratulate those who have been appointed or nominated to new roles within in the EU, especially Josep Borrell as High Representative for foreign affairs and security. For as long as we remain in the EU, we should seek reform. That includes increasing our efforts to tackle tax evasion and avoidance; stepping up our co-operation over the climate emergency that faces us all, all over this continent and this planet; and challenging migration policies that have left thousands to drown in the Mediterranean while sometimes subcontracting migration policies to Libyan militias.

Can the Prime Minister explain her decision for the Conservative party to join a political group that includes far-right, Islamophobic parties such as Vox of Spain? It claims that Muslims will impose Sharia law on Spain, turn cathedrals into mosques, and force all women to cover up. It is a party that campaigned to repeal gender violence laws and threatened to shut down feminist organisations. Does the Prime Minister understand the worry that this will cause many people in this country who will rightly be asking why her party has aligned itself with this far-right organisation whose policies are built on division, discrimination and hate?

Finally, does the Prime Minister agree that whoever succeeds her should have the courage to go back to the people with their preferred Brexit option to end the uncertainty and get Brexit resolved?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 11:44 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues, moving between them with sometimes no apparent link, but I will try to address them. On climate change, I have already expressed my disappointment that the United States has pulled out of the Paris agreement. I repeated to President Trump at the G20 my hope that the United States will come back into the Paris agreement in due course. I am pleased that the other members of the G20 held fast to the irreversibility of the Paris agreement and the commitments we had previously made. As I said in answer to Prime Minister’s questions, we are showing the lead on this. I am encouraging others to follow, and they are showing their willingness to do so.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about international development money in relation to climate change. I am pleased to say that we have committed to provide at least £5.8 billion of international climate finance between 2016 and 2020. This is not only a question of energy mix. It is also about climate resilience, and we are leading on that for the UN climate action summit in September this year. We have already helped 47 million people to cope with the effects of climate change, supported 17 million people to access clean energy and reduced or avoided 10.4 million tonnes of CO2, so we are putting our words into action.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about my meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. I did indeed raise the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. I was very clear that we expect a transparent and open judicial process and for those who are responsible to be brought to account. I also raised the importance of a political solution in Yemen and the fact that we are supporting the work of UN special envoy Martin Griffiths and want to ensure that all parties are committed to coming around the table and finding a political solution in Yemen.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I had a meeting with the director general of the WHO at the G20 summit, during which we discussed that. I also discussed it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This is a serious humanitarian challenge. The security situation in eastern DRC makes dealing with this outbreak more difficult in terms of operating through Government and other organisations. The United Nations and the WHO are committed to working through community groups on the ground. He asked about our response. We are the second largest bilateral donor to the response in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the largest to preparedness efforts in neighbouring countries. We have been working not only where there has been an outbreak in the DRC but to ensure that neighbouring countries can respond effectively. I am pleased to say that, when there was a small number of cases in Uganda, Uganda responded extremely well and very professionally, and we have not seen further cases there.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Russia. I thought his comments were a bit rich—who was it, after the nerve agent attack on our streets in Salisbury, who believed the Russian Government rather than our own intelligence agencies? It was the right hon. Gentleman, so I will take no lessons from him on our relationship with Russia.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the European Council. I do not think I heard him welcome the gender balance in the appointment of the top jobs. It is important that we see the first woman nominated to be President of the European Commission and a woman nominated for the role at the European Central Bank.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about Brexit. It was always going to take two years to negotiate; that is the time set out in the treaty under the article 50 process. We brought the proposals to the House. He rejected those proposals. He has not brought forward proposals that command a majority—[Interruption.] I think the Foreign Secretary said that he has.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 03 July 2019

(6 months, 3 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for raising this issue. I have been shocked, as I am sure Members across the House have been, to see the scenes from Hong Kong on Monday and the use of violence at the Legislative Council. The vast majority of the hundreds of thousands who marched did so peacefully and lawfully. This week’s anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong is a reminder of the importance of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the joint declaration, and it is vital that Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the rights and freedoms set down in the Sino-British joint declaration are respected. I have raised my concerns directly with Chinese leaders, as have my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and other Ministers, and we will continue to do so.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I am sure the whole House will want to express its condolences to the families of the rail workers who were hit and killed by a train this morning in Port Talbot. There will obviously have to be a full investigation into this, but our thoughts must be with the families and friends of those that were killed and injured.

I join the Prime Minister and others in congratulating Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin on becoming Bishop of Dover. She has been absolutely brilliant as Chaplain to the House, but she was also brilliant when she was a parish priest in Hackney. She shows such empathy for people, and we wish her well on her way. I am sure she will do really well.

I also congratulate the England women’s football team on their successful journey as far as the semi-finals and wish the men’s cricket team well in their current match against New Zealand, which I understand is 134-1 at the moment. Pride this weekend will be a source of great enjoyment. I think of all those who suffered in the past to try to defeat homophobia in our society and will be enjoying the joy of the streets of London this weekend.

The Chancellor says that a no-deal Brexit would cause a £90 billion hit to the public finances. The former Foreign Secretary says concerns about no deal are “confected hysteria”. Who does the Prime Minister think is right?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:06 p.m.

First, I echo the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks about the incident in Port Talbot. Secondly, the figure that was quoted was actually publicly available at the time. It appeared in the Government’s economic analysis in relation to these matters. If he is worried about no deal, let me say this: I have done everything I can to ensure we leave the EU with a deal. I can look workers in the eye and tell them I voted to leave with a deal that protected jobs. He cannot do that because he voted three times for no deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

The Prime Minister should be aware that her deal was rejected three times by the House, and when something has been rejected three times, one might think about an alternative method of doing things. A confidential Cabinet note apparently says that the Government are not properly prepared for no deal, and NHS trusts have warned that it will pose a major risk to NHS services. Furthermore, Make UK, which represents UK manufacturers, recently said:

“There is a direct link between politicians talking up the prospect of no-deal and British firms losing customers overseas and British people losing jobs.”

Is Make UK guilty of confected hysteria or is it speaking up for its members and its very legitimate concerns right across the manufacturing sector?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Business organisation after business organisation showed earlier this year that they wanted people in the House of Commons to vote for the deal so that we could leave with a deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:07 p.m.

The Prime Minister could not get her own party to support it. The Opposition parties did not support it either. As the danger of no deal looms ever larger, JLR, Ford, Nissan, Toyota and BMW have all said that no deal would threaten their continued presence in the UK. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has said:

“Leaving the EU without a deal would trigger the most seismic shift in trading conditions ever experienced”.

Furthermore, within the last week Vauxhall has said that its decision to produce the new Astra at Ellesmere Port will be conditional on the final terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. What can the Prime Minister say to workers at Ellesmere Port and elsewhere—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:08 p.m.

Why does the Prime Minister not speak to both candidates to succeed her and remind them that as they trade insults over no deal, thousands of jobs are at risk the more they ratchet up their rhetoric?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman asks what I would say to workers at Ellesmere Port. I would tell them that I and the vast majority of Conservative Members in this House voted to protect their jobs. The Labour party whipped three times against a deal. The Labour party whipped three times for no deal. The threat to those Ellesmere Port jobs is from the Labour party. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:09 p.m.

The Labour party is about protecting jobs and living standards in this country, not crashing out without a deal. With tariffs up to 40% on some basic foodstuffs, will the Prime Minister set out exactly what impact no deal would have on food prices and on the farming industry in this country?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman claims that the Labour party stands up for protecting jobs and living standards It has not only voted three times for no deal, thereby putting jobs under threat; it has also consistently, on a number of occasions, voted against the very tax cuts that help people to maintain their living standards. We will take no lectures from the Labour party on protecting people’s jobs and living standards.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:11 p.m.

As I recall, it was this party that put down a motion to take no deal off the table. The managing director of Birds Eye says that no deal would add 20% to the price of some foodstuffs “instantaneously”, and the National Farmers Union says that it would be very damaging to British farming. Both the candidates to succeed the Prime Minister have claimed that they will renegotiate the backstop. Can she confirm that section (12) of the European Council decision to extend article 50 ruled out reopening the withdrawal agreement, and therefore the backstop?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:11 p.m.

I do not think I need to tell the right hon. Gentleman what was in the Council conclusions. They are clear, and I have made them clear in the House. The right hon. Gentleman says that it was the Labour party that put down a motion to abandon no deal and take it off the table. The trouble is that when it came to the votes that mattered—when it came to the votes that would actually have an impact on stopping no deal—the Labour party whipped against them. That is absolutely typical of the right hon. Gentleman: all mouth and trousers.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Jul 2019, 12:12 p.m.

We made very clear what the danger of no deal is, and we will do everything to prevent a no-deal exit, because we know the damage it will do to jobs and living standards in this country.

This Government have comprehensively failed on Brexit. Jobs are at risk, inward investment has fallen off a cliff, and manufacturing is at a six-year low. No deal threatens to crash the economy. The Government themselves say that no deal would cut growth by 10%, yet we have two leadership candidates who are threatening no deal, and, indeed, are competing with each other on the rhetoric of no deal. This Government is now an irrelevance. The two candidates to succeed the Prime Minister have only fantasy plans. As she and her successors have no answers, does she not accept that the best thing to do would be to go back to the people and let them decide which way we go?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have made the point in answer to five of the right hon. Gentleman’s questions that if you want to ensure that this country leaves the European Union with a deal, you have to vote for a deal, which is what he and his colleagues have consistently refused to do. But there is another question for the Labour party. With all this talk about no deal, the question really is “Where does the Labour party stand on Brexit?” The shadow Brexit Secretary does not support Brexit. The shadow Foreign Secretary does not support Brexit. The shadow Chancellor does not support Brexit. The Labour deputy leader does not support Brexit. Labour wants to block Brexit, and that would be a betrayal of the many by the few.

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Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 26 June 2019

(7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I absolutely recognise, as we do across the Government, Yorkshire’s enthusiasm for and dedication to devolution and the potential seen there for harnessing local people’s sense of identity with Yorkshire. We share the ambition of doing what is best for Yorkshire, its people and its businesses. My right hon. Friend the Communities Secretary has now met with Yorkshire leaders. Discussions are continuing about a different localist approach to devolution, and officials are having initial meetings with councils, including York, and will be interested in hearing their ambitions for devolution.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I hope the whole House will welcome today’s mass climate lobby, which is coming to Parliament today. We should be proud of it. This House, after all, became the first Parliament in the world to declare a climate emergency. I want to pay tribute to the young people and young climate strikers who have done so much to raise awareness of this issue. I hope Members will take the chance today to meet those who are coming to lobby and learn from them, because they feel very passionately on the issue.

I acknowledge that it is Armed Forces Day—celebrations are going on this week—and I think we should be concerned about the welfare of both serving and former serving members of our armed forces. I join the Prime Minister in congratulating the Lionesses on reaching the quarter finals of the women’s World cup and wish them well tomorrow night against Norway.

I welcome the judgment of the Court of Appeal last Thursday against UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. The Court found that the Government had

“made no concluded assessments of whether the Saudi-led coalition had committed violations of international humanitarian law… during the Yemen conflict, and made no attempt to do so”.

Does the Prime Minister dispute that finding?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:08 p.m.

We continue to operate one of the most robust arms export control regimes in the world and we take our responsibilities on arms export licensing very seriously. Indeed, in the words of the 2017 judgment, the Government engaged in

“anxious scrutiny—indeed, at what seems like anguished scrutiny at some stages”.

We are disappointed that the Court found against the Government on one ground, and we will be seeking permission to appeal this judgment.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Germany, as an EU member state, has banned arms exports to Saudi Arabia, so has Denmark, and both the US Senate and House of Representatives have voted to ban arms exports as well.

The UN describes the situation in Yemen as “humanity’s biggest preventable disaster”, but the Government see fit to continue selling arms to Saudi Arabia during that situation, so may I ask the Prime Minister a very simple question? Does she believe there are serious ongoing violations of international humanitarian law by Saudi Arabia in Yemen—yes or no?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that we consider these issues very carefully when we are dealing with these arms export licences, as has just been quoted by the Court, but he references the situation in Yemen. This cannot go on. We need a political settlement in Yemen.

I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Saudi-led intervention was at the request of the legitimate President of Yemen following a rebel insurgency, which overthrew the internationally recognised Government, and the intervention has been acknowledged by the United Nations. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary held a Yemen Quad meeting on Saturday, expressing concerns at escalating tensions, but what do we see the Labour party do? One of the right hon. Gentleman’s MPs was inviting rebel leaders of the insurgency into the House of Commons—yet again, Labour on the wrong side of the argument.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The Prime Minister does not appear to understand the depth of feeling at the UN, Parliaments around the world or even the US Senate and the House on this situation. The UN itself has warned that by the end of 2019, if the war continues, 230,000 people will have lost their lives, of whom 140,000 are children under the age of five. The UK and EU law state that the Government must

“not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items used might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law.”

The Government said they had used the following criteria to judge

“an understanding of Saudi military procedures; continuing engagement with the Saudis at the highest level”

and

“Saudi public commitments to IHL”.—[Official Report, 20 June 2019; Vol. 662, c. 375-6.]

If the Saudi Government say they are respecting human rights, do we then ignore all evidence on the ground in Yemen and continue to sell weapons to the regime, which has led to this appalling death toll already in this conflict?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First, as I have made clear, we are seeking permission to appeal the recent judgment. The judgment is not about whether the Government made the right or wrong decisions, but about the decision-making process and whether it was rational. We are considering the implications of the judgment, alongside seeking permission to appeal, and while we do that, we will not grant any new licences for exports to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners that might be used in the conflict in Yemen. The right hon. Gentleman talks about the conflict in Yemen. As I have just said, let us remember what happened and why we are seeing this conflict in Yemen: it was the overthrow of the internationally recognised Government by rebel insurgents. We are all concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. [Interruption.] The shadow Foreign Secretary might like, as this is an area of concern to her remit, to actually listen to what the Government are doing. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:13 p.m.

We are all concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen. That is why, since the start of the conflict in 2015, our total commitment to Yemen now stands at £770 million. We are one of the major contributors to support for the humanitarian effort. Ultimately, the only way to resolve this issue is through a political settlement. That is why we are supporting the efforts of the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 11:55 a.m.

If that is the case, why are the Government appealing the judgment instead of promoting a peace settlement in Yemen? Since 2016, for three years, UN experts have been saying that the Saudi coalition has violated international humanitarian law in Yemen. This air campaign has killed tens of thousands of people, and injured and displaced many more. The Government say:

“there can be no military solution to this particular conflict. There can only be a negotiated and political solution.”—[Official Report, 20 June 2019; Vol. 662, c. 380.]

If that is the case, why have they already pumped £4.6 billion of military equipment into this brutal bombardment?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What we do believe, as I have just said—I said it in answer to the right hon. Gentleman’s last question and I said it, I think, in answer to his first question—is that the only way to ensure the security and stability of Yemen for the future is through a political settlement. That is why this Government are supporting the work being done by the UN special envoy, Martin Griffiths, and that is why we are continuing to use our diplomatic efforts, including, as I said, the Foreign Secretary holding a Yemen Quad on Saturday to encourage others around the table. We are very clear that we support the efforts to secure the agreement by the parties to the conflict to implement the Stockholm agreements. That is an important part of the process leading to peace and a political solution. That work is essential so that progress can be made at the next round of these talks and so that the humanitarian supply lines can be opened up.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The Trade Secretary said there could not be a military solution to this conflict. Surely the Government should think on this and stop the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Just last week, the UN special rapporteur, Agnes Kalamar, said that there is credible evidence that the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other high-level officials are personally responsible for the horrific murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Does the Prime Minister accept that assessment?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:14 p.m.

We do want to see accountability for this horrific murder. I raised the death of Jamal Khashoggi with King Salman at the Sharm summit—the second time I have done so. I raised it with the Crown Prince at the G20 last year. I have stressed the importance of those responsible being held to account and of due process being followed. We expect Saudi Arabia to take the action necessary to ensure that such violations of international and national laws cannot happen again. The right direction—the right way—to take this is through a judicial process, and we are obviously closely following the continuing investigation. We expect it to proceed in line with internationally recognised legal standards.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

There is overwhelming evidence that war crimes are being committed in Yemen by Saudi Arabian forces—a state that flouts every human rights norm at home and abroad. Its Government believes that it can kill with impunity journalists or civil rights campaigners, Yemenis or Bahrainis. It funds extremism around the world, but the UK has supplied it with over £4.5 billion-worth of deadly weapons. UK weapons have been used in indiscriminate attacks on civilians in which over 200,000 people have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more stand on the brink of famine, starvation and death from wholly preventable diseases. Surely the Court of Appeal judgment should be a wake-up call to the Prime Minister and the Government. Instead of appealing the judgment, why not accept it, stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia now, bring about peace in the Yemen and save those lives?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Jun 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman says to me, “bring about peace in the Yemen”. That is exactly what we are working with our international partners to do through the United Nations and the Yemen Quad. He talks about our relations with Saudi Arabia. That relationship has saved lives of British citizens in the past, but let us look at some of the relationships that right hon. Gentleman supports. When people were killed in Salisbury, his sympathies were with Russia. When terrorists were killing our people, his sympathies were with the IRA. And in the recent tanker attacks in the Gulf, his sympathies were with Iran. He never backs Britain and he should never be Prime Minister.

See more like "European Council"

European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 24 June 2019

(7 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jun 2019, 3:44 p.m.

Before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will join me in sending our very best wishes to the former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. All our thoughts are with him and his family at this time, and we wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Last week’s European Council focused on climate change, disinformation and hybrid threats, external relations and what are known as the EU’s top jobs. The UK has always been clear that we will participate fully and constructively in all EU discussions for as long as we are a member state, and that we will seek to continue our co-operation on issues of mutual interest through our future relationship after we have left. That was the spirit in which I approached this Council.

Earlier this month the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to ending its contribution to global warming by 2050, and I am pleased that the regulations to amend the Climate Change Act 2008, which are being debated in this Chamber later today, have received widespread support from across this House. Ultimately, we will protect our planet only if we are able to forge the widest possible global agreements: that means other countries need to follow our lead and increase their ambitions as well.

At this Council the UK helped to lead the way in advocating for our European partners to follow suit in committing to a net zero target by 2050. While a full EU-wide consensus was not reached, “a large majority” of member states did agree that

“climate neutrality must be achieved by 2050”,

and I hope we can build on this in the months ahead.

In the margins of the Council I met Prime Minister Conte and discussed the UK’s bid to host next year’s UN climate summit, COP 26, in partnership with Italy. This will continue to put the UK at the heart of driving global efforts to tackle the climate emergency and leave a better world for our children.

Turning to disinformation and hybrid threats, we agreed to continue working together to raise awareness, increase our preparedness, and strengthen the resilience of our democracies. I welcome the development of a new framework for targeted sanctions to respond to hybrid threats. This sends a clear message that the UK and its EU partners are willing and able to impose a cost for irresponsible behaviour in cyber-space.

We must make more progress in helping to ensure that the internet is a safe place for all our citizens. That is why we are legislating in the UK to create a legal duty of care on internet companies to keep users safe from harm, and this will be backed up by an independent regulator with the power to enforce its decisions. We are the first country to put forward such a comprehensive approach, but it is not enough to act alone, so, building on the Christchurch Call to Action summit, the UK will continue to help to drive the broadest possible global action against online harms, including at the G20 in Japan later this week.

In the discussion on external relations, the Council expressed its concern over Russia’s issuing of passports in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and reiterated its call for Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors and vessels captured in the Kerch strait in November last year.

Russia has consistently failed to deliver its commitments under the Minsk agreements and continues its destabilising activity, so with the UK’s full support the Council agreed a six-month roll-over of tier 3 sanctions, which include restrictions on Russia’s access to EU capital markets, an arms embargo and restricting co-operation with Russia’s energy sector.

In marking the fifth anniversary of the downing of flight MH17, we welcomed the announcement from the Netherlands that criminal charges were being brought against four individuals, and offered our continued support in bringing those responsible to justice.

The Council expressed serious concerns over Turkey’s drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean, and the UK has made it clear to Turkey that drilling in that area must stop. Our priority must be to see the situation de-escalated.

In the margins of the Council, I raised the issue of Iran. We call on Iran urgently to de-escalate tensions, and our priority remains finding a diplomatic solution to the current situation in the region.

A substantial part of the Council focused on what are known as the EU’s top jobs—the appointments of the next presidents of the EU’s institutions and of the EU’s High Representative. This is of course primarily a matter for the 27 remaining EU member states, and I have been clear that the UK will engage constructively and will not stand in the way of a consensus among the other member states, but it is also in our national interests that those appointed are constructive partners for the UK as well as successful leaders of the EU’s institutions.

The UK supports President Tusk’s approach to create a package of candidates across the top jobs that reflects the diversity of the European Union. As there was no consensus on candidates at the meeting, the Council agreed to meet again after the G20 this coming Sunday, as well as holding further discussions with the European Parliament. I had originally anticipated that this would be my final European Council as Prime Minister, but I will in fact have one more.

Finally, President Tusk and President Juncker updated the remaining 27 member states on Brexit. This scheduled update was part of the agreement I reached in April to extend the article 50 deadline for our departure from the EU to 31 October. The Council repeated its desire to avoid a disorderly Brexit and committed to work constructively with my successor as Prime Minister. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jun 2019, 3:48 p.m.

Mr Speaker, I understand that it is 10 years this week since you assumed the Chair of the House. May I just say congratulations on the first 10 years and thank you for being such a popular Speaker and for taking the role of Parliament out to the public in a meaningful way, particularly to schools and colleges all over the country? That has made a big difference.

I thank the Prime Minister for her kind words about John Prescott. We all obviously wish John all the very best. I cannot wait to see him return to full activity and to hear that voice booming out of loudspeakers all over the country exciting people in the cause of Labour, which is what John does so well.

I thank the Prime Minister for giving me an advance copy of her statement.

Last week, we came within minutes of the USA launching a military attack on Iran. Britain and other European nations must play a role in defusing, not raising, tensions, and that needs to start with the restoration of support for the Iran nuclear deal.

We note that there will be continuing EU-Morocco trade discussions. I hope that the United Kingdom Government will recognise that there is an ongoing territorial dispute over the Western Sahara and that those issues will be borne in mind during the negotiations.

I echo the European Union’s call on Turkey to cease its illegal drilling in the eastern Mediterranean; I welcome what the EU Council said on that.

I also welcome the EU Council’s discussion of climate change, which emphasises how important it is to continue to work with progressive forces to tackle the climate emergency, which this House declared on 1 May. I welcome the EU’s continued commitment to the Paris climate agreement and to deliver a practical plan of action to meet its obligations, and I also welcome the fact that COP 26 will be jointly hosted by Britain and Italy, with some events being held in London.

Yesterday marked three years since the EU referendum —three wasted years in which the Government’s deal has been rejected three times. We have endured three separate Brexit Secretaries, and we will soon have our third post-Brexit Prime Minister. It has been three years of chaos, in-fighting and incompetence. For too long, the Prime Minister allowed herself to be held to ransom by the wilder extremes in her party, instead of trying to find a sensible majority across this House—[Interruption.] Some of the wilder extremes have absented themselves today, but they are no doubt making their views known elsewhere. By the time the Prime Minister finally did reach out, it was a bit too late, and she was unable to deliver meaningful compromise or change.

Does the Prime Minister now regret that she continued to legitimise the idea of no deal instead of warning of its disastrous implications? The two Tory leadership candidates still say that if they cannot renegotiate the backstop, which EU leaders last week said was not possible, they would pursue a no-deal exit. Will the Prime Minister tell us whether she believes that no deal should be on the table as a viable option? What would be worse: crashing out with no deal in October, or putting this issue back to the people for a final say? Given the—[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it is normal for the Leader of the Opposition to ask questions of the Prime Minister, and that is exactly what I am doing.

