Lee Anderson debates with HM Treasury

There have been 2 exchanges between Lee Anderson and HM Treasury

Wed 15th July 2020 Covid-19: Future UK-EU Relationship 13 interactions (879 words)
Tue 7th July 2020 Oral Answers to Questions 11 interactions (175 words)

Covid-19: Future UK-EU Relationship

Lee Anderson Excerpts
Wednesday 15th July 2020

(2 weeks, 6 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Mark Eastwood Portrait Mark Eastwood (Dewsbury) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 12:04 a.m.

First, I reassure the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Alan Brown) that I will not mention the “Kama Sutra”, so no upset caused there. [Interruption.] Oh, sorry—I just did.

I welcome the Minister’s comments about the importance of sticking to the deadline and our promise to the British people. The Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, of which I am a member, received evidence relating to the effect of covid-19 on the negotiations. The negotiations are progressing and intensifying, but no amount of extra time will resolve the sticking points. The European Union is refusing to follow its own precedent and incorporate terms that it has accepted in other trade deals. The Select Committee’s report spoke of the possibility that covid-19

“may focus minds on arriving at a timely deal.”

I hope that causes the EU to recognise that its position is unreasonable and accept its need to compromise.

The report also highlighted the importance of giving certainty to business. The SNP’s motion would only give way to months more of uncertainty. It is reckless and acts as a thin veil for the party’s desire to cancel the decision taken by the United Kingdom in 2016.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Hansard

Does my hon. Friend agree that four years is enough time to have negotiated a deal with the EU?

Mark Eastwood Portrait Mark Eastwood - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 3:34 p.m.

I thank my hon. Friend for making that really important point. We have moved on now, and there is no more time for dither and delay. We need to move on.

It is hardly surprising that the SNP called this debate, given its form for disregarding referendum results. Fifty-seven per cent. of the people of Dewsbury, Mirfield, Kirkburton and Denby Dale voted to leave the European Union. I was proud to campaign for a truly global Britain to take back control from Brussels and reclaim our independent trade policy. During the last general election, the spectre of the Brexit party risked splitting the leave vote and allowing the Labour party to hold the seat. Imagine my relief when my Labour opponents, in their infinite wisdom, published election leaflets branding me as the Prime Minister’s chum and a no-deal Brexiteer. I would like to thank the Labour party for its gleaming endorsement, without which I probably would not be standing here today. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. The fact that the Labour party thought those leaflets would hinder my chances rather than endear me to the electorate just shows how out of touch it is.

I echo my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Jacob Young) in asking where Labour Members are today. Where are they? Looking at the sparse Labour Benches, there is little sign that anything has changed. It is deeply worrying that the Opposition could muster only one Back-Bench Member to speak in this debate—[Interruption.] And I am not sure where the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones) is. I want to offer Labour Members—who are, hopefully, watching or listening in their offices—some genuine advice: listen to the British people and accept the result of the referendum and the enormous benefits of being an outward-looking nation. They should unanimously oppose this motion. By doing so, perhaps they would get a little bit closer to reconnecting with their traditional voters.

I must confess that I am not, in fact, a no-deal Brexiteer. That is not to say that we should be fearful of a no-deal Brexit, given adequate preparation. However, I am optimistic that the Government will secure a deal that works for the whole United Kingdom. They are on track to deliver a deal that protects our legal autonomy and takes us out of the single market and the customs union. We will then be able to secure the vast boons of trade deals with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Japan. My constituents have no desire to dither and delay, and nor do I. I will be opposing the motion with a spring in my step.

Break in Debate

Mr Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans) - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 12:03 a.m.

Order. I think we have to move on—sorry. I call Lee Anderson.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard

This debate has nothing to do with covid or the negotiations with the EU. It has more to do with the Opposition once again refusing to accept democracy. Of course, Opposition parties have form in refusing to accept the democratic will of the people. Let us remind ourselves that we voted to leave as the United Kingdom—not as Northern Ireland, not as Scotland, not as Wales, not as England. Look at the Conservatives—we are the 109s, and we are here because of the Opposition’s reluctance to accept democracy. Most of us are from leave constituencies, and we were voted in because of the Opposition. That is a fact.

On 23 June 2016, my phone did not stop ringing. People all over Ashfield were ringing to ask where they could go to vote. They were people who had never voted before; people of all ages who wanted their voice to be heard. When the results came in the next day, the same people called me again to say that their vote really did count. The referendum result went a long way towards restoring confidence in democracy in left-behind areas like mine—the same areas that the Opposition told us would suffer if we left the EU. In Ashfield, our pits, factories and swathes of manufacturing industry have vanished over the past 40-odd years, and during the same period we have been part of the wonderful EU. People in Ashfield cannot see the benefits of being in the EU, and no one has ever explained it to them—I wonder why? Perhaps the Opposition do not realise that in places like Ashfield they cannot threaten us any longer.

