The whole House will join me in remembering the victims of the horrific Manchester Arena bombing six years ago today. Our thoughts are with them and their families. Our thoughts are also with the family of Lee Rigby on the 10th anniversary of his murder, and I pay tribute to his son Jack, who is honouring his father’s memory by raising money for other bereaved military children. As Jack’s mum says, Lee would be very proud.
I have just returned from the G7 summit in Japan, where I was humbled to be the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to visit Hiroshima. On behalf of this House and the British people, I recorded our great sorrow at the destruction and human suffering that occurred there, and our fervent resolve that it should never again be necessary to use nuclear weapons.
As I report to the House on the G7 Summit, I want to address head-on a mistaken view that is heard too often: the idea that Britain is somehow in retreat from the world stage, or that our influence is in decline. I reject that utterly. What we have seen in recent months is this Conservative Government delivering the priorities of the British people, and bringing our global influence to bear on some of the world’s biggest challenges. Nowhere is that clearer than on Ukraine.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome my friend President Zelensky back to the UK last week. His attendance at the G7 summit was a historic moment. When Putin launched his war, he gambled that our resolve would falter, but he was wrong then, and he is wrong now. Russia’s military is failing on the battlefield; its economy is failing at home, as we tighten the stranglehold of sanctions; and the image of the G7 leaders standing shoulder to shoulder with President Zelensky in Hiroshima sent a powerful message to the world: we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.
Of course, we have seen a huge collective effort across our allies, and not least from the United States, but I am incredibly proud of our role at the forefront of international support for Ukraine. We were the first country in the world to train Ukrainian troops; the first in Europe to provide lethal weapons; the first to commit tanks; and, just this month, the first to provide long-range weapons. Now we are at the forefront of a coalition to train and equip the Ukrainian air force. We gave £2.3 billion in miliary aid last year—that is second only to the United States—and will match or exceed that this year. Putin should know that we are not going anywhere. We know that Ukraine will not only win the war, but can and will win a just and lasting peace, based on respect for international law, the principles of the UN charter, and territorial integrity and sovereignty.
We bring the same resolve to the biggest challenge to the long-term security and prosperity of our age: China. As the G7 showed, the UK’s response is completely aligned with that of our allies. We are working with others to strengthen our defence ties across the Indo-Pacific; diversify our supply chains in areas such as critical minerals and semiconductors; and prevent China from using economic coercion to interfere with the sovereignty of others—concrete actions, not rhetoric.
Our economic security is not just about managing the risks of China. We are taking advantage of our post-Brexit freedoms with a hugely ambitious trade policy. We have concluded negotiations on the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—a trade deal with the world’s fastest growing region. We have signed critical minerals partnerships with Canada and Australia, and a semiconductor partnership with Japan. The Windsor framework secures the free flow of trade within our UK internal market, and on Friday, we announced almost £18 billion of new investment into the UK from Japanese businesses. That is a huge vote of confidence in the United Kingdom, creating significant numbers of good, well-paid jobs, and helping to grow the economy.
And we are acting globally to tackle illegal migration. It is the British Government who will determine who comes to Britain. We must stop the boats and break the business model of the criminal gangs. To do that, we are deepening international co-operation to tackle illegal migration, through new deals with Albania, France and, starting just at last week’s Council of Europe, with the EU border force, too. At this weekend’s summit, we have secured agreement that we will increase G7 co-operation. So our foreign policy is clearly delivering for the British people. By strengthening our relationships with old friends and new, from the Indo-Pacific to Washington to Europe, we are delivering a diplomatic dividend for the UK.
That is not all. We have announced billions more for our defence—the largest contributor in Europe to NATO. We have signed an historic agreement to design and build the AUKUS submarine, giving the UK, Australia and the US interoperable submarine fleets in the Atlantic and the Pacific. We have launched a new programme to build the fighter jets of the future with Italy and Japan. We have announced that in 2025, the carrier strike group will return to the Indo-Pacific once more, and in Sudan, the British military completed the largest evacuation of any country. If anyone thinks the UK is no longer able to wield hard power in defence of our values, just ask the Ukrainian soldiers driving British tanks or firing our long-range missiles.
All that is how we will prosper at home and defend our values abroad. That is how our foreign policy is delivering for the British people, and that is why, on the world stage, Britain is forging ahead—confident, proud and free. I commend this statement to the House.
I call the Leader of the Opposition.
The war in Ukraine is entering a critical stage. Freedom must win out over tyranny, and Putin’s aggression must fail. As the Ukrainians continue to defend themselves and prepare for an offensive to push Putin’s forces out, it is crucial that they know the nations of the G7 continue to support their fight without waver. We will stand with them for as long as it takes. We will stand with them because their decisive victory is the route to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
Therefore, Labour welcomes the strong show of support for President Zelensky. We welcome the decision by our partners on F-16 fighter jets. We also welcome restrictions on exports that aid the Russian war machine, and we welcome the tightening of the vice on the mineral trade that is funding Putin’s aggression. I urge the Prime Minister to proscribe the Wagner Group as terrorists and to ensure Britain’s sanctions are not just in place, but enforced. No one has been fined for breaching sanctions since the war began.
