MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM statement to the House of Commons: 15 January 2019

Source: UK Government

Mr Speaker, the House has spoken and the Government will listen.
It is clear that the House does not support this deal. But tonight’s vote tells us nothing about what it does support. Nothing about how – or even if – it intends to honour the decision the British people took in a referendum Parliament decided to hold.
People, particularly EU citizens who have made their home here and UK citizens living in the EU, deserve clarity on these questions as soon as possible. Those whose jobs rely on our trade with the EU need that clarity. So with your permission Mr Speaker I would like to set out briefly how the Government intends to proceed.
First, we need to confirm whether this Government still enjoys the confidence of the House. I believe that it does, but given the scale and importance of tonight’s vote it is right that others have the chance to test that question if they wish to do so. I can therefore confirm that if the Official Opposition table a confidence motion this evening in the form required by the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, the Government will make time to debate that motion tomorrow. And if, as happened before Christmas, the Official Opposition decline to do so, we will – on this occasion – consider making time tomorrow to debate any motion in the form required from the other opposition parties, should they put one forward.
Second, if the House confirms its confidence in this Government I will then hold meetings with my colleagues, our Confidence & Supply partner the DUP and senior Parliamentarians from across the House to identify what would be required to secure the backing of the House. The Government will approach these meetings in a constructive spirit, but given the urgent need to make progress, we must focus on ideas that are genuinely negotiable and have sufficient support in this House. Third, if these meetings yield such ideas, the Government will then explore them with the European Union.
Mr Speaker I want to end by offering two reassurances.
The first is to those who fear that the Government’s strategy is to run down the clock to 29th March. That is not our strategy. I have always believed that the best way forward is to leave in an orderly way with a good deal and have devoted much of the last two years negotiating such a deal. As you confirmed Mr Speaker, the amendment to the business motion tabled last week by my Right Honourable and Learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield is not legally binding, but the Government respects the will of the House. We will therefore make a statement about the way forward and table an amendable motion by Monday.
The second reassurance is to the British people, who voted to leave the European Union in the referendum two and a half years ago. I became Prime Minister immediately after that referendum. I believe it is my duty to deliver on their instruction and I intend to do so.
Mr Speaker every day that passes without this issue being resolved means more uncertainty, more bitterness and more rancour. The Government has heard what the House has said tonight, but I ask Members on all sides of the House to listen to the British people, who want this issue settled, and to work with the Government to do just that.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Launch of the new Toyota Corolla

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Hiroki Nakajima, Ambassador, ladies and gentlemen, it is a huge honour and a pleasure to be here to celebrate this success. Dr van Zyl referred to the decision to invest in TNGA. That was a thrilling moment to have that vote of confidence in the future, building on the success of over a quarter of a century of achievements here in Derbyshire.

But it is a particular pleasure to be able to meet team members on the line to see it now going into production and making cars that will be sold not just in this country but around the world. And it is fitting that you have invited what I like to think of as team Toyota here from the plant, from the local community and right across the country and we are all delighted at your success and are determined to make sure it can power forward in the future.

Now the Corolla of course is a historic car. This is a historic moment for a historic car. When it was launched in 1966, it was launched with these words, that it was “The most wanted car by the market – presented to the world by bringing together the essence of Toyota’s technology”. And what we see today through this investment is that those values and those traditions continue.

Right from the outset, it was the Corolla that brought sports car technology to the school run if I can put it that way. It was the first family car with front brake discs. It was the first Japanese car with a floor-mounted gear lever. And the first Japanese car with a 4-speed fully-synchronised manual transmission. Britons, when it was first launched, could own a piece of the future, and this is as true now as it was then.

The Corolla that we are celebrating today is a fitting heir to this tradition of continuing innovation. And as we move into the era of clean technology, the facts that the hybrid technology pioneered by Toyota is being produced here in Derbyshire, and of course in Deeside in North Wales, is a tremendous source of pride to all of us in the United Kingdom.

2,600 people work here, members of Toyota work force here onsite and 600 more in Deeside. But of course, we know that beyond the factory gates so many partners are part of this success and I know that many of them are represented here today. I just wanted to refer to and pay tribute to those who may not have the Toyota brand but are very much part of that success. Adient who supply seats for the vehicles just down the road in Burton-Upon-Trent. I think Garry Linnett is here from Aisin who produce panoramic car roofs. This fantastic innovation that’s going to be appreciated for those endless summer days that we look forward to in the UK.

Kevin Schofield, I think is here from Futaba who produces the weld and sub-assembly parts, and seeing all of these parts come in at short notice, and seeing them so brilliantly deployed in these vehicles, is a real demonstration of the power of the model that Toyota has pioneered and has taught much of the rest of British manufacturing.

So, this has always been a successful partnership. We have drawn and learnt much from Toyota’s presence here. We think this has been a successful joint-collaboration over the years and we are thrilled that it is moving to the next stage.

Dr van Zyl reflected the importance of having those conditions that have been central to success. Having a skilled, dedicated and motivated workforce that we have in abundance here and you always will. But also, to make sure we recognise the importance of public policy that is supportive and backs investments like this. We should be able to continue to trade without introducing any of those frictions that would disrupt what is a perfect process that has been optimised here.

I hear that very strongly. Over the years, the evidence that has been presented by Toyota and other firms within the advanced manufacturing sector in the UK has been instrumental in determining the kind of relationship that we want.

In these days ahead, I will continue to be a strong advocate for that kind of relationship which has been so crucial to our success.

Toyota has done the country a service, in bringing to life the benefits and the actuality of just-in-time production of advanced manufacturing and the benefits that there are to all. We are very grateful for that and we give this commitment; we will always back you, we will always celebrate your success, and we will always listen to you, and to act on what you need to prosper in the future.

Today’s a fantastic day of celebration. It is a huge honour to have been asked to be part of it. Thank you very much indeed for inviting me. I’d like to hand over to the ambassador.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Margot James’ speech at the Tech Talent Charter’s one year anniversary event

