David Gauke – 2018 Speech on Diversity in the Legal Profession

Below is the text of the speech made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, on 7 November 2018.

Introduction

Thank you, Jo.

It is such a pleasure to be here today, supporting Spark21’s Levelling the Playing Field event. As we lead into the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 – which took the first steps in breaking down the barriers to the involvement of women in civic life, including in practising the law – I think it is important that we consider what ‘celebrating the past to the shape the future for women in law’ really means. It is an opportunity for each of us to re-examine and renew our commitment to a strong, equal and diverse legal profession.

Gender inequality is an issue that affects all people and is not just “a struggle for women by women”, men need to be agents for change too.

The trailblazers on this have of course been representatives of diverse groups themselves. From Eliza Orme – the first woman in England to gain a law degree, to Baroness Hale – the first woman Law Lord and later first woman President of the Supreme Court, the people who have led the way on this have done so by demonstrating the breadth of their talent.

I think perhaps ‘champion’ is too grand a word but if I as the Lord Chancellor and a former solicitor myself can play a part in championing diversity in the legal profession then I will do so. And I don’t say that for its sake. I don’t say it because it’s trendy or because it is ‘the done thing’. I say it because I think it would be foolish not to do so.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that maintaining the status quo could damage our potential as a nation. In that sense, this isn’t just an issue for the 47% of the UK workforce who are women – it’s one that 100% of us are invested in.

In terms of the huge pool of female talent that exists in this country, McKinsey estimate that bridging the gender gap in work could add £150 billion to the UK economy by 2025 – £150 billion! That is a figure that we simply cannot afford to ignore.

What’s more, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have profits above their industry average. Those are astonishing figures and should serve as a call to arms to all of us that committing to gender equality – becoming champions for change – is the smart thing to do.

A diverse justice system is a healthy one

I’m pleased to say that there is much for us to celebrate in terms of diversity in the legal profession. It is important we remember that for the first time in the UK’s history the Presidents of the three Law Societies are all women. It is encouraging to see our Law Societies not only lead in this area, but practice what they preach!

More than 50% of all practising solicitors are women; while BAME lawyers now account for 21% of lawyers working in law firms. These figures surpass the UK generally where women make up 47% of the workforce; and BAME people make up 11% of the workforce.

And this isn’t just encouraging because of the financial benefits it no doubt brings, it’s also crucial to maintaining healthy outcomes in justice – because a well-functioning justice system should accurately reflect the society it serves.

Despite some encouraging progress in the legal profession, we can aim for more.

The figures show us that the diversity of entrants to the profession is not where the problem is – it’s in the senior roles and leadership that gaps appear. When we look at the senior leadership in law firms, while women make up 59% of non-partner solicitors, they account for just a third of partners.

In the biggest firms that figure falls to just 29%. And while figures at the Bar have been moving in the right direction over the last few years – with a greater proportion of female pupils than males – just 37% of barristers currently practising are women. And just under 15% of Queen’s Counsel are women.

Judicial diversity

That means fewer women in the pipeline of candidates to join the judiciary. Appointing by merit is, of course, the most important criterion for retaining the quality, independence and impartiality of our judges. But we should remove the barriers to talented women and other under-represented groups applying to join the judiciary. That’s why government, alongside the legal professional bodies, judicial representatives and the Judicial Appointments Commission, supports the work of the Judicial Diversity Forum. At its heart, the forum aims to remove the barriers to talented women and other under-represented groups applying to join the judiciary.

I am particularly pleased that we’ve gone from having just one female justice in the Supreme Court to now having three. However there is more to do.

I know the Lord Chief Justice shares this view. That’s why the Judicial Diversity Committee, chaired by Lady Justice Hallett, run a number of schemes to encourage and support under-represented groups. As well as pre-application seminars, the Judicial Work Shadowing Scheme provides insight into the work of judges and the Judicial Mentoring Scheme ensures there are role models for lawyers intending to apply for their first judicial appointment. They also run an annual support programme for women and other under-represented groups interested specifically in applying to the Deputy High Court Judge selection exercise.

In April this year I announced Ministry of Justice funding for the Pre-Application Judicial Education Programme. The programme is the first joint initiative of the Judicial Diversity Forum, designed to support and encourage lawyers from under-represented groups to apply for judicial roles.

We are working with the senior judiciary, Judicial College, Judicial Appointments Commission and the legal professional bodies to develop an online learning platform and judge facilitated discussion groups which will launch in the Spring.

And I do think it is absolutely right that we encourage people from across the legal professions – including solicitors and other non-barristers – to apply for judicial roles. The government will therefore be doing everything it can to promote people from all legal backgrounds bringing their talent and skills to strengthen the judiciary. To this end we are working with the Law Society, who have kindly agreed to chair and host a joint roundtable for senior partners and law firms to explore what support is needed to encourage more solicitors to apply for judicial office.

Broad leadership will bring lasting change

Ultimately, turning the dial on diversity in the legal profession requires a joined up and wide-ranging response from us in government and the profession itself.

Some of the figures highlighting the disparities in the profession are stark but I think the legal profession has a real opportunity to blaze a trail on this. And I’m pleased to say that it is already doing some amazing work to address the issue head on.

The Law Society’s recently published ‘Women in Leadership in Law: Toolkit’ is one example of that work and I would encourage anyone who hasn’t seen it to contact the Law Society for a copy. It not only brings together research and key statistics on female diversity in the law, it also gives practical advice on the challenges – in unconscious bias, the gender pay gap, flexible working, and best practice – that the profession faces in tackling the diversity question.

I want to pay tribute to Christina Blacklaws, President of the Law Society, not just for getting the Toolkit published, but in her wider leadership on this issue, where she is making women in leadership in law a key theme of her tenure. That drive for change should inspire others to follow suit.

As one of the oldest and most recognised professions in the world, it would be fitting for the legal sector to lead the way on this more generally in our country – in making progress on diversity not just for its sake but in the interests of excellence.

We must all promote diversity throughout the law. I really want to see things change so that it’s the norm to see women at the very top of their professions, rather than a rarity.

Conclusion

As we head into 2019 and mark the centenary of women being able to practise law in this country, I think it is absolutely right that we renew our commitment to diversity within the legal profession. My message is clear – this isn’t a ‘nice to have’ and we should not be paying lip service to it. A truly diverse legal profession is absolutely crucial to maintaining and improving the performance of our sector.

When we consider that legal services is currently worth £24 billion every year to our economy, it would be remiss of us to ignore how that figure could grow if we encouraged a more diverse workforce. The potential for adding billions to the economy by 2025 is too big a prize to pass up – certainly not for the sake of maintaining a tired and outdated status quo.

By making sure that the profession mirrors the make-up of our society as it exists today, we can build trust in a system that works for all people – no matter their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or any other factor.

Together we can show real leadership on this issue, demonstrating its practical benefits to become one of the leading lights on diversity in our country as a whole. I know that’s what our legal profession is capable of and I am committing myself anew to doing everything I can to support it in that endeavour.

Mark Field – 2018 Speech at the Future of ASEAN-UK Cooperation

Below is the text of the speech made by Mark Field, the Minister for Asia and the Pacific at the Foreign Office, in Singapore on 8 November 2018.

Good morning and thank you to Chatham House and the Singapore Institute of International Affairs for hosting this expert gathering. I know a great deal of time and effort has gone into arranging it, and it could not have been better timed.

The UK is making greater efforts than ever to broaden our international horizons and deepen our global partnerships, preparing the way for a new approach once we have left the EU. Strengthening our relationship with the ASEAN community is a really important part of that, so I am delighted to have the chance to hear your thoughts on how we might go about it.

There is an excellent range of topics on your agenda today. Over the next 15 minutes or so I should like to touch on just some of them, to offer some food for thought.

Since being appointed as Minister for Asia and the Pacific almost 18 months ago I have made it my personal mission to visit as many countries of the region as humanly possible, and to engage, face to face, with my ministerial counterparts.

Within the first year or so I achieved my key ambition of visiting all ten members of ASEAN at least once.

This is already my second visit to Singapore, and over the course of two frantic weeks in August, I visited Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.

In Jakarta I set out our ‘All of Asia’ policy, through which we are engaging actively with all countries in the region, working with them to promote regional security, to build prosperity, and to strengthen the values which underpin the links between our people. Today I hope that we can substantively build on this work – as I say, taking the opportunity to discuss and explore together the ways in which the UK can remain the strongest of partners to ASEAN – maintaining and strengthening our common areas of interest – after we leave the EU.

Our vision is of a genuine deep, comprehensive partnership – one that builds up our already excellent cooperation right across the board. I will say more about that in a moment. It is really up to all of us – the UK and all the ASEAN community – to decide how we go about it.

I would like us to be really ambitious – to see where the UK-ASEAN relationship is now, to imagine how it might look in the future and to chart a course towards that goal.

Let’s start with education – for the university academics among you, surely a subject close to your hearts.

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how open ASEAN as a whole is to education opportunities of all kinds.

I am pleased to say that UK institutions and qualifications seem particularly popular: more than 42,000 students from the region attended UK universities in 2016/17.

That includes some 8,000 Singaporeans and 17,000 Malaysians.

In fact Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand all rank in the top 10 countries from outside the EU for sending students to the UK.

However, more and more of your young people do not even need to leave home to get UK qualifications. Approximately 130,000 young people are pursuing UK certified higher education courses right here in the region.

Respected British universities such as Nottingham, Newcastle, Herriot Watt and Coventry are all expanding their partnerships here.

I saw evidence of this first-hand in Vientiane earlier this year, when I had the pleasure of opening a new International Education Center at Panyathip School, hosting not one, but three UK institutions: Nottingham University, the Wimbledon School of English, and the Royal Academy of Dance.

It showed that our links are not just at tertiary level education – more and more schools across the ASEAN region are now teaching the British international school curriculum.

Education is a significant part of our relationship with ASEAN and I can see it really taking off over the coming years.