Given the shambolic no-deal preparations so far, which were paused in the spring, will the Prime Minister confirm that the Government will not be ready to crash out in October? Neither of the Tory leadership candidates has a credible plan. One even claims that we can crash out on WTO terms and still trade without tariffs, which is interesting. The Governor of the Bank of England was clear when he said:

“Not having an agreement with the EU means that there are tariffs automatically because the Europeans have to apply the same rules to us as they apply to everyone else”.

Will the Prime Minister confirm whether the Bank of England Governor is correct on no deal? The former Foreign Secretary also told us that under his no deal plan he could

“solve the problem of free movement of goods in the context of the Free Trade Agreement… that we’ll negotiate in the implementation period.”

Will the Prime Minister confirm that there will be no implementation period if there is no deal?

It is deeply worrying that those who seek to lead this country have no grip on reality. The Prime Minister said that the Council reiterated its wish to avoid a “disorderly Brexit”, but I am unsure whether it will have been reassured by the statements of her potential successors.

Labour put forward a plan that could bring this country back together, but the Prime Minister refused to compromise. Whoever the next Prime Minister is, they will barely hold the support of this House, so they will certainly have no mandate to force a disastrous hard-right Brexit on this country. I want to make it clear that Labour will work across the House to block no deal. Whatever plan the new Tory leader comes up with, after three long years of failure they should have the confidence to go back to the people to let them decide the future of this country.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jun 2019, 3:54 p.m.

It is absolutely right that we recognise the 10th anniversary of your election to the Chair, Mr Speaker. It does not seem like 10 years at all.

May I correct the Leader of the Opposition? [Interruption.] Yes, surely. The Leader of the Opposition says he thinks that reality and facts are important. He said that COP 26 is coming to the UK, jointly with Italy. In fact, we are making a joint bid with Italy. Others are bidding for COP 26, so we are still working hard and I encouraged those around the European Council table to support our bid.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jun 2019, 3:55 p.m.

And we support it.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
24 Jun 2019, 3:57 p.m.

I am grateful to the Leader of the Opposition for saying that the Labour party and the Opposition support the bid, which I think is supported on both sides of the House.

The European Council meeting I attended did not discuss Brexit, no deal or the views of the candidates in the Conservative party’s leadership election, on which the Leader of the Opposition focused the majority of his comments and questions. I am supposed to be talking about what happened at the European Council. Nevertheless I am in a generous mood, so I will respond to a small number of his points.

The Leader of the Opposition talked about the talks on trying to find a compromise and a majority across the House, and we did, indeed, enter those talks. I think both sides entered the talks in a constructive spirit, and I remind him that it was he who actually terminated the talks.

The Leader of the Opposition talked about the position in relation to a no deal, which is, legally, the default option that remains on the table for 31 October if a deal is not agreed. The Government are rightly continuing their preparations for a no deal. He asked about my view on a no deal. I wanted to leave the European Union on 29 March with a deal. If he and his colleagues had voted with the Government, we would already be out.

I remind the Leader of the Opposition that I have done everything to avoid a no-deal Brexit by voting for a deal three times in the past year. He has done everything to increase the chance of a no deal by voting against a deal every time.

“Rejecting any Brexit…deal risks the worst outcome—a No Deal Brexit.”

Those are not my words but the words of his own Labour Members of Parliament.

Finally, the Leader of the Opposition talked about Conservative Members being divorced from reality. I have to say that the person in this House who is divorced from reality is the Leader of the Opposition, who thinks the economic model that we should be following is Venezuela.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 19 June 2019

(7 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, 11:30 a.m.

My hon. Friend is right to say that high streets are changing, and we are committed to helping communities to adapt. He set out some of the things he wants to see if those high streets are to continue to thrive. As he said, we have provided £675 million through the future high streets fund. I am pleased to hear about the Transforming Nuneaton programme, which I understand aims to increase footfall and drive economic growth. Nuneaton’s bid for the future high streets fund is currently under consideration, and we hope to announce the bids that have been successful in going forward to the business case development phase in the summer.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Today does mark two years since the terrorist attack on Muslim people in Finsbury Park outside the mosque, and the murder of my constituent Makram Ali. With the far right on the rise both in our country and across the world, we can all send a message to all those who seek to sow hatred and division in our society that we will not be divided. Our diversity is our strength, and I believe it always will be.

I concur with the Prime Minister about the need to support people who have suffered as a result of the floods over the weekend, and about the work of the emergency services in helping them.

On Friday, I was honoured to join Grenfell residents and survivors to mark the two-year anniversary of that terrible tragedy. With great dignity, they are campaigning for justice and change. Across this House, we have a duty to ensure that such fires can never happen again. That is why I have signed up—I hope the Prime Minister will do so as well—to the “Never Again” campaign, which is run by the Fire Brigades Union with the support of the Daily Mirror. Three days after the Grenfell fire, the Prime Minister said:

“My Government will do whatever it takes to help those affected, get justice and keep our people safe.”

So two years on, why do 328 high-rise buildings—homes to thousands of people from Newham to Newcastle—still have the same Grenfell-style cladding?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we will never be divided and that our diversity is indeed our strength; we should all celebrate that diversity.

The right hon. Gentleman refers to last Friday being two years on from the terrible tragedy of the Grenfell fire. I was very pleased yesterday to welcome, as part of Green for Grenfell, people from the Grenfell community—Grenfell United and others—to No. 10 Downing Street. I was particularly pleased to meet young people, hear their questions and talk to them about their concerns for the future. [Interruption.] I am pleased to see the shadow Foreign Secretary back from her re-education camp of a few weeks ago. She says, “What did you say?” I am about to tell her and the rest of the House what I said—just a little patience.

The issue of justice was indeed raised by one of the young people, which is exactly why I set up the public inquiry within days after the fire. That inquiry has two phases. It will soon be entering its second phase, and we have appointed panel members to sit alongside the judge in that phase. The aim is to find out exactly what went wrong, who was responsible and who was accountable, and to enable that justice for the people of Grenfell.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned cladding. We asked building owners in the private sector to take the action that we believed necessary, but they have not been acting quickly enough. That is why we will fully fund the replacement of cladding on high-rise residential buildings, and interim measures are in place where necessary on all 163 high-rise private residential buildings with unsafe aluminium composite material cladding.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

Obviously, the inquiry must go on and we await its response to what actually happened at Grenfell, but the answer that the Prime Minister gave is of no comfort to the 60,000 people living in high-rise tower blocks across the country. They are worried—their communities are worried.

Although Government funding is, of course, necessary and welcome, but not yet available, more than 70 block owners still have no plan in place to get the work done. Will the Prime Minister set a deadline of the end of this year for all dangerous cladding to be removed and replaced? Will she toughen up the powers for councils to levy big fines and, where necessary, to confiscate blocks to get this vital safety work done if the block owners simply fail to do it?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, all affected buildings identified in the social sector have been visited by the fire and rescue services, which have carried out checks and made sure that interim safety measures are in place. Remediation work has started or finished on over three quarters of those buildings. We are fully funding the removal and replacement of unsafe ACM cladding systems on high-rise social housing.

The right hon. Gentleman refers to housing in the private sector. We asked building owners to take the action necessary, and we expected building owners to take the action necessary. They have not done enough; they have not acted quickly enough. That is why the Government have stepped in and said that we will fully fund the replacement of cladding on high-rise residential buildings. As I said, interim measures are in place until that work is done.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

The question was: will the Prime Minister ensure that this is done by the end of this year? Under the current rate of progress, it will take three years for even the social housing blocks to be done.

But the issue goes wider: 1,700 other buildings, including hospitals, care homes, schools and hotels, are clad in other potentially combustible materials. If landlords will not act, will the Government step in and act on those buildings as well? The 2013 coroner’s report into the deadly Lakanal House fire recommended that sprinklers should be retrofitted to all social housing. Currently, only 32 of 837 council tower blocks of above 30 metres have sprinklers. Two years after Grenfell and six years after that coroner’s report, will the Prime Minister now accept that recommendation and set a deadline for all high-rise blocks to have sprinklers retrofitted?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

First of all, the right hon. Gentleman raises the issue of other cladding. The work is indeed being done to investigate the safety of other cladding. He then talks about the coroner’s report and recommendation in 2013. I think he has inadvertently said something that does not quite reflect what the coroner’s report said. It said that landlords should consider retrofitting sprinklers; it did not say that every building should be retrofitted with sprinklers. As he will know, there are many landlords up and down the country, including Labour councils, that have chosen not to fit sprinklers.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

The coroner’s report made it very clear that she thought that sprinklers would make blocks safer; I do not think we should be playing around with semantics—we should be making sure that all the blocks are safe across the whole country. Only 105 of the 673 new- build schools have sprinklers. Labour would make sure that all new schools had sprinklers fitted.

Grenfell survivors say, “We were victims before the fire.” Radical change is needed in our system of social housing. Tenants raised concerns about safety; they were ignored. Two years on from Grenfell, when will we see Government legislation to strengthen tenants’ rights and apply the Freedom of Information Act to all housing associations as well as local authorities?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

It is absolutely right that one of the truly shocking aspects of what happened at Grenfell Tower is that, before the fire happened and over a significant period of time, residents of the tower were raising concerns with the tenant management organisation and the council, and their voice was not heard. That is why one of the other things that I did after the Grenfell Tower fire was to initiate work looking at social housing.

The then Housing Minister—and this has been taken on by subsequent Housing Ministers—went around the country meeting people in social housing to see whether that had happened simply at Grenfell or was happening across the country, and to see how we could strengthen the voice of people living in social housing. I believe that should be done, and it is the work that we have been putting in place. It is absolutely right that the voices of those people should have been heard and acted on. We want to ensure in future that social housing tenants’ voices will be heard.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, midnight

That is all well and good, but just how long does it take to amend the Freedom of Information Act to make sure it applies to social housing run by housing associations as well as local authorities?

The Government spent £1,013 million on fire services in 2016-17. This year, the figure is £858 million— £155 million cut from fire services. Every fire authority across the country, from the 11% cut in Greater Manchester to the 42% cut in Warwickshire, is going through the same experience. We cannot put a price on people’s lives. We cannot keep people safe on the cheap. The Prime Minister told the country at the Conservative party conference last autumn that austerity is over. Will she now pledge that her Government will increase fire service funding and firefighter numbers next year?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, midnight

Indeed, we are able to end austerity, and we are able to put more money into public services. We are able to do that because a Conservative Government take a balanced approach to the economy. We have been putting right the wrongs of a Labour Government who left us with the largest deficit in our peacetime history. That is the legacy of Labour. We saw fewer people in work and less money to spend on public services, and we will not let it happen again.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, midnight

The legacy of this Tory Government is 10,000 firefighter jobs cut since 2010 and 40 fire stations closed, including 10 in London under the previous Mayor.

The Prime Minister claimed that action on Grenfell would be part of her legacy, but in two long years, too little has changed. She has met the Grenfell survivors, as have I. Their pain is real and palpable, and it continues. A big test for the next Prime Minister will be to make good the failings of this Government over the past two years—a failure to rehouse all the survivors, a failure to give justice to the Grenfell community, a failure to make safe other dangerous high-rise blocks, a failure to retrofit sprinklers and a failure to end austerity in the fire service. Does the Prime Minister believe that by the third anniversary next year, the Government will be able to honestly say with conviction to the country and to the Grenfell survivors, “Never again.”?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
19 Jun 2019, midnight

The right hon. Gentleman refers to the rehousing of the Grenfell survivors. All 201 households have been offered temporary or permanent accommodation —[Interruption.] I think that 194 of those households have accepted that, and 184 have been able to move into their accommodation.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about what the Government have been doing in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. We set up immediately a public inquiry. We set up immediately the Dame Judith Hackitt review, which looked at the issues around building regulations and fire safety. The Government are acting on the results of that, and I expect a future Government to act on the results of the public inquiry.

I have met on a number of occasions, including yesterday, people who survived the Grenfell Tower fire—people who lost their homes, people who lost members of their family and young people who lost their best friends. Their pain is indeed great; it will never go away. It is important for us to ensure that we provide support for those survivors into the future. It is not just about buildings and cladding; it is about support for the local community; and it is about mental health services and support for those who have been affected. This Government are committed to ensuring that we provide that support and that we do everything we can to make sure that a tragedy like Grenfell Tower can never happen again.

See more like "Employment: West Midlands"

Employment: West Midlands
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 12 June 2019

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:10 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the Government’s industrial strategy and to recognise the shared work that goes into those industrial strategies between government, the region and business. We will be investing £20 million towards this region becoming the UK’s first future mobility zone—that will be introducing new technologies to encourage more seamless and efficient journeys; investing up to £50 million to put the region at the forefront of 5G developments, as the new innovative home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G test bed; and £332 million from the Government’s transforming cities fund to extend the city region’s Metro system. This shared vision for inclusive growth shows how we can reach our potential and do so in a way that benefits all communities.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:14 p.m.

Today would have been the 90th birthday of Anne Frank had she survived, but she died in the Nazi Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. In her diary, she wrote many things, but one that really applies to all of us at all times is:

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.”

We should remember her life and all that she has inspired in so many others ever since the second world war.

Later this week, I will be joining those families and survivors commemorating the second anniversary of the Grenfell fire, in which dozens of people died. As Sunday’s fire in the flats in Barking reminds us, there is still much more to do to ensure that people are safe in their homes in all parts of this country.

As is traditional, I am sure the whole House will join me in welcoming the new Member for Peterborough, my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Lisa Forbes), who is sitting behind me today.

The country is in crisis over Brexit. Manufacturing is in crisis. The Prime Minister’s Government have brought us to this point and now the Conservative party is, once again, in the process of foisting a new Prime Minister on the country without the country having a say through a general election. This Prime Minister created the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in July 2016. Has the Prime Minister actually delivered an industrial strategy since then?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:13 p.m.

First, may I echo the comments of the right hon. Gentleman in recognising what would have been the 90th birthday of Anne Frank? Nobody can have read the testimony of Anne Frank in her diary without being deeply moved and deeply shocked by what she had to live through, and that is another reason why everybody across this House and across our society should do everything we can in the fight against antisemitism. May I also take this, my first, opportunity to welcome the new hon. Member for Peterborough to her seat in this Chamber?

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and our industrial strategy. It is obvious that he had written his question before he heard the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant), which of course referred to not only our national industrial strategy, but our regional industrial strategies, which are making a real difference in creating the record levels of employment we see in this country.

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

The answer the Prime Minister gave has a sort of unreality about it all really. [Interruption.] Let me explain, as I am trying to help Conservative Members. If they could contain their excitement for a moment, I thought I would remind them that the labour force survey shows that compared with 2016, when BEIS was set up, there are now 147,000 fewer people working in manufacturing in Britain, that apprenticeship starts are down 25%, and that manufacturing output fell by 3.9% between March and April this year, which is the largest fall for nearly two decades.

In the last year, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, Vauxhall, Ford and Nissan have all announced UK job losses. Does the Prime Minister think her Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been good for that industry?

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

This reveals an awful lot about the right hon. Gentleman’s and the Labour party’s approach to these issues. The point of the industrial strategy is to make sure that we have the economy with the jobs of the future, which is why it is good to see that, in that industrial strategy, we have key challenges such as artificial intelligence and data, which will underpin the work we are doing in clean growth, mobility, the health service, and so much more.

On Monday, I was pleased to attend London Tech Week, to speak at the event and do a roundtable with tech businesses in this country, to welcome the tech unicorns developed in London and the five tech unicorns developed in Manchester, and to welcome the over £1 billion of investment in the tech sector in this country announced at that time. We are looking to the jobs of the future. That is where the high-skilled, high-paid jobs are, and that is what this Government are delivering.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Last week, Ford announced it would end production at its Bridgend plant. UK car production has been virtually halved in the last 11 consecutive months. Ford has also said that a no-deal Brexit would put a further 6,000 UK jobs at risk, with thousands more at risk in the supply chain. Nissan, Toyota, BMW and JLR have all made similar statements. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to reiterate her Government’s assessment that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for Britain? I think some of her colleagues sitting behind her and alongside her need reminding of that.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Obviously, the announcement by Ford is very worrying. It is an uncertain time for workers and their families in Bridgend. Ford has committed to supporting employees throughout the consultation process and beyond, including with redeployment opportunities to other Ford sites in the UK. My right hon. Friends the Business Secretary and the Welsh Secretary have spoken to Ford, and we are working closely with them and the Welsh Government—the First Minister of Wales spoke to me as well. We are also working with local stakeholders and trade union representatives to ensure that those skilled and valued workers are supported throughout the process.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about no deal and his concerns about a no-deal situation. It would come a little more sincerely from him if he had not gone through the Lobby regularly and consistently voting to increase the chances of no deal by voting against the deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:18 p.m.

The Prime Minister may not have noticed, but her deal was rejected three times by Parliament.

Another industry failed by the UK Government is UK steel. Why did the Government not agree a deal to support our steel industry?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I think the point the right hon. Gentleman makes is exactly the point I was making. Had he really believed that we should be leaving the European Union and doing so with a deal, he would have voted for the deal. We could have left the European Union and moved into that brighter future already.

We did work with British Steel. We worked with its owner, Greybull Capital, and lenders to explore all the potential options to secure a solution for British Steel. As the emissions trading scheme agreement the Government put in place shows, we were willing to act. We continue to work with the official receiver and with the British Steel support group, which includes management, trade unions, companies in the supply chain and local communities, to pursue every possibility and every possible step to secure the future of the valuable operations at sites in Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and Teesside. I am to meet a group of Members of Parliament from the region whose constituencies are affected later today.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:19 p.m.

Since the Government did nothing to protect the steel industry in Redcar, I hope that they will do a bit better in Scunthorpe, where 5,000 jobs are at risk. The Select Committee on Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy raises questions about whether the Government actually entered into the negotiations in good faith.

Another sector that has been failed by the Government is the renewables industry. Solar installations are down by 94%, onshore wind is coming to a grinding halt, and they have failed to back the very important, very exciting and innovative Swansea bay tidal lagoon. They are failing on cars, on steel, and on renewables. I know that the Tory leadership candidates have been falling over themselves to confess to their past indulgences, but can the Prime Minister name an industry that is legal that her Government Ministers have actually backed?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:20 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about solar power, but let us look at the facts: 99% of solar power deployed in the UK has been deployed under a Conservative Government, and last year, renewables generated a record amount of electricity. That is indeed a record that this Government can be proud of. While he is talking about renewables, I am very surprised that he has not taken the opportunity to stand up and thank this Government for our announcement today that we will legislate for net zero on emissions by 2050.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

The legacy of the Prime Minister’s Government is one of failure. They claimed that they would tackle burning injustices; they failed. They told pensioners that their benefits were safe; now, they are taking away free TV licences for the over-75s. They promised action on Grenfell; two years on, there is still flammable cladding on thousands of homes across this country. They promised a northern powerhouse; they failed to deliver it, and every northern newspaper is campaigning for this Government to power up the north. They promised net zero by 2050, yet they have failed on renewables, and are missing—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Jun 2019, 12:22 p.m.

They promised net zero by 2050, yet they have failed on renewables and are missing their climate change targets. They promised an industrial strategy; output is falling. Which does the Prime Minister see as the biggest industrial failure of her Government: the car industry, the steel industry, or the renewables industry? Which is it?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman can pose for his YouTube clip as much as he likes, but let us actually look at what this Government have delivered. What we have delivered is a racial disparity audit that deals with the inappropriate inequality of public services for people from different communities; record investment in transport infrastructure in the north; a record employment rate; the lowest unemployment for 45 years; wages growing faster than inflation; a record cash boost for the NHS; better mental health support; more homes being built; stamp duty cut; higher standards in our schools; and we are leading the world on climate change. That is the record of Conservatives in government, which we are proud of, and we will never let him destroy it.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 22 May 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

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

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. We, like her, absolutely recognise the importance of this issue. The Government are committed to improving energy efficiency in 2.5 million homes by 2030 and our aim is to bring 2.5 million fuel-poor homes up to an energy performance certificate C rating by 2030. As she says, that will help to save energy and bring down bills.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:04 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in commemorating all the victims of the Manchester bombing two years ago. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of all those who were killed, the survivors, and the emergency service workers who gave such heroic service that night. They will live with the horrors of that night for the rest of their lives and 10.31 tonight will be a very poignant moment for many people in Manchester.

I want to pay tribute to the last survivor of the Hull “headscarf revolutionaries”, Yvonne Blenkinsop. She is visiting Parliament today. She led a campaign for basic safety in the UK fishing fleet in the 1960s. As a result, many lives were saved. People like her have made such an enormous contribution to our national life. They should be recognised for it.

I also want to express, on behalf of the Labour party, my outrage that the Government have again failed our steel industry, putting 5,000 jobs at risk at British Steel and 20,000 more in the supply chain. The Government have failed those people. Even at this late stage—there is a statement later today—they must step in and save those jobs.

Why are schools having to close early on Friday afternoon due to spending cuts?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:04 p.m.

First, I say to the right hon. Gentleman, because he raised the issue of British Steel, that, obviously, we recognise that this is a worrying time for the thousands of dedicated British Steel workers and their families, as well as those in the supply chain and local communities. The Government have been working tirelessly with the company, its owner Greybull Capital and lenders to explore all potential options to secure a solution for the company. We showed, through the emissions trade scheme agreement, that we were willing to act, but we can only act within the law. It is clear that it would be unlawful to provide a guarantee or loan on the terms requested by the company. We will be working with the company and others, and the official receiver, in the days and weeks ahead to ensure we pursue every step to secure the future of the operations at Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor has agreed an indemnity for the official receiver to enable British Steel to continue to operate in the immediate future. There are no job losses at this time and the official receiver has already said that staff will continue to be paid and employed. My right hon. Friend the Business Secretary will be updating the House in a statement later this afternoon.

On the issue of schools, as the right hon. Gentleman knows we are putting record levels of funding into our schools.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:04 p.m.

That would explain why 26 schools close early on a Friday every week because they do not have enough money to keep themselves open. More than 1,000 schools across England are turning to crowd- funding websites with a wish-list of things they want to raise money to buy—really exotic things such as pencils, glue and textbooks. Why are they forced to do that if they allegedly have enough money in the first place?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I say to the right hon. Gentleman what I have said before and just quoted: we are putting record levels of funding into our schools. We have also put in place a fairer distribution of the funding between our schools. We are giving every area more money for every pupil in every school. What is important in our education system is not just what the Government put in, but what quality of education is received by the children. There are more children in good and outstanding schools, the disadvantage attainment gap has been narrowed and record rates of disadvantaged young people are going to university. That is a record to be proud of.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I do not know if the Prime Minister has had a chance to listen to or read the words of the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers. He said:

“The fact so many schools are doing this should be ringing serious alarm bells for the government”.

The Prime Minister does not seem to be aware of the crisis that is facing so many in education at the present time, so can she be very clear with the House: has per pupil funding risen or fallen since 2010?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

As I said to the right hon. Gentleman, we are giving every area more money for every pupil in every school. Why are we able to do that? It is because the Conservatives have taken a balanced approach to our economy and managed our finances well. What would Labour give us? One thousand billion pounds extra borrowing. That would mean higher taxes, fewer jobs and less money to go into our schools.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

I can help the Prime Minister out in two ways. One is that a Labour Government would properly fund our schools—it would not short-change our children—and we would not use Orwellian words like “fair funding” while we are cutting. Per pupil funding —just so the Prime Minister understands it—has fallen by 8%. For sixth forms, it is 24%.

At the end of last year, the Prime Minister said “austerity is over.” Maria, who describes herself as a

“teacher in an underfunded school”

wrote to me this week and asked this—[Interruption.] Maria is a teacher in an underfunded school—I think Conservative Members need to listen to her. She asked:

“when will the government stop making false claims of increased funding for schools and start to tackle the serious problems faced by teachers?”

When will the cuts end for our children’s schools?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

I repeat: we are giving every area more money for every pupil in every school, but let us just see the situation that this Government inherited and that we would see under a Labour Government in the future—having to spend more on debt interest than on our schools budget. That is not because of what this Government are doing, because we are bringing debt down. It is the legacy of a Labour Government—more money on debt than on our schools.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

What this Government have squandered is what they inherited: children’s centres, Sure Start, children taken out of poverty. They squandered the future for so many of our children. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

The Department for Education’s funding chief met school leaders recently and told them:

“the first thing to say is obviously they are not generous budgets”—

he is very cautious with his words—

“They are budgets which leave schools with real pressures to face”.

