Debates between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 16th Oct 2023
Mon 22nd May 2023

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 22nd May 2024

(1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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May I begin by also welcoming the hon. Member for South Thanet (Craig Mackinlay) back to the Chamber? He is indeed an inspiration to all of us.

Mr Speaker, speculation is rife, so I think the public deserve a clear answer to a simple question. Does the Prime Minister intend to call a summer general election, or is he feart?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have said repeatedly to the right hon. Gentleman, there is—spoiler alert—going to be a general election in the second half of this year. At that moment, the British people will in fact see the truth about the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), because that will be the choice at the next election. It will be a party that is not able to say to the country what it would do—a party that would put at risk our hard-earned economic stability—or the Conservatives who are delivering a secure future for our United Kingdom.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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The Prime Minister continues to play games with the public, so while he does that, let us get back to some serious matters. I was taken aback this week when a former Prime Minister spoke some sense. Alas, it was, indeed, David Cameron. What he said in relation to graduate route visas was that if any restrictions were implemented, it would lead to job losses, university closures and a reduction in research. Universities Scotland outlines that £5 billion of economic value is at risk. So, may I ask the Prime Minister: does he agree with the Foreign Secretary?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The Foreign Secretary also said that the levels of legal migration to this country are too high. That is what I also believe, which is why it is right that we are taking decisive action to bring down the numbers. And that plan is working. In the first three months of this year, the visas issued are down by 25% and migration is on its way to being returned to more sustainable levels. I appreciate that that is a point of difference between the right hon. Gentleman’s party, and indeed the Labour party, and us. We believe that that level of migration needs to come down to more sustainable levels, so that we ease the pressure on public services. Everyone who comes to our country must contribute economically. That is the migration system that we will deliver.

Infected Blood Inquiry Report

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Monday 20th May 2024

(1 week, 2 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I wish to begin by stating something I think we all now agree is self-evidently the case, which is that this scandal represents the very worst of Westminster: decades of deflection, decades of denial and, of course, decades of deceit; children used as research; parents watching their children die; children watching their parents die; and tens of thousands of people impacted, many of whom are not here to see this day. For those who imposed this tragedy upon them, no consequences have yet been felt. But today is not about them.

Today is about the victims, and I say to them, on behalf of myself and my colleagues in the Scottish National party on these Benches: I wish to offer you three things. The first is an apology. I am incredibly sorry that this happened to you. The second is to say, quite openly, thank you; thank you for your determination and your desire—for being able to pry open the doors of this place and ensure that your voices were heard by all of us. We would not be here today without your efforts. The third is to say to the victims: I can assure you that we will do everything we can to ensure that the Government implement the recommendations, as laid out today.

We have heard the Prime Minister make a very sincere promise in relation to compensation; and we will work with him and his Government, and indeed any future Government, to ensure that that promise is swiftly kept.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I welcome the absolute consensus that today is a moment for the families and the community, and for their voices to be heard loudest. Every single testimony and account in Sir Brian’s report today sets out a unique story of hurt, suffering and loss. Individually, these accounts are astounding; taken together, they are truly unimaginable. They must be heard and they must be understood, as the right hon. Gentleman said. I thank him for his remarks. I know that we share a determination to work together to ensure that nothing like this shocking and avoidable calamity can ever happen in our country again.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 15th May 2024

(2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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On Monday, the Prime Minister outlined what he considers to be extremist threats to our society, and in doing so he actively compared North Korea, Iran and Russia with those people in Scotland who believe in independence, so can I ask him to rise, once, to the standards befitting his office, and apologise for those puerile and pathetic remarks?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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That is not what I said, but I will say to the hon. Gentleman that his party is indeed a threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom. I hate to remind him that that is literally its entire purpose. When the people of Scotland accepted the referendum result in 2014, it was the SNP that didn’t. It went on creating a Minister for independence, focusing on constitutional wrangling and ignoring the needs of the people. Education standards are falling and taxes are rising. It is the right hon. Gentleman who should finally do the right thing: end the obsession with independence, and put the needs of the Scottish people first.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let us be clear. What the Prime Minister did was not just equate my colleagues and I to dangerous despots across the world; he proactively compared almost half the Scottish population to a war criminal like Vladimir Putin, and he did so as their Prime Minister, as the man who represents them on the world stage and as the man who on these isles is tasked with defending their liberties and their democracy. We know that his sorry time in office is rapidly coming to a conclusion, but is this really how he wants to be remembered?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As ever, the right hon. Gentleman is distracting from the actual record of what the SNP is doing in Scotland. This obsession with independence means that Scottish schoolchildren are being let down, plummeting down international league tables; the Scottish NHS is the only place in the United Kingdom where funding is actually falling in real terms; and taxes are going up for ordinary hard-working families and small businesses. That is what the SNP is doing in Scotland while this UK Government are delivering for them.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 8th May 2024

(3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The right hon. Gentleman may not realise that the UK Government do not directly provide or ship arms to Israel. When it comes to the situation in Rafah, I have been very clear that we are deeply concerned about a full military incursion, given the devastating humanitarian impact; I have made that point specifically to Prime Minister Netanyahu whenever we have spoken. I will continue to urge all sides to focus on the negotiations at hand, to bring about a pause in the conflict, to release hostages and get more aid in.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let us be clear: the confidence that Israel has shown in its military ambitions in Rafah stems from the silence of its allies on the Front Benches in this place and elsewhere across the world. We all know that UK arms and tech are supporting Israel’s activities in Gaza, and will be used in any attack on Rafah. Knowing that, and the devastation that will occur, surely the time has come to end our complicity and halt arms sales to Israel.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Of course we take our defence export responsibilities extremely seriously. That is why we operate one of the most robust licensing control regimes anywhere in the world. We periodically review advice on Israel’s commitment to international humanitarian law, and Ministers always act in accordance with that advice. That is crystal clear for the House to understand. Following the most recent assessment, our position on export licences is unchanged. I know that the right hon. Gentleman will join me in urging all parties to engage in the negotiations, so that we can see a pause in fighting to get more aid in, hostages out and bring about a sustainable ceasefire in this conflict.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 1st May 2024

(4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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On Monday, the Armed Forces Minister could neither confirm nor deny that UK troops may soon be deployed on the ground in the middle east. The public watching will be hoping that Members of this House do not have a short memory when it comes to the potential deployment and involvement of our military in the middle east. Can I ask the Prime Minister to provide some much-needed clarity: is he giving active consideration to the deployment of UK forces in the middle east—yes or no?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Mr Speaker, you would not expect me to get into any operational planning details, but what I will say is that we are absolutely committed to supporting international effort to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, which I think the whole House would support, by land, sea and air. We have tripled our aid commitment, and right now—together with the US, Cyprus and other partners—we are setting up a new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to get aid in as securely and quickly as possible.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let us all be in no doubt: aid is required in Gaza, and it is required because, when people are not being bombed, they are starving to death. The solution to that is a ceasefire and the opening of safe ground aid routes, not the involvement on the ground of UK military personnel. These are dramatic and potentially dangerous developments, so will the Prime Minister confirm to the House today that, before he makes a decision, all Members will be afforded a vote?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am not going to apologise for our armed forces playing a leading role in supporting international effort to get more aid in. Indeed, we are sending Royal Navy support ship RFA Cardigan Bay to the region to support that effort. The right hon. Gentleman talks about this conflict; the fastest way to end it is to ensure that we have a hostage deal that gets hostages out and aid in, and for there to be a sustainable pause in the fighting. It seems clear that there now is a workable offer on the table, so I hope he joins me in encouraging all parties, including Hamas, to accept that deal so we can move towards a sustainable solution.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 17th April 2024

(1 month, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Where I do agree with my predecessor very strongly is that Scotland would be far stronger inside the United Kingdom.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Gordon Brown was also correct in stating that Scottish independence is not simply off the agenda. Those remarks were echoed just yesterday by the general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, who stated that it remained an unresolved issue—[Laughter.] Conservative Members may laugh at her, but she went on to say:

“That can be a very dangerous place to end up in when you are not allowing people to express their wishes in a democratic manner.”

