Chuka Umunna – 2019 Speech at Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Chuka Umunna, the Liberal Democrat spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, at the party conference on 16 September 2019.

Conference, it is an honour and a pleasure to be addressing you as a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament and as your Shadow Foreign Secretary.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for making me feel so welcome. I could not be more at home in the wonderful Liberal Democrat family.

The truth is, all the incredibly difficult decisions I have made on the journey I’ve been on this year were routed in my values and principles. I joined this party out of conviction.

As you know, I am a Remainer and proud of it – we have spent far too long apologising for being pro-European in this country. Because you cannot be pro-Britain and put our national interest first without seeking to put Britain at the heart of Europe.

Be in no doubt: this is the battle of our time and it goes far beyond Britain’s borders.

In essence, the society we seek to build is one where if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be free to lead a happy, prosperous and secure life free of domination of either the state or the market.

I grew up in world in which we took these values for granted.

As a family of mixed heritage – English, Irish and Nigerian – our back story, alongside that of millions of others, stands as an example of Britain’s liberal, open, internationalist spirit.

The notion that we all share the same basic rights and should live together in peace, regardless of background is something we will always fight for.

This is the Britain we know and love – and Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and the peddlers of hate and division in our country better know that this is what we will fight for at the coming election.

It is our job to make sure this country’s heart beats in a liberal and internationalist direction; not nationalist, populist authoritarianism.

This is the new fault line in British politics and we know where we stand.

Because we recognise that these things cannot be achieved in isolation and that the pursuit of individual and social justice does not stop at the border, we seek to work together with other liberal democracies who share our values to overcome cross border obstacles to achieving our goals.

That is why we are internationalists. That is why we are pro-European. Liberalism is needed at home to protect personal freedom and liberty; Liberalism and cooperation are also needed abroad to secure peace, promote democracy and defend human rights.

Of course, the first thing we will do in Government is revoke Article 50 so that, once again, the British people can resume their role of providing leadership as a full and active member of the European Union.

This order is imperfect. It must do far better at reducing inequality and fostering a more inclusive global economic system. But however flawed it may be, this liberal international order has none the less created peace and prosperity.

The trade it has opened up between countries helped ensure global competition no longer resulted in military conflict. In turn, this has helped lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and people are more healthy than before.

Furthermore, the liberal democracies that fall within the order have, in the main, also provided better protection of the rights and civil liberties of their peoples.

And it has forced Extreme nationalism retreat.

Yet the advances made then are now at risk.

Today it is that liberal international order that is now in retreat. As a result the world is becoming a more dangerous place.

Across the world, nationalist populism – the pernicious mantra that nations should be homogeneous and one people is superior to another – is making strides.

Let us be clear: the Liberal Democrats are the only party that can get into office which is capable of meeting this challenge in Britain today.

You see, you cannot defend a liberal, rules based order abroad if you so openly flout the rules at home.

Boris Johnson has facilitated the takeover of Her Majesty’s Government by the remnants of Vote Leave campaign – an outfit that was not only was found guilty of lying during the 2016 referendum in relation to its claims on the NHS by the Statistics Authority, but it was found guilty of cheating and breaking the law by the Electoral Commission.

Now, as he seeks to force through a catastrophic “no deal” Brexit, the Prime Minister has shut down Parliament and is threatening to break the law if necessary.

And, as he seeks to force the UK out of the EU, he will become ever reliant on President Trump, whose political playbook he follows. But President Trump has always been clear – it will be America not Britain First.

This brings me to the Opposition. The Labour Party likes to think of itself as a champion of liberal values at home and abroad.

You cannot be a champion of liberalism if you are currently subject to a formal investigation by the Equality & Human Rights Commission for institutional racism against Jewish people.

You cannot be a champion of liberalism when your leader’s supporters think it is acceptable to abuse, vilify and deselect anyone who dares to question the leader.

And you cannot claim to be liberal when the political editor of the BBC needs to take a bodyguard to your conference.

Of course what unites both Johnson and Corbyn is the fact that they want to leave the EU, the organisation which has been the biggest champion of liberalism in our part of the global neighbourhood. Neither is fit to lead this country.

Its time for a change and someone who I know can provide that leadership: Jo Swinson.

Under Jo’s premiership we can breathe a progressive breath of fresh air into the British foreign policy.

Liberal Democrats are internationalists. This is at the heart of who we are as a party, it flows through everything we do.

