With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a brief statement on the G20 summit in Indonesia, but first I want to address Russia’s missile attacks on Ukraine this week.
On the very day that I and others confronted the Russian Foreign Minister across the G20 summit table with the brutality of his country’s actions, and on the very day that President Zelensky addressed the G20 with a plan to stop the war, Russia launched over 80 separate missile strikes on Ukraine. The targets were innocent people and civilian infrastructure; the aim, to cast the population into darkness and cold. Once again, Russia has shown its barbarity and given the lie to any claim that it is interested in peace.
During the bombardment of Ukraine on Tuesday, an explosion took place in eastern Poland. The investigation into this incident is ongoing and it has our full support. As we have heard the Polish and American Presidents say, it is possible that the explosion was caused by a Ukrainian munition which was deployed in self-defence. Whether or not this proves to be the case, no blame can be placed on a country trying to defend itself against such a barrage. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] The blame belongs solely to Russia.
I spoke to President Duda yesterday to express my sympathy and pledge our solidarity. I also spoke to President Zelensky on a joint call with Prime Minister Trudeau to express our continued support, and I met my G7 and NATO counterparts at the sidelines of the G20. We will help our Polish allies to conclude their investigation and we will continue to stand with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s criminal aggression.
The Bali summit took place amidst the worst economic crisis since 2008. The G20 was created to grip challenges like this, but today’s crisis is different, because it is being driven by a G20 member. By turning off the gas taps and choking off the Ukrainian grain supply, Russia has severely disrupted global food and energy markets. The economic shockwaves will ripple around the world for years to come. So, together with the other responsible members of the G20, we are delivering a decisive response.
Almost all G20 members joined me in calling out Russia’s actions, declaring that
“today’s era must not be one of war.”
We will work together to uphold international law and the United Nations charter, and we will act to protect our collective economic security. The G20 agreed to use all available tools to support the global economy and ensure financial stability. That means international financial institutions mobilising more resources to support developing countries, it means continuing to call out those who exploit their lending power to create debt traps for emerging economies, and it means tackling the causes of rising inflation head on, including by delivering fiscal sustainability.
We pledged our support for the UN-brokered deal to keep grain shipments moving in the Black sea. I am pleased to say that that deal has now been renewed. Two thirds of Ukraine’s wheat goes to developing countries. With famine looming, it is desperately needed and Russia must uphold its part of the deal.
We agreed action to improve energy security by accelerating the transition to clean energy. We launched a new just energy transition partnership with Indonesia, which will unlock billions in private finance for new green energy infrastructure. Finally, we committed to maintain free markets and free trade and to reform the World Trade Organisation.
Yesterday, I held my first meeting with President Biden. We pledged to redouble our support for Ukraine and to continue deepening our co-operation, including on energy security and managing the challenges posed by China. I met Prime Minister Modi, when we reviewed progress on our forthcoming free trade agreement. I discussed our accession to the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership with the Prime Ministers of Japan, Canada and Australia, and I met almost every other leader at the summit, with the exception of Russia.
In each of those discussions, there was a shared determination to restore stability, deliver long-term growth and drive a better future—one where no single country has the power to hold us back. In just a few moments, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will build on those international foundations when he sets out the autumn statement, putting our economy back on to a positive trajectory and restoring our fiscal sustainability.
By being strong abroad, we strengthen our resilience at home. We will continue to support Ukraine, we will continue to stand up for the rule of law and the fundamental principles of sovereignty and self-determination, and we will build a global economy that is more secure, more stable and more resilient, because that is what the gravity of the moment demands and that is how we will ensure that our country emerges from this crisis stronger than it was before. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of his statement.
What should have been a summit focused on global economic recovery and delivering clear commitments on climate change was sadly overshadowed by the unjustifiable actions of Russia and its illegal war in Ukraine. Civilian infrastructure was targeted across Ukraine and a war of aggression rumbled on as world leaders tried to reach agreement.
Whatever the outcome of the investigation into the missile incident in Poland, it is a stark reminder of the danger that Russia’s unjustifiable war has brought to the border of our NATO allies. We must remain vigilant and united in our opposition to this pointless and brutal conflict. As I have said many times from this Dispatch Box and to the Prime Minister personally, whatever other differences we may have across the House—and there are many—when it comes to the defence of Ukraine, we stand as one.
On behalf of Members across the House, I send our condolences to those killed in Poland. Poland’s measured reaction to the incident and the calm heads that have prevailed over the past two days are welcome. I listened carefully to what the Prime Minister said about that and I agree with him that no country can be blamed for defending itself. We need to get to the bottom of this. Obviously, the investigation is ongoing, but when does the Prime Minister expect those investigations to be finalised?
Russia is losing this war, so I welcome the G20’s communiqué, which set out:
“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine”.
Has further support for Ukraine been discussed among western allies? What efforts are taking place to open a diplomatic road map to rid Ukraine of Russian troops and bring an end to the conflict?