Does the Prime Minister welcome the fulsome, wholehearted and warm support of the Labour party in denying the people of Scotland the opportunity to have a say over their own future?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We did have a democratic vote on that topic, but I would suggest to the SNP that, rather than obsessing about independence, and wasting time cracking down on free speech and trying to lock up J. K. Rowling, he should focus on what the people of Scotland care about: schools, hospitals, jobs and our new tax cuts.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 20th March 2024

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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With his Back Benchers looking for a unity candidate to replace him, which of the now numerous born-again Thatcherites on the Labour Front Bench does the Prime Minister believe best fits the bill?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It was surprising, Mr Speaker, to hear all this talk about the 1970s from the shadow Chancellor in particular, but if you see what is happening in places like Birmingham, where taxes are going up by 21% and services are being cut—whether that is social care, children’s services, or in some streets the lights literally being turned off—it is unsurprising why they are talking about the ’70s. I just say that what they have done to Birmingham, the Conservatives will never let them do to Britain.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Of course there is a serious point to be made here, because the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned of the conspiracy of silence that exists between the Labour party and the Conservative party when it comes to £18 billion of looming public sector cuts. Indeed, just last night it outlined that the fiscal rules of the Labour party and the Conservative party are, in effect, identical. With such continuity on offer, the public are right to be anti-Westminster, aren’t they?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman quoting the IFS, because it also described the recent SNP Budget as, in its words, “misleading”, and said that

“pain is almost certainly coming”.

It is a savage tax and axe budget, because here is the reality: while NHS spending in England is going up in real terms, in Scotland it is going down; while taxes are being cut by the UK Government, the SNP Government are putting them up. That is the contrast, and where the SNP or indeed Labour are in charge, it is working people who pay the price.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 13th March 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the SNP.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I begin by wishing Ramadan Mubarak to Muslims across these isles.

The Conservative party has accepted a £10 million donation from an individual who has said that one of our parliamentary colleagues in this Chamber “should be shot.” Why is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom putting money before morals?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have said, the comments were wrong, the gentleman in question has apologised for them and that remorse should be accepted.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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This is complete rubbish. The gentleman in question apologised for “being rude”. He was not rude; he was racist, odious and downright bloody dangerous. On Monday, No. 10 said that we have

“seen an unacceptable rise in extremist activity, which is seeking to divide our society and hijack our democratic institutions.”

Is not the extremism that we should all be worried about the views of those Tory donors we have read about this week?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, there has actually been a rise in extremist activity that is seeking to hijack our democratic institutions. It is important that we have the tools to tackle this threat. That is what the extremism strategy will do. I urge the hon. Gentleman to wait for the Communities Secretary to release the details.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 6th March 2024

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Much to my surprise, this morning it has been widely reported that the Conservative party in Scotland is absolutely furious that Westminster is about to tax Scotland’s natural resources in order to pay for a tax cut in England. Is the Prime Minister in danger of turning his colleagues into nationalists?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Obviously, I would not comment on the Budget, but I will say that when I was in Scotland last week it was crystal clear that there has only ever been one party consistently standing up for the North sea energy industry, and it is the Scottish Conservatives.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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The Prime Minister knows that not to be the case. But there is a serious point to be made here: the Conservative party wants to use Scotland’s natural resources to pay for tax cuts in England, and the Labour party wants to use Scotland’s natural resources to pay for nuclear power stations in England—the cost of that is up to 100,000 jobs. Scotland’s wealth, resources and jobs are all a game to Westminster. With the Tories on just 15% in the polls in Scotland now, will the Prime Minister do us all a favour and call a general election?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Gentleman claims to be supportive of the North sea energy industry, but why has he opposed all the measures that we have taken to protect those jobs in Scotland over the past couple of years? He talks about tax in Scotland and England. I gently point out to him that, thanks to the actions of the Chancellor and this UK Government, everyone in Scotland has received a significant tax cut from January this year. In contrast to the Chancellor’s last Budget, the SNP’s budget put taxes up for working Scots. Scotland is now the high-tax capital of the UK, but this Conservative Government are going to keep cutting taxes for hard-working Scots.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 28th February 2024

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have consistently called for an immediate humanitarian pause, which would allow for the safe release of hostages—including British nationals—and more aid to Gaza. We welcome progress on a deal. As the hon. Gentleman said, there has been progress, and we urge everyone on all sides to seize the opportunity. I have been clear that we must seize the momentum from this terrible tragedy to find a lasting resolution to this conflict that delivers on the promise of a two-state solution, and ensures that Israelis and Palestinians can live in dignity and security.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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We are approaching five months since this conflict began. In that time, this House has equivocated and, on three occasions at the United Nations, this Government have abstained when they could have voted for a ceasefire. Abstentionism is not leadership. Should this matter now come before the United Nations, with a ceasefire potentially in sight, will the Prime Minister use his Government’s vote to deliver that ceasefire?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We support the United States’ draft resolution that was discussed with colleagues at the United Nations last week. But just calling for an immediate, full ceasefire now, which collapses back into fighting within days or weeks and does not include the release of hostages, including British ones, is not in anyone’s interests. We must work towards a permanent ceasefire. That starts with an immediate humanitarian pause, to get aid in and hostages out. I agree about the suffering of the people in Gaza; in this country we should be proud of everything we are doing to help them and to provide them with the lifesaving aid they deserve.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 21st February 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I begin by echoing the sentiments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the heroic bravery of Alexei Navalny. We must all continue to be united in our opposition to Vladimir Putin.

As it stands, some 60% of the buildings in Gaza are either damaged or destroyed. Much of the farmland is in ruin; some 30,000 people are dead, 70,000 are injured, and 1.4 million are currently sheltering in Rafah, awaiting an imminent Israeli onslaught. Surely the Prime Minister must accept that that does not amount to self-defence.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I share the concern of many Members about the high rate of civilian casualties and, indeed, the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. That is why we have called consistently for an immediate humanitarian pause, which would allow for the safe release of hostages and more aid going into Gaza, so that we create the sustainable conditions for a long-term and enduring ceasefire. That is what our diplomatic efforts are focused on, and that is what I impressed upon the Israeli Prime Minister last week when I spoke to him.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Tonight, this House will have the opportunity to join the majority of the international community and say that enough is enough, that the killing in Gaza must stop and that the hostages must be released, and the best way to do that is to send a clear and united message that we back an immediate ceasefire. Surely, all of us, irrespective of our political allegiance, can agree on that very issue?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Of course, we want to see the fighting in Gaza end as soon as possible, and never again allow Hamas to carry out the appalling terrorist attacks that Israel was subject to. The hon. Member talks about the UN resolution, but just calling for an immediate full ceasefire now, which collapses back into fighting within days or weeks, is not in anyone’s interest. We must work towards a permanent ceasefire, and that is why the right approach is the approach that we have set out and the United States has set out in its resolution, which is for an immediate humanitarian pause to get hostages out and aid in, so that we then can create the conditions for a sustainable ceasefire. In the meantime, we are doing everything we can to increase the amount of humanitarian aid that we bring into Gaza—something I discussed with the King of Jordan last week—and we will have more updates in the coming days of more airdrops into Gaza, but also just in the last couple of days, that have managed to deliver family tents into Gaza, which are providing much-needed shelter for very vulnerable people.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 7th February 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I begin by expressing my heartfelt sympathies to Brianna’s mother, who is in the Public Gallery. I also send my best wishes to King Charles for what will hopefully be a quick and full recovery.

The public are used to the Tories gambling on the lives of others: Boris Johnson did it with public health during the pandemic, and his immediate successor did it with household finances. Not to be outdone, on Monday this week the Prime Minister accepted a crude bet regarding the lives of asylum seekers. In doing so, he demeaned them as individuals and he degraded the office that he currently holds. Will he apologise?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We may have a principled disagreement on this: I believe, and we believe, that if someone comes to this country illegally, they should not be able to stay and they should be removed. That is why we are committed to our Rwanda scheme.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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As ever, the Prime Minister does himself no favours, because the bet to which I refer was worth £1,000, and it came just hours before he ended cost of living support worth just £900. His justification for doing so was that the cost of living crisis is easing. What does he believe leaves him looking most out of touch with the public: gambling £1,000, or believing that the cost of living crisis is getting better?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Gentleman talks about the cost of living, but perhaps he can explain to the Scottish people why it is that, while the UK Conservative Government are cutting their taxes, the Scottish Government are raising them?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 24th January 2024

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Last night, as Tory MPs were once again fighting among themselves, the public were at home watching John Irvine of ITV News report on footage from Gaza of an unarmed Palestinian man walking under a white flag being shot and killed by the Israel Defence Forces. Such an act constitutes a war crime, does it not?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We have been absolutely consistent that international humanitarian law should be respected and civilians should be protected. I have made that point expressly to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the Foreign Secretary is in the region this week making exactly the same point.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I do not think it is unreasonable to expect the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to rise to that Dispatch Box and tell the people of these isles and elsewhere that shooting an unarmed man walking under a white flag is a war crime. In recent weeks, the House has acted with urgency and intent following an ITV drama. The question is, will the House now show the same urgency and intent following this ITV News report and finally back a ceasefire in Gaza?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No one wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than necessary. We do want to see an immediate and sustained humanitarian pause to get more aid in and, crucially, the hostages out, helping to create the conditions for a sustainable ceasefire. I have set out the conditions for that in the House. The Foreign Secretary is in the region today, and we will continue to press all our allies and partners to make sure that we can bring about that outcome.

