With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G20 summit in China.
Before I turn to the G20, however, I would like to say something about the process of Brexit. On 23 June the British people were asked to vote on whether we should stay in the EU or leave. The majority decided to leave. Our task now is to deliver the will of the British people and negotiate the best possible deal for our country. I know many people are keen to see rapid progress and to understand what post-Brexit Britain will look like. We are getting on with that vital work, but we must also think through the issues in a sober and considered way.
As I have said, this is about getting the kind of deal that is ambitious and bold for Britain. It is not about the Norway model, the Swiss model or any other country’s model—it is about developing our own British model. So we will not take decisions until we are ready, we will not reveal our hand prematurely, and we will not provide a running commentary on every twist and turn of the negotiation. I say that because that is not the best way to conduct a strong and mature negotiation that will deliver the best deal for the people of this country. As the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union told the House on Monday, what we will do is maximise and seize the opportunities that Brexit presents. That is the approach I took to the G20 summit.
This was the first time that the world’s leading economies have come together since the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and it demonstrated the leading role that we continue to play in the world as a bold, ambitious and outward-looking nation. Building on our strength as a great trading nation, we were clear that we had to resist a retreat to protectionism, and we had conversations about how we could explore new bilateral trading arrangements with key partners around the world. We initiated important discussions on responding to rising anti-globalisation sentiment and ensuring that the world’s economies work for everyone, and we continued to play our part in working with our allies to confront the global challenges of terrorism and migration. Let me take each in turn.
Trading with partners all around the globe has been the foundation of our prosperity in the past, and it will underpin our prosperity in the future. So under my leadership, as we leave the EU, Britain will seek to become the global leader in free trade. At this summit we secured widespread agreement across the G20 to resist a retreat to protectionism, including a specific agreement to extend the roll-back of protectionist measures until at least the end of 2018.
The G20 also committed to ratify by the end of this year the World Trade Organisation agreement to reduce the costs and burdens of moving goods across borders, and it agreed to do more to encourage firms of all sizes, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises and female-led firms, to take full advantage of global supply chains. Britain also continued to press for an ambitious EU trade agenda, including implementing the EU-Canada deal and forging agreements with Japan and America, and we will continue to make these arguments for as long as we are members of the EU.
But as we leave the EU, we will also forge our own new trade deals, and I am pleased to say that just as the UK is keen to seize the opportunities that leaving the EU presents, so too are many of our international partners, who recognise the attractiveness of doing business with the UK. The leaders from India, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore said that they would welcome talks on removing the barriers to trade between our countries. The Australian Trade Minister visited the UK yesterday to take part in exploratory discussions on the shape of a UK-Australia trade deal. And in our bilateral at the end of the summit, President Xi also made it clear that China would welcome discussions on a bilateral trade arrangement with the UK.
As we do more to advance free trade around the world, so we must also do more to ensure that working people really benefit from the opportunities it creates. Across the world today, many feel these opportunities do not seem to come to them. They feel a lack of control over their lives. They have a job but no job security; they have a home but worry about paying the mortgage. They are just about managing, but life is hard, and it is not enough for Governments to take a hands-off approach. So at this summit I argued that we need to deliver an economy that works for everyone, with bold action at home and co-operation abroad. That is why, in Britain, we are developing a proper industrial strategy to improve productivity in every part of the country, so more people can share in our national prosperity through higher real wages and greater opportunities for young people.
To restore greater fairness, we will be consulting on new measures to tackle corporate irresponsibility. These will include cracking down on excessive corporate pay, poor corporate governance, short-termism and aggressive tax avoidance, and giving employees and customers representation on company boards. At the G20, this mission of ensuring the economy works for everyone was echoed by other leaders, and this is an agenda that Britain will continue to lead in the months and years ahead.
Together, we agreed to continue efforts to fight corruption—building on the London summit—and do more to stop aggressive tax avoidance, including stopping companies avoiding tax by shifting profits from one jurisdiction to another. We also agreed to work together to address the causes of excess global production in heavy industries, including in the steel market, and we will establish a new forum to discuss issues such as subsidies that contribute to market distortions. All these steps are important if we are to retain support for free trade and the open economies which are the bedrock of global growth.
Turning to global security, Britain remains at the heart of the fight against Daesh, and at this summit we discussed the need for robust plans to manage the threat of foreign fighters dispersing from Syria, Iraq and Libya. We called for the proper enforcement of the UN sanctions regime to limit the financing of all terrorist organisations and for more action to improve standards in aviation security, including through a UN Security Council resolution which the UK has been pursuing and which we hope will be adopted later this month. We also agreed the need to confront the ideology that underpins this terrorism. That means addressing both violent and non-violent extremism and working across borders to tackle radicalisation online.
Turning to the migration crisis, Britain will continue to meet our promises to the poorest in the world, including through humanitarian efforts to support refugees, and we will make further commitments at President Obama’s summit in New York later this month. But at the G20 I also argued that we cannot shy away from dealing with illegal migration, and I will be returning to this at the UN General Assembly. We need to improve the way we distinguish between refugees and economic migrants. This will enable our economies to benefit from controlled economic migration. In doing so, we will be able to get more help to refugees who need it, and retain popular support for doing so. This does not just protect our own people. By reducing the scope for the mass population movements we are seeing today, and at the same time investing to address the underlying drivers of mass migration at source, we can achieve better outcomes for the migrants themselves. As part of this new approach, we also need a much more concerted effort to address modern slavery. This sickening trade, often using the same criminal networks that facilitate illegal migration, is an affront to our humanity, and I want Britain to be leading a global effort to stamp it out.
When the British people voted to leave the European Union, they did not vote to leave Europe, to turn inwards, or to walk away from the G20 or any of our international partners around the world. That has never been the British way. We have always understood that our success as a sovereign nation is inextricably bound up in our trade and our co-operation with others. By building on existing partnerships, forging new relationships and shaping an ambitious global role, we will make a success of Brexit—for Britain and for all our partners—and we will continue to strengthen the prosperity and security of all our citizens for generations to come. I commend this statement to the House.
I thank the Prime Minister for her statement on the G20 statement and for giving me an advance copy of it.
I first went to China in 1998 to attend a United Nations conference on human rights—the same year in which the European convention on human rights was incorporated into UK law in our Human Rights Act. That legislation has protected the liberties of our people and held successive British Governments to account. That is why Labour Members share the concerns of so many at the Prime Minister’s Government’s plans to repeal the Human Rights Act.
On the issues of Brexit and the G20, the Prime Minister said that she was not going to reveal her hand on this subject. Nobody would blame her, because she has not revealed her hand, or indeed any of the Government’s many hands, on this particular thing; they are unclear about what they are trying to do. The G20 met in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union. We have to be clear: we accept the decision taken by the majority of our people. However, we cannot ignore the fact that the outcome has left this country divided, with increased levels of hate crimes, huge uncertainty about what comes next for our country, and an extraordinary lack of planning and preparation on how to navigate the post-referendum situation in relation to Europe.
That uncertainty and division have been made worse by Government Ministers’ political posturing and often very contradictory messages, which do not seem to add up to a considered position. Yesterday the Brexit Secretary said that staying in the single market was “improbable”; the Prime Minister’s spokesperson said that was not the case. It is one or the other; it cannot be both. So can the Prime Minister tell the House what the Government’s policy actually is?