The same goes for research and innovation – where the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ offers huge opportunities for collaboration.

Some of you may be familiar with the work that has flowed from our Newton Fund for science and innovation, which has been running since 2014.

The UK is investing £735 million in the Fund worldwide through to 2021, with matched funding from partner countries. In ASEAN we are partnering with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and these partnerships are delivering results.

They have already produced some outstanding research on sustainable rice production and food security, and we are working together to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities, improve forecasting of extreme weather, and tackle common diseases.

The range of our collaboration is truly out of this world. Through our Space Agency we are supporting research into the use of satellite technology to help our partners tackle problems ranging from illegal fishing in Indonesia to early warning of dengue outbreaks in Vietnam, and reducing illegal logging in Malaysia.

It may sound like science-fiction, but together with Singapore we are now firmly pushing the frontiers of ‘science fact’, with a £10 million joint initiative to build and fly a satellite quantum key distribution test-bed.

I won’t try to explain in detail what that is, I can’t claim to match Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s knowledge of quantum theory .

However I can say that it is a significant commitment to cyber technology and will open up a global market estimated to be worth more than £11 billion over the next ten years.

Research and innovation is already an integral part of the UK-ASEAN relationship and this latest project demonstrates just how far-reaching the opportunities could be in the future.

Trade is another area where I see huge scope for cooperation and two-way growth – and for using our departure from the EU as an opportunity for us all to redesign and strengthen our existing relationships.

It is something that our Prime Minister Theresa May was keen to emphasise at the recent Asia Europe Meeting in Brussels, which I also attended. Take our investment in Singapore for instance. Over 4,000 British companies have a presence here, employing over 50,000 people.

The UK is the second largest European investor in Singapore, and sixth largest overall. There is a similarly positive picture across the ASEAN region.

In 2017, trade between the UK and the region was worth over £36.5 billion.

The UK remains ASEAN’s second largest source of investment, and we invest three times as much as Germany or France in wider Southeast Asia.

UK goods exports to ASEAN grew by 19.9% between 2016 and 2017. Our overall exports were more than double those to India.

More than ever, we are urging and supporting UK companies to take advantage of opportunities overseas, and we are attracting inward investment into the UK too – not least for UK Smart Cities projects and align ourselves with the ASEAN Smart Cities Network.

We are also helping countries of the region to make themselves more attractive to foreign investment – using our Prosperity Fund programmes to cut red-tape, tackle corruption and promote a fair business environment. From within the EU we have been a cheerleader for its Free Trade Agreements with Singapore and Vietnam.

We are determined to ensure that these trade benefits are transitioned into bilateral arrangements immediately after we leave.

Alongside our bilateral agreements, we are also exploring accession to the CPTPP and ways to further develop trade and investment between us. We are doing all this with one goal in mind, to strengthen our partnership economically, diplomatically and politically with ASEAN.

Alongside all these areas of positive collaboration, we recognise that there are also challenges.

I make no bones about our concern over the direction some countries are taking on democratic values or human rights.

The ‘war on drugs’ in the Philippines and the recent flawed elections in Cambodia are two such causes of concern.

The despicable treatment of the Rohingya community by the Burmese military also remains high on the agenda of the UK and indeed many other nations the world over, not least here in South East Asia.

We do not hide our views on these subjects or row back from our firm commitment to uphold a rules-based international system, upon which prosperity, security and freedom for us all depends.

We continue to encourage others to remain equally committed, and my colleagues and I continue to press for positive change. We will continue to do so after we leave the EU.

Of course many of the challenges we face are shared, and they are challenges that we shall face together, because the UK is committed to the security of this region.

We demonstrate that commitment in a number of ways – including our permanent military presence in Brunei, our participation in the Five Power Defence Arrangements and the deployment of Royal Navy ships to the region – three this year alone. All of them have participated in joint exercises – a key part of our support for the development and integration of the region’s defence capabilities and our commitment to help address future security challenges.

Even in the defence sphere, our education links shine through. In the last five years, just under one hundred officers from ASEAN member states have graduated from UK defence establishments.

Today, the active Service Chiefs in four ASEAN countries studied in Britain.

It is not all ships, planes and people in uniform though. Our security cooperation is much broader than this, and cyber is a key element of it.

As you may know, Singapore, as the Chair of ASEAN, is spearheading an initiative to strengthen the cyberspace capabilities of all ASEAN states.

I am delighted that they have invited us to take part – we will be the only non-Dialogue Partner involved.

Counter Terrorism is another important element of our security collaboration.

We have established a regional Counter-Terrorism Unit to enhance the links between agencies and governments.

We have done extensive work in this area with Indonesia. We were a critical part of the JCLEC process that led to hundreds of arrests – by Indonesian officers drawing on skills learned from the UK.

I hope that I have given you a good idea of the breadth and depth of the UK’s engagement in ASEAN.

Not only that – I hope you have also got a sense of our ambition for our future relationship. I have seen first-hand what it is like now, and I know there is a huge appetite from both sides to maintain and strengthen this precious relationship after we leave the EU.

I believe we can afford to think ambitiously and I hope today’s discussions allow you to do that.

I wish you a productive day and I look forward to hearing how you have got on when I come back this evening!

Thank you.

Emily Thornberry – 2018 Speech at the International Parliamentary Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, at the International Parliamentary Conference held in Paris on 8 November 2018.

Thank you, your excellencies, ladies and gentleman. It is a very great privilege to stand before you today representing Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the United Kingdom’s official opposition, and to say without equivocation – to Keith Vaz, to Kamal Jendoubi, and to all of the Parliamentarians and NGOs here today – that we not only agree with every word of the pledge you will agree today, but that a future Labour government in Britain will commit to implement every word of that pledge from the first day we are in power.

I want to thank Kamal Jendoubi, and the panel of UN experts he has chaired, for blowing through the smoke which so often clouds these discussions, and making clear that every single day which passes in Yemen is another day when blatant crimes against humanity are allowed to continue, and are going uninvestigated and unpunished.

I want to thank all the NGOs gathered here today for the tireless, dangerous and all too thankless work you do to help the innocent victims of this war, especially the nine million adults and five million children not just facing starvation, but before the eyes of the world, now dying of starvation.

And I want to thank all the Parliamentarians here today, who for the last three years have been trying to turn the heads of the world and the heads of their governments towards this brutal, awful war, and saying: “Do not look away, stop ignoring this war, stop allowing this war, and stop arming this war”.

But I make no apologies for singling out one man, one son of Yemen, who has led that effort in my own country, who I know has inspired others across Europe and around the globe, and who is responsible for gathering us all here today. I want to thank Keith Vaz, who has done so much to drag the crisis in Yemen from two column inches on Page 26 onto the front pages of newspapers all across our world.

But Keith would be the first to admit one thing. The eyes of the world would not be so much on this conference, and the pledge that will be agreed today, if it were not for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the spotlight that murder has shone on the current government of Saudi Arabia and its total disregard for human rights, the rule of law, and the sanctity of human life.

And this is something that many have been willing to comment on and express outrage about in the last few weeks, but which so many of us in this room have been warning was happening not just once or twice, not just a hundred times over, or a thousand, but millions of times over, during the blockade and assault on Yemen.

And that is why, amid all the acres of news coverage, all the commentary and quotes, that have followed the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, there is one sentence that I cannot erase from my mind. It was spoken to reporters from The New York Times, by Dr Mekkia Mahdi, who works in a health clinic in Northern Yemen crammed with malnourished children escaping the bombardment of Hodeidah. A doctor with dozens of children starving and dying all around her every day as a result of this brutal war and the criminal closure of the supply routes from Hodeidah.

And Dr Mahdi said this: “We’re surprised the Khashoggi case is getting so much attention, while millions of Yemeni children are suffering and nobody gives a damn about them.” And as she said those very words, she sat by the bed of a 7-year old girl – a girl named Amal Hussain – and according to the New York Times reporters who brought the images of Amal’s suffering to the world, Dr Mahdi stroked Amal’s hair, but also tugged at the skin covering her emaciated body and said to the reporters: “Look, no meat. Only bones.”

As many of you will know, Amal Hussain, that 7-year old girl, died last weekend and her mother Mariam said it was not just that her heart was broken by losing Amal but she now had to worry about her other children suffering the same fate.

And yes, we can feel deep sorrow for Amal and her mother just as we did for the parents of the 40 children killed by a Saudi air-strike on their school bus in August, but I have to tell you this: I am sick and tired of sorrow. I am exhausted by crying over what happens one month only to see even worse happen the next.

And when it comes to Parliamentarians and NGOs like us, the children of Yemen have a right to demand more than sorrow and sympathy and tears. They are calling out for action. And we must listen to those voices. We must demand action.

And we must all stand up and condemn governments like Britain’s, governments all around the world, and the UN Security Council as a group, for not listening to the Expert Panel, for not taking action immediately, for not doing everything they can – for not even trying! – to bring this war to an end, and get relief to the children who need it.

Because wherever we are in the world, for all of us who have been involved in these debates for the last three years, the true questions we must all start to ask are these: how bad do things need to get before our governments will take action? And what does the Saudi coalition need to do before our governments will say ‘Enough’.

Because we cannot continue with the same debates that we have been having for the last three years and hearing exactly the same answers, seeing the carnage and the famine get ever worse, and seeing more and more children die, whether from air strikes, from the fighting in their streets, or from starvation.

But that is why today’s gathering matters so much. Because when facing situations like this, it is very easy to become jaded in our horror at what is happening and become pessimistic that it will ever change, pessimism that eventually leads to inaction, and inaction that eventually gives way to inattention.

And yes, the essential role that we must all play: Keith and Kamal, all the Parliamentarians and NGOs, and the journalists who are here today, is to stop our governments, and our parliaments from ever simply turning away. But we must also continually confront our governments and the UN Security Council with the individual faces and stories of the children whose blood will be on their hands if they delay action any longer.

