Theresa May – 2017 Statement After Meeting Enda Kenny

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, after meeting Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach, in Dublin on 30 January 2017.

I am delighted to be in Dublin today. It is the third time I have met the Taoiseach since I became Prime Minister, and indeed the third time we have spoken in the past month.

This is testament to the unique relationship between the UK and Ireland. Family ties and bonds of affection unite our 2 countries and I am personally committed to strengthening our relationship as the UK prepares to leave the EU. We are leaving the EU but not Europe.

We will stay reliable partners, willing allies and close friends with our neighbours, when we have so many values and interests in common.

I know that for the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland the ability to move freely across the border is an essential part of daily life, which is why the Taoiseach and I have both been clear that there will be no return to the borders of the past.

Maintaining the common travel area and excellent economic links with Ireland will be important priorities for the UK in the talks ahead. Together we trade €1.2 billion worth of goods and services every week. No one wants to see this diminished.

The Taoiseach and I both reaffirmed our commitment to the Belfast Agreement and its successors, including Stormont House and Fresh Start. An explicit objective of the UK government’s work on Brexit is to ensure that full account is taken of the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.

I am pleased that already, our European partners have demonstrated a clear understanding of the acute need to find a solution for Northern Ireland and Ireland so that thousands of our citizens can continue to move freely across Ireland every day. I want the reciprocal rights that our citizens enjoy in both countries to continue, including the rights guaranteed under the Belfast Agreement.

But I also recognise that when the UK leaves the EU, Ireland will remain a member state and it is something I fully respect. It remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in the UK’s national interest that the EU, with Ireland in it, should succeed and prosper.

Today we have committed to building on the track record of strong co-operation generated by our bilateral work programme. It’s important to me that, while we have plenty of work to do to deliver a smooth exit for the UK from the EU, we do not lose sight of the close links that benefit citizens in both countries.

And so we have agreed to continue our bilateral work programme on a wide range of issues some of which have been mentioned by the Taoiseach.

And of course discussed the political situation in Northern Ireland. Both the Taoiseach and I have been unequivocal in our support for the political process as the Northern Ireland parties navigate this electoral period. The difficulties we face today are serious and it is fundamentally important that we work with Northern Ireland’s political leadership to seek a solution.

The Northern Ireland Secretary will be fully engaged over the next few days and months with the aim of ensuring that, once the election is over, a stable devolved government is established that works for everyone. I welcome the commitment of the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, in supporting that objective.

Our discussions here in Dublin today have been very constructive. And I’m sure we will continue the close level of cooperation and friendship between the UK and Ireland in the coming months and years ahead.

Rosie Winterton – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Rosie Winterton in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

I am rather nervous about following that extraordinary double-act.

The debate has shown once again how important it is for Parliament to scrutinise properly the Government’s approach and actions in respect of leaving the European Union. It has made the Government’s attempts to thwart that scrutiny through the Supreme Court look even more ludicrous.

I want to make four points. First, I shall support the Bill. I did not want us to leave the European Union, but the majority of those who voted in the referendum thought differently, including nearly 70% of people in Doncaster Central. It is important that we respect that decision, as was stated so eloquently by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) and the shadow Secretary of State.

Secondly, we must do all that we can to get the best deal for Britain from the negotiations. That deal must benefit all parts of the UK. The Government have focused on strategies for Scotland, Wales, London and Northern Ireland, but we need to make sure that all our regions have input and a proper analysis of the effects of leaving the European Union.

People in Yorkshire and Humber want to know what the effect will be on our businesses—small and large—universities, science and technology sectors, local authorities, trade unions, representatives of the third sector and others in our region. During proceedings on a recent statement, the Secretary of State said that the other nations would of course be involved in those discussions, adding that he would also be inviting representatives from the regions to a meeting in York. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us more detail about exactly how that will work. Who will represent the Yorkshire region? Will any analysis be done of the effect of Brexit on Yorkshire, what we will need to see from any deal, and how an ongoing dialogue will be maintained? Each nation and region will have an interest not only in trade deals, but in the Government’s so-called great repeal Bill.

My third point is about employees’ rights and conditions. The Government have said that they will guarantee that current employment rights will be incorporated into UK law once we have left the EU, but they need to go further by strengthening UK employment law if they are to deal with the issues of undercutting and exploitation. British manufacturing, the agricultural industry and our public services, especially the NHS, will need workers—skilled and unskilled—from European Union countries.

Concern about immigration was a key factor in many people’s minds during the referendum. A lot of that concern revolved around a feeling that workers’ wages and conditions were being undercut by migrants, especially those from eastern Europe. I know from my constituency that many of those workers are on zero-hours contracts, often being offered only about 10 hours’ work a week even though they want to work for longer, and at the minimum wage—sometimes even below it. The employers are not just about breaking even; they are big companies that often use agencies to supply their workers and effectively use the state—through housing benefit, for example—to subsidise cheap labour while seeing big profit margins.

Some call some of that a form of modern slavery. We need to use the opportunity before us to look again at how the labour market operates. If the Government are to address the concerns that I have set out, they will have to improve the whole way in which our labour market works. I believe that countries across Europe have concerns about this issue and we will be discussing it at the Labour party conference on Brexit in a few weeks’ time. It would help if we could talk to our European neighbours about the issue in respect of gaining as much access as we can to the single market.

My final point is that, as we saw yesterday, huge concern has been expressed in this country and throughout the world about the actions of President Trump. That has shown how essential it is that the UK does not withdraw from the world stage because of Brexit. I am a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Last week, I saw at the Assembly how valuable it was to show that the UK has not withdrawn into itself, and that we understand the importance of working with our European neighbours and advancing our common cause on human rights. I know that Government Members feel strongly about that issue as well.

I hope that the Minister will reassure the House, once and for all, that the Government will not be withdrawing from the European convention on human rights and the Council of Europe. We need to lead the debate on how we leave the European Union, and the Bill should be an opportunity to do that.

Anna Soubry – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Anna Soubry in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

It is with a heavy heart, and against my long-held belief that the interests of this country are better served by our being a member of the European Union, that I shall support the Bill. In 2015, I promised the good people of Broxtowe that, if I was elected to represent them for another term, and in accordance with my party’s manifesto, I would vote for an in/out referendum on our EU membership, agreeing, in the words of David Cameron, that the people would “settle the matter”. I promised to respect and honour the vote. On 9 June 2015, along with 544 Members of this place, I agreed to that referendum, and in so doing I agreed to be bound by the result.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) was not in favour of that referendum and did not vote for it, so he is, of course, free and able to vote against the Bill. I am sure it is no coincidence that he happens to enjoy a considerably large number of people in his constituency who voted remain, and that he has—quite wrongly, in my view—announced that he will not be standing again in 2020. I say to Opposition Members, though, that you cannot go back on your word because you do not agree with the result.

I believe that history will not be kind to this Parliament, nor, indeed, to the Government I was so proud to serve in. How on earth did we ever come to put to the people an alternative that we then said would make them worse off and less safe and would weaken our nation? I echo the wise words of some of the speech by my new friend, the right hon. Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr Clegg), when I say that I greatly fear that generations that either did not vote or are yet to come will not thank us for our great folly. Neither will they forgive those who since 23 June have chosen not to be true to their long-held views—those who have remained mute as our country has turned its back on the benefits of the free movement of people, a single market and the customs union, without a debate, far less any vote in this place. Why is that? It needs to be said and recorded that our Government have decided that the so-called control of immigration, which actually means the reduction in immigration—that is what so many people in our constituencies believe—is worth more than the considerable benefits of the single market and the customs union.

What has been even more upsetting is the fact that Members on the Labour Front Bench have connived with the Government. The Government were never going to give us the opportunity to debate these important matters, for reasons that I genuinely understand and, indeed, respect, but for the Labour party to go against everything it has ever believed in is really quite shameful. It is a combination of incompetence on its Front Bench and a deep division among so many, with a few honourable exceptions—among whom I of course include the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn). They have turned their backs on their long-standing belief in the free movement of people and failed to make the positive case for immigration.

