All 130 Debates between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson

Wed 25th May 2022
Thu 24th Feb 2022
Tue 22nd Feb 2022
Tue 25th Jan 2022
Wed 19th Jan 2022
Mon 15th Nov 2021
Thu 16th Sep 2021
Mon 6th Sep 2021
Wed 18th Aug 2021
Thu 8th Jul 2021
Wed 6th Jan 2021
Wed 30th Dec 2020
European Union (Future Relationship) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading & 2nd reading & 2nd reading: House of Commons & 2nd reading
Mon 12th Oct 2020
Tue 22nd Sep 2020
Tue 23rd Jun 2020
Tue 22nd Oct 2019
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Commons Chamber

2nd reading: House of Commons & Programme motion: House of Commons
Tue 3rd Sep 2019

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 20th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, may I join you in wishing all the best, at his impending retirement, to—James Mackay and Beth, who are here. He has been a friend to many of us across the House, and we congratulate him on his service. I also join the Prime Minister in congratulating Jake Wightman on his success overnight in winning the 1,500 metres at the world athletics championships. What a fantastic achievement.

This week has seen historic records set across the United Kingdom, but let us look at the Prime Minister’s record-breaking efforts in office. His Tory Brexit slashed £31 billion from the economy—the biggest fall in living standards since the 1970s. People’s pay in real terms is falling at the fastest rate on record, and we have the worst economic growth forecast in the G20 outside Russia, and the highest inflation in 40 years.

Personally, I would like to thank the Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for the Union, for driving support for independence to new heights. Westminster is holding Scotland back. The economy is failing, and this Prime Minister has driven us to the brink of a recession. Has not the Prime Minister’s legacy of catastrophic mismanagement paved the way for the end of the Union?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

That is not what I observe. The right hon. Gentleman talks about records; I point to the fastest vaccine roll-out in Europe, the lowest unemployment for at or near 50 years as I have said, the lowest youth unemployment, and the fastest growth in the G7 last year, in spite of everything. As for the Scottish nationalists’ record, look at where they are. I am afraid to say that Scottish school standards are not what they should be, because of the failure of the SNP. It is failing people who are tragically addicted to drugs in Scotland, and the people of Scotland are facing another £900 million in tax because of the mismanagement of the SNP.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

The Prime Minister might believe that nonsense, but the people of Scotland do not. They know the reality—that our NHS is the best-performing in the United Kingdom, and education standards under the SNP are moving in the right direction. [Interruption.] That is a good look, to the people of Scotland—the disdain that the Tories show for our country.

I hope that the Prime Minister will, with all his newly gained spare time, reflect on his conduct in office, and I genuinely hope that he finds some peace of mind. The fact is that as a well as being a record-breaker, the Prime Minister is a rule-breaker—illegally shutting down Parliament, partying through the pandemic, handing out PPE contracts to cronies, and unilaterally changing the ministerial code. Let us not forget that the Prime Minister is still under investigation because he cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Shameful, disgraceful, and a complete waste of Scotland’s time—that is how the people of Scotland will remember this Prime Minister. Should not the Prime Minister and his Government have had their last day a long time ago? Quite simply, Downing Street is no place for a law-breaker.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On the personal abuse stuff, I think the right hon. Gentleman is talking a load of tosh, but when he has retired to his croft—which may be all too soon—I hope that he will reflect on his long-running campaign to break up the greatest country in the world. I hope that he will reflect on the pointlessness of what he is trying to do, and think instead about the priorities of the people of Scotland, which are all the issues that he thought were trivial: education, crime, and the burden of taxation that the SNP is unnecessarily placing on the people of Scotland.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 13th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his campaign. Our thoughts are of course with the friends and family of Pitchfork’s victims, Lynda and Dawn. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Esher and Walton (Dominic Raab), will be submitting his views on the Pitchfork case to the Parole Board before Pitchfork’s hearing. As the House will know, a root-and-branch review of the parole system is currently under way, and that includes plans for greater ministerial oversight for the most serious offenders. We will bring that forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister on the murder of Shinzo Abe—a dreadful event that took place last weekend.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for last night hosting the charity Remembering Srebrenica. We should all take time this week, on the 27th anniversary of the genocide that took place there, to think of the circumstances, and the shame that we were not able to step in and stop the murder of so many innocent boys and men, and the rape of so many women. We must learn the lessons from that—of course, at this time we think very much of those in Ukraine who are facing a war criminal—and make sure that those responsible are ultimately held to account for crimes against humanity.

The Tory leadership contest is quickly descending into a toxic race to the right, and it is clear that whoever wins that race, Scotland loses. The former Chancellor has pledged to govern like Margaret Thatcher; the current Chancellor is threatening 20% cuts to the NHS and public services; and they are all trying to outdo each other on an extreme Brexit that will cost the economy billions. Is the real reason the Prime Minister will not endorse any of these awful candidates that whoever becomes the next Tory leader will make Genghis Khan look like a moderate?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I feel a real twinge that this may be virtually the last time that I will have the opportunity to answer a question from the right hon. Gentleman— whether it is because he is going or because I am going, I do not know. All I would say to him is that the next leader of my party will want to ensure that we do everything we can to work with the Scottish Government—in the way that I have been able to do, and am proud to have done, over the last few years—to protect and secure our Union. My strong view, having listened to the right hon. Gentleman carefully for years and years, is that we are much, much better together.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I can say with all sincerity that I hope that whoever is the next Tory leader will be as popular in Scotland as the Prime Minister has been.

For people in Scotland, Westminster has never looked so out of touch. We have right-wing Tory contenders prioritising tax cuts for the rich, and a zombie UK Government failing to tackle the cost of living crisis. While the Tories are busy tearing lumps out of each other, MoneySavingExpert’s Martin Lewis has warned that the energy price cap could rise by a sickening 65% in October—to £3,244 a year. After a decade of Tory cuts and Brexit price rises, that will mean that many families simply cannot afford to put food on the table and heat their homes. Scotland literally cannot afford the cost of living with Westminster. Does the Prime Minister not get that people in Scotland do not just want rid of him—they want rid of the whole rotten Westminster system?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What is actually happening in this country is that we are using the fiscal firepower that we have built up to cut taxes for working people and cut taxes for those on low incomes—we saw that last week with an average tax cut on national insurance of £330. We are increasing support for those vulnerable households, with another £326 going in from tomorrow. It is thanks to our Union that we were able to deliver the furlough scheme, which helped the entire country, and to make the massive transfers that boost the whole of the UK economy. The last thing that the people of Scotland need now is more constitutional wrangling when we need to fix the economy.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 6th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I give every best wish to the England and Northern Ireland ladies’ football teams as they approach the Euro championship? There is nothing better than seeing your team in the final.

We commemorate the passing of Terrence Higgins 40 years ago, and of all those who have died from AIDS since then. I am sure that the whole House will also want to join me in passing condolences to the family and friends of the Scottish football goalkeeping legend, Andy Goram, who sadly passed last weekend, far too early. He will long live in memory as the best goalkeeper that many of us have seen.

It is easy to forget that only 10 days ago the Prime Minister was dreaming of a third term. It is often said that a week is a long time in politics, but it turns out that 10 days is truly a lifetime. Let us face it: it is a minor miracle that the Prime Minister has even made it through to Prime Minister’s questions. He really ought to see the faces behind him. Prime Minister, it really is over.

The Prime Minister is desperately clinging on to his own fantasy, but the public cannot afford to put up with this farce of a Government a minute longer. Today we should be talking about the Tory cost of living crisis, soaring inflation and the growing costs of Brexit, but instead it is always about him. How many more Ministers need to quit before he finally picks up his pen and writes his own resignation letter? Perhaps that is what he is doing now.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Actually, I was just jotting down some notes about the right hon. Gentleman’s question, which I thought was excellent when he was talking about the economy, because that is the issue that the country faces. That is where this Government are introducing, I think, the most important decisions—helping families up and down the country, with £1,200 going into their bank accounts right now; cutting taxes for 30 million people, with a £330 tax cut; and helping half a million people into work, through the Way to Work scheme. That is a fantastic thing to be getting on and doing. That is the priority of this Government, and that is what I am going to focus on. I am glad he likes it.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My goodness! Nothing to see, we should all move on—if we live in the world of the Prime Minister.

A few weeks ago, I compared the Prime Minister to Monty Python’s black knight. It turns out that I was wrong: he is actually the dead parrot. Whether he knows it or not, he is now an ex-Prime Minister, but he will leave behind two deeply damaging legacies. I hope that the dishonesty of his leadership will follow him out of the Downing Street door, but the other legacy is Brexit—and that will stay, because I am sad to say that the Labour party now fully supports it.

Scotland wants a different future, not just a different Prime Minister, so if the Prime Minister will not resign, will he call a general election and allow Scotland the choice of an independent future, free from the control of Westminster?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I noticed that the right hon. Gentleman’s remark that the Labour party had given up on returning to the European Union was not greeted with rapture by the Opposition. That was because it is not true: they want to go back in, just as he does. I think that that is a terrible mistake. It would be undemocratic. As for the referendum that the right hon. Gentleman wants, we had one of them—as I have told him before—in 2014.

CHOGM, G7 and NATO Summits

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Monday 4th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend particularly for his point about grain exports. As he knows, the work is being led by UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The UK is doing a huge amount to support but, as I have told the House before, we may have to prepare for a solution that does not depend on Russian consent, because that may not be forthcoming.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of his statement, and welcome him back from his travels around Africa and Europe. It is perhaps worth reiterating the support of all of us in this House for President Zelensky and Ukraine in their struggle against the war criminal Putin.

The scale and depth of the challenge facing our global community are self-evident: war in Europe, the return of soaring inflation, rising interest rates, and a cost of living crisis that is punishing people in the pocket. We are faced not just with one crisis; this is an accumulation of crises that needs, deserves and demands a collective response. At moments like this, solutions can only come from a co-ordinated effort. Efforts during the 2007 financial crisis and the co-ordination during covid demonstrate just that right across the world, and none of us should be in any doubt that the crisis that we are now in is every bit as severe, steep and deep as anything we faced at the time of the financial crisis.

I regret to say that so far the collective effort—that sense of urgency—has been badly lacking, particularly from organisations such as the G7. The response has been far too slow and far too small. Prime Minister, it is obvious that the G7 outcomes are nowhere near enough to combat the cost of living crisis that we now face. When can the public expect some leadership and action? When will we see a coherent, co-ordinated and credible plan to increase energy supply, cap prices and drive investment to the global economy before recession becomes inevitable, or is the plan really to delay until the winter, when things will only get worse? Leadership now, in responding to supply shocks, will allow us to fight inflation. A failure to take appropriate action will expose us all to longer-lasting inflationary risks.

On Ukraine, can the Prime Minister go a little further and give us the outlook regarding what we will do to ensure that we can get grain out of Ukrainian ports? Four hundred million people worldwide rely on Ukrainian food supplies. This is now about stopping not just war, but famine.

I am sure the Prime Minister will agree that all these global efforts will work only if there is trust between global leaders. Can the Prime Minister therefore explain, in this moment of many crises, how breaking international law and threatening to start a trade war with our neighbours helps anyone?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman should look more carefully at what the G7 produced in terms of the plan to cap prices for oil and gas and particularly to try to stop Putin profiteering, as he currently is, from his illegal war. There is a plan. I will not pretend that it is going to be easy, but we are doing as much as we can. We are certainly taking a lot of other action, for instance, to help countries around the world with access to the fertiliser they need. He is right to raise the issue of the 25 million tonnes of grain currently held hostage in Odesa. There is a plan to get that out. It is not easy. If he looks at the numbers, though, he will see that we are gradually getting more grain out of those Ukrainian silos and into Europe and into Africa, and we will continue to do that.

As for the right hon. Gentleman’s final point about the UK and the so-called breach of international law, I repeat what I said to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition: what the countries around the world see is the UK offering consistent leadership in the matter of standing up for the rule of law and standing up against Putin’s aggression. I promise him—that is what has been raised with me in the past 10 days.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 22nd June 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Labour party as we mark Armed Services Week? We thank all our service personnel for the services that they give.

On Windrush Day, we celebrate all those who have made Scotland and the UK their home. My party backs calls for a major commemoration for the 75th anniversary next year so we can properly mark the valued contribution that those who came here have made.