It is crucial that we work to find international unity to further isolate Putin. That will include working with China. We do not underestimate the challenges that China poses to global security and we must defend the human rights of the Uyghur and democracy in Hong Kong, but our approach must be measured, and it is in our interest to work with China on the climate crisis, trade and, most importantly, isolating Putin. I was glad to see constructive dialogue on those issues between President Biden and President Xi. Does the Prime Minister believe that the summit marks a change in west and China relations, and are his Government now taking a different approach from his predecessor to British-China relations?
After a decade of low growth in this country, it is crucial that we open new trade opportunities. The Prime Minister said that he had met Prime Minister Modi, when a future UK-India trade deal was discussed. That deal has previously been put in doubt by his Home Secretary, who indicated that she would not support it. Labour does support a trade deal with India, which we believe can bring new opportunities to promote and create new jobs here in Britain. Will the Prime Minister tell us when he now expects the deal to be completed, and whether measures on visas will be included in the overall deal? If so, can he guarantee that his whole Cabinet will actually support it? Will he also tell us whether in his meeting with President Biden, the UK-US trade deal was discussed—or can we assume that this deal now has no prospect of being delivered any time soon?
Lastly, may I ask the Prime Minister whether the Northern Ireland protocol was raised by either US or EU colleagues? Failure to make progress is hurting British research, development and trade, all at a time when we need to remove barriers for British business. Fixing this issue could lead to a better relationship with our biggest trading partners, an opportunity for our scientists and exporters, and an end to the past two years of unnecessary fights and division; so when is the Prime Minister going to deliver?
Our international alliances have never been so crucial, for global stability and our own stability. We on the Opposition side of the House know that standing up to Russia's aggression will require further sacrifices, but we must make those sacrifices because taking no action is not an option. The message from all of us must be clear: Ukraine will win and Putin will lose. Democracy and liberty will defeat imperialism again.
Let me start by thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his words about the situation in Ukraine and Russia, and for his condemnation of the Russian aggression and steadfast support for the position of the Government and, indeed, the whole House on Ukraine.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was right to ask about the further support that we will be providing. He will know that we have provided £1.5 billion in economic and humanitarian support for Ukraine, alongside, obviously, the military assistance. We are hosting a reconstruction conference in the UK next year, and there is an ongoing dialogue about what further support the Ukrainian Government need from us and others. In the short term, we are in the process of providing 25,000 pieces of winter equipment for the brave Ukrainian soldiers, but also funds to help restore some of the damage done to Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which I know have been warmly welcomed by President Zelensky.
Let me briefly turn to some of the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s other questions. On China, I very much supported President Biden in his meeting with President Xi. President Biden and I discussed that meeting at length. I believe that our approach is entirely aligned with that of the United States, and indeed our other allies such as Canada and Australia. Of course China poses significant challenges to our values, our interests and indeed our economic security. It is right that we take the necessary steps to defend ourselves against those challenges, but it is also right to engage in dialogue when that can make a difference in solving some of the pressing global challenges that we all collectively face.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked about Northern Ireland. I have discussed this issue with my European counterparts and, indeed, with the President at various meetings, not just at the G20. I remain committed to finding a solution to the challenges posed by the protocol. It is clearly having an impact on families and businesses on the ground in Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland deserve to have a functioning Executive, particularly at a time like this, and that is something that I will devote my energies to bringing about. So far I have had very constructive relationships and discussions about this issue with both the President and our European counterparts, including the Taoiseach last week.
On trade, the broad, overarching comment I would make to the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that when it comes to trade deals, whoever they may be with, what I will not do is sacrifice quality for speed. I think it is important that we take the time to get trade deals right. Of course this Government believe wholeheartedly in the power and the benefits of free trade, which is something that we will champion around the world.
I discussed the free trade agreement with India, and both the Prime Minister of India and I committed our teams to working as quickly as possible to see if we can bring a successful conclusion to the negotiations.
The priorities of the US are in a lot of different areas, but with regard to trade—the President and I discussed this—we are deepening our economic relationship. The United States is already our single largest trading partner. We are doing more with individual states to broaden our trade relationships, and we have seen recent action on tariffs with regard to steel, aluminium and agricultural exports. All of that is good for the UK economy.
Of course, we are in the process of some exciting conversations about joining the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership. That is real evidence of our country’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, and is supported by the Prime Ministers of Canada, Australia and Japan. I hope that we can bring those negotiations to a conclusion in the near future.
Lastly, my reflections on the summit and on attending COP are that the United Kingdom is at its best when we are an engaged and active member of the global community —when we are standing up for our values, defending our interests, spreading prosperity, and alleviating poverty and suffering. I am pleased to have had conversations with so many leaders over the past couple of days that confirmed to me that they very much welcome the UK’s support in achieving all those objectives, and that is what this Government will set about doing.
Dialogue is never weakness, so will my right hon. Friend tell us when he intends to reschedule his meeting with Xi Jinping? It is not an endorsement of the Chinese Communist party, but an opportunity to set out our red lines, particularly on the hostile actions we have seen on UK soil in the last month. We need shortly to see a strategy from the Prime Minister on China.