The referendum vote exposed a deeply divided Britain, and that has been exposed in no place better than in the Labour party. Labour Members have been petrified—literally frozen to the spot—looking over one shoulder and seeing that their constituency Labour parties have been taken over by the extreme left, and beyond that, in many instances, that up to 70% of their own voters voted leave.

What has happened to our country? Businesses have fallen silent, scared to speak up and to speak out. I think they believe it is all going to be fine—that we are not really going to leave the EU, we will not really leave the single market and we will not really leave the customs union. They are going to get a sharp shock.

Alberto Costa

Does my right hon. Friend agree that when she, I and other Members of this House voted, rightly, to give the British people the ultimate say in this matter, we did not vote to take away the rights of EU citizens like my parents who live in this country? It is disgraceful that, as it stands today, we are not honouring their rights.

Anna Soubry

I completely agree with my hon. Friend, whom I include among those many brave souls on the Government Benches who, in the face of abuse and even death threats, have stood up and been true to what they believe in.

Why has there been this outbreak of silence? I quote the wise words of Edmund Burke:

“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field.”

That is what has happened, but now it must stop. We must now make sure that everybody is free and able to stand up and say what they believe, and that people no longer cower in fear of four newspapers and this never-ending chorus, which I do not believe represents my constituents.

Chris Bryant

We are very grateful on the Labour Benches for all the advice the right hon. Lady is giving us. I am sure her own Back Benchers are grateful as well, sometimes.

Was the right hon. Lady a member of the Government who tried to cut net migration to tens of thousands? Did she stand as a Conservative Member in the most recent general election and the one before on a manifesto that pledged to cut net migration to tens of thousands? I just ask.

Anna Soubry

I do not think anybody would say that I have not been forthright in putting forward my views about the positive benefits of immigration to our country. The best way that the Government can reduce those figures is, of course, to take out overseas students. If only they would do that; it would be the right thing to do.

Notwithstanding the considerable abilities and efforts of our Prime Minister and Government, as we embark on these negotiations I remain far from convinced that we will get any good deal. Like the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), I do not believe that in two years we will secure a good bespoke deal on trade, the customs union and our nation’s security. I hope very much to be proved wrong, and I will, of course, support the Prime Minister and our Government as they embark on the most important and difficult set of negotiations in decades, with consequences for generations to come.

What happens if no deal is secured? It is difficult to see how any Government could put to this place a deal that they believe to be inadequate in some way. I want, please, assurances from the Government that, in the event of no good deal being reached, all options will be placed before this House, and that we, on behalf of all our constituents and our businesses, will decide what happens next. We may need more time. We certainly do not want to jump off the cliff into World Trade Organisation tariffs when we are out of the single market and the customs union as that would be dangerous for our businesses in all sectors and of all sizes.

Let us now begin to heal the wounds and the divides, so that we can come together to get the best deal for our country as we leave the European Union.

Margaret Beckett – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Beckett in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

May I say at once that although I deeply regret the decision made by the British people, including in my constituency, to leave the EU, I do not seek to challenge it? I regret the opening remark made by the Secretary of State—I am sorry he is not here to hear me say this—that this debate is about whether or not we trust the British people. It is not about that; it is about whether we commence the process of implementing their decision, a process that will not be simple, easy or fast. It does no one any favours to pretend otherwise.

Although I accept that decision and I will vote for the Bill, I fear that its consequences, both for our economy and our society, are potentially catastrophic. I therefore hope that the practice of dismissing any calls, queries and concerns, however serious and well founded, as merely demonstrating opposition to the will of the British people will now cease, along with the notion that they would merely obstruct the process. Once we commence this process, there are serious and profound questions to address, and it helps nobody to cheapen it in that way.

A second practice I deplore is that of pretending that the question the public actually answered—whether to leave the European Union or to remain—is instead the question some leave campaigners would prefer them to have answered. I hear many claiming that the people voted to leave the single market—that they voted to leave the customs union. First, those were not the words on the ballot paper. Secondly, although we all have our own recollections of the debate, mine is that whenever we who campaigned to remain raised the concerns that if we were to leave the EU to end the free movement of people, we might, in consequence, find that we have to leave the single market, with massive implications for jobs and our economy, some leave campaigner would immediately pop up to assure the people that no such complications or problems were likely to arise and that we could have—

John Redwood rose—

Margaret Beckett

I am looking at one of them now. They would suggest that we could have our cake and eat it—that we could leave the EU not only without jeopardy to our economy, but even with advantage, because we could negotiate other trading relationships without any such uncomfortable ties.

John Redwood

Does the right hon. Lady not remember that the official leave campaign said that one of our main aims is to have many more free trade agreements with the rest of the world and that in order to do that of course we have to leave the single market customs union, because we are not allowed to undertake free trade? No, honestly I do not particularly recall that. I recall those in the leave campaign saying that we could have trading arrangements with a whole lot of other countries, and I am going to turn to that now. India was cited as one example, but I have the distinct impression that when the Prime Minister discussed these issues with the President of India she may have been advised that far from closing the immigration door, he would like to see it opened wider. Nor do I think a trade deal with China will be without any quid pro quo.

Wes Streeting (Ilford North) (Lab)

Further to that, does my right hon. Friend recall the International Development Secretary making the case to my constituents of Indian descent, of Bangladeshi descent and of Pakistani descent that leaving the EU would not only lead to future trade deals, but would improve immigration to this country from the Commonwealth? Does my right hon. Friend expect that promise to be delivered?

Margaret Beckett

I am extraordinarily grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention, because not only do I recall it, but I originally had it in my speech, only to take it out on the grounds of time.

As for the United States, I am sure that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who, like me has had a degree of experience in complex international negotiations, is as conscious as I am that one of the first prerequisites is to listen to the words. It was not the President of the United States who said that Britain would be at the front of the queue, it was British politicians. What the President said was, “You’re doing great.” I do not take much comfort from that, especially coming as it does from a President whose motto is “America first.” I wholly share the fears that have been expressed, and that probably will be again in this debate, about the possibility of America’s companies wishing to exploit the healthcare market here or weaken our regulations on, for example, food safety.

The negotiations we will trigger with this Bill will be extraordinarily difficult and very time-consuming. I do not think for a second that they can be concluded within two years, and I do not think anybody who has ever negotiated anything would. It will therefore be vital to make allowance and preparations for possible transitional arrangements.

I am conscious of the time, so I shall make my final point. It is not clear whether the Prime Minister frightened the European Commission with her threat to devastate our tax base and, in consequence, all our public services, but she successfully frightened me. I do not believe—not for one second—that that is what the British people thought they were voting for. When this process is concluded, the European Parliament will have the right to vote on the outcome. If taking back control means anything, it must mean that this House enjoys the same right.

Hilary Benn – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Hilary Benn in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

Our relationship with Europe has run like a contentious thread through our politics for more than 60 years, and the referendum revealed a nation that remains divided. Though it pains me to say it, for the reasons so ably set out by the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke)—the Foreign Secretary, who is no longer in his place, was shaking his head throughout that speech, probably because he did not wish to be reminded of the arguments he had included in that other article, which he chose not to publish back in June—we are leaving the European Union, and our task now is to try to bring people together. This means that, whether we voted leave or remain, we have a responsibility to hold in our minds the views, concerns and hopes of everyone in our country, whether they voted leave or remain.

The Supreme Court decided, rightly in my view, that a decision of this magnitude should be made by Parliament and not by the Executive, but with that power comes a responsibility to respect the outcome of the referendum, however much some of us might disagree with it. This is about democracy. This is about faith in our politics, not just in the United Kingdom but across the western world, where—if we are honest—it is not in very good shape. If this Parliament were to say to the people, “You did not know what you were doing, only 37% voted leave, the referendum was only advisory and there were lots of lies”—whether or not we agree with some of those assertions—we really would have a crisis of confidence in our politics, for the reasons so eloquently set out by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer). That is why the democratic thing to do is to vote for this Bill, and I shall do so tomorrow.