Alyn Smith Portrait Alyn Smith - Hansard

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:14 p.m.

No, I will not. The Opposition cannot tell us that we will suffer, lose our jobs and homes if we do not listen to them. We have suffered in the past, we have lost jobs, seen our area decline and be ignored, but we are fighters in Ashfield and we are coming back stronger. For the first time in decades we have hope, we know we can make a success of things, and we know that Ashfield can once again become a force to be reckoned with in a UK that is not controlled by the EU. But four years later, the Brexit blockers—

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:14 p.m.

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:15 p.m.

No, I am not giving way.

But four years later, the Brexit blockers are still at it. The majority of people in Ashfield and the first-time voters are not happy with them. Even the remain voters are not happy with them. We are all democrats and we should respect that. My voters were not happy with the Labour party last December when the people of Ashfield voted me in, and many of my colleagues across the midlands and the north. Just after the election, Labour started knocking on doors in Ashfield to ask why its voters had left it. I was sort of hoping that there would be more Labour MPs here today, but perhaps they have some extra guidelines on social distancing—that is probably why they are not here. Imagine ignoring your core voters for four years and then telling them that they did not know what they were voting for, or that we should have a confirmatory second vote, and then telling them that no one voted for a hard Brexit, a no-deal Brexit or any other type of Brexit. The people of Ashfield voted for Brexit, deal or no deal. The fact that the SNP is now using covid as another excuse to prolong the agony just shows how low it is prepared to sink. But we still do not know what the Labour party’s policy is on this—perhaps in a couple of years’ time Captain Hindsight will tell us all.

The good news is that I have some oven-ready advice for the Labour party. It needs to start knocking on doors before an election and actually asking people what they want rather than telling them what they should want. It was easy for me: I asked the voters, “What do you want?”, and they answered, “Get Brexit done.” I promised to get it done, they voted for me, and here I am, eight months later, after decades—

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP) - Parliament Live - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:16 p.m.

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:16 p.m.

No, I am not giving way.

Here I am, after decades of Labour MPs in Ashfield and after four years of Labour telling the people of Ashfield they did not know what they were voting for. Yes, I am here, and I am sticking up for people in Ashfield. The same Opposition parties keep ignoring my people, but that will not go on for much longer. The Labour party still does not get it. It does not understand its own voters in the midlands and in the north. The SNP is a bit smarter than the Labour party: it does not really want to be a part of the EU, but sees continued membership as a way of forcing independence and splitting up the Union. But have no fear—I will be waving my Union Jack at midnight on 31 December to celebrate the United Kingdom finally getting to make its own way in the world, and I hope that the SNP will be joining me.

Kirsten Oswald Portrait Kirsten Oswald (East Renfrewshire) (SNP) - Hansard
15 Jul 2020, 4:17 p.m.

I must say to the hon. Member for Ashfield (Lee Anderson) that I think that is highly unlikely.

It is clear that the path being steered by the UK Government is compounding the economic uncertainty caused by covid, and is at odds with the interests and the wishes of the people in Scotland. It is certainly at odds with the interests and the wishes of the people in my constituency, who rejected Brexit by three to one. I am really confident that as an independent country Scotland would not be on this path. People in Scotland see through the spin, the bluster and the deceit that are at the core of this Government and the strategy they are pursuing.

Scotland’s Government are taking a considered and cautious approach to getting us out from under this dreadful pandemic. There is no way the same could be said of the UK Government’s response. That is not a party political point: 70% of Scots who voted Labour or Conservative in 2019 approve of the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic. With the full powers of independence, we could have made different choices reflecting our different circumstances. It is notable that across the UK fewer than half the people think that the UK Government have handled the pandemic well—a figure that bumps along the bottom of international rankings alongside their pal Trump’s shambolic Administration. This lack of planning and structure bodes very poorly for Brexit.

This is as much about the way that the UK Government consider the needs of all our communities. To borrow a phrase, “lions led by donkeys” is a not unreasonable description of the relationship between the UK’s Government and its citizens. Ironically, the donkeys of yesteryear and those of today, some of whom sometimes lounge on the Government Front Benches, share a remarkably similar outlook: dismissive yet underprepared, and uninterested in experts but well-schooled in Latin soundbites—not of much practical use given the circumstances we are dealing with.

Why would anyone think that this Government—a Government who are all over the place on this pandemic and whose mismanagement of it has affected all four nations of the UK—are capable of rebuilding the economy in a sustainable and fairer way, while they say nothing at all on issues such as child poverty? Why would anyone think that that kind of Government are capable of negotiating an exit from the EU other than by crashing us out, which many on the Government Benches appear to want to do, no matter the harm it does?

