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  • >> Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab):

  • If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 23 October.

  • >> The Prime Minister (Boris Johnson): The whole House will be shocked by the appalling

  • news that 39 bodies have been discovered in a lorry container in Essex. This is an unimaginable

  • and truly heartbreaking tragedy, and I know that the thoughts and prayers of all Members

  • are with those who lost their lives and their loved ones. I am receiving regular updates.

  • The Home Office will work closely with Essex police to establish exactly what happened,

  • and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will make an oral statement immediately after

  • this Question Time.

  • This morning, I had meeting with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties

  • in this House, I shall have further such meetings later today.

  • >> Dr Huq: I completely associate myself with the Prime

  • Minister's remarks about the tragedy in Essex—I do not normally do that, but on

  • this occasion I am completely with him.

  • It is good to see the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Question Time. Until today, I

  • think he had only ever done onein 100 days. We all know that he has a long list of shortcomings,

  • so could heWill he do something about one that he does have some control over and

  • get rid of Dominic Cummings?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I will try to reply with the generosity of

  • spirit that the hon. Lady would expect from me and just say that I receive excellent advice

  • from a wide range of advisers and officials. It is the role of advisers to advise and the

  • role of the Government to decide, and I take full responsibility for everything the Government

  • do.

  • >> Sir Patrick McLoughlin (Derbyshire Dales) (Con):

  • My right hon. Friend achieved what many said was impossible and negotiated a new Brexit

  • deal, which passed through the House last night. Does he share my regret that many in

  • the Labour party, including the Leader of the Opposition, voted once again to delay

  • our leaving with a deal on 31 October, not least given that he told the House on 22 February

  • 2016 that his party welcomed the fact that it was now up to the British people to decide

  • if we remained in the European Union?

  • >> The Prime Minister: As so often, my right hon. Friend has spoken

  • with complete good sense. I do think it was remarkable that so many Members of the House

  • were able to come together last night and approve the Bill's Second Reading. I think

  • that it was a great shame that the House willed the end but not the means, but there is still

  • time for the Leader of the Opposition to do that and to explain to the people of this

  • country how he proposes to honour his promisewhich he made repeatedlyand deliver on the will

  • of the people and get Brexit done. Perhaps he will enlighten us now.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) (Lab): I join others who have expressed their deep

  • sadness at today's news that 39 people have been found dead in a lorry container in Grays.

  • Can we just think for a moment about what it must have been like for those 39 people,

  • obviously in a desperate and dangerous situation, to end their lives suffocated to death in

  • a container?

  • This is an unbelievable human tragedy, which happened in our country at this time. We clearly

  • need to look at the whole situation and look for answers to what has happened. I do, however,

  • also pay an enormous tribute to those in the emergency services who went to the scene to

  • deal with it. All of us should just think for a moment about what it is like to be a

  • police officer or a firefighter and about what it was like to open that container and

  • have to remove 39 bodies from it and deal with them in an appropriate and humane way.

  • We should just think for a moment about what inhumanity is done to other human beings at

  • this terrible moment.

  • Yesterday, before the Prime Minister decided to delay his own withdrawal Bill, he promised

  • to maintainLet me finish. Before he decided to delay his own withdrawal BillIf Members

  • care to look at Hansard, they will see what it says. The Prime Minister promised to maintain

  • environmental, consumer and workers' rights. Why, then, did he have those commitments removed

  • from the legally binding withdrawal agreement?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I do not think we could have been clearer

  • yesterday in our commitment to the highest possible standards for workers' rights and

  • environmental standards. Indeed, I think that one of the things that brought the House together

  • was the knowledge that, as we go forward and build our future partnership with the EU,

  • it will always be open to Members in all parts of the House to work together to ensure that

  • whatever the EU comes up with, we can match it and pass it into the law of this country.

  • That, I think, commanded a lot of support and a lot of assent across the House.

  • I must say that I find it peculiar that the right hon. Gentleman now wants the Bill back,

  • because he voted against it last night, and he whipped his entire party against it. I

  • think it remarkable that the House successfully defied his urgings and approved that deal.

  • What I think we would like to hear from him now is his commitment to getting Brexit done.

  • That is what the public want to hear, and I am afraid they are worried that all he wants

  • is a second referendum.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: The Prime Minister does not answer the question

  • that I put to him, which was about environmental, consumer and workers' rights. I am not surprised,

  • because he once said thatemployment regulationwasback-breaking”, and he voted for

  • the anti-Trade Union Act 2016, which stripped away employment protections. The provisions

  • in the Bill offer no real protection at all.