As I told President Zelensky when I met him in Kyiv, whichever party is in power in the UK, there will be no let-up in Britain’s resolve. We will continue to support Ukraine’s military and its people in their quest for freedom, peace and justice. When their moment of victory comes, we will be there to help them rebuild from the rubble of war. Does the Prime Minister agree with me that, when it comes to Ukraine, it is important that we continue to show that we are united across this House?
I also welcome the commitment to de-risk our economic relationship with China. It is in our national interest to engage with China. It will be a crucial global partner in the effort to reach net zero, and we have a trading relationship worth £100 billion. But that pursuit should never come at the cost of economic security, and we should never leave ourselves vulnerable to economic coercion. We must be clear-eyed about the facts. China is increasingly aggressive in the Pacific. It shows disdain for democratic values and human rights, and it is seeking to exploit economic leverage. A decade of ignoring these facts and Tory Governments cosying up to Beijing has gifted the Chinese Communist party a stake in Britain’s key infrastructure. We need to change tack and Labour is willing to work with the Government on this. It is time for a full audit of UK-China relations, and to work more consistently with our allies to develop a long-term plan for western engagement and a long-term plan for economic security because—as this winter has shown us—in the modern world, economic security is national security.
As the world races to invest in new technologies and to make its supply chains more robust, we must make sure that British businesses can take advantage. The Prime Minister has rightly pointed out the importance of the semiconductor industry: semiconductors are the brains of our electronic devices, indispensable components of cutting-edge manufacturing. The US and the EU have big plans to grow and nurture their sectors, to remove any vulnerabilities from their supply chains. We have waited a long time for the UK to present its strategy—it finally arrived last week—and an industry leader described it as “frankly flaccid”. Does that worry the Prime Minister as much as it worries me?
While others build resilience and seize opportunities, this Government seem content with managed decline, and this is not the only area where I fear we are being left behind. The US and the EU used the G7 to continue important talks that would allow European companies to share in billions of dollars of US tax incentives for electric vehicles and green technologies, and vice versa. Last week, we saw warnings about the future of the UK car industry. People who work in the sector are very worried. They want leadership, so can the Prime Minister confirm that his Government will secure the same or better access for British manufacturers, and when can we expect to hear progress on this?
When the Inflation Reduction Act was passed, the Government’s response was not to outline what opportunities it offered to Britain; it was to say that it was “dangerous”, and to suggest that an active industrial strategy is not the British way. Wake up—it is not the 1980s anymore. A race is on. We need to be in it and we need to win our share of the jobs of the future. We cannot afford to be stuck in the changing rooms complaining about how unfair life is.
As the war in Europe continues to rage, Hiroshima was a fitting stage for the G7 summit. A city that has seen unimaginable horrors has risen from its past. It can serve as an inspiration for those in Ukraine who fight daily for their freedom. Their future can be bright. From Ukraine to China to climate change, today’s challenges are big, but if we stay united with our allies and partners—if we work together—they are not insurmountable and, if we are focused, if we have a plan, the economic opportunities of the future are bigger still. Britain must seize them with both hands. Our future can be bright too.
I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for his comments at the beginning with regard to Ukraine. Just with regard to the Wagner Group, we have already sanctioned the Wagner Group in its entirety and we do not as a routine matter comment on proscriptions, as he well knows.
With regard to sanctions, in April, we announced new sanctions targeting those who were aiding and abetting the evasion of sanctions on Russian oligarchs and, in the integrated review refresh, we announced £50 million over the next few years for a new economic deterrence initiative that will work on sanctions enforcement and compliance in co-operation with our allies.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked about clarifying our approach to China. That was done in the integrated review refresh—he may have missed it. It was spelt out clearly, and indeed was warmly welcomed, not just by foreign policy commentators in the UK but around the world. It has been mentioned to me specifically by leaders and statesmen from many different countries as a template that they have followed in their own national security strategies.
With regard to co-operation with our allies, again, that is something that is already happening and we are leading the way. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may have missed that the G7 communiqué launched a co-operation platform on economic coercion, something that we spoke about in our integrated review refresh and has now been brought to fruition. That will not just be co-operation of G7 allies: over time, it will be broadened to ensure that we are working together to combat countries when they attempt to coerce other countries economically.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman made various points on climate change and the G7’s record. What he failed to mention is that, out of all the G7 countries, the country that has the best record on reducing climate emissions is the United Kingdom. It is very welcome that other countries are catching up with our record on climate change. We applaud them, and it is something we have fought hard for them to do, so it is great that they are now doing it.