Everyone agrees that the creative industries in this country are an enormous strength to our economy, so why have the arts borne the brunt of the Government’s brutal cuts to school funding? So many children are losing out on music and creative arts in our schools because of decisions by central Government.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman started his question by claiming that this Government had squandered what had been left by the last Labour Government. Let us look at what was left by the last Labour Government. [Interruption.] Oh. They do not want to be reminded what they left the last time they were in government. What did the last Labour Government leave? Unemployment higher than when they went into office. What did the last Labour Government leave? The biggest deficit in our peacetime history. And what were we told by the departing Chief Secretary to the Treasury? We were told: under Labour, there is no money left.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:15 p.m.

My question was actually about funding for arts and creative subjects in schools. A survey has shown that nine out of 10 secondary schools have cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one of the creative arts subjects. Are the artists and actors of tomorrow only to come from the private schools, while the Prime Minister continues to cut the funding for state schools?

When the Prime Minister says that school funding has been protected, she is denying the daily experience of teachers, parents and pupils. She is denying the incontrovertible evidence of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, education bodies and teaching unions. She is actually in outright denial. When the wealth of the richest 1,000 people has increased by £50 billion in the last year alone, do not tell us that the money is not there for our children’s schools. This Government have cut vital public services to give tax cuts to the privileged few. Can the Prime Minister name a more damaging policy—a more short-sighted policy—than cutting investment in our future: our children?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The richest have paid more tax every year under the Conservatives—[Interruption.] Wait for it! They have paid more every year under the Conservatives than in any year under a Labour Government. The right hon. Gentleman talks about what happens in our schools. As I have said, we are putting record funding into our schools, but what matters is the quality of education our children get. Labour opposed the phonics checks, it wants to scrap academies and free schools, and it would abolish SATs. That does not help to raise standards in schools. Let us just look at the Labour record. When it was in government, standards were lower than they are today. Where it is in government in Wales, standards are lower than in England, and if it was to get into government, we would see more of the same—lower standards, less opportunity, less opportunity for young people for a brighter future. It is the Conservative party that gives good quality education, good jobs and a good future.

See more like "Leaving the European Union"

Leaving the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 22 May 2019

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:57 p.m.

Before I make my statement, may I too recognise the work of Yvonne Marie Blenkinsop and others, and indeed all those who have campaigned over the years to ensure that those in the workplace can have the degree of safety and security that they need?

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the Government’s work to deliver Brexit by putting forward a new deal that Members of this House can stand behind.

We need to see Brexit through, to honour the result of the referendum and to deliver the change the British people so clearly demanded. I sincerely believe that most Members of this House feel the same—that, for all our division and disagreement, we believe in democracy, and that we want to make good on the promise we made to the British people when we asked them to decide on the future of our EU membership. As to how we make that happen, recent votes have shown that there is no majority in this House for leaving with no deal, and this House has voted against revoking article 50. It is clear that the only way forward is leaving with a deal, but it is equally clear that this will not happen without compromise on all sides of the debate. That starts with the Government, which is why we have just held six weeks of detailed talks with the Opposition—talks that the Leader of the Opposition chose to end before a formal agreement was reached, but which none the less revealed areas of common ground.

Having listened to the Opposition, to other party leaders, to the devolved Administrations and to business leaders, trade unionists and others, we are now making a 10-point offer to Members across the House—10 changes that address the concerns raised by right hon. and hon. Members; 10 binding commitments that will be enshrined in legislation so they cannot simply be ignored; and 10 steps that will bring us closer to the bright future that awaits our country once we end the political impasse and get Brexit done.

First, we will protect British jobs by seeking as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement. The Government will be placed under a legal duty to negotiate our future relationship on this basis.

Secondly, we will provide much-needed certainty for our vital manufacturing and agricultural sectors by keeping up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border. Such a commitment, which will also be enshrined in legislation, will help protect thousands of skilled jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.

Thirdly, we will empower Parliament to break the deadlock over future customs arrangements. Both the Government and the Opposition agree that we must have as close to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border as possible, protecting the jobs and livelihoods that are sustained by our existing trade with the EU, but while we agree on the ends, we disagree on the means. The Government have already put forward a proposal that delivers the benefits of a customs union but with the ability for the UK to determine its own trade and development policy. The Opposition are sceptical of our ability to negotiate that and do not believe that an independent trade policy is in the national interest. They would prefer a comprehensive customs union with a UK say in EU trade policy, but with the EU negotiating on our behalf.

As part of the cross-party discussions, the Government offered a compromise option of a temporary customs union on goods only, including a UK say in relevant EU trade policy, so that the next Government can decide their preferred direction. We were not able to reach agreement, so instead we will commit in law to let Parliament decide this issue and to reflect the outcome of this process in legislation.

Fourthly, to address concerns that a future Government could roll back hard-won protections for employees, we will publish a new workers’ rights Bill. As I have told the House many times, successive British Administrations of all colours have granted rights and protections to British workers well above the standards demanded by Brussels. I know that people want guarantees, and I am happy to provide them. If passed by Parliament, this Bill will guarantee that the rights enjoyed by British workers can be no less favourable than those of their counterparts in the EU—both now and in the future—and we will discuss further amendments with trade unions and business.

Fifthly, the new Brexit deal will also guarantee that there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU. We will establish a new and wholly independent office of environmental protection, able to uphold standards and enforce compliance.

Sixthly, the withdrawal agreement Bill will place a legal duty on Government to seek changes to the political declaration that will be needed to reflect this new deal, and I am confident that we will be successful in doing so.

Seventhly, the Government will include in the withdrawal agreement Bill at its introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum. I have made my own view clear on this many times—I am against a second referendum. We should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British people to vote in a second one. What would it say about our democracy if the biggest vote in our history were to be rerun because this House did not like the outcome? What would it do to that democracy and what forces would it unleash? However, I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue. To those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal, I say that you need a deal and therefore a withdrawal agreement Bill to make it happen. Let it have its Second Reading and then those MPs can make their case to Parliament. If this House votes for a referendum, it would require the Government to make provisions for such a referendum, including legislation if it wanted to ratify the withdrawal agreement.

Eighthly, Parliament will be guaranteed a much greater role in the second part of the Brexit process: the negotiations over our future relationship with the EU. In line with the proposal put forward by the hon. Members for Wigan (Lisa Nandy) and for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell), the new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons will approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations. MPs will also be asked to approve the treaty governing that relationship before the Government sign it.

Ninthly, the new Brexit deal will legally oblige the Government to seek to conclude the alternative arrangements process by December 2020, avoiding any need for the Northern Ireland backstop coming into force. This commitment is made in the spirit of the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady), passed by this House on 29 January. Although it is not possible to use alternative arrangements to replace the backstop in the withdrawal agreement, we will ensure that they are a viable alternative.

Finally, tenthly, we will ensure that, should the backstop come into force, Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland. We will prohibit the proposal that a future Government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory, and we will deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland in the December 2017 joint report in full. We will implement paragraph 50 of the joint report in law. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive will have to give their consent on a cross-community basis for new regulations that are added to the backstop. We will work with our confidence and supply partners on how these commitments should be entrenched in law, so that Northern Ireland cannot be separated from the United Kingdom.

Following the end of EU election purdah, the withdrawal agreement Bill will be published on Friday so that the House has the maximum possible time to study its detail. If Parliament passes the Bill before the summer recess, the UK will leave the EU by the end of July. We will be out of the EU political structures and out of ever closer union. We will stop British laws being enforced by a European court. We will end free movement. We will stop making vast annual payments to the EU budget. By any definition, that alone is delivering Brexit. By leaving with a deal we can do so much more besides: we can protect jobs, guarantee workers’ rights, and maintain the close security partnerships that do so much to keep us all safe. We will ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and we can bring an end to the months—years—of increasingly bitter argument and division that have both polarised and paralysed our politics. We can move on, move forwards, and get on with the job that we were sent here to do and what we got into politics to do. That is what we can achieve if we support this new deal.

Reject the deal, and all we have before us is division and deadlock. We risk leaving with no deal, something that this House is clearly against. We risk stopping Brexit altogether, something that the British people would simply not tolerate. We risk creating further division at a time when we need to be acting together in the national interest. We also guarantee a future in which our politics becomes still more polarised and voters increasingly despair as they see us failing to do what they asked of us. None of us wants to see that happen. The opportunity of Brexit is too large and the consequences of failure too grave to risk further delay. In the weeks ahead, there will be opportunities for MPs from all parts of the House to have their say, to table amendments, and to shape the Brexit that they and their constituents want to see.

In time, another Prime Minister will be standing at this Dispatch Box, but while I am here, I have a duty to be clear with the House about the facts. If we are to deliver Brexit in this Parliament, we will have to pass a withdrawal agreement Bill. We will not do so without holding votes on the issues that have divided us the most. That includes votes on customs arrangements and on a second referendum. We can pretend otherwise and carry on arguing and getting nowhere, but in the end our job in this House is to take decisions, not to duck them. I will put those decisions to this House because that is my duty and because it is the only way that we can deliver Brexit. Let us demonstrate what this House can achieve. Let us come together, honour the referendum, deliver what we promised the British people, and build a successful future for our whole country. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 12:54 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of the statement. In fact, I received it yesterday when she made an appeal entitled, “Seeking common ground in Parliament”. Where did she make that appeal? Not in Parliament, but in a small room just down the road.

It is now clear: the bold new deal that the Prime Minister promised is little more than a repackaged version of her three times rejected deal. The rhetoric may have changed, but the deal has not. I thank the Prime Minister for her letter, but it offers no change on a customs union, no change on single market alignment, and no dynamic alignment on environmental protections. This Government are too weak, too divided, to get this country out of the mess that they have created. For more than two years, the Prime Minister bullishly refused to consult the public or Parliament.

She did not seek a compromise until after she had missed her own deadline to leave, and by the time she finally did, she had lost the authority to deliver. That became evident during the six weeks of cross-party talks that ended last week—talks that were entered into constructively on both sides to see if a compromise was possible.

But while those talks were going on, Cabinet Minister after Cabinet Minister made statements undermining what their colleagues in the room were offering. The Foreign Secretary, the Leader of the House, the International Trade Secretary and the Treasury Chief Secretary all made it clear that they would not tolerate a deal that included a customs union, while Tory leadership contender after Tory leadership contender took it in turns to make it absolutely clear that any compromise deal would not be honoured. Therefore, no matter what the Prime Minister offers, it is clear that no compromise would survive the upcoming Tory leadership contest. The multiple leaks reported from the Cabinet yesterday show that the Prime Minister could not even get the compromise deal she wanted through her own Cabinet, and it is clear that the shrunken offer that emerged satisfied no one—not her own Back Benchers, not the Democratic Unionist party and not the Official Opposition either. No Labour MP can vote for a deal on the promise of a Prime Minister who only has days left in her job.

Even if the Prime Minister could honour her promises, the deal she is putting before us does not represent a genuine compromise. Her 10-point plan is riddled with contradiction and wishful thinking. First, the Prime Minister pretends she is delivering something new with a temporary customs union. This is not a compromise— it is just accepting the reality. Under the withdrawal agreement, we will already be in a temporary customs union through the transition period, which can last up to four years, and if not, we will enter the backstop, which, in effect, keeps us in a customs union, too, without any say.

Secondly, why would this House legislate for a plan that has already been comprehensively rejected by the European Union? The Government want to align with the European Union on goods to keep frictionless trade, but they also want to pursue trade deals that would undermine this process. It is simply not compatible. The technology they need to continue to pursue their Chequers plan simply does not exist. It has already been ruled out by the EU as illegal, impractical and an invitation to fraud. The Government have failed to provide any economic analysis to show that this would make us better off. Why would the House support such a chaotic and desperate approach?

Labour set out a sensible compromise plan over a year ago, including a comprehensive and permanent customs union with the EU that gives us a say, which would allow us to strike trade deals as part of the world’s biggest trading bloc, bringing investment, while maintaining the highest standards. It is credible and achievable, and the best way to protect industry, manufacturing and jobs—something that this Government are woefully indifferent to, as the latest crisis in the steel industry shows today. The Government must be prepared to step in and take a public stake to save thousands of high-skilled jobs at British Steel—a foundation industry for any major economy. Instead, the Tory obsession is for striking trade deals with the likes of Donald Trump. They prioritise chlorinated chicken, further NHS privatisation and deregulation over protecting supply chains and jobs in this country.

On workers’ rights, we have yet to see the full package the Government intend to bring forward, but many people in the trade union movement remain very sceptical. As Frances O’Grady of the Trades Union Congress said yesterday:

“This reheated Brexit deal won’t protect people’s jobs and rights.”

On environmental protections, it is clear that the Prime Minister is not offering dynamic alignment and that under her proposals the UK would fall behind in a number of areas, with only a toothless regulator under the control of the Environment Secretary in place of binding international commitments to protect our environment.

Finally, on a confirmatory vote, I am sure that nobody here will be fooled by what the Prime Minister is offering. Will she tell us now, if this offer is genuine: will she give her party a free vote on this issue or will she, as before, whip against a confirmatory referendum? If the Government truly believe this is the best deal for the economy and for jobs, they should not fear putting that to the people.

For too long, our politics has been seen through a prism of leave or remain. This is dividing our society and poisoning our democracy. It means that vital issues are being neglected—the crisis in our schools and hospitals, the housing crisis and the cruelty of social security policy and universal credit. Our country needs leadership to bring us together. However, this Prime Minister is not the person to do that. Throughout the last three years, she has made no attempt to unite the country. She has been focused only on keeping her divided party together—and it has not worked. Her time has now run out. She no longer has the authority to offer a compromise and cannot deliver. That is why it is time for a general election to break the Brexit deadlock and give the country a say.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 May 2019, 1:19 p.m.

I think that the right hon. Gentleman gave the game away when he made it absolutely clear that, as far as he is concerned, the way to get this through the House is for everybody else to compromise to his plan and only his plan. He was very clear that he was not making any proposals to compromise. The Government have indeed compromised. We have recognised that there are issues on which this House will need to decide—and that is the plain fact.

There are different opinions across this House on the two key issues of the future customs arrangement and the second referendum. I have made my position very clear on these. The Government have set out their position. But it is for this House to decide, and the best vehicle to do this is within the withdrawal agreement Bill, so then this House can finally make its mind up on what it wants the future customs arrangement to be and whether it thinks there should be a second referendum.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about free votes on a second referendum. Well, of course, in the indicative vote process that went through, we did indeed give Conservative Members a free vote on this issue, and the second referendum was rejected across the House.

The right hon. Gentleman made some inaccurate comments. He talks about the environmental regulator. It will be an independent body that is able to hold the Government to account on environmental standards. I think that he shows his blinkered view on trade when what he sets out is that, as far as he seems to be concerned, the only people he wants to trade with are in the European Union. Actually, what we want to see is a good trade deal with the EU and good trade deals with other countries around the world—that is the best way forward for the United Kingdom.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about British Steel. I answered questions in Prime Minister’s questions on British Steel and what the Government are doing. He talked about Labour’s position of wanting a comprehensive customs union, all the dynamic alignment and single market alignment. What the Labour party wants to achieve in its relationship with the EU would make it even harder for a British Government to take action to protect industries such as the steel industry. He has always complained about state aid rules, but he wants to tie us into those state aid rules with what he proposes.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about different opinions across the House. Of course, the one issue that has never properly been resolved in this House and that the withdrawal agreement Bill would force to be resolved is whether he himself is for Brexit or against it. If he is for Brexit, he will vote for the withdrawal agreement Bill. Voting against the withdrawal agreement Bill is voting against Brexit.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 15 May 2019

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

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

I thank my hon. Friend for highlighting this issue, because we obviously recognise the importance of supporting young carers. We have published a cross-Government carers action plan that is committing to improve the identification of young carers’ educational opportunities and outcomes, as well as access to support and services. I am very happy to join him in congratulating Annette on this award and thanking her for the amazing work she has done and continues to do to support young carers. I also congratulate Rugby FM on identifying people in the community like Annette who are doing so much help the lives of others.

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

I join the Prime Minister in acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Week. I want to send my support to all those campaigning all across the country to raise awareness of mental health, and a message that all of us can do something about it by reaching out and talking to people going through a mental health crisis, and also ensuring that there is proper funding for our mental health services.

I would like to pay tribute to the former Labour MP for Birmingham, All Saints, Brian Walden, who passed away this week. He was a very formidable figure in this House and a very strong political interviewer who every politician really loved being interviewed by at the time—but they only said that afterwards.

I think it would also be only right that the House of Commons pays tribute to a leading Hollywood icon and campaigner for animal welfare, Doris Day, who passed away this week. I am tempted to quote some Doris Day songs, but I won’t. [Interruption.] All right—“Whip-Crack-Away!” [Interruption.] No, no, no. [Interruption.] I do apologise, Mr Speaker—I have obviously started a parliamentary singalong here.

Speaking of icons, it would be right to acknowledge that it is 40 years since my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field) were both elected to this Parliament for the first time in the 1979 election.

In the last two years, nine of the UK’s richest hedge fund tycoons have donated £2.9 million to the Conservative party. Is this a Government for the many or one in the pockets of an elite few?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, 12:07 p.m.

Let me first respond to some of the tributes that the right hon. Gentleman paid. I am sure that everybody across the House would wish to recognise the sad passing of somebody who gave many hours of entertainment through her films and career—Doris Day.

I would also like to congratulate the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) and the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field) on having been elected into this House 40 years ago and having spent 40 years in this House. I also note that 40 years ago, of course, it was the election of Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative Government. It was always said that Margaret Thatcher had enjoyed being interviewed by Brian Walden, who did indeed not only have a career in this House but went on to have a very respected career in television journalism as a broadcaster and interviewer.

The right hon. Gentleman raises issues about fairness and equality, and those who are better off in our society. Can I just say to him that income inequality is down since 2010? As Conservatives, we want everyone to be better off, everyone to have good jobs, and everyone to have a better life. But that is always the difference between us and Labour: Labour wants to bring people down; we want to raise people up.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

The Nobel prize-winning economist Sir Angus Deaton said that the UK risks having extreme inequality levels of pay, wealth and health. Of the G7 countries, only the United States is more unequal than the UK. Is that something the Prime Minister is proud of?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, midnight

The right hon. Gentleman talks about income inequality and fairness. As I say, income inequality is down since 2010. The lowest paid have seen their wages grow the fastest since 2015. The top 1% are contributing more income tax than at any point under the last Labour Government, and thanks to the Conservatives, millions of the lowest paid are no longer paying any income tax at all. That is Conservatives delivering for everyone.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

Real wages are lower than they were 10 years ago. How can it be fair that we live in a society where the average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company now earns 145 times the annual average salary in this country? Some of the lowest rates of pay are among young workers. That is why at the weekend, I announced that the next Labour Government will abolish the youth rates, because, quite simply, if you are old enough to do the job, you are old enough to be paid the wage to do the job. Does the Prime Minister agree with that principle?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, midnight

The impact of the policy that the right hon. Gentleman has announced is actually that it will cost young people jobs. That is not just what I am saying. The director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said that the policy would

“end up having quite a negative effect on young people.”

But we do not need to rely on quotes to know what would happen to young people under a policy like that. We can just look at the record of the last Labour Government on youth employment. Under the last Labour Government, youth unemployment rose by 44%. Under the Conservatives in government, youth unemployment has fallen by 50%.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

I seem to recall that it was the Conservative party that opposed the national minimum wage in 1997. I seem to recall that it was the Conservative party that predicted millions of jobs being lost because we wanted decent pay for people.

Why do this Government continue to punish our young people? Since 2010—[Interruption.] Well, since 2010, the Conservative party, with its Liberal Democrat accomplices, has trebled tuition fees, abolished the education maintenance allowance and cut child benefit. While wages remain lower than a decade ago and housing costs have soared, more and more food banks are opening up in Britain. In Great Yarmouth, one has just been opened for pupils at a school, and last week the Department for Business established a food bank for its own staff in its building on Victoria Street. Can the Prime Minister tell us what is going wrong in modern Britain when a Government office in the centre of London has a food bank for some of its very low-paid staff to get something to eat?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, midnight

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, I think that the best way to ensure that people have a good, stable income for their families is to ensure that they are in work. This is the fourth question he has asked me, and in none of his questions so far has he welcomed the fact that employment is at record levels, and unemployment is down at a record low. The way he talks, you would think that inequality started in 2010.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, midnight

One of the Labour Back Benchers shouts from a sedentary position, “It did!” Who was it who said that the last Labour Government

“ensured that the gap between the richest and the poorest in our society”

became “very much bigger?” Those are not my words; they are the words of the right hon. Gentleman, attacking his own Labour Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

My question was about food banks in a Government office—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
15 May 2019, midnight

My question was about a food bank in a Government Ministry, which seems to suggest that in-work poverty is the problem in Britain.

The Trussell Trust handed out 1.6 million food parcels last year, half a million of which went to children. A new report out today by the End Child Poverty coalition shows that child poverty has risen by half a million and is becoming the new norm in this country. The End Child Poverty coalition called on Ministers to restore the link between inflation and social security. Will the Prime Minister do that, to try to reduce the disgraceful levels of child poverty in this country?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about helping those who are low paid. It is this Government—it is a Conservative Government—who introduced the national living wage. And what do we see? Under Labour, someone working full time on the national minimum wage would have taken home £9,200 a year. Now they take home over £13,700—£4,500 more under the Conservatives for the lowest paid. That is the Conservatives caring for the low paid in our society.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 May 2019, 12:16 p.m.

They may have changed the name, but the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that child poverty will rise to over 5 million by 2022 at the current rate because of the strategies being followed by the right hon. Lady’s Government.

When the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain has increased by £50 billion in one year, but there is not enough money to properly feed our children or pay workers a decent wage, we have failed as a society. This country is seeing the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, while the Government are in the pockets of a super-rich elite. More children in poverty, more pensioners in poverty, more people struggling to make ends meet: when are the right hon. Lady and her Government going to reverse the tax giveaways to the super-rich and make sure they pay their fair share of taxes, so we can end the scandal—and it is a scandal—of inequality in modern Britain?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

In fact, as I have pointed out, the top 1% are paying more in income tax today than they ever did under a Labour Government. But what have we seen from Labour in just the past week? The Labour party has a plan for a system where everybody in this country would get benefits. That means handouts to hedge fund managers paid for by tax hikes on working people. Labour’s policy—money for the rich, paid by taxes on the poor.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 08 May 2019

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

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

My hon. Friend raises a very important point. We recognised that we have been asking schools to do more and responded with the highest level of school funding on record, and we introduced the new national funding formula to make the distribution fairer, but of course it is still the case that local authorities are responsible for determining individual schools’ budgets from the overall sum they have received. They have a responsibility, and I am sure that hon. Members will look to their local authorities to make sure that where schools should be receiving extra money, the local authorities are passing it on. But I will also ask those at the Department for Education, who will have heard my hon. Friend’s question, to write to her in more detail about it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:05 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in sending condolences to the family and friends of Guardsman Mathew Talbot, who died while on anti-poaching activities. It is a reminder of the diverse work that the armed forces do, and we thank them for it and for the help they are giving to the people of Malawi. I join her also in welcoming the birth of the baby to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and, along with all of us, in recognising and enjoying Ramadan and Vaisakhi at this time. It is important to show the diversity of this country and celebrate all religious festivals.

I hope the whole House will also join me in congratulating a great football team: Manchester City, on winning the women’s FA cup. In view of Liverpool’s amazing performance last night, perhaps the Prime Minister could take some tips from Jürgen Klopp on how to get a good result in Europe.