  • Yesterday, during the debate on the Bill, the Prime Minister pledged that the NHS was

  • safe in his hands. If that is the case, will he be backing our amendment in the Queen's

  • Speech debate tonight, which would undo the very damaging privatisation of so much of

  • our NHS?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is showing complete

  • ignoratio elenchi—a complete failure to study what we actually passed last night in

  • that historic agreement. It is very clear that it is open to the House to do better,

  • where it chooses, on animal welfare standards or social protections, as indeed this country

  • very often does. We lead the way: we are a groundbreaker in this country. I am afraid

  • to say that the right hon. Gentleman has no other purpose in seeking to frustrate Brexit

  • than to cause a second referendum.

  • As for the NHS, this is the party whose sound management of the economy took this country

  • back from the abyss and enabled us to spend another £34 billion on the NHS—a record

  • investmentand, as I promised on the steps of Downing Street, to

  • begin the upgrade of 20 hospitals, and as a result of the commitments this Government

  • are making, 40 new hospitals will be built in the next 10 years. That is this party's

  • commitment to the NHS.

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. Mr Russell-Moyle, you are an incorrigible

  • individual, yelling from a sedentary position at the top of your voice at every turn. Calm

  • yourself man; take some sort of soothing medicament from which you will benefit.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: Two questions and we are still waiting for

  • an answer, although we could do with a translation of the first part of the Prime Minister's

  • response.

  • I hate to break it to the Prime Minister, but under his Government and that of his predecessor,

  • privatisation has more than doubled to £10 billion in our NHS. There are currently 20

  • NHS contracts out to tender, and when he promised 40 hospitals, he then reduced that to 20,

  • and then it turns out that reconfiguration is taking place in just six hospitals. So

  • these numbers keep tumbling down for the unfunded spending commitments that he liberally makes

  • around the country.

  • The Prime Minister continues to say that he will exclude our NHS from being up for grabs

  • in future trade deals. Can he point to which clause in the withdrawal agreement Bill secures

  • that?

  • >> The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman is completely wrong

  • in what he says about privatisation of the NHS, and I must resist this, because those

  • 40 new hospitals and those 47,000 extra clinical staff, including 17,000 nurses, were not paid

  • for out of private funds; they were paid for by the NHS, and the reason we are able to

  • pay for them is because the Conservative party and this Government believe in sound management

  • of the economynot recklessly putting up corporation tax, not recklessly wrecking the

  • economy and renationalising companies in the way that he would do.

  • The right hon. Gentleman asks about the NHS in any future free trade deal, and I understand

  • his visceral dislike of America and his visceral dislike of free trade.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: I actually asked the Prime Minister which

  • clause in the Bill protects our NHS, and obviously there is time for him to help us with an answer

  • on that. He should also be aware that no public capital allocations have been made for the

  • funding commitments that he has announced; all he is said is that there is seed funding.

  • I am not sure what seed funding is, but it does not sound like the commitment we were

  • seeking, and it sounds awfully like private finance going into the NHS to deal with the

  • issues it faces.

  • Less than one year ago, the Prime Minister said that any

  • regulatory checks andcustoms controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • would damage

  • the fabric of the Union”.

  • Given that this deal clearly does damage the fabric of the Union, does he still agree with

  • himself?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I know that this was raised many times in

  • the House yesterday, and I believe that the Union is preserved, and indeed we are able

  • to go forward together as one United Kingdom and do free trade deals in a way that would

  • have been impossible under previous deals. This is a great advance for the whole UK,

  • and we intend to develop that together with our friends in Northern Ireland. But I must

  • say to the right hon. Gentleman and indeed his colleagues on the Front Bench that I think

  • it is a bit rich to hear from him about his sentimental attachment to the fabric of the

  • Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland when he has spent most of his political lifetime

  • supporting the IRA and those who would destroy it by violence.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: The Prime Minister has a habit of not answering

  • any questions put to him. Northern Ireland will remain on single market rules within

  • the EU on goods and agricultural products, and the rest of the UK will not. As the right

  • hon. Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) pointed out yesterday, that will create a

  • very real border down the Irish sea, which the Prime Minister told a DUP conference,

  • in terms, he would never doand it was not that long ago; it might have been when he

  • was trying to become the Tory party leadCowaner.

  • The Prime Minister told the House on Saturday there would be no checks on goods moving between

  • Northern Ireland and Great Britain, yet yesterday the Brexit Secretary confirmed to the Lords

  • European Union Committee that Northern Irish businesses sending goods to Britain would

  • have to complete export declaration forms. Is the Prime Minister right on this, or is

  • the Brexit Secretary right? They cannot both be right.

