Global Britain and the International Rules-based Order

Part of Brexit, Science and Innovation – in the House of Commons at 3:24 pm on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Mike Gapes Mike Gapes Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South 3:24 pm, 6th September 2018

It is a pleasure to follow my friend the Chairman of our Foreign Affairs Committee. As so often, I find that I agree with every word he said. Our Committee has produced a series of reports, to which he has referred. I have served on that Committee on and off for almost 20 years in this House, and it is very frustrating to serve on that Committee and experience a Foreign Secretary whom we know is not up to the job and is not taking seriously the issues that confront our country. I am referring not to the current Foreign Secretary, whose appointment I have welcomed very much, but to his predecessor, Boris Johnson.

When I was first elected, in 1992, I served on the FAC in that Parliament, when the then Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, used the phrase that the United Kingdom was going to “punch above its weight”. What we have seen with the last Foreign Secretary was somebody who was flailing around but not hitting any target, and who was counterproductive in so many ways. I therefore believe that this is the time for a reset and a restart. I hope that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will take seriously today’s motion, which has been signed by all members of the Committee—and we do not all agree on everything—and comes from many different points of view. It comes from members of the Labour, Conservative and Scottish National parties, and from leavers and remainers, who are united in the view that this Government need to take seriously the questions we are raising.

I do not want to speak for too long today. I could easily give a 40-minute speech, because there are so many issues—[Interruption.] I will not do that—