Priorities for Government

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:48 am on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party 11:48 am, 25th July 2019

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

The right hon. Gentleman’s predecessor promised to end austerity, but spectacularly failed to deliver. People do not trust the Prime Minister to make the right choices for the majority of people in this country when he is also promising tax giveaways to the richest and big business—his own party’s funders. So can he now indicate when he will set out the detail of the exact funding settlement for our schools and for our hard-pressed local authorities and police, so that they can start planning now? We must also address the deep regional inequalities in this country. The northern powerhouse has been massively underpowered and the midlands engine has not been fuelled, so will the Prime Minister match Labour’s commitment to a £500 billion investment fund to rebalance this country through regional development banks and a national transformation fund?

The right hon. Gentleman has hastily thrown together a hard-right Cabinet. I have just a couple of questions on those appointments. Given his appointment of the first Home Secretary for a generation to support the death penalty, can he assure the House now that his Government have no plans to try to bring back capital punishment to this country? And before appointing the new Education Secretary, was he given sight of the Huawei leak investigation by the Cabinet Secretary?

I am deeply alarmed to see no plan for Brexit. The right hon. Gentleman was in the Cabinet that accepted the backstop and, of course, he voted for it on 30 March this year. It would be welcome if he could set out what he finds so objectionable, having voted for it less than four months ago. Can he explain this flip-flopping? The House will have a sense of déjà-vu and of trepidation at a Prime Minister setting out rigid red lines and an artificial timetable. There is something eerily familiar about a Prime Minister marching off to Europe with demands to scrap the backstop, so why does he think he will succeed where his predecessor failed?

However, I do welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment finally to guarantee the rights of European Union citizens. It is a great shame that this offer has only been made now, more than three years after my party put that proposal before this House. Our friends, neighbours and family should never have been treated as bargaining chips, which has caused untold stress and worry to people who have worked so hard for this country and the communities that make it up.

Does the Prime Minister accept that, if he continues to pursue a reckless no deal, he will be directly flouting the expressed will of this Parliament? Industry, business and unions have been absolutely clear about the threat that that poses: no deal means no steel, no car industry, food prices dramatically rising and huge job losses. Make UK, representing much of manufacturing industry, says no deal would be

“the height of economic lunacy”.

Companies from Toyota to Asda have been clear about the dangers of no deal. Is the Prime Minister still guided by his “f*** business” policy? Those recklessly advocating no deal will not be the ones who lose out. The wealthy elite who fund him and his party will not lose their jobs, see their living standards cut or face higher food bills.

If the Prime Minister has confidence in his plan, once he has decided what it is, he should go back to the people with that plan. Labour will oppose any deal that fails to protect jobs— [Interruption.] We will oppose any deal that fails to protect jobs, workers’ rights or environmental protections. If he has the confidence to put that decision back to the people, we would, in those circumstances, campaign to remain.

The office of— [Interruption]