I will not mention the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s other points, other than to say that we have a different point of view. We do not believe that the way to drive economic success and prosperity is to subsidise the most. That is not the route that will lead to the best outcomes and that was something that the G7 itself acknowledged. I again point him to the language in the communiqué that particularly warned against subsidy races, pointing out that they were a zero-sum game when they come at the expense of others. Actually, we should be working co-operatively, as we are. Lastly, for all his negative talk, the proof is in the simple fact that on Friday we announced £18 billion of new investment in the UK economy from a range of leading Japanese businesses. They have enormous faith and confidence in the United Kingdom—why doesn’t he?
I call the Chair of the Select Committee.
I applaud the Prime Minister’s recognition that the Chinese Communist party is the greatest threat we face and that we must de-risk to keep our people safe. We will engage when in the global interest, but we cannot allow the Chinese Communist party to cast defence as escalation. Can I urge my right hon. Friend to consider three tests when it comes to de-risking? The first is transnational oppression. We must be strong at home if we wish to deter abroad. The second is techno-authoritarianism. We must prevent reliance on CCP technology that is stealing our data and will undermine us. Finally, we must uphold the international rules-based system, because the CCP is trying to undermine and capture it. Can I also urge the creation of an economic Ramstein on Ukraine that mirrors that of the military, because we have failed to suffocate the financial war machine that is allowing Putin to continue with this war? The Prime Minister can lead that with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor. It would make a meaningful difference and end this war sooner.
I thank my hon. Friend for her questions and for her the work on these issues in particular. With regard to her latter question, at the G7, we announced more sanctions particularly targeting the military-industrial complex of Russia’s war machine. I think that will go some way to addressing her concerns and her point, but there is of course more to do and we look forward to engaging with her on that. With regard to China, her points are all well made. I look forward to discussing with her how we can strengthen the new anti-coercion platform that we have established—I know she has talked about that in the past—where we, working with other countries, can make an enormous difference to more vulnerable nations’ ability to stand up to economic coercion, whether from China or other hostile states.
I call the leader of the Scottish National party.
The symbolic importance of the G7 summit taking place in Hiroshima goes without question, as does the importance of the presence of President Zelensky in Japan. It also goes without saying that Ukraine’s war and its fight for democracy is our fight, too, and all of us on these Benches and across the House are fully united in our support for the President and the people of Ukraine. In order for Ukraine to be successful, we need unity among all those nations that believe in peace. In that regard, can I ask the Prime Minister whether he had any conversations with those nations that still at this moment in time are importing crude oil from Russia, and whether he expressed any concern about other nations that may be benefiting from products that have been derived from that crude oil?
We did hear strong words from the G7 on the situation with China. However, I am intrigued by the Instagram intervention of the former Prime Minister, Elizabeth Truss. I would be grateful for the current Prime Minister’s view in respect to whether that was helpful, whether he agrees with her that China poses a strategic threat to the UK and whether he would echo those sentiments.
On the economy, it would be remiss of me not to reflect on the fact that the UK has the lowest growth in the entire G7. Our economy is still below pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, the United States has seen its economy grow by around 5.3% in the intervening time. Did the Prime Minister take any lessons from those allies in Japan about how to secure proper economic growth?
On China, our approach is laid out in detail in the integrated review refresh. I reiterated it yesterday and will not go over it again, but China, as I said, represents a systemic challenge. It is the greatest challenge we face. In fact, I said it is an “epoch-defining challenge”, given its ability and intent to reshape the world order. Its behaviour is increasingly authoritarian at home and assertive abroad, which is why we should be robust in defending and protecting ourselves against that.
On sanctions, we are working in tandem with the European Union and the US to intensify diplomatic engagement with third-country partners to highlight potential circumvention risks on sanctions and we will continue to do so.
More generally on the question of peace and discussion with partner countries, it was excellent to have a discussion on Ukraine and peace with partner countries outside the G7—I think it was perhaps one of the most meaningful sessions of the summit—where countries agreed to the principles of a just and lasting peace being based on the UN charter and, indeed, on the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty. That is very welcome because, while many people may have ideas for what peace in Ukraine looks like, a ceasefire is not a just and durable peace and we will keep ensuring that the peace Ukraine has is one that it deserves and is truly just and lasting.
Could I welcome this statement and the work of the Prime Minister at the G7? We are rightly rekindling those international statecraft skills, as we see in Ukraine, going from NLAWs—next-generation light anti-tank weapons—to main battle tanks, training on Salisbury plain, the Storm Shadows and, of course, helping secure those F-16s; and on China, with more robust language as we deal with China’s aggression. But of course, as we rightly step forward, that will place an ever greater burden on our armed forces. I think he knows where I am going with this: could I ask him when we are likely to see an increase in the defence budget to 2.5% of GDP?
