Brexit and Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:40 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Doughty Stephen Doughty Labour/Co-operative, Cardiff South and Penarth 8:40 pm, 26th June 2017

It is an absolute pleasure to follow Dr Johnson and also three fantastic maiden speeches, which were powerful, lyrical and passionate, from my hon. Friends the Members for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin) and for Bristol North West (Darren Jones), and the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine (Andrew C. Bowie). It is a real honour to follow them all.

As Anna Soubry said, when it comes to Brexit, everything has changed. All of us in this place need to recognise that. That is why I greatly great regret that the Gracious Speech did not rule out withdrawal without a deal, did not give a categorical guarantee on a parliamentary vote or, indeed, a role for our devolved Administrations, and did not set out transitional arrangements that would give some certainty and guidance to our businesses and all of us in this country. Instead, we get: “Pretty sure we’re going to achieve some sort of deal.” What sort of certainty is that for businesses and all those striving in our economy? The Gracious Speech does not set out proposals to remain in the customs union and the single market, which is what I fervently believe would be best for businesses and the people in my constituency.

Nor does the Gracious Speech set out or respect the competences of our devolved Administrations, as Liz Saville Roberts said, whether that is to do with their competences under the devolution settlement or with regard to funding the needs of our devolved Administrations. I spoke about this earlier today, but it seems remarkable that the Government can find £1.5 billion and possibly more for Northern Ireland in the DUP deal, yet we in Wales cannot get guarantees of what the funding for Wales will be after Brexit happens. There is great anger in Wales at the deal that has been done today.

The Gracious Speech does not provide categorical protections. We have heard all sorts of mixed answers today about the situation of EU nationals and UK citizens abroad. This matters to the people of Cardiff South and Penarth, particularly all the young people who voted in the recent general election. What will their opportunities be in the future? What will the future be for businesses in my local community? Where will we get the fairer funding deal for Wales? Will we keep the crucial labour and environmental protections? Will the rights of EU citizens in my constituency—a very diverse constituency—be respected or will those individuals be merely pawns in this game? I welcome all efforts and the cross-party co-operation of those across the House who seek to put this minority Government on the spot on those issues over the weeks and months to come. Everything has indeed changed.

What matters abroad matters for all the people in Cardiff South and Penarth and all of us in this country. I have said it in this House before, and it is not just about Brexit and the future nature of our trading relationships. It is about the family links and concerns of the many diverse communities in my constituency; the care that many show locally for those fleeing conflict and persecution and for the human rights of others around the world; the care that they show on global issues such as climate change; their opposition to the threats posed by extremism and the undermining of our values; and, indeed, the concerns of the many locally with family members who are serving or have served in our armed forces bravely around the world, in many different contexts.

That is why the issues that I intend to raise in this Parliament and in the debate about foreign affairs include the situation in Yemen and our continued sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, helping to fuel that conflict; the situation in Syria, where we must continue the fight against the barbarous Daesh operatives, but also seek to protect civilians; and the situation of Somaliland, a country that has many connections with my constituency. Will Britain and other countries finally recognise Somaliland and also provide crucial support for the upcoming elections later this year? Will we continue our spending commitment of 0.7% on international development? Will we stand up for our principles on climate change and oppose those such as President Trump who would undermine them? Will we do right by our armed forces and support a strong Army, with the right levels of recruitment, the right deal and the right armed forces covenant, which it so fully deserves?