At this summit we showed how a global Britain can play a key role in shaping international responses to some of the biggest challenges of our time. On terrorism, trade, climate change, international development, migration, modern slavery and women’s economic empowerment, we made leading contributions on issues that critically affect our national interest but which can be addressed only by working together with our international partners.
First, on terrorism, as we have seen with the horrific attacks in Manchester and London, the nature of the threat we face is evolving, and our response must evolve to meet it. The UK is leading the way. At the G7, and subsequently through a detailed action plan with President Macron, I called for industry to take responsibility more to rapidly detect and report extremist content online—and industry has now announced the launch of a global forum to do just that. At this summit we set the agenda again, calling on our G20 partners to squeeze the lifeblood out of terrorist networks by making the global financial system an entirely hostile environment for terrorists—and we secured agreements on all our proposals.
We agreed to work together to ensure there are no safe spaces for terrorist financing by increasing capacity-building and raising standards worldwide, especially in terrorist finance hotspots. We agreed to bring industry and law enforcement together to develop new tools and technologies better to identify suspicious small flows of money being used to support low cost terrorist attacks, such as those we have seen in the UK. Just as Interior Ministers are following up on the online agenda we set at the G7, so Finance Ministers will follow through on these G20 commitments to cut off the funding that fuels the terrorist threat we face.
I also called for the G20 to come together better to manage the risk posed by foreign fighters as they disperse from the battlefield in Syria and Iraq, and we agreed we would work to improve international information-sharing on the movement of individuals known to have travelled to and from Daesh territory. By working together in these ways we can defeat this terrorist threat and ensure that our way of life will always prevail.
Turning to the global economy, we are seeing encouraging signs of recovery with the IMF forecasting that global GDP will rise by 3.5%. But many, both here in the UK and across the G20, are simply not sharing in the benefits of that growth. So we need to build a global economy that works for everyone by ensuring that trade is not just free but, crucially, fair for all. That means fair for all people here in the UK, which is why we are forging a modern industrial strategy that will help to bring the benefits of trade to every part of our country. It means fair terms of trade for the poorest countries, which is why we will protect their trade preferences as we leave the EU, and in time explore options to improve their trade access; and it means strengthening the international rules that make trade fair between countries. So at this summit I argued that we must reform the international trading system, especially the World Trade Organisation given its central role, so that it keeps pace with developments in key sectors like digital and services, and so it is better able to resolve disputes.
Some countries are not playing by the rules. They are not behaving responsibly and are creating risks to the global trading system. Nowhere is this clearer than in relation to the dumping of steel on global markets. The urgent need to act to remove excess capacity was recognised last year at the G20, but not enough has been done since. If we are to avoid unilateral action by nations seeking to protect themselves from unfairly priced steel, we need immediate collective action, so we agreed that the global forum established last year needs to be more effective and the pace of its work must quicken. In order to ensure its work gets the necessary attention and there is senior accountability, I have pressed for relevant Ministers from around the world to meet in this forum. The UK will play a leading role in championing all those reforms so that all citizens can share in the benefits of global growth.
As we leave the European Union, we will negotiate a new, comprehensive, bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the EU, but we will also seize the exciting opportunities to strike deals with old friends and new partners. At this summit, I held a number of meetings with other world leaders, all of whom made clear their strong desire to forge ambitious new bilateral trading relationships with the UK after Brexit. This included America, Japan, China and India. This morning, I welcomed Australian Prime Minister Turnbull to Downing Street, where he also reiterated his desire for a bold new trading relationship. All those discussions are a clear and powerful vote of confidence in British goods, British services, the British economy and the British people, and I look forward to building on them in the months ahead.
On climate change, the UK reaffirmed our commitment to the Paris agreement, which is vital if we are to take responsibility for the world we pass on to our children and grandchildren. There is not a choice between decarbonisation and economic growth, as the UK’s own experience shows. We have reduced our emissions by around 40% over the last 16 years but grown our GDP by almost two thirds. So I, and my counterparts at the G20, are dismayed at America’s withdrawal from this agreement. I spoke personally to President Trump to encourage him to rejoin the Paris agreement, and I continue to hope that that is exactly what he will do.
On international development, we reaffirmed our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development assistance, and we set out plans for a new long-term approach to reduce Africa’s reliance on aid. That includes focusing on supporting African aspirations for trade and growth, creating millions of new jobs and harnessing the power of capital markets to generate trillions of new investment. We welcomed Germany’s new compact with Africa, which reflects those principles.
On migration, I expressed the UK’s continued support for the scale of the challenge facing Italy, and agreed with Prime Minister Gentiloni that a UK expert delegation from the Home Office and the Department for International Development will travel out to Italy to see how we can help further. That is yet further evidence that, while we are leaving the European Union, as a global Britain we will continue to work closely with all our European partners.
