Jeremy Corbyn responds to Theresa May’s G20 statement
**Check against delivery**
Mr Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for advance copy of her statement.
This G20 summit met 10 years after the global financial crisis.
And the 20 nations that control 85% of the world’s GDP have been too slow to reject the failed neoliberal economic model that caused that crisis.
But there are signs of change. On Saturday, I attended the inauguration of a G20 leader President Lopez Obrador of Mexico, who has won a significant mandate for change to the corruption, environmental degradation, and economic failure of the past.
Of course, some G20 countries have no such democratic mechanisms.
So, while economics are important, our belief in universal human rights and democratic principles must never be subservient to them.
The Prime Minister told the media she would “sit down and be robust” with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the chief architect of the brutal war in Yemen which has killed 56,000 people and brought 14 million to the brink of famine. The Crown Prince is believed to have ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Rather than be robust as promised, we learn that the Prime Minister told the dictator ‘please don’t use the weapons we are selling you in the war you’re waging’ and asked him nicely to investigate the murder he allegedly ordered.
Leaders should not just offer warm words against human rights atrocities, but back their words up with action.
Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and others have stopped arms sales to Saudi Arabia. When will the UK?
On Ukraine – as NATO has said – we need both sides to show restraint and de-escalate, with international law adhered to, including Russia allowing unhindered access to Ukraine’s ports on the sea of Azov.
Britain’s trade policy must be led by clear principles that do not sacrifice human rights.
The International Trade Secretary claimed last summer that a trade deal between the UK and the EU would be “the easiest in human history”. Yet all we have before us is 26 pages of vague aspirations.
It seems that he is not very far forward on the 40 trade deals that would be ready to sign the day we leave next year, unless the Prime Minister can update us?
And in light of last week’s report from the Foreign Affairs Committee, how does the Prime Minister intend to ensure the 240 expert trade negotiators she promised by Brexit day will be in place, given they have had two years and there are only 90 currently in post?
Mr Speaker, did the Prime Minister speak again to President Trump at the G20? He seems to have rejected the Prime Minister’s Brexit agreement because it doesn’t put America first.
The International Trade Secretary claimed bilateral US and UK trade could rise by £40 billion a year by 2030 “if we’re able to remove the barriers to trade that we have”.
The Prime Minister claims that under her deal “we can and we will strike ambitious trade deals”.
But, this morning we learn that Britain’s top civil servant in charge of these negotiations wrote to the Prime Minister admitting there is no legal guarantee of being able to end the backstop.
However, it is clear that some in her Government do want to remove barriers.
Just this weekend, the Environment Secretary said with regard to the Brexit deal and workers’ rights: “it allows us to diverge and have flexibility”.
Our ‘flexible’ labour market already means that the UK has the weakest wage growth of the G20 nations.
Did the Prime Minister ask the other leaders how they have fared so much better?
UK capital investment is also the worst in the G20.
The previous Chancellor slashed UK corporation tax to the lowest level in the G20, telling us it would boost investment. It didn’t. So did the Prime Minister ask other G20 leaders why, despite higher corporation tax, they attract higher investment?
Given the G20 is responsible for 76% of carbon dioxide emissions, I welcome the fact that ‘Building Consensus for a Fair and Sustainable Development’ was a theme of the summit.
Why then did her government vote against Labour’s proposal to include the Sustainable Development Goals as a reference point when the Trade Bill was before parliament earlier this year?
If present trends continue, many G20 nations will not meet their Paris 2015 commitments, and I’m glad the Government will pursue this agenda at next year’s UN Climate Summit, and hope too that the Government is pursuing it also at this week’s talks in Katowice, Poland.
As climate change is the biggest issue facing our world. It is imperative that a sustainable economic and trade model is put forward that puts people and planet over profit.
Our country has the lowest wage growth in the G20, the lowest investment and poor productivity.
Ten years on from the global financial crisis this Prime Minister and too much of the G20 have failed to learn the lessons of that crash.