Action Against Houthi Maritime Attacks

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Freedom of navigation is not a choice: it is a necessity, not least because of the impact there could be on all the people we are very fortunate to represent. As such, as a point of principle it is fair for the Government to use proportionate and robust action to defend that right to freedom of navigation. However, all of us in this Chamber need to be mindful of the opponent that we face in this regard. The Houthis have been under almost constant bombardment from Saudi Arabia for the best part of eight years; they did not get that message, so why are we so confident that they will get our message this time around?

That, of course, leads to the wider question: what is the ultimate strategy going forward, in relation not just to the Houthis but to the wider region? Over the past week, we have seen missile strikes in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Syria and, of course, Yemen. In the meantime, we continue to see the complete destruction of Gaza and, of course, Hamas continue to obtain hostages. We need to understand the Government’s strategy to calm waters not just in the Red sea but right across the region. Surely that must begin with a ceasefire in Gaza.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As difficult as the situation is, to do nothing would also be a choice. I believe that would be the wrong choice because it would be tantamount to ceding control of a global, economically vital shipping route to a dangerous militant group that is backed by Iran, and it would put innocent lives at risk. The hon. Gentleman is right that the military action should sit within a broader strategy, which hopefully he can tell from my statement we are engaged in on all fronts.

On the hon. Gentleman’s point about Israel and Gaza, as I have made clear, no one wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than necessary. An immediate pause is necessary to get aid in and hostages out—that is what we have been calling for. The best outcome will be moving from that pause to a sustainable ceasefire, but, as I was clear about in my statement, a number of things need to happen for that to be possible, including the release of all the hostages by Hamas, Hamas no longer being in charge in Gaza and an agreement for the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza to provide governance. That is a conversation we have been having, and we will continue to push for that, because I believe that will be the best outcome and it is one that is widely supported by, I would imagine, everyone in this House.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 17th January 2024

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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When people woke up today in homes that they cannot afford to heat, with mortgages that they are struggling to pay, to news that inflation is once again on the rise, they will have looked to Westminster for answers, and instead they find a UK Government who are tearing themselves apart over how quickly they can send vulnerable people on a plane to Rwanda. Surely the Prime Minister must understand that the anger that some of his own Back Benchers have towards him is no comparison to the anger that the public have towards his party.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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If the hon. Gentleman did care about supporting working families to pay their bills and to pay their mortgage, why on earth is the SNP making Scotland the highest taxed part of the United Kingdom, where the average—not the wealthiest, but the average—worker in Scotland is now paying more tax than they do in England.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Of course, when it comes to the Rwanda Bill the reality is that, if you want to stop the smuggler gangs, you should introduce safe and legal routes, but instead the Prime Minister is seeking to weaponise some of the most vulnerable people in society. It is straight out of the cruel and callous right-wing extremist playbook. His time in office is fast approaching its conclusion. Does he seriously want this to be his legacy?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I said, it is important that we stop the boats because illegal migration is simply not fair. It is not right that some people jump the queue and take away our resources from those who need our help most—and, by the way they are exploited by gangs and many of them lose their lives making these dangerous crossings—so I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. The fair and compassionate thing to do is to break these criminal gangs, and that is why we are going to stop the boats.

Defending the UK and Allies

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Monday 15th January 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I would like to begin by echoing the Prime Minister’s sentiments in relation to Ukraine. All of us on the SNP Benches remain firmly united behind its struggle against Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

When Sir Walter Scott wrote that in war both sides lose, I am not quite sure he had factored into the equation the likes of the Houthis, because they are, of course, the fundamentalist’s fundamentalists. Unperturbed by being on the receiving end of Saudi Arabia’s bombing for many years, they are, the perceived wisdom would suggest, not just content but perhaps even quite happy to be on the receiving end of American bombs.

That context poses an enormous question for all of us in this House as to what comes next. If, as has been suggested by the Houthis’ actions over the course of the last 12 hours or so, the message that we sought to send has not been received, what do we intend to do? What is the plan? What is the Prime Minister’s strategy? Will he come to the Dispatch Box and, unlike his predecessors in relation to middle east conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, lay out when and how far he is willing to go in relation to military action? Clearly we need to understand his Government’s strategy in this conflict, because we cannot have an escalation that leads to further regional instability. While we would all agree, quite rightly, that we should not fall for the Houthis’ narrative that this is directly related to the conflict in Israel and Gaza, we cannot escape the fact that a ceasefire in Gaza is essential for that wider regional stability.

Let me finally say that, although the Prime Minister has sought to defend his decision not to come to the House last week, it is clear that the House should have been recalled. It is what the public would have expected, and I urge him to do better in future.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments about Ukraine and his support for our approach.

Obviously I will not speculate on future action. What we conducted was intended as a single, limited action, and of course we hope that the Houthis will step back and end their reckless and destabilising attacks, but we will not hesitate to protect our security and our interests where required. We would, of course, follow the correct procedures, as I believe we did in this case.

Although the hon. Gentleman is right to ask questions, we should also recognise the risks of inaction, because doing nothing would absolutely weaken international security and the rule of law, would further damage the freedom of navigation and the global economy, and—perhaps most important—would send the very dangerous message that British vessels and British interests are fair game, and that is simply unacceptable.

Of course I am happy to answer questions about the situation in Israel and Gaza, but the House should make it very clear to the outside world that there is no link between what we have done last week and the situation there. This was a specific action in self-defence against the Houthis, who are conducting illegal strikes against innocent civilian shipping. That has nothing to do with what is going on in Israel and Gaza, and we must never let anyone think that this House believes that there is a link.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 10th January 2024

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the SNP.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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The Horizon system was introduced by Tony Blair, the former Labour party leader and of course now a Knight of the Garter. The Horizon system was defended by the current leader of the Liberal Democrats, himself a Knight Bachelor. The Horizon system scandal was overseen by a former Conservative Prime Minister who now hides in the House of Lords as a baron. The reality is that sub-postmasters never stood a chance against the Westminster establishment, did they?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have said, this is actually one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in our country’s history. All our thoughts are with those who have worked so hard for their communities and have seen their lives and reputations destroyed. As the hon. Gentleman pointed out, this scandal has unfolded over decades, with multiple people clearly at fault. Since the High Court case in 2019, this Government have established a statutory inquiry led by Sir Wyn Williams to uncover what went wrong, established an independent advisory board and established three different compensation schemes paying out £150 million to more than 2,500 people, with now almost two thirds having received final compensation. But we must go further and faster, which is why we have made new announcements today.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I do not think that the Prime Minister quite gets it. This is not just a plague on all their houses; it is a plague on this House itself, because injustice goes far beyond the sub-postmasters—just ask the Women Against State Pension Inequality Campaign, the victims of the Equitable Life scandal, the victims of the infected blood scandal, or the families of the victims of Grenfell or Hillsborough. The reality is that when the public come knocking on the doors of this Chamber seeking justice, the Government only ever answer when they have no options left. The Leader of the Opposition said last week that the public are right to be angry at Westminster. They are angry at Westminster because they know that this place never really changes, does it, Prime Minister?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am sad that the hon. Gentleman is trying to politicise something that has happened over multiple decades, with multiple people at fault. The key thing is that after the 2019 High Court case the Government acted to establish an independent inquiry and independent compensation schemes, and as I said, we have paid out compensation to 2,500 people. Rather than trying to politicise it, we should be focusing on the people affected and making sure that they get the answers, justice and compensation that they deserve. That is what we are delivering.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Will the Prime Minister please share his Christmas message for children being bombed in Gaza this winter?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Nobody wants to see this conflict go on for a moment longer than necessary. We urgently need more humanitarian pauses to get all the hostages out, and to get life-saving aid into Gaza to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. We have been consistent in supporting a sustainable ceasefire, which means that Hamas must stop launching rockets into Israel and release all the hostages.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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If the current actions of the Israeli Government continue, it is estimated that almost 1,400 more children will die between now and Christmas day. In the United Nations last night, our friends and allies in France, Ireland, Canada, Spain and Australia joined 148 other nations to vote with courage, care and compassion for a ceasefire. The UK shamefully abstained. How can the Prime Minister possibly explain why 153 nations are wrong, yet Westminster is right?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I have said consistently, we are deeply concerned about the devastating impact of the fighting in Gaza on the civilian population. Too many people have lost their lives already. That is something that we have stressed, and something that I stressed personally to Prime Minister Netanyahu just last week. What we are doing practically is to get more aid into Gaza, and the Foreign Secretary is appointing a UK humanitarian co-ordinator. In my conversations last week with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I pressed him on opening up the Kerem Shalom crossing so that more aid can flow in, and we are actively exploring the opportunity for maritime corridors, something on which the UK is well placed to lead. I can give the hon. Gentleman my assurance that we will work night and day to get more aid to those who desperately need it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 6th December 2023