Amal Hussain’s face will live long in my mind but I am also haunted by the story of an 8 year old called Imad interviewed by PBS in America a few months ago. He was just five years old when a missile hit his home and took both his legs above the knee. A year later, he was given prosthetic legs but he finds them too heavy and painful to wear so, he has had to learn to walk on his hands instead.

And PBS talked as well to young girls like 14 year old Gamaa, who had to leave school last year after her father died, and left the family without support. “I loved everything about school,” she said, “but teachers asked for money that I didn’t have. So I had to drop out.”

To try and help her family, she married a 16 year old boy. “I thought that, if I left, maybe it will help.”, she said, “but then I discovered that my husband doesn’t have a job.” Her new husband is kind to her, she says, but his family is just as poor as hers. A 14-year old girl.

And we all know that for every Imad and Gamaa, there are millions more children with stories just like theirs and thousands of others whose stories ended when the air strikes came, or they picked up a cluster bomb, or when the Houthis put a rifle in their hands, or like Amal Hussain, when the deprivation of food became too much.

And when we say there is no military solution to this crisis, let’s be clear what we mean. Because I sometimes say that to people: “There is no military solution”, and they say “Well actually, look at the Saudi advances”. But what we really mean is there is no possible military solution without unthinkable human costs for Yemen’s civilians, the innocent people who ask no more than to be allowed to live their lives.

So, we desperately need an alternative. We desperately need a political solution. And that is why the pledge we will make today is so important. And this is no counsel of despair. This is no retreat into pessimism. If anything, it is the exact opposite. Because the pledge we can agree on today and carry back to all our parliaments and governments is a blueprint for effective action to stop the humanitarian crisis, to achieve a lasting ceasefire, and to enable a long-term political solution: six clear, pragmatic, achievable steps.

And of all the countries represented here today, there is a special responsibility on the United Kingdom as the pen-holder on Yemen at the Security Council, as the country that has had a draft resolution along exactly these lines sitting on ice for the last two years, to immediately stop ducking that responsibility and bring forward that resolution.

So Keith and I will continue to make demands inside the UK Parliament for our government to do its job, and bring that resolution to the table, and I hope you will support us in that.

Because frankly, if we do not, if we do not act on this pledge as a world, then I am afraid we face the prospect of being gathered here again in another year, when tragically it may all be too late, and what Keith has always warned about will have come to pass: Yemen will have been allowed to bleed to death. That is a prospect, which – to me and to all of you – is I believe not just unthinkable, but utterly unacceptable.

The pledge we will sign today sets out the alternative, and it is one we must all embrace together.

Therese Coffey – 2018 Speech to Chatham House Forest Governance Forum

Below is the text of the speech made by Therese Coffey, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment, on 9 November 2018.

Thank you Chatham House for inviting me to speak today. I am delighted to be here, to welcome you to the United Kingdom from so many corners of the world, and to say a few words about our renewed ambition to work in partnership to tackle what remains a huge global challenge of fighting forest crimes and promoting sustainable forest-friendly commodity production – whether for timber, cocoa, soy, or palm oil.

The broad range of representatives, delegates and contributors here, and the scope of your agenda, certainly illustrate the global reach of the Forum, from new science on isotopes, to regulations in Korea and new partnerships in Honduras and Guyana.

Over the last two years, we have been focused on addressing the impact of deforestation and illegal logging. During my recent visits to Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya, and last month’s Illegal Wildlife Trade conference here in London, ministers and officials reaffirmed the destructive effects of deforestation and illegal logging – on people’s lives and livelihoods, in terms the loss of revenues, the links to organised crime, and the destructive impact on wildlife habitats. But I have also been impressed by the determination with which these countries are fighting these threats, for example by protecting mangroves in Mozambique. Addressing the challenges of environmental and forest crime, and promoting good governance of our natural resources really does matter – for me, for the UK Government, for all of you here today, for planet Earth.

You know the scale of forest crime is a major global challenge. According to recent World Bank research, in some countries almost 90 per cent of timber production is illegal. World-wide, exports of illegally logged timber are worth at least $20 billion a year, and that is probably an under-estimate. These illegal practices undermine the rule of law and fuel corruption, lose billions in potential tax revenues, deter investment and prevent the growth of sustainable businesses. We also know that the livelihoods of over 1 billion poor people and rural communities depend on forests. For forests to contribute to sustainable economic growth and biodiversity conservation we need to see massive improvements in how they are protected and managed.

Efforts to curb illegal logging are also critical to the global fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. Deforestation and land use change cause around one quarter of greenhouse gas emissions impacting on the functioning of ecosystems and contributing to the loss of species. So we cannot ignore this.

The UK is one of the largest global importers of timber, and we recognise our shared responsibility to tackle this problem. For the last twenty years we have been at the forefront of international action against illegal logging. We successfully argued for the inclusion of the topic in the 1998 G8 Action Programme on Forests, we worked together with the G8 and developing countries to organise a series of ministerial conferences, and we played a major role in formulating and implementing the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan – FLEGT, to use its rather clunky acronym.

We have worked together with businesses in the international timber trade, such as those dealing in construction, furniture and paper, to exclude illegal, high-risk timber from the British market. We have encouraged the development of company responsible purchasing policies and through using public procurement policy – the government’s own buying power – to source legal and sustainable wood products. Since 2013 our implementation of the EU Timber Regulation has ensured that all companies placing timber on the UK market have been required to scrutinise their supply chains to minimise the risk of their handling illegal products.

And we have supported forest-rich developing countries to put in place their own systems for tackling illegal logging.

Two years ago Indonesia became the first country to ensure that all its timber exports can affirm, through a license, that they are verified as legally produced. The EU now requires all timber imports from Indonesia to be accompanied by a license – from construction timbers through to furniture and paper.

Since 2016, the relevant UK authority – the Office of Product Safety and Standards – has verified more than 8,000 licences accompanying Indonesian exports, reassuring British companies that the timber products they put on sale are legal throughout the entire supply chain.

The UK has benefited from these changes. The UK is the largest importer of timber in Europe, so these transformational reforms in Indonesia open up an important source of high-quality, legal wood for UK companies.

Creating the governance systems to regulate, track and assure legality has been a massive achievement, particularly for such a large and diverse country, and I want to pay tribute to the dedication and determination shown by our partners in Indonesia, government, business and civil society alike. It gives a strong, positive message for other countries working to bring an end to illegal logging.

Even where the licensing system has not yet been put in place, the agreements have led to measurable improvements in forest governance: reforms to the framework of laws, policies and institutions, the inclusion of business and civil society in decision-making, improvements in transparency, and much else besides. These help lay the foundations for deep-seated, lasting progress in the fight against illegal logging.

Measures to reform governance are at the heart of our efforts to combat illegal logging and the trade in illegal timber.

Critical ingredients for these governance reforms have included:

Recognising the need for clear legal frameworks that set out responsibilities of people living with forests, of businesses and governments. In particular we need to ensure indigenous people and forest communities have secure rights and access to the forests they need for both their livelihoods and, indeed, their identity. Embedding these rights in law is a pre-condition to effective enforcement of their rights.

As well as clear rights and responsibilities, we need mechanisms that bring people together to design, oversee and enforce these legal arrangements. These mechanisms require access to information and increased capacity of community and private sector representatives to engage in policy processes. It is the shared understanding of policy that gives legitimacy to sector governance. DFID’s Forest Governance Markets and Climate programme, which sponsors this event, is at the forefront of this agenda.

We need the active involvement of the private sector to ensure that the reforms support their efforts to see responsible practices right down through their supply chains.

We need transparency to help us monitor what is working and what is not, and to hold us, and our partners to account. This transparency helps us to communicate and promote the results of these efforts in our own and international markets which in turn we hope will improve the incentives for good governance and responsible business.

l look forward to learning from your efforts to improve governance. In this room you have a tremendous richness of experience and Forums like this one today are important for us, to take stock, learn and adapt as we work to scale up efforts to stop illegal logging and its associated irresponsible trade.

We know illegal deforestation is not limited to the forest sector. Globally, high demand for agriculture commodities such as palm oil, soya, rubber and cocoa are also driving illegal forest clearance and undermining the rule of law. As you no doubt will be discussing in greater depth at this meeting, this forest clearance is now the greater source of illegal timber on the market. So it cannot be ignored.

Earlier this year, the UK Government set out our ambition in a 25 year Environment Plan to support and protect the world’s forests, supporting sustainable agriculture and enhancing sustainability, and supporting zero-deforestation supply chains.

My department, alongside DFID and BEIS, is supporting work to promote sustainable supply chains of other commodities, such as palm oil and soya that may put forests at risk. We are actively engaged with international efforts to promote sustainable supply chains, with other countries in the Amsterdam Group that aims at promoting zero-deforestation commodity supply chains, with the Tropical Forest Alliance and other business-led initiatives promoting responsible investment. And a few weeks ago, I held a roundtable discussion with my Ministerial colleagues from DFID and BEIS and leaders in the financial and commodities sector on establishing a Global Resource Initiative, to improve the sustainability of key commodities and reduce deforestation.

We will continue to nurture sustainable trade and harness its potential to drive sustainable development, supporting our developing country partners, and working in partnership with UK businesses, to drive growth and tackle climate change.

But, let me be clear, without sound governance arrangements in place in both tropical producer countries and consumer countries, private and public finance will struggle to slow down deforestation. The returns to cutting down and capturing the capital locked in standing forests, whether by corporate business, small holders or organised criminals, is just so high that we will not succeed without legal and social measures that reward the good guys and exclude the bad.

Investment and finance are important in our fight to preserve forests and habitats but without bringing together coalitions of interested parties to establish new rules and norms, we will forever be fighting against the tide. That is why meetings such as the one today are important: you help sustain the momentum that drives the challenging governance reforms forward.

The UK cannot tackle illegal deforestation and illegal logging alone. This is a global agenda.

The UK was instrumental in establishing the EU Timber Regulation and we are now making arrangements to put this into UK law, for after we leave the EU.

