Theresa May – 2018 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons, on 10 December 2018.

Mr Speaker, with permission I would like to make a statement on Exiting the European Union.

We have now had three days of debate on the Withdrawal Agreement setting out the terms of our departure from the EU and the Political Declaration setting out our future relationship after we have left.

I have listened very carefully to what has been said, in this chamber and out of it, by members from all sides.

From listening to those views it is clear that while there is broad support for many of the key aspects of the deal, on one issue – the Northern Ireland backstop – there remains widespread and deep concern.

As a result, if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin.

We will therefore defer the vote scheduled for tomorrow and not proceed to divide the House at this time.

I set out in my speech opening the debate last week the reasons why the backstop is a necessary guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland and why – whatever future relationship you want – there is no deal available that does not include the backstop.

Behind all those arguments are some inescapable facts.

The fact that Northern Ireland shares a land border with another sovereign state.

The fact that the hard-won peace that has been built in Northern Ireland over the last two decades has been built around a seamless border.

And the fact that Brexit will create a wholly new situation: on 30 March the Northern Ireland/Ireland border will for the first time become the external frontier of the European Union’s single market and customs union.

The challenge this poses must be met not with rhetoric but with real and workable solutions.

Businesses operate across that border. People live their lives crossing and re-crossing it every day.

I have been there and spoken to some of those people. They do not want their everyday lives to change as a result of the decision we have taken. They do not want a return to a hard border.

And if this House cares about preserving our Union, it must listen to those people, because our Union will only endure with their consent.

We had hoped that the changes we have secured to the backstop would reassure Members that we could never be trapped in it indefinitely.

I hope the House will forgive me if I take a moment to remind it of those changes.

The customs element of the backstop is now UK-wide. It no longer splits our country into two customs territories. This also means that the backstop is now an uncomfortable arrangement for the EU, so they won’t want it to come into use, or persist for long if it does.

Both sides are now legally committed to using best endeavours to have our new relationship in place before the end of the implementation period, ensuring the backstop is never used.

If our new relationship isn’t ready, we can now choose to extend the implementation period, further reducing the likelihood of the backstop coming into use.

If the backstop ever does come into use, we now don’t have to get the new relationship in place to get out of it. Alternative arrangements that make use of technology could be put in place instead.

The treaty is now clear that the backstop can only ever be temporary.

And there is now a termination clause.

But I am clear from what I have heard in this place and from my own conversations that these elements do not offer a sufficient number of colleagues the reassurance that they need.

I spoke to a number of EU leaders over the weekend, and in advance of the European Council I will go to see my counterparts in other member states and the leadership of the Council and the Commission.

I will discuss with them the clear concerns that this House has expressed.

We are also looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy and to enable the House to place its own obligations on the government to ensure that the backstop cannot be in place indefinitely.

Mr Speaker, having spent the best part of two years poring over the detail of Brexit, listening to the public’s ambitions, and yes, their fears too, and testing the limits of what the other side is prepared to accept, I am in absolutely no doubt that this deal is the right one.

It honours the result of the referendum. It protects jobs, security and our Union. But it also represents the very best deal that is actually negotiable with the EU.

I believe in it – as do many Members of this House. And I still believe there is a majority to be won in this House in support of it, if I can secure additional reassurance on the question of the backstop.

And that is what my focus will be in the days ahead.

But Mr Speaker, if you take a step back, it is clear that this House faces a much more fundamental question.

Does this House want to deliver Brexit? And if it does, does it want to do so through reaching an agreement with the EU?

If the answer is yes, and I believe that is the answer of the majority of this House, then we all have to ask ourselves whether we are prepared to make a compromise.

Because there will be no enduring and successful Brexit without some compromise on both sides of the debate.

Many of the most controversial aspects of this deal – including the backstop – are simply inescapable facts of having a negotiated Brexit.

Those members who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered.

And do so without ducking its implications.

So if you want a second referendum to overturn the result of the first, be honest that this risks dividing the country again, when as a House we should be striving to bring it back together.

If you want to remain part of the Single Market and the Customs Union, be open that this would require free movement, rule-taking across the economy, and ongoing financial contributions – none of which are in my view compatible with the result of the referendum.

If you want to leave without a deal, be upfront that in the short term, this would cause significant economic damage to parts of our country who can least afford to bear the burden.

I do not believe that any of those courses of action command a majority in this House.

But notwithstanding that fact, for as long as we fail to agree a deal, the risk of an accidental no deal increases.

So the government will step up its work in preparation for that potential outcome and the Cabinet will hold further discussions on it this week.

The vast majority of us, Mr Speaker, accept the result of the referendum, and want to leave with a deal. We have a responsibility to discharge.

If we will the ends, we must also will the means.

I know that members across the House appreciate how important that responsibility is.

And I am very grateful to all members – on this side of the House and a few on the other side too – who have backed this deal and spoken up for it.

Many others, I know, have been wrestling with their consciences, particularly over the question of the backstop: seized of the need to face-up to the challenge posed by the Irish border, but genuinely concerned about the consequences.

I have listened. I have heard those concerns and I will now do everything I possibly can to secure further assurances.

If I may conclude on a personal note, Mr Speaker.

On the morning after the referendum two and a half years ago, I knew that we had witnessed a defining moment for our democracy.

Places that didn’t get a lot of attention at elections and which did not get much coverage on the news were making their voices heard and saying that they wanted things to change.

I knew in that moment that Parliament had to deliver for them.

But of course that does not just mean delivering Brexit. It means working across all areas – building a stronger economy, improving public services, tackling social injustices – to make this a country that truly works for everyone, a country where nowhere and nobody is left behind.

And these matters are too important to be afterthoughts in our politics – they deserve to be at the centre of our thinking.

But that can only happen if we get Brexit done and get it done right.