Will the Prime Minister also inform the House what progress on isolating Russia was made at the G20 with India and other nations that are not as aligned with us on Ukraine, because they are key to global stability and ending bloodshed?
I thank the Chair of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs for her excellent question. She is absolutely right about the importance of dialogue, and she will have heard what I said to the Leader of the Opposition about dialogue. We are in the process of refreshing our integrated review, and no doubt our approach to China will be a part of that. In the meantime, she is right that dialogue also offers the opportunity for us to raise issues of concern, and to defend our values and interests—particularly with regard to areas such as Hong Kong—which we will continue to do as the opportunity arises.
My hon. Friend is right to point out the position of those non-aligned countries. We should all take enormous comfort from the fact that the G20 communiqué was agreed; it was substantive, comprehensive and contained strong language of condemnation about Russia’s aggression. That was by no means assured just a week or so ago, and it speaks to the feeling in the international community —something I saw across the G20 table as many, if not almost all, countries took the opportunity to say something about Russia’s actions, and joined us in condemning it. There is always work to do and we will continue to have that dialogue with those partners.
I thank the Prime Minister for advance sight of his statement.
With the Russian military continuing to fire deadly missiles at civilians right across Ukraine, I sincerely hope that Putin’s Foreign Minister was made to feel the justified anger and disgust by those attending the G20. With that in mind, may I ask the Prime Minister what progress has been made at the summits to further isolate Putin’s regime on the international stage? The whole world must stand together on Russian sanctions, and we must make sure that those responsible for crimes against humanity face justice. What progress has been made to ensure that there is no weakening in the international resolve to stand with Ukraine until it secures victory for its people?
Let me turn to the G20 discussions on the economy. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor keep referring to the global factors to blame for the financial crisis facing families across these islands—it is the excuse they are using to impose austerity 2.0 in today’s financial statement—but if this is really all to do with global factors, will the Prime Minister explain why the UK is the only G7 economy that is smaller today than it was before the pandemic? Why is the UK the only G7 country enacting austerity 2.0? The reality is that this is a political choice.
Finally, on the proposed Indo-Pacific trade deal—the latest Brexit fire sale that threatens to sell out our farmers and crofters—the evidence continues to mount that the Brexit effect is reducing our economy by 4%, a factor that is driving Tory austerity. This week, we heard from the former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice, who retrospectively ripped apart the trade deal with Australia and the damaging impact that it will have on our agrifood sector. I remind Government Members that that deal was endorsed by every single Conservative MP. Can the Prime Minister explain to Scotland’s food and farming industries why he is so committed to pursuing yet another Brexit deal that will deliver a hammer blow to their businesses?
I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s comments about Russia and Ukraine, and I thank him for them. He should be reassured that in Putin’s absence the Russian Foreign Minister felt the full assault, from allies including the United Kingdom, of the absolute outrage that the international community feels about what is happening. That will continue when Russia attends these fora.
The Government are an absolute champion of British farming and farmers. That will remain the case. We will continue to find opportunities to put great British produce on the tables of many more families around the world.
I will just briefly address the right hon. Gentleman’s comments about the economy. He had a few different stats, but it is worth bearing in mind that we have just come from a G20 summit at which two thirds of the G20 members sitting around the table are experiencing inflation rates north of 7%. The International Monetary Fund predicts that a third of the world’s economy is already or will shortly be in recession.
If the right hon. Gentleman takes the time to read the G20 communiqué, he will see that actually the global picture is very clear: countries around the world are grappling with high energy prices, high food prices and rising interest rates. Indeed, many countries around the world, like us, have committed, as does the international community, to ensuring fiscal sustainability as a path to improving those matters. That is absolutely the challenge that we confront, and it is absolutely the challenge that the Chancellor will meet head on. We will make those decisions with fairness and with compassion.
I call the Chair of the Select Committee on Defence.
I strongly welcome the Prime Minister’s words at the G20 in condemnation of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. I have just returned with the Defence Committee from Odesa, where there is huge appreciation for British efforts in support of Ukraine at this time, but just one fifth as many grain ships have been able to get out since the war.
With Russia’s maritime force severely diminished, Odesa is calling out for a new, more efficient grain deal. Will the Prime Minister meet me to look at securing a UN General Assembly resolution, bypassing the Security Council, to grant Odesa humanitarian safe haven status, along with the formation of a UN-led maritime force so that vital grain ships can be escorted safely out of Odesa?
My right hon. Friend is right to highlight the importance of the grain shipments through Odesa. I am very pleased that, after concerted efforts on our part and from other allies with the United Nations Secretary-General, the grain deal, which just days ago was in some doubt, has indeed been extended. That demonstrates the pressure put on Russia by the international community. My right hon. Friend knows the importance of the free flow of food and fertilisers to the developing world through those ships. I would be delighted to meet him to see what more we can do, but I think for now we should be very pleased that the grain deal is being extended. It is already leading to a decline in wheat prices, which will bring some alleviation to the food inflation that we are seeing, particularly in the African continent.