The negotiations for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU must focus on expanding trade, jobs and investment, and on defending social, employment and environmental protections. Many colleagues raised during Prime Minister’s Question Time the uncertainty facing universities, for example. The question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) is a very important one. They need certainty about their relationship with European universities immediately—it cannot wait. Parliament and the public cannot be sidelined from this, the greatest constitutional change this country has embarked on for 20 years.
Corporate globalisation is a key issue that has to be addressed, and I am pleased that the G20 did address it—or apparently so. The G20 was formed in response to the global financial crisis of 2008: a devastating event that was triggered by reckless deregulation of the financial sector. It is a model of running the global economy that, as the Prime Minister acknowledges, has produced huge increases in inequality and failed in its own terms. I raised this issue with President Obama during his visit earlier this year. It is clear that rising levels of inequality in all our economies fuel insecurities and pit people and communities against each another.
It has been 40 years since the UK has had to engage in bilateral trade negotiations. The free trade dogma that the Prime Minister spoke of has often been pursued at the expense of the world’s most fragile economies, and has been realised with destructive consequences for our environment. We need a UK trade agenda that protects people and the environment. I urge the Prime Minister to stand with me against the use of Britain’s aid and trade policies to further the agenda of deregulation and privatisation in developing countries. We need a trade policy that values human rights and human dignity.
In particular, could the Prime Minister inform the House about her talks with the Chinese president in two crucial areas, the first of which I raised with him in my meeting last autumn? The UK steel industry continues to face deeply challenging times. A key reason for this is the scale of cheap, subsidised Chinese steel that is flooding European markets. What assurances did President Xi give that this practice will stop, and stop now, because of the damage it is doing to the steel industry in this country, and indeed in others? On the question of Hinkley, during the summer the Prime Minister announced that she was postponing the decision on the new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point. Could she take this opportunity to explain to the House why she decided to postpone the decision, and also set out which aspects of the contract she is apparently re-examining?
The Prime Minister was involved in discussions at the G20 about global challenges to security. As the complex, brutal conflicts continue across the middle east, I agree that we need a concerted global response to these challenges. The human cost of the refugee crisis, including the thousands drowning in the sea each year, must be our No. 1 concern and our No. 1 humanitarian response. That is why I remain concerned that at the heart of this Government’s security strategy is apparently increased arms exports to the very part of the world that most immediately threatens our security. The British Government continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia that are being used to commit crimes against humanity in Yemen, as has been clearly detailed by the UN and other independent agencies. Will the Prime Minister commit today to halting the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia that have been used to prosecute this war in Yemen, with the humanitarian devastation that has resulted from that?
The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of issues. First, he referred to the question of hate crimes that have taken place in the United Kingdom. We have a proud history in the UK of welcoming people into this country, and there is no place in our society for hate crime. The Government have already published a new action plan to take action against hate crime. We are concerned about the levels of hate crime that we have seen. My right hon. Friends the Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary met Polish Ministers earlier this week to discuss the particular concern about some terrible attacks that have taken place on Polish people here in the UK. We are very clear, and the police are very clear, that they will act robustly in relation to hate crime. Anybody who has been a victim of this or who has allegations of hate crime taking place should take those allegations to the police.
The right hon. Gentleman talked about what we will be doing in our negotiations with the European Union. I covered this in my statement, but just to reiterate: what we will be doing as we negotiate our leaving the European Union is negotiating a new relationship with the European Union. That will include control on the movement of people from the EU into the UK—I do not think he referred to that—but it will also be about getting the right deal for trade in goods and services that we want to see. It will be a new relationship. As I indicated in my statement, and indeed in Prime Minister’s questions, I will not be giving a running commentary, and the Government will not be giving a running commentary, on our negotiations. There is a very good reason for that. We want to get the best deal. We want to get the right deal for the United Kingdom, and if we were to give a constant running commentary and give away our negotiating hand, then that is not what we would achieve.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the issue of steel. I raised the issue of over-production in the plenary session. That was important, because it was not just being raised with the Chinese Government but with all the leaders around the table. Crucially, the G20 has recognised the significant of this and recognised the steps that some Governments are taking, which are leading to some of the problems that we see. That is why the new forum has been introduced, which will be looking at these issues. The Chinese will be sitting on that forum, and they will be part of those discussions.
On Hinkley, I have said it before and I will say it again: the way I work is that I do not just take a decision without looking at the analysis. I am looking at the details and looking at the analysis, and a decision will be taken later this month.
On Saudi Arabia, I met the deputy crown prince at the G20, and I raised with him the concerns about the reports of what has happened in Yemen. I insisted that these should be properly investigated. The Leader of the Opposition referred to our relations with Saudi Arabia, and I think he implied that what happened in Saudi Arabia was a threat to the safety of people here in the UK. Actually, what matters is the strength of our relationship with Saudi Arabia. When it comes to counter-terrorism and dealing with terrorism, it is that relationship that has helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe.
Finally, I hold the very clear view, as does the Conservative party, that if we are to see prosperity and growth in the economies around the world, the way to get there is through free trade. Free trade has underpinned the prosperity of this country. I will take no lessons from the right hon. Gentleman on action to help developing countries and those who are in poverty elsewhere in the world, because this Government have a fine record of humanitarian support, educating girls and others around the world and helping to give people access to the medical care, water and resources that they need. It is free trade that underpins our growth, and we will be the global leader in free trade. Free trade can also be the best anti-poverty policy for those countries. I will unashamedly go out there and give the message that we want a free trade country, and I am only sorry that the Labour party is turning its back on something that has led to the prosperity of the United Kingdom.
May I congratulate my right hon. Friend on her emphatic support for free trade? In the European Union, according to the Office for National Statistics, we run a deficit with the other 27 member states of £62 billion a year. However, we run a surplus of more than £30 billion on the same goods and services with the rest of the world, and that surplus went up about £10 billion last year alone. Will my right hon. Friend therefore continue her crusade for free trade to develop our world opportunities through Brexit and to make sure that the European Commission and the European Union no longer continue to run our trade policy? We will do it ourselves, and we will do it really well.
My hon. Friend is right. We have an opportunity, and I want to ensure that we are ambitious in seizing that opportunity to develop trade deals around the world. We will be developing the new relationship that I have referred to with the European Union, part of which will obviously be about how we trade with the EU in relation to goods and services, but we have the opportunity to develop trading relationships around the rest of the world. Of course, we cannot formally have those deals in place and operating until we leave the European Union, but we can do the preparation to make sure that they are there when we need them.
May I begin by thanking the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement? In one area, I agree with her. The G20 summit was very much cast with the Brexit vote and her Brexit brainstorming from the previous week. I read one report about it, which said that what Brexit appeared to mean at the G20 was the Prime Minister getting shunted to the back of the row of the leaders’ group photo, being briefed against by the Americans and the Japanese and being left to big up the fact that Mexico, Australia and Singapore have expressed a vague interest in doing trade deals. [Interruption.] The Conservatives do not like it, but that is how other people view the United Kingdom internationally at present.