Our national health service is our country’s greatest social achievement. Its staff show amazing dedication, but this Government’s failures are taking their toll. An NHS staff survey found that 40% of staff had reported suffering work-related stress in the past year alone. Can the Government explain why staff are being so severely let down by this Government?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:07 p.m.

First, may I say to the right hon. Gentleman that when we look at the Liverpool win over Barcelona last night, we see that it shows that when everybody says, “It’s all over and your European opposition have got you beat. The clock’s ticking down, it’s time to concede defeat”, actually we can still secure success if everyone comes together.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about staffing in the NHS. For too long Governments have failed to produce the proper workforce planning to give our staff in the NHS the care they deserve. It is this Government, with their long-term plan, who are ensuring that we give that care to staff. NHS staff work hard, caring for patients, and this Government will care for NHS staff. It is only because we are able to give the NHS its biggest cash boost in its history and to give it that long-term plan that we will deliver for NHS staff.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:08 p.m.

Under the last Labour Government, NHS investment rose by 6% a year, but under this Government it has barely reached 1.5%. Five thousand nurses and midwives from European Union countries have left the NHS in the past two years, and there are 100,000 staff vacancies across the NHS in England alone. The Royal College of Radiologists recently said the shortage of cancer doctors “puts care at risk”. What is the Prime Minister doing to remedy this dangerous situation?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What have seen this year? We have seen the numbers of doctors and nurses in the NHS at their highest level in its 70-year history. As I say, our NHS staff work hard 24/7 and their dedication is second to none. I am proud of our NHS. He talks down our NHS. Let us just remember this: at the last general election, the Labour party promised to give the NHS less money than the Conservative Government are giving it. The Labour party in government would crash the economy, which would mean less money available for the NHS. And who is the only party in government that has cut funding to the NHS? It is the Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Nobody on this side of the House ever talks down the NHS—it is Labour’s greatest achievement. The principle of healthcare free at the point of need as a human right was a Labour achievement, and every Tory MP voted against it.

Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day. As for all cancers, the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is essential. In February, almost a quarter of patients waited more than two months to start cancer treatment following a GP referral—the worst performance on record. Will the Prime Minister apologise to the thousands of cancer patients who are enduring weeks of unbelievable stress and worry while they wait to start the treatment that, to have a better chance of survival, they should be able to start quickly after they have been referred?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:11 p.m.

We recognise the importance of the early diagnosis and treatment of ovarian cancer, of other cancers and of other conditions as well, which is why a key part of the 10-year plan—the long-term plan for the NHS that is being put forward under this Government—is about early diagnosis. We recognise the importance of that. The right hon. Gentleman might like to reflect on the fact that there is a part of the United Kingdom in which the urgent cancer treatment target has not been met since June 2008. Where is that? In Wales, under Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:11 p.m.

Under the NHS in Wales, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. We should welcome the work that has been done.

The Royal College of Radiologists said,

“our workforce projections are increasingly bleak”,

and almost half of all women with ovarian cancer reported having to visit the GP three times before they were referred for a test. Today, we learned that GP numbers are experiencing their first sustained fall for 50 years. GPs often play the vital role in the early identification of cancers and other serious problems. Does the Prime Minister think it is acceptable that one third of people who need an urgent GP appointment on the day that they ask for one are being turned away because of the shortage of GPs?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:13 p.m.

We recognise that GPs are a vital part of the NHS, and there are actually more GPs in the NHS today than there were in 2015. We have made it easier for people to access their GPs by ensuring that GP surgeries are open for more days of the week. We are incentivising GP trainees to work in hard-to-recruit areas and making it easier and quicker for qualified doctors to return to the NHS. Under our NHS long-term plan, we will see—for the first time in its 70-year history—the proportion of funding for primary medical and community care increasing as a percentage of the NHS budget. That is because it is this Government who recognise the importance of primary care in our national health service, and it is this Government whose careful management of the economy means there is money available to put into our national health service.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

Mr Speaker, if you go to any A&E department in the country, you will find that staff are under enormous pressure precisely because there is a shortage of GPs available to see people in the first place. At the same time as he promotes private GP services, the Conservative Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is overseeing the biggest drop in NHS GPs for 50 years. One in 10 GPs are now seeing twice as many patients as is safe for them to see—that is the pressure they are under. The NHS has failed to meet its A&E waiting time target for nearly four years. In March this year, more than one in five patients waited more than four hours to be seen. Will the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Government, apologise to the tens of thousands of people waiting for too long in deep distress just to get seen at an A&E department, because of the pressure A&Es are under?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:14 p.m.

We recognise the importance of these targets in the NHS. That is why one of the elements of the 10-year long-term plan in the NHS—funded by the biggest cash boost in the NHS’s history, which was given by this Conservative Government because of their good management of the economy—is to ensure that we are improving those targets. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to stand up and apologise for the fact that the A&E waiting-time target has not been met not for four years, but for over a decade under a Labour Government in Wales.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:16 p.m.

The reality is that, under a Tory Government, spending and investment in the NHS is less than it was under Labour, and, even with the Prime Minister’s funding announcements, that remains the case. The complacent attitude and platitudes hide the reality that, under the Tories, our health service is going through the longest funding squeeze in history: 20,000 jobs in mental health units are unfilled; public satisfaction with GP services is the worst on record; cancer treatment delays are the worst on record; A&E waiting times are the worst on record; and, tragically, infant mortality is rising. Will the Prime Minister admit that the Government have failed the health service, failed NHS staff, and, therefore failed the patients who rely on the NHS?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
8 May 2019, 12:17 p.m.

There are more people alive today because our cancer treatment has improved than would have been the case in 2010. At the previous election, someone said that an extra £7 billion for the NHS would

“give our NHS the resources it needs to deliver the best possible care for patients.”

I wonder who that was. It was none other than the Leader of the Opposition. Are this Government giving the NHS £7 billion? No! Are they giving it twice that—£14 billion? No! They are giving the NHS £20 billion. I am proud of this Government’s record and the Conservative party’s record on the NHS. It is the Conservative party that is giving the NHS its biggest cash boost in its history. It is the Conservative party that is giving it a sustainable 10-year long-term plan to ensure that it is there for people in the future. Under the Conservative party, we have seen more nurses and more doctors in our national health service dedicated to caring for patients. That is only possible because it is the Conservative Government who manage our economy and manage our public finances. A Labour party in government would crash our economy, meaning less money for the NHS, less money for its staff and less care for its patients.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 01 May 2019

(9 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Department for International Development
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:07 p.m.

First of all, I congratulate my hon. Friend on running the London marathon and on all the money he raised for Marie Curie on his run. I also thank him for highlighting this anniversary. I am sure that all Members across the House will want to join me in marking it. He is absolutely right to say that under the Scottish National party in government in Scotland, we are seeing public services getting worse because the SNP is focusing on holding another independence referendum. As my hon. Friend says, it is time the SNP stopped ignoring those millions of Scots who do not want another independence referendum and got on with the day job of focusing on the issues that matter to people, such as schools and the economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:08 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in congratulating all those who ran the London marathon. I think that the shadow Health Secretary getting a personal best shows just how fit the Labour Health team is.

I should like to take this opportunity to wish the House and people across the country a very happy May Day on International Workers Day.

Tomorrow, many people across England will go to the polls to vote in local elections. For many of them, the Government have delivered nothing but failure. On her first day in office, the Prime Minister promised to fight against the “burning” social “injustices” that plague our society. Yesterday, an independent Government body confirmed that inequality was entrenched in our society from birth to work. Will the Prime Minister now admit that her Government have completely failed to take action to tackle the burning injustices?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman did not take the opportunity to welcome the anniversary of the Union between Scotland and England. I have to say that I think this is the first time that he has not welcomed or congratulated a union in this House.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about social mobility, so I remind him that Dame Martina of the Social Mobility Commission said yesterday in relation to the report that she sensed that there is a “real commitment” in Government to try to make a difference in this area. I want everyone to have the opportunity to reach their potential whatever their background, and that is why we are improving education, helping to create higher-paid jobs and boosting home ownership. What would the right hon. Gentleman’s party offer young people? Failed policies, broken promises and piles of debt—just a millstone around their neck.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The reality is that social mobility is going backwards and things are getting worse under this Government. I will give an example: life expectancy in Britain is falling for the first time since 1945. Where does the Prime Minister think this Government have gone wrong when we have reached the point where people now expect to live shorter lives than others did in the past?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:11 p.m.

It is not the case that people now expect to live shorter lives than in the past. We have been ensuring that we provide for people at every stage of their lives. For young people in particular, we are ensuring that they have the opportunities to lead full and healthy lives into the future. That is why all the actions we are taking across the board are ensuring that there are jobs for people, ensuring that those jobs are better, ensuring that people are encouraged to get into the workplace, and ensuring that we provide for them not just through the welfare system but with our long-term plan for the national health service. At every stage of life, we are ensuring that we as Conservatives are improving people’s lives. In so many of those areas, the right hon. Gentleman has done nothing but vote against the policies that this Conservative Government have produced.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:12 p.m.

Life expectancy has fallen by six months, and infant mortality is up and rising. This month, we also learned that a record 1.6 million food parcels were given out last year alone. Under this Government, things are getting worse. Does the Prime Minister agree with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that this Government’s policies have meant that, in one of the richest countries on earth, food banks are now handing 14 million meals a year to people, some of whom are in work, who simply do not have enough to eat?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The best route out of poverty for people—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:13 p.m.

The best route out of poverty for people is to be in the workplace. We want to ensure that more, better-paid jobs are being created for people in this country, and that is what we are seeing under this Government. Record numbers of people are in employment, real wages are rising for the first time in a decade, and this Government are taking decisions that are helping people to keep more money in their pockets. Tax cuts for 32 million people, an increase in the national living wage, and a freeze in fuel duty have all been of major benefit to people, and what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He voted against fuel duty freezes and tax cuts over a dozen times.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

Many of those people receiving food parcels, the number of which has increased by 600,000 in four years, are actually in work, and that is down to their low wages. Indeed, wages have been frozen for many over the past 10 years. Even the Prime Minister’s own Secretary of State admitted that universal credit has caused people to rely on food banks.

The number of older people now not getting the care they desperately need has risen to 1.4 million. Think about that—1.4 million people in need of social care. Things are getting worse. Does the Prime Minister agree with Labour’s plan to fund social care properly or with her former deputy, who wants to tax the over-50s and take away their benefits?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:14 p.m.

As I have said on a number of occasions in this House, we agree that we need to ensure there is a sustainable, long-term future for social care, and we will be bringing forward proposals in relation to that. We have given councils access to nearly £4 billion more for adult social care this year, which means a 9% increase, in real terms, in funding for adult social care between 2015-16 and 2019-20. But it is not just about the funding that goes into social care—[Interruption.] Lots of Labour Members are saying, yes it is. Actually, no, it is about ensuring that best practice is seen across local authorities and NHS trusts. That is why this is not just about funding for social care and local authorities. It is also about our long-term plan for the national health service—the biggest cash boost in the national health service’s history—stability for the NHS, improving social care and providing for people in their old age.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:16 p.m.

The Prime Minister seems to have her head in the sand. The reality is that £7 billion has been cut from adult social care since 2010. The system is teetering on the brink of collapse as care companies go into administration, and the stress on the residents of those homes and their families is unbelievable. We need a serious strategy that ensures people get the social care they need when they need it.

Under this Government, things are getting worse on our streets, too. Violent crime is up by 19%, robberies are up by 18%, knife crime is at the highest level on record and 2.3 million criminal investigations have closed because the police were unable to identify a suspect—I believe because they have insufficient staff to do it.

Does the Prime Minister accept there is a violent crime epidemic that has arisen on her watch and is tearing our communities and our families apart? It has to be addressed by investment in our communities.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

May I first say to the right hon. Gentleman—he made a reference to care companies at the beginning of his question, with a suggestion that this is a worrying time for all those who are in provision provided by those care companies—that, of course, it is a concerning time for them, for their families and for the employees of the company concerned? I think he was referring to Four Seasons. The Care Quality Commission is absolutely clear that there is no risk of service disruption at this time, and there should never be a gap in care for an individual. The Care Act 2014, introduced by the Conservatives in government, places a duty on local authorities to intervene to protect individuals where their provider is unable to carry on their care because of business failure.

The right hon. Gentleman went on to talk about the issue of crime. First, we see from the crime survey that, overall, crime is down by a third. He quotes the figures from police-recorded crime. He has previously been hauled up by, I think, the UK Statistics Authority for failing to quote the crime survey and for only quoting police-recorded crime. He talks about more money being available to the police and there is around £1 billion more money available to the police this year. Police and crime commissioners plan to recruit 3,000 more police officers. But, to tackle knife crime and serious violence—yes, we are concerned about it, which is why we brought forward the serious violence strategy—we also need to deal with drug crime, turn young people away from violence and ensure that the police and others have the powers to do their job.

I have to say to the right hon. Gentleman that I will take no lectures on this from somebody who voted against more money for the police and voted against tougher laws on knife crime, because that is not helping the police or our citizens.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard

If the Prime Minister does not believe me, perhaps she will believe her own Home Secretary. He said in March:

“Serious violence is on the rise. Communities are being torn apart and families are losing their children.”—[Official Report, 4 March 2019; Vol. 655, c. 667.]

Twenty-one thousand fewer police officers is a pretty obvious connection: there is likely to be a rise in crime and disorder as a result.

Under this Government, things in this country are getting worse. Their cuts and incompetence have left communities struggling and pushed public services into crisis. They have cut council budgets by 50%, poverty is up, waiting times are up and violent crime is up, all under a Government who seem to care more about pushing their very damaging austerity agenda than tackling the burning social injustices. Ahead of tomorrow’s elections in England, can the Prime Minister explain why, from social care to crime and from life expectancy to poverty, things are getting worse under her Government?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
1 May 2019, 12:19 p.m.

We have seen the biggest cash boost to the NHS in its history under this Conservative Government, more people in work than ever before and more children in good and outstanding schools getting opportunities for their futures. And what do we see from Conservative councils up and down the country? Conservative councils give better services, they recycle more, they fix more potholes and they charge lower taxes. A vote for Labour is a vote for mismanagement, worse services and higher taxes. It is Conservative councils that give better services and charge you less.

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European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Thursday 11 April 2019

(9 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 1:36 p.m.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on yesterday’s European Council.

But before I do, I am sure that the whole House will welcome the news this morning that the Metropolitan police have arrested Julian Assange for breach of bail, after nearly seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy. He has been also been arrested in relation to an extradition request from the United States authorities. This is now a legal matter before the courts. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will make a statement on this later, but I thank the Metropolitan police for carrying out their duties with great professionalism and welcome the co-operation of the Ecuadorian Government in bringing this matter to a resolution. Mr Speaker, this goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law.

Turning to the Council, my priority is to deliver Brexit and to do so in an orderly way that does not disrupt people’s lives, so I continue to believe we need to leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible. And, of course, this House has voted repeatedly to avoid a no deal. Yet, despite the efforts of Members on all sides, we have not so far been able to vote for a deal, so ahead of the Council, I wrote to President Tusk to seek a short extension to the Article 50 period to 30 June. Critically, I also requested that any extension should be terminable so that whenever this House agrees a deal and ratifies the withdrawal agreement, we can get on and leave. I did this not merely to avoid a further delay beyond ratification of the withdrawal agreement, but specifically to retain our ability to leave the EU without having to hold European parliamentary elections on 23 May.

The discussions at the Council were difficult and, unsurprisingly, many of our European partners share the deep frustration that I know so many of us feel in this House over the current impasse. There was a range of views about the length of an extension, with a large number of member states preferring a longer extension to the end of this year or even into the next. In the end, what was agreed by the UK and the EU 27 was a compromise: an extension lasting until the end of October. The Council also agreed that we would update on our progress at the next meeting in June. Critically, and as I requested, the Council agreed that this extension can be terminated when the withdrawal agreement has been ratified. So, for example, if we were able to pass a deal by 22 May, we would not have to take part in European elections and, when the EU has also ratified, we would be able to leave at 11 pm on 31 May. In short, the date of our departure from the EU, and our participation in the European parliamentary elections, remains a decision for this House. As President Tusk said last night:

“During this time, the course of action will be entirely in the UK’s hands.”

In agreeing this extension, there was some discussion in the Council about whether stringent conditions should be imposed on the UK for its EU membership during this period, but I argued against this. I put the case that there is only a single tier of EU membership, with no conditionality attached beyond existing treaty obligations. The Council conclusions are clear that during the course of the extension the UK will continue to hold full membership rights. In turn, I assured my fellow leaders that the UK will continue to be bound by all our ongoing obligations as a member state, including the duty of sincere co-operation. The United Kingdom plays a responsible and constructive role on the world stage, and we always will. That is the kind of country we are.

The choices we face are stark and the timetable is clear. I believe we must now press on at pace with our efforts to reach a consensus on a deal that is in the national interest. I welcome the discussions that have taken place with the Opposition in recent days and the further talks that are resuming today. This is not the normal way of British politics and it is uncomfortable for many in both the Government and Opposition parties. Reaching an agreement will not be easy, because to be successful, it will require both sides to make compromises. But however challenging it may be politically, I profoundly believe that in this unique situation where the House is deadlocked, it is incumbent on both Front Benches to seek to work together to deliver what the British people voted for, and I think that the British people expect their politicians to do just that when the national interest demands it.

I hope that we can reach an agreement on a single unified approach that we can put to the House for approval, but if we cannot do so soon, we will seek to agree a small number of options for the future relationship that we will put to the House in a series of votes to determine which course to pursue. As I have made clear before, the Government stand ready to abide by the decision of the House, but to make this process work, the Opposition would need to agree to this, too.

With the House’s consent, we could also bring forward the withdrawal agreement Bill, which is a necessary element of any deal, whichever course we take. The Bill will take time to pass through both Houses, so if we want to get on with leaving, we need to start this process soon. It could also provide a useful forum to resolve some of the outstanding issues in the future relationship.

Crucially, any agreement on the future relationship may involve a number of additions and clarifications to the political declaration. I am pleased that at this Council, all 27 member states responded to my update on the ongoing cross-party talks by agreeing that

“the European Council is prepared to reconsider the Political Declaration on the future relationship in accordance with the positions and principles stated in its guidelines and statements”.

The Council also reiterated that the withdrawal agreement itself could not be reopened.

I know the whole country is intensely frustrated that this process to leave the European Union has still not been completed. I never wanted to seek this extension and I deeply regret that we have not yet been able to secure agreement in this House for a deal that would allow us to leave in a smooth and orderly way. I know, too, that this whole debate is putting Members on both sides of the House under immense pressure and causing uncertainty across the country. We need to resolve this, so let us use the opportunity of the recess to reflect on the decisions that will have to be made swiftly on our return after Easter. And let us then resolve to find a way through this impasse so that we can leave the European Union with a deal as soon as possible, so that we can avoid having to hold those European Parliamentary elections and, above all, so that we can fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward. This is our national duty as elected Members of this House and nothing today is more pressing or more vital. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Apr 2019, 1:45 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement. Yesterday, EU leaders agreed to grant the United Kingdom an article 50 extension until 31 October. This means that Britain will now have to start the process of holding European elections in the extraordinary situation of not knowing whether new MEPs will take their seats, or for how long. This has come just three weeks after the Prime Minister told the House that she was not prepared to delay Brexit any longer than 30 June. This second extension in the space of a fortnight not only represents a diplomatic failure, but is another milestone in the Government’s mishandling of the entire Brexit process.

A measure of this could be seen in this House on Monday when one third of her party voted against her own policy to request a short delay and four of her Cabinet members abstained. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the request by the Leader of the House on Tuesday for the EU to reopen the withdrawal agreement has also been rebuffed? The Prime Minister stuck rigidly to a flawed plan and now the clock has run down, leaving Britain in limbo and adding to the deep uncertainty for business, workers and people all across this country.

I welcome that the Prime Minister finally decided to reach out to the Opposition last week and open talks to try to find a breakthrough. The fact that the invitation did not even come at the eleventh hour, but at five past midnight three days after the Prime Minister had missed her own Brexit deadline of 29 March, is a reflection of the Government’s fundamental error in not proceeding by consensus. However, I can report to the House that the talks now taking place between the Opposition and the Government are serious, detailed and ongoing, and I welcome the constructive engagement that we have had. Although this view may not be universally shared on the Conservative Benches, I also welcome the indications from the Government that they may be willing to move in the key areas that have prevented the Prime Minister’s deal from being supported on this side of the House. If these talks are to be a success, resulting in an agreement that can bring our country back together, the Government will have to compromise. That is why it was with disappointment that I read the Secretary of State for International Trade’s letter this week, in what seemed to be an attempt to scupper meaningful talks by all but ruling out Labour’s customs union proposal—a proposal, I might add, that is supported by business and industry bodies as well as by all leading trade unions in this country. It is a proposal that European Union leaders and the Irish Taoiseach just yesterday said is both credible and negotiable.

Labour will continue to engage constructively in talks, because we respect the result of the referendum and we are committed to defending jobs, industry and living standards by delivering a close economic relationship with the European Union and securing frictionless trade with improved rights and standards. If that is not possible, we believe all options should remain on the table, including the option of a public vote. We see no advantage in the proposals of the Secretary of State for International Trade to create distance and divergence in our trading relationship with our largest trading partner.

This House must also bear in mind that after a deal has passed, the current Prime Minister has said that she will step down. We have no idea who may succeed her, so with that in mind, we have to entrench any agreement, because some of those already throwing their hats into the ring have said that they would scrap the Human Rights Act, they would rip up burdensome regulation, or they would even prefer to leave without any deal at all. Some on the Conservative Benches want nothing more than to use Brexit to create a race to the bottom, opening up our economy to US big pharma companies in our national health service and hormone-treated beef on our plates, to slash workers’ rights and consumer standards, and to have the UK become a virtual tax haven on the shores of Europe.

Let me be clear to the Prime Minister and to the country: Labour will not support any deal that would leave us open to such a dystopian vision for the future of this country. It is incumbent on all of us now to find a way forward. We must continue to talk to each other, and if the Government are serious, the red lines must move and we must see a real compromise. I look forward to the discussions in the coming days and, even at this late stage, to working to find a deal that can command the support not only of this House, but, perhaps more importantly, of the public across this country too.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The talks between the Government and the Opposition have indeed been serious. They are detailed and they are being taken forward in a constructive and positive fashion. We did, of course, offer talks at an earlier stage than very recently, but I am pleased that we are now able to sit down in this way.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue about the European parliamentary elections. Of course, had Members in this House voted with a majority to agree the withdrawal agreement on 29 March, we would have guaranteed leaving on 22 May and not holding the European parliamentary elections. At the time, obviously, he did not feel able to support a deal to enable us not to hold those European parliamentary elections. It is still possible to do so, and we will continue to work on that.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the need for us to protect jobs, industry and living standards; indeed, that is what we have been aiming to do with the deal that we agreed with the European Union. But we have been doing that not just in relation to the deal with the European Union. It is this Government who have presided over record levels of people in employment. It is this Government who have helped people with their living standards, with tax cuts for 32 million people.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the future relationship and the need to entrench aspects of the future relationship. Of course, the Government did, on 29 March, say that we would accept the amendment tabled on the Order Paper by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell), which would require Parliament to have a role in looking at the future relationship and the negotiating objectives for the future. That clearly makes the case that any Government —any Government—as they are going through those negotiations, will have to ensure that they take Parliament with them in agreeing that future relationship.

On the issue of coming together in an agreement, the point is very simple. I am not prepared just to accept Labour’s policies; the Labour Party is not prepared just to accept our policies. As the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) has said, this takes compromise on both sides, and that is what we are doing: sitting down seriously to find a way that enables this House to ensure that there is a deal that commands a majority, so that we can leave the European Union, fulfil the vote of the British people in 2016 in the referendum and do so in a way that does indeed protect jobs, living standards and industry.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 10 April 2019

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I agree with my hon. Friend that I believe a Conservative Government will make a success of whatever the situation is in relation to Brexit. But I still believe that the best Brexit for the UK is to be able to leave in an orderly way, to be able to leave with a deal, and I want to ensure that that Brexit does indeed honour the result of the referendum. There are Members of this House who do not want to honour the result of the referendum; I do.