But the referendum decided only one thing: the fact that we are leaving the institutions of the European Union. It did not determine the terms on which we leave or our new relationship with the other 27 member states. That is why we have, as a nation, to get our objectives and the process right as we start this great negotiation. The Government’s handling of this matter so far has not shown sufficient respect for Parliament—notwithstanding the number of times the Secretary of State has come to the Dispatch Box. For several months, Ministers appeared to believe that saying that there would be “no running commentary” and telling those asking for greater clarity that they were not, in the words of the No. 10 spokesperson, “backing the UK team” was the right approach. It was not. Commitments have eventually been made to set out objectives, to seek transitional arrangements, to publish a White Paper and to confirm that Parliament will have a vote—all things that the Exiting the European Union Committee, which I have the honour to chair, called for—but at every stage, far from being freely made, they were reluctantly conceded, usually a day or two after the Secretary of State had resisted them from the Dispatch Box.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)

My right hon. Friend refers to the fact that the Government now say that there will be a vote on the eventual deal. I presume that what they mean is that, under the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, there will be a single vote on an unamendable motion in relation to a treaty. I do not think that that is good enough. If the European Parliament—and, for that matter, the Irish Dáil and the French Assemblée Nationale—will have the right to consider such a treaty line by line, this House should have that right as well.

Hilary Benn

I agree with my hon. Friend, but the House must have a proper plan and, in the words of my Front-Bench colleague, a “meaningful” opportunity to scrutinise the agreement in draft, rather than being presented with a fait accompli at the end of the process. This is one example of how the Government have had to be pushed, cajoled and prodded at every stage into giving Parliament its proper role.

I say to the Secretary of State—this may not be his fault—that it is extraordinary that we meet here today, and are being asked to vote on this Bill tomorrow, when not a single Government document setting out the consequences has been published. Seven months after the British people reached their decision, there has been no economic assessment, no analysis of the options, and no White Paper. That is not the way to do things and that attitude must change. The Government need to recognise that Parliament should be not a bystander but a participant in what is probably the most complex and significant negotiation that this country has ever faced. We have to unwind and recast 43 years of relationships with our neighbours. It affects every area of our national life, every part of the country, every person, community and business, and the jobs and incomes on which they depend. It is therefore essential that we have unity of purpose in trying to get the best deal for Britain, despite the inevitable uncertainty of the outcome.

We will come to the issues of substance in Committee and subsequently. What does special access to the single market mean now that the Prime Minister has decided that we are leaving it? How exactly will seeking to remain and leave the customs union at the same time work? If ensuring a continuation of tariff and barrier-free trade is a priority for Ministers, but Europe comes back and says, “You can’t have your cake and eat it. You have to choose,” I trust that the Government will choose to remain in the customs union. The world is more uncertain now than at any time over the past 60 years, so how will we continue to co-operate with our neighbours on foreign policy, defence, security and the fight against terrorism?

Finally, the referendum result revealed something else: two great political forces in the western world are now reflected in our politics. On the one hand, people desire greater devolution and control in a world in which many believe that we barely have any control at all owing to the pace of change in our lives. On the other hand, every single Member of the House, whether we voted leave or remain, understands that in the modern world we have to co-operate with our neighbours to deal with the great challenges that we will face in the years and centuries ahead. Leaving the European Union may change the balance between the two, but it will not change the necessity to embrace both as we look to the future.

Ken Clarke – 2017 Speech on Withdrawal from the EU

Below is the text of the speech made by Ken Clarke in the House of Commons on 31 January 2017.

Mr Speaker, you will not be surprised to hear that it is my intention to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill, if a vote is called, and to support the reasoned amendment, which I think will be moved very shortly by the Scottish nationalists.

Because of the rather measured position that the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) had to present on behalf of the official Labour party, it falls to me to be the first Member of this House to set out the case for why I believe—I hope that I will not be the last such speaker—that it is in the national interest for the United Kingdom to be a member of the European Union, why I believe that we have benefited from that position for the past 45 years and, most importantly, why I believe that future generations will benefit if we succeed in remaining a member of the European Union. It is a case that hardly received any national publicity during the extraordinary referendum campaign, but it goes to the heart of the historic decision that the House is being asked to make now.

It so happens that my political career entirely coincides with British involvement with the European Union. I started over 50 years ago, supporting Harold Macmillan’s application to join. I helped to get the majority cross-party vote for the European Communities Act 1972, before we joined in 1973, and it looks like my last Parliament is going to be the Parliament in which we leave, but I do not look back with any regret. We made very wise decisions. I believe that membership of the European Union was the way in which we got out of the appalling state we were in when we discovered after Suez that we had no role in the world that we were clear about once we had lost our empire, and that our economy was becoming a laughing stock because we were falling behind the countries on the continent that had been devastated in the war but appeared to have a better way of proceeding than we did.

I believe that our membership of the European Union restored to us our national self-confidence and gave us a political role in the world, as a leading member of the Union, which made us more valuable to our allies such as the United States, and made our rivals, such as the Russians, take us more seriously because of our leadership role in the European Union. It helped to reinforce our own values as well. Our economy benefited enormously and continued to benefit even more, as the market developed, from our close and successful involvement in developing trading relationships with the inhabitants of the continent.

Mr Peter Lilley (Hitchin and Harpenden) (Con)

Will my right hon. and learned Friend give way?

Mr Clarke

I am very fortunate to be called this early. I apologise to my right hon. Friend—my old friend—but 93 other Members are still waiting to be called, so if he will forgive me, I will not give way.

The Conservative Governments in which I served made very positive contributions to the development of the European Union. There were two areas in which we were the leading contender and made a big difference. The first was when the Thatcher Government led the way in the creation of the single market. The customs union—the so-called common market—had served its purpose, but regulatory barriers matter more than tariffs in the modern world. But for the Thatcher Government, the others would not have been induced to remove those barriers, and I think that the British benefited more from the single market than any other member state. It has contributed to our comparative economic success today.

We were always the leading Government after the fall of the Soviet Union in the process of enlargement to eastern Europe, taking in the former Soviet states. That was an extremely important political contribution. After the surprising collapse of the Soviet Union, eastern and central Europe could have collapsed into its traditional anarchy, nationalist rivalry and military regimes that preceded the second world war. We pressed the urgency of bringing in these new independent nations, giving them the goal of the European Union, which meant liberal democracy, free market trade and so forth. We made Europe a much more stable place.

That has been our role in the European Union, and I believe that it is a very bad move, particularly for our children and grandchildren, that we are all sitting here now saying that we are embarking on a new unknown future. I shall touch on that in a moment, because I think the position is simply baffling to every friend of the British and of the United Kingdom throughout the world. That is why I shall vote against the Bill.

Let me deal with the arguments that I should not vote in that way, that I am being undemocratic, that I am quite wrong, and that, as an elected Member of Parliament, I am under a duty to vote contrary to the views I have just given. I am told that this is because we held a referendum. First, I am in the happy situation that my opposition to referendums as an instrument of government is quite well known and has been frequently repeated throughout my political career. I have made no commitment to accept a referendum, and particularly this referendum, when such an enormous question, with hundreds of complex issues wrapped up within it, was to be decided by a simple yes/no answer on one day. That was particularly unsuitable for a plebiscite of that kind, and that point was reinforced by the nature of the debate.