The G20 also agreed to use the upcoming negotiations on the UN global compacts to seek the comprehensive approach that the UK has been arguing for. That includes ensuring that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach; improving the way we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants; and developing a better overall approach to managing economic migration. It also includes providing humanitarian and development assistance to refugees in their home region. At this summit, the UK committed £55 million to support the Government of Tanzania in managing their refugee and migrant populations and to support the further integration of new naturalised Burundian refugees.
Turning to modern slavery, it is hard to comprehend that in today’s world innocent and vulnerable men, women and children are being enslaved, forced into hard labour, raped, beaten and passed from abuser to abuser for profit. We cannot and will not ignore this dark and barbaric trade in human beings that is simply horrifying in its inhumanity. That is why I put this issue on the G20 agenda at my first summit a year ago, and at this summit I pushed for a global and co-ordinated approach to the complex business supply chains that can feed the demand for forced labour and child labour.
Our ground-breaking UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires companies to examine all aspects of their businesses, including their supply chains, and to publish their results. I called on my G20 partners to follow Britain’s lead. I welcomed Germany’s proposed vision zero fund, to which the UK is contributing, as an important part of helping to ensure the health and safety of workers in these global supply chains.
Finally, we agreed to create better job opportunities for women, to remove the legal barriers and end the discrimination and gender-based violence that restrict opportunities both at home and abroad. As part of this, the UK is contributing to the women entrepreneurs finance initiative, launched by the World Bank, which will provide more than $1 billion to support women in developing countries to start and grow businesses. This is not just morally right; it is economically essential. The UK will continue to play a leading role in driving forward women’s economic empowerment across the world.
Of course, we did not agree on everything at the summit, in particular on climate change. But when we have such disagreements, it is all the more important that we come together in forums such as the G20 to try to resolve them. As a global Britain, we will continue to work at bridging differences between nations and forging global responses to issues that are fundamental to our prosperity and security, and to that of our allies around the world. That is what we did at the summit, and that is what the Government will continue to do. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Prime Minister for the advance copy of this statement. I am really surprised that she had much to contribute at the G20, given that there was barely a mention of international policy in her party’s election manifesto—or, indeed, of any policy, so much so that the Government are apparently now asking other parties for their policy ideas. If the Prime Minister would like it, I am very happy to furnish her with a copy of our election manifesto, or better still an early election in order that the people of this country can decide.
Let us face it: the Government have run out of steam, at a pivotal moment for our country and the world. Amid the uncertainty of Brexit, conflict in the Gulf states, nuclear sabre-rattling over North Korea, refugees continuing to flee war and destruction, ongoing pandemics and cross-border terrorism, poverty, inequality and the impact of climate change are the core global challenges of our time. Just when we need strong government, we have weakness from this Government.
The US President attempts to pull the plug on the Paris climate change deal, and that gets only a belated informal mention in a brief meeting with him; there was no opportunity to sign a joint letter from European leaders at the time he made the announcement. The UK’s trade deficit is growing, at a time when we are negotiating our exit from the European Union. The UK-backed Saudi war in Yemen continues to kill, displace and injure thousands, and there have been 300,000 cases of cholera—this is a man-made catastrophe. Worse, the Government continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive and brutal regimes, which finances terrorism and is breaching humanitarian law. The Court may have ruled that the Government acted legally, but they are certainly not acting ethically.
We welcome the ceasefire agreed between the US and Russia in south-west Syria. It is good news. Did the Prime Minister play any role in those negotiations? Will she commit to working with them to expand the ceasefire to the rest of that poor, benighted country?
The US President’s attempt to pull out of the Paris climate change deal is both reckless and very dangerous. The commitments made in Paris are a vital move to stop the world reaching the point of no return on climate change. Other G20 leaders have been unequivocal with the US President, but not our Prime Minister; apparently, she did not raise the issue in her bilateral meeting but later raised it informally. I do not quite know what that means, but perhaps the Prime Minister can tell us exactly what the nature of that meeting was. What a complete neglect of her duty both to our people and—equally importantly—to our planet.
We need a leader who is prepared to speak out and talk up values of international co-operation, human rights, social justice and respect for international law. The Prime Minister now needs to listen. Will she condemn attempts to undermine global co-operation on climate change? Will she take meaningful action against our country’s role in global tax avoidance, which starves many developing countries of funding for sustainable growth and which is sucking investment out of our public services?
Will the Prime Minister offer European Union nationals in Britain the same rights as they have now? What proposals does she have, and what discussions has she had, on Britain’s membership of Euratom? Will she halt the immoral arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as Germany has done, and back Germany’s call to end the bombing in Yemen?
We have heard the Prime Minister talk about “safe spaces” for terrorist finance, so why have her Government sat on the report on foreign funding of extremism and radicalisation in the UK? When will that report be released? What new regulations is the UK bringing forward for UK companies and banks as part of her new global accord on terrorist financing?