Source: UK Government

It is a pleasure to be celebrating the achievements and impact of the Tech Talent Charter after one year on from its launch.
Seeing so many signatories to the TTC gathered here is an inspirational sight. It shows buy-in from all sectors to improve diversity of the tech workforce, something so essential for the continued success of our economy, and also the success for the sector.
It is impressive to see companies here who are competitors, working together to drive change and looking at the supporters of this event, TTC’s sponsors, and those on its board, shows that companies can put collaboration on this crucial issue ahead of their otherwise conflicting commercial interests.
I know this event sold out in under 24 hours and TTC could probably have filled the room again with the number of companies who wanted to be here, from large multinationals to small start-ups.
This is important because, as report shows today, larger firms can learn from how smaller firms approach the challenges around diversity.
In the UK we have a thriving, and ever-growing, digital and tech sector. The sector is worth over £184 billion a year and is growing at more than two and half times the rate of the economy as a whole.
Technology is a crucial and growing part of modern life. Emerging technologies have an ever-greater impact on how we work, communicate, travel, and more importantly on how the new generations are growing up.
And the people creating this technology have the power to influence how it works. That’s why, it is important that all of this new technology is being developed by a diverse workforce. We need diverse ideas and representation to break down disparities between gender, race and class amongst other defining characteristics.
That is the only way we’ll ensure that tech is created for everyone and that we will all benefit from these transformations.
Only 19% of our workforce in tech roles are female and furthermore, only 11.7% of computer science A Level students are women. And still, there is a digital skills gap we need to fill, despite the fact that digital jobs pay almost a third more than non-digital jobs it is proving a difficult gap to fill.
Whilst we often consider diversity in terms of race and gender, there are, of course, defining characteristics; age, sexuality, marital status, parental situation, mental health, and physical ability, to name some, against which we may unintentionally as well as intentional, discriminate.
At DCMS we want to support programmes working towards tackling the under-representation of all of these groups in our sectors.
It is encouraging to see the Tech Talent Charter has taken these other groups into account when mapping diversity work regionally – when we are addressing underrepresentation, everyone matters.
We’ve all seen the studies which prove that diverse workforces can improve a company’s bottom line and the more diverse are more likely to outperform their competitors financially.
But we are not just interested in the business case for diversity – supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce is the right thing to do.
I am proud that my department has supported the Tech Talent Charter since its inception and continues to support its growth, particularly regionally growing outside London and the South East and integrating its diversity work with our Local Digital Skills Partnerships that we are now establishing across the country.
Three of these partnerships are already up and running in Lancashire, the South West and, most recently, in the West Midlands, with 3 more launching in the first half of this year.
So it is important that we all engage with our networks and our client-bases to encourage our connections to sign the Tech Talent Charter. It is only once more-and-more companies join us that we will start to see the cultural change that we all know needs to happen.
The fact that so many companies are keen to join is testament to the tireless work of Debbie, her team, her directors and the other activists and volunteers working behind the scenes of the Tech Talent Charter, I thank you all for your fantastic work.
All central government departments have now signed up to the Tech Talent Charter and I’m proud to say that DCMS was the first government department to sign. Again, the public, private, and voluntary sector collaboration on this issue is critical to achieve meaningful change.
Increasing sector diversity is critically important in the context of the changing nature of the tech sector. New innovations are increasingly blurring the lines between the tech sector and the rest of the economy. And the growing “Createch” sector, where technology enables new forms of creativity and creativity enables better development of technology.
The important impact of this is clear – addressing barriers to inclusion in the tech sector will also have increasing benefits across the wider economy. Equally, tech businesses can improve diversity by working more seamlessly with other sectors.
In line with this cross-pollination of ideas and collaboration, my department is working more closely than ever with our counterparts across government to ensure we join-up on initiatives that challenge and change the status quo.
We are able to bring our knowledge of the sector to bear on how industry might play a part in attracting those young people from under-represented groups to a career in tech.
We also want to understand and improve the pipeline to the tech world via STEM choices in schools. Industry needs a boosted pipeline to feed into their growing numbers of tech roles. This, and, indeed the responsibility for diversity in tech as a whole, does not fall just on the shoulders of industry.
In government we are analysing how behavioural insights might help us understand the career choices for young women, and women entering the workforce, in making decisions that’s leading them away from STEM subjects in school and from tech careers.
It is important that we address and understand these issues and address them so we can work together to make the tech environment a place that benefits everyone.
Congratulations to all of you on the great year that you’ve had, the first year of Tech Talent Charter and the impact you’ve already made, and I look forward to congratulating Tech Talent Charter on reaching 300 signatories, a milestone I know is just around the corner.
There is a lot more hard work to come in getting this right, but, when we do, it really will enhance freedom and the opportunity throughout our society.
Women account for half the population and only 20 per cent of the most influential force of our time, technology and innovation and that cannot go unchallenged.
And I wish you the very best with your future endeavours and I pledge my support for the continuity of the Tech Talent Charter until the job is done.
Thank you for listening.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Minister for Employment gives speech on ‘Full Employment’ report

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments


Ladies and gentlemen good morning.

A huge thank you to the Resolution Foundation, and to Lord Willetts in particular, for the invitation to speak at the launch of the report today.

This is a momentous week for Parliament and our country as a whole.

We stand at the crossroads of history.

And how Members of Parliament act, and vote, on Tuesday may well have a profound impact on our labour market.

Both in the shorter and longer term.

I will return to that point later, but first the findings of the report.

The overall message of this report is positive and encouraging.

And a re-affirmation for me that the economic policies David, I and our parliamentary colleagues supported from 2010 were the right ones.

As outlined by Stephen, the report concludes that not only are there more people in work today than ever before, but that it is those on low incomes, and those historically unengaged in the jobs market, who have benefitted most.

The report also notes that the net increase in employment is down to people taking on professional roles. Which is good news because those jobs attract higher pay.

And the regions which had the lowest employment rates a decade ago, have seen the greatest increase. Effectively catching up on historically slow jobs growth.

Any analyses of the last decade will of course be skewed by the financial crash in 2008.

We in government prefer to measure the jobs market from 2010, when we took on responsibility for the economy.

[political content]

Since 2010, the labour market has gone from strength to strength – with an average of 1,000 people a day moving into work. That’s 3.4 million more people in work today than in 2010.

We politicians and think tankers love our statistics. For us they build an overall picture.

But what we must never forget is that behind every single extra job created, and vacancy filled, there is a human success story.

Of someone whose family income, self-esteem and life chances are all hugely improved by being in work.

And our reform of the welfare system has made a positive contribution, playing its part in helping people into work.

And last week Amber Rudd announced further reforms to Universal Credit to ensure that we provide additional support, especially for the most vulnerable.

Given some of the conclusions of today’s report there are 3 areas in particular I want to focus on briefly.

First, the work we are doing to ensure that people do not just have a job, but that they have a good job.

Second, is on improving further participation of under-represented groups in the employment market.

And third, is about how we help people to progress in work and to earn more.

Good jobs

So first, let’s look at the quality of employment.

Today’s report focuses on atypical employment.

This looks at employment groups in a different way to the Office for National Statistics. Including part time and self-employed in the same bracket as contract or zero hours workers.

While the self-employed may welcome their categorisation as atypical – a label that emphasises their ability to break the mould and be innovative – part-time workers have been a longstanding part of our labour market. Indeed, rather typical.

That aside, I welcome the report’s detailed analysis that looks at the growth of atypical work at different stages since 2008.