And even though I voted Remain, from the moment I took up the responsibility of being Prime Minister of this great country I have known that my duty is to honour the result of that vote.

And I have been just as determined to protect the jobs that put food on the tables of working families and the security partnerships that keep each one of us safe.

And that is what this deal does. It gives us control of our borders, our money and our laws. It protects jobs, security and our Union. It is the right deal for Britain.

I am determined to do all I can to secure the reassurances this House requires, to get this deal over the line and deliver for the British people.

And I commend this statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech on G20 Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 3 December 2018.

With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G20 Summit in Argentina.

But before I do so, I would like to put on record my thanks to President Macri for hosting such a successful Summit.

This was the first visit to Buenos Aires by a British Prime Minister, and only the second visit to Argentina since 2001. It came at a time of strengthening relations between our two countries, when we are seeking to work constructively with President Macri.

Mr Speaker, as we leave the European Union, I have always been clear that Britain will play a full and active role on the global stage, as a bold and outward-facing trading nation.

We will stand up for the rules-based international order.

Strive to resolve with others challenges and tensions in the global economy.

Work with old allies and new friends for the mutual benefit of all our citizens.

And remain steadfast in our determination to tackle the great challenges of our time.

At this Summit, we showed that the international community is capable of working through its differences constructively and the leading role the UK will continue to play in addressing shared global challenges.

We agreed – along with the other G20 leaders – on the need for important reforms to the World Trade Organisation to ensure it responds to changes in international trade.

We pursued our objective of making sure that the global economy works for everyone and the benefits are felt by all.

We called for greater action in the fight against modern slavery and tackling climate change.

And I held discussions with international partners on security and economic matters, including on the progress of our exit from the European Union and the good deal an orderly exit will be for the global economy.

Let me take each of these in turn.

At this year’s Summit I came with the clear message that Britain is open for business and that we are looking forward to future trade agreements.

Once we leave the EU, we can and we will strike ambitious trade deals.

For the first time in more than forty years we will have an independent trade policy, and we will continue to be a passionate advocate for the benefits open economies and free markets can bring.

We will forge new and ambitious economic partnerships, and open up new markets for our goods and services in the fastest growing economies around the world.

During the Summit I held meetings with leaders who are keen to reach ambitious free trade agreements with us as soon as possible. This includes Argentina, with whom I discussed boosting bilateral trade and investment, and I announced the appointment of a new UK Trade Envoy.

I also discussed future trade deals with Canada, Australia, Chile, and Japan – with whom we want to work quickly to establish a new economic partnership based on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

On the global rules that govern trade, we discussed the importance of ensuring an equal playing field and the need for the rules to keep pace with the changing nature of trade and technology.

There is no doubt that the international trading system, to which the United Kingdom attaches such importance, is under significant strain.

That is why I have repeatedly called for urgent and ambitious reform of the World Trade Organisation – and at this Summit I did so again.

And in a significant breakthrough, we agreed on the need for important reforms to boost the effectiveness of the WTO, with a commitment to review progress at next year’s G20 Summit in Japan.

On the global economy, we recognised the progress made in the past ten years, with this year seeing the strongest global growth since 2011.

But risks to the global economy are re-emerging.

In particular, debt in lower income countries has reached an all-time high of 224 per cent of global GDP.

So I called on members to implement the G20 guidelines on sustainable finance that we agreed last year, and which increase transparency and encourage cooperation.

At this year’s Summit, I continued to pursue our mission to make the global economy work for everyone, and the need to take action in our own countries and collectively to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are felt by all.

Around the world we are on the brink of a new era in technology which will transform lives and change the way we live. This has the potential to bring us huge benefits – but many are anxious about what it will mean for jobs.

That is why in the UK, alongside creating the right environment for tech companies to flourish through our modern Industrial Strategy – we are investing in the education and skills needed so that people can make the most of the jobs and opportunities that will be created.

We made strong commitments to improving women’s economic empowerment, and alongside this I called on G20 leaders to take practical action to ensure that by 2030 all girls – not just in our own countries but around the world – get 12 years of quality education.

To build fair economies and inclusive societies we must tackle injustice wherever we find it. Around the world we must all do more to end the horrific practice of modern slavery, and protect vulnerable men, women and children from being abused and exploited in the name of profit.

Two years ago I put modern slavery on the G20 agenda at my first Summit, and this year I was pleased to give my full support to the G20’s Strategy to eradicate modern slavery from the world of work.

I announced that next year the government will publish the steps we are taking to identify and prevent slavery in the UK Government’s supply chains in our own transparency statement.

This is a huge challenge. Last financial year the UK Government spent £47 billion on public procurement – demonstrating just how important this task is. I urged the other leaders around the G20 table to work with us and ensure that their supply chains are free from slavery, as we work to bring an end to this appalling crime.

On climate change, I made clear the UK’s determination to lead the way on the serious threat this poses to our planet. We need a step change in preparing for temperature rises, to cut the cost and impact of climate-related disasters, and to secure food, water and jobs for the future. As a UN Champion on Climate Resilience, the UK will continue to pursue this agenda at next year’s UN Climate Summit.

Nineteen of us at the G20 reaffirmed our commitment to the Paris Agreement, but it remains a disappointment that the United States continues to opt out.

I also announced that the UK will be committing £100 million pounds to the Renewable Energy Performance Platform, which will directly support the private sector in leveraging private finance to fund renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Speaker, this Summit also gave me the opportunity to discuss important matters directly with other leaders and raise concerns openly and frankly.

In that context I met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, first to stress the importance of a full, transparent and credible investigation into the terrible murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and for those responsible to be held to account – a matter which I also discussed with President Erdogan.

And second, to urge an end to the conflict in Yemen and relief for those suffering from starvation – and to press for progress at the upcoming talks in Stockholm.