It may be late in the day, but it is not too late to do the right thing by delaying the end of the transition. The problem is that leading members of this Government and their advisers have no interest or track record in doing the right thing. It is not just in their dealings with the EU that that is the approach. Inability to negotiate is often associated with a domineering culture. That is how the UK Government conduct their relationship with the devolved Administrations. Having failed to get their way through the four-nation approach to the pandemic, the UK Government simply wandered away down a path of U-turn and confusion. In typical domineering style, their solution is not to improve their ability to work with others, but planning to use the powers of this place to undermine those they should be working with.

Brexit, as it is now appearing from under the desk of Dominic Cummings, will not come quietly. The devolved Administrations tried to work with the UK Government on a post-Brexit settlement that respected the democratically expressed wishes of the people of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But when the UK Government’s proposals emerge, they will represent a power grab on the devolved Administrations on a grand scale. Having seen the chaos that this Government have presided over in recent months, few voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will welcome these proposals.

The best recruiting sergeants for the cause of Scottish independence are those who are wilfully charging on with their plans for Brexit and riding roughshod over our votes in Scotland once again, while the rest of the world watches in disbelief as they put at risk the wellbeing and economic future of their citizens. My message to the UK Government is clear, as they set about pushing down this road that Scotland expressly voted to avoid: as you set out to shake the Union to its foundations, do not be surprised if it is not left standing when you are finished.

Oral Answers to Questions

Lee Anderson Excerpts
Tuesday 7th July 2020

(4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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HM Treasury
Anna McMorrin Portrait Anna McMorrin (Cardiff North) (Lab) - Hansard

If he will develop a scheme based on the future jobs fund to support young unemployed people into work. [904362]

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Hansard

What support the Government are providing to self-employed workers affected by the covid-19 outbreak. [904363]

Bambos Charalambous Portrait Bambos Charalambous (Enfield, Southgate) (Lab) - Hansard

What assessment he has made of the potential effect on levels of unemployment of withdrawing the (a) coronavirus job retention scheme and (b) self-employment income support schemes. [904365]

Break in Debate

Rishi Sunak - Hansard
7 Jul 2020, 12:02 a.m.

The hon. Lady mentioned plans from other countries. It is worth bearing in mind that those plans relate to spending commitments over many years and are actually better compared with what we outlined at Budget, where we set out a £600 billion investment programme over the remainder of this Parliament, including many initiatives such as carbon capture and storage, the nature for climate fund and improvements in air quality. Conservative Members wholeheartedly believe in a green revolution, and we will provide the capital to make that happen.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson - Hansard
7 Jul 2020, 12:03 a.m.

I pay tribute to all the small business owners in Ashfield and Eastwood who have worked really hard to get ready for the reopening of their businesses last weekend in a covid-secure manner—places such as the world-famous Diamond Club, the Dog and Parrot, the Bus Stop Café, St Joseph’s Social Club and the outstanding Teversal Camping and Caravanning Club site. Although I am grateful to the Chancellor for all the financial support he has provided, does he agree that the only way to protect jobs and businesses in the long term is by safely reopening the economy?

Rishi Sunak - Hansard
7 Jul 2020, 12:03 a.m.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. No support scheme can substitute for safely reopening our economy. I enjoyed seeing his Facebook page with his tour of Sutton, Eastwood and Huthwaite, and all the establishments that he mentioned—including a candle shop, I believe—and I pay tribute to all his local businesses for following the guidance and implementing safe measures so that they can welcome their local communities back with open arms.

Break in Debate

Jesse Norman Portrait Jesse Norman - Hansard

I entirely agree with the hon. Lady about the importance of credit unions. I am a member of Money Box Credit Union in Hereford and can vouch for their importance, especially for people on low incomes. She makes a very valid point, and it is one that we will continue to consider as we move forward.

Lee Anderson Portrait Lee Anderson (Ashfield) (Con) - Hansard

For too long, Ashfield has been left behind. My constituents are waiting with anticipation for the Chancellor’s financial statement tomorrow. They care about infrastructure, roads, rail transport, town centre funding and the future high streets fund. Can my right hon. Friend please assure me that Ashfield will be prioritised as we begin the process of levelling up across the country? [904422]

Steve Barclay Portrait The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Steve Barclay) - Hansard

As the Prime Minister said last week, we are doubling down on levelling up, and he committed last week to £95 million for shovel-ready projects in the east midlands, in addition to the £10.25 million of accelerated funding from the towns fund for Kirkby-in-Ashfield. I look forward to working with my hon. Friend in his commitment to levelling up his constituency.