We believe in tearing down walls, not building them. We believe in working together through multilateral organisations, not standing alone.

With Jo as our Prime Minister we will revive our reputation on the world stage and get on with helping to improve the lives of those across the world.

As Liberal Democrats we have a duty to do this, to defend the values of human rights, democracy, and equality.

And as your Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary I can promise you that I will stand up for a truly global Britain.

Thank you.

Sal Brinton – 2019 Speech at Liberal Democrat Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Sal Brinton, the President of the Liberal Democrats, at the party conference on 14 September 2019.

Well, hello Conference and hasn’t everything changed since we last met in March!

Wow! Just wow! We asked you to all go on the Stop Brexit march on 20 March to make it clear we are the strongest Remain party.

You did that.

It was my privilege to help lead thousands and thousands of Liberal Democrats along with Vince Cable at that march that had over a million people on the streets of London.

We asked you to go out and give us the best results ever in the local elections.

You did that.

We made over 700 gains, and now control 18 councils. We’re still making gains in by elections too.

We then said please go out and campaign for our best ever European Elections results, in a snap election, with very little time.

You did that. 16 MEPs.

Then we said (after all of that!), please go and help Jane Dodds and our Welsh colleagues in Brecon and Radnorshire.

So you did that too!

Jane Dodds MP has said she could not have won without all the help you provided.

And over the last couple of months you have been pouring into Sheffield Hallam as well – Laura Gordon: we are with you and will do everything we can to ensure you can join Jane Dodds on those green benches soon.

You see, I knew. I knew that your attitude and approach to life had changed. And all we needed to do was to get out there and make sure that people in our local communities felt the same.

And they did.

After the Euro elections, the press said this was a flash in the pan. They said that within weeks we’d plummet back in the polls.

But now, their view has changed.

Why?

Because our poll rating has strengthened and solidified. Against all the pundits’ expectations. But they don’t know the reaction we were all getting on the doorsteps from people who have, for years, said “I would vote for you if I thought you could win”. Well, consistently 20% of voters believe we can and will win, and, more importantly believe that Jo Swinson can be our next Prime Minister.

We must not forget those who kept the faith and kept us going. And I want, in my final speech as your President, to pay tribute especially to Tim Farron and Vince Cable, both of whom had a really tough time as Leader holding us together and rebuilding and preparing us for the success we have had this year. I thank them both for that selfless dedication when perhaps only we believed the Liberal Democrats had a future and the outside world just mocked and derided us.

I also want to thank the many staff who worked against all the odds too. People assume that HQ is this large monolith filled with hundreds of people. Not true. Our few staff are brilliant. Not only doing the job they are paid to do, but also during elections, especially General Elections, redeployed into tasks that keep our successful campaign show on the road.

And it is appropriate therefore for me to thank Nick Harvey, our Chief Executive, who has announced he is leaving us at the end of November. Nick, you have done an amazing job, especially in sorting out our key services, such as compliance, supervising the staff side of the new discipline process. Nick, your sage political common sense linking the day-to-day business of the party with the political actions of Lib Dems in parliaments, assemblies and local government.

Thank you!

I have had the privilege of being your President during the most extraordinary five years, which not one of us could have predicted in 2014.

I don’t think that any President has faced two General Elections (so far!), one Referendum, three new Leaders, and two new Chief Execs.

And on top of that, we’ve had major governance changes to make your Federal Board work strategically, and Federal Committees work more effectively.

We’ve consulted and made changes to the Discipline System, which was the one thing you all made clear in 2014 we needed to tackle. That new system is now working, and there are only a few complaints started under the old system still to be resolved by the state and regional parties.

Over these five years we’ve changed the way we campaign. Still out on the streets, but our social media presence has completely changed and – given the small resources compared to others – is outstanding. That is also true of the way we run elections now, much more digital.

But above all, you, the members, still stand up for the party, and stand up against things that you disapprove of. My successor will discover that in your eyes, the President is responsible for absolutely everything that they don’t like or has gone wrong.

This has included complaints to me, for example:

To complain that staff haven’t replied to an email over a bank holiday weekend. AND I think my best though is the member who wrote to me to ask me to go and tell the Leader, they’re an idiot. And to remind me, which I never forget, that with senior positions of power and responsibility, liberals always remain suspicious of the establishment, including the President, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

I have learned so much from you over the last five years, but of one thing I remain certain. The democratic way we exist and operate is the reason that we are united as a party. We can debate, argue, and vote, and whilst there are matters hard fought for, we respect our internal democracy.