This morning, it was revealed that UK inflation is now at a 40-year high. Families right across these islands are seeing their incomes squeezed as prices rise, bills soar, and Tory cuts and tax hikes hammer home. After 12 years in government, the Tories have left the UK economy in the doldrums and pushed millions of people into poverty, so can I ask the Prime Minister: does he think his Government bear any blame for the fact that the United Kingdom is doing so much worse than our European neighbours?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Actually, as I think the whole House knows and the whole country knows, we have a global inflationary problem, but this Government have the fiscal firepower to deal with it. That is, I think, of benefit to the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, as we have seen throughout the pandemic, and I think it is a matter of fact that taxes are actually highest of all in Scotland.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Well, actually, that is not true. Of course, the Prime Minister can make all the excuses he likes, but the fact is that the UK economy is lagging behind on his watch. If he looks at France, inflation is less than 6% there. This morning’s report from the Resolution Foundation and the London School of Economics is the latest in a string of devastating reports on the outlook for the UK economy. The report could not be clearer. The Tory Government’s disastrous Brexit is driving wages down, pushing inflation up and will make us poorer over the next decade, but instead of reversing course, the Prime Minister is recklessly threatening a trade war at the worst possible time. Will he finally come to his senses and negotiate an economic agreement with the EU, or is he going to wilfully—wilfully—push the UK into recession?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, of course. We have 6,000 more doctors, 1,200 more GPs than this time last year and 11,800 more nurses, but we must make sure that areas with sensitive new development have the infrastructure and services, particularly medical services, that they need. The NHS has a statutory duty to take account of population growth. I know my hon. Friend has met my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary, and I will take this up personally to make sure we get a proper approach to this very important issue.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I join you and others, Mr Speaker, in remembering the Falklands conflict of 40 years ago and those like my colleague Keith Brown, the Scottish Justice Minister, who served there. In particular, our thoughts are with those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Yesterday our First Minister started a national conversation on Scotland’s right to choose an independent future. When we look at nations like Iceland, Ireland, Norway and Denmark, it is clear that our neighbours are outperforming the United Kingdom. They deliver greater income equality, lower poverty rates and higher productivity, social mobility and business investment—the list goes on and on. The evidence is overwhelming: Scotland is being held back by Westminster.

Prime Minister, all those countries can use their powers of independence to create wealthier, fairer and greener societies. Why not Scotland?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I do not doubt the right hon. Gentleman’s talents as a conversationalist, but I think there are other subjects in the national conversation right now, including what we are doing to come through the aftershocks of covid with the strongest jobs-led recovery of any European economy. As I said, 620,000 more people across the whole UK are in payroll employment than before the pandemic began.

Another subject of national conversation is investment in our whole country. In Scotland and across the whole UK, as I mentioned, there is great investment in the tech sector, and the whole UK is standing strong together on the international stage and sticking up for the Ukrainians. Those are some of the things the country is also talking about.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

Stronger together? Has the Prime Minister seen the pound? I think the financial markets have made their judgment on this Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister can afford to live in his own little world, his own little Britain, but people have to live with the reality of a failing Westminster system: a cost of living crisis that is worse in the UK than in any other G7 country; an inflation rate double that of France; the second worst economic growth forecast in the G20, behind only sanctioned Russia; and now the threat of a trade war with our European friends, triggered by a lawbreaking Prime Minister. That is not a vision for the future of Scotland.

Our nation is big enough, rich enough and smart enough. Is it not the case that Scotland simply cannot afford to remain trapped in the failing Westminster system? Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the figures speak for themselves. The UK has record numbers of people in payroll employment. That is an astounding thing, when we consider where we were during the pandemic. That was because of the UK working well together, as the right hon. Gentleman will remember, on the vaccine roll-out and on the testing, on which Scotland and the rest of the country co-operated brilliantly.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about a trade war. What could be more foolish than a project that actually envisages trade barriers within parts of the United Kingdom? That is what we are trying to break down.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 8th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in supporting our carers?

Week after week, when I have called on this Prime Minister to resign I have been met with a wall of noise from the Tory Benches. I thought that they were trying to shout me down—[Interruption]—but all this time it turns out that 41% of them have been cheering me on! Let us be clear. At least the numbers do not lie: 41% of his own MPs have no confidence in him, 66% of MPs across the House do not support him, and 97% of Scottish MPs want the Minister for the Union shown the door. We now have a lame duck Prime Minister presiding over a divided party and a disunited kingdom. How does the Prime Minister expect to continue when even Unionist leaders in Scotland will not back him?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his characteristically warm words. And actually, the biggest and most powerful and effective advocate of the United Kingdom over my time has been that man there. I do not know how long he is going to last as leader of the SNP here, but long may he rest in place. He is the Araldite that is keeping our kingdom together, and I thank him for what he is doing. [Hon. Members: “More!”]

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I can say to the Prime Minister that I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with our First Minister as we take our country to independence.

The Prime Minister is acting like Monty Python’s black knight, running around declaring, “It’s just a flesh wound!” No amount of delusion and denial will save the Prime Minister from the truth. This story will not go away until he goes away. For once in his life, he needs to wake up to reality. Prime Minister, it’s over, it’s done.

The Prime Minister has no options left, but Scotland does. Scotland has the choice of an independent future. It is not just the Prime Minister that we have zero confidence in, but the broken Westminster system that puts a man like him in power. Can the Prime Minister tell us how it is democratic that Scotland is stuck with a Prime Minister we do not trust, a Conservative party we do not support, and Tory Governments we have not voted for since 1955?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We had a referendum, as I have told the House before, in 2014, and I think that the right hon. Gentleman should respect the mandate of the people. He keeps saying that he wants independence for his country. Our country is independent—though the Leader of the Opposition tried 48 times to reverse it —and the only way that independence would ever be reversed is if we had the disaster of a Labour-SNP coalition to take us back into the EU.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 25th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I want to join others today in expressing my deepest sorrow at the horrific events in Texas yesterday. Some 19 children and two teachers have needlessly lost their lives. Many of us in Scotland will be remembering the tragic events that took place in Dunblane 26 years ago. The thoughts and prayers of the SNP are with the families suffering today, but we also hope that lawmakers will finally act to bring to an end the scourge of gun violence that plagues the United States.

The reports of the Prime Minister’s and Downing Street’s lawbreaking have been damning: empty bottles littering offices; rooms so crowded people were sitting on each other’s laps; and security forced to intervene because parties were so outrageous. At the centre was the Prime Minister orchestrating it and grabbing a glass for himself to toast the partygoers. For eight months, we have heard every excuse under the sun, but now we have all seen the damning photo evidence. While people stayed at home to protect the NHS, the Prime Minister was engaging in drinking and debauchery that makes a mockery of the gut-wrenching sacrifices that each and every person made. Will the Prime Minister now take the opportunity and resign?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that, much as I appreciate his advice, he will have a further opportunity, which I am sure he will take with his customary length, to debate that matter in the course of the statement that will follow directly after PMQs.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

These are serious matters, but it is all a joke to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has lost the trust of the public. He has lost what little moral authority he had left. The Prime Minister has apologised many times, but not because he feels any genuine remorse. He still refuses to even admit that there were parties and that he presided over them. He apologised for one simple reason: he got caught. The reality is that no apology will ever be enough for the families of people who lost loved ones—the families who followed the rules, who stayed at home while their nearest and dearest were dying, and who are now forced to look at photographs of the Prime Minister, surrounded by drink, toasting to a party in the middle of a lockdown.

If the Prime Minister will not accept that he must resign, those on the Tory Benches must act. This Prime Minister, who has broken the law and shown a cavalier attitude to the truth, cannot be allowed to remain in office. Time is up, Prime Minister. Resign! Resign before this House is forced to remove you!

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much, and I direct him to the report. I think it would be to his advantage to look through it and then I think we should return to it after PMQs.

Sue Gray Report

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 25th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

As I speak, the public are poring over the sordid detail of what went on—out of the public eye, behind the high gates and walls of the Prime Minister’s residence. The report is damning. It concludes that many gatherings and many individuals did not adhere to covid guidance; that

“events…were attended by leaders in government”

and

“should not have been allowed to happen”;

that

“junior civil servants believed that their involvement…was permitted given the attendance of senior leaders”;

that there was an “unacceptable”

“lack of respect and poor treatment of security and cleaning staff”;

and, crucially, that:

“The senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear responsibility for this culture.”

That leadership came from the top, and the Prime Minister—in the words of the report—must bear responsibility for the culture. A fish rots from the head.

The Prime Minister’s Dispatch Box denial of a party taking place on 13 November is now proven to be untrue. He was there on 13 November, photographed, raising a toast, surrounded by gin, wine, and other revellers. The charge of misleading Parliament is a resignation matter; will the Prime Minister now finally resign?

This Prime Minister has adopted a systematic, concerted and sinister pattern of evasion. Truthfulness, honesty and transparency do not enter his vocabulary. That is just not part of his way of being, and it speaks for the type of man that he is. Credibility, truth and morality all matter, and the Prime Minister has been found lacking, time and again.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The Prime Minister can shake his head, but that is the reality. Ethics have to be part of our public life, and ethical behaviour has to be at the core of the demeanour and the response of any Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister brings shame on the office, and has displayed contempt, not only to the Members of this House but to every single person who followed the rules —those who stayed away from family, those who missed funerals, those who lost someone they loved. So I hope that when Tory Members retire to the 1922 Committee this evening, they will bear in mind the now infamous Government advertisement featuring a desperately ill covid patient. It says:

“Look her in the eyes and tell her you never bend the rules.”

If those Tory Members do not submit a letter—if they do not remove this Prime Minister—how will they ever look their constituents in the eye again?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think that the right hon. Gentleman should look closely at Sue Gray’s report, and I repeat my thanks to her. I stress that the nature and length of my involvement in these events is very clear from what she says, and I take full responsibility for what happened. That is why we have taken the steps that we have to reform and improve the way in which No. 10 works. We are humbled by what has happened, and we have changed it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 18th May 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is a fantastic campaigner for her constituency, as I discovered just the other day. We are recruiting more police officers: 300 more in Lancashire and 13,576 more across the whole of the country. I would of course be happy to arrange the relevant meeting so that we can continue to drive neighbourhood crime—which is already down 33%—down even further.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

I am sure the whole House will want to join me in wishing Glasgow Rangers Football Club all the best in the final tonight. It is always a joy to see Scottish clubs get to the finals of European competitions.

People did not need to see this morning’s official statistics to know that we are experiencing the highest inflation in 40 years. They know it because they are living with it. Families cannot afford food; they cannot pay their bills—and we are only at the beginning. As always, under the Tories, the poorest are punished the most. For months, people have been crying out for support, but, month after month, a distracted Downing Street has failed to lift a finger to help. Does the Prime Minister still support his Chancellor’s insulting statement that acting now in this cost of living emergency would just be “silly”?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I support the Chancellor’s work in lifting the living wage by a record amount, in making sure that people on universal credit pay £1,000 less in tax, in putting another £22 billion into supporting people with the cost of living, and in giving £9.1 billion already to help with the cost of energy. Above all, I support what he has done to deliver a strong economic foundation that makes all that possible.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My goodness, talk about an Aesop’s fable! Every day that this Prime Minister remains out of touch, people remain out of pocket. By the way, Prime Minister, £20 a week was taken out of people’s universal credit.

The Prime Minister has just confirmed that he does think it would be “silly” to intervene. The Tories’ only response to this cost of living crisis has been insults and inaction. We have the Tory Back Bencher who thinks that poor people just need cooking lessons, the Tory Minister who thinks that people should just get a “better paid job”, and the Chancellor who thinks it would be “silly” to act now. This is the cost of living crisis from Westminster. For weeks, the Prime Minister has been briefing that it is the Treasury that is to blame for blocking financial support for struggling families. Well, Prime Minister, it is time to stop sniping from the sidelines. If this Chancellor will not deliver an emergency budget, it is time for the Prime Minister to sack the Treasury, to sack the Chancellor, and to put somebody else in office who will act.

Debate on the Address

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Tuesday 10th May 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

We have been short-changed by not getting carbon capture and storage in Scotland. Twice now we have been promised that it is coming, but we all know in Scotland that getting carbon capture and storage in the north-east of Scotland with the Acorn project is instrumental in getting to net zero by 2045. It is instrumental in ensuring that Grangemouth has a green chemical future. There can be no more dithering—there can be no more delay. The Acorn project must be greenlit, and it must be greenlit now.

I say to the hon. Gentleman that yes, we will spell out exactly the plan for that £500 million transition fund. I say to the House now that, together with my hon. Friends the Members for Kilmarnock and Loudoun and for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn), we will be speaking more on Scotland’s future energy potential. We on these Benches will accept our responsibilities to deliver that energy strategy and the industrial policy that is lacking from those on the Government Front Bench.

I have concentrated on how the proposed legislation in the Queen’s Speech fails to tackle the cost of living crisis and our green future, but what it will enact is every bit as harmful. At the heart of this Session’s programme there is a twin attack that must be challenged: an attack on devolution and an attack on human rights law.