Other consumer countries have also established legislation to exclude illegal and high risk products from their markets: the US, Australia, Japan, Switzerland and, recently Korea – I see in the agenda that you have a session reviewing this welcome development

However, the global lockdown on illegal trade is not yet complete. There is one big hole in the fence. About 60% of the trade in tropical hardwoods now goes through China, with over 60% being consumed inside China. I recognise the difficulties for China in finalising mandatory regulations and enforcement arrangements, given the scale of demand from consumers domestically, in China and from other consumer markets, such as the UK.

Unfortunately, no-one from the Chinese government is here today, but we know, through our forest partnership with China, that they are well aware of their global responsibility and are keenly aware of the potential damage resulting from deforestation, as they witnessed first-hand with devastating floods in the 1990s. They appreciate, based on their own experiences, the technical challenges and the huge costs associated with reforestation. But unregulated production and unregulated trade, as you will be exploring at this meeting, has already brought irreversible damage on many tropical forests.

We will continue to encourage China to put in place and enforce their own mandatory regulations. We look forward to an announcement from China, closing this gap in the global market – perhaps at a future Chatham House event.

As the UK exits the EU we are determined to grow our ambition as framed by the policies of the FLEGT action plan – to encourage other markets to better regulate their imports and to work with producers to recognise their national systems of legality assurance. We are very keen to promote the principles of our work under EU FLEGT policies to a global level – building actions that link consumer markets with producer country efforts to regulate and ensure full compliance with their environmental and social laws

In 2020, the UK, along with 196 other countries, will agree and adopt a post-2020 strategic framework for biodiversity under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is a key moment to bend the curve away from biodiversity loss and shape a positive future for nature and people. All sectors have a role to play, including the forestry sector, and it is critical that the industry are part of that discussion from the start.

Finally, for this audience, and in these days where the UK’s exit from the EU remains in the headlines, let me return to the UK commitment to climate change, deforestation and illegal logging.

We remain committed to the environment, to mitigating climate change, to reducing deforestation and to preventing illegal logging

The EU Timber Regulation will be brought into UK law and the UK will put in place mechanisms to recognise the licensing systems of producer countries currently engaged in Voluntary Partnership Agreements with the EU

We remain committed to supporting the governance reforms of developing countries that underpin their legality assurance systems that will eventually result in licences for exports

We continue to promote responsible, legal and sustainable trade in agricultural commodities, such as palm oil, soya, beef, cocoa, and rubber – now more damaging to tropical forests than illegal logging

These UK commitments extend beyond this government and, in broad terms, across all parties in Parliament.

They resonate with concerns about the environment, fair trade and international development that go beyond “insiders and committed activists” and excite wider interest in our society.

Our commitment is not just to stand-alone programmes to mitigate climate change and arrest deforestation. This commitment aligns with other initiatives, including:

Tackling organised crime, the green washing of illegal proceeds;

Promoting rule of law; and

Encouraging democratic decision-making that brings citizens, communities, interest groups, the private sector and government together to formulate and enforce laws, based on transparency and public access to information.

I wish you well and I look forward to hearing of the outcomes of this the 28th illegal logging forum at Chatham House.

Jo Johnson – 2018 Resignation Statement

Below is the text of the resignation statement of Jo Johnson, the Conservative MP for Orpington.

Brexit has divided the country. It has divided political parties. And it has divided families too. Although I voted Remain, I have desperately wanted the Government, in which I have been proud to serve, to make a success of Brexit: to reunite our country, our party and, yes, my family too. At times, I believed this was possible. That’s why I voted to start the Article 50 process and for two years have backed the Prime Minister in her efforts to secure the best deal for the country. But it has become increasingly clear to me that the Withdrawal Agreement, which is being finalised in Brussels and Whitehall even as I write, will be a terrible mistake.

Indeed, the choice being presented to the British people is no choice at all. The first option is the one the Government is proposing: an agreement that will leave our country economically weakened, with no say in the EU rules it must follow and years of uncertainty for business. The second option is a “no deal” Brexit that I know as a Transport Minister will inflict untold damage on our nation. To present the nation with a choice between two deeply unattractive outcomes, vassalage and chaos, is a failure of British statecraft on a scale unseen since the Suez crisis. My constituents in Orpington deserve better than this from their Government.

What is now being proposed won’t be anything like what was promised two years ago.

Hopes for “the easiest trade deal in history” have proved to be delusions. Contrary to promises, there is in fact no deal at all on our future trading relationship with the EU which the government can present to the country. Still less anything that offers the “exact same benefits” as the Single Market, as David Davis promised, or the “precise guarantees of frictionless trade” that the Prime Minister assured us would be available. All that is now being finalised is the agreement to pay the EU tens of billions of pounds. All that may be on offer on trade is the potential for an agreement to stay in a temporary customs arrangement while we discuss the possibility of an EU trade deal that all experience shows will take many years to negotiate.

Even if we eventually secure a customs arrangement for trade in goods, it will be bad news for the service sector — for firms in finance, in IT, in communications and digital technology. Maintaining access to EU markets for goods is important, but we are fundamentally a services economy. Many in Orpington, for example, are among the two million Britons employed in financial services, commuting into the centre of London to jobs of all kinds in the City. Countries across the world go to great lengths to attract financial and professional services jobs from our shores. An agreement that sharply reduces access to EU markets for financial services — or leaves us vulnerable to regulatory change over which we will have no influence — will hurt my constituents and damage one of our most successful sectors.

While we wait to negotiate trading terms, the rules of the game will be set solely by the EU. Britain will lose its seat at the table and its ability to amend or vote down rules it opposes. Instead of Britain “taking back control”, we will cede control to other European countries. This democratic deficit inherent in the Prime Minister’s proposal is a travesty of Brexit. When we were told Brexit meant taking back powers for Parliament, no one told my constituents this meant the French parliament and the German parliament, not our own. In these circumstances, we must ask what we are achieving. William Hague once described the goal of Conservative policy as being “in Europe, but not run by Europe”. The government’s proposals will see us out of Europe, yet run by Europe, bound by rules which we will have lost a hand in shaping.

Worse still, there is no real clarity about how this situation will ever end. The proposed Withdrawal Agreement parks many of the biggest issues about our future relationship with Europe into a boundless transitionary period. This is a con on the British people: there is no evidence that the kind of Brexit that we’ve failed to negotiate while we are still members can be magically agreed once the UK has lost its seat at the table. The leverage we have as a full member of the EU will have gone. We will be in a far worse negotiating position than we are today. And we will have still failed to resolve the fundamental questions that are ramping up uncertainties for businesses and stopping them investing for the future.

My brother Boris, who led the leave campaign, is as unhappy with the Government’s proposals as I am. Indeed he recently observed that the proposed arrangements were “substantially worse than staying in the EU”. On that he is unquestionably right. If these negotiations have achieved little else, they have at least united us in fraternal dismay.

The argument that the government will present for the Withdrawal Agreement ‘deal’ is not that it is better for Britain than our current membership. The Prime Minister knows that she cannot honestly make the claim that the deal is an improvement on Britain’s current arrangements with the EU and, to her credit, refuses to do so. The only case she can try to make is that it is better than the alternative of leaving the EU with no deal at all.

Certainly, I know from my own work at the Department of Transport the potential chaos that will follow a “no deal” Brexit. It will cause disruption, delay and deep damage to our economy. There are real questions about how we will be able to guarantee access to fresh food and medicine if the crucial Dover-Calais trade route is clogged up. The government may have to take control of prioritising which lorries and which goods are allowed in and out of the country, an extraordinary and surely unworkable intervention for a government in an advanced capitalist economy. The prospect of Kent becoming the Lorry Park of England is very real in a no deal scenario. Orpington residents bordering Kent face disruption from plans to use the nearby M26, connecting the M25 to the M20, as an additional queuing area for heavy goods vehicles backed up all the way from the channel ports. This prospect alone would be a resigning matter for me as a constituency MP, but it is just a facet of a far greater problem facing the nation.

Yet for all its challenges and for all the real pain it would cause us as we adapt to new barriers to trade with our biggest market, we can ultimately survive these difficulties. I believe it would be a grave mistake for the government to ram through this deal by once again unleashing Project Fear. A “no deal” outcome of this sort may well be better than the never ending purgatory the Prime Minister is offering the country. But my message to my brother and to all Leave campaigners is that inflicting such serious economic and political harm on the country will leave an indelible impression of incompetence in the minds of the public. It cannot be what you wanted nor did the 2016 referendum provide any mandate for it.

Given that the reality of Brexit has turned out to be so far from what was once promised, the democratic thing to do is to give the public the final say. This would not be about re-running the 2016 referendum, but about asking people whether they want to go ahead with Brexit now that we know the deal that is actually available to us, whether we should leave without any deal at all or whether people on balance would rather stick with the deal we already have inside the European Union.

To those who say that is an affront to democracy given the 2016 result, I ask this. Is it more democratic to rely on a three year old vote based on what an idealised Brexit might offer, or to have a vote based on what we know it does actually entail?

A majority of Orpington voters chose to leave the EU in 2016 and many of the close friends I have there, among them hard-working local Conservative Party members, are passionately pro-Brexit. I respect their position. But I know from meetings I have had with local members that many are as dismayed as me by the course of negotiations and about the actual choice now on offer. Two and a half years on, the practical Brexit options are now clear and the public should be asked to choose between the different paths facing our country: we will all have different positions on that choice, but I think many in my local party, in the Orpington constituency and around the country would welcome having the last word on the Government’s Brexit proposals.

Britain stands on the brink of the greatest crisis since the Second World War. My loyalty to my party is undimmed. I have never rebelled on any issue before now. But my duty to my constituents and our great nation has forced me to act. I have today written to the Prime Minister asking her to accept my resignation from the Government. It is now my intention to vote against this Withdrawal Agreement. I reject this false choice between the PM’s deal and “no deal” chaos. On this most crucial of questions, I believe it is entirely right to go back to the people and ask them to confirm their decision to leave the EU and, if they choose to do that, to give them the final say on whether we leave with the Prime Minister’s deal or without it.