I know my right hon. Friend has long championed this, and rightly so, which is why I was pleased, as Chancellor, to increase our defence budget by £24 billion—the largest sustained increase since the end of the cold war. Just recently, the Chancellor added an initial £5 billion of spending over the next two years both to strengthen our nuclear enterprise and to rebuild stockpiles, which is something I know he has been interested in, and we outlined an ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5%. We are on track to get to 2.25% in the next couple of years, at which point we will take stock and see where we are economically and fiscally but, as I have said, the threats our country faces are increasing and it is right that we invest appropriately to protect ourselves.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s update. He is right that the UK and our allies must be steadfast in our support for Ukraine. He was also right to announce new sanctions on Friday to further restrict Russian businesses from selling their products into the UK. Now we must take further action to support Ukraine. That includes encouraging individuals in this country who have directly invested in companies still active in Russia to sell their personal shares now. Does the Prime Minister agree that these people should end their investment, so they stop supporting the Russian economy and thereby Putin’s war efforts?
We were one of the first countries to put in place an incredibly comprehensive sanctions regime against Russia. We have sanctioned, at this point, over 1,500 people—tens of billions of dollars of assets. Indeed, because of our actions, something like over $200 billion-worth of Russian state assets are currently now frozen. All that is contributing to a significant squeezing of the Russian economy, as we are seeing, and its ability to replenish its war machine, and we will keep looking for other opportunities to tighten the vice, as we did this weekend.
If, against all original expectations, Ukraine succeeds in expelling Russia from her territory, will the time then have come for us seriously to consider admitting Ukraine to NATO, so that no future psychopathic Russian leader will ever be tempted to invade her again?
As the NATO Secretary-General has already said, Ukraine will become a member of NATO. The most immediate task that faces us is, as my right hon. Friend knows, to provide the support that Ukraine needs to be successful on the battlefield, and to provide the longer term security agreements and arrangements that Ukraine deserves, and to do that in a way that is multilateral—that is something I discussed with leaders across the G7. In doing so we will send a strong signal to Russia that we are not going anywhere, increase the long term deterrent effect, and strengthen the incentive for it to withdraw its troops now, and not attempt to wait anybody out.
Many people in Newport West have been eagerly waiting for the Government’s semiconductor strategy, including 600 hardworking employees at Newport Wafer Fab. After three years of waiting, rather than coming to this House, the Prime Minister made the announcement in Japan on Friday last week, avoiding parliamentary scrutiny yet again. That is unacceptable in my view. How can we expect effective research and development to be carried out within the semiconductor industry, as trumpeted by the strategy, without well-funded domestic manufacturing capacity?
The hon. Lady may have missed the £1 billion of investment in the UK semiconductor industry contained in the strategy, and the fact that it was welcomed by leading companies from the sector. It has taken the right amount of time to get the strategy together, because it is the right strategy for Britain. Every country has different strengths, and every country plays a different role in the supply chain. We are focused on what we do best, which is in compound semiconductors, as the hon. Lady will know well from south Wales, but also semiconductor design and intellectual property. Those are the strengths we are investing in, which give us leverage in a large global supply chain. That is why the strategy was warmly welcomed, and is the right strategy to strengthen our security.
Among many other achievements this weekend, may I thank the Prime Minister for ensuring that education did not drop off the global agenda, and that the communiqué reaffirms the G7’s commitment to global education? It is an issue that we in the UK have led on for many years. More than 200 million children in the world right now are in need of urgent educational support, and that has been made worse by conflict and climate change. May I urge my right hon. Friend to continue to encourage our friends, particularly France and Japan, to contribute to Education Cannot Wait?
I thank my hon. Friend for all her work in this area previously. She will be proud, as I am, that the Foreign Secretary launched the women and girls strategy in March, and one particular thing in that was to continue putting women and girls at the heart of everything to do with education. UK aid has supported 8 million girls to gain a decent education, which is part of our pledge to enable all girls to have access to 12 years of high quality education. That is something we will continue to champion in all international fora.
I declare an interest as chair of the international Parliamentary Network on the World Bank & International Monetary Fund. I also welcome the commitment in paragraph 10 of the G7 communiqué to enhance development finance, tackle the imminent debt crisis, tackle climate change, and advance progress towards the sustainable development goals. Would that be an awful lot easier if the UK stepped up and met the African Development Bank’s calls for hybrid capital, matched Japan’s commitment to share 40% of the new special drawing rights, and used the €3.5 billion that we get back from the European Investment Bank to help build a bigger World Bank? At a stroke, that would help to restore the global leadership and development that we have so needlessly and dangerously squandered.