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

I am very pleased that the Prime Minister mentioned what happened in Jallianwala Bagh and the issues of the massacre at Amritsar 100 years ago. I think that the people, in memory of those who lost their lives and the brutality of what happened, deserve a full, clear and unequivocal apology for what took place on that occasion.

I join the Prime Minister and yourself, Mr Speaker, in welcoming Sarah Davies to her appointment. I am sure she is going to be absolutely brilliant. I remember the day she started work in the House, and she has done incredibly well.

I also welcome my hon. Friend the new Member for Newport West (Ruth Jones) who is here today. I believe that she is a very worthy successor to the late Paul Flynn.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, a defining moment in Irish history, which allowed peace to prevail. It was a great achievement, and I pay tribute to the work done by the Labour Government at that time, as well as those on all sides in Ireland, north and south, and in this House in achieving the crucial breakthrough in the peace process, which we have to ensure is maintained.

As we continue discussions to find a compromise over the Brexit deal that could shape our future economic relationship with Europe—protecting jobs, rights and our economy—we should not forget the communities across this country that have been abandoned by this Government in the here and now. Official figures show that nine of the 10 most deprived council areas in this country have seen cuts that are almost three times the average of any other council. Why has the Prime Minister decided to cut the worst-off areas in our country more than the most well-off?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:08 p.m.

First, the right hon. Gentleman is right to reference the 21st anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, which was indeed an important moment in Northern Irish history and which has led to the peace that we have seen subsequently. May I welcome the actions that were taken by politicians of all parties, in this House and elsewhere, to ensure that that peace was possible and that that agreement was possible as well?

May I say to the right hon. Gentleman in relation to the issue of council funding that actually councils do have more money available this year? [Hon. Members: “Ah!”] Yes, a real-terms increase. The right hon. Gentleman voted against that money being available. But what we have also done is listen to councils, and given them extra flexibility. For example, they have called for a long time to have the borrowing cap lifted so that they could build more homes, and we have done exactly that—listened to councils and given them what they wanted.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The problem is that child poverty is rising. In councils with the highest levels of child poverty, over £1,000 per household has been taken in funding cuts in the past decade. Some of the wealthiest areas of our country have lost only £5. Take Swindon, for example, where Honda recently announced 3,500 job cuts. Child poverty is over one third higher in Swindon than it is in Surrey, but Swindon will have lost £235 per household in Government funding cuts, whereas a household in Surrey will see more money from central Government. Can the Prime Minister explain why Swindon faces cuts while Surrey gets more money?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

Actually, what we see in terms of spending power per home is that the average spending power per home for the most deprived local authorities is over 20% higher than for the least deprived local authorities. That is Conservatives delivering for local councils.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

Homelessness is three times higher in Swindon than in Surrey. Today, we learn that two-thirds of councils do not have the funding necessary to comply with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. In Stoke-on-Trent, the council has lost £640 per household, yet child poverty is more than double the rate in Surrey, which has seen an increase in funding. Does the Prime Minister think that areas with the highest levels of child poverty deserve to be facing the largest cuts in their budgets?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

What I think is that Members across the House who are concerned about child poverty should take action to ensure that we help families to get more money into their pockets. It is this Government that have frozen fuel duty. It is this Government that have introduced the national living wage. It is this Government that have given lower paid workers the highest increase. It is this Government that on Saturday saw 32 million households see a tax cut. If the right hon. Gentleman really wants to help people out there with money in their pockets he should be backing these measures by the Government instead of voting against them.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The reality is that under this Government 500,000 more children have gone into relative poverty. In Stoke-on-Trent alone, 4,000 food bank parcels were handed out to children last year. If that was not bad enough, it is about to get worse. Tory proposals on the new funding formula for councils will make poorer areas even poorer. They are removing the word “deprivation” from the funding criteria. In a phrase that George Orwell would have been very proud of they have called this the fairer funding formula. Areas like Stoke will lose out even more. Will the Prime Minister explain why she wants to give less funding to the most deprived parts of our country?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

No, that is not what we are doing. What we are doing is ensuring that we have a fairer funding formula across local authorities. We are also ensuring that we are making more money available for local authorities to spend. Let us just see what we see from council after council up and down the country. If people want to ensure that they have good local services and pay less in council tax, that is what they see under Conservative councils. There is a clear message: if you want to pay less council tax and have good local services, vote Conservative.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Unfortunately for the Prime Minister the truth is that when Labour controls local councils, households pay on average £350 less than those living in Tory areas. The average council tax per dwelling in Labour council areas is £1,169 comparedto £1,520 in Tory council areas. The Society of Local Authority Chief Executives has called the fairer funding formula decision “perverse”. Even before this new formula kicks in, councils are losing out now. A Conservative council leader said earlier this year:

“we are really, really short of money...I mean there is no money”

for him to run his services. What does the Prime Minister say to local authorities struggling to make ends meet while her Government continue to underfund the vital services they deliver?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:14 p.m.

We have over the years asked local councils to take some difficult decisions in relation to living within our means. Why did we have to do that? We had to do that because we were left the biggest deficit in our peacetime history by the last Labour Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
10 Apr 2019, 12:14 p.m.

A political choice to impose austerity on local government has hit the poorest and worst-off the hardest in every one of our communities across the country. Since 2010, 50p of every £1 has been stripped from local authorities by her Government. That is the reality of what life is like for those trying to deliver services.

The evidence is clear: the Tories have abandoned communities across the country. They have left towns and cities to fend for themselves after nine years of vindictive, damaging austerity: 1,000 fewer Sure Start centres—one of the greatest achievements of the last Government; 760 fewer youth centres; and a social care system in absolute crisis. Child poverty is up. Violent crime is up. Homelessness and rough sleeping is also up. This Government stand for tax cuts for the richest and swingeing cuts for the rest. Will the Prime Minister now admit that far from tackling the “burning injustices” that she talked about, her Government’s cruel and unfair policies have pushed councils to the brink and left those “just about managing” not being able to manage at all? That is her legacy.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I am proud to lead a Government who have seen more children in good schools, more doctors, more jobs, lower borrowing, lower unemployment and lower taxes—that is Conservatives delivering across the country for everyone. What would we see with a Labour Government under the right hon. Gentleman? We would see them destroying our defences and abandoning our allies, billions more in borrowing, fewer opportunities and higher taxes for everyone. That is a Labour future and we will never let it happen.

See more like "Oral Answers to Questions"

Oral Answers to Questions
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 03 April 2019

(9 months, 4 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:03 p.m.

I should just congratulate my hon. Friend on so cleverly working in Southend’s claim to become a city. As he says, it is very important that we see that investment coming to our country. The benefits and opportunities, when we have got over this stage and delivered Brexit, for building that better Britain and building that better future, including in Southend-on-Sea, will be there. It is for all of us to ensure that we can get over this stage, get a deal through, get to Brexit, deliver on Brexit and build that better future, of which I am sure Southend will be a leading part.

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

I join the Prime Minister in wishing the people of Southend well, and I hope it does become a city. [Interruption.] Is that okay?

I welcome the Prime Minister’s offer of talks following the meetings I have held with Members across the House, and I look forward to meeting her later today. I welcome her willingness to compromise to resolve the Brexit deadlock.

When the Prime Minister began her premiership, she promised to resolve the burning injustices facing this country, so can she explain why, according to the Government’s own official figures, poverty has risen for all ages under her Administration?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:04 p.m.

No one in government wants to see poverty rising, and we take this very seriously indeed, but, as I have said previously to the right hon. Gentleman, the only sustainable way to tackle poverty is with a strong economy and a welfare system that helps people into work. That is why it is important that we have the lowest unemployment since the 1970s and that the number of homes where no one works is at a record low. But we also need to make sure that work pays. Let me just give the right hon. Gentleman some figures: in 2010, under a Labour Government, someone working full-time on the national minimum wage would have taken home £9,200 after tax and national insurance, whereas now, thanks to our tax cuts and the biggest increase in the national living wage, they will take home more than £13,700—that is £4,500 more under a Conservative Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:06 p.m.

Official figures show that since 2010 child poverty has increased by half a million, working age poverty has increased by 200,000 and pensioner poverty has increased by 400,000. Although the Prime Minister is right to mention the national minimum wage, whose introduction her party strongly opposed, we should just be aware of what the national minimum wage actually means: it is £8.21 for over-25s; for 21 to 24-year-olds it is only £7.70; and for apprentices it is just £3.90 an hour. These are poverty wages. There are now 8 million people in this country in work and in poverty. Many on middle incomes are struggling to make ends meet. Universal credit is failing. Will the Prime Minister today at least halt the roll-out of universal credit and agree to a thorough review of it?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:07 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, as we have been rolling out universal credit, we have been making changes to it. One of the early measures we took when I became Prime Minister was to change the taper rate. We have since abolished the seven-day wait. We have ensured that we have taken action to make it easier for those who are transferring on to UC in relation to their housing benefit. But, crucially, there is only one way to ensure that we sustainably deal with the issue of poverty—

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:08 p.m.

No, and I will come on to that. It is to ensure that we have a strong economy that delivers jobs, and better jobs, and that people can keep more of the money that they earn. What do we know would happen? From behind the right hon. Gentleman, an hon. Member says, from a sedentary position, that the answer is a Labour Government. But a Labour Government would spend £1,000 billion more than has been proposed; a Labour Government would put up taxes; and the Labour party has opposed tax cut after tax cut. This is how you help working people: tax cuts which keep people in work; better jobs; and high employment. That is under the Conservatives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:08 p.m.

From a Government that rolled out austerity and has caused such poverty across the country, the Prime Minister really ought to think for a moment about what she has just said. The last Labour Government halved child poverty; brought in children’s centres and Sure Start; and reduced poverty across the whole country. She seems to be ignoring the true impact of universal credit. The Trussell Trust says that in areas where universal credit has been rolled out, food bank use has increased by more than 50%. This week, we also learned that another 400,000 pensioners are in poverty compared with 2010. So why is the Prime Minister pressing ahead with cuts to pension credit for couples where one person is of pension age and the other is not?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Under a Conservative Government we have seen the triple lock on pensions, which has provided good increases for pensioners year after year, and under this Conservative Government we have seen the introduction of the new pension arrangements for individuals who are pensioners. Let us just remember what we saw under a Labour Government. It is not under a Conservative Government that we saw a 75p rise in pensions—it was under Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:09 p.m.

The last Labour Government lifted 2 million pensioners out of poverty; this Government have put 400,000 more into poverty. Age UK, which I think knows a thing or two about this, says that this proposal by the Government is “a substantial stealth cut”. This year, 15,000 pensioner households could be up to £7,000 a year worse off as a result of this stealth cut.

I am pleased that the Prime Minister mentioned the triple lock, because at the last general election the Government alarmed older people by pledging to scrap the triple lock and the means-tested winter fuel allowance. Will the Prime Minister give an unequivocal commitment that this is no longer Government policy and will not be in the next Tory manifesto?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:10 p.m.

We have given our commitments to pensioners. We are clear: we are keeping those commitments to pensioners. What we have seen under Conservatives in government is the basic state pension rise by over £1,450 a year. That is in direct contrast to what a Labour Government did for our pensioners. We want people to be able to live in dignity in their old age, and that is what this Conservative Government are delivering.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:11 p.m.

I am sure that the whole generation of WASPI women will be pretty alarmed at the lack of action by this Government and the lack of justice for them. Additionally, over 1 million over-75s currently receive a free TV licence, a scheme established by the last Labour Government. This Government transferred the scheme to the BBC without guaranteeing its funding. Will the Government take responsibility and guarantee free TV licences for the over-75s?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:11 p.m.

We have been clear what we want the BBC to do and, frankly, I think that the BBC is in a position to be able to do that with the income that it receives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
3 Apr 2019, 12:12 p.m.

The last Labour Government guaranteed free TV licences for the over-75s; this Government appear to be outsourcing that policy to the BBC. I think it should be an item of public policy and not be left to somebody else to administer on behalf of the Government.

The last Labour Government lifted 2 million pensioners out of poverty and 2 million children out of absolute poverty, and homelessness was cut in half. Contrast that with this Government, who have has put half a million more children and 400,000 more pensioners into poverty, and doubled homelessness. This, by this Government, is a political choice. There is nothing inevitable about rising poverty, homelessness and soaring food-bank use in the fifth richest country on earth. So yes, let us work to try to resolve the Brexit deadlock, but unless this Government tackle insecure work, low pay and rising pensioner poverty, the Prime Minister’s Government will be marked down for what they are—a failure in the eyes of the people of this country.

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman cited the last Labour Government—I did not realise that he was such a fan of the last Labour Government. He seemed to spend the entire time voting against them when he had a Labour Government.

Let us just talk about what is happening under this Government: a record rate of employment; wages growing at their fastest for a decade; debt falling; a long-term plan for the NHS, and the biggest cash boost in the NHS’s history; a skills-based immigration system; more money for police, local councils and schools; the biggest upgrade in workers’ rights for over 20 years; the freeing of councils to build more homes; world-class public services—[Interruption.]

See more like "United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union"

United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Friday 29 March 2019

(10 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Attorney General
Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Mar 2019, 2:03 p.m.

We in the Labour party are very proud of the Good Friday agreement and the peace achieved in Northern Ireland as a result, and nobody in the Labour party wants to do anything to undermine this great achievement.

As the shadow Solicitor General, my hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen (Nick Thomas-Symonds), said, article 184 of the withdrawal agreement commits the Government to negotiate expeditiously on the terms of the political declaration. That would be a deal based on a very wide range of potential outcomes for the country, and who would decide which direction we go in? Now that the Prime Minister has announced her own departure, we do not know if the future is to be chosen by the right hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson), the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg), or maybe even the jobbing Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin). The Labour party will not play roulette with this country’s future, especially when the roulette wheel is rigged by the Conservative party.

Labour respects the result of the referendum—we reiterated that in our manifesto and again in our party conference last year—but the Prime Minister’s approach to Brexit has been nothing short of a shambles. The choices facing our country post Brexit have been decided solely by what is in the interests of the Conservative party, not the country. The Prime Minister announced her red lines and went to negotiate without any consultation with the House, without any attempt to build consensus. Those red lines were opposed by the representative bodies of workers, businesses and industry, who are now tearing their hair out in exasperation at the Government’s incompetence and the uncertainty that they face.

The first Brexit Secretary said that he would get a deal that would deliver the exact same benefits as now. The current Brexit Secretary obviously felt that that was far too good for the country because, only two weeks ago, he went into the Lobby to back no deal and oppose an extension. That would leave the UK crashing out in just 10 days with no preparations and chaos at our ports and airports, leading to a crisis in factories, shops and hospitals.

What did the Government forecasts say about the Brexit Secretary’s preferred no-deal option? That it would make the economy not 4% worse off, but nearly 10% worse off. So it is no wonder that, faced with a choice between the Prime Minister’s bad deal and a disastrous no deal, this House has given a clear no to both, repeatedly. The Government suffered the largest defeat by any Government ever in parliamentary history in January. The Prime Minister said then:

“It is clear that the House does not support this deal.”—[Official Report, 15 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 1125.]

So what was the Government’s response? They tried begging, bullying and bribery, and still they were defeated by the fourth largest majority in parliamentary history.

The Prime Minister told us that we must leave on 29 March, and even wrote it into primary legislation. She herself then voted against leaving on 29 March. She then went to Brussels to negotiate an extension and, almost unbelievably, even turned that into another negotiating failure. This Government’s Brexit negotiations have been a litany of failure, culminating today with a Prime Minister who has been forced to announce her own departure tabling only half the deal she has negotiated. This really is a half-baked Brexit.

When she became Prime Minister two and a half years ago, she said that it was her mission to deliver Brexit. She has failed. She also stood on the steps of Downing Street and promised that her Government would tackle burning injustices. Since then, she has failed on every test. Homelessness is up. Life expectancy is falling. Infant mortality is rising. Crime is rising. Police numbers have fallen. This year, the NHS had its worst ever month—people waiting longer in A&E, for an operation and to start cancer treatment—and just yesterday, we learned that more children are in poverty and the scourge of pensioner poverty is increasing again.

The job of Government is to make people’s lives better, and this Government have failed. A botched and half-baked Brexit deal like the one before us today would compound that failure. On Wednesday, the House sought to find an alternative—a new negotiating deal for the Government. Labour’s plan, I believe, provides the best compromise for a deeply divided country and a deeply divided House. It is backed in large part by major organisations in industry and business and by trade unions. It is based around the certainty of a permanent customs union, close alignment with the single market and a dynamic alignment on rights and protections.

Labour urged support for four of the options tabled by members of different parties on different sides of the House. We did so not because we would be equally happy with each of those outcomes but because we recognise that we have to compromise to get this resolved. The whole House knows that the current uncertainty is damaging businesses, reducing investment and costing jobs now and in the future. The stress of people in work is palpable as we travel around the country and talk to people in all parts of the country.

I hope that on Monday, when the House retakes control, parties and Members on both sides will enter into those debates and votes in the spirit of trying to find an acceptable compromise. We need to get a better deal, the country deserves a better deal, and I am convinced that a better deal can be negotiated and, if Members decide, a chance for people to have a final say. If we cannot do that on Monday, I will say—and many others will agree with me—that ultimately there will be no alternative other than to have a general election to decide who rules this country in the future.

To enable the Prime Minister to have sufficient time to respond to the debate, I say this in conclusion. I urge Members to act in the best interests of their constituents and to vote down this unacceptable deal. There are many people who fear for their jobs, for their industry and for whether they and their friends have a future in this country. That is causing immense stress to many people. However they voted in the 2016 referendum, they are united in their stress and concern about their future and that of their communities.

We need to rebuild our country and invest in our communities, too many of which have been neglected, ignored and underfunded for years. A botched and half-baked Brexit deal such as the one before us today would only deepen those problems and divisions. This deal, even the half of it that we have before us today, is bad for our democracy, bad for our economy and bad for this country. I urge the House not to be cajoled by this “third time lucky” strategy and to vote it down today.

The Prime Minister (Mrs Theresa May) - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Mar 2019, 2:12 p.m.

This has been another impassioned debate on Brexit. I have stood here on many occasions over the past few months, answering questions and taking interventions from right hon. and hon. Members. What I want to do in the minutes remaining is to set out the serious choice that faces us.

Today should have been the day that the United Kingdom left the European Union. That we are not leaving today is a matter of deep personal regret to me, but I remain committed to the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and that is why I brought this motion to the House today.

There are those who will say, “The House has rejected every option so far. You’ll probably lose, so why bother?” I bother because this is the last opportunity to guarantee Brexit. I say to all those who campaigned to leave, who voted to leave, who represent constituencies who voted to leave and, indeed, to all of us who want to deliver on the vote to leave: if we do not vote for this motion today, people will ask, “Why did you not vote for Brexit?” By voting for this motion today, we can send a message to the public and to the European Union that Britain stands by its word and that we will leave the European Union on 22 May.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Mar 2019, 2:39 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I think that it should be a matter of profound regret to every Member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion. The implications of the House’s decision are grave. The legal default now is that the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union on 12 April, in just 14 days’ time. That is not enough time to agree, legislate for and ratify a deal. Yet the House has been clear that it will not permit leaving without a deal, so we will have to agree an alternative way forward.

The European Union has been clear that any further extension will need to have a clear purpose and will need to be agreed unanimously by the Heads of State of the other 27 member states ahead of 12 April. It is almost certain to involve the United Kingdom being required to hold European parliamentary elections.

On Monday this House will continue the process to see whether there is a stable majority for a particular alternative version of our future relationship with the EU. Of course, all the options will require the withdrawal agreement.

I fear that we are reaching the limits of this process in this House. This House has rejected no deal; it has rejected no Brexit; on Wednesday it rejected all the variations of the deal on the table; and today it has rejected approving the withdrawal agreement alone and continuing a process on the future. This Government will continue to press the case for the orderly Brexit that the result of the referendum demands.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
29 Mar 2019, 1:39 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. This is now the third time that the Prime Minister’s deal has been rejected. When it was defeated the first time, she said:

“It is clear that the House does not support this deal”.—[Official Report, 15 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 1125.]

Does she now finally accept that the House does not support the deal? She seemed to indicate just now that she will return to this issue again.

On Monday this House has the chance and—I say to all Members—the responsibility to find a majority for a better deal for all the people of this country. The House has been clear: this deal now has to change. An alternative has to be found. If the Prime Minister cannot accept that, she must go—not at an indeterminate date in the future, but now—so that we can decide the future of this country through a general election.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 27 March 2019

(10 months ago)

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

I hope the message my hon. Friend takes back to his constituents is a very simple one: we can indeed guarantee delivering on Brexit; we can guarantee delivering on Brexit if this week he and others in this House support the deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

This chaotic and incompetent Government have driven our country into chaos. We know the scale of the crisis when the TUC and the CBI are united in writing to the Prime Minister saying:

“A Plan B must be found—one that protects workers, the economy and an open Irish border”.

My question on Monday went unanswered, so will the Prime Minister now say what is her plan B?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we are continuing to work to ensure that we can deliver Brexit for the British people and guarantee that we deliver Brexit for the British people. We have a deal that cancels our EU membership fee, stops the EU making our laws, gives us our own immigration policy, ends the common agricultural policy for good and ends the common fisheries policy for good. Other options do not do that. Other options would lead to delay and uncertainty, and risk never delivering Brexit.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

The only problem with the Prime Minister’s answer is that her deal has been twice defeated in this House, in one case by the largest ever majority by which a Government have lost a vote in our recorded parliamentary history. Reports today suggest that a former Conservative Prime Minister is telling Conservative MPs that pursuing a customs union with the EU is the best way to get Brexit over the line. Does she agree with him, and will she be supporting any motions for a customs union this afternoon?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

The Government’s deal that we have negotiated with the European Union delivers the benefits of a customs union, while enabling us to have an independent free trade policy and to negotiate free trade agreements in our interests and not rely on Brussels to negotiate them for us. The right hon. Gentleman used to stand up for an independent trade policy; now he wants to have a customs union and to throw away the idea of an independent trade policy and leave Brussels negotiating for us. We want to negotiate our trade in our interests and the interests of people across this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that our policy is for a customs union to protect jobs and society. She will also know that the TUC and the CBI have called for a customs union as part of a deal. In fact, the letter they wrote to all MPs yesterday said that

“a deal that delivers a customs union and strong alignment with the UK and the EU rules is the preferred outcome for the business community”.

It is a bit strange when a Conservative Prime Minister says she does not want what the business community wants. These are indeed strange times. Can she say why she will not include a customs union in the options that will be discussed today?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

May I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that he does not just read the question that he had thought of previously but listens to the answer that I gave to his previous question? I will repeat it. He stood on a platform to enable us to do independent trade deals and have an independent trade policy and to deliver Brexit. His policy on a customs union breaks the first promise. He has never explained why he wants to abandon an independent trade policy, and his policy on a second referendum breaks his second promise. Whatever happened to straight-talking honest politics?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

The Prime Minister does not seem to realise that she does not have a deal that has been supported by this House. Our proposals for a customs union give us alignment on workers’ rights, consumer standards and environmental protections; they do not begin with a race to the bottom, which is what she and many of her Front Benchers actually want. Earlier this week, the Business Minister resigned from the Government saying that the Government’s approach to Brexit was

“playing roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in this country”.

Why is she prepared to carry on risking jobs and industry in another attempt to yet again run down the clock and try to blackmail the MPs behind her into supporting a deal that has already been twice rejected?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:04 p.m.

We have been negotiating to protect jobs. What the right hon. Gentleman says about a race to the bottom is wrong, as he well knows. We have been working across this House and it is absolutely clear in the political declaration that we agree to not falling back on workers’ rights. Also, we are Government who have enhanced workers’ rights—[Interruption.] This is the problem. The Labour party can never stand it when they are told that Conservatives have stood up for workers, but that is what the Conservative party does. We have enhanced workers’ rights. We stand up for workers with our tax cuts and our national minimum wage and with higher employment.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:09 p.m.