To do anything less will do grave damage to our democracy.

Jeremy Wright – 2018 Speech on the Centenary of the Armistice

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Wright, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, in the House of Commons on 6 November 2018.

I beg to move,

That this House has considered the centenary of the Armistice.

In May 1915, my grandfather arrived in France to fight for his country. Three years later, he came back. Millions of others did not or, if they did, came back terribly damaged, visibly or invisibly. They went to fight in what they knew as the great war: four years of blood, mud and misery in which humanity found new ways to kill and injure on a previously unimagined scale. When the cost and enormity of it could be better grasped, they came to call it, in shock, horror and, sadly, unrealistic optimism, the war to end all wars.

On Sunday, the nation will come together as one to pause and remember all those who died during this conflict and all those that have happened since. This year’s act of remembrance will be particularly special and poignant, however, as we mark the centenary of the end of the first world war. We have sought to commemorate the war in many ways over the past four years. For everyone, different events will stand out, but I will always remember the commemoration of the battle of Amiens at Amiens cathedral, which I was fortunate enough to attend. I sat in that magnificent cathedral with representatives of many countries that fought on both sides of the battles that marked the beginning of the end of the war, and I listened to the words of those who experienced them. Their emotions were deeply felt by those in the cathedral and, I am sure, by the millions watching on television and online.

Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)

I remember that I prepared a scrapbook of cuttings at the 50th anniversary for my grandfather who had fought in the first world war, but I was rather embarrassed in front of him because the coverage in the 1960s was relentlessly negative. Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that historiography has now changed? Most people realise that it was a sacrifice worth making, that the alternative would have been militarism and that the soldiers were actually well led in 1918.

Jeremy Wright

It is undoubtedly right that the vast majority of people in this country will come together on Sunday, as they have come together on many occasions over the past four years, to remember the sacrifice of those who gave their lives and who did so without a thought to their own interests and in the service of their nation.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab)

Many Members will have had a family member who was involved in the first world war in one way or another, and some of us will have family memories of different battles. Like the Secretary of State’s grandfather, my grandfather took part in the battle of Loos, which is not ​as well remembered as other battles. Does the Secretary of State agree that we should not forget such battles and the people who fought in them?

Jeremy Wright

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. We have not remembered every single battle over the past four years, but we have tried to remember a number of them. However, our collective effort to commemorate what happened is designed to encompass all battles and all those who fought in them.

Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) (Lab)

I thank the Secretary of State for his generosity in giving way. In common with many other Members, I will be joining remembrance events in my constituency on Sunday. I understand that the event held at Mirfield is the biggest and most well attended outside of London, so will he join me in welcoming the people in Mirfield who attend that event?

Jeremy Wright

I join the hon. Lady in welcoming that occasion. I am sure that it will be a particularly special year for her and for all those who attend.

The high-profile ceremonial events that I mentioned have been complemented by an extensive and engaging programme of cultural and educational activities. In 2012, the Government established the 14-18 NOW cultural programme to work with artists to tell these important stories through the mediums of culture and art. There has been a particular focus on engaging children and young people, with events including the great war school debate series and school battlefield tours, in which nearly 6,000 students and teachers visited the battlefields of northern France.

The groundbreaking 14-18 NOW programme has used its remit to enthral people from all walks of live. More than 35 million people have engaged with the centenary, including 7.5 million young people under the age of 25. It has clearly demonstrated that contemporary artworks in public places can attract large, diverse audiences. Whether it was turning the country dark as part of the “lights out” programme or the ghost soldiers that appeared across the country to mark the centenary of the battle of the Somme, these events have all captured the public’s imagination and have given remembrance prominence in our daily lives.

The ceramic poppies at the Tower of London were another moving tribute, bringing the programme to one of our most popular and cherished attractions. The poppies have since travelled to 19 locations, from Belfast to Southend and from Orkney to Plymouth, and have been visited by more than 4 million people. From next year, they will be part of the collection of the Imperial War Museum, where they can be viewed for many years to come.

As part of our programme, we have sought to highlight the enormous contribution made by those who came to our nation’s aid from across the world. Some 2.5 million men and women from the Commonwealth answered the call to fight, with 200,000 laying down their lives. They left their homes thousands of miles away to serve the allied cause with unstinting bravery, often in unimaginable conditions, and they must not be forgotten or overlooked.

Works by an extraordinarily diverse range of artists from the UK and abroad have helped us to highlight those contributions. Poets from the Caribbean diaspora, visual artists from India and Bangladesh, performers ​from South Africa, musicians from Syria and many more have all highlighted the global reach and impact of the war. That was shown vividly in March 2015, when an event commemorating the second battle of Neuve Chapelle took place at the Imperial War Museum North. The event was co-ordinated by British Muslim, Hindu and Sikh organisations, supported by the Government. It compellingly showed the partnerships and friendships that we hold so dear and that were so instrumental during the war.

We have seen all too well how history can divide, but one clear and ambitious goal throughout this centenary period has been to seek to use history to bring us together. The Government have worked closely with the Irish Government, for example, over the past four years to mark these events. That was most clearly demonstrated in the shared approach to the battle of Messines Ridge commemoration in June 2017, which was attended by both His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge and the then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny. The battle has considerable historic and symbolic significance for the UK and Ireland, as it was the first time that the 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish) Divisions fought alongside each other during the great war. The event provided a valuable opportunity to remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought, as well as to explore our shared history and support efforts to build a peaceful future.

Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)

Will the Minister join me in welcoming the changing attitude, particularly in the Irish Republic, where for many decades there was little or no appreciation of that contribution? Does he agree that that should continue and, in fact, increase over the coming years?

Jeremy Wright

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The co-operation and full support we have received from the Irish Government has been most welcome, and I hope it will set a new tone for future commemorations. It is deeply appreciated by those on both sides of the border who have been involved in these commemorations.

Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)

Another way to commemorate the shared interest between Ireland and the UK is through the merchant navy. Many vessels sailed constantly through the great war between Ireland and Welsh ports, and there were many casualties. We have had commemorations of that this year, so will the Secretary of State put on record his thanks to the merchant seafarers of Ireland and Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom?

Jeremy Wright

I will certainly do that. I am sure the commemorations that will take place in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency will make particular reference to those people, and that is entirely as it should be. It is also important to say that the German Government have been hugely supportive of our commemorations. Germany has been represented at very senior levels at all our events, and German military representatives have participated extensively.

One hundred years ago, the news of the Armistice was celebrated on these shores. On Remembrance Sunday this year, out of respect for living veterans, and the service’s wider purpose in remembering the fallen of all conflicts, we will share our usual sombre moment of ​remembrance, with the customary two minutes’ silence. Wreaths will be laid at the Cenotaph, including, uniquely, one by the President of Germany. In recent months, there has been an unprecedented amount of commemorative activity up and down the country, leading up to that day. The nation is truly coming together, because 11 November 1918 is a significant day in our history. In dispatches from the frontline, soldiers often struggled to articulate how they felt when the guns stopped firing. They reported a mixture of joy, relief, numb disbelief and grief. For many, there was also a sense of achievement and justice.

Bob Stewart (Beckenham) (Con)

Let me remind my right hon. and learned Friend of the words of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy—“Woodbine Willie”:

“There are many kinds of sorrow in this world of love and hate but there is no keener sorrow than a soldier’s for his mate”.

Jeremy Wright

Those words put it well. It is evident in all the commemorations we have witnessed how much of what was done and sacrificed by those who fought was done in fellowship for those they went to fight with. I agree with my hon. Friend.

After the service of remembrance this year, we will give our thanks for the end of the war and show our support for those who returned. The traditional Royal British Legion parade of veterans will this year be followed by an additional procession of 10,000 members of the public paying personal tribute and giving thanks to the generation who served then. The procession will be complemented in the afternoon by the nationwide ringing of bells, across the UK, and throughout the rest of the world, echoing the bells that rang out after many years of silence 100 years ago. In the evening there will be a national service of reflection and thanksgiving in Westminster abbey, with similar services taking place across the UK. This will be a moving and inspiring day that will unite us all.

I am sure we will hear plenty more reflections on these events during this debate. Many people have been involved in making these commemorations a success: charities, including, of course, the Royal British Legion; civil society groups; officials from across the Government, including, in particular, those from my Department; and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. They all deserve our thanks and congratulations. I would also like to thank the first world war advisory group for its guidance throughout this process. I want to make special mention of my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), who has acted throughout this period as the Prime Minister’s special representative for the first world war. I hope the House will hear from him this afternoon, and I think it true to say these commemorations would not have had the same shape and resonance as they have had without his considerable efforts. I would also like to pay tribute to the work of the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis), whom I am also delighted to see in his place this afternoon. I know he has also been passionate in wanting these commemorations to have the widest possible reach.

The first world war started more than a century ago, yet these commemorations have brought that war to life in ways that feel tangible and within our grasp. It is so ​important that future generations have the opportunity to hear these stories. This was a war not about monarchs or generals, but about people like us. In fact, 264 Members of this House served in that war, 22 of whom were killed. We remember the remarkable challenges faced by all those who fought, but we also remember that they came from our cities, towns and villages. They were people like us, and that should give us hope, as well as pride and sadness, because in those whom we remember, we see the huge capacity for service, for sacrifice, in people just like us, just when history needed it. They went off to war with friends and neighbours and workmates, or contributed in other ways, not because they thought they were special, but because they thought they were ordinary. They did what they thought everyone did for their country in its hour of need, but we remember them, and honour them, 100 years later, not because we know they were ordinary but because we know they were special.

Over the past four years, we have done our best to remember them all. I believe that we have done it well and that we can be proud not just of the people whom we have remembered, but of the way in which we have remembered them, and this House, and this nation, will always remember them.