Constitutionally, when the Government tried to stop the House from having a vote, they did not go to the Supreme Court arguing that a referendum bound the House and that that was why we should not have a vote. The referendum had always been described as advisory in everything that the Government put out. There is no constitutional standing for referendums in this country. No sensible country has referendums—the United States and Germany do not have them in their political systems. The Government went to the Supreme Court arguing for the archaic constitutional principle of the royal prerogative—that the Executive somehow had absolute power when it came to dealing with treaties. Not surprisingly, they lost.

What about the position of Members of Parliament? There is no doubt that by an adequate but narrow majority, leave won the referendum campaign. I will not comment on the nature of the campaign. Those arguments that got publicity in the national media on both sides were, on the whole, fairly pathetic. I have agreed in conversation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that he and I can both tell ourselves that neither of us used the dafter arguments that were put forward by the people we were allied with. It was not a very serious debate on the subject. I do not recall the view that £350 million a week would be available for the health service coming from the Brexit Secretary, and I did not say that we going to have a Budget to put up income tax and all that kind of thing. It was all quite pathetic.

Let me provide an analogy—a loose one but, I think, not totally loose—explaining the position of Members of Parliament after this referendum. I have fought Lord knows how many elections over the past 50 years, and I have always advocated voting Conservative. The British public, in their wisdom, have occasionally failed to take my advice and have by a majority voted Labour. I have thus found myself here facing a Labour Government, but I do not recall an occasion when I was told that it was my democratic duty to support Labour policies and the Labour Government on the other side of the House. That proposition, if put to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr Skinner) in opposition or myself, would have been treated with ridicule and scorn. Apparently, I am now being told that despite voting as I did in the referendum, I am somehow an enemy of the people for ignoring my instructions and for sticking to the opinions that I expressed rather strongly, at least in my meetings, when I urged people to vote the other way.

I have no intention of changing my opinion on the ground. Indeed, I am personally convinced that the hard-core Eurosceptics in my party, with whom I have enjoyed debating this issue for decades, would not have felt bound in the slightest by the outcome of the referendum to abandon their arguments—[Interruption.] I do not say that as criticism; I am actually on good terms with the hard-line Eurosceptics because I respect their sincerity and the passionate nature of their beliefs. If I ever live to see my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) turn up here and vote in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union, I will retract what I say, but hot tongs would not make him vote for membership of the EU.

I must move on, but I am told that I should vote for my party as we are on a three-line Whip. I am a Conservative; I have been a decently loyal Conservative over the years. The last time I kicked over the traces was on the Lisbon treaty, when for some peculiar reason my party got itself on the wrong side of the argument, but we will pass over that. I would point out to those who say that I am somehow being disloyal to my party by not voting in favour of this Bill that I am merely propounding the official policy of the Conservative party for 50 years until 23 June 2016. I admire my colleagues who can suddenly become enthusiastic Brexiteers, having seen a light on the road to Damascus on the day that the vote was cast, but I am afraid that that light has been denied me.

I feel the spirit of my former colleague, Enoch Powell—I rather respected him, aside from one or two of his extreme views—who was probably the best speaker for the Eurosceptic cause I ever heard in this House of Commons. If he were here, he would probably find it amazing that his party had become Eurosceptic and rather mildly anti-immigrant, in a very strange way, in 2016. Well, I am afraid that, on that issue, I have not followed it, and I do not intend to do so.

There are very serious issues that were not addressed in the referendum: the single market and the customs union. They must be properly debated. It is absurd to say that every elector knew the difference between the customs union and the single market, and that they took a careful and studied view of the basis for our future trading relations with Europe.

The fact is that I admire the Prime Minister and her colleagues for their constant propounding of the principles of free trade. My party has not changed on that. We are believers in free trade and see it as a win-win situation. We were the leading advocate of liberal economic policies among the European powers for many years, so we are free traders. It seems to me unarguable that if we put between us and the biggest free market in the world new tariffs, new regulatory barriers, new customs procedures, certificates of origin and so on, we are bound to be weakening the economic position from what it would otherwise have been, other things being equal, in future. That is why it is important that this issue is addressed in particular.

I am told that that view is pessimistic, and that we are combining withdrawal from the single market and the customs union with a great new globalised future that offers tremendous opportunities for us. Apparently, when we follow the rabbit down the hole, we will emerge in a wonderland where, suddenly, countries throughout the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages and access to their markets that we were never able to achieve as part of the European Union. Nice men like President Trump and President Erdoğan are impatient to abandon their normal protectionism and give us access. Let me not be too cynical; I hope that that is right. I do want the best outcome for the United Kingdom from this process. No doubt somewhere a hatter is holding a tea party with a dormouse in the teapot.

We need success in these trade negotiations to recoup at least some of the losses that we will incur as a result of leaving the single market. If all is lost on the main principle, that is the big principle that the House must get control of and address seriously, in proper debates and votes, from now on.

I hope that I have adequately explained that my views on this issue have not been shaken very much over the decades—they have actually strengthened somewhat. Most Members, I trust, are familiar with Burke’s address to the electors of Bristol. I have always firmly believed that every MP should vote on an issue of this importance according to their view of the best national interest. I never quote Burke, but I shall paraphrase him. He said to his constituents, “If I no longer give you the benefit of my judgment and simply follow your orders, I am not serving you; I am betraying you.” I personally shall be voting with my conscience content, and when we see what unfolds hereafter as we leave the European Union, I hope that the consciences of other Members of Parliament will remain equally content.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2017 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, in Peterborough on 10 January 2017.

Thank you for that introduction.

Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, you voted for a better future for Britain.

One thing is clear, the Tories cannot deliver that. So today I want to set how Labour will deliver that vision of a better Britain.

This government is in disarray over Brexit.

As the Prime Minister made clear herself they didn’t plan for it before the referendum and they still don’t have a plan now.

I voted and campaigned to remain and reform as many of you may know I was not uncritical of the European Union. It has many failings.

Some people argued that we should have a second referendum. That case was put to our party’s membership last summer and defeated.

Britain is now leaving the European Union. And Britain can be better off after Brexit. But that’s far from inevitable and it certainly won’t happen with a government that stands by whilst wages and salaries are driven down, industry is hollowed out and public services are cut to the point of breakdown.

Because while the European Union has many problems so does Britain in the hands of Theresa May after six years of Conservative misrule.

Our social care system is failing to provide essential care for people with disabilities and over a million of our elderly people.

The NHS is in record deficit; nearly 4 million people are on waiting lists, the Red Cross is describing the state of our emergency health and social care as a ‘humanitarian crisis’.

Our jobs market is being turned into a sea of insecurity, six million workers in Britain earning less than the living wage, nearly a million people on zero hours contracts, record numbers of people in work living in poverty while in fat cat Britain, the chief executives had already received more than most people will earn all year by the third day of January.

My point is this, I don’t trust this government with social care, or with the NHS or with the labour market.

So do I trust them to make a success of Brexit? Not remotely.

Only a Labour government, determined to reshape the economy so that it works for all, in every part of the country, can make Brexit work for Britain.

And there can be no question of giving Theresa May’s Tories a free pass in the Brexit negotiations to entrench and take still further their failed free market policies in a post-Brexit Britain.

The Tory Brexiteers , whose leaders are now in the government and their Ukip allies had no more of a plan for a Brexit vote than the Tory remainers, like Theresa May.

They did however promise that Brexit would guarantee funding for the NHS, to the tune of £350 million a week. It was on the side of Boris Johnson’s bus.

What’s happened to that promise now the NHS and social care are in serious crisis? It’s already been ditched.
And it’s not just on the NHS. We have had no answers from the government about any of their plans or objectives for these complex Brexit negotiations.

At no point since the Second World War has Britain’s ruling elite so recklessly put the country in such an exposed position without a plan.

As a result they are now reduced to repeating ‘Brexit means Brexit’. They are unfit to negotiate Brexit.

That is why Labour has demanded the government come to Parliament and set out their plan before they present it to Brussels and explain what they want to achieve for our country.

But in the glaring absence of a government plan Labour also believes it’s time to spell out more clearly what we believe the country’s Brexit objectives should be.