Our relationship with Saudi Arabia is important to this country, but that does not prevent us from putting forward robust views on these matters of grave concern.

I also discussed the situation in Ukraine with a number of G20 leaders. The UK condemns Russian aggression in the Black Sea and calls for the release of the 24 Ukrainian service personnel detained, and their three vessels.

Mr Speaker, at this year’s Summit we reached important agreements, demonstrating the continued importance of the G20 and international cooperation.

It also demonstrated the role that a global Britain will play on the world’s stage as we work with our friends and partners around the world to address shared challenges and bolster global prosperity.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at Antisemitism Reception

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at an anti-semitism reception held in Downing Street in London on 26 November 2018.

Good evening everyone and welcome to Downing Street. As always at events like this it’s a real pleasure to share this remarkable house with some truly remarkable people. But I confess that, tonight, my emotions are somewhat mixed.

Throughout 2018, I’ve had the privilege of taking in part in many celebrations of women and women’s rights.

Events marking the centenary of British women winning the vote. The unveiling of the Millicent Fawcett statue. An unprecedented gathering of women MPs from around the world.

But the joy of those occasions has been tempered by the resurgence of two age-old hatreds that many had dared to hope were becoming a thing of the past.

2018 was the year in which Claire Kober, who is here today, stepped down as a council leader after facing a torrent of personal abuse in which, as she said, “the only thing worse than the sexism was the antisemitism”.

It was the year in which journalist Karen Glaser felt compelled to write that “When my … mother came to Britain in the Sixties she stopped feeling scared of being Jewish. But now, 50 years later, she was feeling frightened again.”

And it was the year in which Parliament heard women MPs, many of whom are here today, describing the deluge of vile misogynistic and antisemitic threats they receive on a near-daily basis.

The research published at today’s conference, showing that Jewish women politicians are more likely to attract the attentions of far-Right hate groups, was deeply disturbing. But I doubt it came as much of a surprise to those who have been on the receiving end.

In both data and anecdote, the evidence is clear: in 2018, in the United Kingdom, Jewish women are increasingly coming under dual attack. Abused for being women and abused for being Jewish.

These attitudes are not limited to the far Right. As is so often the case with antisemitism, bigotry directed at Jewish women also comes from those who would never consider themselves to be racist, including within the women’s rights movement itself.

Some Jewish women have been told that they’re not “real” feminists unless they publically disavow Israel’s right to exist, or been thrown off pride marches for flying rainbow flags that feature the Star of David. And as one British Jew put it earlier this year, “Going on a … women’s rights march can be a tricky affair when you find yourself marching alongside people carrying banners merging the Israeli flag with a swastika”.

This kind of double-standard is often justified by the old canard that antisemitism isn’t really racism, as racism can only “punch down” and Jews are universally wealthy and powerful – an argument that is, in itself, deeply antisemitic.

I have no time for equivocation. Antisemitism is racism – and any “equality” movement that indulges or ignores it is not worthy of the name.

Because hatred and discrimination must be tackled wherever and however it rears its head. And I’m proud to lead a government that is doing so.

We’re making sure courts have powers they need to deal with those who peddle hatred, asking the Law Commission to undertake a full review of hate crime legislation.

We’re working to stem the rising tide of online bigotry, establishing a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report. The report will provide comprehensive data on what offensive content is being reported, what is being removed, and how social media companies are responding to complaints.

We’re standing up for women’s rights at home and abroad– forcing companies to reveal their gender pay gaps, cracking down on modern slavery, backing the Women’s Business Council and more.

We’re removing all hiding places for antisemitism, becoming the first government in the world to adopt the IHRA’s working definition – and all its examples.

And we’re protecting Jewish people from the kind of violent attacks their community has experienced in the United States and Europe, which is why we continue to provide more than £13 million of funding to the Community Security Trust each year.

But tackling the visible symptoms of hatred is only half the battle. To eradicate a noxious weed you must also remove its root, which is why we are also committed to educating people about where bigotry can lead.

Standing in the heart of our democracy on a site right next to Parliament, the National Holocaust Memorial will be accompanied by an education centre that will lead a national effort to fight hatred and prejudice in all its forms. As the Chancellor announced in last month’s Budget, we will also provide £1.7 million for school programmes marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen-Belsen.

And we are continuing to support the Holocaust Educational Trust, not just backing its Lessons From Auschwitz programme but extending it to cover universities. The first students and university leaders to take part in the new scheme travelled to Poland just last week.

The HET is just one of many bodies working hard to tackle the kind of prejudices you discussed at today’s conference.

John Mann and the APPG on antisemitism have also done so much not just to highlight the scale of the problem but also to explore solutions, particularly with their work around online abuse – so thank you, John, for all your work.

I’d also like to thank Sir Trevor Pears and everyone at the Antisemitism Policy Trust, who made today’s world-first conference happen… And the three women who chaired it: Luciana Berger, Theresa Villiers, and Dr Lisa Cameron – a trio that demonstrates how this is an issue that truly transcends party lines.

But most of all, I’d like to thank each and every one of you.

As Claire Kober said when she was bombarded with abuse, “to be tolerant is to be complicit”.

So thank you for refusing to tolerate antisemitism and misogyny in any form.

Thank you for refusing to be complicit and look the other way when confronted with bigotry of any kind.

And thank you for lending your voices to the growing chorus that will drown out the sound and fury of the racists and the sexists.

Freedom of thought and freedom of speech have never meant freedom to abuse and freedom to threaten.

Antisemitism and misogyny have no place in this country.

Hatred can be defeated.

Hatred must be defeated.

And, when I look around this room and see so many brave, dedicated men and women, I know that hatred will be defeated.

Theresa May – 2018 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 26 November 2018.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the conclusion of our negotiations to leave the European Union.