Chris Grayling – 2018 Statement on the EU Transport Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 6 November 2018.

I attended the informal meeting of members of the Transport and Environment Councils in Graz, Austria on 29 and 30 October.

The programme for the informal meetings included separate sessions for transport and environment Ministers and a joint session for both Ministers entitled “Starting a new Era: clean, safe and affordable mobility for Europe”.

On 29 October, Transport Ministers were invited to discuss the Commission’s proposal on “Discontinuing seasonal changes of time (summer time)”. My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Henley, represented the UK at this session and explained that the UK Government do not support the proposed directive. He also noted the Commission had fallen short on the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality as has been highlighted by the decision of the House of Lords to issue a reasoned opinion. (The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has subsequently recommended that the House of Commons also issue a reasoned opinion on this matter.)

There was broad consensus in Council that the timetable proposed by the Commission was too short and thus there was widespread support for the presidency’s intention to provide for an extension. A small minority of member states were notably critical of the proposal while the majority welcomed the initiative, albeit noting its deficiencies. Several member states advocated the need to co-ordinate across borders in order to know the final time zone arrangements before taking the decision to abolish daylight saving.

Environment Ministers were then invited to discuss “The future of European environmental policy”. The Secretary of State for the Environment was represented by officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Ministers broadly agreed on the need for an eighth environment action programme (EAP) with a consensus that it should take full account of climate change given the report from the Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on global warming of 1.5 °C published last month.

At the joint session for Transport and Environment Ministers on 30 October, interventions were wide-ranging with common themes being the need to move towards zero emissions vehicles and enabling people to choose sustainable ways to travel. These themes were reflected in the presidency’s “Graz declaration” published after the meeting. For the UK, I stressed the importance of ambition to accelerate the development and introduction of zero emission vehicles, recalling that the Prime Minister had hosted the world’s first zero emission vehicle summit in Birmingham recently.​
The subject for the afternoon session was road safety. Transport Ministers shared experiences with progress to date in reducing casualties and their perception of the challenges in making more progress. In my intervention I noted that human error was a factor in over 85% of road accidents, and that connected and automated vehicles offered opportunities to make our roads safer.

In the margins I met with a number of EU Transport Ministers to discuss current EU transport business and how relationships will evolve as the UK leaves the EU.

James Brokenshire – 2018 Statement at Locality Convention

Below is the text of the speech made by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, on 7 November 2018.

Thanks, Tony I’m delighted to be here – as, I understand, the first Secretary of State to attend this conference for some time.

All I can say is that my predecessors didn’t know what they were missing!

You and your organisations represent some of the most exciting work going on in our communities and I’m so pleased to be here to thank you for everything you’re doing and to be inspired by your example.

Because as this year’s theme – “the power of community” acknowledges – you know, better than anyone, why strong communities – well-integrated, socially and economically robust communities – matter so much. In good times and bad, they are glue that binds us.

We saw this most powerfully, recently, in the aftermath of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the terror attacks in Manchester and London.

And who can forget the glorious celebrations around the London 2012 Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilees?

In this week alone, we’re marking the centenary of the Armistice and, from today, Diwali, with its hopeful message about the “victory of light over darkness”.

Underlining the rich diversity and the immense contributions from all communities that makes our country what it is.

But it’s not just the big milestones that count.

It’s the infinite daily interactions, the endless web of interdependencies, the collective memory of shared history and values that ultimately make a place more than a group of people living side by side and make it a community.

That, and a real sense of pride and belonging.

Despite the daily pressures we all face, that pride continues to shine through.

We see, for example, that 82% of those who responded to the Community Life Survey agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well in their area.

And 59% said that people in their neighbourhood pull together to improve it.

The benefits for communities that boast this pride and solidarity are clear.

The higher the levels of integration, the higher our sense of wellbeing and the less likely we are to suffer from anxiety and health problems.

If our children grow up in neighbourhoods where they have access to inclusive spaces like parks and activities such as arts and sport they’re less likely to turn to crime.

The wider our social network, the greater our prosperity as we share information more readily about job prospects.

But, in truth, that’s not how it often feels on the ground.

We live in a world that can feel increasingly divided and polarised, leaving us feeling that the world around us is changing, but that we have little control over our lives.

Making it harder to hold onto to what unites us rather than divides us.

As I said earlier, we’re all the stronger for our diversity as a country and all parts of our community should be able to take advantage of everything that modern Britain offers – to realise their potential and play a full and active part in our society.

And this, in many ways, is the defining challenge of the age for all modern, mature democracies: how to harness change and the opportunities that flow from it for the benefit of all and ensure that no-one is left behind.

There are no easy answers to this conundrum and many communities are, unsurprisingly, feeling the strain.

Hate crime is at worrying levels, here and – as we saw all too tragically in Pittsburgh – abroad.

As are issues around loneliness and social isolation, affecting young and old alike.

Our high streets, too, are under severe pressure.

And there’s a pressing need for more decent, affordable homes, but also worries about the impact of new development.

So there are some huge challenges facing our communities – challenges that I know many of you are meeting head-on; drawing on your invaluable local knowledge, networks and the latest technology and, in the process, empowering local people as never before.

And I want to pay tribute to your incredible efforts and the very real impact they’re having.

Here, in Bristol, for example, we can see how Knowle West Media Centre is harnessing digital technologies and the arts for the benefit of the community by supporting people to draw on them when developing their own enterprises and tackle the community issues that they care about.

There’s also the very commendable work of community-led groups like the Community Security Trust, Tell MAMA and Galop who are standing up to hatred and bigotry, wherever it exists, and supporting victims. I’m proud to stand with them.

Faith communities – such as the Al-Khoei Islamic Centre in London, which threw open its doors during the Jewish festival of Sukkot and built a Sukkah – are also making a real difference.

As is local government, which has a vital role to play in strengthening communities – in its own right and also while working in partnership with community groups and the voluntary sector.

I saw for myself what this means when I recently visited Cornwall – where a lot of my family came from – which has fully embraced the devolution agenda and is working with parish and town councils and a range of community groups to devolve assets, services and influence.

One such example was a much-loved running track in Par, which, coincidentally, I’d used in my youth, that had been taken over by a community group when it faced closure.

It was wonderful to see it in such good hands and the group’s high ambitions for its future, which included a skate park, café and a new children’s area.

And we can see that other authorities like Durham and Wiltshire are also stepping up to deliver this kind of “onward” devolution in service delivery – which puts local communities in the driving seat to decide their own priorities and find local solutions that suit local circumstances.

And which helps them take control and ownership of the spaces and assets that will help their neighbourhoods flourish – something that my department is championing in partnership with Locality through a Community Enabler Fund.

One of a number of projects on which I’m pleased to see that we’re collaborating.

This shift in power from the state to the citizen is true localism, a much-needed renewal of our democracy, in action.

And I want to see much more of it.

Cornwall, Wiltshire and Durham all became unitaries nearly a decade ago and they have shown that local reorganisation should not lead to services being sucked up to a more distant central authority on high.

Quite the reverse.

They have been able to drive services and decisions down to communities on the ground.

The benefits speak for themselves – tailored, more effective services, stronger local economies and more engaged, more confident communities.

Communities in which the conversation is happening, not official to official, but between local leaders and the people they serve.

It’s essential that we do much more to celebrate and learn from their example and from the communities who are leading the way – and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing through the fantastic Communities Roadshow being launched today.

Because it’s clear that we all need to play our part.

Councils, faith leaders, community groups, businesses, the voluntary sector.

And, yes, government – in doing what we can to support you and to create the conditions where local communities are truly free to determine their own destinies and removing the barriers that stand in your way.

To that end, I’m working with colleagues across government on projects such as the Integrated Communities, Civil Society and Loneliness Strategies as well as the Hate Crime Action Plan.

I have also launched the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission to reinforce the central role of communities in shaping our built environment.

Because decisions about the way we use space, about the quality of design and style of our buildings are inextricably linked to our sense of identity and sense of pride in the places we call home.

This is what creates strong neighbourhoods and all our spaces and places should embody this aspiration for, yes, beauty, and buildings that are in keeping with their surroundings and that are built to last.

In addition, I recently agreed an ambitious Mission Statement for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that demonstrates why communities are at the heart of everything we do as a department – be it our quest to build more homes, support quality public services or drive local growth.

This Statement is centred on 4 themes.

Firstly, we’re giving communities more control over the decisions that matter to them.

Nowhere is this more evident than on housing.

We’re giving local people a bigger say over the future of their communities through for example, neighbourhood plans.

Residents all over the country – including here in Bristol – are seizing the powerful opportunity they offer to decide where new homes, green spaces and other facilities should go and how they should look and feel.

And I’m delighted that we’re backing them with more money – an extra £8.5 million, announced at Budget, which takes our current investment in neighbourhood planning to £34.5 million.

Then there’s the £163 million of funding we’re making available for community housing – housing for the community delivered by the community to meet local need.

Giving communities more control also means giving them a role in policy development through initiatives such as the Community Partnership Board that I’ll be attending for the first time later this month.

Secondly, we’re giving communities a sense of safety and pride by ensuring that they’re economically and socially resilient in changing times.

Businesses have a major role to play in this endeavour.

And so I’m pleased to announce that my department will be working more closely with Business in the Community to provide practical support to businesses on volunteering opportunities for their employees and to promote better integration between people from different backgrounds.

Business in the Community has an impressive track record in this area and I look forward to seeing what more we can achieve together.

We’re also working closely with businesses to revive our high streets which, in so many ways, represent the heart of our communities.

We know how much people value them – and how worried they are to see them struggling as technology changes the way we shop and do business.

Which is why the £1.5 billion package of support unveiled in the Budget for high streets is so welcome.

This spans not just vital short-term relief for small retailers – that will bring their business rates down by a third.

But also a long-term vision for our high streets that goes with the grain of our changing lives and flexes with technology to pave the way for the “smart cities” and “tech towns” of tomorrow.