People voted for Brexit on the promise that Britain outside the European Union could be a better place for all its citizens. Whatever their colour or creed. A chance to regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives.

But beyond vague plans to control borders the only concrete commitment the government has so far made is to protect the financial interests in the City of London. Though maybe that’s hardly surprising from a government that has already slashed the bank levy and corporation tax.

In the last budget there was not a penny extra for the NHS or social care but under the Tories there’s always billions available for giveaways to the richest.

As far as Labour is concerned, the referendum result delivered a clear message.

First, that Britain must leave the EU and bring control of our democracy and our economy closer to home.

Second, that people would get the resources they were promised to rebuild the NHS.

Third, that people have had their fill of an economic system and an establishment that works only for the few, not for the many.

And finally, that their concerns about immigration policy would be addressed.

Labour accepts those challenges that you, the voters, gave us.

Unlike the Tories, Labour will insist on a Brexit that works not just for City interests but in the interests of us all.

That puts health and social care, decent jobs and living standards first and a better deal for young people and the areas of this country that have been left behind for too long.

First, we will open the way to rebuilding our NHS by ending the under-funding and privatisation of health care.

Leaving the EU won’t free up the £350m a week that Boris Johnson claimed but savings in EU contributions could help close the gap.

And we will reject pressure to privatise public services as part of any Brexit settlement. Just as we oppose the attempt to give special legal privileges to corporate interests as part of the EU’s CETA or TTIP trade deals.

This government could have given the NHS the funding it needs but it has chosen not to. Their tax giveaways to the very richest and to big business hand back £70 billion between now and 2022.

That is more of a priority for the Tories than elderly people neglected in their homes, patients dying on trolleys or millions waiting in pain to get the treatment they need.

Labour created the NHS, and it is only safe under a Labour government. We will give the NHS the funding it needs. The British people voted to re-finance the NHS – and we will deliver it.

Second, we will push to maintain full access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs.

But we will also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a genuine industrial strategy essential for the economy of the future, and so that no community is left behind.

Tory governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. They did so again last year when the steel industry was in trouble. Other governments in Europe acted and saved their industry, the Tory government here sat back.

But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs and living standards.

Labour will use state aid powers in a drive to build a new economy, based on new technology and the green industries of the future.

That’s why Labour has set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with regional investment banks that will decide the priorities for their areas. A massive programme of investment that will be needed to rebuild regional economies.

This country is far too centralized. So we will take back powers over regional policy. And instead of such decisions being made in Brussels or in London, we will make sure they taken locally wherever possible. Taking back real control and putting power and resources right into the heart of local communities to target investment where it’s needed.

Third, we will use the huge spending leverage of taxpayer-funded services to massively expand the number of proper apprenticeships.

All firms with a government or council contract over £250,000 will be required to pay tax in the UK and train young people.

No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it, or its parent company, is headquartered in a tax haven.

And we will not buy outsourced public services, such as care for the elderly, from companies whose owners and executives are creaming off profits to stuff their pockets at the expense of the workforce and the public purse.

Finally, a Labour Brexit would take back control over our jobs market which has been seriously damaged by years of reckless deregulation.

During the referendum campaign, many people expressed deep concerns about unregulated migration from the EU.

In many sectors of the economy, from IT to health and social care, migrant workers make an important contribution to our common prosperity, and in many parts of the country public services depend on migrant labour.

This government has been saying it will reduce migration to the tens of thousands. Theresa May as Home Secretary set an arbitrary political target knowing full well it would not be met.

They inflamed the issue of immigration. They put immense strain on public services with six years of extreme cuts and then blamed migrants for the pressure caused by Tory austerity.

And last week a Government minister who voted ‘Leave’ told an employers’ conference, “don’t worry, we’ll still let you bring in cheap EU labour”.
Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants because we know where that leads. The worrying rise in race hate crime and division we have seen in recent months and how the issue of immigration can be used as a proxy to abuse or intimidate minority communities.

Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.

When it comes to border controls, we are proud to say we will meet our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution.

To those EU citizens who are already here, we will guarantee your rights.

And we continue to welcome international students who come to study in this country.

We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations.

Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.

At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.

Of course migration has put a strain on public services in some areas that’s why Labour would restore the Migrant Impact Fund that the Tories scrapped.

Sarah Champion is leading for Labour on our policies to ensure better integration and more community cohesion and part of that again will be about restoring funding for English language lessons.

Let’s not forget it was this Tory government that slashed funding for learning English as a second language. As we’ve seen with the Prime Minister talking about the need to strengthen mental health care, while cutting funding by 8 per cent it seems the government’s second language is hypocrisy.

It is the ripping up of workplace protections and trade union rights that has allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit both migrant and British labour, and help to keep pay low, and drive down conditions for everyone.

But let’s be clear, public services are not under pressure primarily because of immigration – especially since many migrant workers keep those public services going.

They are under pressure because this Tory government has cut them to fund tax break after tax break to the super rich and big business.
That is the Tory game – low taxes for the rich, low pay for the rest, underfund public services, and find someone to blame , It’s brutal and it’s not working.

Labour will break with this failed model and offer solutions to problems, not someone to blame.

Labour will demand that the Brexit negotiations give us the power to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being used and exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work.

We need a drive to provide British people with the skills necessary to take up the new jobs which a Labour government and the new economy will generate. I’ve already set out at the CBI and TUC conferences that this means asking companies to pay a bit more in tax to fund more and better access to education and skills training, and government contractors always providing decent skilled apprenticeships.

We will end the race to the bottom in pay, working conditions and job insecurity, setting up a new Ministry of Labour to get a grip on the anything goes jobs market free-for-all.

Labour will ensure all workers have equal rights at work from day one – and require collective bargaining agreements in key sectors in a properly regulated labour market, so that workers cannot be undercut.

That will bring an end to the unscrupulous use of agency labour and bogus self-employment, to stop undercutting and to ensure every worker has a secure job with secure pay, that’s why we’ll set the minimum wage at the level of the living wage, expected to be £10 per hour by 2020.

Those changes should be made to benefit the whole country.

But while we tackle low pay at the bottom, we also have to address the excess that drives that poverty pay that leaves millions of people in poverty even though they work.

In the 1920s, J.P. Morgan, the Wall Street banker limited salaries to 20 times that of junior employees.

Another advocate of pay ratios was David Cameron. His government proposed a 20:1 pay ratio to limit sky-high pay in the public sector and now all salaries higher than £150,000 must be signed off by the Cabinet Office.

Labour will go further and extend that to any company that is awarded a government contract.

A 20:1 ratio means someone earning the living wage, just over £16,000 a year, would permit an executive to be earning nearly £350,000. It cannot be right that if companies are getting public money that that can be creamed off by a few at the top.

But there is a wider point too. 20 years ago the top bosses of the FTSE 100 companies earned just under 50 times their average worker, today that figure is now 130 times. Last year alone, the top bosses got a 10 per cent pay rise, far higher than those doing the work in the shops, in the call centres, in the warehouses.

So what can we do?

… We could allow consumers to judge for themselves, with a government-backed kitemark for those companies that have agreed pay ratios between the pay of the highest and lowest earners with a recognised trade union.

… We could ask for executive pay to be signed off by remuneration committees on which workers have a majority.

… We could ensure higher earners pay their fair share by introducing a higher rate of income tax on the highest 5 percent or 1 percent of incomes.

… We could offer lower rates of corporation tax for companies that don’t pay anyone more than a certain multiple of the pay of the lowest earner.

There are many options. But what we cannot accept is a society in which a few earn the in two and a bit days, what a nurse, a shop worker, a teacher do in a year. That cannot be right.

This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.

We cannot have the CEO paying less tax than the cleaner and pretending they are worth thousands times more than the lowest paid staff.