It shows the high growth in atypical work directly following the 2008 crash, but concludes that in the last 2 years the employment boom has been driven largely by full-time roles.

It is worth noting that according to the ONS, of the new jobs created since 2010 around 75% are full-time, permanent and in higher level occupations.

I want to see even more of these type of jobs being created.

The government responded positively to the findings of Matthew Taylor’s review of modern working practices.

And through the government’s Good Work plan, published in December last year, we are already recognising the need to find the right balance between employees and employers, when it comes to job flexibility and security.

As a part of this, we have brought forward new legislation to upgrade workers’ rights.

Including a day-1 statement of rights for all workers, setting out leave entitlements and pay.

The rise in Artificial Intelligence and automation will continue to disrupt the jobs market.

Indeed, the impact of new technology changing the jobs market has been the one constant through the ages.

The good news is that every industrial revolution has resulted in more jobs being created.

But as some workers feel precarious in their positions, we need to provide certainty for their future, with an offer of building new skills and retraining.

And we will need to be dynamic in our ongoing response to the changing nature of work and the workplace.

Under-represented groups

The changing nature of the world of work leads me to the changing make-up of our workforce.

There are now 10 million workers over the age of 50.

We have seen record numbers of women in work.

Youth unemployment has almost halved since 2010.

Almost a million more disabled people have entered employment since 2013.

And the ethnic minority employment gap is at a record low.

Regardless of circumstance, people are able to access support tailored for their individual needs as they look for work.

It is that support which has delivered the current success in the labour market. And it is an enhanced personalised approach that will see us go further still.

We have older workers’ champions in all our jobcentres, leading the way on finding the right opportunity for those later in life.

We have around 1.2 million potential returners to the work place in the UK – 91% of whom are women. Through specialist return-ship programmes we can support them back into work.

There are specialist disability advisers that work across our jobcentre network. Helping people improve their confidence. Offering financial support for specialist equipment to help them at work.

We have an intensive programme to support young people into employment or training. And we work with schools to assist 12 to 16 year olds who have been identified as most likely to be at risk of becoming NEETs.

As the report has highlighted there has been a strong rise in employment of those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

But if we want to accelerate this progress, we must look at the employment rates between individual ethnic minority groups – not treat them as one.

There is a wide range in the employment rate between different ethnic minority groups and significant disparity in employment rates between men and women.

That is why our national network of jobcentres are offering personalised support.

For example, in Yardley we have been working with women from the British Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities to build their confidence and understanding of what they have to offer.

And I have asked the department to roll out personalised mentoring programmes for young people from ethnic minority communities, in areas where the employment gap is largest.

In-work progression

The kind of tailored support I have referred to is fundamental to the welfare reforms we are making.

And I believe that support should not stop just because someone gets a job.

Supporting people to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder has always been the central focus of my department.

But I want us to go further.

To spend time supporting people to move up the ladder in their earnings and the quality of their job. Helping people to achieve their potential.

If we are going to do this, we are going to need to be world leaders.

Because there is very little evidence of good practice from around the world for us to follow.

And we have already made a start.

We recently completed a large-scale trial on in-work progression involving some of the lowest paid people in the country.

The trial tested the provision of varied levels of support and conditionality for current in-work claimants.

What we found is that after 52 weeks on the trial, participants who received frequent and moderate support from the jobcentre network earned more than those getting minimal support. This is only a start.

We have secured £8 million from the Treasury to develop a programme of research, proofs of concept and trials to develop and test our in-work services.

Some of the potential interventions we will consider exploring include the role of mentoring.

Looking at how we can support the development of the National Retraining Scheme in a partnership with our jobcentres.

Making sure our front-line staff have the skills for this new era of personalised job support.

And looking at what we can do with ‘digital nudges’. Using the new online system to plant the seeds of progression in people’s minds, and offer a practical route to help them get there.

And of course, we are looking at ways in which we can test more place-based approaches, with collaborations between jobcentres and other bodies, such as local authorities.

And we’re keen to see how we can work with those outside of government, including employers.


In conclusion, I welcome some of the key findings of this report, as it highlights the successes in the labour market.

But I am not complacent.

There is more for us to do to drive up the quality of work.

To increase participation from under-represented groups in the labour market.

And to deliver a fundamental and positive shift in in-work progression.

My final point is on Brexit.

I want us to respect the result of the referendum.
But I also believe that a disorderly Brexit presents a real risk to the health of the labour market.

It is a risk which, I hope, all Members of Parliament will consider seriously as they walk through the division lobbies tomorrow.

Thank you.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM statement in the House of Commons: 14 January 2018