In answer to a straight question to the Prime Minister, she was unable to guarantee what is called dynamic alignment with European standards. She knows full well that Labour’s proposals are to use EU standards as a baseline from which we would improve them, including giving workers full rights at work from day one of their employment, ending zero-hours contracts and many other things.

In the former Business Minister’s resignation letter, he also said to the Prime Minister that he hoped that she would

“now act in the national interest and enable Parliament this week to find a consensus… negotiating position”.

If today or on Monday a consensus alternative plan emerges across the House, will the Prime Minister accept that decision of the House and accept it as the basis for the UK’s negotiating position with the EU henceforth?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The objective that we should all have is being able to guarantee delivering Brexit to the British people. The right hon. Gentleman stands there and raises workers’ rights. We have been very clear about non-regression on workers’ rights and environmental standards—[Interruption.] He shakes his head, but it is in black and white in the political declaration that has been agreed. He ends his question—[Interruption.] The shadow International Trade Secretary is shouting from a sedentary position about listening to Parliament. What we are going to do on workers’ right is say that, no, we will not simply automatically accept what the European Union does; we will listen to Parliament and give Parliament a say in that. I thought the Leader of the Opposition wanted Parliament to have a say in these things.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 12:12 p.m.

That sounds awfully like a recipe for regression away from those standards and for damaging workers’ rights.

After the two largest defeats in parliamentary history, surely the Prime Minister should be listening to Parliament. She did not answer my question about whether an agreement reached in this House would become the Government’s negotiating position. I think that the House and, perhaps more importantly, the whole country deserves to know the answer to that question.

This country is on hold while the Government are in complete paralysis. The vital issues facing our country, from the devastation of public services to homelessness and knife crime, have been neglected. The Prime Minister is failing to deliver Brexit because she cannot build a consensus and is unable to compromise and reunite the country. Instead, she is stoking further division and is unable to resolve the central issues facing Britain today. She is, frankly, unable to govern. The Prime Minister faces a clear choice—the one endorsed by the country and many in her party—which is either to listen and change course or to go. Which is it to be?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman asks about the indicative votes tonight, but I actually answered that question in this House earlier this week. He might want to talk to his shadow Brexit Secretary, who made it clear that the Labour party will not commit to supporting the result of any of the indicative votes tonight. The Leader of the Opposition then talks about what is happening in this country, so let us just look at what is going to happen in this country next week: nearly £1 billion extra for the police, £1.4 billion more for local councils, £1.1 billion extra for our schools, another fuel duty freeze, another rise in the national living wage and another tax cut. That is happening under the Conservatives. What would Labour give us? He wants to scrap Trident and pull out of NATO. Labour would give us capital flight, a run on the pound and a drop in living standards. The biggest threat to our standing in the world, to our defence and to our economy is sitting on the Labour Front Bench.

See more like "European Council"

European Council
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Monday 25 March 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:39 p.m.

I expressed my frustration with our collective failure to take a decision, but I know that many Members across the House are frustrated too, and we all have difficult jobs to do. People on all sides of the debate hold passionate views, and I respect those differences. I thank all those colleagues who have supported the deal so far, and those who have taken the time to meet with me to discuss their concerns.

I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision, and in doing so we must confront the reality of the hard choices before us: unless this House agrees to it, no deal will not happen; no Brexit must not happen; and a slow Brexit that extends article 50 beyond 22 May, forces the British people to take part in European elections, and gives up control of any of our borders, laws, money or trade, is not a Brexit that will bring the British people together. I know that the deal I have put forward is a compromise—it seeks to deliver on the referendum and retain trust in our democracy, while also respecting the concerns of those who voted to remain—but if this House can back it, we could be out of the European Union in less than two months. There would no further extensions, no threat to Brexit and no risk of a no deal. That, I believe, is the way to deliver the Brexit that the British people voted for. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 3:40 p.m.

I thank the Prime Minister for advance copy of her statement and for the meetings that we have had in recent days.

The Government’s approach to Brexit has now become a national embarrassment. After two years of failure and broken promises after broken promises, the Prime Minister finally accepted the inevitable last week, voted to extend article 50 and went to Brussels to negotiate. Last week’s summit represented another negotiating failure for the Prime Minister. Her proposals were rejected and new terms were imposed on her. We now have an extension until mid-April, or 22 May, but despite the clearly expressed will of this House, we still face the prospect of a disastrous no-deal Brexit. This is even more remarkable given that the Minister for the Cabinet Office told this very Chamber that

“seeking such a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless”.—[Official Report, 14 March 2019; Vol. 656, c. 566.]

This failure has been compounded by the Prime Minister’s attempts last week to pin the blame for this debacle on others. It was wholly inappropriate, last Wednesday, for her to try to pit the people against MPs—elected MPs doing their duty to hold the Government of the day to account, which is what Parliament exists for. In a climate of heightened emotions where MPs from all parts of the House have received threats and intimidation, I hope that she will further reflect and think again about making what I believe to be such dangerous and irresponsible statements.

Every step of the way along this process the Government have refused to reach out, refused to listen and refused to find a consensus that can represent the views of the whole country, not just those of the Conservative party. Large parts of our country continue to be ignored by this Government. It is no wonder that so many people felt compelled to march on the streets or to sign petitions over the weekend. Even the most ardent of leavers think that this Government have failed. It is easy to understand the frustration at this chaos—it exists in this House, in Brussels, and across the country.

The Government have no plan. For them, it is all about putting the Conservative party before the country. Given that the Prime Minister has admitted that she does not have the numbers for her deal, will she accept today that her deal is dead and that the House should not have to waste its time giving the same answer for a third time?

The Prime Minister has succeeded in unifying two sides against her deal. The CBI and TUC’s unprecedented joint statement last week demanded a plan B that protects jobs, workers, industry and communities. Does the Prime Minister have a plan B? The Government have failed, and they have let the people down whether they voted leave or remain. The country cannot afford to continue in this Tory crisis. It is time for Parliament to take control, which is why, later today, we will be backing the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin).

You made it clear last week, Mr Speaker, that, for the Prime Minister to bring back her deal, there must be significant changes. There are none. Rather than trying to engineer a way to bring back the same twice-rejected deal, will she instead allow plans—rather than fight plans—for indicative votes? She cannot accept that her deal does not have the numbers and also stand in the way of finding an alternative that may have the numbers. It is ridiculous to suggest that Parliament taking control is “overturning democratic institutions”. It is not; it is Parliament doing its democratic job of holding Government to account. Will the Prime Minister agree to abide by the outcome of these indicative votes, if they take place on Wednesday?

The Labour party will continue cross-party discussions to find a way forward, and I thank Members who have met colleagues of mine and myself to have those discussions. I believe that there is support in this House for a deal—one that is based on an alternative that protects jobs and the economy through a customs union, provides full single market access, and allows us to continue to benefit from participation in vital agencies and security measures. If the Government refuse to accept this, we will support measures for a public vote to stop no deal or a chaotic Tory deal.

The Government have had more than two years to find a solution, and they have failed. It is time that we put an end to this, move on from the chaos and failure, and begin to clean up the mess. It is time for Parliament to work together and agree on a plan B. If the Prime Minister is brave, she will help to facilitate this. If not, Parliament must send a clear message in the coming days. I hope that where the Government have failed, this House can and will succeed.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
25 Mar 2019, 2:30 p.m.

Once again, the right hon. Gentleman said that we still face the prospect of no deal. As I said earlier, the House has rejected no deal twice now and could very well continue to reject it, but the only way of actually putting that into practice is to support a deal. He also talks about reaching out. I have reached out to party leaders and other Members across the House, and my right hon. Friends the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union have held a number of meetings with Members across the House and with party leaders.

The right hon. Gentleman ended by saying that it is now time for the House to decide. The point is that, up to now, the House has not decided. [Interruption.] Yet again, Opposition Members say that they have not had a chance. The House has had many chances to table amendments. The House has voted twice on the right hon. Gentleman’s plans for the future and rejected them, it has voted to reject no deal and it has also voted to reject a second referendum. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether the Government would commit to abide by the indicative votes. As he accepted, I gave him advance notice of my statement and I then read that statement, in which I clearly said:

“I cannot commit the Government to delivering the outcome of any votes held by this House.”

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 20 March 2019

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I say to my hon. Friend that the Chancellor’s spring statement last week showed that this is indeed a Government who are delivering for Scotland. He mentions the issue of fiscal policy and oil and gas. We have also put in £260 million for the borderlands growth deal, £68 million extra in Barnett consequentials for the Scottish Government, and £79 million for a new national supercomputer at Edinburgh University. While the SNP is obsessed with independence, it is this Conservative Government who are focused on growing Scotland’s economy.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:08 p.m.

I start by sending my condolences to all the families and friends of victims of the terror attack in New Zealand last week. The terrible events in Christchurch should remind us all that there is no place for hate. I pay tribute to the way in which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has responded with such dignity and such compassion to this crisis. I absolutely agree with the comments of the Prime Minister concerning the events at Stanwell and Utrecht. I am sure the whole House will join me and her in sending our deepest sympathies to all those who lost their loved ones and homes in the terrible cyclones that have caused devastation in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. I support the Government in sending £6 million of aid. I hope, if more aid is required, we will be able to respond urgently and generously to any demand for help from people who are so desperately suffering at the present time.

We are now in the midst of a full-scale national crisis. Incompetence, failure and intransigence from the Prime Minister and her Government have brought us to this point. Parliament has rejected her deal. It has rejected no deal. The Prime Minister now has no plan. In an effort to break the deadlock, I have held meetings with Members across the House and am having further meetings today to find a compromise that supports jobs and living standards. Tomorrow, I am meeting EU Prime Ministers and officials in Brussels. This is a national crisis. Will the Prime Minister meet me today to discuss our proposals as a way forward to get out of this crisis?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

It is a bit rich for the right hon. Gentleman to stand up and invite me to meet him, when for days and days he refused to meet me and he then refused to allow the shadow Brexit Secretary to have a further meeting with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Of course I am always happy to meet Members across this House to discuss the issue of Europe, but I note that when Opposition party leaders came out from their meeting with the Leader of the Opposition, they made it clear that what they did not want was Brexit. We should be delivering Brexit for the people of this country.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I am not sure that there was an answer to my question there. I wanted no-deal taken off the table; the House has taken no-deal off the table; it is time the Prime Minister took no-deal off the table. The CBI said:

“The extension vote is a welcome dose of common sense…Put in place a new process. Drop red lines…Every MP must show leadership through compromise.”

Will the Prime Minister drop the red lines? Is she prepared to compromise to get through this crisis?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about decisions that have been taken by this House. I am sure that it will not have passed you by, Mr Speaker, that of course this House has voted on and rejected a second referendum; it has voted on and rejected no deal; it has voted on and rejected Labour’s deal; it has voted on and rejected a customs union; and it has voted on and supported leaving with a deal. It is time that this Parliament faced the consequences.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:12 p.m.

The last time the Prime Minister tried her meaningful vote, she only managed 242 votes—slightly up on the previous attempt, but nevertheless a decisive rejection. Our plan received 296 votes—rather considerably more. Her Government are in chaos and she has ignored the House, ignored trade unions, ignored businesses and ignored the concerns of communities all around the country. She told the House that the EU would allow an extension of article 50 only if there was a clear purpose. She is travelling to the Brussels summit tomorrow morning to meet EU leaders. What is her clear purpose?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:12 p.m.

If the right hon. Gentleman had listened to the answer that I gave to the first question posed in Prime Minister’s questions, he would have heard that.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:12 p.m.

It was not clear at all, other than that the Prime Minister is going to try again with what we will now term MV3. Surely, after two big rejections by the House, she must have noticed that there is not much support for the deal that she negotiated.

We learned this morning that the Prime Minister will ask only for a short extension, which directly contradicts what the Minister for the Cabinet Office told the House:

“In the absence of a deal, seeking such a short and, critically, one-off extension would be downright reckless and completely at odds with the position that this House adopted only last night”.—[Official Report, 14 March 2019; Vol. 656, c. 566.]

Who is “downright reckless” here: the Prime Minister, ploughing on with an unachievable, unsupported deal, or others in this House who want to achieve something serious and sensible to prevent damage to the British economy, jobs and living standards all over this country?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman talks about trying to achieve something sensible. It is he who abstained last week on a vote on a second referendum, despite the fact that it is Labour party policy, and then had the nerve to stand up in this House and say that he reiterated Labour’s support for a second referendum. He has no idea what he wants on the future of this issue.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about a long extension. I am opposed to a long extension. I do not want a long extension. Setting aside—[Interruption.] Setting aside the issue that it would mean that we would have to hold European parliamentary elections, which I do not think is in anybody’s interest, the outcome of a long extension would be endless hours and days of this House carrying on contemplating its navel on Europe and failing to address the issues that matter to our constituents, their schools—

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:15 p.m.

It is time for the House to determine that it will deliver on Brexit for the British people. That is what the British people deserve. They deserve better than what the House has given them so far.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:16 p.m.

To describe the parliamentary process as one of indulgence does not show much respect for the democratic process that sent us here in the first place. The House has twice rejected the Prime Minister’s deal, and she is trying to come back for another attempt on Monday. Further to your ruling on Monday, Mr Speaker, she has to come up with something a bit different from what she has come up with so far. What significant changes will there be either to the withdrawal agreement or to the political declaration that will even allow her to table it on Monday?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:17 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about respect for democracy. Respect for democracy means this House delivering the Brexit the British people voted for. He now wants to disrespect democracy by holding a second referendum. It is not this Government who are being disrespectful to the British people; it is the right hon. Gentleman and his Labour party.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Mar 2019, 12:18 p.m.

The job of Parliament is to hold Government to account, but the Prime Minister does not seem to understand that. When she was first defeated, she promised legally binding changes—I have not seen those legally binding changes; all she is doing is running down the clock after a second heavy defeat. Today marks 1,000 days since the referendum, and the Government have led the country and themselves into crisis, chaos and division. We are still legally due to leave the EU in nine days. Months of running down the clock and a concerted campaign of blackmail, bullying and bribery have failed to convince the House or the country that her deal is anything but a damaging national failure and should be rejected. They have run out of time; they have run out of ideas. People all over the country are anxious and frustrated with the Government’s utter inability to find a way through the crisis. If she cannot get changes to her deal, will she give the people a chance to reject it and change the Government?

The Prime Minister - Hansard

I think the right hon. Gentleman has just made the point I was making in my previous answer: he does not want to respect the referendum result in 2016. We have a deal that keeps millions of livelihoods safe and secure, protects the Union for the future and means that murderers and rapists on the run can be brought back quickly to face justice in this country. No deal will not do that. The deal is good for this country, it delivers Brexit and it should be supported.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 13 March 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:03 p.m.

It may be to the benefit of the House, Mr Speaker, and I am sure that people will recognise this, if I try to keep my answers shorter than usual today. Let me say to my hon. Friend that I want to leave the European Union with a good deal. I believe we have a good deal. Yes, no deal is better than a bad deal, but I have been working for us to leave on 29 March and leave with a good deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:03 p.m.

I absolutely concur with the Prime Minister’s remarks about the disaster of the air crash in Ethiopia, and indeed the earlier crash in Asia that affected the same type of aircraft. I commend the Civil Aviation Authority and the European Union for taking prompt action about the safety of the aircraft concerned. We need to ensure that all air passengers are as safe as they possibly can be.

The Prime Minister has been stubbornly declaring that the only choice is between her deal and no deal. Last night’s vote finished off her deal. Tonight she is not even showing the leadership to whip on no deal. Just a few weeks ago, she whipped her MPs against ruling out no deal. So how will she be voting tonight?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I will be voting for the motion standing in my name.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

Well, there may well be other votes, and the Prime Minister’s Brexit strategy is clearly in tatters. Her deal has been twice rejected and is now dead, and she is not even asking her MPs to support her on it tonight.

A couple of months ago, the Chancellor, who is here today—we will hear from him later—reassured business leaders that the threat of a no-deal Brexit would be taken off the table, while the Business Secretary said that a no-deal Brexit would be “ruinous” to the UK economy. Indeed, the Government’s own forecasts suggest that no deal would knock 10% off the economy, damaging jobs and industry. Why is the Prime Minister still ambivalent about the outcome?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

I have been working for leaving the EU with a deal. Businesses and business organisations have been clear across the UK that they want MPs to back the deal. Yes, businesses worry about the uncertainty of Brexit, but there is one thing they worry about more, and that is a Corbyn Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

The Prime Minister does not seem to understand. Her deal has been flatly rejected twice by this House by unprecedented majorities. Even this morning, the CBI said that no deal would be a “sledgehammer” to the economy and went on to say that there has been “no consultation with business”, adding:

“This is no way to run a country.”

The reason the Prime Minister’s deal is now dead is that at every step of the way, she has refused to listen—refused to listen to manufacturers and refused to listen to trade unions about the best way to protect jobs in this country, which is to agree a customs union. Manufacturing is now in recession. Many companies have laid off many workers. Her own deal has been decisively rejected. When will she listen to workers who are concerned about their jobs and to businesses that are concerned about their future and accept that there has to be a negotiated customs union with the EU?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The CBI said that the Labour party’s policies would lead to a drop in living standards. That is not very good for the people who the right hon. Gentleman claims to stand up and represent. He talks about a customs union, which of course was part of proposals that he put forward. That is yet another position he has taken. He has moved to being in favour of a second referendum, but I note that last night, he did not actually refer to a second referendum. He has just spoken about a deal involving a customs union—that has already been rejected, and in the past, very often rejected by him.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

It would be rather reckless for the Prime Minister to rule out any option at the present time, I would have thought. I do not think her answer will help workers at Honda in Swindon, those at Nissan in Sunderland or many others who are very concerned about their future because of the danger to the manufacturing industry.

Britain’s food producers are also in despair. A coalition of UK producers asked the Prime Minister to call for tariff-free access to the single market. With her red lines now in tatters, will she back the view of UK food producers and back close alignment to the single market, to secure their industry? After all, she promised at Chequers that there would be frictionless trade.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The deal that we have negotiated includes access to the European Union on the basis of no tariffs. It might help if he had actually read it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
1 Jan 2000, midnight

Former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), said while campaigning to leave in the referendum—this is not the kind of language I would use—that

“Only a madman would actually leave”

the single market.

The Prime Minister has previously said that we cannot just reject no deal; we need to be for something. With her own deal now so decisively rejected, can the Prime Minister inform us what she is now for? Does she recognise that the Labour alternative—the five pillars we put forward—is the credible show in town, available and ready to be negotiated? Is it not time she moved on from her red lines and faced the reality of the situation she has got herself, her party, this Parliament and this country into?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman talks about not wanting no deal yet repeatedly votes in a way that brings no deal closer. The deal that he is proposing has been rejected several times by this House. I may not have my own voice, but I do understand the voice of the country. They want—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

And that is that people want to leave the EU, they want to end free movement, they want us to have our own trade policy, and they want to ensure laws are made in this country and judged in our courts. That is what the deal delivers, and that is what I continue to work to deliver. The right hon. Gentleman used to believe that too. Why is he just trying to frustrate it?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
13 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I do have sympathy for the Prime Minister with her voice, and I hope it soon recovers. I understand how painful this is.

The Prime Minister’s deal has failed, and she no longer has the ability to lead. This is a rudderless Government in the face of a huge national crisis. The hon. Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker) recognises it, saying that the Government

“is not fit for purpose. We are not doing what we need to do, which is govern the country properly and effectively.”

Where the Prime Minister has so obviously failed, this House needs to listen to the country—listen to unions, people in work fearful for their future, manufacturers and businesses, workers, European Union citizens who have made such a fantastic contribution to our society and British citizens across Europe who are all facing uncertainty. With jobs and industry at risk and the country in crisis, she needs now to show leadership, so can the Prime Minister tell us exactly what her plan is now?

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

I continue to believe that the House today will have an opportunity to vote on no deal, and it will then have an opportunity tomorrow, depending on how it has voted tonight, to vote on the question of the extension of article 50. As I said last night, there will be hard choices for this House, but this House will need to determine what its view is on the way forward. As far as the Government are concerned, we want to continue to work to leave the European Union. That is what we will deliver for the people on the vote in the referendum. We will continue to work to deliver leaving the European Union, but to deliver leaving the European Union with a good deal.

As for the right hon. Gentleman, he does not agree with Government policy; he does not even agree with Labour party policy. He has nothing to offer this country.

See more like "European Union (Withdrawal) Act"

European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 12 March 2019

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 2:59 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for pointing that out. He is absolutely right. Voting against the deal would not mean that those obligations disappear, which is another reason why I believe it is very important for Members of this House to go through the Lobby in favour of the motion tonight.

It was not this House that decided it was time for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union; it was the British people. It falls to us to implement their decision—their desire for change and their demand for a better, more open, more successful future for our country. Today is the day that we can begin to build that future. This is the moment and this is the time—time for us to come together, back this motion and get the deal done. Only then can we get on with what we came here to do—what we were sent here to do.

Each and every one of us came into politics because we have sincerely held views about how to build a better Britain. Some have spent their political careers campaigning against the European Union and in favour of restoring sovereignty to this Parliament. For others, membership of the EU is one of the foundations of their vision of the UK’s place in the world. But we also came here to serve. We cannot serve our country by overturning a democratic decision of the British people, we cannot serve by prolonging a debate the British people now wish to see settled, and we cannot serve by refusing to compromise—by reinforcing instead of healing the painful divisions we see within our society and across our country.

The British people have been clear: they want us to implement the decision that they made nearly three years ago. So let us show what the House can achieve when we come together. Let us demonstrate what politics is for. Let us prove, beyond all doubt, that we believe democracy comes before party, faction, or personal ambition. The time has come to deliver on the instruction that we were given. The time has come to back this deal. I commend the motion to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 3 p.m.

After three months of running down the clock, the Prime Minister has, despite very extensive delays, achieved not a single change to the withdrawal agreement: not one single word has changed. In terms of the substance, literally nothing has changed.

On 29 January, the Prime Minister backed an amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady), which called for the backstop

“to be replaced with alternative arrangements”.

On 12 February, the Prime Minister said that the Government were seeking three potential changes to the backstop:

“a legally binding time limit… a legally binding unilateral exit clause”,

or

“the ideas put forward by the Alternative Arrangements Working Group”.—[Official Report, 12 February 2019; Vol. 654, c. 731.]

There is no unilateral exit mechanism, there is no time limit, and there are no alternative arrangements.

So let us be clear: the withdrawal agreement is unchanged, the political declaration is unchanged, the joint statement is a legal interpretation of what is in the withdrawal agreement, and the unilateral statement is the UK Government trying to fool their own Back Benchers, because the European Union has not even signed up to it.

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 3:02 p.m.

The Labour party has put forward very clear proposals. I shall come to them later in the speech, but, for the avoidance of doubt, they are about a customs union, access to the market, and the protection of rights. We have put those proposals forward, and we continue to put them forward. What the British people are not looking forward to is either the chaos of leaving with no agreement or the problems that are involved in this agreement, which will therefore be strongly opposed by Members tonight.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 3:03 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has just said that the Labour party put forward a set of proposals as an alternative to the deal that the Government have negotiated. When the deal that the Government was rejected overwhelmingly by the House, the right hon. Gentleman said that we should listen. We have listened. The other week, his proposals were rejected overwhelmingly by the House. Why is he not listening?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 3:03 p.m.

I spend a great deal of time listening to people: people working on the shop floor in factories, people in small businesses, people who are worried about the future of their families. They want some degree of certainty. The Prime Minister’s deal does not offer that degree of certainty at all, as she knows very well. Our proposals are a basis for agreement, and a basis for negotiation.

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 7:24 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I profoundly regret the decision that this House has taken tonight. I continue to believe that by far the best outcome is that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in an orderly fashion with a deal, and that the deal we have negotiated is the best, and indeed the only, deal available, but I would like to set out briefly how the Government mean to proceed.