At yesterday’s Special European Council in Brussels, I reached a deal with the leaders of the other 27 EU Member States on a Withdrawal Agreement that will ensure our smooth and orderly departure on 29th March next year; and, tied to this Agreement, a Political Declaration on an ambitious future partnership that is in our national interest.

Mr Speaker, this is the right deal for Britain because it delivers on the democratic decision of the British people.

It takes back control of our borders. It ends the free movement of people in full once and for all, allowing the government to introduce a new skills-based immigration system.

It takes back control of our laws. It ends the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK and means instead our laws being made in our Parliaments, enforced by our courts.

And it takes back control of our money. It ends the vast annual payments we send to Brussels. So instead we can spend taxpayers’ money on our own priorities, including the £394 million a week of extra investment into our long-term plan for the NHS.

By creating a new Free Trade Area with no tariffs, fees, charges, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks, this deal protects jobs, including those that rely on integrated supply chains.

It protects our security with a close relationship on defence and on tackling crime and terrorism, which will help to keep all our people safe.

And it protects the integrity of our United Kingdom, meeting our commitments in Northern Ireland and delivering for the whole UK family, including our Overseas Territories and the Crown Dependencies.

Mr Speaker, on Gibraltar, we have worked constructively with the governments of Spain and Gibraltar – and I want to pay tribute in particular to Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picardo for his statesmanship in these negotiations.

We have ensured that Gibraltar is covered by the whole Withdrawal Agreement and by the Implementation Period.

And for the future partnership, the UK government will be negotiating for the whole UK family, including Gibraltar.

As Fabian Picardo said this weekend:

Every aspect of the response of the United Kingdom was agreed with the Government of Gibraltar. We have worked seamlessly together in this as we have in all other aspects of this two year period of negotiation. Most importantly, the legal text of the draft Withdrawal Agreement has not been changed. That is what the Spanish Government repeatedly sought. But they have not achieved that. The United Kingdom has not let us down.

Mr Speaker, our message to the people of Gibraltar is clear: we will always stand by you. We are proud that Gibraltar is British and our position on sovereignty has not and will not change.

Mr Speaker, the Withdrawal Agreement will ensure that we leave the European Union on 29th March next year in a smooth and orderly way.

It protects the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens living in the EU, so they can carry on living their lives as before.

It delivers a time-limited Implementation Period to give business time to prepare for the new arrangements. During the Implementation Period trade will continue on current terms so businesses only have to face one set of changes. It ensures a fair settlement of our financial obligations – less than half of what some originally expected and demanded.

And it meets our commitment to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – and also no customs border in the Irish Sea – in the event that the future relationship is not ready by the end of the implementation period.

Mr Speaker, I know some Members remain concerned that we could find ourselves stuck in this backstop.

So let me address this directly.

First, this is an insurance policy that no-one wants to use.

Both the UK and the EU are fully committed to having our future relationship in place by 1st January 2021.

And the Withdrawal Agreement has a legal duty on both sides to use best endeavours to avoid the backstop ever coming into force.

If, despite this, the future relationship is not ready by the end of 2020, we would not be forced to use the backstop. We would have a clear choice between the backstop or a short extension to the Implementation Period.

If we did choose the backstop, the legal text is clear that it should be temporary and that the Article 50 legal base cannot provide for a permanent relationship.

And there is now more flexibility that it can be superseded either by the future relationship, or by alternative arrangements which include the potential for facilitative arrangements and technologies to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. There is also a termination clause, which allows the backstop to be turned off when we have fulfilled our commitments on the Northern Ireland border. And there is a unilateral right to trigger a review through the Joint Committee and the ability to seek independent arbitration if the EU does not use good faith in this process.

Furthermore, as a result of the changes we have negotiated, the legal text is now also clear that once the backstop has been superseded, it shall “cease to apply”.

So if a future Parliament decided to then move from an initially deep trade relationship to a looser one, the backstop could not return.

Mr Speaker, I do not pretend that either we or the EU are entirely happy with these arrangements. And that’s how it must be – were either party entirely happy, that party would have no incentive to move on to the future relationship.

But there is no alternative deal that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland which does not involve this insurance policy. And the EU would not have agreed any future partnership without it.

Put simply, there is no deal that comes without a backstop, and without a backstop there is no deal.

Mr Speaker, the Withdrawal Agreement is accompanied by a Political Declaration, which sets out the scope and terms of an ambitious future relationship between the UK and the EU.

It is a detailed set of instructions to negotiators that will be used to deliver a legal agreement on our future relationship after we have left.

The linkage clause between the Withdrawal Agreement and this declaration requires both sides to use best endeavours to get this legal text agreed and implemented by the end of 2020.

And both sides are committed to making preparations for an immediate start to the formal negotiations after our withdrawal.

The declaration contains specific detail on our future economic relationship.

This includes a new Free Trade Area with no tariffs, fees, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks – an unprecedented economic relationship that no other major economy has.

It includes liberalisation in trade in services well beyond WTO commitments and building on recent EU Free Trade Agreements.

It includes new arrangements for our financial services sector – ensuring market access cannot be withdrawn on a whim and providing stability and certainty for our world-leading industry.

And it ensures we will leave EU programmes that do not work in our interests: so we will be out of the Common Agricultural Policy that has failed our farmers and out of the Common Fisheries Policy that has failed our coastal communities.

Instead as the Political Declaration sets out, we will be “an independent coastal state” once again. We will take back full sovereign control over our waters. So we will be able to decide for ourselves who we allow to fish in our waters.

The EU have maintained throughout this process that they wanted to link overall access to markets to access to fisheries. They failed in the Withdrawal Agreement, and they failed again in the Political Declaration.