(5 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I say to the hon. Gentleman that Margaret Thatcher’s view was to cut inflation, then cut taxes and then win an election, and that is very much my plan.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Of course, it is not just in relation to Margaret Thatcher that the Tory and Labour leaders appear to agree; the same is true of the Government’s latest migration policies. Those of us on these Benches are not afraid to say that we believe migration is a good thing. It enriches our communities, it enriches our economy, and it enriches our universities, our schools, our health service and, of course, our care sector. Why does the Prime Minister think it is acceptable to ask people to come to these shores to care for our family members, while we show complete disregard for theirs? What has become of this place?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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That is completely wrong. As we have already said, we have a proud track record of welcoming those who are most vulnerable around the world—over half a million over the past few years from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Hong Kong and elsewhere—and that is what this country will always do. But at the same time, when it comes to economic migration and other forms, it is absolutely right that we take strong action to curb the levels that we have seen, because they are simply far too high and place unsustainable pressure on our public services. I make no apology for saying that or, indeed, for saying that it is important that those who come here contribute to our public services.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 29th November 2023

(6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is simply not right to say that there is not support for families this winter—there has been considerable support this year for energy bills. This winter, pensioner households, for example, will receive up to £300 alongside their winter fuel payment. They are some of the most vulnerable households, and it is right that they get that support at a difficult time.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I appreciate that it is difficult for the Prime Minister to empathise when he quite clearly cannot understand, but to be clear to him and, indeed, the whole House: this is not a matter of energy production. Scotland produces six times more gas than we consume and around two thirds of our electricity already comes from renewable resources. This is a consequence of decades of failed energy policy here in Westminster. Those of us on the Scottish National party Benches believe that Scotland’s energy wealth and energy resource should benefit the people of Scotland. Why doesn’t he?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The entire energy grid infrastructure in this country is integrated, which brings benefits to people in every part of our United Kingdom. When it comes to supporting people with energy bills, earlier this year we increased benefits to the highest rate on record. It is why we provided cost of living payments worth £900 on top of regular support. It was right not to wait until the last moment to give people that support; we gave it to them earlier this year so that they would have the security they need going into winter—as I said, on top of the money for pensioners. When there are cold snaps, we have cold weather payments that kick in and the warm home discount, which provides an extra £150 to the most vulnerable households. All that is the most considerable action taken by any Government to help people with their energy bills.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 22nd November 2023

(6 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I think all of us in the Chamber are united in our relief at reports that hostages are due to be released by Hamas in Gaza, but we cannot afford to lose sight of what will come at the other side of the temporary pause in hostilities that we are about to see. At the end of four days, will we simply see a return to the killing of children in Gaza every 10 minutes, or will we in this House choose instead to back a permanent ceasefire?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We welcome the agreement reached overnight. As I said, it is something that we have consistently pushed for and is a crucial first step as we try to resolve this situation and, indeed, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Of course, we want to see all hostages released as quickly as possible, including British nationals, and I urge all parties involved to deliver the agreement in full. I also put on record my thanks to Qatar for its important role. We will continue to work with the United States and Israel to ensure the safe return of hostages and maximise the opportunity of this temporary pause to step up aid to suffering civilians in Gaza. It is something that we have pushed for, that we have continued to do and that the UK is playing a leading role in delivering.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Ultimately, what we need is not a pause in the killing of children, but an end to the killing of children, and I can think of no better time than now for the Prime Minister to advocate a permanent ceasefire. Given that he will not currently do that, will he instead lay the foundations for a two-state solution by finally recognising the state of Palestine?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Actually, the agreement that has been reached demonstrates that it was not right to have a unilateral ceasefire. What was right was to do as we have done and consistently push for a pause that would allow not just for aid to reach the people in Gaza who desperately need it but for hostages to be released. That is what we have pushed for, and I am glad that that is now being delivered, versus a unilateral ceasefire that would have emboldened and strengthened Hamas.

Our position on the middle east peace process more broadly is clear: we support a negotiated settlement leading to a safe and secure Israel living alongside a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. I have spoken to President Abbas and met him to discuss this issue, and we are clear about strengthening the Palestinian Authority and reinvigorating efforts to find a two-state solution. Our long-standing position is that we would recognise the state of Palestine when it best serves the interests of peace.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 15th November 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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In 2010, the then Prime Minister and now Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, said:

“People in Gaza are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open-air prison.”

Does the current Prime Minister not agree that if there is not an immediate ceasefire, we all in this Chamber will be watching on as that open-air prison is turned into a graveyard?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No one can deny the suffering that the people in Gaza are undergoing at the moment. I spoke about this on Monday, and I spoke about it consistently with Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority. We are doing everything we can to get aid into the region and we have repeatedly and consistently called for humanitarian pauses, to get aid in and get hostages and foreign nationals out as quickly as possible. We will continue, as will the Foreign Secretary, to make sure that happens.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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How much worse does it need to get? In Gaza, 4,609 children are already dead. Babies in the neonatal intensive care unit are dying because they do not have access to oxygen. For Members across the House, this is a question of values and of conscience. Does the Prime Minister not agree that should there be a vote on an immediate ceasefire, Members across the House should be afforded a free vote?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Our position as a Government is clear: it is right that Israel is able to defend itself. That is a principle that we support. It has suffered an appalling terrorist attack—Hamas is a terrorist organisation—and it is not just Israel’s right but its duty to protect its citizens. At the same time, at the United Nations and bilaterally with all our partners we have consistently called for humanitarian pauses to ensure that more aid can get in, and hostages and foreign nationals can get out. That is the right thing to do. We will continue to do everything we can to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. I am confident that our efforts are already making a big difference on the ground.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 18th October 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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We believe that Israel does have a right to defend itself, to protect its people and to act against terrorism and ensure that the awful attack we have seen from Hamas cannot happen again. Unlike Hamas, the Israelis, including the President, have made it clear that their armed forces will operate in accordance with international law. We will continue to urge the Israelis to take every precaution to avoid harming civilians.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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My ask for a ceasefire is done with all sincerity, not only in order to protect civilians, but to ensure that we have the safe creation of humanitarian corridors, which will allow not only for food, water and vital medicines to get into Gaza, but for innocent civilians caught up in this terrible conflict to flee. In respect of those who wish to flee, may I ask the Prime Minister what early consideration, if any, his Government have given to the creation of a refugee resettlement scheme akin to those previously put in place for Syrian nationals, Afghani nationals and, of course, Ukrainian nationals?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am proud that we are already one of the most significant contributors to the United Nations’ efforts to support Palestinian refugees; our funding supports about 5.8 million refugees annually, and on Monday we announced a significant increase in our funding of aid to the region, including to the UN to support refugees. With regard to humanitarian aid, as I said before, we are already working through pre-emptively moving aid and relief teams into the region. But, critically, the most important thing is to open up access for that aid to get into Gaza, which is why our conversations with the Egyptians and others are so critical. We continue to work closely with allies to find every way to get that aid to the people who need it as quickly as possible.

Israel and Gaza

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Monday 16th October 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Rabbie Burns once poignantly wrote that

“Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn!”

It is with those words echoing in all our hearts that we send our thoughts and prayers to all those suffering in the middle east. The abhorrent terrorist attack by Hamas on the Jewish people and the Israeli state was a crime against our common humanity, and it must be condemned unequivocally. What more powerful response can we have than to seek to protect the shared innocence and shared humanity of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians?

That will require a lot. It will require the defeat of Hamas; it will require the safe return of all those hostages who have been taken; it will require the opening of humanitarian corridors, so that people can escape Gaza and aid can get in; and it will require medicine, water and electricity for hospitals, so that people who are injured can be treated. It will require no collective punishment. Making all of that happen will require international leadership and diplomacy. On these isles, that responsibility will fall to the UK Prime Minister, and I very much wish him well in making that happen.