As the Prime Minister gets increasingly vulnerable and desperate, it is probably no surprise that he has reached back to the policy that got him the job in the first place—Brexit. The Brexit freedoms Bill to repeal EU-retained law and the other Brexit legislation in his Queen’s Speech represent a race to the bottom on standards. As for the idea that Westminster will be able to strike down devolved legislatures’ retained EU laws, that would be only the latest in a long line of Tory power grabs.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

indicated dissent.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

The Prime Minister shakes his head, but that is the reality—we have seen it over the course of the past few years. The Scottish Parliament has the right to retain EU law because we have the opportunity and the right to find our way back into the European Union. We will not be denied the right to retain EU law, and we will not be denied the right to an independent future in Europe—and the same applies to our human rights laws. This UK Government propose ripping up the Human Rights Act 1998. That is one more example of a Government who are prepared to force through legislation that is not only immoral but internationally illegal. That attack on human rights legislation is all the more concerning in the context of the continuing failure to respond compassionately and comprehensively to the ongoing Ukrainian refugee crisis, not to mention the anti-refugee Bill that was passed in the previous Session. The agenda of this Westminster Government could not be clearer—a hostile environment for devolution, for human rights law and for refugees—and that agenda continues apace in the Queen’s Speech.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 27th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition about the absolutely disgusting misogyny and sexism witnessed by the deputy leader of the Labour party? What has happened over the past few days should shame us all.

This morning, the Trussell Trust confirmed that 830,000 children across the UK are being left to depend on emergency food parcels. Instead of convening a Tory talking shop at Cabinet, the Prime Minister should be acting to help those children and help families through the cost of living emergency. If he is genuinely looking for ideas to tackle this Tory-made crisis, he would be wiser to look beyond his Cabinet colleagues, who, of course, know that he will not be there for very much longer.

As a parting gift, here is an idea for the Prime Minister. The Scottish Government have introduced, and now doubled, the game-changing Scottish child payment of at least £1,040 a year, helping those families who are being hit the hardest. Is the Prime Minister prepared to match that payment across the UK to help families through this emergency?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course it is important to do everything we can to help families in a tough time. That is why we have massively increased the funds available to local councils to support families facing particular hardship. The holiday activities fund, now running at £200 million, is there as well. We will do everything we can to support families throughout this period when we are dealing with the aftershocks of the covid pandemic. If I may say so—the right hon. Gentleman may not appreciate my pointing it out, but it is true—I think that this is another example of the vital strength of our economic union, and of the importance of support from the UK Treasury, which is what he gets.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My goodness! We have children facing poverty, and the Scottish Government are responding with the child payment—by the way, it will increase again later this year—but we get nothing but empty words from the Prime Minister. We heard plenty of desperate pre-election waffle, but I will take it as a no: there is no support for hard-pressed families. It is clearer by the day that the Prime Minister’s supposed plan to fight the Tory-made cost of living crisis is not only non-fiscal, but non-existent.

I will try again. Here are three other ideas for the Prime Minister that would help families with their soaring costs right now: scrapping his national insurance tax hike, reversing the Tory cuts to universal credit and matching Scotland’s 6% benefits rise instead of imposing a real-terms cut. Those are three things that would make a difference to millions of people. Has the Prime Minister come to terms with the reality that if he fails to act now, the voters will send him and his sleaze-ridden party a message by voting SNP next Thursday?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are helping families up and down the country with the universal credit taper. The right hon. Gentleman asks about universal credit; we are tapering it so that working people get another £1,000 in their pocket. We are helping families in the way that I have described, and I remind the House that under this Government there are now far fewer children in workless households than there were before this Government came in. That is because we believe in championing work, championing employment and helping people into high-wage, high-skill jobs. That is what counts—and as for our respective political longevities, I would not like to bet on him outlasting me.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 20th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I join the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in wishing Her Majesty the Queen best wishes for her birthday tomorrow?

Last night, the Prime Minister may have convinced his Back Benchers and his spineless Scottish Tories to keep him in place for another few weeks, but the public are not so easily fooled. Eighty-two per cent. of people in Scotland said that they believed the Prime Minister lied to this Parliament, and to the public, about his law-breaking covid parties. Are they right, or should they not believe their lying eyes?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. We had a long conversation about this yesterday. I understand the point of his question, but we are going to get on with the job of delivering for the people of the whole United Kingdom.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

If the Prime Minister wants to get on, he should be offering his resignation to the Queen before her birthday. No Government can be led by a Prime Minister who is in a constant state of crisis to save his own skin. What is worse, the UK Government are now led by a tag team of scandal—a Prime Minister who cannot be trusted with the truth and a Chancellor who cannot be trusted with his taxes. Everyone knows that this Prime Minister is on borrowed time until the Tory Back Benchers count the cost of their council election defeat. In the meantime, families are counting the cost of a Tory-made cost of living crisis every day. After yesterday’s farce, is it not finally time for him to accept that neither his party nor the public can afford to keep him around as Prime Minister for one minute longer?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If that were true, I do not think the right hon. Gentleman would be calling for my resignation. We are going to get on with the job in hand, and that is to deliver for the people of this country. By the way, he has not answered the point I made yesterday, which is that I think it is incredible that at a time when we need to stand up to aggression from Vladimir Putin, it is still the policy of the Scottish nationalist party to get rid of this country’s unilateral defence.

Easter Recess: Government Update

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Tuesday 19th April 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Let us remind ourselves that, on 8 December 2021, the Prime Minister denied that any parties happened at No. 10 Downing Street—the very same parties that the police have now fined him for attending. People know by now that the rules of this House prevent me from saying that he deliberately and wilfully misled the House, but maybe today that matters little, because the public have already made up their mind.

YouGov polling shows that 75% of the British public, and 82% of people in Scotland, have made up their mind on the Prime Minister. The public know the difference between the truth and lying, and they know that the Prime Minister is apologising for one reason, and one reason only, and it is the only reason he ever apologises: because he has been caught. After months of denials, his excuses have finally run out of road, and so must his time in office. The Prime Minister has broken the very laws he wrote. His trying to argue that he did not know that he had broken his own laws would be laughable if it were not so serious. Prime Minister, you cannot hide behind advisers. He knows, we know and the dogs in the street know that the Prime Minister has broken the law. This is the first Prime Minister to be officially found to have broken the law in office—a lawbreaking Prime Minister. Just dwell on that: a Prime Minister who has broken the law and who remains under investigation for additional lawbreaking—not just a lawbreaker but a serial offender. If he has any decency, any dignity, he would not just apologise but resign.

The scale and the seriousness of the issues we all now face demand effective leadership from a Prime Minister who can be trusted. The Tory cost of living crisis and the war crimes being inflicted on the Ukrainian people need our full focus. In a time of crisis, the very least the public deserve is a Prime Minister they can trust to tell the truth. For this Prime Minister, that trust is broken and can never be fixed. The truth is that a majority of people across these islands will never against trust a single word he says.

The questions today are not so much for a Prime Minister desperately clinging on to power. The real question is for Tory Back Benchers: will they finally grow a spine and remove this person from office? Or is the Tory strategy about standing behind a Prime Minister whom the public cannot trust with the truth?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I direct the right hon. Gentleman to what I said earlier, when I apologised profusely for my mistake and for what I got wrong. I repeat that.

The right hon. Gentleman asks whether this Government are capable of providing effective leadership, during the current crisis, in standing up to Russia, and I remind him that it is still the policy of the Scottish National party to dispense with this country’s independent nuclear deterrent at a particularly crucial time. I do not think that is what this country needs right now.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 30th March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

They shout and scream when we are raising the Tory cost of living crisis. We all know that the Tories partied during lockdown and now they are partying through the cost of living emergency.

Last week the Chancellor got it badly, badly wrong with the spring statement, and ever since the Prime Minister has been busy briefing against him, saying that more needs to be done. For once I agree with the Prime Minister. So if he really believes that more needs to be done, can he tell us exactly what he will order his Chancellor to do to help the millions of families who are facing a £700 price hike this Friday?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the right hon. Gentleman is in error in what he says about events last night, but he is, like me, a living testament to the benefits of moderation in all things. To get to his point, this week, for instance, the living wage is going up again by record amounts, and thanks to what the Chancellor has done we are putting £9.1 billion into helping people up and down the country. I might respectfully suggest that the thing the Scottish nationalist Government—with whom, as I say, we work increasingly well—could focus on for the long-term prosperity of Scotland is the educational system, where I am sad to see Scotland’s once-glorious record falling behind.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

What a load of absolute baloney. The Prime Minister is dangerously out of touch. Food banks are warning that people are having to choose their food based on whether they can afford the gas to boil it. Families are having to choose what rooms to heat or whether they can turn on the heating at all. Some in the Tory Cabinet clearly believe that better weather means that they can happily sit on their hands and do nothing until next winter. They obviously do not get, or do not care, that in many parts of Scotland the weather will barely reach above freezing over the next week. The Chancellor thinks his £200 loan, which is forcing people into energy debt, is somehow a solution, but it clearly is not. So before the Prime Minister and his Chancellor go off on their Easter holidays, will they, at the very least, turn this loan into a grant and finally put some cash into people’s pockets when they need it, right now?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Of course we are doing everything that we can, with the £9.1 billion and the cold weather payments. The right hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to the problem, and we are making huge investments in supporting people right now, with another £1 billion, by the way, through the household support fund to help vulnerable families. But when he talks about the cost of energy in Scotland, how absolutely preposterous it is that the Scottish nationalist party should still be opposed to the use of any of our native hydrocarbons in this country, with the result that the Europeans are importing oil and gas from Putin’s Russia. It is totally absurd.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 23rd March 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

In a matter of seconds, at 12.16 pm, a Virgin Atlantic aircraft is due to depart Heathrow airport to go to Warsaw to pick up 50 young orphans who have left Ukraine and are coming to spend the next period of their life in Scotland, with the sanctuary we can offer them. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make sure that we can offer a new start to these young people, away from the war. I thank the Governments in London and in Edinburgh, and in particular the immigration Minister, the hon. Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), and the refugee Minister in the House of Lords, Lord Harrington. This is a good day for those 50 young people, but let us hope that it is the beginning of something much more significant for many more young people we can offer sanctuary to.

This morning, we have official confirmation that inflation is at its highest level in 30 years, but families do not need official confirmation to know that the cost of food and energy is now at a price they simply cannot afford. The very people who bore the brunt of the health pandemic are now being hammered by the poverty pandemic. This is not just a cost of living crisis—this is an emergency. That is why, in Scotland, the SNP Government are doubling the Scottish child payment and raising the benefits they control by 6%—that is double the rate the Chancellor has proposed for the benefits that he has control over. So this is a very simple question for the Prime Minister: if he truly understands that this is an emergency, will he match the Scottish Government’s commitment and lift all benefits by 6%?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman very much. We all recognise that global inflation is causing a real cost of living crisis, not just here, but around the world; in the United States, inflation is now running at more than 8%, and we are at the levels in other European countries. We are doing everything we can to help people. The Chancellor has put another £9.1 billion into reducing the costs of energy for families. [Interruption.] I do not know quite what Members are shouting out, but we want to do more. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that Scotland is in the lead in helping this country to solve its energy problems, not just with more offshore wind, but by abandoning the phobia of our own hydrocarbons, which I think are going to be vital for transition and to avoid our being blackmailed by Putin’s Russia.

On the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the orphans, I am grateful to him for his efforts and I thank him. If I may say, without embarrassing him further, it is another example of the burgeoning co-operation between us.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Of course, we want to make sure we open our doors in Scotland and welcome refugees, and that we have that generosity of spirit—but we will leave that there for now.

I say to the Prime Minister that inflation is at 6% and increasing. We need to make sure that those who are the most vulnerable have that increase in benefits that they need in order to pay for fuel. The Chancellor needs to ditch the official photographer and listen to Martin Lewis. Family finances are at breaking point; they cannot tighten their budgets any more. These families have no room to manoeuvre, but the truth is that the Chancellor does. Lower borrowing and increased taxes mean that he is sitting with £20 billion to spend today. But instead this Chancellor is making a political choice: the choice to push people further into hardship by hiking taxes, cutting universal credit, and giving companies free rein to slash workers’ pay through fire and rehire. So the test for the Prime Minister is this: will the Government use the full £20 billion they are sitting on to scrap the national insurance tax hike and put money into people’s pockets, or will he simply make this Tory poverty pandemic even worse?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just advise Mystic Meg over there that he has only 10 minutes to wait before he will have the answer to that question.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 9th March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

We are now 14 days into Putin’s war. In that time, I have genuinely tried to work constructively with the UK Government and I will continue to seek to do that. Nobody should support the Government, however, when it comes to their response to the refugee crisis—760 visa approvals in two weeks is disgraceful.