Keeping Britain global is one of our country’s most urgent tasks, but the truth is this country needs a new approach to foreign policy and global co-operation. The Conservative Government, in hock to vested interests, simply cannot deliver. Responding to the grotesque levels of inequality within countries and between them is important to the security and sustainability of our world. In a joint report published in April, the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organisation recognised what they referred to as the
“long-lasting displacements as well as large earnings losses” of workers, and that the negative experience of globalisation has informed the public’s rejection of the established political order. The Prime Minister talks of the dumping of steel on global markets, but why did her Government fail to take the action that other European nations took at the most acute time when our steel industry was suffering?
This Government are the architect of failed austerity policies, and now threaten to use Brexit to turn Britain into a low wage, deregulated tax haven on the shores of Europe—a narrow and hopeless vision of the potential of this country that would serve only an elite few, and one that would ruin industry, destroy innovation and hit people’s living standards.
Finally, the US President said a US-UK trade deal will happen quickly. Can the Prime Minister give any detail or timetable or any of the terms of this agreement—on environmental protections, workers’ rights, consumer rights, product safety or any of the issues that so concern so many people? The Prime Minister has lost her mandate at home, and now she is losing Britain her influence abroad.
On the issue of terrorist financing, I say to the right hon. Gentleman that it is in fact the United Kingdom that has not only been developing approaches within the UK, working with our financial sector, but is taking this internationally and, as I have said, has raised this at the G20 and has agreement from countries sitting around the G20 table that we are going to take this forward together. I think what was important was that we had a separate communiqué on counter-terrorism, which specifically identifies issues such as working with the financial sector to identify suspicious small flows of funding. This is what the UK has led on, it was the UK’s proposal and it was in the communiqué of the G20.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about global tax avoidance. It is the UK that has led on the issues of global tax avoidance. Global tax avoidance is on the agenda of these international meetings only because my predecessor, the right hon. David Cameron, put it there. It is the UK that has been leading on that.
The right hon. Gentleman talks about trade deals. I am very happy to tell him that we are already working with the Americans on what a trade deal might look like. We already have a working group with the Australians, and we have a working group with India as well. We are out there. He says that what Britain needs is somebody actually standing up and speaking about these things; what we need is somebody doing these things, and that is exactly what we are doing.
On the issue of climate change, this country has a proud record on climate change. We secured the first truly global, legally binding agreement on climate change in the Paris agreement. We are the third best country in the world for tackling climate change. We were at the leading edge in putting through our own legislation in relation to emissions, and this country will continue to lead on this issue.
The right hon. Gentleman refers to the question of the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. I welcome the High Court judgment today—my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary will make a statement on this later this afternoon—but I think it shows that we in this country do indeed operate one of the most robust export control regimes in the world.
The right hon. Gentleman started off by talking about the issue of the Government’s agenda. This Government have an ambitious agenda to change this country. There are many issues—[Interruption.]
Order. Mr Ashworth, you are a cheeky and rather over-excitable whippersnapper. Calm yourself and, as I say, take some sort of soothing medicament. That is a repeated refrain of mine, but with good reason.
There are many issues on which, I would hope, we will be able to achieve consensus across this House: issues such as ensuring that our police and security agencies have the powers they need to deal with the terrorist threat we face; issues such as responding to the Matthew Taylor report, which I commissioned to ensure that, in the new gig economy, as we see the world of work changing, workers have their rights protected.
We talked about women’s empowerment at the G20 summit. One issue that I have been concerned about recently is the fact that many female candidates during the general election found themselves in receipt of bullying and harassment. I would have hoped that, as has been said by Yvette Cooper, every leader of a political party in this House would stand up and condemn such action. It is time that the Leader of the Opposition did so.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on her many successes at a productive summit, particularly on the trade front. Will she confirm that Ministers are working not just on trade deals with those countries we do not have one with at the moment but will have when we are outside the EU, but on making sure that we transfer the EU ones to the UK on exit?
I am happy to give that confirmation to my right hon. Friend. We are working on trade in three areas. Obviously, one area is looking ahead to the trade agreements we can have with those countries we do not currently have them with as a member of the European Union. The second is ensuring that, where there are trade agreements with the EU, we are able to roll those forward as we leave the EU. The third area is working with countries such as India and Australia to discuss what changes we can make now, before we leave the European Union, to improve our trade relationship.
The G20 summit was an eye-opening event: the UK is now floundering around on the global stage, desperately trying to win friends. A disastrous and unpredictable alliance was formed with the American President on trade. Goodness knows what a trade deal with America now would mean for our public services, for food quality and for workers’ rights. Indeed, talk about a UK-US trade deal was dealt a blow by the Prime Minister’s own Justice Secretary, who just hours after the summit said:
“It wouldn’t be enough on its own”.
The Prime Minister must come to her senses. A United Kingdom outside the single market would be ruinous. Our EU friends and partners are moving on without us, this year alone finalising trade deals with Japan and Canada, while the UK readily turns in on itself. Today’s Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey shows that 61% of Scottish businesses feel that the UK should remain in both the single market and the customs union. It is quite scandalous that the Prime Minister turns a blind eye to the economy in favour of her Eurosceptic colleagues’ reckless rhetoric.
