Boris Johnson’s first PMQs: 4 September 2019
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Boris Johnson’s first PMQs: 4 September 2019

November 23, 2019

>>Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)
(Lab): If he will list his official engagements for
Wednesday 4 September.>>The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson):
I know that the whole House will want to join me in paying tribute to PC Andrew Harper,
who was killed while on duty. His death and the serious injuries sustained by PC Stuart
Outten in London and PC Gareth Phillips in Birmingham are a powerful reminder of the
dangers that police officers face every day to keep us safe. This morning, I had meetings with ministerial
colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall have further such meetings
later today.>>Siobhain McDonagh:
May I associate myself with the comments about the brave acts of the police officers? On Brexit, the former Prime Minister’s deal
was unacceptable to this House, but to leave without a deal is unthinkable, yet the Prime
Minister pursues a game of brinksmanship built on the livelihoods, health and future of my
constituents and our country. There is still an option to resolve this once and for all:
if the Prime Minister really believes in no deal, let him put it to the people and ask
our people if that is the price they want to pay.>>The Prime Minister:
As the hon. Lady knows very well, this Government will take this country out of the European
Union on 31 October. There is only one thing that stands in our way: the surrender Bill
currently being proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. I invite the Leader of the
Opposition to confirm, when he stands up shortly, that if that surrender Bill is passed, he
will allow the people of this country to have their view on what he is proposing to hand
over in their name with an election on 15 October.>>Robert Halfon (Harlow) (Con):
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that when we leave the European Union on 31 October,
we will no longer be subjected to EU rules on VAT on our energy bills, costing Harlow
constituents and households around £55 extra every year? Will he confirm that we will take
back control of our energy bills and save households around £1.5 billion a year on
their heating and lighting?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent suggestion. As he knows, we currently apply
the reduced 5% rate on domestic fuel and power, which is the lowest allowed under EU law,
but of course when we leave the EU on 31 October, it will be open to us to change this to the
benefit of the people of Harlow.>>Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab):
I start by paying my deepest respects to PC Andrew Harper, who died in the line of duty.
It is a reminder of the risks that he faced and that police officers face all the time
trying to protect communities. We send our sympathies to his family, colleagues and friends. I also send our condolences to those affected
by Hurricane Dorian, which hit the Bahamas at the weekend. I hope and am sure that the
Government and the Department for International Development will do all they can to send all
the help that is necessary. Yesterday, it was revealed that the Prime
Minister’s negotiating strategy was to run down the clock and that the Attorney General
told him that his belief that the EU would drop the backstop was a complete fantasy.
Are these reports accurate, or can the Prime Minister provide the detail of the proposals
he has put forward to the EU?>>The Prime Minister:
Our negotiating strategy is to get a deal by the summit on 17 October, to take this
country out of the EU on 31 October and to get Brexit done. The right hon. Gentleman’s
surrender Bill would wreck any chances of the talks. We do not know what his strategy
would be if he took over. He is asking for mobs of Momentum activists to paralyse the
traffic. What are they supposed to chant? What is the slogan? “What do we want? Dither
and delay. When do we want it? We don’t know.” That is his policy. Can he confirm
now that he will allow the people of this country to decide on what he is giving up
in their name with a general election on 15 October? Or is he frit?>>Jeremy Corbyn:
My first question to the Prime Minister, and no answer given! I asked what proposals had
been put to the EU. We asked yesterday—many colleagues asked—and he seems utterly incapable
of answering. Any rational human being would assume therefore that none have been put and
there is no answer. The Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues have said he is making
progress. The EU’s chief negotiator, the Chancellor of Germany and the Taoiseach of
Ireland say that no proposals have yet been made by the UK. If the Prime Minister thinks
he has made progress, will he publish the proposals he has put forward to replace the
backstop?>>The Prime Minister:
As the right hon. Gentleman knows very well, you do not negotiate in public. We are making
substantial progress and we will get that backstop out.>>Mr Speaker:
Order. Forgive me for interrupting, Prime Minister, but there is a long way to go and