The right hon. Gentleman failed to mention that we are currently the third largest spender in the G7 on development aid as a percentage of GDP, and one of the largest contributors to funds such as the Global Fund and the multilateral institutions that he names. We have everything to be proud of. When it comes to reform, as we discussed at the G7—I began this work as Chancellor—we are pushing for reform of the multilateral development banks, so that we can stretch their balance sheets. We are also pioneering the work of using climate resilient debt clauses in our bilateral lending—that was a specific ask from the development finance community that we are taking forward. Indeed, as Chancellor I put in place the common framework for debt relief—something the right hon. Gentleman will be familiar with—and we are now working hard to deliver the benefits of that to countries. I think when I announced it we were the first country to announce that we would recycle our SDRs, and that is making an enormous difference. Every country contributes in different ways, but we should be very proud of our record.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on putting Ukraine front and centre at the G7 summit. Will he make it clear that that is not just because we believe it is morally right to support Ukraine in her own self-defence, but is because the successful outcome of the war in Ukraine is intrinsically tied up with our own strategic and national interest, and that of the whole western world, upon which our own security and prosperity depend?
My hon. Friend put it well; I agree with every word he said. I would go slightly further. Ultimately, what are we fighting for? We are fighting for the values that we believe in of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. The only thing that I disagree with him on is that while he said the western world, actually what has been striking and welcome in the conflict has been the support of countries such as Japan. I paid enormous tribute to Prime Minister Kishida in Hiroshima for that leadership, because it has rightly recognised, as have other countries and allies such as Australia, that our security is indivisible. Whether in the Pacific or the Atlantic, the values that we all hold dear are universal, and we should all work together and fight hard to defend them.
The semiconductor partnership with Japan is very welcome indeed, but although the Prime Minister mentioned domestic investments to Ruth Jones a moment ago, I understand that that £1 billion is focused entirely on research. Is he similarly committed to manufacturing—at Newport, for example —or is he happy to leave that to Taiwan, the United States and, of course, the European Union?
What we are focused on is growing our semiconductor industry and making sure that we are resilient against future shocks. There are lots of different ways to do that. Indeed, we just signed a new semiconductor deal with Japan, as the hon. Member acknowledged, and we will continue to find opportunities to do that with others, but the idea that we can insource a global manufacturing supply chain in the UK is simply not right. We should focus on our strengths. We will support manufacturing where it makes sense. In compound manufacturing in particular, the capital intensity is far less than in more basic fabs and chips, so we have a strategy that works for the UK’s strength, and particularly works for south Wales, and I am confident that it will be successful.
The Prime Minister rightly mentioned illegal migration—it would be good to hear what the G7 is proposing to deal with it, particularly in terms of co-operation by our French allies—but the truth is that legal migration dwarfs anything from illegal migration. In the last 20 years, the population of the UK has increased by 8 million, of which 7 million is legal migrants. What will he do to back up the Home Office in making serious efforts to stop legal migration, which is changing the country forever, which is totally unsustainable and which we have promised to deal with again and again?
As my right hon. Friend can probably imagine, that was not a topic of conversation around the table in Hiroshima, but I and the Government are committed to bringing down the levels of legal migration. With regard to illegal migration, co-operation with allies is yielding tangible benefits for the UK. He talked about France; the new deal with France strengthens physical co-operation with French forces on the ground. It also strengthens co-operation and intelligence sharing. At the Council of Europe last week, we opened up conversations to work more closely with Frontex, the EU’s border agency. Italy will ensure that illegal migration is a specific topic that is mentioned, discussed and worked on at next year’s G7 summit under its presidency, and I will continue to raise it at all the international fora where I am present.
As the Prime Minister mentioned, President Zelensky attended the G7 summit. One thing that I understand is important to him is that Ukrainian culture has an audience across the world, yet there are concerns that musicians from the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine will not be able to tour the UK later this year because of the heavy financial and administrative burden of obtaining UK visas. The Prime Minister will understand that funding visa fees and travelling to obtain visas is so much more difficult for musicians in war-torn Ukraine. Last year, the Home Office agreed to waive visa fees and expedite the visa process to allow Ukrainian musicians to perform here. Does he agree that Ukrainian musicians still deserve that support? Will he ask the Home Secretary to ensure that we offer that support as we stand with Ukraine?
With regard to Ukrainian culture in particular, it was a great pleasure for us to host Eurovision on Ukraine’s behalf, which was a fantastic success and was warmly welcomed by the Ukrainian Government and President Zelensky. I am happy to look into the matter that the hon. Member raises, but as she will understand, our overwhelming priority right now is to support Ukraine to ensure that its counter-offensive is successful. That will occupy the bulk of our attention.
Clearly, the move towards onshoring or nearshoring key strategic products is sensible—we saw why that is so necessary during the pandemic and with other issues—yet there seems to be a tendency across the developed world for the natural, logical, strategic need to nearshore key products to turn into protectionism. What discussions took place about that at the G7, and what can my right hon. Friend do to ensure that we do not revert to a protectionist world and abandon the benefits of free trade?
My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and he can rest assured that I raised exactly that point with my colleagues in Hiroshima. He will be pleased, as I was, that there is language in the G7 communiqué that commits all G7 countries not to act at each other’s expense, and not to do so in a way that amounts to zero-sum competition, but he is absolutely right to identify the risk. Other countries acknowledge it, which is why the G7 communiqué is strong on this point. Going forward, we will see much greater co-operation between allies, so that we do not engage in protectionism, which is not something that will drive prosperity and growth in any of our countries.