So this is Labour’s vision for Britain after Brexit.
Labour will not block the referendum vote when the time comes in Parliament, we will vote for Article 50.

But as the Opposition we will ensure the government is held to account for its negotiating demands.

At the moment they are in total disarray, on Brexit, on the NHS and social care, on the pay in your pocket.

Labour will build a better Britain out of Brexit.

That will start with the refinancing of the NHS and the creation of a more equal country, in which power and wealth is more fairly shared amongst our communities. A genuinely inclusive society with strong and peaceful relations with the rest of the world.

This is Labour’s New Year pledge to the British people.

Theresa May – 2017 Speech in Davos

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in Davos on 19 January 2017.

Thank you Professor Schwab for that introduction, and thank you for inviting me to speak here at the World Economic Forum this morning.

This is an organisation that is, as it says in the very first line of your mission statement, committed to ‘improving the state of the world’. Those of us who meet here are all – by instinct and outlook – optimists who believe in the power of public and private co-operation to make the world of tomorrow better than the world of today. And we are all united in our belief that that world will be built on the foundations of free trade, partnership and globalisation.

Yet beyond the confines of this hall, those forces for good that we so often take for granted are being called into question.

The forces of liberalism, free trade and globalisation that have had – and continue to have – such an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world, that have harnessed unprecedented levels of wealth and opportunity, that have lifted millions out of poverty around the world, that have brought nations closer together, broken down barriers and improved standards of living and consumer choice, forces that underpin the rules-based international system that is key to our global prosperity and security, are somehow at risk of being undermined.

And as we meet here this morning, across Europe parties of the Far Left and the Far Right are seeking to exploit this opportunity, gathering support by feeding off an underlying and keenly felt sense among some people – often those on modest to low incomes living in relatively rich countries around the west – that these forces are not working for them.

And those parties – who embrace the politics of division and despair; who offer easy answers; who claim to understand people’s problems and always know what and who to blame – feed off something else too: the sense among the public that mainstream political and business leaders have failed to comprehend their legitimate concerns for too long.

This morning, I want to set out a manifesto for change that responds to these concerns and shows that the politics of the mainstream can deliver the change people need.

I want to show how, by taking a new approach that harnesses the good of what works and changes what does not, we can maintain – indeed we can build – support for the rules-based international system.

And I want to explain how, as we do so, the United Kingdom – a country that has so often been at the forefront of economic and social change – will step up to a new leadership role as the strongest and most forceful advocate for business, free markets and free trade anywhere in the world.

Brexit

For that is the unique opportunity that Britain now has.

I speak to you this morning as the Prime Minister of a country that faces the future with confidence.

For a little over 6 months ago, millions of my fellow citizens upset the odds by voting, with determination and quiet resolve, to leave the European Union and embrace the world.

Let us not underestimate the magnitude of that decision. It means Britain must face up to a period of momentous change. It means we must go through a tough negotiation and forge a new role for ourselves in the world. It means accepting that the road ahead will be uncertain at times, but believing that it leads towards a brighter future for our country’s children, and grandchildren too.

So while it would have been easy for the British people to shy away from taking such a path, they fixed their eyes on that brighter future and chose a bold, ambitious course instead.

They chose to build a truly Global Britain.

I know that this, and the other reasons Britain took such a decision, is not always well understood internationally, particularly among our friends and allies in Europe. Some of our European partners feel that we have turned our back on them. And I know many fear what our decision means for the future of the EU itself.

But as I said in my speech earlier this week, our decision to leave the European Union was no rejection of our friends in Europe, with whom we share common interests and values and so much else. It was no attempt to become more distant from them, or to cease the co-operation that has helped to keep our continent secure and strong.

And nor was it an attempt to undermine the European Union itself. It remains overwhelmingly and compellingly in Britain’s national interest that the EU as an organisation should succeed.

It was simply a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy and national self-determination. A vote to take control and make decisions for ourselves.

And, crucially, to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit too.

Because that is who we are as a nation. Britain’s history and culture is profoundly internationalist.

We are a European country, and proud of our shared European heritage, but we are also a country that has always looked beyond Europe to the wider world.

That is why we are among the most racially diverse countries in Europe, one of the most multicultural members of the European Union, and why – whether we are talking about India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, countries in Africa, Asia or those that are closer to home in Europe – so many of us have close friends and relatives from across the world.

And it is why we are by instinct a great, global, trading nation that seeks to trade with countries not just in Europe but beyond Europe too.

So at the heart of the plan I set out earlier this week, is a determination to pursue a bold and ambitious free trade agreement between the UK and the European Union. But, more than that, we seek the freedom to strike new trade deals with old friends and new allies right around the world as well.

I am pleased that we have already started discussions on future trade ties with countries like Australia, New Zealand and India. While countries including China, Brazil, and the Gulf States have already expressed their interest in striking trade deals with us.

That is why, as I said in my speech on Tuesday, I want the UK to emerge from this period of change as a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too; a country that gets out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike.

And that is exactly what we are going to do.

Global Britain

We are going to be a confident country that is in control of its own destiny once again.

And it is because of that that we will be in a position to act in this global role.

Because a country in control of its destiny is more, not less able to play a full role in underpinning and strengthening the multilateral rules-based system

A Global Britain is no less British because we are a hub for foreign investment. Indeed, our biggest manufacturer, Tata, is Indian – and you still can’t get more British than a Jaguar or a Land Rover.

Britain is no less British because it is home to people from around the world. In fact, we derive so much of our strength from our diversity – we are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy, and we’re proud of it.

And Britain is no less British because we have led the way in multilateral organisations like the UN, NATO, IMF and the World Bank over many years.

Membership of these bodies magnifies all their members’ ability to advance the common goods of peace, prosperity and security.

I believe strongly in a rules based global order. The establishment of the institutions that give effect to it in the mid-20th century was a crucial foundation for much of the growing peace and prosperity the world has enjoyed since. And the tragic history of the first half of the last century reminds us of the cost of those institutions’ absence.

The litany of follies of that time are mistakes that we should never forget and never repeat.

So we must uphold the institutions that enable the nations of the world to work together.

And we must continue to promote international co-operation wherever we can.

One example of that is modern slavery – a scourge of our world, which we can only defeat if we work together, changing attitudes, rooting out such abhorrent practices and prosecuting the perpetrators.

That is why at Davos this year I have convened a high-level panel discussion to continue our co-ordinated effort to save those many lives which are, tragically, being stolen.

International co-operation is vital. But we must never forget that our first responsibility as governments it to serve the people. And it is my firm belief that we – as governments, international institutions, businesses and individuals – need to do more to respond to the concerns of those who feel that the modern world has left them behind.

Economic reform

So in Britain, we have embarked on an ambitious programme of economic and social reform that aims to ensure that, as we build this Global Britain, we are able to take people with us. A programme that aims to show how a strong Britain abroad can be a better Britain at home.

Because talk of greater globalisation can make people fearful. For many, it means their jobs being outsourced and wages undercut. It means having to sit back as they watch their communities change around them.

And in their minds, it means watching as those who prosper seem to play by a different set of rules, while for many life remains a struggle as they get by, but don’t necessarily get on.

And these tensions and differences are increasingly exposed and exploited through the expansion of new technologies and the growth of social media.

But if we are to make the case for free markets, free trade and globalisation, as we must, those of us who believe in them must face up to and respond to the concerns people have.

And we must work together to shape new policies and approaches that demonstrate their capacity to deliver for all of the people in our respective countries.

I believe this challenge demands a new approach from government. And it requires a new approach from business too.

For government, it means not just stepping back and, as the prevailing orthodoxy in many countries has argued for so many years, not just getting out of the way. Not just leaving businesses to get on with the job and assuming that problems will just fix themselves.

It means stepping up to a new, active role that backs businesses and ensures more people in all corners of the country share in the benefits of its success.