In that time, Poland has taken over 1.2 million refugees, Hungary has taken over 190,000 refugees, Germany has taken over 50,000 refugees, Italy has taken over 7,000 refugees and Ireland—a country of just over 5 million people—has given sanctuary to three times as many refugees as the United Kingdom. Those numbers do not lie; they tell a devastating truth. Does the Prime Minister find it acceptable that his Home Secretary has overseen one of the slowest, most bureaucratic and incompetent refugee responses in the whole of Europe?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think everybody sympathises with the plight of refugees. The Government want to do everything we can to welcome them and that is indeed what we are doing. The numbers are almost 1,000 as I speak to the right hon. Gentleman today, and they will rise very sharply. They are uncapped and we expect those numbers to rise to in the region of hundreds of thousands.

As Vladimir Putin doubles down in his attacks, we will go further and there will be routes by which the whole country can offer a welcome to vulnerable people fleeing from Ukraine. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will be setting out that route in the course of the next few days. This Government have a proud, proud record. We have done more to resettle vulnerable people than any other European country since 2015.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

I do not think the Prime Minister understands the scale of the challenge or the urgency. These are people fleeing war crimes, torn apart from their families as their homes are shelled, and the Home Secretary is blocking them with endless paperwork. That is not just incompetence; this is ideology. In the face of the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war, the UK Government will not set aside the hostile environment. [Interruption.] By the way, we are seeing the hostile environment this afternoon—Conservative Members might quieten down a bit.

We have seen that too many times from a Tory Home Office: the Windrush scandal, the “Go home” vans, and the inhumane Nationality and Borders Bill. The UK Home Office is raising barriers and bureaucracy when we should be offering care and compassion. I say to the Prime Minister that he should not let the history of failure repeat itself. Scotland stands ready to offer sanctuary and refuge, so will he join the rest of the European continent and waive the visa restrictions for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 2nd March 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am, in principle, happy to meet the right hon. Gentleman at any stage, but I can tell him that, in my view, what we have seen already from Vladimir Putin’s regime in the use of the munitions that it has been dropping on innocent civilians already fully qualifies as a war crime. I know that the ICC prosecutor is already investigating, and I am sure that the whole House will support that.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for that answer. Let us work together across this House to ensure that Putin is prosecuted and held to account. Just as we seek to punish and prosecute Putin for his crimes, we need to help the Ukrainian people right now. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing the horrors of this war, and they desperately need refuge and sanctuary. The United Nations estimates that well over half a million Ukrainian refugees need urgent help, most of them women and children.

This is a moment for Europe to stand united in the face of Putin’s war. The European Union has acted to waive all visa requirements for Ukrainian refugees; the UK Government stand alone on our continent in so far refusing to do the same. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has made clear that our country stands ready to open our borders and our hearts to the people of Ukraine, but the UK Government must bring down the barriers. Will the Prime Minister join our European partners and waive all visa requirements for the people of Ukraine who are fleeing war?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The EU already, because of its Schengen border-free zone, has its own arrangements with Ukraine, and they have differed for a long time from those of the UK. What we have is a plan to be as generous as we possibly can to the people of Ukraine; the numbers that will come under our family reunion scheme alone could be in the hundreds of thousands, to say nothing of the special new path we are opening up, the humanitarian path, which is also uncapped. That is the right thing to do. What we will not do is simply abandon all checks. We do not think that is sensible, particularly in view of the reasonable security concerns about people coming from that theatre of war.

Ukraine

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Thursday 24th February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend. She is absolutely right about what the Government are setting out to do, and I do indeed believe that that will be the result for Putin and his cronies.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Let me thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of the statement, and let me also welcome the very close contact he has kept with the Ukrainian President—importantly, overnight. I was grateful that I had the chance this afternoon to meet the Ukrainian ambassador to the UK and indeed Ukrainian MPs. Our thoughts and our support are very much with each and every one of them, as they are with all the people of Ukraine.

Although last night’s events have been prophesied and predicted for some time, the acts of Russian violence, aggression and tyranny are no less shocking. What we are witnessing is a full-scale invasion: it is an act of war. This is first and foremost an unprovoked attack on the peace and the innocence of Ukraine and of its people, but it is equally an attack on international law, an attack on our European democracy and an attack on the peace that our continent has so carefully built over the last 75 years.

President Putin, and President Putin alone, bears responsibility for these horrific acts, and it is he and his Kremlin cabal who must pay a massive price for their actions. It is important to say to the Russian people that we know that Putin is not acting in their name. He is a dictator, he is an imperialist, he is a tyrant and he is as much a threat to his own people as he is to all of us.

This is a moment for unity, and it is especially a moment for European unity. All of the economic sanctions that are now finally being implemented have one clear objective—the complete economic isolation of the Russian state. Can the Prime Minister confirm that this is the objective, and that he has agreed that with his international allies? That economic isolation must include sanctions on Putin and his network of oligarchs and agents, their expulsion from countries around the world, sanctions on his banks and their ability to borrow and function, and sanctions on his energy and mineral companies. As I said yesterday, it must finally mean clearing up the sewer of dirty Russian money that has been running through the City of London for years. I know all the complications involved, but can I ask the Prime Minister about the actions taken to suspend Russia from the SWIFT payment system—one of the steps that would hit the Putin regime the hardest?

As we rightly seek to punish Putin, we must redouble our support and solidarity for the Ukrainian people. Can the Prime Minister give further details on the humanitarian aid being deployed and the plans in place to offer refuge and sanctuary, where necessary, for those who might be displaced? What plans are in place to evacuate the families of UK citizens currently in Ukraine, given that commercial flights have now stopped?

Let us not fall for the Kremlin propaganda that it is prepared to soak up any sanctions. If we act now, and if the sanctions are targeted enough, swift enough and severe enough—if we impose nothing less than economic isolation—Putin and his cronies will suffer the consequences of their actions. So let us act together, stand together and, most of all, let us all stand with the people of Ukraine.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Again, may I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the wisdom and the statesmanship with which he has just spoken? On his points, we have put 1,000 troops on stand-by to help with the humanitarian exodus in the adjacent countries, and we have people in forward presence in the adjacent countries to help UK nationals come out. He is quite right that the way to make these sanctions work—as we discussed today in the G7, where there is a great deal of unity—is to do them together and at the same time, and that is what we are doing.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 23rd February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. As a cyclist, I share my hon. Friend’s passion on this issue. We do need to crack down on speeding, which plays a role in excessive deaths on our roads. The Department for Transport is updating the circular on the use of speed and red-light cameras that my hon. Friend mentioned and I urge him to get in touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Yesterday, we on the SNP Benches made it clear that the SNP stands united against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which needs to be met with tougher and stronger sanctions. As the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat) rightly said, however, we should not be waiting for Russia to attack others before we clean up the corruption that Russian money has been fuelling in the UK.

Under the Tories, a sewer of dirty Russian money has been allowed to run through London for years. In 2017, I went to the Prime Minister when he was Foreign Secretary and raised the issue of limited partnerships, of which 113 have been used to move $20.8 billion out of Russian banks—corruption on an industrial scale. Why did the Prime Minister do nothing back then, and why is he still doing nothing now?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman was right to come to me then—I have always enjoyed talking to him, as I have told him many times—and he is right on the issue. We do need to stop corrupt Russian money in London and every other financial capital. That is why we have already taken the steps we have taken, but we are going much further to uncloak the true owners of Russian companies and Russian properties in this country, and it is high time. No country is doing more than the UK to tackle this issue.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

That meeting was five years ago, and I offered to work with the Prime Minister. Five years ago, and nothing has happened. The truth is that Russian oligarchs who give the right people in power a golden handshake have been welcomed into London for years. Their activities were not stopped; they were encouraged. Plenty of those golden handshakes just so happened to find their way into the coffers of the Conservative party—in fact, £2.3 million since the Prime Minister took office.

A leading American think-tank has publicly raised concerns that

“the close ties between Russian money and the United Kingdom’s ruling conservative party”

are a block to stronger sanctions. How can our allies trust this Prime Minister to clean up dirty Russian money in the UK when he will not even clean up his own political party? Will he finally commit to giving up the £2.3 million that his party has raised from Russian oligarchs?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just think it is very important for the House to understand that we do not raise money from Russian oligarchs. People who give money to this—[Interruption.] We raise money from people who are registered to vote on the UK register of interests. That is how we do it. The right hon. Gentleman’s indignation is, I am afraid, a bit much coming from somebody whose very own Alex Salmond is a leading presenter, as far as I know, on Russia Today, which the Leader of the Opposition has just called on this country to ban.

Ukraine

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Tuesday 22nd February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is entirely right, and that is what is at stake. What is happening in Ukraine now is being watched around the world and the echoes will be heard in Taiwan, east Asia and throughout the world.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement and thank the National Security Adviser, who has briefed Opposition leaders.

This is a dark day for the people of Ukraine and for people right across our European continent. Europe stands on the brink of war as a consequence of Russian aggression. It is a day that communities across Scotland, right across these islands and indeed across Europe desperately hoped would never come to pass. But although that sense of darkness defines today, how we now collectively respond will define the days to come.

This Chamber has, especially during recent months, seen fierce debate and disagreements, but today it is important to say, in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine, that in this House we all stand together: we stand together and stand with our partners across Europe and indeed across the globe. But more importantly, we stand with the Ukrainian people, who are now under assault. A European country—an ally—is under attack. We should be very clear about what is now happening: this is an illegal Russian occupation of Ukraine, just as it was in Crimea. Russia has effectively annexed another two Ukrainian regions in a blatant breach of international law. This effectively ends the Minsk process. It is a further violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. No one should even repeat the Russian lie that this is about peacekeeping; this is warmongering, plain and simple. President Putin must hear the call from here and elsewhere to draw back before any further escalation can take place.

I and my party welcome the sanctions that are now being brought forward, but it is deeply regrettable that the delay has allowed many Russian individuals to shift dirty assets and money in the last number of weeks. However, may I ask the Prime Minister specifically if the Russian state and individuals will be immediately suspended from the SWIFT payments system? Just as economic sanctions against Russia are welcome, Ukraine needs immediate economic and indeed humanitarian support if required. When will economic and humanitarian support be enacted and what will it entail? Can the Prime Minister also confirm that there will be exemptions for partners of UK citizens residing in Ukraine to come to the UK? They need that certainty and they need it today.

In the days ahead we can no doubt expect a barrage of disinformation from the Russian media and its proxies. So can the Prime Minister update us on how the United Kingdom Government intend to combat that threat? This is also the moment to end the complacency in implementing the Intelligence and Security Committee’s Russia report; will the Prime Minister now commit to its full implementation and update the House accordingly?

Can I also ask the Prime Minister, after the UN Security Council’s brief meeting last night, when it will next meet and what co-ordination is happening across all international organisations to force President Putin to step back from the brink before it is too late?

Finally, let President Putin hear loudly and clearly that he must now desist from this act of war, this attack on a sovereign nation. Let us all demonstrate that we stand with the people of Ukraine.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I wholeheartedly thank the right hon. Gentleman for the terms in which he has just spoken and the unity and resolve he has just shown, in common with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. The spirit this House is showing today is absolutely invaluable.

The right hon. Gentleman is right to raise questions about the speed with which we have been able to sanction various individuals. We brought forward the Magnitsky sanctions, as he knows, and he was important in that last year. We are bringing forward the registry of beneficial ownership faster than any other country, stripping away the veil on Russian dirty money. He asked about support for Ukraine; as I mentioned in the House, we have given £100 million-worth of support particularly for Ukraine’s energy crisis and also for other economic needs, plus the further $500 million I announced just now.

The diplomatic effort is now intensifying. The right hon. Gentleman asked about the forums in which it is taking place; there are more meetings in the UN. But ultimately, as he rightly says, this is up to Vladimir Putin: he and he alone can decide whether or not to halt what seems to be an absolutely irresistible march towards tragedy. It is down to him; it is in his head.

Living with Covid-19

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Monday 21st February 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend returns to a theme he has mentioned several times. We have a vast plan to recruit more nurses and more doctors than ever before, and there already are more in the NHS than at any time in our history. We have 45,000 more healthcare professionals this year than there were last year, and we will continue to fund them.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

This statement was billed as the Prime Minister’s moment of pride, but it is clear that this morning was a moment of panic for this Government. Disagreement across Whitehall and the lack of any serious engagement with the devolved nations show that these decisions are bereft of science or consultation. It appears that these dangerous choices are purely political and have been made up on the hoof—another symptom of a Government in turmoil.

The illogical reality of UK finance means that these decisions, made for England by a failing Prime Minister, affect the money the devolved nations have to provide testing. It is unacceptable that the ability to protect—[Interruption.] I hear “Money!”, but we are talking about protecting the people of Scotland, something that this Prime Minister is turning his back on. It is unacceptable that the ability to protect our population can be imperilled on the basis of a political decision taken by a Prime Minister in crisis. His decisions directly affect whether Scotland has the funding required to keep its people safe. That is the ridiculous reality of devolution, but it is a reality that must be addressed.