Putin’s aggression was allowed to prosper for too long—ever since 2008, one could argue—so I completely support what the Prime Minister has said and done in support of Ukraine against the barbarism of the Russian Federation. On China, I understand the realpolitik of the past week, but the concentration camps in the Xinjiang province continue, as does the genocide, and the suppression of human rights in Hong Kong continues. May I ask the Prime Minister to do one thing, which the United States of America has already done: sanction Carrie Lam?
I am pleased that the United Kingdom has led efforts to hold China to account, including by imposing sanctions on senior Chinese officials and mobilising international support to hold China to account at the United Nations. As hon. Members have heard, we will use dialogue as an opportunity to raise the concerns that we have on Xinjiang and other human rights abuses as we see them.
I commend the Prime Minister for this country’s leadership across a range of issues, including on Russia. Does he share my enthusiasm and optimism for our accession to the CPTPP, given this trading bloc represents nearly 15% of the world’s GDP and offers so many opportunities for so many export industries, including the Scotch industry, for which tariffs will fall from 100%, in many cases, to zero? I am sure that is something to which even the SNP could raise a glass when we join.
My hon. Friend puts it very well. He is right about the importance of CPTPP, not only for its very significant economic benefits but for the strategic benefits to the United Kingdom of being an engaged member of the Indo-Pacific community. I discussed this with the Prime Ministers of Australia, Japan and Canada, and there is incredible excitement about our joining. We will continue to conclude those negotiations as quickly as possible.
The Prime Minister will know that the last G20 summit agreed to on-lend $100 billion of IMF special drawing rights to help tackle the crisis of food fragility and climate finance in the global south. To date, we have agreed to share much less of our entitlement than both France and China. The crisis is now. Will the Prime Minister look again at how we can increase our on-lending to this multilateral effort, not least to make good the appalling decision to slash our aid budget?
As Chancellor, I was pleased to usher through the special drawing rights allocation at the IMF, which is providing enormous relief to countries around the world. I met the IMF’s managing director to discuss how we can do more, but remember that the SDR allocation is just one part of our effort to support people around the world. I was recently pleased to announce our £1 billion commitment to the Global Fund, which was warmly welcomed, especially by countries in Africa.
The Prime Minister is to be congratulated on such successful talks with so many world leaders, particularly President Modi. Will he update the House on the matters he discussed with President Modi other than trade, such as granting visas for highly skilled people to fill job needs in this country, the environment and, above all, the issue raised by the Foreign Affairs Committee: India’s stance, as the world’s biggest democracy, on supporting Ukraine?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Our relationship and partnership with India is much broader than just a trading relationship. I was pleased to discuss increasing our security co-operation with India. That work began before my tenure, but I am keen to carry it on. We also announced the mobility scheme to enable young people from India to come here and young Brits to go there, which is a sign of what is possible. Such exchanges are positive both for our countries and for the young people who benefit.
At the G20, the Prime Minister agreed with his Indian counterpart to allow an additional 3,000 Indians into the UK every year, which in the fullness of time will inevitably lead to an increase in immigration. At the same time, the Home Secretary has been busy spouting anti-immigrant and anti-refugee dog-whistle rhetoric, including her incendiary remarks against international students that so incensed people in India. Who exactly is in charge of immigration policy? Is it the Prime Minister or the wannabe Prime Minister?
I am disappointed with the hon. Gentleman’s comments, because I know he does not believe that. He can take comfort from the announcement, which is good for both Indian students and British students who want to go back and forth—that is a good thing.
The Home Secretary is rightly focused—there is nothing “dog whistle” about it—on clamping down on illegal migration, which the British people rightly expect and demand, and it is something that she and this Government will deliver.
The Leader of the Opposition correctly said that Russia is losing this war. Like a wounded animal, it is now lashing out with weapons from, we believe, Iran and North Korea. Was any consideration given to additional sanctions on those two countries and possibly excluding Russia from membership of the G20?
The G20 is not like the G7. It is a broader grouping of countries that works by consensus, so it is not possible to expel Russia in the same way, but my hon. Friend will take comfort from our using the opportunity to unequivocally condemn Russia’s actions. With regard to sanctions on Iran and others, he will be aware that we have recently imposed new sanctions on Iran that relate specifically to the treatment of protesters in the recent demonstrations. That is the right thing to do as the behaviour of the Iranian regime is not acceptable and we should hold it to account.
Facing the worst drought in 40 years, tens of millions of people in east Africa are going hungry. Children are dying today of malnutrition and the United Nations expects a famine to be declared before the end of the year. Although the UK has already given humanitarian aid, does the Prime Minister recognise that the international community now needs to do more to save lives, not wait for the formal declaration of famine?
The UK is already tackling this issue head on. At the United Nations General Assembly, we announced funding, in particular for famine support in Somalia, and our work on helping to secure an extension to the Black sea grain initiative will make an enormous difference to the people that the right hon. Gentleman rightly cares about, as do I. In addition, countries in Africa were very pleased by our commitment to the Global Fund, because they know that will help to alleviate some of the difficulties they face.