G20 leaders are as keen as we all are to learn what on earth the UK Government’s plans are for leaving the European Union. I asked the Prime Minister twice during Prime Minister’s questions a really simple question. Since then, she has said that she will
“not be giving a running commentary”—
it seems more like she is giving no commentary whatsoever—and that she is not going to comment on “every twist and turn”. Being a full member of the European single market is not a twist or a turn. It is absolutely fundamental to business across the United Kingdom. Does she seriously expect to be able to hold out for years in not confirming whether she wants the UK to remain a full member of the single market? Please can she tell us now: does she want the UK to remain fully within the single market—yes or no? It is not that difficult.
On trade, we know that the United States and pretty much every other country want a trade deal with the European Union ahead of the United Kingdom, and that they want a trade deal with the UK only after the UK leaves the European Union. Can the Prime Minister tell us how many trade negotiators the UK Government have hired since the referendum?
On immigration, we learned that the promise of a points-based immigration system is being ditched. At the same time, the UK Government apparently plan to trail-blaze a policy first mooted by Donald Trump and build a wall. Is the Prime Minister not totally ashamed? Surely she can come up with something better than that.
May I ask the Prime Minister two specific funding questions? Voters were promised that if they voted to leave the European Union, the national health service would receive an extra £350 million a week. Will the Prime Minister confirm that that promise, like the immigration promise made by the leave campaign, is being broken? An important question that really matters to a lot of people in coastal communities in Scotland is about the funding of more than €100 million that they were due to receive from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund between now and 2023. There has been no commitment whatsoever from the UK Government to honour that funding round. Will she give it now?
It has been very problematic in recent weeks to have to deal with a situation in which the Prime Minister’s party has suggested that EU citizens should not participate fully in Scottish public life. We in the Scottish National party totally repudiate that narrow-minded, racist and xenophobic position.
The Prime Minister is shaking her head, but she should be aware of this. Will she take the opportunity to dissociate her party from this, apologise for it and confirm that we value the contribution of European Union citizens living in this country, and that we are grateful for it? [Interruption.]
The Prime Minister has not yet had time to make an oral statement to the House on the important matter of the estates review of the Ministry of Defence. Will she confirm the commitment that the Government have given to communities that there will be consultation with them before final decisions and announcements are made?
I will try to limit my response to the key issues in my statement that the right hon. Gentleman picked up. First, on the issue of immigration, he says that a points-based system has been rejected. What the people of the United Kingdom voted for on 23 June, as part of the vote to leave the European Union, was to have control over people who move from the European Union into the United Kingdom. A points- based system does not give us that control. A points-based system means that anybody who meets a certain set of criteria is automatically allowed to enter the country. It does not give the Government the opportunity to control and make the decisions about who can enter the country. It is that issue of control that we will be looking for as we decide the relationship that we will have with the European Union in future.
The right hon. Gentleman said a lot about trade deals with other countries, about the EU, about opportunities and so forth. What I saw at the G20, in my discussions with a number of other world leaders, was a great willingness to seize the opportunities that come from the UK leaving the European Union and to do exactly the sort of trade deals that my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) has just referred to. I think we should, as a United Kingdom, be willing to seize those opportunities. We should be ambitious in the deals that we wish to do around the world. As I have said, we should be the global leader in free trade. We should be taking those opportunities and ensuring that, as we leave the European Union, we are able to have the relationships that will ensure growth and prosperity for the whole of the United Kingdom, including growth and prosperity for Scotland.
At the G20, with the Saudi deputy crown prince, the Prime Minister met the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir, who is now in London. Is she as delighted as I am that he made it clear to parliamentarians this morning that we can now add the Gulf Co-operation Council to the list of those parts of the world seeking an early free trade deal with the United Kingdom?
I thank the Prime Minister for her statement and for early sight of it. Now that Australia has today joined America at the G20 last week in slapping down her Government—telling us that we are in fact at the back of the queue for a trade deal—the plain fact is that this Government are not concealing their hand because they have not got a hand or, it would appear, a clue. Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to reassure business and confirm that we will remain a member of the European single market? Does she agree with me that we trusted the British people with the question of our departure, so we should trust them with the question of our destination and put whatever deal she negotiates to the British people in a referendum?
The hon. Gentleman refers to the remarks that have been made by the Australian Trade Minister. What the Australian Trade Minister has done is, very simply, to set out the legal position. I mentioned it in response to an earlier point. The legal position is that we are not able finally to sign or put into practice trade deals with other countries while we remain a member of the European Union. That is just the situation. It does not mean we cannot prepare for that. It does not mean we cannot negotiate about and discuss that.
I am also very clear that as long as we are full members of the European Union—until the point at which we leave—we will be advocates for free trade. We will be advocates for the trade deals that the European Union is negotiating with other countries. I have given that commitment to Prime Minister Trudeau in relation to the EU-Canada trade deal. I have given that commitment to President Obama in relation to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the negotiation on it. We will play our full part, but at the same time, we will be looking to have the discussions that will enable us, when we leave the European Union, to have the trade deals that will give us the growth and prosperity we want.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on the way in which she, quite rightly, puts forward the huge benefits of free trade. I know that she will be aware and share the concerns of, notably, the financial and automotive sectors about any consequences of our abandoning our membership of the single market, which of course ensures that we can trade free of customs duties and with all the benefits that the single market confers. Although she is right to say that we do not want a running commentary on what now faces us, may I urge her to consider the fact that we do need some principles? What assurances can she give us about customs duties and tariffs, and about our membership of the single market?
I absolutely recognise the important role that our automotive industry plays in the United Kingdom. I was very pleased to visit Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull a few days ago to see the huge success that has been made of that company, with the extra employment it has brought and, as I say, the growth that it continues to make.
On the issue of the sort of language used about membership of the single market, access to the single market and so forth, I would say this to my right hon. Friend. As I said earlier—I repeat it again—we want the right deal for trade in goods and services for the United Kingdom. This is about saying, when we are outside the European Union, what the right relationship will be with the European Union on trade. That is why it is important for us not simply to think of this as trying to replicate something here or something there, but actually to say, “What is the deal that we want for the future?” That is the work the Department for Exiting the European Union is doing at the moment, looking at and, in particular, talking to different sectors—the automotive industry will be one of those sectors—to ask what they are looking for and what they want to see, so that we can forge the deal and then go out there, be ambitious and get it.
Three months ago, the International Syria Support Group agreed, as a last resort, to back airdrops to deliver much needed humanitarian supplies to besieged areas of Syria, including Aleppo. However, since then, the only things that have arrived from the sky have been Russian missiles and Syrian barrel bombs, including, as was alleged yesterday, those with chlorine, a banned chemical weapon. Will the Prime Minister tell the House, based on her discussions at the G20 about the situation in Syria, whether that commitment still holds, and if so, when she expects humanitarian relief finally to get through by whatever means to the people who have suffered for so long?
I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman the reassurance that there is still that commitment. The situation on the ground has, as he said, made it incredibly difficult for the delivery of that commitment. The issue of humanitarian aid getting into Aleppo was one that I raised directly with President Putin in my discussions with him.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to concern about the sort of weaponry that is being used, potentially, by the Syrian regime. We have been very clear, as he will know, about our opposition to what is happening in relation to that. We are very concerned about the reports that have come forward. Obviously, it is important that those reports be properly looked at. In the longer term, we remain committed to a political transition in Syria, and that will be a political transition to a Syria without President Assad.