Two weeks ago I made a series of commitments from this Dispatch Box regarding the steps we would take in the event that this House rejected the deal on offer. I stand by those commitments in full. Therefore tonight we will table a motion for debate tomorrow to test whether the House supports leaving the European Union without a deal on 29 March. The Leader of the House will shortly make an emergency business statement confirming the change to tomorrow’s business.

This is an issue of grave importance for the future of our country. Just like in the referendum, there are strongly held and equally legitimate views on both sides. For that reason I can confirm that this will be a free vote on this side of the House.

I have personally struggled with this choice, as I am sure many other hon. Members will. I am passionate about delivering the result of the referendum, but I equally passionately believe that the best way to do that is to leave in an orderly way with a deal, and I still believe that there is a majority in the House for that course of action.

I am conscious also of my duties as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of the potential damage to the Union that leaving without a deal could do when one part of our country is without devolved governance. I can therefore confirm that the motion will read:

“That this House declines to approve leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework on the Future Relationship on 29 March 2019; and notes that leaving without a deal remains the default in UK and EU law unless this House and the EU ratify an agreement.”

I will return to the House to open the debate tomorrow and to take interventions from hon. Members. To ensure that the House is fully informed in making this historic decision, the Government will tomorrow publish information on essential policies that would need to be put in place if we were to leave without a deal. These will cover our approach to tariffs and the Northern Ireland border, among other matters.

If the House votes to leave without a deal on 29 March, it will be the policy of the Government to implement that decision. If the House declines to approve leaving without a deal on 29 March, the Government will, following that vote, bring forward a motion on Thursday on whether Parliament wants to seek an extension to article 50. If the House votes for an extension, the Government will seek to agree that extension with the EU and bring forward the necessary legislation to change the exit date, commensurate with that extension.

But let me be clear: voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems that we face. The EU will want to know what use we mean to make of such an extension, and this House will have to answer that question. Does it wish to revoke article 50? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal? These are unenviable choices, but thanks to the decision that the House has made this evening, they are choices that must now be faced.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
12 Mar 2019, 7:26 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Government have been defeated again by an enormous majority, and they must now accept that their deal, the proposal that the Prime Minister has put forward, is clearly dead and does not have the support of the House. Quite clearly, no deal must be taken off the table—we have said that before and we will say it again—but this does mean that the House has to come together with a proposal that could be negotiated. The Labour party has put forward that proposal, and we will do so again, because the Prime Minister carries on threatening us all with the danger of no deal, knowing full well the damage that it would do to the British economy. This party will again put forward our proposals on a negotiated customs union, access to the market and the protection of rights. We believe that there may well be a majority for them, but there will also be the potential to negotiate on them. The Prime Minister has run down the clock, but the clock has run out on her. Maybe, instead, it is time we had a general election so that the people can choose who their Government should be.

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 06 March 2019

(10 months, 3 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend, who has put forward a positive suggestion for Members of this House, during Lent, to vote with the Government in the meaningful vote. Then, of course, across the House we would all be able to give up being a member of the European Union on 29 March.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:07 p.m.

I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to Lord Bhattacharyya, who died last week. As she said, he was a champion of the car industry and manufacturing in general, and he played a key role in saving Jaguar Land Rover, not only safeguarding jobs but, crucially, ensuring that international research is done in the UK. We thank him for everything he did.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and I am delighted that for the Opposition the debate will be opened by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham East (Janet Daby), who is herself the daughter of people from the Windrush generation. We will be making the case for closing the gender pay gap, as we are determined to improve the lot of women in our society. In that vein, may I congratulate the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) on giving birth to a son this morning?

I join the Prime Minister in sending our thoughts and prayers to the families of those who have lost young people. Yousef Makki and Jodie Chesney, both 17 years old, were the ninth and 10th teenagers murdered already this year. Two hundred and eighty-five people have been stabbed to death in the past year—the highest level ever. I welcome the fact that the Prime Minister has announced that Cobra is being convened, but what extra funding is being provided to address the root causes of both knife crime and the increasing levels of violent crime on the streets of all our towns and cities?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:08 p.m.

First, I join the right hon. Gentleman in congratulating the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Luciana Berger) on the birth of her son. We are all pleased to hear that that has gone well. In relation to International Women’s Day, I am pleased that today marks the launch of the book by his hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Leeds West (Rachel Reeves), “Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics”. I hope that that book will be an inspiration to other women to come into politics and have a career in this House. I congratulate the England women’s football team, who last night won the SheBelieves cup, defeating Japan in doing so.

The right hon. Gentleman raises the specific question of knife crime, which I referred to in my opening comments. Of course, as I said, any death of a young person through an act of violence is a terrible tragedy, and we have seen too many young lives—too many lives of promise and potential—being cut short. Responsibility for these terrible crimes does lie with the perpetrators, and we will always stand with the victims to ensure that criminals are brought to justice. We will defeat the scourge of violence only if we understand and address its complex root causes. Yes, that does mean ensuring that all agencies, including the police, have the right resources and powers to do their jobs. It means tackling the drug crime that is fuelling gang violence in our cities and exporting it across the country, and it means intervening at every stage to turn young people away from violence, and that is exactly what the Government are doing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:10 p.m.

Many of us in this House will have sat in the living rooms of homes where a young person has lost their life through knife crime and will never forget that experience and never forget that feeling of hopelessness and loss that those families are going through. We owe it to those families and those young people who have lost their lives to do far more about knife crime and far more about ensuring that there are sufficient resources for the police to deal with it. Sara Thornton of the National Police Chiefs Council said:

“We think we need much stronger leadership from Government…and there needs to be more funding.”

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said yesterday that, of course,

“there is some link between violent crime on the streets…and police numbers.”

A total of 21,000 police officers’ jobs have been cut. Violent crime is at the highest level since comparative records began. If there are sufficient police numbers, can the Prime Minister please explain why, yesterday, the Defence Secretary was offering to send in the military to assist with knife crime?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has recognised that the causes of knife crime are complex, and she has said:

“The police alone won’t sort this issue out, we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.”

I agree, which is why we need to tackle it across a number of fronts. We must continue to enforce the laws that bear down on violent crime. That involves the Offensive Weapons Bill in which we introduced the knife crime prevention orders. Those orders were asked for by the police, and we are introducing them. We will intervene early to stop young people going down into a life of crime and becoming involved in crime. We have published the serious violence strategy, and the serious violence taskforce is working. We have also put £200 million into the youth endowment fund, and our early intervention youth fund has already funded 29 projects working with police and crime commissioners. We do ensure that police have the right resources: £460 million more is available this year and nearly double that—nearly £1 billion extra—is available next year. We also need to ensure that we understand the different use and misuse of drugs that is fuelling much of this crime. That is why my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has set up the independent drugs misuse review, which will be led by Dame Carol Black.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 12:13 p.m.

The police clearly do not have the resources to deal with the problem: safer neighbourhood teams have been cut and community police officers have been cut. Many areas see no police officers at all. There is nobody to supervise these special orders that the Prime Minister is talking about. Perhaps she will listen to Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor of Greater Manchester. Tragically, his 17-year-old relative was recently stabbed to death in Birmingham. He said:

“When you reduce police numbers by 21,000…there isn’t the intelligence any more, there isn’t the neighbour policing any more”.

Does the Prime Minister now regret the cuts in police numbers, and in this review will she undertake to restore them to their former level?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

As I have just indicated, we are putting more resources into the police. [Interruption.] It is no good Opposition Members standing up saying, “No, you’re not.” It is a fact that more money is being put into the police this year and that more money is being put into the police next year. The real question is not are we putting more money into the police, because we are, but why did the Labour party oppose that money going into the police.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Violent crime has doubled under the Tories’ watch. I have had a letter from Mike in Gosport—[Interruption.] Yes, it is important; he has something to say. Mike says:

“The crime rate has run out of control because there is no police presence…it has become a really unsafe town to live in”.

I think Mike speaks for millions of people around the country. When are towns such as Gosport and others going to get resources for the safer neighbourhood teams, and the local police they need to tackle rising violent crime and to provide the intelligence from which arrests can be made of those who have committed these crimes?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

As we make more resources available to the police, they are available to forces across the country, including Hampshire. Of course we look at the powers and resources that the police need. That is why we are not just putting more resources in, but increasing the powers that the police have. We introduced knife crime prevention orders in the Offensive Weapons Bill. That is an important step, which we have taken because the police asked us to. If the right hon. Gentleman wants the police to be able to do their job on the streets, he needs to tell this House why he voted against the measures we introduced to increase the powers of the police to deal with those carrying knives and to apply custodial sentences in the cases of those who are caught twice carrying knives.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

Crime went down when Labour was in office. We increased the numbers of police officers and the safer neighbourhood teams. Police officers are telling me that there is simply not enough of them to do the job. Hampshire alone has lost 1,000 police officers, and its funding has been cut by £70 million. Does the Prime Minister understand the scale of need here?

The Local Government Association says that local services face a funding gap of £3.2 billion this year. By the way, that is double—in one year alone—what the stronger towns fund is offering over seven years. The number of rapes, murders and other serious crimes committed by offenders on parole has risen by more than 50% since the privatisation of the probation service was introduced four years ago. At least one company wrongly classified offenders as low risk in order to meet Government targets. Do the Government now accept that privatising the probation service to profit-making companies has been a disaster that should be reversed, and that the probation service should be brought back completely into the public service?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
6 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

When we are looking at issues of probation, we want to ensure that we are genuinely reducing the level of reoffending. That is about a rehabilitation method that looks at a variety of issues, including the home of an individual coming out of prison, their employment and their relationship with their family. This was not done fully under the last Labour Government, which is why we saw such a high level of reoffending rates and it is why we need to take action.

The right hon. Gentleman keeps raising these issues, and I welcome the fact that he is accepting that dealing with serious violence and knife crime requires us to act across a number of areas. For example, it is about the work that we are doing with young people, and supporting intervention in hospital accident and emergency departments. We are expanding our support to the charity Redthread, which has introduced its youth violence intervention work in hospitals in Birmingham and Nottingham, as well as in London. We are also supporting the £3.6 million national county lines co-ordination centre.

In just two separate weeks of law enforcement action, we have seen more than 1,000 arrests and 1,300 individuals being safeguarded. We commend all the police officers and other agencies involved in that work. The Government are giving them the support that they need to do their job.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard

The problem is that violent crime has doubled. The rise has been driven by austerity—something that the Prime Minister told us a few months ago was over. Cuts to police and rising poverty; the police and the Home Office recognise the link, even if the Prime Minister does not. But the issues are wider: the privatisation of the probation service has been a disaster; mental health services are under-resourced; youth and children’s services are in crisis; more than 600 youth centres have been closed; 3,500 youth workers have lost their jobs; funding for colleges and schools has been cut; and exclusions are rising. The public services that were there to support young people have been systematically stripped away, and everyone can see the consequences. Can the Prime Minister not recognise that there has to be a holistic response? We cannot keep communities safe on the cheap, with cuts and privatisation. We have to invest in all our communities in every part of this country—something that this Government are incapable of doing.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We put more money into our local authorities; the right hon. Gentleman voted against it. We put more money into our police—[Interruption.]

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Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 27 February 2019

(11 months ago)

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

Obviously, this is a matter for Labour-controlled Birmingham City Council to resolve: rubbish piling up on the streets because of the failure of the Labour council to get a grip. Not only does it show what a hard-left Labour Government would be like; it shows all of us that, under Labour councils, you pay more and get less.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 11:58 a.m.

There is an urgent question coming up on Kashmir, but I will just say that from our side of the House we strongly support rapid dialogue between India and Pakistan in order to reduce the tension and deal with the root causes of the conflict before more lives are lost.

I also join the Prime Minister in wishing Eve a very happy retirement, Mr Speaker. She has been absolutely brilliant in your office over the many years of people rushing in and out and making totally unreasonable demands. She has always sorted it out. Could you pass on to her the thanks of lots and lots of Back Benchers over many years?

The Bank of England forecasts that growth for this year will be the slowest in over a decade. Does the Prime Minister blame her shambolic handling of Brexit or her failed austerity policies for this damaging failure?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 11:58 a.m.

First, I think the right hon. Gentleman should have seen the report that actually showed the expectation that in this country over the coming year we will have higher growth than Germany. He talks about the economy, so let us just say what we see in the economy under a Conservative Government: more people in work than ever before; unemployment at its lowest level since the 1970s; borrowing this year at its lowest level for 17 years; and the largest monthly surplus on record. Conservatives delivering more jobs, healthier finances and an economy fit for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 11:58 a.m.

I know that the Prime Minister is very busy—I understand that—and she possibly has not had a chance to look at the Bank of England forecasts, which suggest that there is a one in four chance of the UK economy dipping into recession. Manufacturing is already in recession, car manufacturing has declined at the steepest rate for a decade—down 5% in the past quarter alone—and Honda, Jaguar Land Rover and Nissan have announced cuts to either jobs or investment in recent months. Does she blame her shambolic Brexit or her Government’s lack of an industrial strategy for this very sad state of affairs?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 11:58 a.m.

I have just explained to the right hon. Gentleman the positives in the economy and the consistent quarter-by-quarter growth that we have seen under this Government. What do we know would be the worst thing for the economy in this country? It would be a run on the pound, capital flight and £1,000 billion of borrowing under a Labour Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 11:58 a.m.

As manufacturing industry declines, it is skilled well-paid jobs that are lost. But the Prime Minister is right—there is something that is increasing, and that is the income of the top fifth richest people in this country, which went up by 4.7% last year while the incomes of the poorest fell by 1.6%. With the poorest people worse off, will the Prime Minister now commit to ending the benefit freeze, or does she believe that rising poverty is a price worth paying?

The Prime Minister - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Perhaps it might again help to look at some of the facts. The top 1% are paying 28% of income tax, which is higher than at any time under a Labour Government, income inequality is lower than that which we inherited from a Labour Government, and the lowest earners saw their fastest pay rise in 20 years through the national living wage. The Conservatives are building a fairer society and delivering for everyone.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:11 p.m.

Some of us cannot forget that it was the Conservative party that so opposed the principle of the national minimum wage from the very beginning. Perhaps the Government could start by tackling the scourge of low pay in their own Departments. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Justice pay some of their central London workers as little as £7.83 an hour, and they have been on strike again this week, hoping to get a London living wage. Will the Prime Minister intervene and ensure that they do get the London living wage so that they can continue doing their valuable work for both those Departments?

Low pay means that many workers have to claim universal credit just to make ends meet. This month, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions admitted that universal credit is driving people to food banks. Is it not time to stop the roll-out and get it right, or does the Prime Minister believe that rising poverty is a price worth paying?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:12 p.m.

No. I am not sure whether the right hon. Gentleman is repeating his previous question, but he talks about universal credit. We have made changes to it as we have rolled it out as we have seen how it has been operating. In my first months as Prime Minister, we cut the taper rate so that people could keep more of what they earn. Since then, we have increased allowances to 100% of a full monthly payment, we have scrapped the seven days’ wait, meaning that people get their money sooner, and we have brought in a two-week overlap for people on housing benefit. When we were making all those changes to universal credit to benefit the people who receive it, why did the Labour party oppose every single one of them?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:13 p.m.

Can I just give one example of what is happening? Take the food bank in Hastings, which is represented by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, where demand went up by 80% after universal credit was rolled out, and the Trussell Trust said that a significant proportion of referrals are related to benefit changes, delays or sanctions. It is a huge increase in food bank use.

Some 4.1 million of our children are growing up in poverty, and the Resolution Foundation said last week that UK child poverty was on course to hit record levels. Will the Prime Minister act to prevent that? Will she start by ending the two-child limit? Will she end the benefit cap? Will she restore the 1,000 Sure Start centres that have been lost under her Government?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

We want to ensure that we have a welfare system that is fair not only to those who need to use it, but to all the hard-working taxpayers whose taxes actually pay for the welfare system. The right hon. Gentleman talks about child poverty, but absolute child poverty is at a record low. We know that a child growing up in a home where all the adults work is around five times less likely to be in poverty than a child in a home where nobody works. Under this Government, the number of children in workless households is at a record low. So, when the right hon. Gentleman stands up, will he recognise that work is the best route out of poverty and welcome the fact that we now have more people in work than ever before—3.5 million more than in 2010?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:14 p.m.

It clearly is not working, because so many people who are themselves working very hard, some doing two or even three jobs, have to access food banks just to feed their children. The Prime Minister used to talk about the “just about managing.” Well, they are not managing anymore. Income inequality— up. In-work poverty—up. Child poverty—up. Pensioner poverty—up. Homelessness—up. Austerity clearly is not over. People on low incomes are getting poorer, while those at the top are getting richer. The economy is slowing, manufacturing is in recession and this Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Austerity clearly is not over. People on low incomes are getting poorer, while those at the top get richer. The economy is slowing, manufacturing is in recession and this Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit is compounding years of damaging austerity. Their policies are driving people to food banks and poverty in the fifth richest economy on this planet. Are any of these burning injustices a priority for the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Feb 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Manufacturing is not in recession, and what the right hon. Gentleman says about the lowest earners is not the case. If he had listened to my earlier answer, he would know the lowest earners have seen the highest rise in their pay for 20 years as a result of the introduction of the national living wage—the national living wage introduced by a Conservative-led Government.

If the right hon. Gentleman is talking about actually helping people who are in work, let us talk about the fact that we have cut income tax to help people to keep more of what they earn. We have frozen fuel duty to help people for whom a car is a necessity, not a luxury. Since 2010, those measures have saved working people £6,500.

From the way the right hon. Gentleman talks, one might think that he would have supported those measures. But what did he do? No, he voted against them over a dozen times. That is the reality: it is working people who always pay the price of Labour.

See more like "Leaving the European Union"

Leaving the European Union
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 26 February 2019

(11 months ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:49 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Tying the Government’s hands by seeking to commandeer the Order Paper would have far-reaching implications for the way in which the United Kingdom is governed and the balance of powers and responsibilities in our democratic institutions, and it would offer no solution to the challenge of finding a deal that this House can support. Neither would seeking an extension to article 50 now make getting a deal any easier. Ultimately the choices we face would remain unchanged: leave with a deal, leave with no deal, or have no Brexit. When it comes to the motion tomorrow, the House needs to come together, as we did on 29 January, and send a clear message that there is a stable majority in favour of leaving the EU with a deal.

A number of hon. and right hon. Members have understandably raised the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. As I set out last September, following the Salzburg summit, even in the event of no deal, the rights of the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK will be protected. That is our guarantee to them. They are our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues. We want them to stay. But a separate agreement for citizens’ rights is something the EU has been clear it does not have the legal authority for. If it is not done in a withdrawal agreement, these issues become a matter for member states, unless the EU was to agree a new mandate to take that forward.

At the very start of this process, the UK sought to separate out that issue, but the EU has been consistent on it. However, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has written to all his counterparts, and we are holding further urgent discussions with member states to seek assurances on the rights of UK citizens. I urge all EU countries to make this guarantee and end the uncertainty for these citizens. I hope that the Government’s efforts can give the House and EU citizens here in the UK the reassurances they need and deserve.

For some hon. and right hon. Members, taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union is the culmination of a long and sincerely fought campaign. For others, leaving the EU goes against much that they have stood for and fought for with equal sincerity for just as long. But Parliament gave the choice to the people. In doing so, we told them that we would honour their decision. That remains the resolve of this side of the House, but last night we learned that it is no longer the commitment of the Leader of the Opposition. He has gone back on his promise to respect the referendum result and now wants to hold a divisive second referendum that would take our country right back to square one. Anybody who voted Labour at the last election because they thought he would deliver Brexit will rightly be appalled.

This House voted to trigger article 50, and this House has a responsibility to deliver on the result. The very credibility of our democracy is at stake. By leaving the EU with a deal, we can move our country forward. Even with the uncertainty we face today, we have more people in work than ever before, wages growing at their fastest rate for a decade and debt falling as a share of the economy. If we can leave with a deal, end the uncertainty and move on beyond Brexit, we can do so much more to deliver real economic progress to every part of country.

I hope tomorrow this House can show that, with legally binding changes on the backstop, commitments to protect workers’ rights and the environment, an enhanced role for Parliament in the next phase of negotiations and a determination to address the wider concerns of those who voted to leave, we will have a deal that this House can support. In doing so, we can send a clear message that this House is resolved to honour the result of the referendum and leave the European Union with a deal. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:49 p.m.

I would like to start by thanking the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement.

I have lost count of the number of times the Prime Minister has come to this House to explain a further delay. They say history repeats itself—the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce—but by the umpteenth time it can only be described as grotesquely reckless. This is not dithering; it is a deliberate strategy to run down the clock. The Prime Minister is promising to achieve something she knows is not achievable and is stringing people along, so will she be straight with people? The withdrawal agreement is not being reopened. There is no attempt to get a unilateral exit on the backstop or a time limit.

In Sharm el-Sheikh, the Prime Minister said that

“a delay in this process, doesn’t deliver a decision in parliament, it doesn’t deliver a deal”.

I can only assume she was being self-critical. She has so far promised a vote on her deal in December, January, February and now March, and she only managed to put a vote once—in January, when it was comprehensively defeated. The Prime Minister continues to say that it is her deal or no deal, but this House has decisively rejected her deal and has clearly rejected no deal. It is the Prime Minister’s obstinacy that is blocking a resolution, so if the House confirms that opposition, then what is the Prime Minister’s plan B?

I pay tribute to others across the House who are working on such solutions—whether that is the proposal that is commonly known as Norway-plus or other options. Labour, I would like to inform the House, will back the Costa amendment if tabled tomorrow, and I also confirm that we will back the amendment drafted by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa) on securing citizens’ rights for EU citizens here and for UK citizens in Europe, some of whom I met in Spain last week.

The Prime Minister has become quite the expert at kicking the can down the road, but the problem is that the road is running out. The consequences of running down the clock are evident and very real for industry and for people’s jobs. For now, the Prime Minister states that the can can be kicked until 12 March, but the EU cannot now ratify any deal until its leaders summit on 21 March. After all, section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act states that the final agreement will be laid before this House before it can be voted on, so can the Prime Minister confirm how there can be a vote in this House if the EU has not yet agreed any final exit, or is the Prime Minister now saying that there will be no change to either the withdrawal agreement or to the political declaration, so we will be voting again on the same documents?

Every delay and every bit of badly made fudge just intensifies the uncertainty for industry, with business investment being held back, jobs being lost and yet more jobs being putting at risk. The real life consequences of the Prime Minister’s cynical tactics are being felt across the country, with factories relocating abroad, jobs being lost and investment being cancelled. Thousands of workers at sites across Britain’s towns and cities are hearing rumours and fearing the worst. The responsibility for this lies exclusively with the Prime Minister and her Government’s shambolic handling of Brexit. Even now, with just one month to go before our legally enshrined exit date, the Prime Minister is not clear what she wants in renegotiations that have now dragged on since it became clear in December that her deal was not even backed by much of her own party, let alone Parliament or the country at large.

Labour has a credible plan—[Interruption.] Labour has a credible plan that could bring the country together, provide certainty for people, and safeguard jobs and industry. It is based around a new customs union with the EU to protect our manufacturing industry, close alignment with the single market to protect all of our trading sectors and keeping pace with the best practice on workers’ rights, environmental protections and consumer safeguards. The people of this country deserve nothing less. The Prime Minister talks about giving commitments on future developments, but that is way short of a commitment to dynamic alignments on rights and standards when we know many on her Front Bench see Brexit as an opportunity to rip up those vital protections.

In recent weeks, I have been speaking to businesses, industry organisations and trade unions. Last week, along with our shadow Brexit Secretary, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) and Baroness Chakrabarti, I travelled to Europe to meet EU officials and leaders to discuss the crisis and explain Labour’s proposals. We left with no doubt whatsoever that our proposals are workable and could be negotiated, so tomorrow we will—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:56 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Tomorrow, we will ask Parliament to vote on these proposals—they are workable and negotiable—which back the demands of working people all across this country and industry all across this country. I urge Members across this House to back that amendment to respect the result of the 2016 referendum and to safeguard jobs, investment and industry in this country. Labour accepts the result of the 2016 referendum, but we believe in getting the terms of our exit right, and that is why we believe in our alternative plan.