And for business, it means doing even more to spread those benefits to more people. It means playing by the same rules as everyone else when it comes to tax and behaviour, because in the UK trust in business runs at just 35% among those in the lowest income brackets. And it means putting aside short-term considerations and investing in people and communities for the long-term.

These are all things that I know the vast majority of businesses do already. Not just by creating jobs, supporting smaller businesses, training and developing people, but also by working to give something back to communities and supporting the next generation.

Businesses large and small are the backbone of our economies, and enterprise is the engine of our prosperity. That is why Britain is – and will always be – open for business: open to investment in our companies, infrastructure, universities and entrepreneurs. Open to those who want to buy our goods and services. And open to talent and opportunities, from the arts to technology, finance to manufacturing.

But, at the same time as promoting this openness, we must heed the underlying feeling that there are some companies, particularly those with a global reach, who are playing by a different set of rules to ordinary, working people.

So it is essential for business to demonstrate leadership. To show that, in this globalised world, everyone is playing by the same rules, and that the benefits of economic success are there for all our citizens.

This work is absolutely crucial if we are to maintain public consent for a globalised economy and the businesses that operate within it.

That is why I have talked a great deal about our country delivering yet higher standards of corporate governance, to help make the UK the best place to invest of any major economy.

That means several things.

It means businesses paying their fair share of tax, recognising their obligations and duties to their employees and supply chains, and trading in the right way; companies genuinely investing in – and becoming part of – the communities and nations in which they operate, and abiding by the responsibilities that implies; and all of us taking steps towards addressing executive pay and accountability to shareholders.

And that is why I welcome the World Economic Forum’s ‘Compact for Responsive and Responsible Leadership’ that businesses are being asked to sign up to at this conference.

It is this change – setting clear rules for businesses to operate by, while embracing the liberalism and free trade that enable them to thrive – which will allow us to conserve the ultimate good that is a globalised economy.

I have no doubt at all about the vital role business plays, not just in the economic life of a nation, but in society too. But to respond to that sense of anxiety people feel, I believe we – business and government working together – need to do even more to make the case.

That is why in Britain, we are developing a new Modern Industrial Strategy. The term ‘industrial strategy’ has fallen into something approaching disrepute in recent years, but I believe such a strategy – that addresses the long-standing and structural weaknesses in our economy – is essential if we are to promote the benefits of free markets and free trade as we wish.

Our strategy is not about propping up failing industries or picking winners, but creating the conditions where winners can emerge and grow. It is about backing those winners all the way to encourage them to invest in the long-term future of Britain.

And about delivering jobs and economic growth to every community and corner of the country.

We can’t leave all this to international market forces alone, or just rely on an increase in overall prosperity.

Instead, we have to be practical and proactive – in other words, we have to step up and take control – to ensure free trade and globalisation work for everyone.

Social reform

At the same time, we have embarked on an ambitious agenda of social reform that embraces the same principles. Active, engaged government that steps up and works for everyone.

Because if you are someone who is just managing, just getting by, you don’t need a government that will get out of the way. You need an active government that will step up and champion the things that matter to you.

Governments have traditionally been good at identifying, if not always addressing, the problems and challenges faced by the least disadvantaged in our societies.

However, the mission I have laid out for the government I lead – to make Britain a country that works for everyone – goes further. It is to build something that I have called the shared society – one that doesn’t just value our individual rights but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another. That respects the bonds that people share – the bonds of family, community, citizenship and strong institutions.

And that recognises the obligations we have as citizens – obligations that make our society work.

It is these bonds and obligations that make our society strong and answer our basic human need for definition and identity.

And I am absolutely clear that it is the job of government to encourage and nurture the relationships, networks and institutions that provide that definition, and to correct the injustice and unfairness that divides us wherever it is found.

Too often today, the responsibilities we have to one another have been forgotten as the cult of individualism has taken hold, and globalisation and the democratisation of communications has encouraged people to look beyond their own communities and immediate networks in the name of joining a broader global community.

To say this is not to argue against globalisation – nor the benefits it brings – from modern travel and modern media to new products in our shops and new opportunities for British companies to export their goods to millions of consumers all around the world.

But just as we need to act to address the deeply felt sense of economic inequality that has emerged in recent years, so we also need to recognise the way in which a more global and individualistic world can sometimes loosen the ties that bind our society together, leaving some people feeling locked out and left behind.

Conclusion

I am determined to make sure that centre-ground, mainstream politics can respond to the concerns people have today. I am determined to stand up for free markets, free trade and globalisation, but also to show how these forces can work for everyone.

And to do so, I turn to the words of the 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke who said “a state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation”.

That great conservative principle – change in order to conserve – is more important than ever in today’s complex geopolitical environment.

And I feel it is of huge relevance to those of us here in Davos this week.

And it is the principle that guides me as I lead Britain through this period of change.

As we build a new, bold, confident Global Britain and shape a new era of globalisation that genuinely works for all.

As we harness the forces of globalisation so that the system works for everyone, and so maintain public support for that system for generations to come.

I want that to be the legacy of our time. To use this moment to provide responsive, responsible leadership that will bring the benefits of free trade to every corner of the world; that will lift millions more out of poverty and towards prosperity; and that will deliver security, prosperity and belonging for all of our people.

Thank you.

Philip Hammond – 2017 Speech in Davos

Below is the text of the speech made by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in Davos on 19 January 2017.

The theme of this year’s conference is ‘responsive and responsible’ leadership.

It’s quite clear why this title was chosen.

That leadership has never been more necessary as we leave 2016 behind us, and face the challenges of 2017.

At home, last year delivered the decision of the British people to leave the European Union.

In the US, the decision of the American people to elect a President who ran as an anti-establishment outsider.

And across Europe, a rise in support for non-mainstream parties, the effects of which may start to be seen in elections later this year.

Clearly something is going on and governments have to respond.

And what better way to respond than to gather the global elites for a serious discussion in an exclusive mountain ski resort?

The most immediate challenge facing the UK is negotiating and executing our departure from the European Union.

There have been many assessments made of, and conclusions drawn from, the referendum outcome in the UK, and the lessons will no doubt be pored over by historians and political scientists for years to come.

But two things in particular strike me:

First, while the drivers of global political events in 2016 may well be linked, we should be cautious about attributing motive to votes in a referendum, as opposed to an election.

I do not doubt that a section of the population is disillusioned by the obsolence of their skills and the stagnant real wages that implies – and happy to kick the political establishment when given an opportunity to do so. And we, as politicians, need to hear that message and react to it.

But it’s a big step to say the UK electorate as a whole is fundamentally rejecting capitalism or globalisation. It isn’t.

Some of them were simply expressing a view on the European Union! And, of course, on immigration.

As the Prime Minister has made clear, we need to show how we can build an economy – on the bedrock of our tired and proven system – that will work for everyone in an age, not just of globalisation but of unstoppable technological change.

And second, the UK vote to leave the European Union was clearly not a vote to turn inwards, whatever is going on elsewhere in the world.

The rhetoric of the referendum was not one of insularity and isolation, of protectionism and retreat.

In fact it was quite the opposite.

The UK takes pride in being the most open economy in the world.

And the successful leave campaign was premised on the rapid conclusion of free trade agreements with China, with India, with Japan, with the US and the wider Anglosphere – as well as other countries beyond it.

The argument put forward to the British people was that by leaving the EU we could do more, not less, trade with the rest of the world. And that the EU itself is too inward looking and is ill-equipped to exploit the full potential of the rebalancing of the world’s economy to the East and the South.

Politicians on both sides of that debate have been consistent and entirely aligned since the referendum in emphasising that Britain is open for business and will remain an open economy and an outward-looking society.

So we should react to signals of the popular mood, but we should not overreact.

In Britain, at least, what we have heard was a rumble of discontent, rather than a nascent revolution.

So as we move into 2017, we must define, and then deliver a new relationship with our European neighbours.