Right across this Chamber, we all need to be very conscious that history will judge us on our response not just to these abhorrent attacks but to the humanitarian crisis that is undoubtedly unfolding in Gaza. Let us not be on the wrong side of history.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks, and I agree that this crisis demands that the United Kingdom steps up diplomatically to make a difference—to bring about peace and stability. That is what we have done over the past week, as I alluded to in my statement. The Foreign Secretary was the first person to visit Israel and has spoken to multiple counterparts. In the same vein, I myself have been working with allies across the region to make sure that we can work together to bring about a successful and peaceful resolution. We also recognise the scale of the humanitarian situation that is unfolding and are playing a leading role in helping to alleviate it, not least with our announcement today of considerably more aid for the Palestinian territories, building on our strong track record as one of the leading providers of aid to the region. That will continue.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 13th September 2023

(8 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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As someone who spends more money heating their swimming pool than the total value of the UK state pension, the Prime Minister—I think it is safe to say—might not be as invested in this topic as some others, but let us afford him the opportunity to clear up any confusion. Will he commit his party, the Conservative party, to maintaining the state pension triple lock beyond the next general election—yes or no?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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This is the party that introduced the triple lock. This is the party that has delivered a £3,000 increase in the state pension since 2010. It is also the party that has ensured that there are 200,000 fewer pensioners living in poverty today and that this winter pensioners will get an extra £300 alongside their winter fuel payment to support them through the challenging times with inflation. Our track record is clear. There is one party in this House that has always stood up for our pensioners and that is the Conservative party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I do not think we heard a yes there, Mr Speaker. You will imagine my shock—my utter surprise—that we appear to have consensus once again between the Conservative party and the Labour party on this most important of issues, despite the promises that were made to the people of Scotland in 2014 and despite clear statements from the likes of Gordon Brown that the only way to protect pensions was to remain within the UK. How hollow those words are now. Who does the Prime Minister think will scrap the state pension triple lock first, his Government or the Labour party’s Government?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Thanks to the actions of this Government, pensioners in Scotland are receiving record increases in their state pension—£870 this year—and extra support with the cost of living this winter. This is the Government who introduced and remain committed to the triple lock, but the hon. Gentleman raises a good point. Pensioners in Scotland should know that the reason they can rely on the state pension, not just today but for years to come, is the strength of our Union and the strength of our United Kingdom Government.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 6th September 2023

(8 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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The public need no reminding that today marks a year since the Prime Minister’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss), took office. Upon her speedy departure, they will have thought that things were going to get better, but unemployment figures are higher, food prices are higher, mortgage rates are higher, and economic growth is stagnant. When is the Prime Minister going to get off his backside and do something about it?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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What the hon. Gentleman failed to point out is the amount of times I have sat across the Dispatch Box from him and his colleagues and heard how somehow, we were a laggard when it came to growth. He did not take the opportunity to correct the record now that figures have been published, which demonstrate that in fact, we had the fastest recovery of any European economy after covid.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Mr Speaker, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Prime Minister thinks everything is all right, but let us look at his proposals for a winter cost of living package. On energy bills, his plan is to do nothing; on mortgage bills, his plan is to do nothing; and on food bills, his plan is to do nothing. When the Secretary of State for Education said earlier this week that everyone was doing nothing, she was referring to the Prime Minister, wasn’t she?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I think the hon. Gentleman is a little out of practice, because we have paid around half a typical family’s energy bills over the past year. That is support worth £1,500, benefiting families in Scotland. On mortgages, the Chancellor’s mortgage charter covers 90% of the mortgage market, and ensures that a typical mortgage holder can save hundreds of pounds a month on mortgage refinancing. On energy, thanks to the actions of this Government, we are supporting the hundreds of thousands of jobs in the Scottish oil and gas industry, securing this country’s energy supply, which he opposes. I will always do what is right for the people of Scotland, and it is time the SNP did the same.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 19th July 2023

(10 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the SNP.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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The two-child benefit cap introduced by the Conservative party has left 250,000 children living in poverty. Does the Prime Minister take comfort in knowing that the heinous legacy of that policy will no longer be protected just by Conservative Members but by Labour Members too?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I welcome the Labour leader’s new-found support for our policy, even though he previously committed to a different approach. What I would say to the hon. Member for Aberdeen South (Stephen Flynn), and indeed the Labour Front Bench, is that they do not have to worry too much given the Labour leader’s track record: he has never actually kept a promise that he has made.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Voters in Scotland are used to child poverty under the Tories—they almost expect it—but they do not expect child poverty support from the Labour party. If we look very closely right now, there is a shiver running along the Labour Front Bench looking for a spine. [Interruption.] Does this not tell us something much bigger: that for children living in poverty in Scotland, Westminster offers them no real change and no real hope?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The best route out of poverty is through work, and the best way to ensure that children do not grow up in poverty is to ensure that they do not grow up in a workless household. That is why we are focused on creating more jobs, with 200,000 more in Scotland since 2010 and hundreds of thousands fewer children across the United Kingdom growing up in a workless household. We will always continue to reduce child poverty. I do not want to see a single child grow up in poverty, and we will deliver that in every part of the UK, including in Scotland.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 21st June 2023

(11 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

In February, the Prime Minister told this House that

“borrowing costs are…back to where they should be”.—[Official Report, 8 February 2023; Vol. 727, c. 904.]

In March, he boasted

“we are on track to halve inflation by the end of this year.”—[Official Report, 22 March 2023; Vol. 730, c. 330.]

In May, he said that “economic optimism is increasing.” Given the dire economic reality of today, is it not now clear that he has taken his honesty lessons from Boris Johnson?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The hon. Gentleman also fails to mention that it is not just the Bank of England, not just the Office for Budget Responsibility and not just the OECD but the IMF that have all upgraded their growth outlook for the United Kingdom economy this year. While he and others were predicting that this country would enter a recession, the actions of this Government have meant that we have, so far, averted that. We continue to be on track to keep reducing inflation, because that is the right economic priority.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I want Members to be a little more cautious in what they say. These are questions to the present, serving Prime Minister. There is a danger that the way the question was put could mislead.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

From listening to the Prime Minister’s answer, I do not think he quite grasps the reality of the economic situation facing households across these isles—how could he? But it does not need to be like this and it did not need to be like this. Because mortgage deals in Ireland are not sitting in excess of 6%—they are at about 4.5%. Inflation in the euro area is not sitting at 8.7%—it is sitting at closer to 6%. Britain is broke. Seven years after the Conservatives’ EU referendum, will he finally admit that it was Brexit that broke it?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Again, I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was paying attention earlier; interest rates in this country are at similar levels to those in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The rise in inflation and interest rates is a global phenomenon. But that is why, early, I set out that bringing inflation down was the right economic priority to have. That is what this Government will do, but that requires difficult and responsible decisions. That is what leadership looks like—I do not think the SNP will ever do the same thing.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 14th June 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

We come to the leader of the SNP.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I echo the sentiments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the terrible incident in Nottingham. Our thoughts are also with all those still reeling from the tragedy at Grenfell all these years later.

During the Prime Minister’s ill-fated leadership bid late last summer, he warned of the perils of mortgage rate rises. He stated:

“It’s going to tip millions of people into misery and it’s going to mean we have absolutely no chance of winning the next election”.

Given that mortgage rates continue to rise, does he still agree with his own electoral analysis?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Which is absolutely why our economic policy sets reducing inflation as our No. 1 priority. By the way, interest rates have also risen in pretty much every developed economy around the world; more so in places like America and New Zealand and similarly in other countries like Australia. But in order to reduce inflation, it is important to have control over borrowing, which is why, unlike the SNP, we are disciplined with regard to the public finances.

Those are the issues that we should be focused on. I saw that yesterday the SNP had a meeting to discuss its future, but the only thing it managed to decide was that it should send Nicola Sturgeon some flowers. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us: did he sign the card?

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Respectfully, I think the Prime Minister needs to grow up.