The Prime Minister’s botched deal provides no certainty or guarantees for the future, and was comprehensively rejected by this House. We cannot risk our country’s industry and people’s livelihoods, so if it somehow passes in some form at a later stage, we believe there must be a confirmatory public vote to see if people feel that that is what they voted for. A no-deal outcome would be disastrous, and that is why we committed to backing the amendment, in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), to rule out that reckless cliff-edge Brexit.

The Prime Minister appears to be belatedly listening to the House. Any extension is necessary only because of the Prime Minister’s shambolic negotiations and her decision to run down the clock, but until the Prime Minister is clear about what alternative she would put forward in those circumstances, then she is simply continuing to run down the clock. She promises a short extension, but for what? If the Government want a genuine renegotiation, they should do so on the terms that can win a majority in this House and on the terms, backed by businesses and unions, that are contained within Labour’s amendment, which I urge the whole House to back tomorrow.

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Feb 2019, 12:59 p.m.

I will first respond to a couple of the right hon. Gentleman’s questions. He asked about the meaningful vote and whether new documents would be brought before the House. Of course, we are in discussions with the EU about changes—changes that this House said it wanted—to the Northern Ireland backstop. We are discussing those with the European Union. Any changes that are agreed with the European Union would be put before this House before the meaningful vote.

The right hon. Gentleman raised the issue of citizens’ rights. As I covered in my statement, the EU does not have the legal authority to do a separate deal on citizens’ rights without a new mandate. This is a matter, unless it is part of the withdrawal agreement—obviously, we have negotiated something within the withdrawal agreement; good rights for citizens within the withdrawal agreement—for individual member states. We have taken up the issue with individual member states. A number of them have already given good guarantees to UK citizens and we are encouraging those that have not to do so.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to workers’ rights. I think it is important. [Interruption.] I am answering the points that he has made, but he does not seem to be too interested in listening to the answers that I am giving. He advocated dynamic alignment on workers’ rights. I have to say that we on the Government side of the House think that those decisions should be taken in the UK, and in this House. One of the reasons for taking those decisions on workers’ rights in this House, as I have said, is that Governments in this country, of different colours, have consistently given greater rights to workers than the European Union has negotiated.

The right hon. Gentleman referenced the Labour party’s approach to a deal. Of course, its approach is that it wants a customs union, to be in the single market and to have a say on trade deals, in a way that says, “Well, please, if you’re very nice to us, can we sit around the table and maybe some time we might be able to put an opinion on the trade deals?” If he wants the benefits of a customs union—no tariffs, no fees and no charges—they are there within the political declaration, in the deal that has been negotiated by this Government. In that political declaration, we also have the right for us, as an independent country, to strike our own trade deals again, and not to have to rely on those struck in Brussels.

The right hon. Gentleman then spoke about the time running down to 29 March. My sole focus throughout all of this has been on getting a deal that enables us to leave the European Union on 29 March with a deal. It is the right hon. Gentleman who has kept no deal on the table, by refusing to agree to a deal. He talks about uncertainty on jobs, but he could have voted to end uncertainty on jobs by backing the deal the Government brought back from the European Union.

Finally, the right hon. Gentleman says that he and the Labour party accept the result of the referendum, yet we also know that they back a second referendum. By backing a second referendum, he is breaking his promise to respect the result of the 2016 referendum. He will be ignoring the biggest vote in our history and betraying the trust of the British people.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 20 February 2019

(11 months, 1 week ago)

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

I think this is a very important issue that everybody in this House should take seriously. I never thought I would see the day when Jewish people in this country were concerned about their future in this country, and I never thought I would see the day when a once-proud Labour party was accused of institutional antisemitism by a former Member of that party. It is incumbent on all of us in this House to ensure that we act against antisemitism wherever and however it occurs. It is racism and we should act against it.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:04 p.m.

May I start, Mr Speaker, by joining what you said on Monday in paying tribute to my friend and yours, Paul Flynn? He served in this House for over 30 years as the Member for Newport West. He was courageous, he was warm, he was witty. As the Prime Minister pointed out, he served briefly on the shadow Front Bench. When he came to his first shadow Cabinet meeting, he welcomed my

“diversity project to promote octogenarians”

to the shadow Cabinet. His book on how to become an MP is absolutely a must-read. He was respected all across the House and I think we are all going to miss his contributions, his wit and his wisdom. Our deepest condolences to his wife Sam and all his family, and to his wider family across Newport and Wales. He was a truly wonderful man and a great and dear friend.

I also hope that the House will join me in paying tribute to Baroness Falkender, who died earlier this month, and send our condolences to her friends and family. When Marcia served with distinction as political secretary to Harold Wilson, she was subjected to a long campaign of misogynistic smear and innuendo. She suffered a great deal as a result, and we should remember the great work that she did as political secretary to Harold Wilson.

The Prime Minister just responded to a question on antisemitism. I simply say this: antisemitism has no place whatsoever in any of our political parties, in our life, in our society—[Interruption.]

Break in Debate

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:05 p.m.

As I was saying, antisemitism has no place whatsoever in our society or in any of our political parties, and my own political party takes the strongest action to deal with antisemitism wherever it rears its head.

Last week, an EU official said the UK Government were only “pretending to negotiate”, adding that there was

“nothing on the table from the British side,”,

so with just 37 days to go, can the Prime Minister be clear about what she will actually be proposing today when she travels to Brussels?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Of course there are a number of meetings taking place in Brussels. My right hon. Friend the Brexit Secretary and the Attorney General were in Brussels earlier this week and had a constructive and positive meeting with officials in the European Commission on the issue of alternative arrangements and work on alternative arrangements. The issue that I am taking to Brussels is the one I have been speaking to EU leaders about over the last few days—that is, the concern that was expressed in this House about ensuring that we could not find ourselves in the current backstop indefinitely. There a number of ways, as I have identified on a number of occasions at this Dispatch Box, to deal with that. I have referenced the work on alternative arrangements. There are also the options of an end-date or a unilateral exit mechanism and legal work—what matters in all of this are legally binding changes that ensure that we address the concern that has been raised by this House. That is what I will be discussing with the European Commission and will continue to discuss with it and European Union leaders.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:07 p.m.

It sounds like it might be quite confusing for the European Union to understand exactly what the Prime Minister is turning up with, actually. She has had three groups of Back Benchers working on three proposals: first, to remove the backstop; secondly, to make the backstop time-limited; and thirdly, to give the UK the right to exit unilaterally. Which of these proposals is the Prime Minister negotiating for today: one, two or three?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

The right hon. Gentleman points out that, as I just said in my response to his question—he could have listened to that answer, but I am happy to repeat it—there are a number of ways in which it is possible to address the issue that has been raised by this House of Commons. Work is being undertaken on those various issues. On the alternative arrangements, for example, the Commission has raised questions, particularly about the extent to which derogation from European Union law would be necessary to put those in place, and there is concern about being able to achieve that if we are going to leave in time. Nevertheless, we have agreed that a workstream will go forward on those matters. We are also exploring the other issues, but the point is a very simple one. It is not just a question of saying to the European Union, “Actually, this is just the one thing.” It is a question of sitting down with the European Union and finding a solution that is going to deliver for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland, that is going to ensure that we deal with the concern that has been raised here in this House of Commons, and that is going to enable a deal to be brought back to this House of Commons that it can support so that we leave on 29 March with a deal.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:09 p.m.

Last week, a Foreign Office Minister said categorically:

“We are not leaving without a deal”,

but sadly he does not speak for the Government. The Prime Minister’s Business Minister says he is

“very conscious of the damage that not ruling out a hard Brexit is having on business and industry”.

People’s jobs and livelihoods are in the Prime Minister’s hands. Will she stop playing games with people’s jobs and make it very clear that no deal is absolutely ruled out?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:09 p.m.

People’s jobs and futures are in the hands of every Member of this House. Once again, the right hon. Gentleman could have listened to an answer I gave earlier, to the hon. Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty). There are only two ways to take no deal off the table: one is to back a deal, the other is to revoke article 50 and stay in the EU. The right hon. Gentleman has refused to back a deal, so the obvious conclusion is that he must want to revoke article 50. He can stand up now and tell us what his policy is—is it to back the deal or to stay in the EU?

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I did write the Prime Minister a very nice letter setting out our views. I am sure she received it and read it and I hope she will think on it.

It appears that the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) was right when he said last week that in the event that the Prime Minister’s deal does not succeed

“this Government…and this Prime Minister…would prefer to…head for the exit door without a deal”.—[Official Report, 14 February 2019; Vol. 654, c. 1108.]

He went on to say that it was “a terrifying fact”. Thousands of car workers in Derby, Sunderland, Birmingham and Swindon are facing redundancy. Does that matter to the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:11 p.m.

We have seen decisions taken by car manufacturers, and obviously Honda’s decision this week is deeply disappointing, but it has made it absolutely clear that this is not a Brexit-related decision, but a response to the change in the global car market. Of course jobs matter to the Government. If the right hon. Gentleman wants to talk about jobs, perhaps he would like to change the habit of a lifetime and stand up at that Dispatch Box and welcome the excellent job figures we have seen this week under this Government.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:12 p.m.

The Prime Minister does not seem very interested in listening to those companies and industry bodies that are saying they need a customs union. When she talks about jobs, will she also talk about those doing two or three jobs to make ends meet, those on zero-hours contracts, those so low paid they have to access food banks just to survive, and those suffering from in-work poverty—on her watch, under her Government.

Last year, investment in the car industry halved. Brexit uncertainty is already costing investment, and where investment is cut today, jobs are cut tomorrow. That uncertainty would not end even if the Prime Minister’s rejected deal somehow got through, because it promises only the certainty of a “spectrum” of possible outcomes. Will she see sense and offer business and workers the certainty of a customs union that could protect jobs and industry in this country?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

What the right hon. Gentleman will also have heard from car manufacturers is their support for the deal the Government negotiated with the EU. If he wants to talk about jobs, I am very happy to talk about jobs, because what do we see in the latest figures? We see employment at a record high and unemployment at its lowest since the 1970s; we see that 96% of the increase in employment in the last year has come from full-time work; we see youth unemployment almost halved since 2010, and female employment is at a record high. [Interruption.] It is all very well shouting from the Front Bench, but let us look at Labour’s record in government. [Interruption.]

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard

Let us look at Labour’s record in government on employment: unemployment rose by nearly half a million; female unemployment rose by 26%; youth unemployment rose by 44%; and the number of households where no one had ever worked nearly doubled. That is the record of a Labour Government under which working people pay the price of Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:14 p.m.

Child poverty halved under the Labour Government. We invested in Sure Start—in children’s centres—and a future for young people. The Prime Minister should get out a bit more and hear the anger of so many young people around this country at what they are suffering under her Government and on her watch.

The chair of the manufacturers’ organisation Make UK said yesterday:

“I am saddened by the way that some of our politicians have put selfish political ideology ahead of the national interest and people’s livelihoods and left us facing the catastrophic prospect of leaving the EU next month with no deal”.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the Food and Drink Federation, the National Farmers Union and the CBI all want a disastrous no deal ruled out. Along with the TUC, many also support the UK being in a permanent customs union.

There is a little over a month to go and the Government have failed to put the country first. There is the crisis of jobs going and industries under threat, and the Prime Minister indulges in what her own Business Minister calls “fanciful nonsense”. When is she going to put the interests of the people of this country before the interests of the Conservative party?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
20 Feb 2019, 12:16 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman has consistently put his party political interest ahead of the national interest. We can take no deal off the table by agreeing a deal, yet at every stage he has acted to frustrate a deal. He has acted to make no deal more likely, but that is not surprising from this Labour party. What do we see from his Labour party? Hamas and Hezbollah are friends, and Israel and the United States are enemies; Hatton a hero, and Churchill a villain. Attlee and Bevan will be spinning in their graves. That is what the right hon. Gentleman has done to a once-proud Labour party. We will never let him do it to our country.

See more like "Engagements"

Engagements
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Wednesday 13 February 2019

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:05 p.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this abhorrent practice and to recognise the importance of the first prosecution that took place on female genital mutilation here in the UK. It is only right that we find time for this Bill, and the Government will provide time to deliver it. We have strengthened the law on FGM, leading to that first conviction, and we are helping communities around the world to end this appalling crime, but it is important that we give time to this Bill and act further to ensure that we end what is an absolutely abhorrent crime that scars young girls for the rest of their lives both physically and mentally.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:06 p.m.

I am sure the Prime Minister and the whole House will join me in sending our deepest sympathies to the friends and family of the cadet who died at Sandhurst last week. I am sure the Ministry of Defence is supporting the family and fellow cadets at a difficult time, but I also hope it will be reviewing the mental health support it gives to all members of the armed forces at all times.

We also mourn the loss of Gordon Banks, and send our condolences to his friends and family and to the entire football community. He was one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, with 73 caps for England, including playing in every single game during the victorious 1966 World cup campaign, which I remember with joy.

I too want to thank Sir David Natzler for his work as Clerk of the House and wish him well in his retirement. He has been here even longer than I have and has always been a source of advice to all Members, irrespective of their party, and I always admire his dry wit and humour while describing the proceedings of the House. I think we owe him a big debt of gratitude.

The Government’s handling of Brexit has been costly, shambolic and deliberately evasive. Nothing symbolises that more than the fiasco of Seaborne Freight—a company with no ships and no trading history. On 8 January, the Transport Secretary told the House:

“We are confident that the firm will deliver the service.”—[Official Report, 8 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 193.]

What went wrong?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:07 p.m.

First, may I join the right hon. Gentleman in the remarks he made about the cadet at Sandhurst. He referenced the issue of mental health. This is an important issue overall, but it is obviously an important issue in our armed forces as well. I would like to pay tribute to the work of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Moor View (Johnny Mercer) for the work that he has done in relation to mental health in the armed forces.

I would also like to send my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Gordon Banks. Like the right hon. Gentleman, I am old enough to remember the 1966 World cup—

Break in Debate

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:08 p.m.

Let us be honest in this House; I think that is important.

From being part of that team to something else that I think people remember—the astonishing Pelé save in 1970—Gordon Banks was regarded as one of the world’s greatest goalkeepers. I also know that he did a lot of community work in his local area as well. I know Members from all parts of the House would like to join me in paying tribute to him.

As regards the freight capacity, the Government let three contracts: 90% of that was let to DFDS and Brittany Ferries. Those contracts remain in place, and that capacity has been obtained. Due diligence was carried out on all of these contracts. As the Secretary of State for Transport made clear in this House earlier this week, we will continue to ensure that we provide that capacity, which is important in a no-deal situation, and we will ensure the capacity is there.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:10 p.m.

The Transport Secretary told the House that the decision to award the contract to Seaborne Freight had no cost to the taxpayer. This week, the National Audit Office found that £800,000 had been spent on external consultants to assess the bid. Will the Prime Minister use this opportunity to correct the record?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I have to tell the right hon. Gentleman that he is a bit late to the party, because I was asked that question yesterday on the statement, I think from the SNP Benches. Labour following the SNP—well, whatever next? Of course, as I just said, when the contracts were all let, proper due diligence was carried out. That included third-party assessment of the companies that were bidding for the contracts. There would have been a cost attached to the process regardless of who the contracts were entered into with.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:10 p.m.

I am really impressed that the Prime Minister could keep a straight face while she said that due diligence was carried out. The Transport Secretary said that

“its business and operational plans were assessed for the Department by external advisers”.—[Official Report, 8 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 190.]

On the basis of that advice to his Department, he was told that Seaborne was a start-up company with no ships and that the contract was “high-risk”. Why, if he was told that it was high risk, did he proceed with the contract?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:11 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman appears to be suggesting that the Government should never look at start-up companies or at opportunities for new companies. It is entirely right that the Government ensured that the majority of the contracts went to established companies, and it is entirely right that a company on which due diligence had been carried out—[Interruption.] It is no good saying it wasn’t, because it was. We will ensure that the ferry capacity is there.

What we are doing in these contracts is ensuring that we are able to deal with the situation were we to enter into no deal. The right hon. Gentleman has said in the past that he does not want any money to be spent on no-deal preparations. He has also said that he does not want us to go into a no-deal situation. That is fine, but if he does not want us to be in a no-deal situation, he is going to have to vote for the deal.

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

To be fair to the advisers, it appears that they were instructed to restrict their due diligence to the face value of the presentation put to them by Seaborne Freight—a company that had no trading history. Looking at the directors of Seaborne, it appears that some of them would not have passed a due diligence test.

The Transport Secretary told the House:

“This procurement was done properly and in a way that conforms with Government rules.”—[Official Report, 8 January 2019; Vol. 652, c. 192.]

However, a freedom of information request reveals that the Secretary of State bypassed those rules, because the procurement assurance board—a senior panel of experts and lawyers—was denied the chance to scrutinise the deal. What action will the Prime Minister take over what appears to be a very clear breach of those rules?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The contract was awarded following commercial, technical and financial assurance at a level in line with the company’s status as a new entrant to the market, carried out not only by senior DFT officials but by third-party organisations with experience and expertise in this area, including Deloitte, Mott MacDonald, and Slaughter and May. It was designed in recognition of the risks posed: no money was paid to the contractor and no money would be paid until services were delivered. Therefore, no money has been paid to that contractor.

The right hon. Gentleman has stood here time and again and said that, actually, we should not be doing anything to prepare for no deal. It is entirely right and proper that this Government are taking the action necessary to ensure that, should we be in that no-deal situation—it is not our policy to have no deal; it is our policy to get a deal—we have the capacity we need, and that is exactly what we are doing.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:14 p.m.

Could I bring the Prime Minister back to the question of Seaborne ferries? Eurotunnel has called the ferry contract procurement a “secretive and flawed” exercise. Taxpayers now face a legal bill of nearly £1 million to contest that—the money goes up and up. The Secretary of State’s decision to award the contract to Seaborne has increased the budget deficit of Thanet Council, the owners of Ramsgate port, by nearly £2 million. When questioned by the hon. Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay), the Transport Secretary refused to give a guarantee. Can the Prime Minister today give a cast-iron commitment to the people of Thanet and confirm that they will not be picking up the bill for the failure of this contract?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:14 p.m.

The Department for Transport and other parts of the Government are in discussion with Thanet Council about the impact of the contract. I remind the right hon. Gentleman why the Department for Transport has taken these actions in relation to ferry capacity: to ensure that in a no-deal situation we are able to guarantee that medicines, primarily, will brought into this country. We are prioritising medicines being brought into this country. Again, that was a question I seem to remember being asked on more than one occasion yesterday by SNP Members who had an interest in that. The right hon. Gentleman does not seem to be interested in ensuring that we can, in a no-deal situation, provide the medicines that people in this country need. That is what we are doing. That is the sensible approach of a Government who are taking this matter seriously.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:16 p.m.

Maybe the Prime Minister should follow the advice of the House and take no deal off the table and negotiate seriously with the European Union. It cannot be right that a hard-pressed local council and local taxpayers are footing the bill for the incompetence of the Secretary of State for Transport and this Government.

The spectacular failure of this contract is a symptom of the utter shambles of this Government and their no-deal preparations. The Transport Secretary ignored warnings about drones and airport security; he gave a £1.4 billion contract to Carillion despite warnings about their finances; he oversaw the disastrous new rail timetable last year; and rail punctuality is at a 13-year low and fares at a record high—that is some achievement. And now the Transport Secretary is in charge of a major and vital aspect of Brexit planning. How on earth can the Prime Minister say she has confidence in the Transport Secretary?

The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
13 Feb 2019, 12:17 p.m.

Let me tell the right hon. Gentleman what the Transport Secretary is delivering: the biggest rail investment programme since the Victorian era, spending nearly £48 billion on improving our railways to deliver better journeys—20% higher on average every year than under a Labour Government. That is what the Transport Secretary is delivering: commitment to transport in this country and commitment to transport across the whole of this country.

I notice that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to focus his questions in that way, rather than asking more general questions in relation to Brexit. There are still a number of issues on Brexit where we do not know his answers to the big questions. We do not know if—[Interruption.] It is no good Labour Members burying their heads in their hands. We do not know whether their leader backs a second referendum. We do not know whether their leader backs a deal. We do not even know whether he backs Brexit. He prefers ambiguity and playing politics to acting in the national interest. People used to say he was a conviction politician—not any more.

See more like "Leaving the EU"

Leaving the EU
Debate between Mrs Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn
Tuesday 12 February 2019

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Read Full debate
Commons Chamber
Cabinet Office
The Prime Minister - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:45 p.m.

First, I would gently point out that the House of Commons has already voted against that, and in any case membership of the customs union would be a less desirable outcome than that which is provided for in the political declaration. That would deliver no tariffs, fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all sectors, and no checks on rules of origin. But crucially it would also provide for the development of an independent trade policy for the UK that would allow us to strike our own trade deals around the world, something the Labour party once supported.

On Thursday, as I promised in the House last month, we will bring forward an amendable motion. This will seek to reaffirm the support of the House for the amended motion from 29 January—namely to support the Government in seeking changes to the backstop and to recognise that negotiations are ongoing. Having secured an agreement with the European Union for further talks, we now need some time to complete that process. When we achieve the progress we need, we will bring forward another meaningful vote, but if the Government have not secured a majority in this House in favour of a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration, the Government will make a statement on Tuesday 26 February and table an amendable motion relating to the statement, and a Minister will move that motion on Wednesday 27 February, thereby enabling the House to vote on it, and on any amendments to it, on that day. As well as making clear what is needed to change in the withdrawal agreement, the House has also reconfirmed its view that it does not want to leave the EU without a deal. The Government agree, but opposing no deal is not enough to stop it. We must agree a deal that this House can support, and that is what I am working to achieve.

I have spoken before about the damage that would be done to public faith in our democracy if this House were to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum. In Northern Ireland last week, I heard again the importance of securing a withdrawal agreement that works for all the people of this United Kingdom. In Belfast I met not just politicians but leaders of civil society and businesses from across the community. Following this House’s rejection of the withdrawal agreement, many people in Northern Ireland are worried about what the current uncertainty will mean for them. In this House we often focus on the practical challenges posed by the border in Northern Ireland, but for many people in Northern Ireland, what looms larger is the fear that the seamless border between Ireland and Northern Ireland that helped to make the progress that has followed the Belfast agreement possible might be disrupted. We must not let that happen, and we shall not let that happen.

The talks are at a crucial stage, and we now all need to hold our nerve to get the changes that this House requires and to deliver Brexit on time. By getting the changes we need to the backstop, by protecting and enhancing workers’ rights and environmental protections and by enhancing the role of Parliament in the next phase of negotiations, I believe we can reach a deal that this House can support. We can deliver for the people and the communities that voted for change two and half years ago and whose voices for too long have not been heard. We can honour the result of the referendum, and we can set this country on course for the bright future that every part of this United Kingdom deserves. That is this Government’s mission, and we shall not stint in our efforts to fulfil it. I commend this statement to the House.

Jeremy Corbyn Portrait Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Feb 2019, 12:47 p.m.

I usually thank the Prime Minister for giving me an advance copy of her statements, but this one was handed to me just as I was leaving my office to come down here, so I can only assume that she entrusted it to the Transport Secretary to deliver it to me.

Our country is facing the biggest crisis in a generation, yet the Prime Minister continues to recklessly run down the clock. We were promised that there would be a deal last October; it did not happen. We were promised a meaningful vote on a deal in December; it did not happen. We were told to prepare for a further meaningful vote this week, after the Prime Minister had again promised to secure significant and legally binding changes to the backstop; that has not happened. Now the Prime Minister comes before the House with more excuses and more delays.

In her statement, the Prime Minister has failed to answer even the most basic questions. What progress has she made on identifying and working up the alternative arrangements? Have they been presented to the European Union? If not, when will they be presented? Will she set them out before this House and ask for its approval of them? In truth, it