I welcome the progress made at the G20 summit. I especially pay tribute to the work of the German Chancellor, who hosted and delivered a challenging agenda on global issues. The communiqué is clear that we must redouble our efforts in delivering the Paris agreement, calling it “irreversible”. I ask the Prime Minister to set out the next steps in delivering the Paris agreement outcomes in the UK.
The communiqué also delivers the G20 Africa Partnership to boost growth and jobs across Africa, including an initiative on rural employment that will create 1.1 million new jobs by 2022. Will the Prime Minister explain the UK’s role in delivering the initiative and confirm whether that role will continue after the UK exits the EU?
The agreement to take further action to achieve gender equality is undoubtedly universally welcomed in this House. The conclusions also push the G20 to
“take immediate and effective measures to eliminate child labour by 2025, forced labour, human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery.”
That is a promising step indeed.
However, the Prime Minister went to Hamburg with an opening core message: she wanted the G20 to tackle terrorism. In particular, she wanted the G20 to tackle terrorist financing—what staggering hypocrisy! The Prime Minister who is sitting on a report commissioned by her predecessor, denying us all the truth about terrorist financing in the UK, had the brass neck to call on the G20 to do more. What an absolute outrage. Will she publish the Home Office extremism analysis report on terror funding in the UK and will she set up a public inquiry into questions around the funding of extremism?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman was not making a personal accusation of hypocrisy against the Prime Minister. I cannot believe that he would knowingly do so, because it is palpably disorderly, and he ought to be aware of that. If he is not aware of that, it is time that he was, but I think he ought to spring to his feet and clarify the position.
On a point of explanation: my sense was that there was an element of an accusation. Withdraw.
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
The hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues. He asked about trade deals. As I said in my statement, we have indeed started discussions with a number of countries—yes, the United States, but also Japan, China and India—and I was able to speak to representatives of a number of other countries at the G20 about the possibility of future trade deals.
The hon. Gentleman asked about the compact with Africa. That is not a European Union initiative. It has been led by Chancellor Merkel under the G20, and, indeed, the United Kingdom is playing its role. The principles that underpin the compact are principles that we have been using in the assistance that we have already been giving in development aid to a variety of countries in Africa. We already have a compact with Ethiopia, which the United Kingdom has put forward and which will create 100,000 jobs, including jobs for refugees living in Ethiopia. So we have already shown a commitment to these issues by what we are actually out doing.
The hon. Gentleman talked about terrorist financing. Of course we discussed ensuring that we look across the board at all aspects of the issue, which means that, as we look at the changing nature of terrorism, we look not just at large-scale financing but at the small sums that are harder to trace—harder to identify—but that could underpin attacks that take place. The communiqué clearly put a focus on that new initiative.
It is important to eradicate modern slavery, which the hon. Gentleman also talked about. That was in the G20 agenda because I put it there, because modern slavery is an issue that this Government take very seriously. We introduced the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the first piece of legislation of its kind in the world, and we are working with others to ensure that we eradicate modern slavery.
I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that his portrayal of the UK’s position at the G20 was simply wrong, but then, he was not there and I was.
Order. If I am to accommodate the extensive interest of colleagues in this matter, there will be an imperative for great brevity—to be, I hope, spectacularly exemplified now by Anna Soubry.
The answer is that the right hon. Lady—[Interruption.] Order. I did not imagine it in my sleep. The right hon. Lady was standing. If she ceased to do so, I was not conscious of the fact; but she has leapt to her feet with alacrity, and the House is in a state of eager anticipation and bated breath.
I always take the opportunity to say something. [Laughter.]
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend could help us with the Modern Slavery Act. As she rightly said, we have led the world with that legislation, and many of us are hugely proud of the work that she did when she was Home Secretary. Is she finding that, throughout the world, there is now a desire for other countries to follow where she and this country have led?
I am very pleased to be able to say to my right hon. Friend that that is indeed the case. We are seeing a much greater awareness of the issue throughout the world, and a much greater willingness on the part of Governments to look at it. Governments are looking at the human trafficking aspect across borders, but as we know here in the UK, it is also important to look at what happens in-country—what happens to the citizens of one’s own country—and that is exactly what we are doing.
Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.
The G20 discussed energy security. The Prime Minister will no doubt be aware of growing anxiety on both sides of the House about her proposal to withdraw the UK from the Euratom treaty, despite concern about the implications for the movement of scientists, nuclear materials and life-saving radiotherapies. Can she explain what the UK nuclear industry will gain from such a policy?
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be aware from his chairing of the Select Committee that membership of Euratom is inextricably linked with membership of the European Union. As was signalled in the Queen’s Speech with reference to a future Bill on this issue, we want to ensure that we can maintain those relationships—that co-operation with Euratom which enables the exchange of scientists and material. Countries throughout the world that are not members of the EU have that relationship with Euratom, but we need to put that Bill in place, and I look forward to the right hon. Gentleman’s support for it.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that free trade will be one of the great Brexit dividends, and that it will provide cheaper food, clothing and footwear, to the greatest benefit of the poorest in our society?