I am very pleased to hear the Prime Minister’s full support for free trade as underpinning our prosperity in Britain and across the world. I had thought, until I listened to the Leader of the Opposition, that that was widely shared on both sides of the House. Given that it is not, and given the worrying noises we are hearing from both candidates in the US presidential election—they both sound not terribly enthusiastic about free trade—will she make it a policy of her Government to campaign for free trade in the United Kingdom and to argue for its merits on the global stage?
My right hon. Friend expresses his surprise—I think there was surprise on this side of the House—when the Leader of the Opposition showed his hand in saying that he was not in favour of free trade. Indeed, I suspect many right hon. and hon. Members on the Labour Benches were surprised to hear that that was the policy of the Labour party. We will be advocates—strong advocates—of free trade, as my right hon. Friend suggested, and we will ensure that we send out that message. As he says, free trade underpins our prosperity.
Like the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), we all understand that this is an early stage of the negotiations, but it would be helpful to know more about what the Prime Minister values in the negotiations and about her aims. She talked a lot about free trade, but she is still resisting saying what she actually thinks about the ultimate expression of free trade in Europe, which is the single market. Please will she tell us and clear up the confusion from yesterday? Does she value membership of the single market? Does she think it should be an aim or an objective of the negotiations, and that we should be trying to stay in it if we can?
I have to say to the right hon. Lady that I have answered this question on a number of occasions already today. She will find that if people ask me a question, I will give an answer, and if they ask me the same question, they will get the same answer. I think that that is perfectly reasonable and perfectly normal.
Our aim is to get the right deal for trade in goods and services with the EU, but this will be a new relationship. We will be looking to develop a new model of the relationship between the UK and the European Union. As I said earlier, we will not be setting out every bit of our negotiating hand in advance of entering those negotiations, because that would be the best way to come out with the worst deal.
I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement, not least what she said on the international concern about some of those on the edges of the market economy: it must be made to work for everyone. On global security, will she firmly back and support the attempts being made today in London by the Syrian coalition to bring forward its own proposals to settle the matter? Will she urge the respective powers that have interests—competing interests—in Syria to accept that the longer they go on fighting over the bodies of the people of Syria, the longer the risk to global security will continue, and that this opportunity being presented in London should certainly be taken?
I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. Today is an important point, with the Syrian opposition coming together and the meeting taking place here. I also agree that the best thing for global security is to see an end to the conflict taking place in Syria. I continue to believe that that conflict and the actions of the Syrian regime, under President Assad, are what we have seen encouraging people to join terrorist organisations and go out there to fight, and then perhaps to return to other countries and conduct terrorist attacks. We must ensure that we are playing our part—as I believe the UK is today in hosting the Syrian opposition for these talks—in ensuring that we bring an end to the conflict.
I thank the Prime Minister for her statement. I commend her for the common-sense realism of her approach to negotiating our exit from the European Union. Is it not very clear that a lot of criticism and commentary now coming from those who advocated for the remain side—a perfectly legitimate point of view—demonstrates a lack of respect for the decision that the British people as a whole have now made? It is time to get on with making the best of that in the way that she proposes. I offer the support of Democratic Unionist Members and of the First Minister of Northern Ireland to the Prime Minister as she tries to achieve the best possible deal for all of the United Kingdom and for Northern Ireland in particular.
On terrorism, I ask the Prime Minister simply this: will she ensure that more action is taken to put in place greater deterrents for those who go around preaching hatred and the radicalisation of young people in the United Kingdom? More needs to be done to send out a strong message by ensuring that strong sentences are passed to act as a deterrent.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support for the Government’s approach. As he says, that is the sensible way to go forward in the negotiations. I want to ensure that the interests of Northern Ireland are fully taken into account in our work, and that was the message I gave when I visited Northern Ireland shortly after I became Prime Minister. In fact, the message I have given to all the devolved Administrations is that we want that full engagement so that we can ensure that the interests of the whole United Kingdom are taken into account.
On terrorism, it is important that we deal with those who preach hatred. We saw the sentences that were given yesterday to Anjem Choudary and another individual. The whole question of the radicalisation of young people in particular, but also generally, whether online or in other ways, is important and needs to be addressed. As the right hon. Gentleman said, we want sentences that give the clear message that that is not acceptable activity for people to be involved in, but we also need to do the sort of work that is happening through, for example, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit and within Europe, as well as what we are doing to promote mainstream voices against preachers of hate.
After her discussions with other world leaders at the G20, will my right hon. Friend ensure that small and medium-sized businesses are at the heart of future trade negotiations, including the many successful local businesses that will be attending my jobs fair in Louth on Friday?
I commend my hon. Friend for holding her jobs fair. I am sure that many opportunities will be offered by local businesses and that many people will be able to take up those opportunities and benefit from the jobs fair.
Small and medium-sized enterprises will play an important role. Earlier in the summer I had a meeting at No. 10 Downing Street with a number of small and medium-sized businesses and representatives of SMEs. What struck me was their optimism about the opportunities now available to the United Kingdom and their willingness to play their part in taking up those opportunities and encouraging the prosperity we want for everyone in our country.
Does the Prime Minister accept that, like all developed economies with ageing populations, Britain needs to import labour to thrive? Would it therefore not be an act of extreme self-harm for us to give up our full and unfettered access to the single market out of a dogmatic and arbitrary desire to reduce immigration?
It is not an arbitrary and dogmatic desire. We recognise the impact that uncontrolled immigration can have on people, particularly those at the lower end of the income scale. The right hon. Gentleman needs to consider carefully the message that the British people gave in the vote on 23 June. I think that vote told us that they want to see the Government able to take control of the movement of people from the European Union into the United Kingdom, and that is what we will do.
People coming to my constituency and driving along the A45 will see the Rushden Lakes retail development going up with huge steel constructions—the Leader of the Opposition will be pleased to know that 100% British steel is being used there. Does coming out of the EU not give us an opportunity, if necessary, to deal with Chinese dumping of steel? Will the Prime Minister find time next year to come and see Rushden Lakes, as it has some very good shoe shops?
My hon. Friend may just have sealed the deal. I commend and welcome the fact that the Rushden Lakes development is using 100% UK steel—that is very good. We need to look at the issue of overcapacity and over-production, not simply as an individual country, or indeed as the EU, but globally. That was why it was so important that that was on the agenda for the G20 and that the new forum has been set up, with Chinese representation on it.
I believe in enterprise and wealth creation, but I also believe in fair taxes. The International Monetary Fund and the OECD have both said that if the amount of tax that is owed to developing countries was actually paid, that would greatly dwarf the amount of support they get through international aid. Given the Prime Minister’s statements on tax avoidance, and as we now have public country-by-country reporting enshrined in law, how will she make this issue a priority for the G20?