Will the Prime Minister now confirm what the residual funding for testing will be, to enable the Scottish Government to pick up the pieces of this chaotic withdrawal of support? It makes the case for Scotland to take the necessary measures to keep our people safe. We need the financial ability to make our own choices, and that only comes with independence. [Interruption.]

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

PCR testing, the legal requirement to self-isolate and access to lateral flow testing have been instrumental in containing the virus. As we move forward to live with covid, these are the very safeguards that support a return to normal life. These short-sighted decisions have long-term implications. They also hamper vital surveillance efforts and impede the ability to respond to new variants. The reality is that we have a Prime Minister beset by chaos and mired in a police investigation for breaking his own covid laws.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

indicated dissent.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

He can shake his head, but that is the reality—a Prime Minister who has no moral authority to lead and is desperately seeking to appease his Back Benchers. We know that this reckless statement flies in the face of advice from scientists at the World Health Organisation. That is because this statement is not about protecting the public; it is about the Prime Minister scrambling to save his own skin.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Well, you would not believe it from what the right hon. Gentleman has just said, but the co-operation between the UK Government and the Scottish authorities has been outstanding and will continue to be outstanding. He asked about free tests and how they are to be paid for. This is very important. The free tests will of course continue until the beginning of April. Of course, if people want to, they can continue beyond then. I have set out for the House the reasons why we think it is much more sensible to focus on surveillance and spotting new variants, and to put our investment into that rather than mass testing. He has access to the £41 billion record settlement that he has under Barnett. He also has access to hundreds of millions from the health and care levy—the only astonishing thing is that he voted against it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 9th February 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. I think it was only last week that I was congratulating my hon. Friend on her fantastic advocacy for nuclear in Ynys Môn. Do not forget, Mr Speaker, that Labour allowed nuclear capacity to decline by 11% on their watch; I do not think my hon. Friend has forgotten that. We want to get back up there, and that is why there will be at least one big nuclear project this Parliament—at least one—and our Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill will support that objective.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, I am sure that you and the entire House will want to join me in welcoming the Remembering Srebrenica campaign, that launched our yearly events in Parliament last night. We must all continue to strive for ongoing peace in Bosnia.

The flurry of changes in Downing Street over the last few days is a sight to behold. It is amazing how much energy this Prime Minister can sum up when it comes to saving his own skin. But while he has been busy rearranging the deckchairs, in the real world people continue to be punished by the Tory cost of living crisis. Yesterday, openDemocracy found that as a direct result of the Chancellor’s national insurance hike nurses will, on average, take a £275-a-year pay cut in April. That pay cut will hit at the very same moment that soaring energy bills land—bills that have shot up £1,000 in the space of a year.

It is a bill day and the rest of the public simply cannot afford it. So, rather than the Prime Minister and the Chancellor scrapping over the Tory leadership, will they do something useful and scrap their regressive hike in national insurance?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It was interesting that the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) did not mention that, because I think everybody can see how vital this is. We have to clear our covid backlogs; we have 6 million people already on the waiting lists; I am afraid that will go up, and we need to be recruiting the staff now. That is why we are recruiting 50,000 more nurses. There are 11,000 more this year than there were last year. To the point made by the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), let me say that we have increased the starting salary for nurses by 12.8%, in addition to the bursaries and other help that we give them. We value our nurses, we love our NHS and we are paying for it.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

Actions speak louder than words and if the Prime Minister wants to reward nurses, he needs to pay them. They are the very backbone of the national health service—the very people he is hitting with a pay cut in April. I should not have to remind the Prime Minister that at the same time as those nurses were going into work every day to fight a pandemic, 16 different parties were happening in his Government. The public know what nurses sacrificed during the pandemic, and they know exactly what this rule-breaking Prime Minister and his Government were up to. So are the Prime Minister and his Chancellor seriously telling those nurses that their reward for seeing us through the pandemic is a £270 wage cut?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

What we are telling the people of this country now is that we back our fantastic nurses all the way. What they want is more nurses, which is why record numbers are in training and why we had 11,000 more in the NHS this year than there were last year. Those are fantastic investments in our country and in our society, and I must say that it is peculiar that, as I understand it, the Scottish nationalist party’s approach to healthcare is now to cut off the bottom of doors in schools in Scotland in order to improve ventilation.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 26th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Thank you, Mr Speaker. May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister about Bloody Sunday?

I am sure that you and the entire House will want to commemorate tomorrow Holocaust Memorial Day, when we remember the 6 million Jews who lost their lives at the hands of the regime of Hitler, and of course, we remember other genocides, not least more recently in Bosnia—we all pray for continued peace in that country.

At the heart of this matter, we have a Prime Minister who is being investigated by the police for breaking his own laws—it is absolutely unprecedented. This is a man who demeans the office of Prime Minister. This is the latest in a rap sheet that is already a mile long: illegally proroguing Parliament; misleading the House; decorating with dodgy cash; and partying while the public suffered. Every moment he stays, he is dragging out the agony for families who remind him of the sacrifices they made and dragging his party further through the dirt. The public know it, the House knows it, even his own MPs know it—when will the Prime Minister cop on and go?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I want to join the right hon. Gentleman and echo his sentiments about Holocaust Memorial Day, where I think he is completely right.

I must say that the right hon. Gentleman made the same point last week, and he was wrong then and he is wrong now. It is precisely because I enjoy co-operating with him so much, and with all his Scottish colleagues, that I have absolutely no intention of doing what he suggests.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Every moment that the Prime Minister lingers, every nick in this death by a thousand cuts, is sucking attention from the real issues facing the public; Tory cuts, Brexit and the soaring cost of living have pushed millions of families into poverty. The impending national insurance tax hike hangs like a guillotine, while they eat cake. This is nothing short of a crisis, and the only route out—the only route to restore public trust—is for the Prime Minister to go. How much longer will Tory MPs let this go on for? How much more damage are they willing to do? It is time to get this over with—show the Prime Minister the door!

Ukraine

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Tuesday 25th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend very much and I know that, emotionally, many people will share his view. He knows a great deal about Ukraine and the issues that that country faces. Of course, instinctively, many people would yearn to send active physical support in the form of NATO troops to Ukraine. I have to tell him that I do not believe that to be a likely prospect in the near term. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but what we can do—and what we are doing—is send troops to support Ukraine. I have mentioned the training operations that we are conducting under Operation Orbital, as we have for the past six or seven years, training 21,000 Ukrainian troops. Of course we are now sending defensive weaponry, which I think is entirely appropriate. We have sent 2,000 anti-tank weapons to the Ukrainians and we join the Americans in that effort; as my right hon. Friend knows, the Americans have sent about $650 million-worth of military assistance to Ukraine. That is the vital thing to do to stiffen Ukrainian resistance, but the real deterrent right now is that package of economic sanctions. That is what will bite; that is what will hurt Putin; and that, I hope, is what will deter him.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement and join the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), in congratulating the Defence Secretary on making sure throughout that we have been kept informed of developments; it is most appreciated. It is important that all of us in this House stand together in solidarity with our friends in Ukraine in defence of their sovereignty.

We on the Scottish National party Benches share the deep concern over the escalation of tension, the prospect of military aggression and the threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty. Russia’s actions in recent weeks and months of amassing troops, tanks and heavy military equipment near the border of Ukraine are unacceptable. We continue to support, above all, measures to resolve the crisis through diplomacy, so will the Prime Minister provide reassurance that work to deliver a peaceful and diplomatic outcome remains this Government’s main priority? The threat of bloodshed on European soil is what is at stake.

We stand with the people of Ukraine and understand the fears and concerns of Ukrainians across these islands, many of whom live in the UK but have family in Ukraine. The bedrock of NATO as a defensive alliance remains the solidarity between its member states, and it is clear that we need that united alliance. It is becoming increasingly apparent that, should an incursion occur, what will be required is a tougher package of sanctions that are robust and have real, measurable impact.

We on the SNP Benches have called for co-ordinated economic sanctions against the Putin regime and the banning of Russia from the SWIFT—the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication—banking system. Can that be confirmed as on the table today? The measures must also include tougher action on Russian money laundering and include action by the Treasury to tackle the ongoing and improper use of Scottish limited partnerships, which have been used to funnel millions of pounds in dirty money. Without that, our credibility will lessen.

The Prime Minister raised the issue of Magnitsky, and let me say to him that it was cross-party support that led to these sanctions. He may well remember the meeting I had with him when he was Foreign Secretary to make sure that we worked collectively to deal with those threats. Will he also commit to introducing a transparent system of company registration and proper reform of Companies House?

Meanwhile, we all stand solidly with the people of Ukraine and urge the Government to continue efforts for diplomacy, as long as that is possible.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Again, I thank the right hon. Gentleman and echo many of his sentiments. He is completely right to say that we should pursue every possible diplomatic avenue, in every appropriate forum; whether it is the NATO-Russia Council, the UN, the OSCE, the G7 or the Normandy Format, we must follow every avenue. He is right to press on what we are doing to track “dirty Russian money”, for want of a better expression. That is why we have the unexplained wealth orders and why we are bringing in measures to have a register of beneficial interests.

The right hon. Gentleman asks about SWIFT and financial transactions across the world, and there is no doubt that that would be a very potent weapon. I am afraid it can only really be deployed with the assistance of the United States—though we are in discussions about that.

The House needs to understand that one of the big issues we all face in dealing with Ukraine and with Russia is the heavy dependence, of our European friends in particular, on Russian gas. It was clear in the conversations last night that in this era of high gas prices we are bumping up against that reality. The job of our diplomacy now is to persuade and encourage our friends to go as far as they can to sort this out and to come up with a tough package of economic sanctions, because that is what the situation requires.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for campaigning for this wonderful project. We are supporting the electric vehicle industry. We made another £350 million available through the automotive transformation fund, on top of the commitment of half a billion pounds we have already made in a 10-point plan. I know that the campaign for Coventry airport is an excellent one, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

This week was supposed to be Operation Save Big Dog, but it has quickly become Operation Dog’s Dinner. Over the past two days, we have had more damaging revelations about Downing Street rule breaking, more evidence that Parliament has been misled, and an even longer list of ludicrous—absolutely ludicrous—excuses from the Prime Minister. First he claimed there were no parties, then that he was not present; then he admitted he was at them but he did not know it was a party, and the latest sorry excuse is really the most pathetic of them all: “Nobody told me.” Nobody told the Prime Minister he was breaking his own rules—absolutely pathetic. [Interruption.] What a look—the Prime Minister laughing once again. He is laughing at the British public, taking the public for fools. Nobody believes him. Will the Prime Minister finally take responsibility and resign? Go, Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

No, but I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question again. I remind him that there is an inquiry, which is due to conclude. I believe he is wrong in what he asserts, but we have to wait and see what the inquiry says. The most important thing from the point of view of the UK Government is that we are coming out of the restrictions—I am delighted to see that that is happening in Scotland as well—which is largely thanks to the wonderful co-operation that we continue to see across the whole of the UK, although you would not think it to hear him.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Nobody is buying this act any more. There ought to be some respect and dignity from the Prime Minister. Let us remind ourselves: more than 150,000 of our citizens died and he is partying, he is laughing. It simply is not acceptable—the fake contrition, the endless excuses, the empty promises that it will be different if only we give him one last chance. This is a Prime Minister who arrogantly believes that he is above the rules; a Prime Minister who brazenly twists the truth; a Prime Minister who simply is not fit for office.

The Prime Minister’s former chief adviser says that he lied to Parliament, breaking the ministerial code—a resignation offence, Prime Minister. Public trust is haemorrhaging. With every day that passes, this Tory Government lose even more credibility. When will the Tory MPs finally do the right thing? Show the Prime Minister the door.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman, but I must say that I disagree with him. When we look at the levels of trust that the British people—people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and across the whole country—have shown in the Government, the single biggest index of that trust has been their willingness to come forward voluntarily, unlike in many other countries in the world, to get vaccinated on a scale not seen anywhere else in Europe. That is because of our ability, and the NHS’s ability, to persuade people that it is the right thing. It is a fantastic thing, and by the way, it is also a tribute to the United Kingdom, because that vaccine roll-out was a UK effort.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 19th January 2022

(2 years, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are certainly reviewing the testing arrangements for travel and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care will make a statement on that in the next few days. It is important that everybody in the country understands that wherever they want to go in the world, getting their booster will be a pretty crucial thing to do.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.

We are all grateful that the data suggests we have turned a corner in the omicron wave and that the success of the vaccination programme in particular gives us cause to be hopeful in the months ahead, but although it is declining, the level of infection is still undoubtedly high and the NHS remains under pressure. That is why caution is the key, rather than the Prime Minister’s strategy of throwing caution to the wind.

Baseline measures such as face coverings in indoor public places and working from home where possible—which Scotland still has in place throughout—are extremely important in the weeks ahead, as is the guidance on lateral flow tests. Will the Prime Minister guarantee—[Interruption.] Perhaps he can come off his phone, because this is important. Will the Prime Minister guarantee that lateral flow tests will remain free as they are required and put to bed the speculation that their provision free at the point of need will be removed?