There is an elephant in this here Chamber when it comes to the dire economic circumstances facing the UK, and that is Brexit. Those on the Tory Benches do not want to accept it, and the Labour party does not want to talk about it, but whether it is on food prices, energy prices or indeed mortgage prices, households in Scotland are being shafted by Brexit. Will the Prime Minister apologise for the cycle of misery that Westminster has caused?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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While the hon. Gentleman’s party leader calls Nicola Sturgeon the most impressive politician in Europe, we are getting on with delivering for the people of Scotland: paying half of their energy bills, making sure pensions rise, making sure there is direct support with the cost of living for those who need it, and, crucially, ensuring that we secure over 200,000 jobs by supporting Scotland’s North sea oil and gas industry—something opposed by his party.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 24th May 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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We learned today that the price of milk, cheese and eggs is up by 29%, the price of pasta is up by 27% and the price of a loaf of bread is up by 18%. Does the Prime Minister agree that this is no longer just a cost of living crisis—this is a cost of greed crisis?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It was welcome that inflation has fallen today, but, as the Chancellor said, we should not be complacent because there is more work to do. The hon. Gentleman is right to highlight the impact of food inflation, which is too high, in common with levels we have seen in other European countries, such as Sweden and Germany. We are providing significant support to help people with the cost of living, and the Chancellor has met companies in the supermarket and food supply chain to make sure that they are doing everything they can to bring prices down.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let’s get real, because food inflation remains at a near 45-year high. Yesterday, the Treasury indicated that the Chancellor “stands ready” to act, but his actions seems to be predicated on the outcome of a review by the Competition and Markets Authority. So will the Prime Minister enlighten us: when does he expect that review to conclude? Working families cannot afford to wait much longer.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Gentleman will know that the CMA is independent of Government, but the Chancellor did meet it recently to discuss the situation in the grocery industry. It will be for the CMA to make decisions on that, but we are doing everything we can to help consumers manage the challenges on the cost of living. If the SNP wanted to do its bit, perhaps it could reconsider its deposit return scheme, as it is very clear what people have said. As they have said, it will reduce choice and increase prices for consumers.

G7 Summit

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Monday 22nd May 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I begin by echoing the sentiments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the Manchester bombing and the appalling death of Lee Rigby so many years ago.

The symbolic importance of the G7 summit taking place in Hiroshima goes without question, as does the importance of the presence of President Zelensky in Japan. It also goes without saying that Ukraine’s war and its fight for democracy is our fight, too, and all of us on these Benches and across the House are fully united in our support for the President and the people of Ukraine. In order for Ukraine to be successful, we need unity among all those nations that believe in peace. In that regard, can I ask the Prime Minister whether he had any conversations with those nations that still at this moment in time are importing crude oil from Russia, and whether he expressed any concern about other nations that may be benefiting from products that have been derived from that crude oil?

We did hear strong words from the G7 on the situation with China. However, I am intrigued by the Instagram intervention of the former Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for South West Norfolk (Elizabeth Truss). I would be grateful for the current Prime Minister’s view in respect to whether that was helpful, whether he agrees with her that China poses a strategic threat to the UK and whether he would echo those sentiments.

On the economy, it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the fact that the UK has the lowest growth in the entire G7. Our economy is still below pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, the United States has seen its economy grow by around 5.3% in the intervening time. Did the Prime Minister take any lessons from those allies in Japan about how to secure proper economic growth?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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On China, our approach is laid out in detail in the integrated review refresh. I reiterated it yesterday and will not go over it again, but China, as I said, represents a systemic challenge. It is the greatest challenge we face. In fact, I said it is an “epoch-defining challenge”, given its ability and intent to reshape the world order. Its behaviour is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad, which is why we should be robust in defending and protecting ourselves against that.

On sanctions, we are working in tandem with the European Union and the US to intensify diplomatic engagement with third-country partners to highlight potential circumvention risks on sanctions and we will continue to do so.

More generally on the question of peace and discussion with partner countries, it was excellent to have a discussion on Ukraine and peace with partner countries outside the G7—I think it was perhaps one of the most meaningful sessions of the summit—where countries agreed to the principles of a just and lasting peace being based on the UN charter and, indeed, on the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. That is very welcome because, while many people may have ideas for what peace in Ukraine looks like, a ceasefire is not a just and durable peace and we will keep ensuring that the peace Ukraine has is one that it deserves and is truly just and lasting.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 3rd May 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is typical Labour: saying one thing and doing the other. It is only the Conservatives who will protect the green belt; the Labour party will concrete over it. That is why, in Kirklees and elsewhere, people should vote Conservative tomorrow.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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In 2010, David Cameron convinced Nick Clegg to adopt his pledge on university tuition fees. Does the Prime Minister intend to take the credit for convincing the leader of the Labour party to do likewise?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for the question. It is hard to keep up with the list of broken promises, but on tuition fees I will say that under this Government, a record number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university. That is because of the efforts we have made to put more money into supporting those people and communities to fulfil their aspirations, alongside fantastic new apprenticeships in every part of our country.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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For the avoidance of any doubt, the Liberal Democrats do not believe in abolishing tuition fees, the Conservatives do not believe in abolishing tuition fees, and of course the Labour party, now having its own Nick Clegg moment, does not believe in abolishing tuition fees either. Is it not the case that the main Westminster parties do not offer young people any hope at all?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I gently point out to the hon. Gentleman that, actually, somebody from a disadvantaged background is far more likely to go to university in England than they are in Scotland.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 26th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Will the Prime Minister outline the safe and legal route available to a child refugee seeking to flee Sudan and come to the United Kingdom?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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As I outlined earlier, our priority in Sudan first and foremost was to evacuate our diplomats and their families, and I am pleased to say that we were one of the first countries to be able to do so. Since yesterday, we have been conducting a large-scale evacuation of British nationals. We have some of the largest numbers of British nationals on the ground and, rightly, as I am sure the whole House will agree, it is reasonable, legal and fair to prioritise the most vulnerable families, particularly those with elderly people, people with medical conditions and children. That is what we are in the process of doing, and I pay tribute to all those who are making it possible.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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To be clear, and I think everyone in the House is aware of this, children in Sudan are already dying. Whether it is a Tory slogan to stop the boats or a Labour slogan to stop small boats, we need more humanity in this debate, rather than the race to the bottom that we see here today. Now that the Prime Minister has confirmed that there is no safe and legal route, will he confirm that it would therefore be his Government’s intention to detain and deport a child refugee who flees Sudan and comes to the United Kingdom?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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In fact, because of the efforts of our aid teams, we have invested almost £250 million in humanitarian support in Sudan over the past five years. The hon. Gentleman always does this, but this country has a proud record of compassionately supporting those who need our assistance. Just over the past few years, we have welcomed almost half a million vulnerable people to our country, including many children. We want to make sure that we continue with that compassion, which is why it is precisely right that we make sure that our system is not exploited by those coming here illegally, and that is what our Bill will deliver.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 19th April 2023

(1 year, 1 month ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I am delighted to hear that Members had an equally peaceful and relaxing Easter break, as I did.

Prime Minister, was it their refusal to stand alongside striking workers on the picket line, their acceptance of the economic damage being caused by Brexit, or perhaps their support for denying the people of Scotland the right to choose their own future that led to the leader of the Scottish Conservative party urging voters to back Labour?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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What we are doing is not getting distracted by the things that are going on elsewhere; we are focused on delivering for the people of Scotland. We are making sure that we fund public services well, with £1.5 billion extra in Barnett consequentials. We are making sure that we provide support with the cost of living. I know that, at the moment, the hon. Gentleman and his party are focused on other matters. We are just going to motor on with the job.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let me be clear: we will take no lectures from a party that has not had a mandate to govern in Scotland since 1955, that went through three Prime Ministers in the course of just a matter of months, that crashed the economy, that sent mortgage rates soaring and that has taken energy support away from families most in need. The Prime Minister has been fined by the polis not once but twice, they take donations from Russian-backed donors and they have stuffed the House of Lords with people like Baroness Mone. But let us be clear: what we are talking about is the fact that the leader of the Scottish Conservatives believes that the people of Scotland should return Labour party Members of Parliament to this House rather than Scottish National party Members. So is not the message for the people of Scotland quite clear? Don’t give the Tories what they want.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Actually, the Scottish Conservatives deserve enormous praise for forcing the SNP into abandoning its completely unworkable, fundamentally flawed deposit return scheme. So it is good that the SNP U-turned and listened to the voices of the Scottish Conservatives and to business, and we look forward to working with them on delivering something that actually works to deliver for the people of Scotland. And that is just it, because if the SNP cannot fix the mess that Nicola Sturgeon left the party in, how can it possibly fix the mess that she left Scotland in?