In my interventions at the G20 I was able to refer to the important issue of tax avoidance and the work that needs to be undertaken. The G20 has been playing a leading role in addressing the issue and galvanising action on it. A number of initiatives have taken place, including on the whole question of those who, as I have said, try to use different jurisdictions to resist the payment of tax due. Action is being taken and I was able to refer to the need to push that particular initiative forward. There are other initiatives, too, such as providing support to developing countries for collecting tax within their countries—that tax is needed and should be collected. Initiatives such as the Addis tax initiative are also important. We have played a leading role in the G20 on this, and the G20 is now playing an important global role.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend on taking the opportunity at the G20 summit to raise the issue of modern slavery. Will she outline what further steps can be taken to engage with countries around the world to eradicate this evil practice?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising the hugely important issue of modern slavery, which is a heinous crime that we need to do more about. I have been encouraging people in other countries to look at the initiative we have taken through legislation—our Modern Slavery Act 2015 is the first of its kind. There is more we can do through law enforcement and other Government agencies working together to ensure that we stamp out the organised crime groups that are behind this terrible crime. In doing that, however, we must never forget that modern slavery takes place here in the UK and that UK individuals are taken into slavery as well. We must not simply think of this as a global issue. We need to act globally, but we need to act locally as well.
Why did the Prime Minister authorise a very public dressing down of the Brexit Secretary merely for telling the House that membership of the single market and free movement of people tend to go together? Is it not possible that the Brexit Secretary, who has believed in this stuff for years, has thought more deeply about it than the Prime Minister, who has been a Brexiteer for a matter of weeks? Can we revert to the traditional practice whereby Ministers are disciplined for misleading the House, as opposed to for the odd occasion when they are caught telling the truth?
First of all, I do not recognise the picture the right hon. Gentleman sets out. The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union very clearly set out that this is not a zero-sum game. As I have said in response to other questions, the Government are absolutely clear that we will go out there and get the right deal for the United Kingdom and that we are negotiating a new relationship with the EU.
Is it not vital during this Brexit period that we maintain confidence? Is it not the case that with the opportunity to forge new global trade deals, with record low interest rates, and with the opportunity to free ourselves from burdensome regulation, now is a golden time to invest in the United Kingdom? Will the Prime Minister use forums such as the G20 to continue to make that case?
I am very happy to do so—I was doing so in Hangzhou at the G20 summit—but we must also welcome the vote of confidence that has been given in the United Kingdom since the vote to leave the EU. The single biggest vote of confidence came from the Japanese company SoftBank, with the £24 billion investment in ARM, but we have also seen investment from companies such as GlaxoSmithKline. This is a time to be confident about the British economy—the fundamentals of the British economy are strong—and we want to encourage that investment in the UK, which is exactly what the Government and I will be doing.
In July, on the “ConservativeHome” website, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union wrote:
“I would expect the new Prime Minister on September 9th to immediately trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners.”
Will the Prime Minister confirm that she will be able trigger those deals in two days’ time on Friday, as predicted by her Secretary of State, and which countries will be involved?
I was involved in discussions with countries on free trade deals that we can develop at the weekend at the G20 summit; I listed some of those countries in my statement, but there are others. I am pleased about the opportunities we now have and at the willingness of other countries to sit down around the table and talk to us about trade deals.
Does the Prime Minister agree that for trade to be truly free and to work for everyone, it needs to be free of corruption? Will she update the House on discussions at the summit on tackling corruption and taking forward the actions agreed at the London summit earlier this year? Perhaps she can explain how some of the countries at the summit are a little less keen on taking action and responding to that.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is important that we deal with corruption if we are to have free trade deals and people trading freely around the world but, in addition, corruption sadly gets in the way of the ability of some countries to develop their economies, and of people in them taking the benefits that economic development can bring. The G20 collectively was clear that it wanted to continue that anti-corruption work. I made specific reference to the international anti-corruption co-ordination centre, which we are setting up here in London—a number of countries are joining us in that. That is one part of the action that we need to take, but I can assure my hon. Friend that the G20 was very clear that we needed to continue to press on the outcomes of the London anti-corruption summit.
Many people are not getting a share of globalisation, especially in this country. What specific measures did the Prime Minister and other leaders agree at the G20 to deal with that problem and to ensure that the benefits of globalisation are given out more equally?
The hon. Gentleman is right. As I said in my statement, there was a collective agreement echoing the comments that I made for the United Kingdom that we need to ensure that the benefits of globalisation and economic development are truly shared among people. We need to take a number of steps in order to ensure that. As my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) indicated, in some countries, that means dealing with corruption, but there are a number of other areas. I referred earlier to the work we will be doing on corporate irresponsibility, which was picked up and echoed by a number of leaders around the G20 table. Our commitment remains absolutely strong.
I very much welcome the Government’s announcement this week that they plan to ban plastic microbeads in many cosmetic products, including face scrubs and toothpastes. As well as the moral stance that the Government take in forums such as the G20 on anti-slavery and free markets, my request is that we continue to be world leaders in taking forward environmental policies so that we can protect our marine wildlife and the rest of the planet.
I thank my hon. Friend for his comments about our decision on microbeads. They have an impact on marine life and it is clearly right that we ban them in certain products. We are seen to be leading on issues such as climate change, and we can lead on the wider area of environmental concerns.
Public services are exempt from all EU-negotiated trade deals to which the UK is party. Will the Prime Minister commit today to a public services exemption clause in all post-Brexit UK trade deals, which her International Trade Secretary failed to do in answer to written question from me?
I refer the hon. Gentleman to my previous references to our approach. We are not setting out at this stage the details of any particular negotiation in which we will take part on trade deals. We will go out there and get the right deals for the United Kingdom.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s positive statement. The UK, the north-west, Cheshire, Manchester and Liverpool can rightly be proud of our clear strengths in science, with world-leading projects such as the square kilometre array at Jodrell Bank and, more widely, with life sciences. Will she confirm that those sectors will continue to be central to what the Government do with the northern powerhouse and their new industrial strategy, and central to the new trade deals, which are so vital to the future of our economy?
I thank my hon. Friend for that question, which enables me to recall that I did not respond to a point made by the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne) when he talked about the northern powerhouse. The Government remain absolutely committed to the northern powerhouse. The developments in new industries and new scientific projects such as those to which my hon. Friend refers have been and remain an important part of that. I assure him that, as we look towards those new trade deals, we will also look at the developments that can take place and what innovative decisions we can take. We want to ensure that we are not only looking at trade in traditional goods and services, as it were, but asking what more we can do and what we can develop for the future.
I thank the Prime Minister for clarifying that her Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union was wrong to rule out membership of the European single market, that her Foreign Secretary was wrong to campaign for a points-based immigration system and that her International Trade Secretary was wrong to say that we are leaving the customs union, but is it not the case that, if we want to strike trade deals with non-EU countries—I am someone who appreciates the value of free trade deals—we will have to leave the customs union, which will bring disadvantages for UK businesses and foreign direct investment?
I am delighted to hear the Prime Minister’s obvious commitment to free trade, but in many respects free trade is on the retreat in the world today. Global trade and investment are on the decline, we have seen a lack of support for it in the United States Congress and from presidential candidates, and, even here, misinformation and scaremongering from some quarters in recent years has led to an erosion of faith in the benefits of free trade among our constituents. Does the Prime Minister agree that, given the centrality of free trade and of signing agreements to the future of our economy, now is the time to put aside that scaremongering, particularly from some parts of the left of British politics, and to believe in free trade and its ability to work for everyone?