I agree with my hon. Friend that it is free trade that enables us to grow economies, increase prosperity and provide jobs, and there will be benefits from the trade agreements that we want to negotiate throughout the world. But we also need as a country to defend the concept of free trade because, sadly, it is under too much attack from protectionists around the world.
When journalists and activists such as Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova have been murdered in Putin’s Russia, does the Prime Minister share my anger at the chilling sight of Presidents Trump and Putin joking about the inconvenience of a free press, and will she commit to raising the importance of the independence of the media to both leaders when she next meets them?
We defend a free press. We think a free press is an essential underpinning of our democracy here, and we want to defend a free press around the world. I can assure the hon. Lady that we do regularly raise this issue with the Russian President and at all levels in Russian authorities.
I also pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for all the extraordinary work she has done on the issue of human trafficking and slavery, and commend her for raising that matter at the G20. However, with the world on the move, there are, unfortunately, opportunities for more, rather than less, of that. What can we do between the G20s to ensure that other countries take the issue as seriously as the UK does? We have set the bar on this and we need to raise others to it.
That is absolutely right, and we are taking action across a number of areas. As I said, the specific area we focused on at the G20 was the business supply chains, but one of the key ways of ensuring we can act against human trafficking and modern slavery is through the co-operation of the law enforcement agencies in the UK with others around the world. That is exactly what we are encouraging and what is happening—and, I am pleased to say, with some success.
“if we have not made progress by this time next year on reaching a multilateral agreement, we will need to look carefully at the issue once again.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 612, c. 160.]
A year on, may I ask the Prime Minister to confirm what progress has been made, and what discussions she has had with G20 members to ensure that we can tackle corporate tax avoidance through open, public country-by-country reporting?
We regularly raise that issue, and we are disappointed at the lack of progress on it. We will continue to press on it, but of course if we are going to get that multilateral agreement, others have to agree to the concept as well. We will continue to press on the issue, however. It is on the agenda because the UK has been putting it there, and we will continue to do so.
I can say to my right hon. Friend that as Home Secretary I welcomed the co-operation which I had from the Labour Benches—not from the right hon. Gentleman who is currently Leader of the Opposition, but from others on his Benches, who have seen the need to ensure that our agencies have appropriate powers to deal with the terrorist threat that we face—and I look forward to Labour MPs, and indeed others on the Opposition Benches in this House, supporting those counter-terrorism measures when we bring them forward.
The G20 communiqué includes important references to investment in global education, including the Global Partnership for Education and Education Cannot Wait. The UK has a proud record of leading on global health. Will the Prime Minister join Argentina during its forthcoming G20 presidency to ensure that investment in global education is given the priority it deserves?
Indeed, this is not just about looking ahead to the agenda for the next G20 meeting. It is also about what the United Kingdom has been doing practically, through our international development budget. For example, a significant number of girls, in particular, around the world are now being educated as a result of our input. We think that the global education agenda is very important.
As the Prime Minister said in her statement, we are leaving the European Union but we are not leaving Europe. May I welcome her announcement that we will continue to work with our European friends and allies to develop a better overall approach to managing economic migration?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Again, this is an issue that the UK has been leading on, and other countries are increasingly recognising the importance of what we have been saying about differentiating between refugees and economic migrants. We will continue to work on this not just in the G20 but in the United Nations work that started last year and will be progressing towards the end of this year on the compact for migration and refugees across the world.
We know that US intelligence services leaked sensitive UK intelligence in the hours following the attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. This weekend, according to a tweet from President Trump, he and President Putin were discussing forming
“an impenetrable Cyber Security unit so that election hacking…will be guarded and safe”.
Can the Prime Minister guarantee that UK intelligence assets on cyber-warfare will not be compromised, or shared in any way as long as there is a risk of this sort of bizarre and dangerous alliance with the Russians?
We take the issue of intelligence sharing very seriously. It is important that we are able to share intelligence with our allies in the United States and with other allies around the world, but what matters is that we are able to do that on the basis of confidence that that intelligence will be treated appropriately. I can assure the hon. Lady that we take the whole issue of cyber-security extremely seriously. That is why we have set up the new National Cyber Security Centre. We recognise and understand the threat that Russia poses in that area.
We heard positive words from the President of the United States at the G20 summit—and more this morning from the Prime Minister of Australia—on the opportunities for rapid and comprehensive trade deals between their countries and the UK. Does my right hon. Friend agree that new trade deals with old friends and new, which will be realisable only outside the customs union, will add to the prosperity of a new, global Britain?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We have been very clear that we want to undertake, sign up to and activate new trade deals with old friends and new allies alike. That, of course, means not being part of the customs union, which would prevent us from doing so. It is important that we are able to negotiate a trade agreement with the EU and trade agreements around the rest of the world.