You heard from the PM on Tuesday, that we want to maintain the closest possible relationship with them – including the most comprehensive possible free-trade agreement.

But we must do that in a spirit of realism about the political context that we and our European partners operate within.

It is clear for instance, that on migration we cannot continue with freedom of movement as we have it today.

That doesn’t mean we’re pulling up the drawbridge: we must continue to attract the brightest and best to work and study in Britain; immigration from the EU will remain crucial to filling skills shortages, delivering public services and maintaining Britain as one of the most competitive places in the world to start and grow a business.

But we must be able to demonstrate that we can control the migration process in our own interest.

And we are equally clear that we must respect our EU partners when they say membership of the Single Market means accepting the so-called “four freedoms”.

That’s their political reality.

That is why the Prime Minister made clear this week that as we negotiate our future relationship with the European Union, membership of the Single Market is not our objective.

And because we want to be able to strike our own free trade agreements with countries around the world, we may not seek full membership of the Customs Union either.

It is on the basis of this pragmatic framework, recognising political realities on both sides, that we will set out to achieve the best possible deal for the British economy:

A trade-maximising deal, across low friction borders: a solution that delivers for the UK and for the EU alike.

It is clear that it is in European manufacturers’ interests to maintain access to our market, but access to our financial services should also be a priority for our EU partners.

Thanks to their depth and liquidity, UK capital markets provide a highly efficient source of finance to European companies and, indeed, governments. So much so that 60% of all EU capital markets activity is executed through the UK.

UK based banks provided more than £1.1 trillion of cross-border lending to the EU during 2015.

Half of all UK private equity investments in 2014 were in mainland European companies.

And this isn’t just about hedge funds and mergers and acquisitions.

It’s about the loan that gives someone a leg up onto the housing ladder for the first time; the insurance that protects cars and homes; the savings pot that provides support in retirement.

Consumers across Europe, as well as businesses, rely on our financial services industry for many of these critical services.

London’s financial services industry is a complex ecosystem that has grown up over decades.

In my conversations with business leaders in the sector I am told repeatedly that it is this scale and depth that has generated such strength.

Replicating this elsewhere in Europe in a short timescale is simply not feasible. Punishing the UK, by trying to fragment that ecosystem would only mean European businesses having to go to New York for some, at least, of the financial services they need.

Any diminution of London’s financial markets would be bad for businesses and consumers in Britain and in the EU. It would drive up costs. And it would act as a drag on the economy of this entire continent.

It is therefore in everyone’s interest to transition to a new relationship with the EU which provides the greatest possible degree of mutual access to each other’s market for goods and services, so that we can minimise the disruption to existing patterns of business and supply chains.

Of course, the interests we share are not solely economic.

The continuing risk of terrorism and geopolitical instability demonstrate the need to continue our close cooperation in areas such as security. And we want to maintain our close relationships in culture, science and technology, educational exchange and research and development too.

We recognise that we won’t achieve a deal overnight. But it is in nobody’s interests either to prolong uncertainty or for there to be a cliff-edge for business or a threat to stability as we transition to our new partnership with the EU.

Therefore we will seek to agree a phased process which gets us from where we are now to the end-state of our future, permanent, relationship with the EU.

Anything else would be damaging for both UK and European economic, and potentially financial, stability.

And a UK in a close, ongoing, partnership with the EU, will have a vital national interest in the future success of the EU. So we will do nothing that could undermine that success.

Let me be clear: our ambition is to remain in the economic mainstream of Europe, with a comprehensive deal with our European neighbours.

But maintaining Britain’s competitiveness is not an optional extra; it’s an existential necessity.

So if somehow, despite our best efforts, political retribution were to triumph over economic logic and we don’t get a fair deal providing the reasonable access to each other’s markets…

…we will have to do whatever is necessary to ensure the continued competitiveness of our economy in those circumstances.

That is not a threat, it’s a statement of the blindingly obvious.

Negotiating Brexit is not the only challenge of 2017. We have to understand and learn to work with a new administration in our closest ally and partner.

We have to manage the impact of currency driven inflation after a period of stable prices.

And we have to get our economy match-fit for the post-Brexit world that awaits us.

I am confident we will get a sensible Brexit deal. But to take full advantage of it, we need to focus on overcoming a weakness that has plagued our economy for well over a decade: our poor productivity performance.

The UK needs to up its game urgently.

We lag US and German labour productivity by some 30 percentage points. But we also lag France by over 25 and Italy by 9.

That means it takes a German worker less than 4 days to produce what a British worker makes in 5. And inevitably that means that too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than their counterparts.

Our upcoming Industrial Strategy consultation will address this challenge head on.

The quality of public infrastructure, insufficient skills, and regional imbalances are all factors restraining productivity, alongside underinvestment in businesses.

That’s why I took the decision in the Autumn Statement to allow additional borrowing to invest £23 billion in a new National Productivity Investment Fund over the next five years, specifically focused on productivity-generating infrastructure, housing, research, development and innovation.

That means real-terms public sector set investment is forecast to be over 50% higher than the whole period of the last Labour government, and focused more clearly on the needs of the economy.

And we are taking a long term approach by establishing the National Infrastructure Commission as a permanent body.

I look forward to their first National Infrastructure Assessment later this year – which will offer the first comprehensive view of our long-term infrastructure needs.

And, of course, we are making sure Britain remains one of the most competitive places to invest with corporation tax set to fall to 17%, by far the lowest overall rate of corporate tax in the G20.

And addressing the productivity challenge is not only good for our economy – it also helps to address some of the social challenges we face.

That is important because, over the coming years our economy, and our social structures, will have to cope not only with the impacts of globalisation and an ageing population profile, but also with a quickening pace of technological change as the fourth industrial revolution gathers speed.

On the positive side, many of the new, disruptive technologies are being developed in the UK.

To support that we will be investing over £8 billion of public money in R&D annually by the end of the decade, ensuring that what is invented and discovered here gets developed and commercialised here.

And, yes, ultimately, taxed here.

But that won’t, in itself, protect us from the impact as first unskilled, and then skilled workers, find their jobs disappearing.

Indeed, looking at the relative speed of development of recent advances in computerised medical diagnostics on the one hand and driverless vehicles on the other, it could well be skilled workers who are under the most immediate threat.

I only hope that I’ve left the office before they automate the Chancellor of the Exchequer!

Of course, it is possible to mask the effects of change in the short-term: and we will certainly face demands to do so.

But Politicians who take the populist route will find it a very short road.

There is no sustainable future for a developed economy in protectionism, subsidy, and high debt.

So whether it’s on restoring the public finances to health, getting the right Brexit deal for Britain or tackling the long-term productivity challenge facing our economy, this government is providing the responsible economic leadership that our country needs.

That means facing up to the fact that we have some hard graft ahead.

There are no easy answers. Populism is a fool’s paradise.

I hope I have already demonstrated that I welcome suggestions from business and will act on them where I can.

You asked us to confirm the businesses rates reductions – and we did.

You asked us to boost spending on research and development, and at the Autumn Statement we responded by increasing public R&D spend by £2 billion a year by 2020-21.

You asked for investment in infrastructure – and we will deliver a higher rate of public sector net investment than in every year from 1993 until the financial crash.

But in the end, economic growth is not delivered by what we do. It’s delivered by what you do.

So let me close by thanking the CBI and business leaders for your enduring commitment to growing our economy and creating the jobs and the ideas on which it depends.

As we navigate our way through the unchartered waters of Brexit, the partnership and dialogue between business and government will be more important than ever.

So let us work together, using all our networks to impress on our European neighbours how much it’s in all our interests to retain that strong trading relationship.

Let us work together to ensure we retain the innovation, the dynamism, and the job creation that mark out the British economy from many of its competitors.

And let us work together to secure our long term prospects by matching public sector investment in productivity with a renewed wave of private investment as the fog of Brexit begins to clear.

Working together, we can be confident that our best days lie ahead of us.