a lot of questions to be reached. The questions must be heard, and the Prime Minister’s
responses must and will be heard.>>The Prime Minister:
Let us be absolutely clear. This Government will get a deal from our friends in Brussels
and we will get the backstop out. We will get an agreement that I think the House can
agree with. The only thing standing in our way is the undermining of our negotiations
by this surrender Bill, which would lead to more dither and delay. We delayed in March;
we delayed in April; and now the right hon. Gentleman wants to delay again for absolutely
no purpose whatever. What does he intend by this? The Government are spending £1 billion
to put 20,000 more police officers on the streets. He wants to spend £1 billion a month—net—to
keep us in the EU beyond 31 October. I will never allow that.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
I really fail to see how I can be accused of undermining negotiations, because no negotiations
are taking place. The right hon. Gentleman has been Prime Minister for six weeks, and
he promised to get Brexit sorted. In six weeks, he has presented nothing to change the previous
Prime Minister’s deal, which he twice voted against. The negotiations that he talks about
are a sham. All that he is doing is running down the clock. At the weekend, the Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster said that food prices would go up under no deal. Will the Prime Minister
publish the Yellowhammer documents so that people can see which food prices will go up
and by how much?>>The Prime Minister:
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said absolutely no such thing, and I can tell the
right hon. Gentleman that, thanks to my right hon. Friend’s good offices and thanks to
his efforts, preparations for no deal are very far advanced. I can also tell him that
the surest way of getting no deal is to undermine this country’s ability to negotiate, which
is what he is doing. If this Bill is passed this afternoon—I
do not want an election, and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants an election,
but there is a petition on his own Labour website in which 57,000 people, including
Carol, Nigel, Graham and Phoebe, have called for an election. I do not know whether there
is a Jeremy on the list. I do know that the right hon. Gentleman is worried about free
trade deals with America, but I can see only one chlorinated chicken in the House, and
he is sitting on the Opposition Front Bench. Will he confirm that he will let the people
decide on what he is doing to this country’s negotiating position by having a general election
on 15 October?>>Jeremy Corbyn:
Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us what the negotiating position actually is. The Prime Minister may have forgotten the
question that I asked, given his rather lengthy peroration. When the Chancellor of the Duchy
of Lancaster denied that there would be shortages of fresh food, the British Retail Consortium
said that that was “categorically untrue”. I hope that no more young female staff are
going to be frogmarched out of Downing Street, because there was another Government leak
at the weekend, concerning disruption of our ports. The leaked documents, written by the
Government in the last fortnight, show that no deal would lead to shortages on the shelves
and shortages of medical supplies in hospitals. People need to prepare. So I ask the Prime
Minister again: will he publish the Yellowhammer documents in full, so that people can see
which foodstuffs are not going to be available, which medicines are not going to be supplied
and what will happen given the shortages of vital supplies in every one of our hospitals
all over the country?>>The Prime Minister:
I am afraid that the right hon. Gentleman is guilty of the most shameless scaremongering.
We have made ample preparations for coming out of the EU. What his party is recommending
is yet—>>Mr Speaker:
Order. It is very difficult to hear the responses from the Prime Minister. Members must calm
themselves. There is a long way to go.>>The Prime Minister:
What the right hon. Gentleman is recommending is yet more dither, yet more delay and yet
more uncertainty for business. What we in the Government want to do is deliver on the
mandate of the people. The right hon. Gentleman used to be a democrat. He used to believe
in upholding the referendum result. Can he say now whether he would vote in favour of
leave or remain, and can he say now whether is in favour of a second referendum or not?>>Jeremy Corbyn:
The Prime Minister failed to answer my questions about food supplies, about medicine supplies
and about the problems in hospitals. He refuses to publish the Yellowhammer documents. He
talks about scaremongering. Where does the information come from, other than his office
in his Government? He is obviously so confident of the position that he has adopted that he
is now prepared to spend £100 million of our money on an advertising campaign to try
to persuade people that everything is fine. He knows it is not, and they know it is not.
