Together with our allies, we are standing up to Russian aggression. We will not tolerate their campaign of hybrid warfare aiming to destabilise democracies across eastern Europe. We will continue to expose Russian disinformation, including attempts to install proxies and puppets. The UK is at the forefront of providing support to Ukraine, with defensive weapons and through economics and trade. Any Russian military incursion would be a massive strategic mistake, with severe costs. The Ukrainians will fight and Putin should beware of an intractable quagmire.
As talks continue in Vienna on reviving the joint comprehensive plan of action nuclear deal, there are fears that Iran gets ever closer to a nuclear weapon. Will my right hon. Friend please convince the House of what is happening to maintain peace in the middle east?
This negotiation is urgent, and progress has not been fast enough. We continue to work in close partnership with our allies, but the negotiations are reaching a dangerous impasse. Iran must now choose whether it wants to conclude a deal or be responsible for the collapse of the JCPOA. If the JCPOA collapses, all options are on the table.
Some 9.4 million people are going hungry in northern Ethiopia, airstrikes are killing civilians and the blockade is being used as a political weapon. I am glad that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, the hon. Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford), met Abiy Ahmed last week. Did she make it clear that preventing humanitarian access is an abuse of human rights, that airstrikes on refugees are completely incompatible with UK partnership, and that a real dialogue to enable peace must start now and include the Prime Minister’s opponents?
The hon. Lady is absolutely right: we need to secure peace in Ethiopia. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs was in Ethiopia and she has been extremely active on the issue. I have also discussed it with the Ethiopian Foreign Minister and urged them to join peace talks.
The world is aware that Russia is on manoeuvres both on Ukraine’s borders and across Belarus. We continually develop our assessment of the situation. I can only repeat what my right hon. and hon. Friends have said about the massive strategic mistake that Russia would make were it to invade Ukraine’s territorial borders.
Throughout the pandemic our top priority has been to save lives. We firmly believe that the best way to do so is to support the world’s leading scientists. There is no evidence that the intellectual property rights waiver would help to save lives. The TRIPS—trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights—waiver proposal would dismantle the international IP framework that helped to produce the vaccines at an unprecedented pace.
My hon. Friend is right that the war in northern Ethiopia has caused huge suffering, but there are some welcome signs that it may now be possible to move towards peace. I visited Ethiopia last week and met Prime Minister Abiy. I urged him not only to work towards peace talks but to ensure that humanitarian aid flows to those who need it. We in the UK stand ready to support all efforts towards finding peace.
This is the country where the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was developed. It has been supplied at cost around the world and I have seen it being produced in the Serum Institute in India, as well as in Mexico. The fact is that we have supported the roll-out of vaccines around the world and donated to developing countries.
The Commonwealth is a vibrant and valued network of countries and we are deeply committed to it. Commonwealth nations are crucial friends in the delivery of the Foreign Secretary’s vision of a network of liberty and the need to plant the flag for freedom around the globe. We look forward to hosting the Commonwealth games in Birmingham this summer and to attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kigali in Rwanda soon.
We are soon to launch the developing countries trading scheme, which will help developing countries to get better access to the UK market. We have also just launched British International Investment, which will help developing countries with their climate change adaptation by supporting their investment.
The UK is proud to be a long-standing—indeed, founding—member of NATO and to consistently meet its 2% target. NATO remains one of the most important institutions for Euro-Atlantic security and it is incredibly important that its future leadership recognises not only traditional threats, as we now see on Ukraine’s borders, but emerging threats such as cyber, space and other realms of conflict.
I forgive the hon. Lady for not being a devoted follower of my social media feeds and statements; I have already put out a statement on those demolitions. As I said in response to an earlier question, the UK enjoys an incredibly strong relationship with Israel. That allows us to bring up difficult and sensitive issues such as this, but also enables us to work with Israel on areas of mutual interest and concern, including ultimately a viable two-state solution.
I very strongly welcome the strength and determination of the message that the Foreign Secretary is sending to Mr Putin to deter any possible aggression against Ukraine; it is just right. However, are there any circumstances under which she could foresee British troops being deployed in a combat role, defending Ukraine?
As the Defence Secretary said, it is unlikely that that would be the circumstance, but we are working very hard to make sure that Ukraine has the defensive weapons that it needs; that it has the training that it needs—we have trained 20,000 Ukrainian personnel—and that it has the support of the international community. We are pushing our allies very hard to make sure that they are offering similar defensive support.
The Foreign Secretary has concluded a trade deal with Australia, which advantages those who produce their food using animal welfare standards far worse than those met by Cumbrian farmers or British farmers in general. So when will those of us who care about farming and animal welfare standards get a chance to vote on that deal?
Unlike the hon. Gentleman, I have faith in Cumbrian farmers, and I believe that they are world-beating, and Cumbrian lamb is world-beating. So I encourage the hon. Gentleman to get behind the new trade deal that we are negotiating—the CPTPP. Why does he not go out to the Asia-Pacific region and promote his farmers, rather than talking them down in the House of Commons?
The Minister will be aware that I have raised repeatedly the case of Maira Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl forcibly abducted, raped and forced into a marriage. Will the Minister assure me, given that we give hundreds of millions of pounds in aid to Pakistan, that we are insisting that aid is contingent on reform of the blasphemy laws and making sure that there are no forced conversions in that country?
My right hon. Friend will understand why I will not go into specific details of that case. I can assure him that in our bilateral relationships with Pakistan and other countries where we are aid donors, we also ensure that we use that relationship to promote the values not just of tolerance but of protection of religious freedom. That is as true in Pakistan as it is in other areas, and it is an issue that my noble Friend Lord Ahmed raises bilaterally.
We have regularly engaged with the United States and other partners on issues relating to Sri Lanka. The UK Government keep all evidence and potential designations under the UK global human rights sanctions regime under close review, guided by the objectives of the sanctions regime. We would not normally speculate about future sanctions targets, as to do so would reduce their impact.
The Chinese Communist party is expanding its grip over the people of Hong Kong, destroying the freedoms and liberties defended by the British Crown for 100 years. Will the Foreign Secretary join me in condemning China for its flagrant misuse of power and its undermining of the rule of law?
We continue to make clear to mainland Chinese and Hong Kong authorities our strong opposition to the national security law, which is being used to curtail freedoms, punish dissent and shrink the space for opposition, free press and civil society. As a co-signatory to the joint declaration, we will continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong.
It is good to be back after my brush with covid.
This could not be more topical; this morning we have seen crisis around the world, particularly in the problems on the border with Russia. Let me say, as the Labour Member who has been in the House the longest, that when we have such a crisis, we expect to see the Prime Minister not on the phone or on video calls, but out there visiting, talking, organising and showing leadership—showing that we care and that we lead from the front? Please, knock on No. 10 and get him out of there, and let us hope he does not say, “Crisis? What crisis?”
We have been leading on the response to Ukraine. Only last night, the Prime Minister was on a call with the President of the United States, the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. We are showing leadership in providing defensive support to Ukraine and putting in place the toughest economic sanctions in the case of a Russian incursion. I encourage the hon. Gentleman to put his points to the Russian President.