May I press the Prime Minister on the issue of migration and displacement, which affects 65 million people worldwide? She will know that, since
The resources being given to this issue are significant and varied. From the United Kingdom’s point of view, we have been doing work through our development aid budget, particularly in a number of countries in Africa. I referred earlier to the compact that we have with Ethiopia, which is providing jobs in that country for refugees and others. We see it as important to ensure that there are economic opportunities in the countries of origin where there is migration, so that people do not feel the need to make that dangerous journey. As I announced at the last EU Council meeting, we are giving extra funding—I think £75 million—to work with Libya and Italy to ensure that there are humane conditions so that people can be returned to countries in Africa. We have also increased the ability of the Libyan coastguard to ensure that it can properly intercept those boats that could pose a risk to people’s lives if they were to try to make it across the Mediterranean. This is multi-faceted, but the United Kingdom is involved in every aspect of it.
The Leader of the Opposition has spent his entire life opposing trade deals with countries such as Mexico and India. The Prime Minister’s success at the G20 meeting means that we can look both east and west when securing trade deals. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we should recognise and be proud of the global confidence in British services, British goods and the British economy?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The fact that several leaders—not only those whom I have mentioned, but others as well—have expressed their interest in trade deals with the United Kingdom is a vote of confidence in the British people.
The hon. Lady may know that there is a limit to what we can put in place while we are still a member of the European Union, but that does not mean that we cannot discuss what a future trade agreement might be or how we can improve trade relations now. We can do just that in certain areas that are not covered by EU competences, and those are the discussions that we are having.
Behind some of the rhetoric coming from the other side of the House, there actually seems to be a consensus that a UK-US free trade deal would be a good and necessary thing when we leave the European Union. Does the Prime Minister welcome, like me, the clear support of the American Administration, as expressed at the G20 meeting? The other important decision makers in this are those in the American Congress. Following her successful visit to Philadelphia with the Republican caucus, will she allow the excellent congressional relations office in our Washington embassy to help Members of Parliament make the case for a trade deal to our congressional colleagues?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the role that Congress will play, and he raises an interesting idea. I did have discussions with members of Congress when I was in Philadelphia, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade has also been having discussions with members of Congress recently. We will consider my hon. Friend’s proposal, but he is right that we will be working with Congress and the American Administration on this.
As I referred to in answer to Hilary Benn, membership of Euratom is inextricably linked with membership of the European Union. As we leave the European Union, we will be leaving Euratom, but we will be looking to put in place a similar relationship with Euratom, just as other countries around the world that are not members of the EU have access to the movement of scientists and materials and to Euratom’s standards. We recognise the importance of this matter, which is why a Bill on this subject was in the Queen’s Speech.
As my right hon. Friend is now open to ideas from a man who tried to remove her from office, I wonder whether she will be prepared to take an idea from a friend who stood on a platform of keeping her in office and who wants her to stay in office—[Interruption.]
How about this idea: we have warm words about helping Italy on migration, but as long as it is forced to take all the refugees, more and more will obviously come. Will my right hon. Friend work with our allies to try to establish safe havens in Libya, so that people can be returned safely? That is a Conservative idea, not a useless socialist one.
Not only is the concept of being able to return people to Libya a good one, but it is one that we are already working on. It is one of the issues that we will be discussing with the Italians and others in relation to the extra humanitarian aid that we are making available. We have also offered the Italians support and help with returns to Nigeria, because a significant number of those who reach Italy come from Nigeria, where the United Kingdom is already running arrangements to provide the sort of area in which people are able to stay.
As the hon. Lady may recognise, we have regular discussions with the Americans and others within the coalition about the action that is taking place. I think that the military action to drive Daesh out of Mosul has been very important and that the military action in Raqqa will be important, but of course, as a United Kingdom, we always want to ensure that such actions deal with those they are supposed to deal with—the terrorists—and do not affect civilians.
I add my welcome to the Prime Minister’s statement, particularly in respect of the additional assistance being given to Italy to tackle migration. My right hon. Friend may not be aware that I am chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Greece. As she knows, Greece also has a huge burden to bear with the movement of migrants. Will she agree to consider whether the delegation being sent to Italy might also be sent, in due course, to Greece?
As it happens, we are mirroring in Italy something that we have already offered to Greece and that has been taken up by Greece. Of course, there is now a different situation in Greece because of the European Union’s deal with Turkey. We have seen a significant reduction in the number of migrants trying to reach Greece, but people who came through those routes are now trying to go through Libya into Italy. We will certainly ensure that we give as much support as we can to Italy in this matter.
The right hon. Gentleman is asking about arrangements in negotiations that have yet to take place. We have started discussions with the Americans, and we will of course be negotiating trade arrangements with them.
Many developing countries are keen to trade with G20 countries free from punitive tariffs and on a level playing field. Does my right hon. Friend agree that Britain can be a real leader in free trade and fair trade, once we leave the European Union, by setting our own tariffs on trade and striking our own trade deals?
This is very important. We will have the ability, once we are outside the European Union, to strike those trade deals with countries around the world. Underpinning my hon. Friend’s question is the need for the United Kingdom to stand up and promote free and fair trade around the world. As I said in response to my hon. Friend Mr Rees-Mogg, there is a temptation in some areas to move towards protectionism, and I think we should stand against that. We should show very clearly that it is free trade that brings prosperity and jobs, and that it not only helps economies such as ours but helps some of the world’s poorest countries to develop.