Source: United Kingdom – Prime Minister’s Office 10 Downing Street

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to update the House on the further assurances and clarifications we have received from the European Union on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
As a proud Unionist, I share the concerns of Members who want to ensure that in leaving the European Union we do not undermine the strength of our own union in the UK.
That is why when the EU tried to insist on a Protocol that would carve out Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK’s customs territory, I said no.
And I secured instead a UK-wide temporary customs arrangement – avoiding both a hard border on the island of Ireland and a customs border down the Irish Sea.
I also negotiated substantial commitments in the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration to do everything possible to prevent the backstop ever being needed – and to ensure that if it were, it would be a temporary arrangement.
But listening to the debate before Christmas it was clear that we needed to go further.
So I returned to Brussels to faithfully and firmly reflect the concerns of this House.
The conclusions of December’s Council went further in addressing our concerns.
They included reaffirming the EU’s determination to work speedily to establish by 31st December 2020 alternative arrangements so that the backstop will not need to be triggered.
They underlined that if the backstop were nevertheless to be triggered it would indeed apply temporarily.
They committed that in such an event, the EU would use their best endeavours to continue to negotiate and conclude as soon as possible a subsequent agreement that would replace the backstop.
And they gave a new assurance that negotiations on the Future Relationship could start immediately after the UK’s withdrawal.
Since the Council and throughout the Christmas and New Year period I have spoken to a number of European leaders and there have been further discussions with the EU to seek further assurances alongside the Council conclusions.
And today I have published the outcome of these further discussions with an exchange of letters between the UK Government and the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
The letter from President Tusk confirms what I said in the House before Christmas – namely that the assurances in the European Council conclusions have legal standing in the EU.
Mr Speaker, my Rt Hon Friend the Attorney General has also written to me today confirming that in the light of the joint response from the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission, these conclusions “would have legal force in international law”, and setting out his opinion – “reinforced” by today’s letter – “that the balance of risks favours the conclusion that it is unlikely that the EU will wish to rely on the implementation of the backstop provisions.”
And further, that it is therefore his judgement that “the current draft Withdrawal Agreement now represents the only politically practicable and available means of securing our exit from the European Union.”
Mr Speaker, I know that some Members would ideally like a unilateral exit mechanism or a hard time limit to the backstop.
I have explained this to the EU and tested these points in negotiations.
But the EU would not agree to this, because they fear that such a provision could allow the UK to leave the backstop at any time without any other arrangements in place and require a hard border to be erected between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
I have been very clear with them that this is not something we would ever countenance – that the UK is steadfast in its commitment to the Belfast Agreement and would never allow a return to a hard border.
But it is not enough simply to say this. Both sides also need to take steps to avoid a hard border when the UK is outside of the EU.
Failing to do so would place businesses on the island of Ireland in an impossible position having to choose between costly new checks and procedures that would disrupt their supply chains or breaking the law.
So we have the backstop as a last resort.
But both the Taoiseach and I have said consistently that the best way to avoid a hard border is through the future relationship – that is the sustainable solution. And that neither of us want to use the backstop.
So since the Council we have been looking at commitments that would ensure we get our future relationship or alternative arrangements in place by the end of the Implementation Period, so that there will be no need to enter the backstop and no need for any fear that there will be a hard border.
And that is why in the first of the further assurances they have provided today, the EU has committed to begin exploratory talks on the detailed legal provisions of the future relationship as soon as this Parliament has approved the deal and the Withdrawal Agreement has been signed. And they have been explicit that this can happen immediately after this House votes through the agreement.
If this House approved the deal tomorrow, it would give us almost two years to complete the next phase of the negotiations. And, of course, we will have the option to extend the Implementation Period if further time were needed for either one or two years. It is my absolute conviction that we can turn the Political Declaration into legal text in that time, avoiding the need for the backstop altogether.
The letters also make clear that these talks should give “particular urgency to discussion of ideas, including the use of all available facilitative arrangements and technologies, for replacing the backstop with permanent arrangements.”
And further that those arrangements “are not required to replicate the backstop provisions in any respect.” So contrary to the fears of some Hon. Members, the EU will not simply insist that the backstop is the only way to avoid a hard border. They have agreed to discuss technological solutions and any alternative means of delivering on this objective – and to get on with this as a priority in the next phase of negotiations.
Second, the EU has now committed to a fast track process to bring our future trade deal into force once it has been agreed. If there is any delay in ratification, the Commission has now said they will recommend provisionally applying the relevant parts of the agreement so that we would not need to enter the backstop.
Such a provisional application process saved four years on the EU-Korea deal and it would prevent any delays in ratification by other EU Member State parliaments from delaying our deal coming into force.
Third, the EU has provided absolute clarity on the explicit linkage between the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration, and made that link clear in the way the documents are presented.
I know some colleagues are worried about an imbalance between the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration because the EU cannot reach a legal agreement with us on the future relationship until we are a third country.
But the link between them means the commitments of one cannot be banked without the commitments of the other – and the EU have been clear that they come as a package.
Bad faith by either side in negotiating the legal instruments that will deliver the future relationship laid out in the Political Declaration would be a breach of their legal obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Fourth, the exchange of letters confirms that the UK can unilaterally deliver all of the commitments we made last week to safeguard the interests of the people and businesses of Northern Ireland and their position in our precious union.
For it gives clear answers to address some questions that have been raised since the deal was reached…
…that the deal means no change to the arrangements which underpin north-south cooperation in the Belfast Agreement…
…that Stormont will have a lock on any new laws the EU proposes should be added to the backstop…
…and that the UK can give a restored Northern Ireland Executive a seat at the table on the joint committee overseeing the deal.
Mr Speaker, President Juncker says explicitly in his letter that the backstop “would represent a suboptimal trading relationship for both sides.”
We have spoken at length about why we want to avoid the backstop. But it is not in the EU’s interests either.
For this backstop gives the UK tariff-free access to the EU’s market.
And it does so with no free movement of people, no financial contribution, no requirement to follow most of the level playing field rules and no need to allow EU boats any access to our waters for fishing.
Furthermore, under these arrangements, UK authorities in Northern Ireland would clear goods for release into the EU Single Market with no further checks or controls.
This is unprecedented and means the EU relying on the UK for the functioning of its own market.
So the EU will not want this backstop to come into force – and the exchange of letters today makes clear that if it did, they would do all they could to bring it to an end as quickly as possible.
Nevertheless, Mr Speaker, I fully understand that these new assurances still will not go as far as some would like.
I recognise that some Members wanted to see changes to the Withdrawal Agreement: a unilateral exit mechanism from the backstop, an end date or rejecting the backstop altogether – although it should be said that this would have risked other EU Member States attempting to row back on the significant wins we have already achieved such as on control over our waters or the sovereignty of Gibraltar.
But the simple truth is this: the EU was not prepared to agree to this.
And rejecting the backstop altogether means no deal.
Whatever version of the Future Relationship you might want to see – from Norway to Canada to any number of variations – all of them require a Withdrawal Agreement and any Withdrawal Agreement will contain the backstop.
And that is not going to change however the House votes tomorrow.
And to those who think we should reject this deal in favour of no deal, because we cannot get every assurance we want…
…I ask what would a no deal Brexit do to strengthen the hand of those campaigning for Scottish independence – or indeed those demanding a border poll in Northern Ireland?
Surely this is the real threat to our Union.
Mr Speaker, with just 74 days until the 29th March the consequences of voting against this deal tomorrow are becoming ever clearer.
With no deal we would have: no Implementation Period, no security partnership, no guarantees for UK citizens overseas, and no certainty for businesses and workers like those I met in Stoke this morning. And we would see changes to everyday life in Northern Ireland that would put the future of our Union at risk.
And if, rather than leaving with no deal, this House blocked Brexit, that would be a subversion of our democracy, saying to the people we were elected to serve that we were unwilling to do what they had instructed.
So I say to Members on all sides of this House – whatever you may have previously concluded – over these next 24 hours, give this deal a second look.
No it is not perfect. And yes it is a compromise.
But when the history books are written, people will look at the decision of this House tomorrow and ask:
Did we deliver on the country’s vote to leave the European Union?
Did we safeguard our economy, our security and our Union? Or did we let the British people down?
I say we should deliver for the British people and get on with building a brighter future for our country by backing this deal tomorrow.
And I commend this Statement to the House.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Tackling obesity is a shared responsibility for society