At our lowest moments after the 2015 election, I said to you, Conference, to hold the faith. That we would bounce back. That you needed to keep positive, no matter what happened.

We stand at a cross roads of infinite possibilities:

Defending liberalism from nationalist and populists
Defending our country’s place in the European Union
Defending our democracy as unscrupulous Prime Ministers try to subvert it
But we are not the defeated party of those years.

We have a strong and growing political presence in Westminster, in the EU and in local Government.

A party that lives its liberal values by welcoming those made homeless in the current political whirlwind because they didn’t know they are liberals, but are loving coming home to us

We have in Jo Swinson a Leader who has taken the UK political scene by storm.

And we have, in our party, 120,000 people who believe we can, and will transform our country, whatever our opponents throw at us.

This will be our year – took a long time to come.

Thank you.

Boris Johnson – 2019 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the statement made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, outside 10 Downing Street, London, on 2 September 2019.

Five weeks ago I spoke to you from these steps and said that this Government was not going to hang around and that we would not wait until Brexit day – October 31 – to deliver on the priorities of the British people.

And so I am proud to say that on Wednesday Chancellor Sajid Javid is going to set out the most ambitious spending round for more than a decade.

I said I wanted to make your streets safer – and that is why we are recruiting another 20,000 police officers. I said I wanted to improve your hospital and reduce the waiting times at your GP. And so we are doing 20 new hospital upgrades in addition to the extra £34 billion going into the NHS.

And I said I wanted every child in this country to have a superb education and that’s why I announced last week that we are levelling up funding across the country and spending much more next year in both primary and secondary schools.

And it is to push forward this agenda on these and many other fronts that we need a Queen’s speech in October.

While leaving due time to debate Brexit and other matters. And as we come to that Brexit deadline I am encouraged by the progress we are making. In the last few weeks the chances of a deal have been rising, I believe, for three reasons.

They can see that we want a deal. They can see that we have a clear vision for our future relationship with the EU – something that has perhaps not always been the case. And they can see that we are utterly determined to strengthen our position by getting ready to come out regardless, come what may

But if there is one thing that can hold us back in these talks it is the sense in Brussels that MPs may find some way to cancel the referendum. I don’t think they will. I hope that they won’t. But if they do they will plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position and make any further negotiation absolutely impossible.

I want everybody to know – there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels to delay. We are leaving on 31 October, no ifs or buts. We will not accept any attempt to go back on our promises or scrub that referendum. Armed and fortified with that conviction I believe we will get a deal at that crucial summit in October. A deal that parliament will certainly be able to scrutinise. And in the meantime let our negotiators get on with their work without that sword of Damocles over their necks. And without an election, which I don’t want and you don’t want.

Let us get on with the people’s agenda – fighting crime, improving the NHS, boosting schools, cutting the cost of living, and unlocking talent and opportunity across the entire United Kingdom With infrastructure education and technology.

It is a massive agenda. Let’s come together and get it done – and let’s get Brexit done by October 31.

Guy Verhofstadt – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the Twitter comments made by Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit Co-ordinator for the European Parliament, on 28 August 2019.

“Taking back control” has never looked so sinister. As a fellow parliamentarian, my solidarity with those fighting for their voices to be heard.

Suppressing debate on profound choices is unlikely to help deliver a stable future EU – UK relationship.

Jo Swinson – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the statement made by Jo Swinson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, on 28 August 2019.

I’ve written to the Queen to express my concern at Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic plan to shut down Parliament, and to request an urgent meeting.

This is a crucial time in our country’s history, and yet our Prime Minister is arrogantly attempting to force through a No Deal Brexit against the democratic will. He is outrageously stifling the voices of both the people and their representatives.

It is appalling that the Prime Minister has forced opposition leaders into taking this action. However, we must take all measures necessary to avoid a disastrous No Deal Brexit, for which there is no mandate.

Sue Hayman – 2019 Comments on Labour’s Animal Welfare Manifesto

Below is the text of the comments made by Sue Hayman, the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on 28 August 2019.

Consulting with members and animal rights organisations means that our policies are not campaigns of the month like the Tories, but thought through and comprehensive measures that will bring Britain’s animal welfare policy into the 21st century.