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 22nd March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I would like to begin by paying tribute to PC Palmer, who so tragically lost his life in defence of this Parliament and, indeed, what we all stand for—democracy. What worries the Prime Minister most about Brexit right now: is it the likely 4% hit to UK productivity, or is it three former Tory leaders planning to vote down his deal this afternoon?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The Windsor framework represents—

--- Later in debate ---
Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The Windsor framework represents a good deal for the people, families and businesses of Northern Ireland. It restores the balance of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and ensures Northern Ireland’s place in our precious Union. What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that I was more intrigued to see the words of his own party’s president, who just this past week described his party as being in “a tremendous mess”.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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The reality is that while Westminster is once again consumed by the damage being caused by Brexit, the public at home are facing the biggest fall in living standards ever, the highest tax burden since the end of the second world war and inflation at 10.4%. When are the Conservative party and, indeed, the Labour party going to realise that Brexit cannot work?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The actions that this Government are taking are ensuring that fully half of most families’ energy bills are being supported by this Government. We are also making sure that we are delivering for people by cutting NHS waiting lists. That is something we are happy to work with the Scottish Government to learn and share best practice with them on. But we are also delivering on the people’s No. 1 priority, which is to stop the boats and end illegal migration.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 15th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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On Monday, as households in Scotland were awakening to freezing temperatures, they were met with the news that the electricity grid had been upgraded in order to meet the power demands of the Prime Minister’s new swimming pool. So may I ask him: was it while he was taking a leisurely dip that he decided to leave households drowning in their energy bills?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Thanks to the actions of this Government, we have provided more than £1,300 to help families with their energy bills over the last year. I do not want to pre-empt what the Chancellor is going to say later, but let me say that this is a Government who are committed to continuing to help people with the cost of living, and that is what people will hear later on.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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You have got to wonder what planet the Prime Minister is on, because for households in Scotland energy prices have not been frozen at two and a half grand—indeed, the average bill in Scotland has been closer to £3,500, with a near tripling in just under two years. Worse than that, the Chancellor is about to get to his feet and announce that the £400 energy rebate is about to be scrapped for everyone, not just in Scotland but right across these isles. Is it not the case that the Tories are not freezing energy bills; they are looking to freeze households?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The Government are delivering for people across the United Kingdom. Energy bills have been our priority, which is why over £1,000 of support is benefiting households in every part of our country. The hon. Gentleman talks about delivery. We now know that because of the SNP, the trains do not run on time, the police are at breaking point and the NHS in Scotland has experienced its longest ever waiting lists. That is not even my assessment—it is what we learned in the SNP’s leadership debate last week.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 8th March 2023

(1 year, 2 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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On International Women’s Day, can I ask the Prime Minister to reconfirm that under his proposed new asylum laws, a woman who is sex-trafficked to the UK on a small boat by a criminal gang will not be afforded protection under our modern slavery laws?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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It is precisely because we want to target our compassion and our resources at the world’s most vulnerable people that we must get a grip on this system and break—

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. Mr McDonald, I do not need to hear you chuntering all the way through. You could be joining the others for a cup of tea.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I will take that as a yes from the Prime Minister that women who are victims of sex trafficking will not be protected under our modern slavery laws. What a complete and utter disgrace. But while it may shock, it should not necessarily surprise, because this is the Tory Government who in recent months have spoken of “invasions”. Just yesterday, this Tory Government said that 100 million people could be coming to these shores. This morning, this Tory Government said that the number could in fact be billions. That is complete and utter nonsense. May I ask the Prime Minister: from whom are his Government taking inspiration, Nigel Farage or Enoch Powell?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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What a load of nonsense. In fact, the figure of 100 million does not come from the Government; it comes from the United Nations, and it illustrates the scale of the global migration crisis with which the world is grappling. That is why it is right that we take action: because if we do not, the numbers will continue to grow. They have more than quadrupled in just two years. It is a sign of what is to come, and our system will continue to be overwhelmed. If that happens, we will not be able to help the people who are most in need of our support, our generosity and our compassion. This has always been the way of this country. Once we get a grip on this system, that is who we can extend our support to, and that is why it is the right legislation.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 1st March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - -

It is disappointing that the hon. Gentleman is seeking to play politics with the situation in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland, as he well knows, has a unique place in the United Kingdom. What we are trying to do is restore the balance inherent in the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, and he would do well to acknowledge that.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let us be clear: what the Prime Minister said yesterday was that EU single market access will be a good thing for business. Of course, that is in contrast to the leader of the Labour party, who said in December that EU single market access would not boost economic growth. Does it hurt the Prime Minister to know that the Labour party believes in Brexit more than he does?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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With regard to Northern Ireland, the important thing is to avoid a land border on the island of Ireland between north and south. That is what it is crucial to achieve in getting the right framework for the arrangements in Northern Ireland, and the businesses there that trade across that border on a daily basis, with complex supply chains need, and value that access. That is something that the Windsor framework has sought to achieve and, I believe, delivers. It is not about the macro issue of membership of the European Union; it is about getting the right mechanisms in place to support businesses and communities in Northern Ireland. I would say to the hon. Gentleman that he knows better than that: he knows that this is about Northern Ireland, and I hope that he can support what we have agreed.

Northern Ireland Protocol

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Monday 27th February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Scottish National party spokesperson—sorry, leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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I think I am the group leader, but I will take “spokesperson” as well.

Glass ceilings are there to be broken. Betty Boothroyd did not just break a glass ceiling; she shattered that glass ceiling. In that regard, she has my utmost respect, and my thoughts and condolences are with her family members. My thoughts are also with the police officer in Northern Ireland who was so tragically and appallingly shot in recent days, and I join Members on both sides of the House in saying that I sincerely hope he is able to make a recovery.

Let me turn to the agreement reached today. One would be forgiven for thinking, on the basis of what the Prime Minister has said—in the Chamber and, indeed, earlier today—that this had absolutely nothing to do with him: that all those problems were nothing to do with the Conservative party or with him as a Government Minister. So what happened a couple of years ago? Were they simply being opportunistic when they put this in place? Were they incompetent when they put this in place? Or were they simply duped into believing that something was oven-ready when it clearly was not? I have no doubt that the public will draw their own conclusions.

Broadly speaking, however, I am fully supportive of the agreement, for three simple reasons—three simple and interwoven reasons. It seeks to safeguard peace in Northern Ireland, something that we all know is incredibly important; it seeks to protect the Good Friday agreement, which I think everyone in the Chamber would agree is incredibly important; and, of course, it seeks to provide a pathway back to the ability of the democratic institutions in Northern Ireland to sit. It is not for me to pontificate about democracy in Northern Ireland, but I sincerely hope that those parties involved will be able to come to an agreeable conclusion, and I know that the Prime Minister shares my view in that regard.

But while all of that is good, we cannot and should not forget the damage that has been done by leaving the European Union. Brexit has been an unmitigated disaster —[Interruption.] Conservative Members do not have to believe me; what they should do is read the reports of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which outlined that there would be a 4% hit to GDP as a result of Brexit. Or perhaps they should reflect on the fact that the trade deficit between the UK and the EU is at its highest level on record. Perhaps they could listen to the private sector and to those businesses that are unable to trade, unable to get the workforce they require and unable to get the goods they need. Or perhaps they could listen to the public sector, which is facing severe problems as well, many of which are driven by workforce shortages. Indeed, many of problems that face all our NHSs across these isles come from the fact that we have significant staff shortages in social care. Each and every one of those points is a result of the disaster that has been leaving the European Union, and I find it astonishing that we have a situation where the leader of the Labour party and the leader of the Conservative party are hand in glove when it comes to their position on Brexit.