He is hiding the facts. The Government have refused to publish their
impact assessments on how a no-deal Brexit would affect poverty in this country. They
received a request under the Freedom of Information Act from the Glasgow-based Poverty Alliance;
the DWP replied that the public interest would not be served by that disclosure. Will the
Prime Minister publish that analysis? If he won’t, what has he got to hide?>>The Prime Minister:
Unlike the right hon. Member, who would squander £1 billion a month of taxpayers’ money
on staying pointlessly in the EU, this Government are getting on with running a sound economy
so that the poorest people in our country are seeing increases in their wages for the
first time in more than a decade. I am proud to say that those on the living wage are now
taking home £4,500 more every year than they were in 2010, thanks to this Conservative
Government.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
Mr Speaker, you don’t have to go very far from the portals of this House to see real
destitution: people begging and sleeping on the streets; child poverty is up compared
with 2010; pensioner poverty is up; and in-work poverty is up. The Prime Minister will not
give us any of the information of the assessments of increased poverty that could come from
his Government’s proposals. We are less than 60 days away from leaving
the EU with no deal. The Prime Minister had two days in office before the summer recess
and then planned to prorogue Parliament. Yesterday, he lost one vote—his first vote in Parliament—and
he now wants to dissolve Parliament. He is desperate—absolutely desperate—to avoid
scrutiny. In his third day in office, after five questions from me, we have not had an
answer to any of them. I can see why he is desperate to avoid scrutiny: he has no plan
to get a new deal—no plan, no authority and no majority. If he—>>Mr Speaker:
Order. If we have to go on longer because people sitting on the Treasury Bench are yelling
to try to disrupt, so be it, we will go on longer. Some people used to believe in good
behaviour; I believe in good behaviour on both sides of the House. It had better happen
or it will take a whole lot longer—very simple, very clear.>>Jeremy Corbyn:
Thank you, Mr Speaker. If the Prime Minister does to the country
what he has done to his party in the past 24 hours, a lot of people have a great deal
to fear from his incompetence, his vacillation and his refusal to publish known facts—that
are known to him—about the effects of a no-deal Brexit.>>The Prime Minister:
I really do not see how with a straight face the right hon. Gentleman can accuse anybody
of being unwilling to stand up to scrutiny when he will not agree to submit his surrender
Bill to the verdict of the people in an election. He is frit; he is frightened. He makes a contrast between this Government
and his own proposals. The contrast could not be clearer: we think that the friends
of this country are to be found in Paris, in Berlin and in the White House, and he thinks
that they are in the Kremlin, in Tehran and— He does. And in Caracas—and I think he is
“caracas”! We are putting 20,000 police on the street,
we have 20 new hospital upgrades, we are growing the economy. The right hon. Gentleman, by
contrast, would put a £300 billion tax on every company in the country, he wants a tax
on homes, and he is calling incessantly for a general strike. The shadow Education Secretary
says that Labour’s economic policy is—and I quote, by your leave, Mr Speaker,—“shit-or-bust”;
I say it is both. What this country needs is sensible, moderate,
progressive Conservative government and to take this country out of the EU on 31 October,
and that is what we are going to deliver.>>Hon. Members:
More!>>Mr Speaker:
There will indeed be more, starting with the closed question from Dr Julian Lewis.>>Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con):
I should like to ask a well-behaved Question 8 on the National Security Adviser. For what
reasons the roles of Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser were merged; and
if he will make it his policy to separate those roles.>>The Prime Minister:
As my right hon. Friend is aware, the decision to put the two roles together was taken by
my predecessor, although I have a high admiration for the gentleman in question.>>Dr Lewis:
I hope that my right hon. Friend is not going to follow every policy adopted by his predecessor.
This is one that he should not follow. The Defence Committee needs
to take evidence from the National Security Adviser on the failure to anticipate the Iranians’
reaction to the British seizure of a tanker. It is hardly likely, however, that the Cabinet
Secretary will come before the Defence Committee, so would it not make sense to have a full-time
occupant of the post of National Security Adviser as soon as possible so that Select
Committees and the National Security Committee can do our jobs properly?>>The Prime Minister:
I think that the role has been very well performed in recent times, but I take my right hon.