A vision that will be underpinned by a £675 million Future High Streets Fund – which will help councils innovate and improve their town centres – and a relaxation of planning rules that will see more people living on our high streets and more mixed-used businesses.

There are currently over 27,000 premises lying vacant in England’s town centres.

If we turned just a fraction of these into homes, thousands more people could have a roof over their head.

And research shows that higher numbers of residents on our high streets can generate higher footfall and, in turn, higher demand for shops and services.

And there will be other imaginative, creative approaches – that will differ from area to area -–that will help our high streets reinvent themselves and thrive again – and I’m looking forward to celebrating these trailblazers and the incredible people behind them at the upcoming Great British High Street Awards.

We need to pull out all the stops to support communities to create many more of these vibrant, thriving hubs – hubs that make the most of the human interactions and experiences they offer that no online competitor can hope to replicate.

The action we’re taking is an important step towards this.

Which brings me to the third theme: inclusive community spaces.

These obviously include our high streets as well as parks and other assets and are crucial for many of the same reasons – their ability to bring people from different backgrounds together in a meaningful way that breaks down mistrust.

Plus their ability to combat social isolation and give people a sense of belonging.

As such, their value is beyond measure.

And so I’m delighted to be launching a new project, Open Doors, that will see empty shops being opened up to community groups offering services to younger and older people. The aim is to reduce loneliness whilst increasing footfall on our high streets and town centres.

We’re calling today for landlords, public and private, to come forward and play their part in this exciting initiative and help truly transform their communities.

We need to be bold and imaginative in tackling the challenges we face and ensure that – in line with the fourth and final theme – no communities are left behind.

This is especially important as we leave the European Union and chart a new course to a brighter future.

I want to ensure that all parts of our country can seize the opportunities that will be unleashed.

It’s with this in mind that our UK Shared Prosperity Fund will focus on tackling the inequalities between communities by driving up productivity, particularly in those areas whose economies are lagging furthest behind.

I want communities across the country to have a voice in determining their economic destiny.

This Fund will give them that voice and help bridge the divides between the places that are prospering and those that are struggling.

Now, this mission to build a more inclusive society also very much extends to people living in social housing.

The terrible events at Grenfell shone a light on their experiences which, for too long, had been overlooked by successive governments.

And before I go on, I want to condemn in the strongest terms the appalling video, on social media, showing an effigy of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire.

It beggars belief that anyone would do this, given everything that the bereaved and survivors have been through. We will always stand by them – as a community and also with other people living in social housing.

To that end, we recently published a social housing green paper, informed by the views of around 8,000 residents from across the country, which focuses on the issues that matter most to them.

Many spoke of their pride in their home and communities, but also about the disgraceful stigma that they face – and creating a new contract on social housing.

We’re determined to stamp this out and are renewing and deepening our commitment to these communities to deliver a new generation of social housing.

Conclusion

Because the only way we will build a stronger, fairer Britain, the only way we can bridge the divides that hold us back, and renew our democracy is by building stronger, fairer communities.

Communities in which everyone has the opportunity, security and dignity to build a better life.

And that with a renewed focus on community we can create a country which works for everyone – and recognise that intrinsic connection between us.

Of family, of faith, of neighbourliness, of community.

That as we chart a positive new direction for our country through Brexit and beyond, we can create strong, confident communities socially and economically.

Which celebrates our rich diversity as a strength which defines the country, the people we are. That there is so much more that unites us than divides us.

Jeremy Hunt – 2018 Speech on Britain and France

Below is the text of the speech made by Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, in Paris, France on 8 November 2018.

t is a great pleasure to be here in Paris this morning, in this historic setting.

This is – to use a little English understatement – an important moment in the future of the relationship between our countries.

There have been many such moments in the long sweep of our history, and we know, without a doubt, that there will be many more in the decades to come.

What matters is what we decide to do with those moments.

Those decisions fall to each generation.

To plot their own course and determine their destiny and that of their countries.

What is unique about the relationship between Britain and France is the extent to which those decisions, those destinies, have been, are, and will be, entwined.

That long history has, as we all know, had…let me put it diplomatically… its high and its lows.

And it is a relationship of competition and cooperation, similarity and difference.

Indeed my view is that it is precisely that mix which gives it its strength – because we have made a choice – for nearly 200 years – to work together.

And it is my contention that the relationship between our countries – born of shared geography, history and culture, and forged through joint struggle and sacrifice, is as important today as it has ever been; that our fortunes are as bound together as they have ever been; and that the case for the closest possible partnership between Britain and France is as strong as it has ever been.

But how that partnership evolves depends on the decisions we make now.

So today I want to look at things in the round – to consider our past, our present and our future – the future that, yes does mean getting Brexit right, but which goes beyond that and will be for the next generation to build.

The Past

But I want to start with the past.

This week – of all weeks – our shared past has particular resonance and weight.

This Sunday, at 11 o’clock, it will be 100 years exactly since the guns fell silent on the Western front.

At the Arc de Triomphe here in Paris and at the Cenotaph in London, and in towns and villages across France and Britain, our countries will commemorate the end of the War.

Tomorrow, the French President and the British Prime Minister will be together in the battlefields of the Somme – scene of some of the bloodiest fighting.

They will remember our shared sacrifice. The British Army lost 20,000 dead in a single day on 1 July 1916. The Somme was our Verdun.

This was a war which changed our countries and our continent forever.

It was a war in which our destinies as nations were yoked together – in which we fought and bled side by side for over four years – and in which, in the end, we prevailed.

We sometimes forget that in the closing months of that war, the two million soldiers of the British Army fought under French command for the first time.

The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, said that Marshal Foch was the ‘only general in the field with the necessary decision and vision to plan out such a campaign’.

After the Armistice, Foch said ‘I am conscious of having served England as I served my own country’ – words carved in stone beneath his statue near Victoria Station in London.

But the victory that Franco-British cooperation made possible came at a terrible price.

Across France, 575,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers lie buried, alongside 1.4 million French comrades who fell alongside them.

Row after row of silent white headstones speak more eloquently than we ever could on the strength of our alliance, and the depth of our shared sacrifice.

I am fortunate to come from a generation which has never known such horror, and which has been blessed by the peace and friendship we have built with Germany, something we will also mark this weekend.

But if our shared history has taught us anything, it is surely to value peace – and never to take it for granted.

Of course, our history goes back much further than a hundred years.

Britain’s long and complex relationship with France is one of the most important that we have with any country in the world.

We are approaching 1,000 years since William the Conqueror landed near Hastings, and the Duke of Normandy became the King of England.

The Bayeux tapestry – which chronicles the story of William’s arrival in England – turns out to have been just the opening chapter in the Franco-British story.

If we brought the tapestry up to date, it would stretch all the way from Paris to London and back.

It would tell of our highs and our lows, our friendships and our enmities, our triumphs and our defeats.

That is why President Macron’s decision to lend the Bayeux tapestry to Britain – announced at the Sandhurst Summit earlier this year – so captured the public imagination on the other side of the Channel.

It represents – literally – the common thread of our shared history, going to the heart of both countries’ identity.

That sense of similarity and difference runs through the next nine centuries.

And it extends into the most recent period of our story during which – for nearly 200 years now – Britain and France have not only been at peace, but in alliance, standing together against danger and when, twice in a century, the very existence of our nations was threatened.

The Present

Why does all this matter?

Because it is not the stuff of books and museums.

It is the underpinning of the world we built – together.

And in that world our countries are as closely connected, our story is just as interwoven as it has ever been.

Geographical neighbours; separated by 33 kilometres of what Churchill called that ‘strip of salt water’, but joined now by a tunnel through which 57,000 pass every single day.

Hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens choose to live in each others’ countries, where they make such a valued contribution.

I would like to take this opportunity to repeat the Prime Minister’s commitment to the French people in Britain – and all EU citizens – protecting their rights after we leave the EU. And I am sure that the same assurances will be offered to British citizens living here in France.

About 12 million Britons visited France last year – and more French people visited the UK than any other nationality.

It is a relationship that is underpinned by human ties of friendship.

And at a Governmental level, by the fact that Britain and France are both European nations with a global vocations, who share the same values, and who see the world in broadly the same way. We helped fashion the global order, and we share an interest in defending it.

We face the same terrorist threats, and we know that we must work hand in hand to defeat them.

We both know that sometimes to defend the peace, you need to be ready to use military force.

We know that the threats to European peace and security are more serious than they have been for a generation, and that as Europe’s only two major military powers, we need to confront those threats together.

We both believe in nuclear deterrence, and in maintaining our deterrents for our own defence and the defence of our allies.

That is why we so often form joint positions, including on the Security Council where we both have permanent seats, to deal with an increasingly unstable world.

That is why when our countries have been attacked by terrorists, there was such an outpouring of mutual solidarity.

We will never forget the moment after the Manchester attack when President Macron walked from the Elysee Palace to the British Embassy to express France’s solidarity, and the crowd at the Stade de France sang the British national anthem – nor, when, after the Bataclan attack the crowd at Wembley sang the Marseillaise.

That is why, after the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury in March, France rallied to the UK’s side, leading a robust European response, working together to expel scores of Russian diplomats from our continent.

And in April, British and French aircraft, with our US allies, acted together to strike chemical weapons installations in Syria, and to enforce the global ban on the use of chemical weapons which was itself born out of the suffering in the trenches 100 years ago.

That is why our defence cooperation – rooted in the Lancaster House accords – is so deep.

RAF Chinook helicopters are flying missions in the Sahel, transporting French troops as part of Operation Barkhane.

Together we have forged a combined joint expeditionary force, which will be combat capable by 2020.

This year our warships have both upheld freedom of navigation by sailing through the South China Sea.

And our cooperation extends far beyond the security domain to genomics, artificial intelligence, cyber and space.

The scale and breadth of cooperation is probably closer than it has ever been.