Given the special relationship that the Prime Minister enjoys with President Trump, can she explain why she failed to influence him and prevent him from pulling out of the Paris climate agreement? Will she condemn that decision and refrain from rolling out the red carpet for him in the form of a state visit?
We—the United Kingdom and I—made our view on the Paris agreement very clear to the United States. The United States takes its own decisions, and this was a commitment that President Trump made during his election campaign. I have said to him on more than one occasion that I hope we can encourage the United States to come back into the Paris agreement, which I think is important. We will continue to work to try to get them back in.
Given that the vast majority of Members of Parliament, including the Leader of the Opposition, stood on an election platform explicitly backing Brexit, is it not time that people stopped using these negotiations for either political or even personal advantage and united behind the Prime Minister, allowing her and her Ministers to get on with delivering a deal that works for the whole of Britain?
My hon. Friend is very right: 80% of the votes at the general election were for parties that said they wanted to deliver on the Brexit decision taken by the British people in the referendum last year. That is what the Government are going to get on and do, and I hope others across the House will support us in doing it.
The Prime Minister said in her statement that, “women and children are being enslaved, forced into hard labour, raped, beaten and passed from abuser to abuser for profit.” Does she agree that that is no more true than when it comes to the depravity of child prostitution in India? Did she raise that issue with Prime Minister Modi?
I have raised this issue—the question of modern slavery—previously with Prime Minister Modi, as the United Kingdom wants people around the world to address it. We are very clear that we want to see this issue being dealt with. That is one of the reasons why we have put into legislation the requirement for companies here in the UK, which will be manufacturing and will be sourcing products from around the world, to look at their supply chains and report on what they find in them and whether or not modern slavery is taking place within them.
Does the Prime Minister agree that although we are leaving the European Union, there are still many matters on which we need to co-operate? I am thinking particularly of across the English channel in dealing with the migrant problems, of how we are going to manage international trade, of how we are going to work with Europe to tackle the evil of people trafficking and of co-operation to stop these multinationals from gaming our tax systems across the European continent.
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend that there is much on which we will continue to want to co-operate with countries within the European Union. Of course, the relationship we have with France and Belgium in particular in relation to our ports and the traffic of people across the channel is very important to us. We have been working increasingly with the French authorities and others, including the Greek authorities, in dealing with this issue of human trafficking and successfully ensuring that criminal gangs involved in it are not just identified, but investigated and prosecuted.
I did speak to President Erdoğan about the Cyprus talks; I also spoke to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who of course had been present at them, about the reason why they broke down. It is a matter of not only great disappointment, but great sadness that they did not come to fruition; they were the closest we have come to finding a solution for the unification of Cyprus. As I say, it is a matter of sadness that that was not able to be achieved. The United Nations worked to achieve it and the United Kingdom played a strong role in trying to achieve it, but sadly it did not happen.
We raise this issue regularly with the US Administration, but, crucially, there was a very clear message from everybody sitting around the table at the G20 to the US Administration about the importance we all placed on the climate change agreement—on the Paris agreement—and on the US being a member of it.
Kettering is located at the economic beating heart of the nation, so a strong economy and new international trade deals post-Brexit are very important for all of us who live there. The Prime Minister has told the House that over the weekend she met the leaders of America, China, Japan and India to talk about new trade deals. May I say to her that that sounds to me like a very good start and a very good weekend’s work?
I thank my hon. Friend for that. May I also recognise the important role that Kettering plays in the economy of the country? When we see these new trade deals come into place, I am sure that his constituents and others across the country will benefit from them.
Can the Prime Minister guarantee that Brexit will not weaken the fight against terrorism? Will we retain full membership of Europol and Eurojust?
As the hon. Lady will know, I have stood at this Dispatch Box in the past and defended our membership of Europol and a number of other arrangements we have in the security field, such as SIS II—the Schengen information system—and various others. As we are in formal negotiations with the EU, such matters will of course be matters for those negotiations, but I am clear that we want to continue to retain our co-operation on matters relating to crime and counter-terrorism. Some of the arrangements with other European countries are outside the EU. We want to maintain that co-operation because it is important not only for us but for countries in the EU.
What conversations did the Prime Minister have with her fellow leaders about the growing crisis on the Korean peninsula, and what does she see as the UK’s role in that crisis? Might part of it be further restrictions on British banks, two of which recently had warrants issued against them for inadvertently trading with North Korean businesses?
I had several discussions with other leaders about what is happening on the Korean peninsula and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s activities—particularly with President Xi, because China’s role is crucial. It is the country with the greatest leverage in relation to North Korea, and I have urged President Xi—as have others, I believe—to exercise that leverage. We want to see the denuclearisation of North Korea.