Friend’s point very humbly and sincerely, and I will ensure that invitations to appear
before his Committee are considered in the usual way and that he gets all the satisfaction
he desires.>>Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber)
(SNP): Last night, Parliament once again defeated
this shambolic Tory Government. Today, we have seized back control from a Prime Minister
who is behaving more like a dictator than a democrat. The Prime Minister must be stopped,
and MPs must tonight unite across this House to take no deal off the table. We will defeat
the Government again, so, when we succeed, will the Prime Minister respect the democratic
vote of this House and the democratic will of the people we represent and finally act
to remove the threat of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit?>>The Prime Minister:
I might ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will respect the democratic will of the people
of the United Kingdom, which this House voted to do time and again, to implement the result
of the referendum.>>Ian Blackford:
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is a new boy, but may I suggest to him that we
ask the questions and he is supposed to answer them? Quite simply, my colleagues and I are
sent here by the people of Scotland, where we have a majority. The people of Scotland
voted to remain in the European Union and we are not going to be dragged out against
our will by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must also not be paying
attention to the polls this morning. They show that the Scottish National party is polling
to win a majority in Scotland once again, with the Tories in retreat, so if he wants
an election, he should enable the Bill and bring it on. It is clear for all to see that the Prime
Minister is playing a game of bluff and bluster. He does not care about stopping a no-deal
Brexit. His strategy, as his lead adviser put it, is a sham. This is not a Parliament
versus the people; it is a Parliament standing up for the people. The people did not vote
for a no-deal Brexit. This Prime Minister is robbing the people of power and handing
control to the Leave campaign, the cult now running No. 10. Once again, I ask the Prime
Minister: are you a dictator or a Democrat? Will he accept the legislation today so that
no deal can be avoided, and will he let us vote for an election so that the people can
truly decide the next steps?>>The Prime Minister:
I am a democrat, because I not only want to respect the will of the people in the referendum
but want to have an election—or I am willing to have an election—if the terrible Bill
goes through. There is a reason why the separatists in Scotland
drone on and on about breaking up and smashing the oldest and most successful political union,
and that is to detract from their appalling domestic record. They are a total shambles.
They have the highest taxes anywhere in Europe. Their educational standards are falling, for
which they are responsible. Their signature policy— This is a useful point. Their signature
policy is to return Scotland to the European Union after Brexit, complete with the euro,
the full panoply of EU laws and, as I never tire of saying, the surrendering of Scottish
fish just when they have been taken back by this country.>>Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con):
I warmly welcome the Prime Minister to his place. My constituents sent me here to speak
for them, and what they care about is better hospital care, more police on our streets,
and good schools for their children. Does the Prime Minister agree with people in Telford
that those are the issues we should be discussing in this place? Will he commit to building
on his welcome spending announcements to deliver great public services for my constituents?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my hon. Friend very much. We love Telford, of course, and it is going to see
even more when my right hon. Friend the Chancellor announces his spending review shortly. There
will be investment in the NHS, more police officers to keep our streets and the hon.
Lady’s streets safe, and more money for every school in this country. Conservatives
are delivering on the priorities of the British people.>>Douglas Chapman (Dunfermline and West Fife)
(SNP): Mr Speaker, you know that I am not a doomster
or a gloomster. On that positive note, I thank the Prime Minister for boosting support for
Scottish independence just a few weeks into his premiership—they may be his last few
weeks, too. According to research by the UK Trade Policy Observatory, a no-deal Brexit
would cost up to 1,100 jobs in my constituency and over 63,000 jobs across Scotland. Will
the Prime Minister explain to me and my constituents, who are facing that dreadful prospect, what
their families should about the heavy price that they may pay for a Brexit that they never