May I welcome what the Prime Minister said about China, particularly his intention to diversify our supply chains in areas such as critical minerals? The Prime Minister knows that China probably mines around 70% of all rare earth minerals and produces around 90% of all processed rare earth minerals globally. What investments is he planning to support to ensure capacity anywhere in the world to stop companies in the UK and elsewhere being required to buy from China?
We are strengthening investment here at home and increasingly playing our part in the critical minerals recycling chain. Recycling in particular, which is a key part of how we can ensure long-term sustainability, is an area where there is an enormous growth opportunity in the UK, and we are investing directly in that. As the right hon. Member will know, we have just signed critical minerals agreements with Japan and Australia, with more to come, as I continue conversations with other leaders. In particular, our new economic coercion unit, which is being established, will work to ensure that China cannot exert undue influence on countries that possess critical minerals, to ensure that they can trade those minerals freely and fairly.
I should declare that I have the honour to be the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Japan. Next week marks the 30th anniversary of the opening, by the then Prince Charles, of Toyota’s manufacturing plant in Derbyshire. It has been a tremendous asset for both our countries. Does the Prime Minister agree that in a turbulent world—one in which, as my right hon. Friend Chris Grayling says, protectionism is on the rise—our two countries, Japan and the UK, are more like-minded than ever, and even more than at that time? Will the Prime Minister commit to work closely with Japan to manufacture the next generation of cars, as well as new technologies, from offshore wind to satellites and AI?
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appointment; I know he will do a superb job, and I agree with him. As the recent Hiroshima accords say, the relationship between the UK and Japan is the strongest that it has ever been across all areas. Whether on scientific collaboration, trade and economic growth, or indeed security, the partnership is strong, and the recent accords that we have signed will take it to even greater depth and levels of co-operation.
On the issue of auto manufacturing, I was pleased to meet the president of Nissan while I was in Tokyo, who had also recently met the Chancellor. As my right hon. Friend can see from the announcements, there is confidence in the UK economy, and we will continue to work closely with Japanese automakers to ensure that there is investment in the UK and that we can make the next generation of electric vehicles here.
The Prime Minister did finally mention climate change in his response to the Leader of the Opposition, but this G7 summit was a disaster for the climate, flying in the face of expert warnings that if we are serious about staying below 1.5 degrees, there can be no new exploration of oil and gas. While the communiqué acknowledged the new fund for loss and damage, it failed to deliver any new funding for it. Oxfam has estimated that the G7 countries owe the global south a staggering $8.7 trillion for the harm already caused by their excessive carbon emissions. Will the Prime Minister now lead the way on that fund, and commit to new and additional funding specifically for loss and damage in advance of the COP28 summit?
The hon. Lady obviously missed the fact that this was the first G7 commitment to stop building new coal plants. It was the first G7 collective renewable energy target, and it confirmed that the developed countries would meet their commitment to provide $100 billion in climate finance per annum—something that has been warmly welcomed. Again, I point her to what I said to the Leader of the Opposition. She failed to point out that of all the G7 countries, we have the best record on reducing climate emissions
As the Prime Minister knows, it is Putin’s wish and Ukraine’s fear that the conflict goes long and battle fatigue sets in. My right hon. Friend has been clear—as has the Leader of the Opposition—that we will give that long-term support, but what was his assessment of his colleagues whom he met at the G7, particularly from countries such as India, which have not always shown full commitment to the struggle in Ukraine?
As I pointed out earlier, the session with partner countries that were invited, including India, Brazil, Australia and others, was very good in confirming support for a just and durable peace in Ukraine. On my hon. Friend’s first point, he makes an excellent observation. That is why we have been working hard with other countries to put in place bilateral and multilateral long-term security arrangements.
I have long discussed that with President Zelensky and have spoken to other leaders, because my belief is that if we can put some long-term multilateral security arrangement in place as soon as possible, that will show President Putin that we are not going away and that there is no point trying to wait us out, because Ukraine will get long-term support to defend itself—not just last year, this year and next year but for years to come. That is important for us to do, and my hon. Friend can rest assured that I will continue having those conversations and pushing that point with our allies, all the way in the run up to the Vilnius summit.
The Government’s No. 1 priority should be to strengthen the resilience of our economy so that we can stand more firmly on our own two feet in this dangerous and turbulent world. It was disappointing, therefore, that in the Prime Minister’s statement he failed to make any reference to the central role that steel plays—a key industry that builds our economic and national security and resilience. Given China, the US and the EU Governments are investing hundreds of billions of pounds in their steel industries, can he set out what steps his Government are taking to ensure that we build this vital building block of our manufacturing base?
The Government are committed to supporting the UK steel industry. The hon. Gentleman knows full well that I cannot comment on discussions of a commercially sensitive nature with particular companies, but he will know our track record. As Chancellor, during the pandemic I provided financial support to a steel company in south Wales because I believed it was the right thing to do. If he needs any evidence of our commitment to the steel industry, particularly in Wales, he does not need to look too far.