It was significant that the G20 was very clear that we wanted to take action on protectionism and we did not want a retreat to it. My hon. Friend makes an important and valid point that was discussed at the G20 about the need for all who support free trade to go out there, make the case for it and show the benefits that it can bring. As I said earlier—this has been universally echoed on the Government Benches—free trade underpins our economic growth and prosperity.
Given, as we understand it, that comments made from the Dispatch Box by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on Monday are to be regarded as personal opinion as opposed to Government policy, and that the remarks made by the Secretary of State for International Trade on the customs union need to be changed and if it is the case that the Prime Minister is to continually amend statements and comments made by her newly appointed Ministers, why did she make the appointments in the first place?
The Prime Minister has already referred to the very substantial recent investment by the Japanese firm SoftBank. Will she give the House a little more on the reassurances she is able to give to overseas companies to enable them to continue to invest in the UK, as a centre of excellence in manufacturing?
I am very pleased to say that we encourage companies to invest in the United Kingdom. There are some real opportunities here in the UK. We are a centre of excellence in certain areas of manufacturing. I referred earlier to the visit I made to Jaguar Land Rover. To see the investment coming into the United Kingdom to reinvigorate that company, to create jobs and growth, is a very good example of what can be done. I want to see that happening across a wide range of industries and across the whole country.
May I follow the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr Bradshaw) on imported labour and people who come to work here? Some 10% of doctors in the NHS are EU nationals and their position is now very uncertain. We know that since 23 June doctors who are EU nationals have been put off applying to work here. Since then, of course, we have had the vicious attacks and the increase in hate crime to which the Prime Minister referred. We need more doctors in the NHS. We have many unfilled training places. What is she going to say to reassure EU nationals working in the NHS, and to the people who should be looking at coming to work here, that we value them?
I am pleased to say to the hon. Lady that under this Government we have more doctors working in the NHS. The number of doctors in the NHS has increased since we came into government. On the position of EU citizens, I fully expect to be able to guarantee the status of EU citizens. While we are members of the EU their status does not change. I fully expect, intend and want to be able to guarantee the status of those EU citizens. The circumstances in which that would not be possible would be if the status of British citizens living in other EU member states was not guaranteed.
During my right hon. Friend’s bilateral talks with President Putin, did she gently but firmly disabuse him of the notion, put around recently by among others the Leader of the Opposition, that this country is less committed than hitherto to its NATO treaty obligations, in particular article 5, and that on the contrary we remain wholly committed to the autonomy and sovereignty of our partners, particularly the Baltic states and Poland?
The Government and I are absolutely clear about our commitment to NATO and to article 5. As I indicated earlier, that is a central underpinning of NATO and of the joint security we provide for each other as members of NATO. I think many people will have been shocked and deeply concerned by the Leader of the Opposition’s statement, when he suggested that we would not be signing up to article 5. It is an underpinning of NATO that ensures not only our national security but the national security of our allies.
Were there any discussions with the Chinese about the acquisition of the Global Switch data company by the Chinese DailyTech group? If Hinkley Point poses some security questions, would this acquisition not also have some security issues?
I answered earlier, in response to the Leader of the Opposition, on how I am addressing the question of Hinkley Point. We have seen Chinese investment coming into the United Kingdom and we will continue to see Chinese investment coming into the United Kingdom. We have a global strategic partnership with the Chinese and that will continue.
Fortuitously, London is the global leader in international shipping. International shipping law is at the heart of international trade. As a former shipping lawyer, I am proud to know a great many London-based international shipping organisations. May I invite the Prime Minister to ensure that her Government make contact with those organisations based here in London to ensure we get the best international shipping deals with international trade?
My hon. Friend refers to a number of organisations being based here. The International Maritime Organisation, a very important shipping organisation, is based here in London. I assure my hon. Friend that the Department for Exiting the European Union is looking across sectors of activity to ensure that the views of those sectors will be taken into account as we develop our proposals for the relationship with the EU.
On behalf of steelworkers in my constituency, may I reiterate how disappointing it was to learn that the Prime Minister did not raise with the Chinese President specifically the overproduction of Chinese steel? May we have a commitment from the Prime Minister here today that her Government will do absolutely everything now and in the future proactively to raise these issues? We need the Prime Minister to do that to protect our steel industry.
I did raise the issue. I chose to raise it in the plenary session so it was clearly raised not just before the Chinese President but before the other leaders. Crucially, what has come out of the G20 is an agreement to set up a new forum, which will be looking at actions that lead to overcapacity and overproduction. The Chinese will be a member of that forum.
May I first congratulate the Prime Minister on focusing more on policy discussions at the G20 than where she was positioned in the photo-op, upsetting to the Scottish National party though that may be? Will the Prime Minister confirm that, while tackling international tax avoidance through the G20 is vital, there is also a great deal we can do, and indeed are doing ourselves?
Absolutely. My hon. Friend is right. I commend my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr Cameron) for the steps he took as Prime Minister to encourage not only action in relation to tax evasion and avoidance here in the UK but globally. It is an important issue that we need to address. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we should always look to see what we can be doing here in the UK.
With Saudi Arabia patently failing to carry out an independent investigation into potential breaches of international humanitarian law, will the Prime Minister exercise global leadership and call for that independent investigation to be held so we can find out what is going on in Yemen?
As I indicated earlier, I raised with the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia the importance of ensuring that any allegations are properly investigated. I reiterate the point I made earlier that we have a relationship with Saudi Arabia across a number of issues. The relationship we have with it in dealing with terrorism is important, because it helps to keep the streets of Britain safe.
My constituents and I are enormously encouraged by the international interest shown in signing free trade deals with the UK. Did the G20 discussions confirm my suspicion that interest in doing exactly that is only going to grow? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is the particular responsibility of every Member of this House to shout from the rooftops for jobs and investment in this country? My constituents’ jobs are, frankly, not a matter of dogma.
My hon. Friend has spoken very well on this issue. I confirm that what was very welcome was the way in which a number of countries were coming up to me throughout the summit to say that they wanted to be sitting down and talking to the UK about trade deals. As he says, this is not a matter of dogma; it is a matter of jobs and people’s security. It is a matter of the prosperity of this country.
In the Prime Minister’s remarks on refugees and migration, she referred to humanitarian efforts but not to human rights. In those words and in her other words today, was she alluding to such things as the Khartoum process, where it is envisaged that refugees in and through the horn of Africa will be concentrated into camps in Sudan, a country whose Government have been bombing their own people and a country whose security forces have been implicated already in nefarious trafficking? Given all that she has said, where is the UK in relation to the Khartoum process? Without it being a matter of commentary on the Brexit exercise, will the UK continue to chair that process on behalf of the EU, pending Brexit?
On the second part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, the chairmanship of the Khartoum process will move away from the UK; I think, from memory, that it will go to Ethiopia. It will not stay with the EU; it will be done on a rotation basis. The UK is part of and has been chairing that process.