Multinationalism has never been more important given current global pressures and threats, not least in protecting the people of Ukraine. Despite Twitter mainly having a meltdown over flowery shirts, will my right hon. Friend tell us how useful he found his first G20 meeting for relationship building and consolidating joint international working?
Of course these summits are helpful in co-ordinating global action on tackling challenges such as inflation or supporting Ukraine, but they are also helpful in building those relationships with foreign leaders that can deliver tangible benefit for people here at home. We have seen that most recently with the dialogue we are now having with President Macron and the French that has led to a new deal to help us tackle illegal migration. That is an example of why these dialogues and summits matter, and they are delivering real change for people here at home.
Further to his replies about our relationship with India, why are Britons, alone in Europe, currently excluded from the Indian e-visa scheme? That is doing more damage to our hard-pressed travel and tourism sector, as well as creating extreme inconvenience for British families who want to visit relatives in India in the months to come. Did his discussions with Prime Minister Modi give him hope that that ban might be lifted any time soon?
That is something that we discussed and raised. Of course I would like to see the United Kingdom included in the e-visa scheme, and the right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that we will continue to raise it with our Indian counterparts.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that in his conversations with President Biden of the US and his counterparts in the EU, he has made the UK’s intention to preserve the integrity of the Good Friday agreement absolutely clear? Will he also confirm that, in so doing, it is not unreasonable for the UK, an independent and sovereign nation, to be able to maintain its own economic integrity?
I can give my right hon. Friend that assurance. Of course the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom is important and must be preserved and that is under some stress, as we have seen in Northern Ireland, as he knows well from his previous role. He has my commitment to the Good Friday agreement, which was something I discussed not only with our European counterparts but also the President. We remain committed to delivering all strands of that agreement, and that is what I will work tirelessly to do.
Were there any discussions at the G20 about the situation in Iran? I have heard from a lot of constituents who want to express their solidarity with the protesters and their outrage at the way the regime is cracking down on them. What steps can the G20 take to support progress towards stability and democracy in Iran?
The protests send a clear message that the Iranian people are not satisfied with the path that their Government have taken. As I mentioned, we have now sanctioned 24 extra people, both political and security officials, for their role in the crackdown on protesters. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary recently summoned Iran’s most senior diplomat in the UK to make it clear that we do not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of any kind.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that Putin was emboldened to attack Ukraine by the continual appeasement from western democracies over many years? Why does he not think that a similar appeasement of the Chinese dictatorship will not result in a similar disaster?
Our approach to China is in complete alignment with the United States, Canada and Australia. It is one that is clear-eyed about the challenges that China poses to our values, interests and economic security, which is why it is right that we take robust action to defend ourselves against that, as we saw just yesterday with the decision on Chinese investment in a sensitive industry in this country.
One of the key global challenges facing the G20 is migration and refugees. I know that this country has a proud history of fulfilling our international obligations to the most vulnerable, including children. Can the Prime Minister confirm that no unaccompanied asylum-seeking children under the age of eight are currently being held at Manston? If the Prime Minister does not know the answer, will he write to me as a matter of urgency?
I would be happy to write to the right hon. Lady. She will know well that we have different processes and procedures in place for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to make sure that they get extra safeguarding protection as they are rightly due. I will get back to her with an update on where we are.
Russian attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure in recent weeks just show the full extent of Putin’s complete desperation. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the UK is providing Ukraine with the energy equipment and the support that it needs to help repair its infrastructure, so that it can keep its lights and heat on in the months ahead?
My hon. Friend is right to raise that particular need of the Ukrainians. It is something that I have discussed a couple of times with President Zelensky, and I can assure my hon. Friend and the House that we are playing our part in providing funding and expertise to help resolve some of the issues. The Ukrainians, I know, are very grateful for that support.
The G20 communiqué urged all parties to finalise and adopt the forthcoming COP15 global biodiversity framework in Montreal. At this crisis time for nature, both globally and at home, the Prime Minister will know the importance of leading by example, so, as well as accelerating the UK’s domestic environmental agenda, will he ensure that he is not forced into another last-minute U-turn as we saw ahead of COP26? Will he commit now to attending COP15 in person and show that leadership?
I do not think that anyone could doubt our commitment to biodiversity and nature. It was something on which the United Kingdom proudly led at Glasgow last year to put it on the agenda. We will have a range of different people attending Montreal. I was very pleased that we ensured that the G20 communiqué reaffirmed the G20’s commitments to the targets that were set at COP. We fought very hard for that, and we should all be proud that it is there in the G20 communiqué.
May I ask the Prime Minister a specific question regarding the conversation that he had with Prime Minister Trudeau? The United Kingdom and Canada have a close relationship through being members of the G7, G20, Five Eyes, NATO and the Commonwealth. Whether it is friendships in Parliament or friendships with world leaders, one needs to know where one stands. Did the Prime Minister ask Prime Minister Trudeau about Canada stepping up to meet the target of 2% of GDP towards NATO, and did the United Kingdom ask Canada to do more in the High North, the Arctic, where we face greater threat from Russia, and where it has specific expertise?
