If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 15 November.
At the start of the year, I made halving inflation my No.1 priority. Today, we have delivered on that commitment. There remains more to do, but this is a strong step forward.
Also this morning, the Supreme Court gave a judgment on the Rwanda plan. It confirmed that the principle of removing asylum seekers to a safe third country is lawful. There are further elements that it wants additional certainty on, and it noted that changes can be delivered in the future to address those issues. The Government have been working already on a new treaty with Rwanda, and we will finalise that in the light of today’s judgment. Furthermore, if necessary I am prepared to revisit our domestic legal frameworks. Let me assure the House that my commitment to stopping the boats is unwavering and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be making an oral statement shortly to the House.
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, and I shall have further such meetings later today.
When the Prime Minister took office, he promised to lead a Government marked by
“integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.”
What is it about the judgment of David Cameron and his relationship with Lex Greensill, or his lobbying for Chinese state interests, that made the Prime Minister consider him a suitable candidate to be Foreign Secretary?
I thank my hon. Friend for his question. I know he has championed this issue, and that it matters to his constituents. As I said, the judgment confirms that the principle of removing asylum seekers to a safe third country is lawful. The Government have already been working in advance on a new treaty with Rwanda, which we will finalise in the light of today’s judgment to address the challenges that were raised. I say again that if it becomes clear that our domestic legal frameworks or international conventions are still frustrating plans at that point, I am prepared to change our laws and revisit those international relationships. The British people expect us to do whatever it takes to stop the boats, and that is precisely what this Government will deliver.
I call the Leader of the Opposition.
The Prime Minister obviously thinks so little of his own MPs that he has had to peel David Cameron away from his seven-year exile in a shepherd’s hut and make him Foreign Secretary. A few months ago, the Intelligence and Security Committee said that the now Foreign Secretary’s role in a Chinese investment fund may have been—these are its words—
“engineered by the Chinese state”.
I hardly need to remind the Prime Minister of the threat posed by the Chinese Communist party or the intimidation of Members of this House. When will he instruct the Foreign Secretary to give full public disclosure of his work for Chinese interests?
As I said, I am delighted that the former Prime Minister has rejoined the Government as Foreign Secretary. As an individual with unrivalled experience, he will help Britain to navigate an uncertain world in challenging times. Of course, like every other Minister, he will go through the normal process with the independent adviser. The Government’s position on China is clear: China represents an epoch-defining challenge. That is why we have taken strong and robust steps to protect ourselves against the risk that it poses. We will take no lessons from the Labour party on protecting our national security. It has taken almost £700,000 from an alleged Chinese agent. [Interruption.]
Order. Those on the Front Bench just need to calm down.
For someone who has spent the last few weeks complaining about recycling bins, it is ironic that the Prime Minister’s latest reset involves recycling the architects of 13 years of Tory failure. This is the Prime Minister who reanimated the career of Suella Braverman in order to resuscitate his own, just days after she was sacked for a national security breach. Is he ashamed that he was so desperate to become Tory leader and so scared to face a vote that he put someone so totally unfit for office in charge of Britain’s national security?
The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentions 13 years, but we should remember what happened at the beginning of those 13 years. It is this party that restored the country’s financial security after the Labour party left no money behind. It is a bit rich to take lectures on security from a man who wanted to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister of our country.
The right hon. Member for Islington North is not even a Labour MP any more. It is a changed party with strong leadership. [Interruption.]
Order. We have a lot of very important business today with some important votes. I want to get through this speedily.
For 13 years, our security has been undermined by this Tory Government, and now we have the most ridiculous, pathetic spectacle of all: the Prime Minister’s Rwanda scheme, cooked up with his national security threat former Home Secretary, has blown up. He was told over and over again that this would happen, that it would not work and that it was just the latest Tory gimmick, but he bet everything on it and now he is totally exposed. The central pillar of his Government has crumbled beneath him. Does he want to apologise to the country for wasting £140 million of taxpayers’ cash and wasting his entire time in office?