The Future

Which brings us back to Bayeux.

Now, as President Macron said at Sandhurst, we are weaving a new tapestry.

What path will it follow, what scenes will it depict?

Because we are at a moment of decision, and the answers we give in the coming weeks and months could determine the shape of Franco-British relations, and of relations between Britain and her European partners, for many years, perhaps decades to come.

Which brings me, of course, to Brexit.

And here our history is again relevant: for all our similarities, we are also different.

I understand that for so many in France that the outcome of the referendum result was disappointing.

I know that in France the Brexit vote is often seen as Britain pulling up the drawbridge, turning its back on Europe and reaching out for ‘le grand large’.

But that is not how we see it.

And this is where our peculiar mixture of similarity and difference is important.

France sees the EU as vital to its destiny, to the stability of the continent and above all to its relationship with Germany.

We recognise that. We understand it. We value it.

But Britain has never felt quite the same, for the simple reason that our experiences have been different.

Yes, we are similar in that we are both European countries who cherish our global role.

But we differ, I believe, in our view of the process and goals of EU integration. The reality is that our public has always been reluctant about the political character of the Union and uncertain about its ultimate destination.

That made the experience of the pooling of sovereignty which the EU entails uncomfortable for us – and I think that goes a long way to explaining the result of our referendum.

Indeed for most British people, their concept of Europe has never been synonymous with the European Union.

Whereas for so many people in France, I believe, the European Union is at the heart of their notion of Europe.

Why does this matter?

Because so far in our recent history we have been able to draw strengths from our similarities, but recognise and respect our differences in the choices we have made together.

And we have now reached another such moment of decision, and the decisions we take as Governments will have far-reaching consequences.

Our people have voted in a referendum to leave the EU and its decision-making bodies.

We must respect their democratic choice.

But we intend to remain a European power into the future, as we have always been in the past.

A European power, whose values remain European values.

A European power committed to the security of the European continent.

A European power with a European economic model, with universal public services and the highest standard of consumer and environment protection.

A European power, whose children continue to do exchanges with each other and get to know and treasure each others’ countries – as I did at the age of 7 in Angers, in France; whose students study together; whose scientists and researchers and Nobel Prize winners continue to push forward the frontiers of human knowledge together.

That is the strategic choice we have made in our approach to these negotiations. From our perspective we see no contradiction in wanting to continue to work together even as the institutional relationship changes.

And so?

What does this mean for our future, and for this negotiation, which is now entering its crucial endgame?

I would suggest three things.

First, our shared past, does not, of course mean that we do not remain two nations, each pursuing our national interests as we judge them, in the interests of the people we are elected to serve.

But, having thought deeply about these issues, my view is that just as our interest and choice is to remain close to Europe, the EU’s interest lies too in close cooperation – for our security, our economies and our peoples.

So I hope that we can redouble our efforts to reach an agreement.

Second, we each need to make a particular effort to understand the other’s perspective.

I know there are concerns that a deal which allows the UK to have the advantages of membership without the obligations, could lead to unfair competition and ultimately to the unravelling of the EU.

I want to be 100 percent clear. We have heard those concerns, and we believe that we can address them. Indeed that the only way to address them is for an ambitious agreement that provides the kind of guarantees necessary.

Remember this basic fact.

From 29 March next year, we will be on the outside, not the inside.

There will be no British Prime Minister turning up at European Council meetings, no Ministers deciding new legislation, no British MEPs, no British judges on the European Court of Justice.

So we are not, as is sometimes suggested, even occasionally here in France, trying to have our ‘cake and eat it’.

But we have offered a framework for our future relationship which should give you confidence that we are not going to pursue a race to the bottom, and which would allow our economic and security relationships to continue, not as they were before – but on a dependable basis on which we could continue to build in the years ahead.

A relationship in which the UK will be a third country – but would remain tied by bonds of friendship and commerce for decades to come.

The alternatives do not deliver that certainty. They make a choice for friction – at our border with queues at Dover and Calais, in the exchange of information between our security services and in greater divergence in our rules and regulation.

That choice would seem to me to be a mistake.

My last point is this.

This is not a dry, technical discussion, although sometimes it can seem that way – with all the talk of regulatory standards and implementation periods and the like.

At heart, it is about the destiny of our ancient nations – and of our ancient continent – and how best we shape our future as European nations.

About how we weave the next chapter of the tapestry and what story it will tell.

That is why I feel so passionately that we need to get this right, that we need to make the right choices in the weeks to come.

So that the generations who come after us and look across the Channel will see that in 2019 Britain left the European Union, and a chapter ended.

But the story of the European Union continued, and that the story of Britain’s friendship and alliance with Europe and above all with France not only endured, but grew in strength.

In other words the end of a chapter did not mean the end of the book. Far from it. It mean the beginning of a new chapter, in which we found new ways to work closely together.

Those future generations will see, I hope, that confronted with the common threats before us, and which are growing, we faced up to them together.

That together we defended the post-war international order and institutions that are today under threat.

That we together stayed true to our values and democratic principles that are being challenged – in practice and in theory – as never before in my lifetime.

That we together adapted to the challenges and opportunities that globalisation is posing to our economies and more importantly our societies.

I know it is not easy but that is my hope.

That is Britain’s hope.

I believe that is France’s hope, and that of our European partners.

Let’s find the political will – as friends, as allies, as partners – to turn that hope into reality.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Women MPs of the World Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at a reception of the Women MPs of the World conference on 7 November 2018.

Good evening everyone, and a very warm welcome to Downing Street for what is a very special event.

The women here tonight come from many nations, many cultures and many backgrounds. We have lived very different lives, we hold different political beliefs, but each of us have answered the unique calling that is public service. And we all have the privilege of serving our communities and our countries in our national legislatures.

Here in the UK, women have been allowed to do that for just 100 years – later this month will see the centenary of the law being changed to allow women to stand for Parliament. A year from now we will also mark the 100th anniversary of Nancy Astor becoming the first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons.

Celebrating is something we should be doing this evening. Because today, 2018, we see more female members of parliaments and legislative assemblies around the world than there have ever been.

And that is good news for all of the citizens we serve.

More women in elected office means a greater voice speaking out on issues that affect women, certainly. It also means a greater focus on preventing gender-based violence, on girls’ education, on childcare and on women’s health.

One of my proudest achievements as Home Secretary was passing the Modern Slavery Act, which makes a real difference in the fight to protect women and girls.

And as Minister for Women and Equalities I was delighted to change the law on parental leave so that both parents are able to take on caring responsibilities for their child – something I’d long campaigned for in opposition.

But the benefits of a more equal parliament are also felt more widely. After all, if half the population is systematically excluded from politics them you’re excluding half the talent.

A parliament where women are a rare sight is a parliament working with one hand tied behind its back; a more representative parliament leads to better decision making, better politics and ultimately better government.

So we should absolutely celebrate the progress that has been made, and the number of women who now have a place in their nation’s parliament. And we should remember that it has not come about by accident. It is the result of many years of effort by people around the world.

That includes one of the women who has been instrumental in helping to deliver tomorrow’s conference, Harriet Harman MP.

Harriet has been an MP for 36 years – she won’t mind me saying. She has spent much of that time battling to make Parliament a better, more accessible workplace for women. And although we certainly have our differences, Harriet, I want to thank you for all you have done –and continue to do – to support the cause of women in politics.

In 2010 I took over from Harriet as Minister for Women and Equalities. And I want to thank the present Minister, Penny Mordaunt, for everything she has done in making tomorrow’s conference possible – and for everything she is doing, as Secretary of State for International Development, promoting women’s participation in politics at home and around the world.

While we celebrate how far we have come, we should not lose sight of the fact that there is still a long way to go. Women make up half the world’s population but barely a quarter of its nationally elected representatives.

If we want to see that improve in our lifetimes, then it’s not enough to simply stand by and wait for change to happen. We have to make it happen. And I’m absolutely committed to doing just that.

Back in 2005, here in the UK, I co-founded an organisation called Women2Win, aimed at giving more women the tools and networks they need to be selected as candidates in my party.

It’s not about positive discrimination, but creating a level playing field – and it’s making a real difference.

When I first entered the Commons I was one of only 13 female MPs in my party. Today there are 67 of us, and I’m immensely proud at how many have benefited from the support of Women2Win’s.

As a government, we are funding nationwide programmes aimed at getting more women and girls interested in politics here in the UK.

And worldwide our Department for International Development is working to empower women in political life.

In Sierra Leone we’ve worked with groups including the Westminster Foundation for Democracy to run a voter education campaign for women.

In Nigeria, the Women in Politics programme has helped establish a Women’s Caucus in Abuja’s National Assembly.

And in Pakistan, a UK-funded voter registration drive signed up more than 400,000 women ahead of this year’s general election.

By doing so we’re helping to give women in the UK and around the world a greater voice – and we’re not alone in such efforts. From Ireland’s Inspire to India’s Girls Parliament, people and programmes are working to get more women and girls interested in politics, asking them to stand, and supporting them to win.

Getting elected is only half the battle. We also have to make the system work once we are a part of it – and doing so in what is often a male-dominated and male-oriented environment is not always easy.

So I hope that tomorrow’s conference, by giving you the opportunity to share ideas and insights, will enable you to learn from one another. Because, together, we can overcome challenges, and can get on with what we got into this business to do: contributing to society, responding to the needs of local constituents and making a real difference to people’s lives.

It’s the ability to do that – to make a difference – that makes being an member of parliament the best job in the world. It’s a privilege we all enjoy, and one I’d like many more women and girls around the world to aspire to.

In the words of the great British suffragist Millicent Fawcett, whose statue took its rightful place in Parliament Square this year, she said, “courage calls to courage everywhere”. So regardless of affiliation or ideology, let’s all work together, let’s learn from each other, let’s build the networks that will allow us to succeed.

And let’s make sure women and girls know that whatever their views, whatever their party, whatever others may say, a woman’s place is in elected office.