I commend my right hon. Friend on his stance on Ukraine and on a successful G7. He rightly mentioned the problem of mass immigration, particularly illegal immigration. Without doubt, one of the aggravating factors is the EU’s open border policy. Was there any discussion to re-look at that?
There was no discussion at the G7, as he might expect, but illegal migration was discussed when I was at the Council of Europe last week. As my hon. Friend can see, we have started conversations with the EU about closer co-operation with the EU’s border agency Frontex. We can work together upstream to share intelligence and make sure that we break the cycle of the criminal gangs. He can expect further conversation and co-operation in that vein because, ultimately, this is a shared challenge. Illegal migration was up 50% to 60% in the European continent last year, so we are not alone in facing this challenge. We will work with others to constructively solve it.
We are ensuring that those who commit war crimes in Ukraine will be held accountable and brought to justice. That is why we took a leading role in supporting evidence gathering and providing both financial and technical legal support—we have recently provided more than £1 million for those efforts. We very much welcome the recent announcement by the International Criminal Court to bring to justice those who have committed war crimes, particularly those against children, and we will continue to play a leading part in the coalition, ensuring that those who commit those crimes are brought to justice.
The global environment faces more challenges than it has for many years, not least an existential threat to the rules-based international order and threats to the essence of our democratic values. Does the Prime Minster agree that the UK is uniquely placed to build the networks and relationships that are needed to stop those threats from becoming a reality?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are uniquely placed: our international engagement and diplomacy in the last few months has shown that we have strong relationships, not just in the United States but across Europe and increasingly in the Indo-Pacific as well. All those relationships are strengthening our security at home and abroad, and delivering real benefits for the British people.
The Prime Minister mentioned the United Nations in the context of his remarks about Ukraine, and he will be aware that the United Nations has quite rightly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Will he comment on the calls made by Secretary-General Guterres to attempt to negotiate a ceasefire, supported by President Ramaphosa and the Pope? What comment will he make about the statement made this morning by President Lula of Brazil? He is right that a ceasefire is not peace, but any peace process has to be started by a ceasefire, otherwise this war will go, and get worse and worse.
I could not disagree with the right hon. Gentleman more. A ceasefire is not a just and lasting peace for Ukraine. Russia has conducted an illegal and unprovoked invasion of another country. It has committed heinous war crimes. The right, and only, response to that is for Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine. All plans, masquerading as peace plans, that are in fact attempts just to freeze the conflict where it is, are absolutely wrong and they should be called out for exactly what they are.
May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the substantive and central role he played at the G7 summit and the important progress made in advancing the G7 agenda, which is of growing importance to our security and our economy? What is his assessment of how far India is now moving to share this agenda, not least in its relations with Russia?
As I said, the session with partner countries, including India and others, was positive in its conversation on Ukraine and on the principles of what a just and lasting peace would look like. Such a peace should be based on the principles of the UN charter and respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of countries. Those are principles that we believe in, and on which the United Nations was founded and peace in Ukraine should be brought about.
One benefit of President Zelensky attending the G7 summit was the ability for him to talk directly to those leaders, and he did so, particularly in that session but also in other conversations. It was a very powerful message that he could deliver in person. I hope that message will go around the world and people saw the symbolism that it represented. As we have seen, at the United Nations over 140 countries have condemned Russia, which remains largely isolated on the global stage, and we continue to bring others to the cause.
The UK’s key role in G7 Tokyo decisions highlights the fact that this Government are doing more on the world stage, not retreating from it, especially in the Indo-Pacific region and south-east Asia, where I have the honour to serve the Prime Minister as trade envoy. Does he agree that this is a good time, in the last year of the term of office of President Jokowi of Indonesia—the largest member state in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the current ASEAN chair—for both our countries to scope out the will and capacity for a wide-ranging bilateral free trade agreement?
I thank my hon. Friend for all the work he does to promote our trade in the region and strengthen our relationship with countries such as Indonesia. I discussed his missives in person with President Jokowi and we had a good conversation about how we can strengthen our trading relationship, not least through the JETCO, the Joint Economic and Trade Committee, which we already have and which we are looking forward to building on in future.
If it is the Prime Minister’s firm resolve that it should never again be necessary to use nuclear weapons, why is he spending billions of pounds on renewing Trident?
Look, of course on this issue we will disagree with the Scottish nationalist party, but we remain committed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, to which we are a signatory along with 190 other countries. That offers us the best tool available to bring about eventual global disarmament, but it will have to be step by step and it will have to be a negotiated approach, because we have to recognise the escalating security threats that we face and the role that our nuclear deterrent plays in keeping us safe.