voted for?>>The Prime Minister:
Of course we are preparing for a no-deal Brexit if we absolutely must have one. I do not think
that the consequences will be anything like as bad as the merchants of Project Fear have
said, but the way to avoid a no-deal Brexit is to allow this Government to get on and
do a deal at the summit on 17 October. The choice for this country is who they want doing
that deal: this Government or that Labour party, led by Jeremy Corbyn.>>Mr Speaker:
Order. We do not name people in the Chamber. People must observe the rules—Order. I am
simply and politely informing the Prime Minister of the very long-established procedure with
which everybody, including the Prime Minister, must comply. That is the position—no doubt,
no argument, no contradiction—and that is the end of the matter.>>Dame Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham)
(Con): I welcome the new Prime Minister to the Dispatch
Box and tell him that this year we celebrate 10 years since this House passed the Autism
Act, which is still the only disability-specific piece of legislation in the UK. The all-party
parliamentary group on autism, made up of Members from all parts of the House, will
publish next week the 10th annual review, with recommendations for the Government right
across the board. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to look at the recommendations carefully
and instruct his Chancellor to put more resources and more money into helping people with autism
and their families receive the help and services they need?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my right hon. Friend very much for everything she has done for that cause over
many years, and I reassure her that, very shortly, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will
outline not just more money for primary schools and secondary schools, but also a big investment
in schools for special educational needs and disabilities. That is, again, delivering on
the priorities of the British people.>>Geraint Davies (Swansea West) (Lab/Co-op):
People in Swansea voted to leave the EU, but leave voters are saying to me that they did
not vote for a no deal or for “do or die” on 31 October. They want to live. They voted
for good things—for more money, more jobs and more control—and now they see that they
will get less money, less jobs and less control, so they want a final say. Will the Prime Minister
undertake, when he goes to extend article 50 after the passage of the Bill we are considering
this afternoon, to ensure there is a proper referendum so that there is a choice between
a managed deal and remain, and not a kamikaze no deal?>>The Prime Minister:
If the hon. Gentleman wants to put that matter to the people, the best thing he can do is
persuade his right hon. Friend to summon up his courage and to stop being so frit. If
he is going to pass this wretched surrender Bill, at least he should submit it to the
judgment of the people in the form of a general election. If the hon. Gentleman wants to implement the
will of the people of Swansea, what he should do is vote with this Government and not for
the surrender Bill tonight.>>Mr David Gauke (South West Hertfordshire)
(Ind): The Prime Minister has said that the Prorogation
of Parliament is nothing to do with Brexit. Is that still his position?>>The Prime Minister:
As my right hon. Friend knows full well, there have been demands for the Prorogation of Parliament
ahead of a Queen’s Speech from the hon. Member for Walsall South (Valerie Vaz) and
from across the House. This Session has lasted longer than any in the last 400 years, and
there will be ample opportunity to debate the Brexit deal in this House after 17 October
if this Government are allowed to get on and deliver a deal.>>Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op):
The Chancellor today announced another £2 billion, on top of the £6.3 billion already
allocated, to help companies after a no-deal Brexit. Industry, the public and Parliament
have a right to know which industries will benefit, for how long and what the total cost
will be to the taxpayer. Can the Prime Minister tell us?>>The Prime Minister:
There is a great deal of preparatory work going on—particularly in the west midlands,
which the hon. Gentleman represents—to make sure that automotive supply chains are indeed
ready for a no-deal scenario, but we do not want a no-deal scenario. And the way to avoid
it is not to vote for the absurd surrender Bill that is before the House today and to
let the Government get on and negotiate a deal, because that is what we want to do.>>Douglas Ross (Moray) (Con):
The Scotch whisky industry is hugely important in Moray. The potential tariffs applied by
the US as part of its trade war with the EU could cost hundreds or thousands of jobs across
Scotland and the United Kingdom, so what representations has the Prime Minister made to President Trump?