Although the data gives us cause to be optimistic, the real problem for the Prime Minister is that no matter what the data has said today, he had no choice but to throw caution to the wind. The pathetic and unbelievable excuses—that he does not know his own rules—have left the Prime Minister weak. He is unable to lead on this issue or on any other. The public cannot trust a single word that the Prime Minister says: any shred of credibility has gone.

In a global pandemic that, as the World Health Organisation is cautioning, is nowhere near over, and during which new variants are likely to emerge, it is deeply concerning that we have at the helm a Prime Minister like this who is simply not fit to lead. Even though the figures thankfully give us cause to be hopeful, it is clear that the Prime Minister cannot carry on when his credibility has all gone.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I repeat the points that I made earlier to the right hon. Gentleman. The reason why we are in the state we are in is because of the immense co-operation there has been across the whole UK.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about testing; we will of course keep lateral flow tests free for as long as is necessary. Testing has been a fantastic example of Union collaboration. I have seen for myself tests from people in Sussex being assessed in Glasgow. I have seen the work of the UK armed services helping people across the whole UK to move people who needed treatment to wherever. It has been a fantastic example of Union collaboration and I hope the right hon. Gentleman bears that in mind.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 12th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I add my remarks to those already made about Jack Dromey? He was a feisty fighter for workers’ rights, and an inspiration to many of us on both sides of the House because of the way in which he conducted himself. We will miss him, and I send condolences to Harriet and to the rest of the family.

The Prime Minister stands before us accused of betraying the nation’s trust, of treating the public with contempt, of breaking the laws set by his own Government. A former member of Her Majesty’s armed forces, Paul, wrote to me this morning. His father died without the love and support of his full family around him, because they followed the regulations, Prime Minister. Paul said:

“As an ex-soldier, I know how to follow rules but the Prime Minister has never followed any rules. He does what he wants and gets away with it every time”.

The Prime Minister cannot “get away with it” again. Will he Prime Minister finally do the decent thing and resign, or will his Tory MPs be forced to show him the door?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I want to offer my condolences to his constituent who wrote to him, and just to remind him of what I said earlier. With the greatest respect to him, I think that he should wait until the inquiry has concluded.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

It is an open and shut case: this was an event that should not have taken place. It broke the law, Prime Minister.

What is so galling about that response is that the Prime Minister feels no sense of shame for his actions. The public suffered pain and anguish at being kept apart from their families, and all the while the Prime Minister was drinking and laughing behind the walls of his private garden. The public overwhelmingly think that the Prime Minister should resign. Trust has been lost; the public will not forgive or forget. If the Prime Minister has no sense of shame, the Tory Back Benchers must act to remove him. They know that the damage is done. This weak and contemptuous Prime Minister can no longer limp on.

The message from the public is clear: remove this unfit Prime Minister from office, and do it now.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 5th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes. I thank my hon. Friend, who is completely right. That is why this Government are taking the tough decision to invest in the long-term future of our energy supply, investing in massively increasing our supply of renewables but nuclear as well. That is the right way forward for this country. It was Labour, of course, who completely failed to take those decisions, with the result that nuclear, in particular, fell away dramatically. It is absolutely farcical that Labour’s answer today to the energy price rises that my hon. Friend correctly diagnoses is to nationalise our energy—[Interruption.] Yes it is. Is it? Well, maybe they have changed their minds now, but it was. Maybe they have had second thoughts. But their answer was to nationalise our energy sector and to send bills even higher, and that is not the way forward.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I wish you, Mr Speaker, colleagues and all staff a guid new year.

Over the last few weeks, serious warnings have grown over the Tory cost of living crisis, which will hit the majority of families over the coming months. New research from the Resolution Foundation has found that, on average, families will be £1,200 worse off from April as a result of Tory cuts, tax hikes and soaring energy bills. For members of the Tory Government, £1,200 might not seem very much. For the Foreign Secretary it is just another taxpayer-funded lunch in Mayfair. For the Prime Minister it is just a roll of fancy wallpaper for his taxpayer-funded flat. But for the vast majority of families, losing £1,200 a year will be catastrophic. For some it will mean that they cannot afford to pay their rent and bills, to heat their homes or to put food on the table. So will the Prime Minister apologise for leaving millions of families worse off, and will he commit to an emergency financial package to reverse his Tory cost of living crisis?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I find that criticism hard to take from the humble crofter, if I may say so—with whom, I stress, I normally have very good relations off the pitch. What we are doing is helping families up and down the country with the taper rate, ensuring that a single mother with two kids gets £1,200 more on universal credit, £1,000 more as a result of the increase to the living wage. The crucial thing I am trying to get over this afternoon is that we, unlike virtually any other European economy, have been able to keep going and keep people in work. We now have more people in work than there were before the pandemic began. That is because of the balanced and proportionate approach we have taken, and the right hon. Gentleman’s support would be welcome and deserved.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

My goodness, Mr Speaker—we are talking about a Tory cost of living crisis. So much for a new year, a new start: it is the same nonsense from this failing Prime Minister. We have had the year of Tory sleaze, but now we have the year of Tory squeeze for family budgets. Economists have warned that UK living standards will worsen in 2022, with the poorest households hit hardest by Tory cuts, tax hikes and soaring inflation driven by his Government’s policy. Under this Prime Minister, the UK already has the worst levels of poverty and inequality in north-west Europe. Now the Tories are making millions of families poorer. In Scotland, the SNP Government are mitigating this Tory poverty crisis by doubling the Scottish child payment to £20 per week. I ask the Prime Minister this: will he match the Scottish Government and introduce a £20 child payment across the UK, or will the Tories push hundreds of thousands of children into poverty as a direct result of his policies?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman is talking, I am afraid, total nonsense. This Government are absolutely determined, as I have said throughout this pandemic, to look after particularly the poorest and the neediest. That is what the Chancellor did: all his packages were extremely progressive in their effect. When I came in to office, we ensured that we uprated the local housing allowance, because I understand the importance of that allowance for families on low incomes. We are supporting vulnerable renters. That is why we are putting money into local authorities to help families up and down the country who are facing tough times. The right hon. Gentleman’s fundamental point is wrong. He is just wrong about what is happening in this country. If we look at the statistics, we see that economic inequality is down in this country. Income inequality is down and poverty is down, and I will tell you why—because we get people in to work. We get people in to jobs. That is our answer.

Covid-19 Update

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 5th January 2022

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is totally right in what she says. We simply cannot go on, as a country and as a society, reaching endlessly for lockdown, which is the Opposition’s instinct, no matter what the cost and no matter what damage it does. We have to remain cautious, and I am afraid that I cannot tell the House that we can rule out absolutely everything to protect the public, but as I said to the country last night, I am confident—that is why I am repeating it today—that we can get through this wave of omicron with the balanced and proportionate approach that we are taking. I am glad to have my right hon. Friend’s support. For the future, we need the polyvalent vaccines that can deal with any type of covid mutation and variant, as well as the therapeutics, and that is what we are investing in as well. And as the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner) should know, we are investing more per head than any other country in Europe.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for giving me advance sight of his statement. I hope that he had a safe and restful break, and that his festive parties were perhaps more sensible and legal then they were in 2020. He is right to say that the booster programme is absolutely crucial. Getting a booster reduces the chance of getting covid, protects against serious illness and helps to reduce pressure on our NHS, but his central approach of riding out the omicron wave is a reckless gamble that risks lives and risks the NHS. Let us talk about what “riding it out” means. It means allowing the omicron variant to rip through communities. It means avoidable deaths, long covid and stretching the NHS to breaking point. That is why the correct approach is to show continued caution and to slow transmission. That is the proactive, sensible and cautious approach being taken by the Scottish Government and the other devolved nations. It is the UK Government who are once again out of step. Recklessness has been the hallmark of this Prime Minister. He has acknowledged that parts of the NHS will feel temporarily overwhelmed, but hospitals in England are already overwhelmed, with heart attack patients being told to make their own way to hospitals. How appalling, Prime Minister! What a failure!

Will the Prime Minister now listen to his chief scientific adviser and chief medical officer, who acknowledge that the disease is moving up the age ranges and that we can expect increased pressure on hospitals? Will he act to slow the rate of transmission? The reality is that he has no choice but to ride it out, because he is too weak to get a more cautious and sensible approach past his divided Cabinet and mutinous Back Benchers. He knows he does not carry the moral authority to protect the public when he broke previous restrictions himself.

The public are faced with a Prime Minister who does not have the political leadership or the authority to act to keep these islands safe, so will he finally acknowledge that he is riding it out and risking lives and the NHS because his Back Benchers are now calling the shots?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think the right hon. Gentleman should take back what he said.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

You don’t like the truth.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman should be respectful of the tradition of this House that you do not accuse people of things they have not done. It is totally untrue. This Government have taken—[Interruption.]

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

While the Scottish National party continues to do serious economic damage in the way they do, we will continue to get on with a balanced and proportionate—

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

You’re damaging us.

--- Later in debate ---
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful, Mr Speaker. I think what we need to do is get on together with a plan that is both balanced and proportionate and that does a huge amount to protect the public. It is the right way forward in dealing with omicron.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

It is out of step.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman says the UK Government are out of step with what the Scottish nationalist party wants, but we overwhelmingly do the same thing at the same time. There is far more that unites us than divides us. You may not like it, but that is the reality.

I take exception to the language used by the right hon. Gentleman. When it comes to the Union, he should reflect on the great success achieved by UK scientists working together on vaccines, on the formidable effort of test and trace operations I have seen in Glasgow and elsewhere, on the heroic actions of the British Army in ferrying vulnerable people who needed urgent covid treatment from remote Scottish islands to places where they could receive care, and on the huge furlough operation that saw many billions of pounds spent in Scotland, and a fine thing, too. He should take back some of his more intemperate remarks, which do him no credit at all. We should do our level best to work together in a civilised and collegiate way to get through this pandemic, and that is what this Government intend to do.

--- Later in debate ---
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have given significant support to businesses throughout the pandemic, and we keep that under review. What would not be good for businesses would be to release people back to the workplace too soon so that they infect everybody else who is there.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 15th December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is a wonderful campaigner on this issue, and he is completely right about Down’s syndrome people. They can have poorer health outcomes, but I know that the Bill aims to improve life outcomes for people with Down’s syndrome. We are pleased to support it and we will do whatever we can to ensure the prompt progress of this Bill.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Mr Speaker, I wish you, all your staff and all Members of the House a merry Christmas and a guid new year when it comes. I also send my thanks to those on the frontline in the emergency services and armed forces for everything they have done to get us through this year.

The public understand the threat that omicron poses to all our people and to our NHS. As we saw from last night’s vote, the Tories might be privileged enough to live in denial about this danger, but the rest of us have a responsibility to live in the real world. That means increasing public health measures and increasing financial support for businesses and workers.

The Scottish Government are delivering £100 million from our fixed budget to support businesses, but we all know that more is needed. Yesterday, the UK Government put out a press release saying that new financial support was coming, but last night the Treasury U-turned, saying that no new money was available. So, Prime Minister, which is it? Is there any new money to support businesses or was it all just smoke and mirrors once again?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, and I share some of the views he expressed about the importance of being vigilant about omicron. It is good that he set that out. I think it important that we continue to work with the Scottish Administration, as we do, to help everybody through this.

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there is more money through Barnett consequentials, and there are also further powers under the existing devolutionary settlement for the Scottish Administration to raise money if they choose to—they have that option—but we will of course continue our discussions with them.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

That simply was not an answer, and it just confirms that it is all smoke and mirrors. There was no new money for Scotland. Once again, the Prime Minister cannot trust a word that this Prime Minister says—[Interruption.] Dodgy dealings on renovations and his distant relationship with the truth—all of it has left him weak.