This suite of policies on animal welfare seeks to build upon the long standing leadership of the Labour Party on the issue of animal welfare. From bringing forward the landmark Hunting Act to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Labour has always placed the welfare of animals high on the policy agenda.

Labour will ensure that we have a comprehensive legislative agenda in place to make sure that the UK has animal rights protections equal to or better than anywhere in the world.

Jeremy Corbyn – 2019 Statement on Suspending Parliament

Below is the text of the statement made by Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, on 28 August 2019.

I am appalled at the recklessness of Johnson’s government, which talks about sovereignty and yet is seeking to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of its plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit. This is an outrage and a threat to our democracy.

That is why Labour has been working across Parliament to hold this reckless government to account, and prevent a disastrous No Deal which parliament has already ruled out. If Johnson has confidence in his plans he should put them to the people in a general election or public vote.

Stephen Barclay – 2019 Speech in Paris

Below is the text of the speech made by Stephen Barclay, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, in Paris, France on 28 August 2019.

After all, I am here because I want to be absolutely clear about the UK’s position at such a critical time, and would not want anything to be lost in translation.

In recent years some have tried to frame the UK/ France relationship in purely Brexit terms.

Yet the reality is that our historic, cultural, geographic and indeed economic ties are far too deep and broad to be defined by any one event.

After all, and as M Roux de Bezieux I’m sure will happily testify, even after Brexit the Six Nations rugby tournament will still emerge next Winter.

We work together to defend our values and our way of life as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council and leading lights in NATO.

Our Armed Forces work closely together helping to secure peace around the world.
In the Sahel British helicopters are helping French soldiers to carry the fight to extremists.

While closer to home millions of UK nationals have just enjoyed summer holidays in France and vice versa.

Indeed our shared lives will be reflected in the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK in the coming years, more than 900 years after it was created.

And indeed in the past two weeks and the past week alone our Prime Minister has visited France twice to meet with President Macron – including at the successful G7 – and I extend the congratulations of the British Government to France for a successful G7.

They were both clear in being united on a number of vital issues, such as climate change and the environment, both as stout defenders of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement signed in this very city in 2016.

Our economic relationship is also vital to the prosperity of both our countries.

Since we voted to leave the EU in 2016 our bilateral trade has in fact increased by 12 per cent.

In total, bilateral trade was around €90bn in 2017, and the UK continues to be the number one destination for foreign investment in Europe and number three in the world.

In fact, since 2013, UK startups have raised more from US and Asian investors than most of Europe combined, and in the first half of this year, the UK received $3.5bn from US and Asian investors, compared to $0.9bn for Germany, $0.5bn for France and $2.9bn for the rest of Europe.

And indeed UK and French companies continue to work closely together – in fact I used to work for a French company – Axa, the very same company as did my French counterpart, your Secretary of State Amelie de Montchalin also worked for, whom I met earlier today.

The UK and France have a mutually beneficial partnership – one that has seen Alstom unveiling the design of its new zero-emission, hydrogen train, which will be re-engineered in Widnes, while Airbus which employs 14,000 people in the UK across 25 sites with more than 4000 UK companies in its supply chain.

And, of course, UK companies have a substantial presence here.

A British multinational contract foodservice Compas employs 14,000 people in its supply chains in France and serves over 210 million meals a year through its restaurants and in schools and hospitals.

And indeed as the PM pointed out last week – the sleek French TGV trains, on which many will have travelled this summer, run on tracks made by British Steel in Scunthorpe.

Our shared economic future is best served through a deal as the UK leaves the European Union – which we are committed to doing on the 31st October.

It is not just because the backstop has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament that we seek its removal.

As the Prime Minister made clear in his letter to Donald Tusk, and in their subsequent meeting, Parliament will not allow the people of Northern Ireland to be subject to an indefinite period of continued alignment.

It would mean Northern Irish voters – UK citizens – being governed by rules in which they have no say.

And since we can only leave the backstop by the agreement with the EU, once it is triggered we could be locked in it forever, something that the UK Attorney General has made clear and which indeed makes it harder to leave the backstop than it does indeed the EU itself.

But the backstop is not the entire Northern Ireland Protocol – it is just the relevant articles relating to alignment.

The Northern Ireland Protocol also covers the benefits of the Single Electricity Market. It covers North-South cooperation, the Common Travel Area.

None of these require continued regulatory alignment.

So the issues remaining before us are narrower than is often portrayed.