We have consistently said as a Government—and I did so as Home Secretary—that it is important for us that, if we are going to deal with the significant movements of people that we have seen, including the significant movements of economic migrants across the world, particularly into Europe, we need to work with countries upstream. We need to deal across the board, ensuring not only that people have better opportunities in their home country so that they do not feel the need to come to Europe to grasp opportunities, but that we work with transit companies to stop the terrible trade that often takes place in organised crime groups encouraging the illegal migration and smuggling of people and human trafficking. We will continue to work across all of those.
As we begin the process of leaving the EU, and given my right hon. Friend’s experience of the G20, particularly in her conversations with the other world leaders, what is her view of Britain maintaining a strong voice on the world stage after we have left the EU, and of our ability to lead discussions on the issues that matter to us?
What I saw in my discussions at the G20 was that our leaving the EU will not have a negative impact on us as a spokesman on the world stage. Indeed, I am very clear that I want the UK to be a global leader in free trade. There are many issues already where the UK has been at the forefront of discussions, including on climate change and tax avoidance and evasion. It is important that we continue to play that role. We are the fifth largest economy. We will be out there as a bold, confident, outward-looking nation, continuing to play a key global role.
Not least in the light of the horrific scenes in Syria over the whole summer, did the Prime Minister have any discussions with others at the summit about how we might better protect civilian areas, particularly hospitals and other infrastructure that has been targeted, perhaps even through using our assets and intelligence, as well as humanitarian airdrops, if necessary? Has she given any further consideration to what we can do?
We are all concerned about some of the activities that we have seen taking place in Syria. That is why, as I indicated earlier, we need to put all our efforts into trying to ensure that we can bring an end to this conflict, because of the horrific impact it has had on millions of Syrian people, including some who have left Syria, some who are still in Syria and some who are living in appalling conditions and are under threat of action being taken against them by various forces. We need to redouble our efforts and we need to look—we have been very clear about this—at how we can increase the ability for humanitarian aid to get through to those who need it. Sadly, it is proving to be very difficult actually to put that into practice, but our desire to continue to try to find ways of doing that is still there.
Did my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister have the chance to discuss the issues of Ukraine and Crimea with the Russian representatives? At the recent Rose-Roth seminar in Ukraine in June, which I attended as part of my NATO duties, much evidence was presented that ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatar people is happening on the biggest scale possible, with some horrendous human rights abuses. If the Prime Minister has not had the opportunity to raise the issue, may I ask her to encourage my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to look very closely at it so that she can be prepared at the next G20 to raise this terrible situation, which is happening right now?
Was the Prime Minister lobbied at the G20 by the Chinese and US Governments about ratifying the Paris climate treaty as quickly as possible?
I am encouraged that the Prime Minister has indicated the willingness of countries to instigate trade deals with the UK, but is she confident that we have the correct number of officials, negotiators and people with the correct experience to be able to deliver those crucial trade deals?
Obviously, over the years, because of the position of the UK within the EU, we have not developed negotiators on trade ourselves, but we are developing that within the Department for International Trade. I thought it was important to set up a separate Department that could bring in that expertise. We are looking at how we can ensure that. The Department has been building up, but we will look to increase the expertise within it.
Child refugees face psychological trauma and loss. They are being systematically exploited and abused. What discussions took place to ensure their safety, progress reunification and meet our commitment under the Dubs amendment?
The hon. Lady is right to refer to the psychological impact that being a refugee can have on children. That is why, as part of the support that we give as a country, through our Department for International Development support of humanitarian aid for refugees, we provide support of that sort to children. On those refugees who are being resettled here under our Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme, one of the issues that we look at is the support and counselling that individuals might require. On the Dubs amendment, discussions have been taking place with local authorities. That is, of course, a matter for the United Kingdom; it was not a matter for discussion at the G20.
I very much welcome the Prime Minister’s statement. Paragraph 44 of the communiqué looks at the strategy to tackle forced displacement of people and protecting refugees. On this day last year, I asked the then Prime Minister about the creation of safe havens for the protection of civilians fleeing Syria, and I was told that that was the “right sort of thinking”. Were there any discussions with other countries at the G20 about the creation of safe havens, either now or in future conflicts?
I understand my hon. Friend’s point and the concept he sets out. It is, of course, very difficult to look at some of these issues in practice in terms of what is happening on the ground. He is right, however, that the communiqué refers to mass movements of people and that we need to think very carefully about the support that we can provide for refugees. That is why this country is proud of being the second-biggest bilateral donor of humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees.
Thousands of jobs in north Staffordshire are dependent on international trade. Given the Prime Minister’s reluctance to outline her priorities for future negotiations, will she inform us who she is consulting domestically in our industrial centres to ensure that their views are represented in the negotiations?
As I have indicated, the Department for Exiting the European Union is looking across and consulting different sectors of the economy on their requirements. I am very interested to hear that the hon. Lady is an advocate for free trade. I suggest that she imparts that to her party leader, who has patently set out this afternoon that his policy for his party is not to believe in free trade.
This is the first opportunity I have had warmly to welcome my right hon. Friend to her place, so may I do so? I entirely concur with her comments on a free economy and a manufacturing base in this country that will provide jobs and wealth for all. Will she take into account the effect of green taxes and other restrictions on large manufacturers, to ensure that we can compete properly, on a level playing field, around the world?
I thank my hon. Friend for his welcome. I assure him that what he asks will, indeed, be taken into account. One of the benefits of bringing energy and climate change policy into the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is that energy policy can be seen alongside the requirements of business and our industrial strategy as it develops.
First things first: I believe in free trade. Indeed, Josiah Wedgwood, an early constituent of mine, negotiated one of the first free trade pacts with France in the 1770s, but now many of my constituents are employed at the nearby Toyota plant in Derby and they were very concerned by the Japanese Government’s comments about investment in the UK if we did not have access to the single market. What conversations did the Prime Minister have with the Japanese about their concerns? May I ask her to take control of the Brexit negotiations and make sure that jobs and prosperity in north Staffordshire are not put at risk?
Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Let me reassure the hon. Gentleman that negotiations will look to ensure, as I have said in a number of answers, that we secure growth in jobs and prosperity in the United Kingdom. That applies to the relationship we will have with the European Union post-Brexit and to the trade deals that we will be able to strike around the rest of the world. That is where we are focusing our efforts, and we will continue to do so.
I thank the Prime Minister for signalling to the G20 that free trade will be the core of British strategy as we leave the European Union, and for indicating that substantial progress can be made on country-by-country trade agreements right now. May I add two things to her list? First, can we establish a distinctively British position in the multilateral trade in services agreement? Secondly, will the Prime Minister have a conversation with the Secretary of State for International Development about how to use this opportunity to enhance the trade facilitation agreement, as agreed at the World Trade Organisation in 2013?
My hon. Friend makes a good point. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development will certainly be looking at the sort of issues he has raised. I can assure him that, in looking at these trade deals, we will consider every aspect to ensure that what we get is the right deal for the UK. I think that the sort of trade deals we are talking about will be the right deals not only for the UK, but for the countries that we deal with as well.
Given the Prime Minister’s refusal a number of times to answer direct questions from my right hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Angus Robertson), among others, on whether or not we would remain members of the single market, when will this House be presented with any kind of detail—beyond the soundbites—of what Brexit actually means?