  • >> The Prime Minister: Let us be absolutely clear that the United

  • Kingdom is preserved, whole and entire, by these arrangements, and indeed the whole of

  • the UK will be allowed to come out of the European Union customs union so that we can

  • do free trade deals together. There will be no checks between Northern Ireland and GB,

  • and there will be no tariffs between Northern Ireland and GB, because we have protected

  • the customs union. This lachrymose defence of the Union comes a little ill from somebody

  • who not only campaigned to break up the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland

  • by his support of the IRA but also wants to spend the whole of the next year not just

  • on a referendum on the EU but on another referendum on Scotland. That is what he wants. This is

  • the threat to our United Kingdomon the Labour Front Bench.

  • >> Jeremy Corbyn: I really do wonder whether the Prime Minister

  • has read clause 21 of his own Bill. The Good Friday agreement was one of the greatest achievements

  • of this House, led by a Labour Government at that time. The Prime Minister unlawfully

  • prorogued Parliament. He said he would refuse to comply with the law. He threw Northern

  • Ireland under a bus. He ripped up protections for workers' rights and environmental standards,

  • lost every vote along the way and tried to prevent genuine democratic scrutiny and debate.

  • He once said thatthe whole withdrawal Bill, as signed by the previous Prime Minister,

  • is a terrible treaty”, yet this deal is even worse than that. Even if he is not that

  • familiar with it, does the Prime Minister accept that Parliament should have the necessary

  • time to improve on this worse-than-terrible treaty?

  • >> The Prime Minister: It is this Government and this party that

  • deliver on the mandate of the people. I listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman

  • just said, but has he said it before. They said we could not open the withdrawal agreement,

  • and we did. They said we could not get rid of the backstop, and we did. They said we

  • could not get a new deal, and we did. Then they said that we would never get it through

  • Parliament, and they did their utmost to stop it going through Parliament, but we got it

  • through Parliament last night. This is the party and this is the Government that deliver

  • on their promises. We said we would put 20,000 more police officers on the streets of this

  • country, and we are. We said we would upgrade 20 hospitals, and we are. We said we would

  • upgrade and uplift education funding around the whole country, and, even more than that,

  • we are increasing the minimum wage, the living wage, by the biggest amount since its inception.

  • This is the party that delivers on Brexit and delivers on the priorities of the British

  • people.

  • >> Hon. Members: More!

  • >> Mr Speaker: Order. There will be morecolleagues can

  • be entirely assured of that.

  • >> Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) (Con): What plans he has to (a) encourage investment

  • in and (b) improve the transport infrastructure of northern Lincolnshire.

  • >> The Prime Minister: We will invest in infrastructure in every

  • corner of the UK, including spending £13 billion on transport in the north of the country.

  • >> Martin Vickers: I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply.

  • Three things that would encourage investment in northern Lincolnshire and boost the local

  • economy are free port status for the Humber ports, improved access to those ports by upgrading

  • the A15 between Lincoln and the A180, and improved east-west rail freight connections.

  • Will my right hon. Friend confirm his support for those proposals?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I can indeed confirm support for those proposals.

  • I well remember meeting my hon. Friend and his constituents in a corridor in Portcullis

  • House, and they raised with me the issue of the railway crossing at Suggitt's Lane.

  • I assure my hon. Friend that Suggitt's Lane is never far from my thoughts and that, in

  • addition to the other pledges I have made today, I have undertakings from the Department

  • of Transport that it will seek to find a solution and a safe means for pedestrians to cross

  • that railway line.

  • >> Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP):

  • The loss of life that we have learned about this morning in Essex—39 people taken from

  • this earthshould distress us all, and we need to dwell on the fact that it happened

  • in the United Kingdom: people put themselves in such situations in the search of a better

  • life. We must not just brush it off as an incident. We have to learn the lessons of

  • why it happened. Our thoughts and prayers must be with everyone, including those from

  • the emergency services who have had to experience this most shocking sight this morning. We

  • need more than just warm words and that being the end of it. As a humanity, we must learn

  • from this terrible, terrible tragedy.

  • Within the last hour, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales joined forces to oppose

  • this Tory Government's damaging Brexit Bill—a Bill that risks jobs, opportunities and our

  • entire economic future. Scotland did not vote for this toxic Tory Brexit or any Brexit.

  • It voted overwhelmingly to remain. Will the Prime Minister stop ignoring Scotland and

  • confirm today that he will not allow this Bill to pass unless consent is given by the

  • Scottish Parliamentyes or no?

  • >> The Prime Minister: I note carefully what the right hon. Gentleman

  • has to say, but, as he knows, the Scottish Parliament has no role in approving this deal.

  • On the contrary, it is up to the Members of this Parliament to approve the deal. I am

  • delighted to say that they did, although it did not proceed with the support of many