Yet the EU is seeking through the backstop a 100 per cent all-weather guarantee on the future economic partnership before we have even started those negotiations, and with insufficient time to conclude those negotiations because of the way the Article 50 talks were structured.

The backstop has also been universally rejected by one of the two key communities in Northern Ireland, which means it is an unstable basis for power sharing in Northern Ireland.

There is ample room – indeed there is a shared responsibility for all – to seek a solution that can enjoy genuine cross-party consent.

We understand the need to protect the integrity of the Single Market.

But it is our firm view that Irish border issues should be dealt with in the talks on the future agreement between the UK and the EU, where they should always have been, and we’re ready to negotiate in good faith on that basis.

We will do so with a cast-iron commitment to upholding the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.

And do not, please, misunderstand that commitment.

Together with our friends in Ireland no one is more aware of the need to maintain peace and freedom on the island of Ireland than the UK.

For years we have invested too much in it and care too much about it to see anything to put it at risk.

And indeed under no scenario will we erect the barriers at the border that would jeopardise its future.

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement directly impacts UK sovereignty. It has been supported by successive UK Governments of different political parties, and it is a firm commitment of this Prime Minister.

Too often the integrity of the single market is presented as a concern about the Good Friday Agreement, as if these two issues are the same.

In fact, the single market is clearly the priority for the EU, meaning that it is the EU that will insist on putting up a hard border in the event of a no deal.

This is something that everyone wants to avoid and the UK has guaranteed it will never do, even in the event of no deal.

Likewise the UK is often asked for more detail on its proposals.

Yet if the test is one of 100% certainty, all-weather, all-of-life insurance, then creative and flexible solutions will always be quickly shot down.

Progress requires creativity and flexibility on both sides – including in the application of single market rules.

We recognise the concern about the risk of a backdoor to the single market, but we need to deal with it in a different way, one which reflects the value of democracy that we share.

For when politicians ask the people to make a choice, it is the responsibility of the elected representatives to deliver on that choice.

It is not, as the PM has said, for politicians to choose which votes they want to act upon and those they would prefer to ignore.

The UK wants to use the Implementation Period to put in place alternative arrangements.

Now the EU says on one hand it wants to look for “creative and flexible solutions on the border in Northern Ireland” – the very words used by the European Council in its own guidelines, yet at the same time refuses to progress work on alternative arrangements until the Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

Likewise it is quick to dismiss the use of technology as ‘magical thinking’, while recognising such technology is part of the alternative arrangements which indeed it has agreed to progress.

The EU has used creativity and flexibility in the past, look at the arrangements in Switzerland, look at the arrangements when Germany reunified with the West.

So let’s look at this issue afresh as partners.

For if not and we move to a no deal exit, people will question in the future why there was such a lack of flexibility, and indeed why, in the pursuit of a 100 per cent guarantee of no risk on the Irish border at the end of 2020, we made real this risk in November.

But if a compromise cannot be found then we have been clear that we are leaving whatever the circumstances on 31st October.

People voted for Brexit and it is important to our democracy that we deliver it.

We have stepped up our preparations in the UK significantly under the new Government.

And we have also guaranteed the rights of the approximately 300,000 French nationals and indeed all EU nationals living in the UK.

These people make an immense contribution to UK national life and to our economy, which is why we have established a scheme to enable them to stay that is unprecedented in its ease of use.

It is free and more than one million people have already registered for settled status.

Of course, I welcome the moves that the French government has taken to protect the rights of UK citizens living here, and I acknowledge that these steps are required because of the decision we have taken in the UK to leave the EU.

But I call on the French government and others in the EU to match our offer and to provide certainty for UK nationals living here in France.

EU leaders repeatedly tell me how important Citizens’ Rights is to them, but not only has the Commission refused to agree a specific deal on Citizens’ Rights – as requested by all political parties in the UK – the offer here in France falls short of what we have set out in the UK in several respects including the criteria for registering residency, health insurance requirements, the rights of frontier workers.

For example, here in France UK Nationals must apply for a residence permit within six months of exit day.

And we would call on the French Government to extend that period, particularly as French citizens in the UK have until the end of 2020 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

And while we in the UK have waived the fee for EU citizens to register, the cost of the residence permit in France is €119.

Another area where we have concerns is healthcare.

We spend ten times more on healthcare in the EU than the EU spends in the UK.

