G7 Summit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:33 pm, 3rd September 2019

Britain is on the verge of taking back control of our trade policy, as I said. [Interruption.] On the verge. We could achieve even more in our trade with the United States by using the powers we will regain to do a comprehensive free trade deal—a deal in which both President Trump and I have agreed that the NHS is not on the table. Unlike some in the House, I consider the United States to be a natural ally and a force for good in the world, and I recoil from the visceral, juvenile anti-Americanism that would do such profound damage to this country’s interest.

I know the whole House will share my concern about the gravity of the situation in Hong Kong. As a nation with a deep belief in freedom of expression and assembly, we stand firm in upholding Hong Kong’s way of life, guaranteed by one country, two systems. I welcome the unwavering support of my G7 counterparts on this vital matter. The UK is at the forefront of a new campaign to end the tragic loss of species around the world. We cannot bequeath a planet where the Sumatran tiger and the African elephant, and entire ecosystems like the great barrier reef, live in the shadow of destruction, so I am delighted that the G7 accepted UK proposals for more ambitious targets to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity. Britain is responsible for 2.6 million square miles of ocean, the fifth largest marine estate in the world. Our blue belt programme will ensure that marine protected areas encompass 1.5 million square miles and, at the G7, I announced a further £7 million for this vital effort.

I also announced another £10 million to protect the rainforest in Brazil, where 41,000 fires have raged so far this year—more than twice as many as in the same period in 2018. Britain is bidding to host the UN’s 26th climate change conference next year. If we succeed, we shall focus on solutions that harness the power of nature, including reforestation. There is one measure that would address all those issues. [Interruption.] If Opposition Members think that is a waste of money, it tells us all we need to know about the modern Labour party.

One measure that will address all those issues is to ensure that every girl in the world receives the education that is her right. That would not only curb infant mortality, eradicate illiteracy and reduce population pressures but would strike a blow for morality and justice. In Biarritz the G7 therefore endorsed the UK’s campaign for 12 years of quality education for every girl in the world, and I announced £90 million of new funding so that 600,000 children in countries torn by conflict, where girls are twice as likely as boys to be out of the classroom, get the chance to go to school.

As well as my G7 colleagues, I was delighted to meet other leaders, including President Ramaphosa of South Africa, Prime Minister Modi of India and Prime Minister Morrison of Australia, who, heroically, masked his emotions in the face of the historic innings of Ben Stokes. In every conversation, I was struck by the enthusiasm of my colleagues to strengthen their relations with this country, whether on trade, security and defence, or science and technology. I was also able to use the G7 to follow up my conversations in Berlin and Paris with Chancellor Merkel and President Macron on Brexit, as well as with Prime Minister Conte, Prime Minister Sánchez and President Tusk. I have since spoken to Commission President Juncker and many other leaders. I was able to make it clear to them all that everyone in this Government wants a deal. [Interruption.] We do. We do. But it is a reality that the House of Commons has rejected the current withdrawal agreement three times, and it simply cannot be resurrected. [Interruption.] And that is why I wrote to President Tusk—[Interruption.]