Obviously the right hon. and learned Gentleman did not hear what I said about our approach to Rwanda. When it comes to stopping the boats, Rwanda is one part of our plan, which has already delivered a reduction in the number of small boats this year by a third. He talks about apologising and he talks about the right hon. Member for Islington North not being a Labour MP now. Yes, he was not a Labour MP when he declined 15 different times to say that Hamas are a terrorist organisation this week, which is shameful, but he was a Labour MP—indeed, the right hon. and learned Gentleman served with him. He told the country that the right hon. Member for Islington North would make “a great Prime Minister”. At that point, the right hon. Member for Islington North described Hamas as friends. Does he want to apologise for that now? [Interruption.]
Order. Are we serious? [Hon. Members: “Yes.”] Oh, I would not challenge. I have to say that our constituents are watching this. They are very concerned about the affairs of today and the votes later. A lot of Members wish to speak. Those who do not want that to happen, please, go outside and have a conversation there. If you want to bawl and shout, do it elsewhere, but it will not be happening in here today.
I am so glad that the Prime Minister agrees that this is a changed Labour party. While he was wasting his time on this gimmick, the asylum backlog has swollen to 175,000 people. Taxpayers are paying £8 million a day on hotel bills, and 615 people arrived by small boat last Sunday alone. Plan A has failed. After this session, whether he likes it or not, he will have to go back to his office, back to the drawing board and start from scratch. Can he assure the British public that he will drop what his former Home Secretary calls his “magical thinking” and start treating small boat crossings with the seriousness they deserve?
The right hon. and learned Gentleman talks about a changed Labour party—perhaps we will see that this evening. He cannot even make his party do the right thing when it comes to standing by Israel in the vote later today. He talks about taking small boat crossings seriously. He has opposed every single measure that we have taken. Let me update him on what we have done this year. The number of illegal Albanian arrivals is down by 90%. Some 20,000 people have been returned this year. The number of crossings is down by a third. He mentioned hotels. We are closing 50 of them, with money being saved for taxpayers. All those measures, by the way, were opposed by the Opposition. What is his plan? Ah, yes, there we have it: a cosy deal with the European Union that would see the UK accept 100,000 illegal migrants. He does not want to stop the boats; he wants to welcome more of them.
It is very straightforward: the Prime Minister promised that he would stop the boats this year. Today is
This Government have done more to tackle illegal migration than any in the past. Let us review: the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been on the wrong side of this issue his entire career. This is a man who described all immigration law as racist. He said it was a mistake to control immigration, and he has never once in this place voted for stricter asylum rules. It is clear that while he might want to listen to the open-border activists, I am siding with the British people.
If the Prime Minister was confident about his promise, he would have given an answer saying that he stands by it and will deliver it by the end of the year. The absence of that answer is absolutely amazing in the circumstances. He has had three reshuffles, a forgotten conference speech, an empty King’s Speech—he even found time to fanboy Elon Musk—but not one of them has made the slightest difference to the lives of working people. If we had a pound for every time he had a reset, the cost of living crisis would have been over long ago.
The Prime Minister likes to think of himself as the man from silicon valley, the tech-savvy Californian, the country’s first AI PM, and yet his big idea is to keep turning his Government on and off at the wall and hope that we see signs of life. Is he starting to feel that, as somebody once said, he was the future once?
I slightly missed the end of that. I was glad to hear the right hon. and learned Gentleman finally bring up the cost of living—on that, he is right, as it is the No. 1 challenge facing families up and down the country—and he talked about delivering on promises, but he failed to recognise that today was the day we delivered on the most important pledge I made: to halve inflation. We are delivering on that commitment and easing the burden for families up and down the country. Everything we would see from the Labour party would jeopardise that progress—borrowing £28 billion a year, undermining our energy security and giving in to his union backers with inflation-busting pay rises. That is not a sensible plan; it would push up mortgage rates, push up inflation and harm working families. All the while, we are going to continue delivering for the country.