Will his Government do everything possible to avoid these tariffs being applied to the
Scotch whisky industry?>>The Prime Minister:
I congratulate my hon. Friend on everything he does to represent that vital industry,
which earns billions of pounds in revenue for this country. Tariffs on Scotch whisky
would be absolutely absurd—a point we have made repeatedly to our friends in the United
States—but, again, when we do free trade deals around the world, Scotch whisky is one
of those many products that will have its chances boosted in growing export markets.>>Karen Lee (Lincoln) (Lab):
Last weekend, in Lincoln and right across the country, there were cross-party protests
against the Prorogation of Parliament. Does this unelected Prime Minister, who has no
majority in this House, believe that his attack on our democracy is his only means of forcing
a disastrous no-deal Brexit on Lincoln and on the businesses and people of this country?>>The Prime Minister:
If the hon. Lady wants to speak for the people of Lincoln, who, after all, voted to leave—yes,
they did—the best thing she can do is make sure we come out of the EU on 31 October with
a deal. If she is genuinely prepared to frustrate that ambition, through the surrender deal
being proposed today, will she at least have a word with her friend on the Front Bench
and urge him, as she speaks of democracy, to submit his Bill to the will of the people,
in the form of a general election on 15 October? Will she at least say that to him?>>Karen Bradley (Staffordshire Moorlands)
(Con): Many of us in this House will know the value
of community hospitals in our constituencies, with none more valued than Leek Moorlands
Hospital in my constituency. A consultation has recently been undertaken on the provision
of healthcare in north Staffordshire, and there is understandable concern about the
future of Leek Moorlands. So will the Prime Minister join my campaign to keep the hospital
open in Leek, with enhanced services, for the benefit of all the people of Leek and
Staffordshire Moorlands?>>The Prime Minister:
First, let me thank my right hon. Friend for everything she has done for the people of
Northern Ireland and for rightly raising this issue in her constituency with me. Of course
she will understand that decisions affecting Leek Moorlands must be led by clinicians,
but I hope a solution can be found that benefits everyone in her constituency.>>Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab):
In a desperate attempt to win yesterday’s vote, the Prime Minister apparently made emotional
appeals to Conservative MPs that he was serious in seeking a deal, but his answers in the
House yesterday and today make it clear that there are no real negotiations, in public
or in private. Those with whom he claims to be negotiating in the European Union have
said: “Nothing has been put on the table”.So does the Prime Minister understand why, across
this country, people find it difficult to trust a word he says?>>The Prime Minister:
May I tell the hon. Gentleman that what the people of this country want to see is us come
together to come out of the EU on 31 October with a deal? We are making great progress
with our friends and partners in Brussels and Dublin, and even in Paris, but I am afraid
those talks are currently being undermined by the absurd Bill before the House today.
I urge him to reject it. If he must pass it, will he have a word with his right hon. Friend
and ensure that that Bill is put to the people, in the form of a general election?>>Mr Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Ind):
In the light of the Prime Minister’s answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for South
West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), could the Prime Minister please explain why it has proved
impossible to find any official or Minister prepared to state that the reasons for Prorogation
were to pave the way for a Queen’s Speech, in the course of the current legal proceedings
in which the Government are involved? Would the Prime Minister like to reconsider the
answer he has just given to the House?>>The Prime Minister:
I hesitate to advise my right hon. and learned Friend about legal proceedings but, if he
looks at what happened in Scotland this morning, he will discover that that case was thrown
out.>>Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab):
As a result of budget cuts to the Home Office, largely enacted while the right hon. Gentleman
was Mayor of London, police numbers plummeted: we have 1,000 fewer officers in the west London
command unit alone; and we are one third down on police officers in my borough of Westminster.
He is now promising to get us back to where we were in 2010, with an additional 20,000
officers. He has told us, and he said this again today, that those 20,000 will be frontline
police and on the streets. It is, however, now clear that at least 7,000 of those officers
will not be frontline police. So in order to help this House build some trust in any
of the promises he makes, can he tell us whether that is true?>>The Prime Minister:
I think it absolutely bizarre that a London Labour Member of Parliament should ignore
the role of the present Mayor of London, who is, frankly, not a patch on the old guy. I
left him £600 million and he has squandered it on press officers. Sadiq Khan has squandered
it on press officers, and the faster we get rid of him and get more police officers out
on the street, the better. That is the best possible argument for Shaun Bailey as Mayor
of London.>>Mr Speaker:
Order. In the remaining minutes of this session, I appeal to colleagues to take account of
the fact that we are visited by a distinguished group of Lebanese parliamentarians, at the
invitation of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the all-party group on Lebanon, which
is chaired by the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Sir John Hayes).
We would like to set them a good example; I am not sure at the moment how impressed
they will be.>>Sir Gary Streeter (South West Devon) (Con):
I think I can comply with that advice, Mr Speaker. I welcome the extra £14 billion that was
recently announced for schools, especially in respect of South West Devon, where I understand
we will have the largest increase in the country to correct historical underspending. Does
my right hon. Friend agree that this cash boost will help our hard-working teachers
to prepare the next generation to reach their full potential? Will it not be wonderful,
when we get through Brexit, to start to talk about education, health and social care—the
things our constituents are really bothered about?>>The Prime Minister:
My hon. Friend is exactly right. That is exactly why we need that three-year investment in
education, and to get Brexit done on 31 October and not be attracted to any more dither, delay
and confusion under the Labour party.>>Vernon Coaker (Gedling) (Lab):
Yesterday, the Prime Minister booted 21 MPs out of his own party for voting against a
reckless no-deal Brexit. They included well-respected Members of this House, including a former
Chancellor, Churchill’s grandson and the Father of the House. Presumably, that was
done on the orders of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. Given the fact that the Prime
Minister himself voted against the former Prime Minister’s deal without losing the
Whip, does this not demonstrate to the British public his view of life—namely, that there
is one rule for him and another for everyone else?>>The Prime Minister:
rose—>>Mr Speaker:
Order. Leave me to control the proceedings; I should be immensely grateful for your assistance
in that regard. The heckling must cease and we will hear the reply.>>The Prime Minister:
I am not going to take any lectures from anybody in the Labour party about how to run a party.
Theirs is a party in which good, hard-working MPs are daily hounded out by antisemitic mobs.
Let us be absolutely clear: if the hon. Gentleman is interested in democracy, I hope he has
been listening to what I have been saying today. In an anti-democratic way, the Bill
that will come before the House today would hand over this country’s right to decide
how long to remain in the EU, and it would hand it over to the EU itself. That is what
the Bill involves. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that is a good idea, let him submit it to
the judgment of the British people in an election.>>Richard Harrington (Watford) (Ind):
I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, will know that tomorrow is the ninth annual Watford
jobs fair. I am taking particular interest in the 1,000 or so vacancies this year, and
I feel that other Members on both sides of the House might be interested as well. I thank
Victoria Lynch and Anna Cox for organising it. We have 1,000 vacancies in more than 60
companies. If the Prime Minister has any spare time tomorrow—there is not much going on
here—perhaps he could pop up to Watford, where he would be very welcome.>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my hon. Friend, who has been a wonderful champion for Watford and for conservative
values. I have been to campaign for him in Watford and seen how popular he is. There
are now 20,000 job vacancies in the police, if he or anybody in Watford wishes to take
up that role, and there are many more in nursing. As my hon. Friend knows, in Watford and throughout
the country, unemployment is at a record low and employment is at record highs, because
of the sound economic policies that this Government have followed.>>Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton) (Lab):
This week, the director general of the CBI wrote to all MPs in the north-west urging
us to do everything we can to get a deal that works for businesses in our region. The CBI
says that a no-deal Brexit would be disastrous for north-west business, particularly small
businesses. We all know what the Prime Minister has said in the past about business but, now
that he has assumed a position of some responsibility, will he stop this relentless posturing around
no deal, listen to the CBI and work to protect our vital businesses?>>The Prime Minister:
Again, that is a bit rich from a member of a party whose shadow Chancellor says that
business is the enemy—Where is he? He has gone. The hon. Lady should listen to the people
of her constituency who voted to leave the EU and implement their wishes, and that is
what this Government is going to do.>>Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con):
Much has been made about provision for EU nationals resident in the United Kingdom post
Brexit. Much less comfort has been offered to those 1.5 million United Kingdom nationals
resident throughout the rest of the European Union. Is the Prime Minister in a position
to confirm not on a piecemeal, but on a pan-European basis that all pensions will be paid in full,
that exportable benefits will continue to be paid in full, that healthcare will be covered
in full, and that rights of domicile and freedom of movement will be protected? There are frightened
people who need an answer.>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my right hon. Friend and I can assure him that that matter is, of course, at the
top of our concerns with all our EU friends and partners. We have made it absolutely clear
that the very, very generous offer that this country has rightly made to the 3.4 million
EU citizens here in this country must be reciprocated symmetrically and in full by our friends in
the way that he has described.>>Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) (Lab)>:
The Prime Minister has said that the great city of Portsmouth is too full of obesity
and drug addiction. Despite that disgraceful and inaccurate statement about my home city,
how would he expect our much-loved NHS to deal with these issues when it is his Government
who are exposing us to medicine and staff shortages, according to his own Health Secretary,
by hurtling us towards a no-deal Brexit?>>The Prime Minister:
I must correct the hon. Gentleman because, in fact, unemployment is well down in his
constituency, employment is up and health outcomes are up. When I made those remarks,
which was many, many years ago, it was, I am afraid, when his constituency had the sad
misfortune to have a Labour Government in power. That is no longer the case.>>Ross Thomson (Aberdeen South) (Con):
I know that, like me, my right hon. Friend has deep concerns about the unfair retrospective
loan charge. It is tearing families apart, driving people to despair and reportedly some
to suicide. With more than 8.000 people signing my petition saying that we cannot go on like
this, can he advise the House on what urgent action his Government will be taking to address
this?>>The Prime Minister:
I thank my hon. Friend for his question because this is an issue that my own constituents
have raised with me, and I know that many of my hon. Friends have also had this issue
raised with them. I am sure that Members on all sides of the House have met people who
have taken out loan charges in the expectation that they can reduce their tax exposure. It
is a very, very difficult issue and I have undertaken to have a thoroughgoing review
of the matter. Of course, I will make sure that my hon. Friend has every opportunity
to have further discussions with the Treasury about how to redress the situation and about
the gravity of the situation.>>Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab):
If I decide to wear a turban, or you, Mr Speaker, decide to wear a cross, or he decides to wear
a kippah or skull cap, or she decides to wear a hijab or a burqa, does that mean that it
is open season for right hon. Members of this House to make derogatory and divisive remarks
about our appearance? For those of us who, from a young age, have had to endure and face
up to being called names such as towelhead or Taliban, or to people saying we come from
bongo, bongo land, we can appreciate full well the hurt and pain felt by already vulnerable
Muslim women when they are described as looking like bank robbers and letterboxes. So rather
than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the Prime Minister finally apologise
for his derogatory and racist remarks? Those racist remarks have led to a spike in hate
crime. Given the increasing prevalence of such incidents within his party, when will
the Prime Minister finally order an inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative
party, which was something that he and his Chancellor promised on national television?>>The Prime Minister:
rose—>>Mr Speaker:
Order. The response from the Prime Minister will be heard.>>The Prime Minister:
If the hon. Gentleman took the trouble to read the article in question, he would see
that it was a strong liberal defence of—as he began his question by saying—everybody’s
right to wear whatever they want in this country. I speak as somebody who is proud not only
to have Muslim ancestors, but to be related to Sikhs like him. I am also proud to say
that, under this Government, we have the most diverse Cabinet in the history of this country.
We truly reflect modern Britain. We have yet to hear from anywhere in the Labour party
any hint of apology for the virus of antisemitism that is now rampant in its ranks. I would
like to hear that from the hon. Gentleman.>>Margot James (Stourbridge) (Ind):
The great lady, whom I am sure you and I both revere, Mr Speaker, once said, “Advisers
advise, Ministers decide.” Can I ask the Prime Minister to bear that statement closely
in mind in relation to his own chief adviser, Dominic Cummings?>>Mr Speaker:
Order. The reply must be heard. If the House were to want as a matter of course to allow
clapping, by decision of the House, so be it, but it should not otherwise become a regular
practice. We have heard the question, pungently expressed. Let us hear the answer from the
Prime Minister.>>The Prime Minister:
I am used to breasting applause from Labour audiences, particularly since, unlike the
Leader of the Opposition, we are actually devoted to delivering on the mandate of those
Labour constituencies and we are going to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October. As
for the excellent question that my hon. Friend asked, be in no doubt that we are deciding
on a policy to take this country forward, not backwards, as the Leader of the Opposition
would do.>>Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD):
The Prime Minister’s response to the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) was appalling.
An apology was required, rather than some kind of justification that there is ever any
acceptable context for remarks such as the Prime Minister made in that column. He is
the Prime Minister of our country. His words carry weight and he has to be more careful
with what he says. My constituent Kristin is afraid because her mum, a European citizen,
has been struggling to get settled status after 45 years in this country. Our friends,
colleagues and neighbours deserve better than his failures and carelessness with language.>>The Prime Minister:
In the case of his constituent Kristin—>>Valerie Vaz (Walsall South) (Lab):
His?>>The Prime Minister:
Her constituent Kristin—if she has indeed been here for 45 years, and I am sure she
has—should be automatically eligible for settled status. Clearly, it is a difficult
case, but the answer is for the hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson) to bring
it to the Home Secretary, and I am sure we can sort it out.

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