Source: UK Government

As Health Secretary, there’s some guiding principles I try to follow, like: always start with the patients, follow the evidence, listen to the experts, and then make decisions that do the most good ‒ not the ones that are most politically expedient.
Although, as President Roosevelt once said: “There’s as many opinions as there are experts.”
So it’s great to be here with so many experts today, to discuss the modern challenge of obesity.
I want to start by paying tribute to the work of this APPG, who have done so much to raise the issue, and stand testament to the fact obesity is one of the biggest health challenges we face as a society. Here in Britain, and across the world.
Now, for the first time, obesity is thought to be a bigger problem, globally, than hunger.
Of course, the growing availability of food around the world is a good thing, and is something humanity has sought to achieve throughout history. But abundance of food brings new challenges.
After all, as humans we are predisposed to eat more than we need, as our evolution has designed us to stock up in abundance for leaner times ahead.
Each and every one of us, in rich nations, faces this clash of evolutionary biology and modern life every day. And it’s worth noting that as nations grow richer, it’s the poorest in them who are the most prone to obesity.
So tackling obesity means tackling social, environmental, physical and psychological pressures, and giving people the capability they need to eat healthily.
And the evidence shows that for a whole host of reasons, some people are more susceptible to obesity than others.
The question I want to address today, and which this APPG is rightly considering, is how to address obesity, and what is the role for government, for business, for civil society and for each of us as citizens. Because tackling obesity is a shared responsibility for society.
This government has taken a global lead in our obesity strategy, chapters 1 and 2, with our ambitious targets to halve childhood obesity by 2030. Our strategy sets out the scale of the problem, and also what we’re doing to tackle it.
We’re cutting sugar in soft drinks. The sugar levy has removed the equivalent of 90 million kilograms of sugar since it was introduced in 2016, proving that population-wide measures work, and are necessary, alongside promoting healthier behaviours and empowering individuals to make better choices.
We’re tackling everything from reformulation of foods, to calorie labelling in restaurants, to restricting advertising and promotion of junk food, to encouraging schools to adopt a ‘daily mile’ so children are more active.
We’re doubling the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme over the next 5 years, supporting low-calorie diets for obese people with type 2 diabetes.
Just this weekend we announced our latest measures, to curb retailers fuelling promotion of unhealthy foods.
On top of our obesity strategy, our Long Term Plan for the NHS sets out how we’re driving the obesity strategy across the health service.
GPs are ‘making every contact count’ in identifying and supporting overweight children and adults manage their weight.
Hospitals will increasingly support patients whose obesity leaves them hospitalised, with a huge burden of cost on the NHS.
We’ll learn from anywhere, so we’ve studied the success of cities like Amsterdam and their ‘whole systems approach’ to reducing childhood obesity. And I want us to keep learning from the latest evidence and new approaches from around the world.
The only way we’re going to solve the growing, global challenge of obesity is if everyone plays their part.
The state has a vital role to play in reducing the environmental factors that contribute to obesity and protecting vulnerable children. We will play our part.
Local government has an important role supporting healthier high streets through better planning decisions, through their role in education, providing equipment for exercise, helping protect and create more open spaces for children to play and be active.
The health service itself has a vital ‒ and growing ‒ role to play in preventing obesity and helping people achieve a healthy weight.
Public Health England are world leaders in gathering and analysing data so we can make the correct, evidence-led, decisions.
Thanks to their work on identifying the role of sugar in obesity, we corrected the decades old mistake of focusing too much on saturated fat.
They will have a crucial role to play in developing the next phase of data-driven public health programmes using predictive prevention.
Companies large and small have a role to play in reformulating their products. I welcome action that’s been taken so far, I’m excited by some of the coming science, and I want to see more action by the food industry.
Civil society has a role to play too in supporting people to stay healthy. I want to pay tribute to individuals with big voices like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver, who use their influence to try to change habits, norms and assumptions, as well as trying to change government policy. Because changing behaviour means changing norms, as well as the formal rules we set in this building.
Finally, each of us, as individuals, we have a role to play and must take responsibility for our own health. Because even with the best efforts of the state and society, we can’t solve the obesity challenge without individuals taking personal responsibility too: this is a shared responsibility.
We’re putting in a record £20.5 billion extra a year into the NHS – the longest and largest cash settlement in its history – as we transform the health service over the next decade.
To rise to the challenges of today and seize the opportunities of the future, we’re implementing the new NHS Long Term Plan on the principle that prevention is better than cure.
It’s better for people if we prevent them becoming patients in the first place. It’s better for the NHS if they help people stay healthy rather than treating them only when they fall ill. And it’s better for taxpayers, and the nation, if we build a sustainable health system that will be there, for all of us, in years to come. The prevention agenda means yes, making changes only government can make.
That same prevention agenda means we need to do more to support people to take care of themselves, to keep themselves healthy ‒ to empower people with the capability and expectation that they have an important role to play too.
I want to take a moment to set out the approach I take to these sorts of interventions.
I am no fan of nanny state interventions that treat everyone the same, or punish the masses for the problems of a minority.
The blanket public health approach we needed in an age of contagious diseases is still needed now in some areas. But the modern public health problems of largely non-communicable diseases need a different attitude, and a much more targeted approach.
No organisation wanting to tackle a problem as big as obesity would use the same approach for everyone, and target the whole population the same. After all, food is safe, obviously critical, as part of a balanced diet. Even a fatty cut of delicious steak is healthy in moderation.
There is huge, overwhelming, support for action to tackle obesity. Let’s not lose that support with too much of a blanket approach.
Take alcohol. For 95% of people, the alcohol we drink is perfectly safe and normal. I like a pint or the odd glass of wine, and I know I speak for most of my audience and certainly the vast majority of my colleagues too. Let’s not punish the masses for perfectly healthy behaviour.
But for the 5% who drink around a third of all the alcohol consumed, who too often end up hospitalised and seriously ill because of it, we need much more serious intervention.
The same attitude is needed across public health: lots more targeting, less intervention for the healthy, more intervention for those who need it. And the exciting thing is, we have a radically expanding toolkit at our disposal.
The approach we take with a 60-year-old man, who’s set in his ways, must be different to the approach we take with a young, pregnant mother trying to get healthy for the sake of her baby.
And in the future, as we unlock our genetic codes and adopt new technologies like artificial intelligence, we can be yet more targeted too. We can even get ahead of the problem, supporting people who are likely to have problems with help and nutritional support.
With the right attitude and technology, we can lead the world with predictive prevention and personalised health services.
This approach can only work if we see tackling obesity as a shared responsibility. Diet and physical activity ‒ too much and too little ‒ are, by far and away, the 2 biggest factors that contribute to obesity. And the best solutions are in the vast majority of cases not medicinal, but behavioural.
The role of the health service is just as much to prescribe behaviour change as it is to prescribe drugs. This is now widely accepted, but needs to be embedded in the way we organise our NHS.
Nutritional advice, counselling, activity and exercise must be just as much a part of the toolkit of the NHS as drugs. This insight is behind our strong support for social prescribing, embedded in our NHS Long Term Plan.
This agenda is so important we’re going to introduce more than 1,000 trained social prescribing link workers within the next 2 years, to help refer over 900,000 people ‒ because the evidence shows that social prescribing, like activity or an exercise classes, can lead to the same or better outcomes than drugs.
I also strongly believe that because many of those social cures are free, they don’t have multi-million dollar marketing budgets behind them. So it’s the job of those of us in government to compensate and lean in ‒ supporting training and developing the evidence base for social prescribing.
And that brings me to the definitional issue. I understand the reasons why some have called for obesity to be reclassified as a disease. People rightly want to lessen the stigma and increase support for people with obesity.
I agree with both of those goals. I’ve listened to the various views within the medical system, and I’ve taken advice. And I’m a staunch supporter of action to tackle obesity.
But I think reclassifying obesity isn’t the way to do it. In trying to reduce one stigma, we risk creating another. I worry that calling obesity a disease, like cancer, risks being counter-productive and sending out the wrong message.
And because obesity is a condition born of human behaviour, my biggest worry is that if people with obesity are told they have a disease, it risks robbing them of agency and the incentive to change behaviour.
We risk taking away their power, where we must do everything we can to support and empower and expect them to change their lives through healthier choices.
Instead of helping them, we make them feel helpless. I don’t think that helps. Is that what we want? More drugs and medical solutions encouraging life-long dependency on prescriptions and pills? No: we should have high expectations and support people to meet them.
Now, I know there’s a healthy debate around this, and I welcome today’s event and a frank and public discussion, because anything we can do to increase the focus on and reduce the stigma around obesity is hugely welcome. We share the same goal: to reduce obesity and help people live healthier lives.
But, while we shouldn’t call obesity a disease, we should redouble our efforts to act. And perhaps nowhere is the prevention agenda more important than childhood obesity.
Almost a quarter of 4 and 5 year-olds are now overweight or obese, and that rises to a third by the time children are 11.
We must prevent overweight kids from becoming obese adults. And for children, I do believe in the strongest government interventions.
Let’s help families and empower parents to lead healthier and more active lives, for the sake of the children. Let’s make Britain the best place for children to grow up, where a child’s health and life chances aren’t curtailed by obesity before they even start secondary school. Let’s treat healthy adults like healthy adults, and treat children like children.
Prevention will be embedded into every part of the NHS over the next decade. State, society, business and people. We each have our part to play.
We have a shared responsibility to work together to tackle obesity and build the health system and society we all want to see.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: 62nd Executive Council meeting of the OPCW

