Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Britain in the World

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:58 pm on 13th January 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Conservative, Elmet and Rothwell 6:58 pm, 13th January 2020

It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend Theo Clarke, whom I congratulate on her uplifting, upbeat and excellent maiden speech. This is one of the most exciting moments of my career. There is so much to be positive about—better than the morose dirge we have just heard from Stewart Hosie.

I view this new decade as having the potential of the 1980s. This country moved forward so much during that decade. Given the economic policies we have had to put in place over the past 10 years, at least we start this decade in strong economic circumstances and there is so much we can exploit. I honestly think that this will be the decade of reward. This will be the decade of change, and this decade will make us lead around the world in the 21st century. We are moving towards a high-tech, high-wage, high-growth, high-productivity economy. We are not there at the moment, but this Queen’s Speech and what has been laid out in the programme for government show that, with the policies the Prime Minister wants to take forward, those things can be achieved. They can be achieved in this first term, and they can be achieved not least because we have economic strength behind us to take things forward.

Today’s debate has rightly focused on some of the key foreign affairs and defence issues that relate to our place in the world and how we operate, and I will come on to discuss a couple of them. However, we must also look at the United Kingdom, our place in the world, and what we can achieve. Our infrastructure plans, which I will touch on later, are an important part of how we will achieve things. The 2020s will be the decade of healing and growth in all areas, from defence to infrastructure to the economy and democracy.

Turning to democracy and our place in the world, during the past five years, and even since the general election, we have heard from people who want to ignore democratic outcomes. This general election more than any other showed that, above all else, the British people are democrats. I was struck from the moment we had the vote on Europe in 2016 that those who voted remain felt, on the whole, that the decision should be honoured. They might not have liked the result, but they felt that the decision should be honoured because people are fundamentally democratic.

There has been a habit—this is not just about the Brexit debate—to ignore democratic results across the world. Look at the backlash in this country against the election of President Trump—democratically elected in one of our closest allies. Look at the behaviour of the previous Speaker, who rolled out the red carpet for dictators and autocrats, and then refused entry to the democratically elected leader of our closest ally in NATO. It was a disgraceful and small-minded activity that again played into ignoring democratic outcomes. If we are to lead the world and have a place in the world, we must respect democracy. That must be No. 1. Whether or not we like the outcomes, we must respect democracy, but that respect has sadly been lacking in so many ways, mainly led by the Opposition Benches.