Britain in the World

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:02 pm on 13th January 2020.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley 9:02 pm, 13th January 2020

My hon. Friend is entirely right about self-determination. As a democracy, we have been talking about our own self-determination to leave the European Union and how people were seeking to thwart it. As a country, we believe in self-determination for ourselves and for other people around the world. It is absolutely right that, just like every other British overseas territory, the people of the Chagos Islands should be able to decide their own future, not an international court that seeks to pass and hand down judgments. The Chagos islanders have been ignored for far too long, and my hon. Friend is absolutely right that it is their territory and that it is for them to decide their own future. If given that choice, I think they will correctly choose to be part of the British family.

In conclusion, because I know other hon. and right hon. Members want to speak, I will mention our overseas territories and the important role that Britain is playing and can play in promoting environmental sustainability. Through our overseas territories, we are responsible for millions of square miles of ocean around the world. I commend this Conservative Government for the Blue Belt programme that we have initiated around many of our British overseas territories. The programme plays an important role in marine conservation around the world.

That is Britain at its best: outward looking, ambitious, free-trading, promoting liberty, promoting the environment and promoting justice around the world, and doing so as a responsible global state. The best years of Britain as a global nation are ahead of it, and I am grateful that is a key policy of this Government.