I encourage all members of NATO to make their way towards the 2% target—something that we have proudly done in this country for some years. Our co-operation with Canada is deep. Prime Minister Trudeau was pleased to announce an extension of Canadian support for our programme to train Ukrainian soldiers here—something on which we are working closely together. I would be happy to pick up the conversation on the High North. Again, that would be a feature of our refreshed integrated review.
The Prime Minister knows that the energy charter treaty enables fossil fuel companies to sue Governments that pass legislation undermining their future profits in the name of stopping climate change. That is why Germany and France have announced they are withdrawing from it, as are Poland, the Netherlands, Slovenia and Spain. When does he anticipate the UK withdrawing from the energy charter treaty, or does he put fossil fuel profits ahead of climate change? Will he raise that within World Trade Organisation reform?
The hon. Gentleman mentions a range of other countries in relation to fossil fuels, but it was the United Kingdom that led through COP last year in ensuring that we end climate finance for coal plants—something that other countries need to catch up with us on. We will continue to champion that in all these forums, because it is the right thing to do and it was a commitment we made at Glasgow that needs to be upheld.
Having just returned from Ukraine with the Defence Committee and my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary, I must tell the House how movingly grateful the Ukrainians are for all the support we give, and in particular to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for his outstanding leadership of this country in fighting the Russian aggression. However, there are shortages of food, ammunition and military equipment. While we and the United States are doing our bit, there is concern that other countries are not. Can he inform the House whether, during the “G19” or G20 meeting, he heard any feedback from other countries that they will step up to the plate as we and the Americans are doing?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the need to continue supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. That remains a feature of all our conversations with allies. There are many different ways that people can play their part—for example, as I mentioned, the Canadians have recently extended their support for training Ukrainians here—but he is right that we need to keep up the pressure. The UK has shown great leadership on this, alongside America, and we will jointly encourage others to follow our lead and ensure Ukraine is in the strongest possible position to bring an end to this awful conflict.
Does the Prime Minister agree that private citizens in the UK should follow the example of several British businesses and sell any shares they have in businesses that still operate in Russia?
The United Kingdom took the lead in imposing some of the most stringent economic sanctions on the Russian economy, Russian businesses and Russian individuals. It is pleasing that other countries have followed. We will continue to push other countries to follow our lead on sanctions and we will continue to tighten them where we think it can make a difference.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his update on trade talks. In those talks, was there any discussion of extending the arrangements to include our No. 1 industry: finance and professional services?
My hon. Friend knows this area well. It is important that we take our time with trade deals, because services liberalisation, which as he knows is important for our economy, often takes longer to negotiate than simple tariff reductions on goods. Our economy has an incredible services sector; it is important that it benefits from trade deals, and I want to ensure that that happens.
When the Prime Minister met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this week, did he challenge him on the way Saudi Arabia has been blocking the proposal at COP27 for the phasing down of all fossil fuels?
We had a wide-ranging conversation on a range of topics, including climate change. We are committed to our obligations under the COP agreement and we welcome Saudi Arabia’s commitment to be net zero by 2060. There are many different opportunities for Saudi Arabia to play its part as COP president coming up, and we look forward to supporting it in that endeavour.
The last few years have shown us the importance of resilient supply chains. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that a priority for his discussions with allies at the G20 was decoupling our supply chains from authoritarian regimes in key areas such as critical minerals and semiconductors?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. I am pleased to tell her that just yesterday the Business Secretary made a decision on semiconductors that should give her and others confidence that we take this matter incredibly seriously. I discussed critical minerals with many of our allies around the world and I am pleased to say that Japan, in its G7 presidency next year, will put economic security at the heart of our collective agenda.
On Northern Ireland, it is reported today in The Times that the Prime Minister promised President Biden that the issues surrounding the Northern Ireland protocol would be solved by next April. Did he give that commitment to President Biden? The people of Northern Ireland face a long hard winter without a Government in place there, so should there not be a greater sense of urgency from the UK Government to sort it out?
As I have said publicly and clearly, I want to see a resolution to this issue as soon as possible. That is why I spoke to my counterparts in Ireland and the European Commission, and others, on almost the first day I took office. I am working very hard to try to bring about a negotiated settlement to the challenges we face, but those challenges on the ground are real: businesses, families and communities are suffering as a result of the protocol. I have made that point loudly and clearly to all our counterparts, and I have urged them to show flexibility and pragmatism in their response so that we can get the situation resolved on the ground and get the Executive back up and running, because that is what the people of Northern Ireland deserve.
I congratulate members of the G20, and its chair, on their final communiqué and its unanimous condemnation of the continued invasion of Ukraine, and the Prime Minister and other western leaders on their work to de-escalate tensions between the west and China. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, apart from the important work that he is doing multilaterally in the trans-Pacific partnership and bilaterally with India on the free-trade agreement, there are other bilateral opportunities with leading Asian countries? Will he encourage their Heads of Government to undertake working visits to the UK?