And for UK nationals in France there is a shortage of information about the proposed future arrangements, while French citizens in the UK by exit day can be absolutely certain that they will have access to the NHS in the same way that they always have.

France will also require many British nationals already here to have health insurance and show that they have sufficient money to support themselves before they will be granted residency rights, a requirement the UK has not imposed on EU nationals.

For business visitors we are also clear that absolutely nothing will change for short trips to the UK from Europe, their ability to continue to travel to the UK to make their invaluable contribution to our economy which must continue as it has done for years.

The need for our wealth creators to move freely between our territories is well understood on both sides, and that is something the Commission agrees with us on also.

That freedom goes not only for passengers but also for imports and exports.

And while we are absolutely focused on securing a deal, alongside these discussions we must also now progress talks on the mitigations necessary for any no deal that may arise.

Take fishing for example, in the event of a no deal exit access to UK waters falls entirely within the UK’s control.

That, of course, has a potential impact on the French fishing industry.

Of the 250,000 tonnes of fish processed in Boulogne, the majority comes from UK waters and of the fish landed by French vessels, 40 per cent of it comes from UK waters.

At the same time, about 80,000 tonnes of our own salmon, scallops and other seafood products end up on the French table each year – you are a significant export market for us.

The exceptional fluidity of the cross-Channel trade routes supports the fishing industry, just as it does the car industry with its “just in time” supply chains.

That fluidity sees more than 1,100 trucks cross seamlessly into the UK from the Continent each day laden with car parts.

There are, of course, other changes that will arise from a no deal.

For example, Geographical Indicators. It’s worth recognising that there are over 3,000 products registered with GIs in the EU but only 88 are from the UK.

Or in agriculture where, according to France’s biggest farming union, French wine and spirits producers would be materially impacted. They’re set to have a €1.3bn annual surplus in trade with the UK.

Or France’s dairy industry which – according to the French Chambers of Agriculture – has an annual surplus in exports to the UK of €700-800m.

And let’s not forget the fantastic educational exchanges enjoyed by students across Europe, which French students in the UK take advantage of every year.

Today we spend millions of pounds subsidising the up-front costs of those tuition fees, and indeed, allowing EU nationals access to support for undergraduate courses in England starting in the 20/21 academic year is estimated to cost us around half a billion pounds for that year alone.

Monsieur President these are just some of the areas that it is our job – as politicians and business leaders – not just to protect but allow to flourish.

Our new partnership must be built on the intimate understanding that it is founded on one that has existed for hundreds of years.

France and the UK are two of the world’s oldest and greatest democracies.

Yes we have always been global and outward looking. Champions of democracy, free trade, the rule of law and defending those who cannot defend themselves.

But there is something deeper, an emotional connection, that binds us – and will always bind us – together as nations.

We are inextricably linked through our shared values and our love of each other’s cultures.

So I conclude by reaffirming that I, the Prime Minister, the British Government are aiming for a deal.

We will be ready for no deal if it happens, but from the meetings I have had here this morning and those in Denmark, Finland and Sweden last week, one thing is absolutely clear.

Businesses across Europe want an end to the uncertainty and have the confidence to take advantage of the huge opportunities that trading with the UK presents.

That is best served with a deal.

A deal which honours the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement but without the backstop as the UK Parliament has made clear.

That is what our Government seeks, and Mr President, with good will on all sides it is what we can deliver.

Thank you

Andrea Leadsom – 2019 Statement on British Steel

Andrea Leadsom

Below is the text of the statement made by Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the Scunthorpe Telegraph on 22 August 2019.

The UK has been producing world-class steel since the 19th Century – it is a key part of our national heritage. From Scunthorpe to Sheffield, steel remains vital to our country’s manufacturing reputation.

That is why the decision by the Official Receiver to progress an offer on the sale of British Steel is a positive step towards a secure future for the company.

In my first week as Business Secretary, I visited the vast and impressive steelworks at Scunthorpe, seeing the dedication of British Steel’s workforce first-hand. It has clearly been a worrying and difficult time, and I was struck by the unwavering commitment to securing a future for the company. Their tenacity, hard work and dedication has helped ensure operations continue, orders are met, and production not only maintained but increased since the company entered insolvency. Reaching this milestone is due in no small part to the sheer commitment of British Steel’s employees to the company they feel so passionately about.