It is no surprise some are already trying to lay down markers again for the future relationship, but they should be getting used to the answer by now: it is not going to happen.

Finally, the declaration is clear that whatever is agreed in the future partnership must recognise the development of an independent UK trade policy beyond this economic partnership.

So for the first time in forty years, the UK will be able to strike new trade deals and open up new markets for our goods and services in the fastest growing economies around the world.

Mr Speaker, as I set out for the House last week, the future relationship also includes a comprehensive new security partnership with close reciprocal law enforcement and judicial co-operation to keep all our people safe.

At the outset we were told that being outside of free movement and outside of the Schengen area, we would be treated like any other non-EU state on security.

But this deal delivers the broadest security partnership in the EU’s history, including arrangements for effective data exchange on Passenger Name Records, DNA, fingerprints, and vehicle registration data, as well as extradition arrangements like those in the European Arrest Warrant.

And it opens the way to sharing the types of information included in the ECRIS and SIS II databases on wanted or missing persons and criminal records.

Mr Speaker, this has been a long and complex negotiation.

It has required give and take on both sides. That is the nature of a negotiation.

But this deal honours the result of the referendum while providing a close economic and security relationship with our nearest neighbours and in so doing offers a brighter future for the British people outside of the EU.

And I can say to the House with absolute certainty that there is not a better deal available. My fellow leaders were very clear on that themselves yesterday.

Mr Speaker, our duty – as a Parliament over these coming weeks – is to examine this deal in detail, to debate it respectfully, to listen to our constituents and decide what is in our national interest.

There is a choice which this House will have to make.

We can back this deal, deliver on the vote of the referendum and move on to building a brighter future of opportunity and prosperity for all our people.

Or this House can choose to reject this deal and go back to square one. Because no-one knows what would happen if this deal doesn’t pass. It would open the door to more division and more uncertainty, with all the risks that will entail.

Mr Speaker, I believe our national interest is clear.

The British people want us to get on with a deal that honours the referendum and allows us to come together again as a country, whichever way we voted.

This is that deal. A deal that delivers for the British people.

And I commend this Statement to the House.

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.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at MS Society Reception

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at an MS Society Reception held at 10 Downing Street in London on 5 November 2018.

It is wonderful to welcome you all to 10 Downing Street today to celebrate the MS Society and the amazing work that you do in so many different ways, as has just been outlined. The work you do to raise money to fund research into new treatments, to support people who are living with MS, raising public awareness of the condition. I think one of the key issues is people understanding what MS is about and the effect it has and campaigning to stop MS.

None of that would be possible without the tireless dedication of MS Society volunteers – and I am delighted that we have so many of you here today.

I also want to thank all those who raise money and provide care for those with MS.

I know just how vital that support can be because my own mother lived with MS.

Just the other day I received a touching letter from a nurse – Nicki Murray – who helped to support my mother when I was younger.

The way Nicki remembered my mother after all these years speaks volumes of the extraordinary care and compassion of our health workers.

I’d like to thank them all for everything that they do for us.

From my mother’s experience, I know how incredibly tough living with MS can be.

You all know it changes lives profoundly.

The shock of a diagnosis. The fear of a relapse. The anxiety over what might be ahead – and how that might affect your family and loved ones.

And of course many volunteers and supporters first get involved with the Society precisely because they saw a loved one go through it.

Indeed, we’ve just heard that the first branch was founded 65 years ago by a husband who watched his wife live with MS, and was frustrated by the lack of treatment and support available.

The situation today is unrecognisable from where we were then, or even 25 years ago – not just in terms of care and support but in terms of treatment too.

We know infinitely more about how to manage symptoms. More treatment options are available than ever before, particularly for relapsing forms of the condition. And the pipeline of treatments has never been stronger.

I think we are now at a crucial point.

Your ‘STOP MS’ campaign reflects your ambition for us to make the next research breakthrough. And I want you to know that you have an ally in this government.

Earlier this year I announced the single largest cash commitment to our public services ever made by a peacetime Government – an £84 billion five year deal for our NHS.

In return, the NHS will produce a long-term plan to ensure that investment makes a difference on the front-line, including to people living with MS.

But of course the real breakthroughs will come in the laboratory.

We are already putting £7 billion of new public funding into science, research and innovation – the largest increase for 40 years.

And more broadly, across our whole economy, we have set the most ambitious goal for total research and development investment in our history – making it up to 2.4% of our economy – with government and the private sector working together to meet it.

Those investments will pay real dividends in the years ahead. I know that the MS Society is working closely with the National Institute for Health Research on a number of promising treatments – I want that close partnership to continue.

You’ve achieved a huge amount as a Society and as a wider MS community over many years.

Thank you all for that you have done.

Now you rightly have your eyes set on the greatest prize – stopping MS and bringing an end to the pain and suffering it causes to so many people.

So thank you for all that you have done and let’s work together to make that, stopping MS, a reality.

Theresa May – 2018 Statement at Norwegian Parliament

Below is the text of the statement made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, at the Norwegian Parliament on 30 October 2018.

Thank you very much Prime Minister and it is a great pleasure to be here in Norway – this is my first visit to Norway as Prime Minister.

I’m delighted to have been able to attend the Northern Future Forum – thank you for hosting it and thank you for focusing our thinking on the important subject of how innovation and technology can improve healthcare, and how we can, the Nordic and Baltic countries and the UK can cooperate more in this area to the benefit of all our citizens.

As you say, the UK and Norway have a strong and long-standing bilateral relationship. A very strong relationship across a great many issues, and I look forward to building on that in the future.

I look forward to talking to you about how we can enhance our future trade relationship, and how we can work together on issues like security and defence, and on the many other issues you have listed where we share our thinking and have worked together in the past.

And we want to build on that cooperation when we leave the European Union.