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Thank you Madam Chair,

First, a big welcome to Ambassador Melono who takes up the role of Deputy Director General. You are well qualified for this key post at a vital time, and deserve strong support from all of us.

We, the States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, have all committed to ‘exclude completely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons’. In order to achieve this the technical provisions of the Convention need to be relevant and up to date.

That was why our predecessors set out very clearly – in Article 15, paragraph five of the Convention – a process for considering technical changes to the Annexes to the Convention, including the Annex on Chemicals, commonly known as the ‘Schedules’. States Parties recognised from the outset that updates to the Annexes may be needed to ensure the viability and effectiveness of the Convention.

Which brings us to the substance of our meeting today, namely the joint proposal from the Netherlands, Canada and the USA to add two closely related families of chemicals to Schedule 1A of the Convention. We commend the thorough and objective review of the proposal by Technical Secretariat which confirms that:

  • first: the criteria for including toxic chemicals on Schedule 1A have been met
  • second: the procedural requirements of the Convention have been followed
  • and third: that the proposal is consistent with the advice of the Scientific Advisory Board

We have discussed the joint proposal with the co-sponsors and I want to state very clearly that the UK fully supports it. The proposal covers the chemical weapon that was used in my country less than a year ago. It was intended to cause death and tragically it did so. The reports from the Technical Assistance Visits following the appalling events in Salisbury and Amesbury not only confirmed the identity of the substance involved, but also its high toxicity. The two closely related families of chemicals have no identified legitimate civilian use.

This Council is required to examine the proposal and notify our recommendation to all States Parties within 90 days. That deadline falls today. It is imperative that the chemical weapon used in Salisbury, together with the most closely related toxic chemicals, be included in Schedule 1A. Acting now will demonstrate the resolve of States Parties to address new types of chemical warfare agents and deter further use. I call on other Council members to support the draft decision in front of us.

Thank you Chair.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Air pollution is a health emergency

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

I’m here, as Health Secretary, because air pollution is a health emergency.

When it comes to our health, there’s lots of things we can take personal responsibility for: what we eat, how we exercise and whether we smoke, for instance.

And I’m no nanny state politician. I believe personal responsibility is important.

But around a third of what determines the length of our healthy life is the environment we live in – the things we can’t, alone, do anything about.

And of those environmental causes of healthy life expectancy, the biggest factor is the air we breathe.

The biggest single environmental cause of death is air pollution. Air pollution causes chronic conditions, and shortens lives.

In short: air pollution kills. Clean air saves lives.

And it’s worse than that – because the impact of air pollution is even bigger on children, as their lungs are growing.

I know this. I know more about air pollution than most people.

For a decade, almost, I lived next to a very busy main road.

I’d constantly have to clean the dirt – these horribly black specs that became a carpet – off my window sill.

And to this day I feel guilty that I brought my children into the world living next to the A40.

I’m delighted that I was able to move my family away, but I know not everyone is in a position to do that.

And contrast that with my constituency in West Suffolk where you’re much likelier to breathe fresh, clean air blown in from the sea – it might as well be 2 different worlds.

We are the fifth richest country in the world. We’ve just put an extra £20.5 billion into the NHS. Its budget will be £148 billion a year – £3,000 for every man, woman and child in this country.

Yet air pollution causes around 36,000 deaths each year, and puts extra, preventable strain on the NHS through increased incidents of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and child asthma.

Surely we can afford to stop killing ourselves with entirely preventable filth, and give every child clean air, no matter where they live, so we can give every child the best possible start in life.

Much of the technology exists, and where it doesn’t, let’s invent it.

Every new development and new technology should be clean by design – like the NHS is leading the way on.

We all have a part to play. Cycling or walking short journeys instead of driving not only helps our own health, it reduces the health risk to others by helping cut air pollution.

But this isn’t something we can each do alone. It takes concerted, far-sighted government action, like the visionary action being proposed today by my brilliant friend Michael Gove.

That’s why we are working so closely together. It’s why I feel so strongly about these plans. For your children and for mine.