Qualcomm, Graphcore and Arm are among the major semiconductor manufacturers that welcomed the UK’s semiconductor strategy. The Prime Minister is right to focus on where we are best and where we can play an outsize role in this industry. At its heart, however, this is also about lessening our semiconductor dependence on Taiwan. Will the Prime Minister assure me and the House that that will not come with greater risk of seeing a decrease in relations between China and Taiwan?
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments about the semiconductor strategy, which of course is an area on which he speaks with authority. Our long-standing policy on Taiwan has not changed. We have a clear interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan strait and will completely resist any unilateral attempts to change the status quo. We continue to have deep and growing ties, in a wide range of areas, with Taiwan, whether that is on economic, trade, cultural or educational matters.
The Prime Minister spent time at the G7 dealing with reports that his Home Secretary may have breached the ministerial code. Will the Prime Minister take the opportunity to update the House on whether he has yet met his independent adviser and whether there will now be an investigation into whether the ministerial code has been broken, and to confirm that if the Home Secretary has breached the ministerial code she will be sacked?
Well, I can confirm that that was not a topic of conversation at the G7 summit, but in the interests of being generous: I have always been clear that where such issues are raised, they should be dealt with properly and professionally. Since I have returned from the G7, I have been receiving information on the issues raised, I have met both the independent adviser and the Home Secretary, I have asked for further information and I will give an update on the appropriate course of action in due course.
I very much welcome the £18 billion of new Japanese investment for the UK. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that he will be working to ensure that as much as possible of that investment comes to businesses in Stoke-on-Trent, and that we can grow the number of skilled, well-paid jobs in Stoke-on-Trent?
My hon. Friend is a fantastic champion for Stoke and his constituents. The great news about this investment is that it is coming in a range of industries, which means that all parts of the UK, I am confident, will benefit. Whether it is in auto manufacturing, clean energy or the industries of the future such as quantum and semiconductors, there are fantastic opportunities. Ultimately, that is why our international diplomacy is working; it is delivering concrete benefits and jobs for people here at home.
Diolch, Madam Deputy Speaker. The sanctions strategy against Russia is being undermined by so-called leakage to other countries. For instance, Russian oil exports to India have reportedly increased substantially, a point that I suspect President Zelensky will have made to Prime Minister Modi during their discussions at the summit. Did the Prime Minister make similar points during his bilateral talks with Prime Minister Modi?
As I have said, the G7 allies are working in tandem to intensify diplomatic engagement with third-country partners to highlight potential sanction circumvention risks. We also, as I have said, are investing £50 million in a new economic deterrence initiative, which will back up our own sanctions implementation and enforcement.
I commend my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for leading discussions at the G7 in Hiroshima on countering and guarding against the national security threats that are coming from China. In that vein, will he consider blocking companies such as BGI that are harvesting genomic data—as they have done in the United States and in academia in Canada—from activities in this country?
Our new National Security and Investment Act 2021 gives us the powers to block hostile investment into sensitive sectors. My hon. Friend will know that we have used those powers to block Chinese investment in Newport Wafer Fab, for example. We obviously look at every transaction on a case-by-case basis, but we now have one of the most robust frameworks anywhere in the world for protecting our companies and our intellectual property from foreign interference and theft.
Liberal Democrats welcome those parts of the Prime Minister’s statement that relate to Ukraine, but I would like to take that a little further and ask him about Russian misinformation. President Biden said of the supply of F-16 fighter aircraft that he had received assurances that the fighter jets would not be used to
“go on and move into Russia”.
President Macron said something similar in relation to the supply of French weapons, but misinformation from the Kremlin abounds about NATO’s intentions. Is the Prime Minister prepared, like the Presidents of the United States and France, to talk about how British long-range missiles will be limited to targets in Ukraine for the liberation of Ukraine?
The Defence Secretary has already made clarifications around our use of Storm Shadow, but we should all remember that Ukraine is engaged in self-defence. Indeed, NATO itself is a self-defence alliance. Ukraine has faced an illegal and unprovoked act of aggression and invasion from Russia and we should be able to give it all the means necessary to defend itself against those attacks.
I thank the Prime Minister very much for his statement and his support for Ukraine on behalf of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He has clearly shown that his words become actions, and for that we thank him very much. I think that every one of us recognises a good deed there. I declare an interest as chair of the all-party parliamentary group on international freedom of religion or belief. I very much welcome the progress that has been reported by the Prime Minister on an essential trade deal, but I would also like to know whether he had an opportunity to raise the issue of freedom of religious belief with his counterparts, because an essential component of any trade deal must be the core value of human rights alongside religious freedom.
I know that the Foreign Secretary engages on this topic regularly with all our allies where it is relevant, and we will continue to do so, because we will stand up for freedom of expression and religious belief, not just in this country but in countries around the world.
I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. We now come to the statement from the Home Secretary, but before I call her, I would like to remind hon. Members that they should not refer to any specific cases currently before the courts and that they should exercise caution with respect to any specific cases that might subsequently come before the courts, in order not to prejudice those proceedings.