The Prime Minister talks about boosting trade, but what discussions has she had with other leaders about our open skies agreement with the USA, which depends on our relationship with the European Union. There is of course considerable concern for the aviation industry and airports such as Stansted, which plan ahead by 12 to 18 months. Time is very short.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on her comments over the weekend and today condemning President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris agreement. I encourage her to keep the UK in the global vanguard on climate change by publishing a clean-growth plan as quickly as possible, so that those who are more reluctant on the matter can see the enormous value of a green economy.
The UK’s record on this issue is good. We can already point to the actions we have taken here in the UK, but we will of course be looking to do more in future—for example, on air quality. We can already show the action we have taken and the benefit it has had. As I said in my statement, there is no contradiction between decarbonisation and a growing economy.
Is a bad trade deal with the United States better than no deal?
I recognise the concern raised when the TTIP arrangements were being discussed and negotiated. I assure the hon. Gentleman that as we look to negotiate a trade deal with the United States, we will want to negotiate a deal that is in the United Kingdom’s best interests.
The hon. Gentleman has raised an important issue; we regularly discuss with our coalition partners and others the possibility of getting that aid in. As he will know, there have been some attempts to ensure that aid can get through to those besieged civilians, but they have not always—[Interruption.] He says, “Try again”; I have to say that we do regularly raise this issue. The best answer is to find a solution to the situation in Syria that leads to a stable Syria in which those civilians are no longer being besieged.
In a summit of extraordinarily awkward moments that would rival an episode of “The Addams Family”, perhaps the most bizarre moment was when President Trump’s seat was taken by his daughter. The Prime Minister did not seem to bat an eyelid, presumably because she expects somebody else to take her seat soon. Who does she hope that will be—the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary or the Chancellor?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the action that we have taken here in the United Kingdom to support our steel industry. The last G20 took the decision that the Global Forum would be the basis on which work will be done internationally to look at this issue of excess capacity in steel. That has not worked as well as people had hoped when it was set up under the Chinese presidency, but it is exactly that that we want to see, along with a ministerial meeting to look at excess steel capacity later this year.
I am conscious that that was an issue that was raised in relation to the TTIP deal. A concern that people had was that, somehow, that was about changing the NHS. We will not change the national health service. The TTIP deal was never going to impact on the NHS in the way that the Opposition suggested.
Not all G20 countries have made the same sort of progress that we have in this country in relation to racist and discriminatory language. Was that an issue that she discussed with the G20 leaders, and does she agree that, where it happens, organisations should take decisive and swift action?
Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries, stated that, following Brexit,
“it will be extraordinarily difficult to avert negative effects on British businesses in particular.”
Has the Prime Minister got any closer to carrying out an economic assessment of the UK leaving the single market?
What is very clear is that we want to negotiate a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union, which gives us access to the single market. Anybody who is looking at the economic impacts that take place as a result of leaving the single market should recognise that the most important single market to the nations within the United Kingdom is the United Kingdom.
Given the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to ending modern slavery and her desire for other countries to follow the UK’s lead, why does she think it takes her Home Office more than two years to investigate the case of a woman in my constituency who is a victim of rape, slavery and trafficking? What kind of example is she setting for the G20 there?
Following the questions by my right hon. Friends the Members for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw), the Prime Minister said that our membership of Euratom is inextricably linked with our membership of the European Union, and yet we have been members of Euratom for longer than we have been members of the European Union, so how can that be the case? Will the Government rethink our arrangements in terms of Euratom, which is so important both for our civil nuclear sector and for access to the best radiotherapy treatments?
The fact is that the treaty makes it clear that there is a link between membership of the European Union and membership of Euratom. Across this House, we are all agreed that we want to ensure that we can still maintain the arrangements and relationships that currently exist under Euratom, but they will be on a different basis in future. There is no argument that we want to maintain those relationships.
I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and note her efforts to reform the World Trade Organisation rules in order that they keep up with the services and digital sectors, which are crucial to the British economy. Does she agree that any reform of the WTO rules will take longer than the time we have left before the UK crashes out of EU without a trade deal in 2019?
One point of my comments at the G20 was that we need to speed up how the WTO considers these issues. Looking at the trade rules around the digital economy is not being started from scratch; the WTO has been doing it for some time. We just need to ensure that we get on with it and get those rules set.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s indication that she wants to coax the United States back into the Paris agreement. Will she consider strengthening her negotiating hand by suggesting to President Trump that there will be no negotiations on a free trade deal until they come back into the agreement, or is securing a free trade deal with the United States more important than securing the future of the planet?
We want to ensure that we get a good trade deal with the United States, because that would be to the benefit of people here, providing prosperity, economic growth and jobs across the UK. We will continue to press on the climate change agreement as well, and, as I say, I am encouraging President Trump, as are others, to find a way back into the Paris agreement. I think that that is important for us all, but meanwhile we will continue to do our bit through the application of the Paris agreement.
No? Okay. I was going to say that if he wanted to do so, it would normally happen after the statements but, as it appertained to the previous statement, he could raise it now if he wished. He does not, so that is fine. Thank you.