Finally, we have heard the Prime Minister speak at length about the integrity of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it was reflected upon by the Leader of the Opposition as well. There might be a scintilla of truth in that argument, but what this deal does not do is create parity for the nations of these isles. I see the Northern Ireland Minister sitting there; he was very positive about this in an interview earlier on. This deal means that businesses in Northern Ireland have access to the single market, whereas businesses in Scotland do not. I do not begrudge that to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland, but I regret that Scotland does not have those same opportunities. On that point, can the Prime Minister clarify why Scotland is at a significant disadvantage in that regard on his watch? Does he not agree that the only way for Scotland to have access to the single market and the customs union, and the only way for Scotland to rejoin the European Union, is to rid itself of Westminster?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his support for the new agreement that we struck today, the Windsor framework, and in particular for his acknowledgement of the sovereignty that it provides for the people of Northern Ireland to have a say in their own destiny. That is something that was asked for and something that has been delivered. He is also right to say that it is not for any of us to opine, and we will give the parties and communities in Northern Ireland the space and time they need to consider the detail of the Windsor framework. More broadly, without engaging in the broader debate that he raises, I am a passionate Unionist. I will always believe that our Union is stronger when we are together, and that Scotland, alongside Northern Ireland and Wales, will always be part of what makes this country great. We will fight, day in and day out, to protect that Union.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 22nd February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Wholesale gas prices have fallen by 75% since their peak, yet in just a matter of weeks the British Government—the Westminster Government—intend to increase energy bills by a further £500. What would motivate a Prime Minister to do such a thing?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - -

What we are doing is providing tens of billions of pounds of support for people with their energy bills, particularly the most vulnerable. What we are also doing—opposed by the SNP—is investing in producing more home-grown gas here in the UK and the North sea. I notice that one of the hon. Gentleman’s own Members of Parliament said this week that if the SNP were a pizza company, its products would be slow, wrong and costly. I say to him that it is time to focus on the issues that matter to the people of Scotland, and producing more energy is absolutely one of them.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am not sure that implying that energy bills do not matter to the people of Scotland is a winning strategy for this Prime Minister. Let us get real: the fact that wholesale gas prices have fallen by 75% means a windfall to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of around £15 billion, so what they are saying is that they intend to raid the pockets of ordinary Scots while lining the pockets of Westminster. It is time to set aside any notion of an energy price increase, but instead to protect households and perhaps to reduce bills by £500. Does the Prime Minister not agree?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- View Speech - Hansard - -

We are saving households across the United Kingdom, including in Scotland, £900 on their energy bills as a result of our energy bills guarantee. In the coming years, we will spend £12 billion protecting particularly the most vulnerable families and pensioners across the United Kingdom. But the best way to reduce people’s bills is to halve inflation, as we have promised to do, and to produce more home-grown energy here in the United Kingdom. That is something that this Government support; maybe the hon. Gentleman could confirm whether the SNP supports it.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 1st February 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would like to pass on my condolences and those of my party to the First Minister of Wales, and also to the family, friends and colleagues of firefighter Barry Martin, who so sadly lost his life following the blaze in Edinburgh last week.

We have just marked the three-year anniversary of Brexit. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”] Government Members will not be cheering in a moment, because we have learned three things: the UK’s trade deficit has grown, the economy is being hit to the tune of £100 billion each year and, of course, the UK is expected to have the worst-performing economy of all advanced nations. Does the Prime Minister still believe that the UK can afford not to be in the European Union?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

If the hon. Member actually looks at it, since Brexit the UK has grown exactly the same as Germany. Not only that, but we are taking advantage of Brexit to deliver for people across the UK, whether that is in the fishing and farming communities of Scotland or through the two new freeports that we have just announced. The difference between his party and ours is that we respect referendums.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Let us be clear: taken together, 2022 and 2023 are expected to be the worst years for living standards since the 1930s, and the economy is expected to perform worse than sanction-hit Russia’s. As the Brexit ship sinks with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition at the helm, can the Prime Minister blame those Scots who want to jump aboard the independence lifeboat?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - -

The No. 1 factor that is impacting people’s living standards is inflation caused by high energy prices as a result of a war in Ukraine; it has nothing to do with Brexit. That is why the Government are taking significant action, supporting every family with £900 this winter. What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that rather than obsessing about constitutional arrangements, he should focus on delivering for the people of Scotland. That is what we will do.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 25th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We come to the SNP leader.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Let me start by echoing the sentiments of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in relation to Holocaust Memorial Day—truly horrific crimes that we must never forget and endeavour to ensure are never repeated.

May I send my heartfelt thoughts, and indeed I hope those of all across the Chamber, to the firefighter who is in a serious condition following the blaze in Edinburgh just a few days ago?

May I ask the Prime what advice he would have for individuals seeking to protect their personal finances? Should they seek out a future chair of the BBC to help secure an £800,000 loan, should they set up a trust in Gibraltar and hope that HMRC simply does not notice, or should they do as others have done and simply apply for non-dom status?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Let me share in the hon. Gentleman’s expressions of sympathy to the families concerned and to the firefighter who is currently in hospital. I am sorry to hear that, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

I am proud of this Government’s record of supporting the most vulnerable in our society: this winter, helping all families—£900—with their energy bills; raising the national living wage to record levels; and ensuring that our pensioners get the support they need. That is what this Government are doing to ensure financial security in this country.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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I am not sure what question the Prime Minister thought I asked, but that certainly was not it. Let us be clear about this: this is now a matter of the Prime Minister’s own integrity and accountability. After all, when there were questions about the Home Secretary and concerns about her role in relation to national security, he chose to back her. Now, he is choosing to back the chair of the Tory party, despite a £5 million penalty from HMRC, and of course he is seeking to protect the former Prime Minister despite his cosy financial relationship with the chair of the BBC. Is it little wonder that people in Scotland may well consider the Tory party to be a parcel of rogues?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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What I am standing up for is proper due process. That is why we have an independent adviser. It is right that the independent adviser conducts his investigation. That is how we will ensure accountability, and that is what I will deliver.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 18th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the leader of the Scottish National party.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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To promise is ae thing, to keep it is another. Well, the Scottish Government kept their manifesto promise to the people and, thanks to support from Members of all political parties in Holyrood, the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill was passed. Surely in that context, the Prime Minister must recognise that it is a dangerous moment for devolution when both he and, indeed, the Leader of the Opposition seek to overturn a promise made between Scotland’s politicians and Scotland’s people.

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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Let me be crystal clear: the decision in this case is centred on the legislation’s consequences for reserved matters. This is laid out in the Scotland Act 1998, which established the Scottish Parliament—the hon. Gentleman talks about that and, at the time, it was supported by the SNP. This Bill would have a significant adverse effect on UK-wide equalities matters, so the Scottish Secretary, with regret, has rightly acted.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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Let me be crystal clear—[Hon. Members: “Ooh!”] This is the Conservative party seeking to stoke a culture war against some of the most marginalised people in society, and Scotland’s democracy is simply collateral damage. On that issue of democracy, let us reflect, because on Monday the UK Government introduced legislation to ban the right to strike, against the express wishes of the Scottish Government; on Tuesday, they introduced legislation to overturn the GRR Bill, against the express wishes of the Scottish Government; and this evening they will seek to put in place legislation that rips up thousands of EU protections, against the express wishes of the Scottish Government. Are we not now on a slippery slope from devolution to direct rule?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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No, of course we are not. This is simply about protecting UK-wide legislation and ensuring the safety of women and children; it is not about the devolution settlement. I urge the hon. Gentleman and his party to consider engaging with the UK Government on the Bill, as we did before the legislation passed, so that we can find a constructive way forward in the interests of the people of Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Oral Answers to Questions

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Wednesday 11th January 2023

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Scottish National party spokesperson.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn (Aberdeen South) (SNP)
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Given the longest and deepest recession in the entire G7, Brexit, 13 years of Tory rule, the energy price crisis, inflation and high interest rates, if the people of Scotland do the maths—as the Prime Minister so hopes—will they not come to the conclusion that this Union simply does not add up?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman brought up the subject of energy. He was right to do so. When it comes to the economy, energy is incredibly important to Scotland, and Scotland will play a fantastic part in helping us make the transition to net zero. We now know, however, that the Scottish Government do not want to support the Scottish energy industry and the 200,000 jobs that it produces. I am keen to work with the Scottish Government to support the North sea, because it is something of which we are all very proud in the United Kingdom.

Stephen Flynn Portrait Stephen Flynn
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If the Prime Minister wants to talk about the fact that Scotland is energy rich but fuel poor on Westminster’s watch, I am more than happy to do that. For today, however, let us reflect on numbers, and in particular the numbers on which Sam Coates of Sky News shone a light—notably those relating to the Prime Minister’s favourite potential successor, which showed that over four months, for four speeches, he had raked in more than £1 million. Does the Prime Minister not find it utterly perverse that senior members of the Conservative party are feathering their nests in this way, while at the same time seeking to deny working people the opportunity to strike for fair pay?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I do not think we need to talk about our predecessors, but I remember—[Interruption.] If I am not mistaken, it was one of the hon. Gentleman’s predecessors who worked for Russia Today.

The hon. Gentleman talks about priorities. Yesterday the SNP spent time talking yet more about independence at a time when we should be talking about delivering for people across the United Kingdom, focusing on their jobs and improving the NHS throughout the UK, in Scotland and, indeed, everywhere else. That is the kind of thing I want to talk to the Scottish Government about, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will work with me to do that.

Illegal Immigration

Debate between Rishi Sunak and Stephen Flynn
Tuesday 13th December 2022

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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