The hon. Gentleman is not going to get any different answer from me to the one that I have given on numerous occasions throughout this afternoon. I will simply say this: if we are going to negotiate the right deal for the United Kingdom on trade in goods and services, it would be quite wrong for this Government to give away all our negotiating position in advance of starting those negotiations.
As the Prime Minister knows, about 140,000 workers in the UK are employed by Japanese firms. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt) has mentioned Toyota, but Nissan, Honda and Hitachi all have large manufacturing bases that are vital to local economies and the supply chain. The Prime Minister knows that the huge uncertainty about our future relationship with the EU and the single market is creating difficulties. I want to provide her with another opportunity to say how, in her discussions with the Japanese and others, she tried to mitigate those risks to inward investment and jobs.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady, who reminds me that I did not fully answer the question from the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Tristram Hunt) who referred to the issue of Japanese firms. I was able to sit down and discuss these matters with Prime Minister Abe, and the outcome was a positive desire to take forward further discussions on how we can ensure that we are getting the best possible trading relationship with Japan, and that we can continue to see Japanese investment in the UK. I am pleased to say that the single biggest vote of confidence on investment in the United Kingdom since we had the vote to leave the European Union came, of course, from a Japanese company—from SoftBank with its £24 billion takeover of ARM.
Let me first commend the Prime Minister and her Ministers for the hard and excellent work that has been done to prepare and secure trade deals across the world. An example of a trade deal signed with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has just secured us the export of beef to the United States of America for the first time in some 20 years—despite President Obama telling us that we would go to the back of the queue. Does the Prime Minister agree that, for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, if the price is right and if the product is of the highest quality, the world is truly our oyster?
I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman. We can trade many products from various parts of the United Kingdom very well with other parts of the world. They are quality products, and it is the quality of the product that will lead to people wishing to take them.
Further to her answer to the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), the Prime Minister will have seen the reports that we have seen that there is a lack of people in the UK with the necessary experience to negotiate trade deals. Is that a matter of concern to her? Are we being forced to employ people from overseas to do that job because they have those necessary skills?
As I said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), I think it was important to focus the Government’s efforts on trade deals through the creation of a new Department—the Department for International Trade. That Department is building up its expertise and will continue to do so.
I do not know whether there was any discussion at the G20 of America’s greatest cultural export, “Star Trek”, which celebrates its 50th anniversary tomorrow and is commemorated in early-day motion 393, but if any of us want to live long and prosper, we must tackle climate change. Given the commitments of the US and the Chinese at the summit, does the Prime Minister regret abolishing the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change? When will the UK ratify the Paris agreement?
I think I can honestly say that in all the discussions that I had in the G20 and all the plenary sessions that I sat and listened through, “Star Trek” was never mentioned.
Yes, we will be ratifying the Paris agreement. People seem to think that the commitment of the Government to tackling climate change can only be represented by whether or not there is a separate Department devoted to it. That is not the case. The important point is that we have taken energy and climate change and put them alongside business and industrial strategy, and I think that by doing so we will get a better, more strategic approach on these issues. But I repeat the point that I made to the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) at Prime Minister’s questions earlier by saying that if the hon. Member for Glasgow North (Patrick Grady) is interested in climate change, I would hope that he would congratulate the Government on what we have done in relation to climate change, because we have been at the forefront of encouraging others to take action on emissions.
We know the Prime Minister raised the issue of steel at the plenary session, but did she also raise it at the bilateral session? Did she have any discussions with the Chinese delegation about market economy status? What powers will the new forum have? I have to say that when states such as China are communist, when the state owns its own steel industry and when it deliberately uses measures to distort the market and undermine the steel industries of other nations, it is a bit rich to hear lessons from the Tory party about free trade. When are we going to get immediate trade defence measures from this Government? For the last four to five years, we have seen an explosion of dumping into the British market by the Chinese state—with zero action from this Government.
It is absolutely not true that this Government have taken no action. The whole question of global overcapacity is significant in the steel industry, and it is an issue for other industries as well. That is why it is important that this forum, on which the Chinese will be represented, has been set up. Let us look at the various ways in which we have been supporting the steel sector. The industry had certain asks of us. We secured state aid to compensate for energy costs, and flexibility over EU emissions regulations. We made sure that social and economic factors can be taken into account when the Government procure steel. We successfully pressed for the introduction of anti-dumping duties to protect UK steel producers from unfair trade practices. This Government have taken and will continue to take many steps, because we recognise the importance of the steel industry to the UK.
When the Prime Minister was in China, did she have any discussions with the leaders of France and Germany as to which city is likely to replace the City of London as Europe’s financial capital when the City’s current trading relationship with Europe is severed? If she did not, when she does, will she please ask them to consider Edinburgh, which is currently the UK’s second largest financial centre and is the capital city of a country with a Government who are very clear that they intend to remain in the single market?
The hon. and learned Lady raises the issue of Scotland and whether it will be part of the European Union’s single market post-Brexit. The decision that was taken on 23 June was a decision of the people of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. The best thing for growth and prosperity for Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom, and I intend to make sure that when the UK has left the European Union, we will be able to seize opportunities that will be to the benefit of people across the whole United Kingdom, including Scotland.
The Prime Minister is rightly using summits like the G20 to press Britain’s case in a globalised economy. May I press her a bit further on the issue of Manchester’s bid for Expo 2025, which I raised at Prime Minister’s Question Time? Part of the Ashton Moss site is in my constituency.
As the Prime Minister knows, the United Kingdom has not hosted Expo since Dublin in 1907; before that, there was the Great Exhibition in London. The issue is therefore important in terms of national pride. It should also be noted that Expo 2015 in Milan brought 22 million visitors to that city, and a £7 billion investment. Will the Prime Minister meet the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Tameside Council, myself and other Members, so that she can fully appreciate the benefits of Britain’s putting in a bid for the Expo?
I do support free trade, but may I ask the Prime Minister whether her vision of free trade is a vision of Britain as an offshore tax haven with lower health standards, lower environmental standards and lower labour rights? Or will she ensure that any bilateral trading agreement with America and Canada does not contain new powers for transnational companies to sue our Government in response to laws that we pass here to protect our environment, our health and our workers through the investor-state dispute settlement clauses in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement?
I think that the hon. Gentleman has misrepresented TTIP, which has, of course, happened before. All I say to him is that we will be going out there to get the right deals in trade for the United Kingdom with other countries around the globe. We have a real opportunity to be a global leader in free trade, and that is what we will be.
I am sure that, on Monday, members of the European Union delegation to the G20 were delighted that the Secretary of State for leaving the European Union stipulated on the Floor of the House that free trade, or free movement of people at least, with one of its member states will exist when the remainder of the United Kingdom leaves the European Union—that is the common travel area with Ireland. Given that the free movement of people through Ireland and Britain is built on equal rights, will the Prime Minister advise the House that there will be no change at all to the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, as amended in 1949, which gives Irish citizens more or less non-foreign status within the United Kingdom?
Discussions were taking place with the Irish Government, prior to the decision for us to leave the European Union, to consider how we could enhance and improve the current arrangements for the common travel area. Of course, those discussions now continue in the future against the background of the different circumstances.