Last night, this UK Government struggled to get measures through the House that Scotland has had for months. A Prime Minister who cannot do what is needed to protect the public is no Prime Minister at all. No one wants further restrictions, but Scotland cannot afford to be hamstrung if the Prime Minister cannot act because he has 99 problems sitting behind him. Will he give the devolved Governments the powers and the financial support that we need to protect our people?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think we are going to need a bigger waistcoat to contain the synthetic indignation of the right hon. Gentleman, quite frankly. I can tell him that the Scottish Administration have the powers, and, moreover, that we have delivered a record settlement for Scotland of £41 billion. But let me also say, in all friendship with the right hon. Gentleman—with whom I am actually quite cordial behind the scenes—that we will work with the Scottish Government to make sure that we get through this thing together.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 8th December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for everything that she does, particularly as special envoy for freedom of religion or belief. As she rightly says, we have an Afghan citizens resettlement scheme coming. We have already taken 15,000, but it is important that we get that scheme right. Further details, including the eligibility criteria, will be announced by the Home Office in due course.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

We are standing on the cliff edge of yet another challenging moment in this pandemic. Omicron cases are rising at a rapid rate, and over the coming weeks tough decisions will again have to be made to save lives and protect our NHS. Trust in leadership is a matter of life and death. Downing Street wilfully broke the rules and mocked the sacrifices that we have all made, shattering the public’s trust. The Prime Minister is responsible for losing the trust of the people. He can no longer lead on the most pressing issue facing these islands. The Prime Minister has a duty: the only right and moral choice left to him is his resignation. When can we expect it?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The SNP and the Labour party are going to continue to play politics. I am going to get on with the job.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

No dignity from a Prime Minister who quite simply just does not get it. People across these islands have followed the rules, even when it meant missing friends and family, missing births, missing funerals, missing the chance to be beside a loved one in their dying moments. People have sacrificed, at times to the point of breaking, while the UK Government have laughed in our faces.

It is clear that the Prime Minister has lost the support of the public and now even his own Benches. This is not a grin-and-bear-it moment; this is a moment of moral reckoning. Every Member on the Conservative Benches must now decide: is this the man to lead these islands when lives are at stake? It is clear that this Prime Minister intends desperately to cling on to power, and I have nothing left to say to a man whose answers we simply cannot trust, so Mr Speaker—[Interruption.]

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

They are questioning this Parliament and questioning this Prime Minister that we cannot trust.

It is clear that the Prime Minister is desperately clinging on to power, and I have got nothing left to say to a man who we simply cannot trust. It is time for Members in this House to act. If he does not resign, he must be removed.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his vote of confidence, but I can tell him that I am going to get on with the job. I believe that that is the right thing to do. I think it is very, very sad that when the public need to hear clarity from their officials and from politicians, the Opposition parties are trying to muddy the waters about events, or non-events, of a year ago. That is what they are doing today.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 1st December 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We will certainly review the human rights system, but in the meantime there is something we can all do next Tuesday and Wednesday, because our Nationality and Borders Bill is coming back to the House after long gestation. The Bill gives us the power to make the distinction at last between illegal and legal migrants to this country, it gives Border Force the power to turn people back at sea, and it gives us the power to send people overseas for screening, rather than doing it in this country. I am not asking the Opposition but telling them: it would be a great thing if they backed our Nationality and Borders Bill and undermined the criminals.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I associate myself with the Prime Minister’s remarks on disability, and of course our thoughts are very much with all those who are recovering from Storm Arwen. Like the Leader of the Opposition, of course we commemorate World AIDS Day.

Mr Speaker, I am sure your thoughts and the thoughts of the House are with the family and friends of Siobhan Cattigan, the Scotland rugby player who unfortunately died over the weekend at the age of 26, having won 19 caps.

It is deeply regrettable that, once again, we are forced to spend so much time in this House discussing the Prime Minister’s misconduct, but when the person in charge so blatantly breaks the rules, it needs to be talked about. Last Christmas the Prime Minister hosted a packed party in Downing Street, an event that broke the lockdown rules that everyone else was expected to follow. He might deny it, but I spoke to the Daily Mirror this morning and it confirmed what happened. The newspaper has legal advice on the potential illegality. At a time when public health messaging is so vital, how are people possibly expected to trust the Prime Minister when he thinks it is one rule for him and another rule for everybody else?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The SNP should concentrate its line of attack more closely. I have said before that the right hon. Gentleman is talking total nonsense. Frankly, he would have been better off saying something about the victims of Storm Arwen in Scotland.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

If I did not hear it, he was drowned out by his supporters. We need to work together—the Government of the UK working with the Scottish authorities—to help those people get their power back, and that is what we are doing.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

That is a disgraceful answer. The Prime Minister did not even listen, because I mentioned Storm Arwen.

The real reason why all this matters is that we find ourselves at another very difficult moment in this pandemic. This is a time when leadership matters, when truth matters and when trust matters. Only this morning, leaked SAGE advice confirmed that the UK Government’s current international travel restrictions will identify significantly fewer cases. It is exactly the same advice that the Prime Minister received from the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales on Monday, and he has ignored that advice.

Since then other countries, like Ireland and the US, have moved rapidly on international travel to protect their people. Will the Prime Minister finally convene a four-nation Cobra meeting to tighten travel restrictions, or will he continue to ignore the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and his own SAGE advisers and imperil the health of the public of these islands?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 24th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I am sure, Mr Speaker, that you will wish to join me and the rest of the House in welcoming the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Lord Wallace, to the Gallery today and thanking him for the sage words of his sermon this morning.

The past few weeks have shown this Tory Government at their very worst: a Tory sleaze and corruption scandal on a scale not seen since the 1990s, Tory cuts and tax rises that will leave millions of people worse off, and a litany of broken promises, from HS2 to carbon capture, social care and the triple lock on pensions. And who can possibly forget the £20 billion bridge to Ireland that evaporated into thin air?

At the centre of it all is one man: a Prime Minister who is floundering in failure. I ask the Prime Minister: with his party falling in the polls and his colleagues briefing against him, has he considered calling it a day before he is pushed out the door?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I think that what the people of this country want to hear is less talk about politics and politicians. They want to talk about what the Government are doing for the people of Scotland—and what the Scottish Government are doing for the people of Scotland, which is not enough.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about infrastructure investment. I can tell him that if he waits until Friday, I think, or later this week, he will hear about what we will do with the Union connectivity review to ensure that the people of Scotland are served with the connections they need, which the Scottish nationalist party has totally failed to put in.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

That certainly was not an answer to the question that I asked, but we are used to that. I did not expect the Prime Minister to take responsibility because he never does, but this is not just about the chaos in the Conservative party; it is about the state of the United Kingdom under his failing leadership. While the Prime Minister spends his time hunting for chatty pigs and staving off a leadership challenge from the Treasury, people in the real world are suffering a Tory cost-of-living crisis. Brexit is hitting the economy hard, but the Prime Minister cannot even give a coherent speech to business. The Prime Minister’s officials have lost confidence in him, Tory MPs have lost confidence in him—the letters are going in—and the public have lost confidence in him. Why is he clinging on, when it is clear that he is simply not up to the job?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I might ask the right hon. Gentleman what on earth he thinks he is doing, talking about party political issues when all that the people of Scotland want to hear is what on earth the Scottish national Government are doing. They are falling in the polls—[Interruption.] Yes, they are. Their cause is falling in the polls, and considering their manifold failures on tax, on education, on all the things that the people of Scotland really care about, I am not surprised—and I can see some agreement on the Benches opposite.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 17th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his campaign against local Labour government overtaxing and delivering inadequate services. The local boundary commission will look at the boundary reviews, but in the meantime I will support him in any way that I can.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

It used always to be said that the Tory MPs were behind the Prime Minister, but—my goodness—look at the gaps on the third, fourth and fifth Benches. The rebellion has clearly started.

This Tory sleaze scandal has now been hitting the headlines for the past 14 days, yet it is pretty obvious that the Prime Minister spent less than 10 minutes coming up with yesterday’s half-hearted, half-baked, and already half-botched proposals. These so-called reforms do not even scratch the surface. This sleaze scandal runs far, far deeper. Month after month the public have witnessed scandal after scandal: peerages handed to millionaire donors; VIP lanes; gifted covid contracts to Tory pals; dodgy donations for luxury holidays and home renovations. The Prime Minister and his Government have been up to their necks in sleaze. Will the Prime Minister tell us exactly which one of those scandals his proposals would have stopped?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the humble crofter, as the right hon. Gentleman refers to himself, for his question. What I think we can do is pursue a cross-party approach, based on the report of the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life, which has much of profit in it. Among other things it says is that it is important that this House should be augmented with outside experience of the world, and it is important that Members of this House should have experience of the private sector, as he does. On a cross-party basis we should proceed with the couple of reforms that I have indicated.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

This is about Tory sleaze and Tory corruption, and the Prime Minister has basically admitted that not one of this Government’s sleaze scandals would have been stopped by his so-called plan. Perhaps we should not be surprised, considering that the Prime Minister has been at the rotten core of all these scandals. The trail of sleaze and scandal all leads back to the funding of the Conservative party. Since 2010, the Tory party has made nine of its former treasurers Members of the House of Lords, and every single one of them has something in common: they have handed over £3 million to the Prime Minister’s party. That is the very definition of corruption. It is the public’s definition of corruption. Will this Government finally accept that this is corruption, or is the Prime Minister the only person in the country who has the brass neck to argue that it was all one big coincidence?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I will not comment on the missing £600,000 from the Scottish National party’s accounts, but what I will say, in all sincerity and heeding what you said earlier, Mr Speaker, is that I think that these constant attacks on the UK’s levels of corruption and sleaze do a massive disservice to billions of people around the world who genuinely suffer from Governments who are corrupt, and who genuinely have no ability to scrutinise their MPs. This is one of the cleanest democracies in the world, and people should be proud of it.

COP26

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Monday 15th November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right about the vital importance of the private sector. I think that this COP was a breakthrough in many ways, but not least because of the emphasis that it placed on getting the private sector in to help developing countries in particular to meet their carbon targets. She is also right in what she says about the role of the COP presidency, because my right hon. Friend the COP26 President continues in his office for a year, and we will use that period—working with our Egyptian friends, who take over for COP27—to hold our friends and partners around the world to account for what they have promised, because it is only if they keep to what they have promised that we will be able to deliver for our children, and that is what we intend to do.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I associate myself with the remarks of the Prime Minister on the terror attack that we saw in Liverpool yesterday? We all stand together against those who would perpetuate such crimes.

Let me thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of his statement, and I am delighted that today the Prime Minister has remembered that COP happened in Glasgow, rather than in Edinburgh, as he said last night. Maybe he could have led more from the front at COP, and he would actually have known which Scottish city the conference was taking place in.

In fairness, however, it is right to acknowledge that there was at least one member of the UK Government who committed themselves passionately to the Glasgow conference, and the UK COP26 President deserves credit and thanks for the role that he has played over the course of the last few weeks and months.

We all know that the Glasgow climate pact is far from everything it should be, but it does contain many positives for us to build on. Whether or not it succeeds now depends entirely on whether countries deliver on the commitments they made, and we need to hold them to those. That is the only way to truly keep the 1.5° C target alive, and we must make sure, ultimately, that we accept all of our responsibilities to deliver on that. If that urgent leadership is to be shown, then the example of that leadership needs to begin at home.

The Scottish Government led on climate justice through-out COP. We were the first country to pledge funds for loss and damage to help those vulnerable countries that have contributed least to climate change but are suffering its worst effects. This is about reparation, not charity, so will the Prime Minister reverse his cuts to international aid, follow our First Minister’s lead, and back and contribute to the creation of a loss and damage facility?

The Glasgow climate pact also contains a commitment to increase nationally determined contributions by the end of 2022, so can the Prime Minister confirm that the UK will urgently update its own NDC commitments?

Meeting our targets also means rapidly increasing investment in green jobs. Prior to recess, the Prime Minister made a commitment to go and look again at the issue of investment in tidal stream energy. Now that he has presumably looked into this, can he today commit to a ringfenced fund of £71 million for tidal stream energy as part of the contracts for difference process?

Finally, on carbon capture and storage—I know that the Prime Minister is expecting a question, and I make no apology for the fact that I will keeping asking these questions until the promises made to Scotland’s north-east are finally delivered—let us not forget that the UK Exchequer has taken £350 billion of tax revenues out of North sea oil, and it is now our responsibility to make sure that we invest in carbon capture and storage. Last week, INEOS added its voice to the growing shock and anger that track 1 status for the Acorn project was rejected by the UK Government, so will the Prime Minister reverse this devastating decision and back the Scottish cluster?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman. I should say, taking his points in reverse order, that of course the Acorn project remains a strong contender, as I have told him several times from this Dispatch Box. He should not give up hope. It is a very interesting project, and we will look at it.

On our NDCs, the UK is already compliant with 1.5° C, as a result of the pledges we have made, both by 2030 and 2035, so if we can deliver on those, then we believe that we will be able to restrain our emissions.

I have told the right hon. Gentleman before that I am interested in tidal power and contracts for difference for tidal power, and he is right that the Government should invest in making sure we have a tidal power industry in this country, as we have wind power and solar power industries, because all the evidence is that the costs come down, and that is the role of Government.

Finally, on the right hon. Gentleman’s point about the whereabouts of COP, as he will well understand, it would never have been in Scotland at all had Scotland not been part of the United Kingdom.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 3rd November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

As my hon. Friend knows, I am a fanatic about buses. We are putting £1.2 billion more into bus funding, and I know that Stoke-on-Trent has applied for that. I urge my hon. Friend to take up his suggestion immediately with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

As we look forward to Remembrance Sunday, may I, too, commend those who have served and the military and security services that protect us all for the job that they continue to do?