I’m very proud to do my bit, proud of this Conservative government demonstrating bold, progressive, energetic, popular action this day to improve the lives of millions, to deliver for our citizens, and make Britain fit for the future.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM’s Brexit speech in Stoke-on-Trent: 14 January 2019

Source: UK Government

Tomorrow, Members of Parliament will cast their votes on the Withdrawal Agreement on the terms of our departure from the European Union and the Political Declaration on our future relationship.
That vote in Westminster is a direct consequence of the votes that were cast by people here in Stoke, and in cities, towns and villages in every corner of the United Kingdom.
In June 2016, the British people were asked by MPs to take a decision: should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or should we leave?
In that campaign, both sides disagreed on many things, but on one thing they were united: what the British people decided, the politicians would implement.
In the run-up to the vote, the government sent a leaflet to every household making the case for remain. It stated very clearly: ‘This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.’
Those were the terms on which people cast their votes.
If a majority had backed remain, the UK would have continued as an EU member state.
No doubt the disagreements would have continued too, but the vast majority of people would have had no truck with an argument that we should leave the EU in spite of a vote to remain or that we should return to the question in another referendum.
On the rare occasions when Parliament puts a question to the British people directly we have always understood that their response carries a profound significance.
When the people of Wales voted by a margin of 0.3%, on a turnout of just over 50%, to endorse the creation of the Welsh Assembly, that result was accepted by Parliament.
Indeed we have never had a referendum in the United Kingdom that we have not honoured the result of.
Parliament understood this fact when it voted overwhelmingly to trigger Article 50.
And both major parties did so too when they stood on election manifestos in 2017 that pledged to honour the result of the referendum.
Yet, as we have seen over the last few weeks, there are some in Westminster who would wish to delay or even stop Brexit and who will use every device available to them to do so.
I ask them to consider the consequences of their actions on the faith of the British people in our democracy.
The House of Commons did not say to the people of Scotland or Wales that despite voting in favour of a devolved legislature, Parliament knew better and would over-rule them. Or else force them to vote again.
What if we found ourselves in a situation where Parliament tried to take the UK out of the EU in opposition to a remain vote?
People’s faith in the democratic process and their politicians would suffer catastrophic harm.
We all have a duty to implement the result of the referendum.
Ever since I reached an agreement with the EU on a Withdrawal Agreement and declaration on our future relationship I have argued that the consequences of Parliament rejecting it would be grave uncertainty – potentially leading to one of two outcomes.
Either a ‘no deal’ Brexit, that would cause turbulence for our economy, create barriers to security cooperation and disrupt people’s daily lives.
Or the risk of no Brexit at all – for the first time in our history failing to implement the outcome of a statutory referendum and letting the British people down.
These alternatives both remain in play if the deal is rejected.
There are differing views on the threat that a no deal exit poses.
I have always believed that while we could ultimately make a success of no deal, it would cause significant disruption in the short term and it would be far better to leave with a good deal.
Others in the House of Commons take a different view and regard no deal as the ultimate threat to be avoided at all costs.
To those people I say this: the only ways to guarantee we do not leave without a deal are: to abandon Brexit, betraying the vote of the British people; or to leave with a deal, and the only deal on the table is the one MPs will vote on tomorrow night.
You can take no deal off the table by voting for that deal. And if no deal is a bad as you believe it is, it would be the height of recklessness to do anything else.
But while no deal remains a serious risk, having observed events at Westminster over the last seven days, it is now my judgment that the more likely outcome is a paralysis in Parliament that risks there‪‪ being no Brexit.
That makes it even more important that MPs consider very carefully how they will vote ‪‪tomorrow night.
As I have said many times – the deal we have agreed is worthy of support for what it achieves for the British people.
Immigration policy back in the hands of people you elect – so we can build a system based around the skills people have to offer this country, not where they come from, and bring the overall numbers down. Sovereign control of our borders.
Decisions about how to spend the money you pay in taxes back under the control of people you elect – so we can spend the vast annual sums we send to Brussels as we chose, on priorities like our long-term plan for the NHS. Sovereign control of our money.
UK laws, not EU laws, governing this country – so the people you elect decide what the law of the land in our country is. Sovereign control of our laws.
Out of the Common Agricultural Policy – with our farmers supported by schemes we design to suit our own needs.
Out of the Common Fisheries Policy – so we decide who fishes in our waters and we can rebuild our fishing fleets for the future.
Retaking our seat at the World Trade Organisation, so we can strike trade deals around the world that work for British businesses and consumers.
The rights of valued EU citizens here guaranteed and reciprocal guarantees for UK citizens across Europe.
The partnerships between our police forces and security services, that protect us every day from threats that know no borders, sustained.
An implementation period that ensures our departure from the EU is smooth and orderly, protecting your jobs.
And yes a guarantee that the people of Northern Ireland can carry on living their lives just as they do now, whatever the future holds.
These are valuable prizes.
The deal honours the vote in the referendum by translating the people’s instruction into a detailed and practical plan for a better future.
No one else has put forward an alternative which does this.
Compare that outcome to the alternatives of no deal or no Brexit.
With no deal we would have: no implementation period, no security co-operation, no guarantees for UK citizens overseas, no certainty for businesses and workers here in Stoke and across the UK, and changes to everyday life in Northern Ireland that would put the future of our Union at risk.
And with no Brexit, as I have said, we would risk a subversion of the democratic process.
We would be sending a message from Westminster to communities like Stoke that your voices do not count.
The way to close-off both of these potential avenues of uncertainty is clear: it is for MPs to back the deal the government has negotiated and move our country forward into the bright future that awaits us.
I have always believed that there is a majority in the House of Commons for a smooth and orderly exit delivered by means of a withdrawal agreement.
That is why the government tabled the motion for the meaningful vote last month.
But it became clear that MPs’ concerns about one particular aspect of the deal – the backstop preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in the event that we cannot reach agreement on our new relationship before the end of the implementation period – meant that there was no prospect of winning the vote.
So I suspended the debate to allow time for further discussions with the EU to address those concerns.
Today I have published the outcome of those discussions in the form of letters between the UK government and the Presidents of the European Commission and European Council.
I listened very carefully to the concerns that MPs from all sides expressed, particularly the concerns of my fellow Unionists from Northern Ireland.
In my discussions with the EU we explored a number of the suggestions made by MPs, both about how the backstop would operate and for how long.
The EU have said throughout that they would not renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement or reopen its text for alteration, and that remained the case throughout my discussions at the December European Council and since.
I also pursued in these discussions a proposal for a fixed date – with legal force – guaranteeing the point at which the future partnership would come into force. Because that is the way to bring an end to the backstop – by agreeing our new relationship.
The EU’s position was that – while they never want or expect the backstop to come into force – a legal time limit was not possible.
But while we did not achieve that, we have secured valuable new clarifications and assurances to put before the House of Commons, including on getting our future relationship in place rapidly, so that the backstop should never need to be used.
We now have a commitment from the EU that work on our new relationship can begin as soon as possible after the signing of the Withdrawal Agreement – in advance of the 29 March – and we have an explicit commitment that this new relationship does not need to replicate the backstop in any respect whatsoever.
We have agreement on a fast-track process to bring the free trade deal we will negotiate into force if there are any delays in member states ratifying it, making it even more likely that the backstop will never need to be used.
We now have absolute clarity on the explicit linkage between the Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration, putting beyond doubt that these come as a package.
And finally the EU have confirmed their acceptance that the UK can unilaterally deliver on all the commitments made in our Northern Ireland paper last week, including a Stormont lock on new EU laws being added to the backstop, and a seat at the table for a restored Northern Ireland Executive.
The legal standing of the significant conclusions of the December Council have been confirmed. If the backstop were ever triggered it would only be temporary and both sides would do all they could to bring it to an end as quickly as possible.
The letters published today have legal force and must be used to interpret the meaning of the Withdrawal Agreement, including in any future arbitration.
They make absolutely clear the backstop is not a threat or a trap.
I fully understand that the new legal and political assurances which are contained in the letters from Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker do not go as far as some MPs would like.
But I am convinced that MPs now have the clearest assurances that this is the best deal possible and that it is worthy of their support.
Two other areas of concern raised and reflected in amendments tabled to the meaningful vote were on the protection of workers’ rights and on environmental standards.
I could not have been clearer that far from wanting to see a reduction in our standards in these areas, the UK will instead continue to be a world leader.
We have committed to addressing these concerns and will work with MPs from across the House on how best to implement them, looking at legislation where necessary, to deliver the best possible results for workers across the UK.
This afternoon I will set out in greater detail to MPs what is contained in the correspondence I have published today and what it means for our withdrawal.
And tomorrow I will close the debate.
But as we start this crucial week in our country’s history let’s take a step back and remember both what is at stake and what we stand to gain by coming together behind this agreement.
Settle the question of our withdrawal and we can move on to forging our new relationship.
Back the deal tomorrow, and that work can ‪‪start on Wednesday.
Fail and we face the risk of leaving without a deal, or the even bigger risk of not leaving at all.
I think the British people are ready for us to move on.
To move beyond division and come together.
To move beyond uncertainty into a brighter future.
That is the chance that MPs of all parties will have ‪‪tomorrow night.
And for our country’s sake, I urge them to take it.
Thank you.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Townhall meeting for British nationals – opening remarks