I absolutely will do that. May I also congratulate my hon. Friend on his reappointment as a trade envoy to Indonesia? It is a region that he knows particularly well. He has done fantastic work in deepening our bilateral relationship with that country, which will play an increasingly important role in the global economy as the third largest democracy, one of the largest Muslim countries in the world, and soon to be a top-five economy. It is right that we have deep relationships within Indonesia, and I thank him for his part in making sure that that is happening.
Water and sanitation are a major global crisis, causing conflict, migration, inequality for women and girls, and poor health outcomes that are easily preventable. Can the Prime Minister confirm whether he had conversations with other G20 members about the water and sanitation crisis, and will he reverse the 80% cuts made by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to water and sanitation projects?
The conversations I had with other leaders were incredibly appreciative of the role that the United Kingdom is playing in helping to tackle suffering, poverty and poor sanitation around the world. What was highlighted in particular was our recent commitment of £1 billion to the Global Fund, as well as our track record of supporting countries to alleviate famine. Those are things that everyone in this House should be proud of and this Government will continue to champion them.
The whole House will welcome the shared commitment to the defence of Ukraine and the rule of law, but my right hon. Friend will know that key to that last element is the work of the International Criminal Court, which in March launched its investigation into war crimes, with an aspiration to issue an indictment by the end of the year. Can the Prime Minister confirm that the UK will continue to do all it can to support that work, including in the difficult task that lies ahead of obtaining custody of Russian military generals so they can stand trial?
Obviously, this is an area that my hon. Friend knows well, and she is right to highlight it. I am pleased to tell her that the United Kingdom was out in front in providing both technical and financial resources for the efforts to gather the evidence. I know that the Justice Secretary is in touch with the British prosecutor as well, and the team will have our full support.
When the Prime Minister met Prime Minister Modi, did he raise the case of Jagtar Singh Johal, who has been held in arbitrary detention for 1,840 days? The Sikh community in Scotland is incredibly concerned about the situation. Was it just handshakes and Instagram photographs, or did the Prime Minister raise that case?
We have consistently raised our concerns about Mr Johal’s case directly with all levels of the Indian Government. I discussed more generally with Prime Minister Modi the issues around extradition, and the Foreign Secretary raised this case with India’s Minister of External Affairs just last month on his visit to India.
The Prime Minister made reference to the danger of debt traps for emerging economies. Can he give further information on what steps the United Kingdom has taken to provide emerging economies with alternatives to Chinese money?
My hon. Friend is right to highlight the need for sensible alternatives. We tend to work not just bilaterally but multilaterally through things such as special drawing rights recycling at the International Monetary Fund. [Interruption.] The new resilience and sustainability trust was established with UK leadership, and indeed the new debt service suspension initiative is something that I championed as Chancellor. We need to make sure that we deliver on it.
The Prime Minister laid out his approach to trade deals in his statement. He will be aware that while he was at the G20 George Eustice was describing the trade deal with Australia as
“not actually a very good deal for the UK”.—[Official Report,
Does the Prime Minister agree with the right hon. Member, who was formerly the Environment Secretary, and if so what will the Prime Minister do about it? [Interruption.]
Order. Before the Prime Minister attempts to answer the question, I should point out that there is far too much noise in the Chamber. One would think that people were anticipating something about to happen and chatting among themselves instead of giving their full attention to the important answers that the Prime Minister is giving to important questions.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Maybe not as important as what is about to come from the Chancellor.
All trade deals involve give and take on both sides. The Australia trade deal will open up new markets for 3 million British jobs, which is fantastic, reduce prices for Australian goods and make it easier for young people to move back and forth between the two countries. Going forward, we will ensure that our trade deals work for the UK. That is what we will deliver.
The Prime Minister has reaffirmed the Government’s strong commitment to supporting Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal and inhumane invasion, and underlined the leadership that we provided to other countries. Can he confirm that our superb armed forces will continue to provide the appropriate support, especially in training Ukraine’s brave defenders, to ensure that evil cannot triumph and Putin fails, and did he encourage other G20 members to do likewise?
My hon. Friend makes an excellent point. It is an issue that he has rightly championed on previous occasions. I can give him that reassurance. The NATO Secretary-General was in the United Kingdom just days ago, visiting the training that we are providing for Ukrainian soldiers. It is looked at favourably by many allies around the world, which is why Prime Minister Trudeau was pleased to confirm when he was with me an extension to Canadian support for that programme. Hopefully many more countries will follow.
It is not so many months ago that any international conference such as the G20 would have been seized with the situation in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has now gone off the agenda, but the humanitarian crisis there is moving into absolute tragedy as people are facing starvation. Can the Prime Minister tell us what conversations took place about Afghanistan? In any case, will he now reconvene the kind of donor conference that could make a material difference to starvation in that country?
The hon. Member is right to highlight that Afghanistan continues to experience one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. That is why earlier this year we co-hosted a UN pledging summit, together with Germany and Qatar, that helped to raise over $2 billion for Afghanistan, but he is right to put it on the agenda. I will make sure that we continue to do what we can to support the people there.