British Steel plays a central role in the lives of communities across Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside. I know and have heard first-hand what a devastating blow it would be if steelmaking were to end there. That is why our dedicated Support Group includes local MPs, local leaders and unions, as well as the company itself and its suppliers. Working constructively together has been a key factor in helping secure bids – and I also want to pay tribute to my predecessor Greg Clark, a driving force in this process.

The government and everyone involved have left no stone unturned in their efforts to support a sale for the whole company, and as many will know, the preferred buyer of British Steel was confirmed last week by the Official Receiver as Ataer Holding.

Ataer are not new to steel: they are the largest shareholder in Erdermir, Turkey’s largest flat steel producer – whom in the first 3 months of this year alone produced 2.4 million tonnes of steel and a profit of $186 million. When it comes to British Steel, Ataer have publicly stated that if this process is successful, their priority will be to increase production capacity and invest in clean steel production.

The Official Receiver will now be focusing on finalising the sale. This process should be completed over the coming weeks and though there is much more work still to do, there is now cause for optimism.

We will continue to work with all parties to ensure we do everything possible to secure a future for this business. Our aim is simple: to give British Steel every opportunity to realise its full potential.

Boris Johnson – 2019 Statement at the G7

Below is the text of the speech made by Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, at the G7 in Biarritz, France, on 26 August 2019.

I’d like to thank President Macron for an incredibly stylish and highly effective Summit that he’s just hosted for us here in Biarritz.

Every conversation that I’ve had with my fellow leaders, I’ve been struck by their enthusiasm to expand and strengthen their relations with our country – whether that’s on trade or security or defence, science and indeed the growing opportunities we’ve had to collaborate in space and technology.

We’ve also spoken in Biarritz about the biggest global challenges confronting us all today and these are things that I think very much matter to the people in the UK.

We’ve been talking about biodiversity. We’ve got to stop the tragic loss of habitats and species that is happening around the world. We can’t just sit back as animals and plants are wiped off the face of the planet.

The world’s animal populations have declined by about 60% in the last fifty years – about a million species are now facing extinction.

And we’ve seen in the Amazon rainforest the tragic increase in fires which are made more likely by deforestation. And that’s why today I’ve announce £10 million in new funding to protect and restore the rainforest in Brazil.

With one million birds and 100,000 mammals losing their lives every year from eating or getting tangled in ocean plastic – we’ve got to do much more to protect the oceans, and today I’ve announced £7 million for the Blue Belt programme to extend our work to protect the vital marine ecosystems in conservation areas in overseas territories.

And don’t forget Britain has the fifth biggest marine estate in the world.

If we don’t act now our children and our grandchildren will never know a world with the Great Barrier Reef, or the Sumatran Tiger or the Black Rhino.

And so next year at the biodiversity COP – the Summit in China – the so called aichi targets must, in our view, be replaced with new, more ambitious targets to help us get back the biodiversity that this planet is losing, and has lost.

And I’m pleased that the G7 Summit today in Biarritz has accepted those UK ideas, those proposals for biodiversity targets, for humanity to set targets to stop the reduction of habitats and species. And obviously we are going to follow up on that at the COP Summit in the UK if we’re lucky enough to get that and I very much believe that we will.

There’s one issue underpinning all that which I believe holds the key to tackling so many global problems and that is the vital importance of educating girls and I’m very pleased that here at the G7 people, everybody, every delegation has supported the UK’s campaign to give every girl in the world 12 years of quality education.

Today I announced funding to give 600,000 children in the world’s most dangerous countries, where girls are twice as likely as boys to be out of school, the opportunity to go to school for the first time.

We discussed Iran, and we are all agreed that Iran should never under any circumstances be allowed to get a nuclear weapon. And there is clearly an opportunity for Iran to now come back into compliance with a nuclear deal – the JCPOA – and to resume dialogue as well as to cease its disruptive behaviour in the region.

We expressed, collectively, deep concern about what is happening in Hong Kong, and the G7 nations all want to support a stable and a prosperous Hong Kong. And we remain collectively committed to the one country two systems framework.

And I was pleased that was reflected in the conclusions of the Summit, which was as I say very productive indeed.

People can quarrel with Summits and with world leaders coming together in this way for discussions about the wide ranging issues we have had – but I really think that if the leaders who have been gathered together in Biarritz over the last couple of days really follow through on these discussions, and really mean what they say in the conclusions, I think it will make a real difference to the issues that the people in our country care very deeply about.

So I thank you very much for sticking with it. I know it’s been a long old Summit, but I’d like to take your questions now.