The speech made by Tony Lloyd, the Labour MP for Rochdale, in the House of Commons on 18 July 2022.
I am delighted to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Sir Stephen Timms). Morality and probity in public life matters—it really does—and we need to establish that. I was proud to become a Member of Parliament, and I think we believed that and were right to believe it. During my lifetime there have been 10 Conservative Prime Ministers, the bulk of whom would have found the idea of lying to Parliament anathema. Yet I am afraid we have a Prime Minister who has broken that code, and that matters.
I have listened to Conservative Members extolling the virtues of the Prime Minister and the Government. There are things that I would agree with the Prime Minister about, such as Ukraine, on which this country now has a proud record. But across the world, we are now a laughing stock. This country, which was once the hallmark for probity, is now a hallmark for lawbreaking. We know there is potential lawbreaking in terms of the Northern Ireland protocol, because the Prime Minister has not got Brexit done. He has betrayed and made a fool of every Conservative Member of Parliament who stood up today, and in the past, and said, “We’ve got Brexit done.” Brexit has not been done.
There was the attempt to keep Owen Paterson in office, and the overriding of Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s ethics adviser, who declared that the Home Secretary had broken the ministerial code of conduct. Of course those things are important and matter, but it matters even more that nearly 40% of children in my constituency are living in poverty. In some wards the figure is as high as one in two children. That matters, and the Government are failing abysmally to deal with such things. They should be ashamed. It matters that climate change—the biggest issue our nation faces—hardly got a mention by the Prime Minister or anybody else on the Government Benches. Climate change makes a difference to the futures of children in my constituency, and to children across the planet. The Government are failing on those issues on a day-to-day basis.
In the end, what is ironic about this debate is that we could almost believe that it was not Conservative MPs who decapitated the Prime Minister. They got rid of him—not us—but one would not think that was the case today, given the way they describe their loyalty to the now outgoing Prime Minister. Of course, Cabinet Ministers did not resign. Only recently, when they saw their own futures at stake, did they make a decision to get rid of a losing Prime Minister. Before that, despite all his incompetence and failures, they stuck with him.