A free trade deal with India is a tremendous opportunity for both the United Kingdom and India. I agree with my right hon. Friend that we should not sacrifice quality in order to do a deal quickly; however, during his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, what obstacles did the Prime Minister clear so that we can get on with the free trade deal that we all want to see?
My hon. Friend has rightly been a significant champion of this deal and our relationships with India. I am pleased to have his support. Without negotiating all these things in public, I am pleased that the majority of the substantive negotiation conversations were concluded by the end of October. We will now work at pace with the Indian teams to try to resolve the issues and come to a mutually satisfactory conclusion.
Our closest trading partners are still in the EU. Can the Prime Minister update us on what he did during the G20 summit to improve relationships with EU countries, which, to say the least, are still fragile since Brexit?
We may have left the EU, but we have not left Europe, and it is important that we maintain strong and positive relationships with our European partners and allies. That is very much what I intend to do, and I am pleased that those conversations have been going well.
I am glad that the situation with regard to refugees all over the world was discussed, but no debate on refugees can be complete without a discussion about the plight of the Rohingya. Could my right hon. Friend confirm that world leaders considered and discussed what further support we can provide to Rohingya refugees in the largest refugee camp in the world, which is a great concern for my constituents?
I know that this is an issue of concern for my hon. Friend, and it is right that he raises it and champions the case. I am pleased to tell him that we have sanctioned those people responsible, and we will continue to make sure we provide whatever support we can to the people who need our help.
In the communiqué from the G20, the words “food”, “food supply” and “food scarcity” are mentioned 54 times. It is good that Britain is taking part in the global community’s fight to make sure that food is properly distributed, but last year, before the Ukraine war, one in nine Britons were driven to use a food bank. Is it not clear that the problem was not disruption of food supply but poverty—poverty driven by No. 10 and No. 11 when the Prime Minister was in the Treasury? Is it not clear that for the poor of Britain, hunger is a nightmare created by Downing Street?
The Chancellor is about to deliver a statement that will ensure that our economy is strong, that we support the most vulnerable and that we have a clear platform for growth. I urge the hon. Gentleman to wait for it.
Peace on the continent must be restored. It is a fact that no one in Europe is truly safe until Putin fails. Can my right hon. Friend update the House on how we will make that happen alongside our global allies in the G20?
What is important is that Russia understands that the global community speaks with one voice in condemning its illegal and barbaric actions. I am pleased that the G20 communiqué expresses that sentiment, as many more countries are joining our efforts to stand up to Russian aggression and support Ukraine.
During talks on the CPTPP, did the Prime Minister convey the concerns of the UK’s fantastic food and farming industries? What assurances was he able to obtain that those industries will be considered and protected as negotiations continue?
I stand by our commitment not to compromise the United Kingdom’s high environmental, animal welfare and food safety standards and will ensure that our trade deals open up new markets for British farmers.
The cost of living in the UK is going up mainly because of the war that Russia is conducting, but it is not just affecting us; it is affecting the eurozone, which has average inflation of 10%. What discussions did the Prime Minister have at the G20 about the strategy to deal with inflation, which is clearly a worldwide problem?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the global nature of the challenges we are facing, caused in part by Russia’s aggression. The G20 communiqué is clear on the responsibility of individual countries to ensure financial stability. As it says, that means delivering long-term fiscal sustainability, and that is what this Chancellor will deliver.
I thank the Prime Minister for his statement and for his strong stance on behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The actions of Putin and his regime have driven two thirds of G20 countries into economic distress, raising inflation in this country to 10% or 11%, and talk of a recession is prevalent in many countries. Russia is the enemy within the G20. What is the Prime Minister doing to align with all other G20 countries to ostracise Russia and reduce its influence and, if possible, its membership of the G20?
It is not possible in a consensual organisation to expel Russia, but I am pleased to say that we work closely with all partners across the G20 to deliver a strong, unified message that the threat and use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible, and today’s era must not be the era for war. I think Russia heard that message loud and clear.
I share my right hon. Friend’s view that China presents a systemic challenge to the west. We have just seen, in Russia, how an authoritarian actor can use their role in our supply chains to damage the global economy. Can he confirm that, when we engage with China on global issues such as climate change or public health, we will never do so at the expense of our national or economic security?
I can absolutely give my hon. Friend that assurance. We will always be robust in defending our values and our interest, and that starts with our national security.
The Government’s mishandling of the Northern Ireland protocol negotiations is acting as a barrier to trade deals and scientific collaboration. The Prime Minister says that he was much influenced by his time at Stanford, so surely he understands the key role of science and scientific research in driving economic growth, which we sorely need. Will he really exclude British scientists from the world’s biggest scientific research programme, Horizon?
No one can doubt my commitment personally to ensuring that the UK remains, as it is, a scientific and technological superpower. That is why we have increased the R&D budget. That is why we are deregulating to support innovation. That is why we are reforming our capital markets to get money to all the companies that need it. We will hear more from the Chancellor about that, but I can give the hon. Lady every assurance that innovation is the way we drive growth, and that is what the Government will deliver.
That completes the statement on the G20.