Thank you for the comments you have just made and the commitment you have made to UK citizens here in Norway and I make the same commitment to Norwegian citizens living in the UK.

We hope of course to be able to come to a satisfactory conclusion of the current negotiations in relation to this matter.

In the event of no deal, we would look to be able to have an agreement for EEA and EFTA countries, but whatever happens, we confirm that people from with EEA EFTA countries, Norwegian citizens and those others who are living in the UK who have made their life choice to be in the UK will be able to stay in the UK. We want them to stay, they are part of our community, they are part of our country and we welcome the contribution that they make.

I look forward to the talks we are going to have today, and also look forward to the opportunity to address what I believe is the 70th session of the Nordic Council.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech on Brexit

Mr Speaker, before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the strongest possible terms.

We must get to the truth of what happened – and my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary will be making a statement shortly.

Mr Speaker, on the European Council, in addition to Brexit, there were important discussions on security and migration.

First, at last Monday’s Foreign Ministers meeting my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary and his French counterpart secured agreement on a new EU sanctions regime on the use of chemical weapons.

At this Council, I argued along with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte that we should also accelerate work on further measures – including sanctions – to respond to and deter cyber-attacks.

The attempted hacking of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague earlier this year was a stark example of the very real threats we face.

We must impose costs on all those who seek to do us harm, regardless of the means they use. And this Council agreed to take that work forward.

Second, in marking anti-slavery day, I welcomed the continued commitment of all EU leaders in working together to eliminate the barbaric crime of people trafficking.

We reaffirmed our shared commitments to doing more to tackle the challenges of migration upstream.

Following the Council, I met Premier Li of China, President Moon of South Korea and Prime Minister Lee of Singapore at the ASEM Summit.

Since 2010, our trade with Asia has grown by almost 50 per cent – more than with any other continent in the world. I want to develop that even further.

Indeed, Mr Speaker, the ability to develop our own new trade deals is one of the great opportunities of Brexit.

So at this Summit we discussed how the UK can build the most ambitious economic partnerships with all our Asian partners as we leave the European Union. And we also agreed to deepen our co-operation across shared threats to our security.

Turning to Brexit, Mr Speaker, let me begin with the progress we have made on both the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship.

As I reported to the House last Monday, the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the Withdrawal Agreement is now clear.

Since Salzburg we have agreed the broad scope of provisions that set out the governance and dispute resolution arrangements for our Withdrawal Agreement.

We have developed a Protocol relating to the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Following discussions with Spain – and in close co-operation with the Government of Gibraltar – we have also developed a Protocol and a set of underlying memoranda relating to Gibraltar, heralding a new era in our relations.

And we have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues like security, transport and services.

And this progress in the last three weeks builds on the areas where we have already reached agreement – on citizens’ rights, on the financial settlement, on the Implementation Period, and in Northern Ireland, agreement on the preservation of the particular rights for UK and Irish citizens – and on the special arrangements between us such as the Common Travel Area, which has existed since before either the UK or Ireland ever became members of the European Economic Community.

Mr Speaker, taking all of this together, 95 per cent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled.

There is one real sticking point left, but a considerable one, which is how we guarantee that – in the unlikely event our future relationship is not in place by the end of the Implementation Period – there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The commitment to avoiding a hard border is one this House emphatically endorsed and enshrined in law in the Withdrawal Act earlier this year.

As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of our United Kingdom.

I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this.

And I certainly will not.

But as I said in my Mansion House speech: We chose to leave; we have a responsibility to help find a solution. So earlier this year, we put forward a counter-proposal for a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory for the backstop.

And in a substantial shift in their position since Salzburg, the EU are now actively working with us on this proposal.

But a number of issues remain.

The EU argue that they cannot give a legally binding commitment to a UK-wide customs arrangement in the Withdrawal Agreement, so their original proposal must remain a possibility.

Furthermore, Mr Speaker, people are understandably worried that we could get stuck in a backstop that is designed only to be temporary.

And there are also concerns that Northern Ireland could be cut off from accessing its most important market – Great Britain.

During last week’s Council, I had good discussions with Presidents Juncker, Tusk and Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Varadkar and others about how to break this impasse.

I believe there are four steps we need to take.

First, we must make the commitment to a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory legally binding, so the Northern Ireland only proposal is no longer needed.

This would not only protect relations North-South, but also, vitally, East-West.

This is critical: the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is an integral strand of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. So to protect that Agreement we need to preserve the totality of relationships it sets out.

Nothing we agree with the EU under Article 50 should risk a return to a hard border, or threaten the delicate constitutional and political arrangements underpinned by the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

The second step, is to create an option to extend the Implementation Period as an alternative to the backstop.

Mr Speaker, I have not committed to extending the Implementation Period.

I do not want to extend the Implementation Period – and I do not believe that extending it will be necessary.

I see any extension – or being in any form of backstop – as undesirable. By far the best outcome for the UK, for Ireland and for the EU – is that our future relationship is agreed and in place by 1st January 2021.

I have every confidence that it will be. And the European Union have said they will show equal commitment to this timetable.

But the impasse we are trying to resolve is about the insurance policy if this does not happen.

So what I am saying is that – if at the end of 2020 our future relationship was not quite ready – the proposal is that the UK would be able to make a sovereign choice between the UK-wide customs backstop or a short extension of the Implementation Period.

And Mr Speaker, there are some limited circumstances in which it could be argued that an extension to the Implementation Period might be preferable, if we were certain it was only for a short time

For example, a short extension to the Implementation Period would mean only one set of changes for businesses – at the point we move to the future relationship.

But in any such scenario we would have to be out of this Implementation Period well before the end of this Parliament.

The third step, Mr Speaker, is to ensure that were we to need either of these insurance policies – whether the backstop or a short extension to the Implementation Period – we could not be kept in either arrangement indefinitely.

We would not accept a position in which the UK, having negotiated in good faith an agreement which prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland, nonetheless finds itself locked into an alternative, inferior arrangement against our will.

The fourth step, Mr Speaker, is for the Government to deliver the commitment we have made to ensure full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.

Northern Ireland’s businesses rely heavily on trade with their largest market – Great Britain – and we must protect this in any scenario.

Mr Speaker, let us remember that all of these steps are about insurance policies that no-one in the UK or the EU wants or expects to use.

So we cannot let this become the barrier to reaching the future partnership we all want to see.

We have to explore every possible option to break the impasse and that is what I am doing.

When I stood in Downing Street and addressed the nation for the first time, I pledged that the government I lead will not be driven by the interests of the privileged few but of ordinary working families.

And that is what guides me every day in these negotiations.

Before any decision, I ask: how do I best deliver the Brexit that the British people voted for.

How do I best take back control of our money, borders and laws.

How do I best protect jobs and make sure nothing gets in the way of our brilliant entrepreneurs and small businesses.

And how do I best protect the integrity of our precious United Kingdom, and protect the historic progress we have made in Northern Ireland.

And, if doing those things means I get difficult days in Brussels, then so be it. The Brexit talks are not about my interests. They are about the national interest – and the interests of the whole of our United Kingdom.

Serving our national interest will demand that we hold our nerve through these last stages of the negotiations, the hardest part of all.

It will mean not giving in to those who want to stop Brexit with a politicians vote – politicians telling the people they got it wrong the first time and should try again.

And it will mean focusing on the prize that lies before us: the great opportunities that we can open up for our country when we clear these final hurdles in the negotiations.

That is what I am working to achieve. And I commend this Statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2018 Statement on EU Exit Negotiations

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, in the House of Commons on 15 October 2018.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House ahead of this week’s European Council.

We are entering the final stages of these negotiations. This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail, and for a clear-eyed focus on the few remaining but critical issues that are still to be agreed. Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union went to Brussels for further talks with Michel Barnier. There has inevitably been a great deal of inaccurate speculation, so I want to set out clearly for the House the facts as they stand.

First, we have made real progress in recent weeks on both the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship. I want to pay tribute to both negotiating teams for the many, many hours of hard work that have got us to this point. In March, we agreed legal text around the implementation period, citizen’s rights and the financial settlement, and we have now made good progress on text concerning the majority of the outstanding issues. Taken together, the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement—the terms of our exit—is now clear. We also have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the framework for our future relationship, with progress on issues such as security, transport and services.

Perhaps most significantly, we have made progress on Northern Ireland, on which the EU has been working with us to respond to the very real concerns we had about its original proposals. Let me remind the House why this is so important. Both the UK and the EU share a profound responsibility to ensure the preservation of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, protecting the hard-won peace and stability in Northern Ireland and ensuring that life continues essentially as it does now. We agree that our future economic partnership should provide for solutions to the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland in the long term, and while we are both committed to ensuring that this future relationship is in place by the end of the implementation period, we accept that there is a chance that there may be a gap between the two. This is what creates the need for a backstop to ensure that if such a temporary gap were ever to arise, there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or indeed anything that would threaten the integrity of our precious Union.

This backstop is intended to be an insurance policy for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland. Previously, the European Union had proposed a backstop that would see Northern Ireland carved off in the EU’s customs union and parts of the single market, separated through a border in the Irish sea from the UK’s own internal market. As I have said many times, I could never accept that, no matter how unlikely such a scenario might be. Creating any form of customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would mean a fundamental change in the day-to-day experience for businesses in Northern Ireland, with the potential to affect jobs and investment. We published our proposals on customs in the backstop in June. After Salzburg, I said that we would bring forward our own further proposals, and that is what we have done in these ​negotiations. The European Union has responded positively by agreeing to explore a UK-wide customs solution to this backstop, but two problems remain.

First, the EU says that there is not time to work out the detail of this UK-wide solution in the next few weeks, so even with the progress we have made, the EU still requires a “backstop to the backstop”—effectively an insurance policy for the insurance policy—and it wants this to be the Northern Ireland-only solution that it had previously proposed. We have been clear that we cannot agree to anything that threatens the integrity of our United Kingdom, and I am sure that the whole House shares the Government’s view on this. Indeed, the House of Commons set out its view when agreeing unanimously to section 55 in part 6 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 on a single United Kingdom customs territory, which states:

“It shall be unlawful for Her Majesty’s Government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain.”

So the message is clear not just from this Government but from the whole House.

Secondly, I need to be able to look the British people in the eye and say that this backstop is a temporary solution. People are rightly concerned that what is only meant to be temporary could become a permanent limbo, with no new relationship between the UK and the EU ever agreed. I am clear that we are not going to be trapped permanently in a single customs territory unable to do meaningful trade deals. So it must be the case, first, that the backstop should not need to come into force; secondly, that if it does, it must be temporary; and, thirdly, while I do not believe that this will be the case, that if the EU were not to co-operate on our future relationship, we must be able to ensure that we cannot be kept in this backstop arrangement indefinitely. I would not expect the House to agree to a deal unless we have the reassurance that the UK, as a sovereign nation, has this say over our arrangements with the EU.

I do not believe that the UK and the EU are far apart. We both agree that article 50 cannot provide the legal base for a permanent relationship, and we both agree that the backstop must be temporary, so we must now work together to give effect to that agreement.

So much of the negotiations are necessarily technical, but the reason why this all matters is that it affects the future of our country. It affects jobs and livelihoods in every community. It is about what kind of country we are and about our faith in our democracy. Of course it is frustrating that almost all the remaining points of disagreement are focused on how we manage a scenario that both sides hope should never come to pass and that, if it does, will only be temporary. We cannot let that disagreement derail the prospects of a good deal and leave us with the no-deal outcome that no-one wants. I continue to believe that a negotiated deal is the best outcome for the UK and for the European Union. I continue to believe that such a deal is achievable, and that is the spirit in which I will continue to work with our European partners. I commend this statement to the House.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech at World Mental Health Day Reception

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 10 October 2018.

I’m really pleased to be able to welcome you here to Number 10 on World Mental Health Day.

And I want to say a huge thank you to everybody here for everything you are doing to transform how we look after mental health, here in Britain but also around the world.

Because as I’ve been discussing with a number of you and with some young people earlier – for too long, too many people have suffered in silence in fear of the stigma surrounding mental health conditions.

While those who have sought help haven’t had the access to care they would have for a physical ailment.

Putting right that historic injustice is – I think – one of the defining challenges of our time.

We all know someone who has been affected by mental health problems – whether a family member, a colleague or a friend.

Yet average global spend on mental health is just 2.8 per cent of government health spending worldwide.

And we have to change this.

For we are not looking after our health if we are not looking after our mental health.

And we need that true parity between physical and mental health, not just in our health systems but elsewhere as well – in our classrooms, our workplaces, in our communities too.

That is why we were so pleased this week to host the first ever Global Ministerial Summit on mental health.

And in this landmark agreement we see more than 50 countries have supported the declaration to achieve equity for mental health in the 21st Century.

And I am delighted that we have representatives from many of those national delegations here with us this afternoon.

Now we must turn those words into action.

Here in the UK, as you’ve just heard, I have made parity of care a priority for our long-term plan for the NHS.

And as a result, our record investment in the NHS will mean record investment in mental health.

For the first time ever, the NHS will work towards standards for accessing mental health services that are just as ambitious as those for physical health.

The Independent Review of the Mental Health Act, led by Simon Wessely, will enable the government to bring forward historic new legislation – and it is amazing that it has taken so long for us to review our mental health legislation – to help ensure that all people treated under the act are treated with dignity and respect.

We are investing more than £220 million over the next decade in the mental wellbeing of our brave armed forces – changing the culture, so those in need are not stigmatised but rather encouraged to step forward and then helped to return to the frontline. And we are ensuring that we have the right mental health support for our veterans too.

Our new campaign – Every Mind Matters – will train 1 million people in mental health awareness, with the first pilot beginning today in the West Midlands ahead of a national launch next Spring.

But I want us to go further, in particular in two areas: how we prevent the tragic loss of too many lives from suicide and how we support the mental wellbeing of our young people.

I think it’s utterly heart-breaking that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 and most likely to occur among those who are disadvantaged in our society today.

And we cannot stand by and allow this injustice to continue.

But to tackle it we need to focus on the full range of challenges that those at risk of suicide are so often facing – from ill-health to debt or unemployment; from family breakdown to bereavement or loneliness; from drugs and alcohol dependency to homelessness.

And we need to break the stigma that so often prevents people from talking when they are at their most desperate.

For this to happen we need to give suicide prevention the priority it deserves.

So I am today appointing Jackie Doyle-Price as the first ever Ministerial Lead for Suicide Prevention.

And what Jackie will be doing is bringing together a national effort to tackle this injustice – working with all of you here – across national and local government, with suicide and self-harm prevention experts, clinicians and those personally affected by suicide. This will include charities like one whose representatives I’ve just met – the Campaign Against Living Miserably – who have campaigned so tirelessly on this issue.

Jackie will also explore how we can harness the latest technology – such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence – to identify those at risk of suicide.

She will be looking at the support offered to families affected by suicide.

And she will also help to ensure there are effective suicide prevention plans in every local area – and we’ll be publishing a national progress report by Spring next year.

As we do all of this, we are committing up to £2 million for the Zero Suicide Alliance over the next two years to improve suicide awareness and training across the NHS and beyond.

And we will ensure that when people do want to talk, there is someone there to listen.

So we are also committing up to £1.8 million for the Samaritans’ helpline over the next four years, to ensure that it remains free for everyone who needs it, when they need it, 24 hours a day.

As I said, I also want us to do more to support the mental wellbeing of young people.

Half of all mental illness, as we know, begins by the age of 14 – and with young people spending more time online, the strains on mental wellbeing are only going to increase.

So it’s critical that we not only deliver parity of care between mental and physical health – but that we do the same for prevention too.

That is why we are making education about mental health and resilience a mandatory part of the national curriculum.

And we are developing an entirely new mental health workforce that will support schools to get the right help early to young people with mild to moderate mental health needs.

Recruitment has just begun for the first cohort of trainees. They will begin studying in January and be fully trained working in schools by the end of next year.

But we need to go even further in ensuring that mental wellbeing and resilience is at the forefront of our whole approach to supporting young people.

For generations, we have measured our children’s physical health throughout their childhood.

And we have done the same with their academic attainment.

But we haven’t done this for their mental wellbeing.

That not only sends the wrong message about the importance of mental health but it also denies us vital data that can help transform the support we provide for generations to come.

So we are going to change this.

From next year, we will publish an annual State of the Nation report every World Mental Health Day to highlight the trends and issues in young people’s mental wellbeing.

And we will provide schools with an approved framework which can help them with measuring all aspects of their students’ health, including their mental wellbeing.

Now, when I first became Prime Minister, I stood on the steps of Downing Street and pledged to fight the burning injustices in our society.

I think there are few greater examples than the injustice which faces those with mental health conditions.

But working together we can change that.

We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence.

We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.

And we can give the mental wellbeing of our children the priority that it so profoundly deserves.

So let’s do that. And let me thank you all again for everything that you are doing to support that vital mission.

And let’s go forward together, determined to ensure we improve people’s mental health and give help and support to those that need it.