Sir David Attenborough’s powerful opening statement to COP26 told us that the journey to net zero means:

“We must recapture billions of tons of carbon from the air.”

The Climate Change Committee has been clear that carbon capture and storage

“is a necessity not an option”

to achieve the planet’s net zero targets.

This week, Scotland’s world-leading climate targets have received widespread praise from, among others, the UN Secretary-General. Scotland is finding partners around the world to tackle the climate emergency, but in Westminster there is not even a willing partner to deliver the long-promised carbon-capture project. Scotland’s north-east has now been waiting weeks for a clear reason for exactly why the Scottish cluster bid was rejected. There have been no clear answers, and not even clear excuses, so perhaps the Prime Minister will answer this simple question: does he know exactly how much of the UK’s CO2 storage the Scottish cluster could deliver?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am a massive enthusiast for carbon capture and storage around the whole UK. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Acorn project in Aberdeen remains on the reserve list. He should not give up: we will come back to this issue and, of course, we want to make sure that we have a fantastic industry generating clean hydrogen around the country. The right hon. Gentleman should not despair. In the meantime, we are supporting amazing Scottish plans to get clean energy from wind, hydrogen and all sorts of means. I thank the people of Scotland and the people of Glasgow for the way they have helped to produce what has been, so far, a fantastically well-organised summit.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- Hansard - -

It is bad enough that the Prime Minister rejected the Scottish cluster a week before COP, but what is worse is that he clearly does not even know or understand what his Government were rejecting. Let me tell him: the Scottish cluster bid would have stored 30% of the UK’s CO2 emissions and supported the creation of around 20,000 jobs in green industries. It was far and away the best bid, Prime Minister. If the decision was based on science alone, it would have been approved on the spot. It is obvious that there was a political decision in Westminster to reject it. With days left at the COP summit, will the Prime Minister now reverse his Government’s massive own goal in rejecting the Scottish cluster?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am trying to encourage the right hon. Gentleman to be a little bit less gloomy about the prospects of this initiative. I understand exactly what he says, and we are working with the Scottish Government, whom I thank for their co-operation and all their support for COP in the past few days and weeks and for what they are doing. We will come back to this issue. What I think is working well is the spirit of co-operation among all levels of government in this country, and what does not work is confrontation.

G20 and COP26 World Leaders Summit

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 3rd November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, and that is why we still have among the lowest corporation taxes in the OECD, in spite of the measures that we have been obliged to take because of the pandemic. That is why we put in, for instance, the 125% super deduction for companies to invest in capital, invest in infrastructure and expand their businesses. The results—the benefits—are already being seen, just in gigabit broadband alone.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.

The G20 was an opportunity to build momentum ahead of the COP summit, but I think even the Prime Minister would admit that it largely failed to meet people’s demand and desire for increased global co-operation. If we are to meet the global challenges that all of humanity now faces, that needs to change, and change very quickly, with a meaningful agreement in Glasgow over the course of the coming week. All of us hope that that will be the case.

On climate change, we know that the G20 is responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, so it is right that the G20 members bear the biggest responsibility. Countries that have contributed the least to this climate crisis must not be left to pay the biggest price. That is why there has to be a commitment to climate justice and why that is so important.

In Scotland, we recently doubled our climate justice fund to £6 million per year, providing £24 million over the Scottish Parliament Session. But the commitments from the largest nations in the G20 always seem to be heavily caveated. On Monday, the Prime Minister promised £1 billion in UK aid for climate finance, but—here is the catch—only if the UK economy grows as forecast. Exactly the same excuse is presented when it comes to the Government’s disgraceful policy of cuts to overseas aid. When will the UK Government stop caveating their commitment to climate justice, follow Scotland’s leadership and establish a climate justice fund?

On Afghanistan, what concrete actions and timelines were agreed to help end the terrible famine that is ripping through that country? Finally, on covid, what specific targets and timelines were agreed to rapidly increase vaccine roll-out to those nations that are being left behind in the suppression of the virus?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 27th October 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about Wolverhampton; that is why we are working flat out to ensure that young people in Wolverhampton benefit from the kickstart scheme, and we are working with City of Wolverhampton Council to ensure that young people get bespoke support for their return to work.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I am sure that the thoughts and prayers of the entire House will be with Walter Smith—the legend that was the Rangers, Dundee United and Scotland manager—who sadly passed away yesterday. Many of us will not forget the day he led us to victory over France at Hampden.

Naturally, most of today’s focus and attention will turn to the Chancellor’s Budget after Prime Minister’s questions, but before we turn to domestic matters, I think that it is right and important to raise the dire humanitarian situation that is developing in Afghanistan. The World Food Programme estimates that more than half the population—about 22.8 million people—face acute food insecurity, and 3.2 million children under five could suffer acute malnutrition.

Given the history of the past 20 years, it should be obvious that we have a deep responsibility to the country and its people. They are dying, and they need our help. It has only been two months since the allied forces relinquished control of the country, so can the Prime Minister update us on what exactly his Government are doing to end the famine in Afghanistan?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The right hon. Gentleman raises an issue that I know is on the mind of many people in this House and across the country. We are proud of what we have done to welcome people from Afghanistan, but we must do everything we can also to mitigate the consequences, for the people of Afghanistan, of the Taliban takeover.

What we did, as the right hon. Gentleman will recall, was double our aid commitment for this year to £286 million. We are working with the UN agencies and other non-governmental organisations to do everything we can to help the people of Afghanistan. What we cannot do at the moment is write a completely blank cheque to the Taliban Government or the Taliban authorities. We need to ensure that that country does not slip back into being a haven for terrorism and a narco-state.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The fact is that there is a humanitarian crisis and people are in need today. There was nothing there about tangible actions that the Government are taking on the ground now.

The situation is getting worse by the day. In August, the allies ran away from their responsibilities in Afghanistan, and now it very much feels as if this Government are washing their hands of the legacy that they left behind. Not only are the Afghan people being failed on humanitarian aid, but promises made to them on resettlement are being broken. When the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme was announced on 18 August, the Government talked about resettling

“up to 20,000 over the coming years”,

but, more than two months on, we have heard nothing. The Afghan people are being left with no updates and with vague targets.

Can the Prime Minister finally tell us when the resettlement scheme will open? Can he guarantee that 20,000 Afghans will be resettled? When exactly is the deadline for that to happen?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We made a commitment to resettle 20,000 Afghans in addition to those whom we brought out under Operation Pitting, which I think most fair-minded people in this country would think was a pretty remarkable feat by UK armed services. Many of those 15,000 are already being integrated into the UK, into schools and into communities, and we will help them in any way we can.

I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman is completely wrong in his characterisation of the stance that the UK has taken towards Afghanistan and the changes there. We continue to engage. We engage with the Taliban; this country was one of the first to reach out and begin a dialogue. What we are insisting on—

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

What about the resettlement scheme? Answer the question!

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Just to get to the right hon. Gentleman’s point—while he rather uncivilly calls out—what we are insisting on is safe passage for those who wish to come and settle in this country, for people to whom we owe an obligation, and that is what we are doing.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Answer the question!

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I have answered the question.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 20th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend, who I know has a very active interest in this area. We will consider recent advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on reducing barriers to research with controlled drugs, such as the one he describes, and we will be getting back to him as soon as possible.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

May I join the Leader of the Opposition in sending condolences to the family of Ernie Ross?

In 11 short days, world leaders will gather in Glasgow for COP26. This is our best chance, and very likely our last chance, to confront the climate emergency faced by our planet. That is why it was such a devastating blow that, on the eve of COP26, the UK Government rejected the Scottish cluster bid to gain track 1 status for carbon capture and storage. Today, The Press and Journal, has said that there is

“no valid reason and no acceptable excuse”

for that decision, and it has called for an immediate U-turn on that colossal mistake. We know that the decision was not made on technical or logical grounds; this devastating decision was purely political. Scotland’s north-east was promised that investment in 2014, but it is a promise that has been broken time and again. Will the Prime Minister finally live up to those promises, or are they simply not worth the Tory election leaflets they are written on?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We remain absolutely committed to helping industrial clusters to decarbonise across the whole country, of course including Scotland. I know that there was disappointment about the Acorn bid in Aberdeen. That is why it has been selected as a reserve cluster. There can be no more vivid testimony to this Government’s commitment to Scotland, or indeed to fighting climate change, than the fact that the whole world is about to come to Scotland to look at what Scotland is doing to help tackle climate change. I congratulate the people of Scotland on their efforts.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford
- View Speech - Hansard - -

People across Scotland are looking for answers today, and they are getting none. All they see is yet another Tory broken promise. It is bad enough that this UK Government are holding back carbon capture in Scotland, but they are proving an active barrier to renewable energy opportunities across the board. Tidal stream energy has the potential to generate 20% of UK generation capacity—exactly the same as nuclear. All the industry needs is a ringfenced budget of £71 million, a drop in the ocean compared with the £23 billion that this Government are throwing at the nuclear plant at Hinkley. But the UK Government are failing to give that support, threatening shovel-ready projects such as MeyGen in the north of Scotland. At the very least, Prime Minister, stand up today and guarantee a ringfenced budget for tidal stream energy and save that renewable industry from being lost overseas.

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Actually, do you know what, Mr Speaker? I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on raising tidal energy. He is absolutely right. I have seen the amazing projects that are under way. I think the House will acknowledge that we are putting huge sums into clean, green energy generation. The right hon. Gentleman is far too gloomy about the prospects of Acorn in Aberdeen. I think he needs to be seized with an unaccustomed spirit of optimism, because the Acorn project still has strong potential, and that is why it has been selected as a reserve cluster. He should keep hope alive rather than spreading gloom in the way that he does.

AUKUS

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Thursday 16th September 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my right hon. Friend very much. The increase that we have seen in our defence spending is unparalleled in modern times. It is the biggest uplift since the cold war—£24 billion. I think everybody can see the value of that and the importance of that, and, by the way, it is enabling us to take part in this historic partnership in the way that we are. On his point about our relationship with China, I just want to be clear with the House. Yes, it is true that this a huge increase in the levels of trust between the US, the UK and Australia—it is a fantastic defence technology partnership that we are building—but from the perspective of our friends and partners around the world, it is not actually revolutionary. We already have been co-operating over, for instance, the Collins class submarines in Australia.

Ian Blackford Portrait Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Let me begin by thanking the Prime Minister for advance sight of the statement and for the briefing from the National Security Adviser that was arranged last night.

Over the course of the last number of weeks and months, we have all witnessed on the streets of Kabul the devastating consequences of failure when international co-operation falters. Deepening co-operation and advancing agreements with allies that seek to aid stability and security is an important step, especially if past mistakes are never to be repeated, and I welcome this announcement. In particular, the recognition of the growing cyber-threat in this agreement may be overdue but it is none the less welcome. I would hope that the extent of this co-operation on cyber-security can and will be extended to include our other key allies, especially in Europe.

There are a number of points and questions I would like to raise about how this agreement was reached and what has been agreed. First, can the Prime Minister inform us as to what discussions have been held with other NATO allies in advance of this announcement and what interaction there will be with this initiative? Were these allies informed that this agreement was being progressed at the recent G7 summit in Cornwall?

Secondly, on the nuclear agreements, I understand and welcome the fact that the Australian Prime Minister has firmly ruled out any development of any nuclear weaponry, but in terms of future obligations under nuclear non-proliferation treaties, can the Prime Minister give a cast-iron guarantee that this agreement can never be used as a stepping stone to nuclear weaponry if any future Australian Administration were to change this approach?

Finally, on the broader geopolitical positioning that this agreement signals, a number of military experts, including the US Defence Secretary, have previously stated that the resources of allies on the European continent would be better targeted regionally rather than risk being stretched thinly across the Pacific. With all the focus of this agreement on the Indo-Pacific, what risks are there that vigilant eyes are taken off the threats closer to home, specifically from the Putin regime in Moscow, or indeed matching up the UK and the EU strategic interest in shoring up stability and providing the humanitarian assistance that is needed in parts of Africa?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for what I think was a broad welcome of this AUKUS agreement. It is historic and it is good for the whole of the United Kingdom. There is no conflict with NATO; NATO members are obviously fully up to speed with what is happening and this in no way affects the NATO relationships, which are absolutely fundamental for our security. There is also no prospect of its breaking the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, as I informed the House earlier, and no risk at all that it will mean that the United Kingdom or any of our allies take our eye off the ball on the threat from the Putin regime or Russia. The House should therefore understand that this is a defence technology agreement that is very sensible given the huge geopolitical weight now to be found in the Indo-Pacific region; the economic growth in that area is phenomenal and the security issues there are very important for our country—such as in the maintenance of trade flows—and that is why it is vital that we take part in this agreement.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Ian Blackford and Boris Johnson
Wednesday 15th September 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts