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Jeremy Corbyn responds to the Prime Minister’s EU Council statement

Mr Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement.

While this year marks the 20th anniversary of the G20, there is little progress to commemorate in tackling the urgent global challenges we face. Where the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries fail, instead we look to civil society, trade unions, community groups, and an inspirational generation of young people for the transformative change required.

Climate Change

The summit’s communique did not make the necessary commitments on climate change. Does the Prime Minister agree that President Trump’s failure to accept the reality of man-made climate change, his refusal to back the Paris accords, and his attempts to water down the communique commitments, are a threat to the security of us all? Is the Prime Minister concerned that he could soon be joined by one of her possible successors who has described global warming as a “primitive fear” “without foundation”?

It is the responsibility of the G20 to lead efforts to combat climate change. As the Prime Minister acknowledged, these nations account for four-fifths of global greenhouse gas emissions. As I confirmed last week, we back the UK’s bid to host COP 26 next year. In 2017, the Government agreed to “making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions” in developing countries.

So can the Prime Minister explain why 97% of the UK’s export finance support for energy in developing countries goes to fossil fuels, and less than 1% for renewable energy?

The government’s pledge to cut carbon emissions by 2050 is an empty one. They have no serious plan to invest, and continue to dismantle our renewable energy sector while supporting fracking.

Iran and the Middle East

The Prime Minister says the international community must stand against Iran’s destabilising activity in the region.

Mr Speaker, the Iran Nuclear deal agreement was a multi-lateral agreement signed up to by President Obama, but reneged on by his successor. Beyond just saying we need to protect the deal, what action has the Prime Minister taken to ensure this? What conversations did the Prime Minister have with President Trump on this issue? And isn’t it about time that her Government stood up to our supposed ally Saudi Arabia?

The Prime Minister says she met with Crown Prince bin Salman, but gives no detail. So can I ask:
… did she raise the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi
… did she raise the killing thousands of Yemenis
… did she pledge to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia
… and did she raise with him their financing and arming of Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar who is fighting the UN recognised government of Libya? And who just last night has been held responsible for an airstrike on a migrant centre in Tripoli that killed 40 people and injured dozens more.

The Prime Minister rightly points to the need to protect people from terrorist propaganda.

So before she leaves office will she finally release in full the report she suppressed into the Saudi government’s funding of extremist groups?

Russia and Salisbury

The Prime Minister talks of confronting countries that interfere in the democracy of other nations, including Russia.

I remind her that it was this side of the House that delivered amendments to the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill which introduced the Magnitsky powers. And the truth is Mr Speaker, the party opposite has questions to answer about the almost £1 million worth of donations from wealthy Russians to their party under her watch. If we want to stand up to corruption, condemn human rights abusing regimes, then politicians should not be trading cash for access.

The Prime Minister mentioned the worrying outbreak of Ebola in the DRC. Could she outline what assistance DfID is providing? I welcome the government’s £1.4 billion for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Turbulosis and Malaria. However, the main conclusion from the G20 is that the world deserves better leadership for the urgent challenges facing humanity.

EU Summit

Mr Speaker, onto the EU summit in Brussels, where it has taken leaders three days to come to a decision on who should take the EU’s top jobs. But a three day summit pales into insignificance next to the three years of failure this government has inflicted on us all over Brexit.

I would like to congratulate those who have been appointed or nominated to new roles within in the EU. Especially Josep Borrell as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

Mr Speaker for as long as we remain in the EU we should be seeking reform that includes:
• increasing our efforts to tackle tax evasion and avoidance,
• stepping up our co-operation over the climate emergency facing us
• and challenging migration policies that have left thousands to drown in the Mediterranean, while sometimes subcontracting migration policies to Libyan militias.

Mr Speaker, can the Prime Minister explain her decision for the Conservative party to join a political group which includes, far-right, Islamophobic parties such as VOX of Spain? They claim Muslims will impose Sharia law on Spain, turn cathedrals into mosques, and force all women to cover up. They are a party that campaigned to repeal gender violence laws and threatened to shut down feminist organisations.

Does the Prime Minister understand the worry this will cause many people in our country who will be rightly asking why her party has aligned themselves with this far-right organisation whose policies are built on division, discrimination and hate?

Finally, does the Prime Minister agree that whoever succeeds her should have the courage to go back to the people with their preferred Brexit option to end the uncertainty and get Brexit resolved?