Source: UK Government

Hello everyone. For those who haven’t met me, my name is Iain Lindsay and I am the British Ambassador to Hungary. Thank you for coming this evening.
Grateful to Szabolcs Takács, State Secretary for European Union Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office, for representing the Hungarian Government.
Hungary is home to 5-10,000 Brits, therefore it is important for us to give you an opportunity to hear the latest information on EU Exit, both from the UK and the Hungarian Governments. And even more importantly, it’s important that we listen to your thoughts and concerns.
Before I launch into the main part of my comments this evening, I want to flag up three things:
I’d like to encourage you to regularly check our embassy’s website on GOV.UK, including our Living in Hungary guide guide and follow our social media channels, Facebook and Twitter, to have the most up-to-date information about our departure from the EU.
You will find little cards on your seats with all the relevant links, including a link to a survey where we would welcome your feedback on this event.
Many of those who cannot be here today have asked that we live stream this event so that information is shared as widely as possible. I am pleased to confirm that we are doing this, so please note that recording will take place throughout the event. We will also publish a summary of this event on our website, so that you can return to any of the questions we discuss today.
Finally, about the format of the event: following my comments I will ask State Secretary Takács to say a few words on behalf of the Hungarian Government. Then we will open the floor for questions.
I know that the EU referendum decision has caused considerable uncertainty, and in many cases disappointment, for you. These are difficult times but we have worked hard with our EU partners to reach agreement on the Withdrawal Agreement and a Political Declaration.
From the very beginning of this process, Prime Minister Theresa May has said that safeguarding the rights of UK nationals living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK was her top priority.
This evening, I would like to give you an update on the agreement reached on citizens’ rights. I will also speak about your situation should we not be able to reach an overall agreement with the EU, which I want to stress is neither our, nor the EU’s, wish or intention.
Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement will ensure our smooth and orderly exit from the UK, including securing the rights of the 1 million+ UK nationals in the EU and 3 million+ EU citizens in the UK. The European Council endorsed this Agreement in November. Our Parliament was due to vote on the agreement in December, but the PM decided to postpone that vote until January. That vote is now due on 15 January.
I know this is a period of uncertainty and I appreciate it’s very difficult for you – it is for us all. As a responsible government we are preparing for all potential scenarios. I will speak about this later.
If Parliament votes in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement, it will be implemented by the end of March and the result will be:
a time-limited implementation period, lasting from when we exit the EU until 31 December 2020. During the implementation period, EU law will continue to apply to the UK. As such, during that period UK nationals will continue to be able to travel, work and live freely in any member state, as is currently the case
UK nationals already living legally in Hungary will be able to remain on broadly the same basis after the UK leaves the EU. That means if a UK national is legally residing in Hungary by 31 December 2020, they will be able to continue doing so afterwards. And not only to reside, but to continue working, studying, being retired, or whatever they were doing before. This means:
you will have the right to “family reunification” – that is bringing your family members to Hungary, which I know is really important to many of you. So if you are resident in Hungary, you will be able to bring your family members to Hungary even after our exit from the EU. This applies to children, including those born after exit day, dependant parents and dependant grandparents. It also covers partners, including spouses, registered partners, and partners >in a proven long-term relationship, where the relationship existed before 31 December 2020
The UK and the EU will continue to aggregate social security contributions made both before and after the end of the implementation period. Those who have paid into a system – for example pensions – and may pay in in the future, will have their contributions protected.
In addition, we will continue to pay an uprated UK State Pension to individuals resident in EU Member States, and, in accordance with EU rules, provide associated healthcare cover in the EU.
The UK and EU will also protect the right to export relevant benefits (e.g. child benefit and disability benefits) to both EU Member States and the UK, as under the current EU rules.
Current healthcare arrangements will continue for those citizens who are legally resident in Hungary by 31 December 2020, including the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), planned treatments and health care reimbursement arrangements for pensioners (the S1 route).
You will also retain your right to run or establish a business in Hungary.
All of these provisions will apply equally to Hungarian citizens in the UK.
So what is not included in the Withdrawal Agreement? There are some issues we haven’t yet been able to agree on with the EU, which we hope to discuss in the next round. For example, I know that the right to continue to have the ability to move freely around all 27 remaining EU27 countries is important to many of you. We will seek to discuss this in the context of our future partnership.
No deal
Up to now we have been talking about the situation in the event that the British Parliament approves the deal we have negotiated. I am however conscious that many of you will be aware that Parliament may not approve the deal, and that it is possible that the UK may leave the EU without a deal.
Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, the Government must prepare for every eventuality, including a no deal scenario. With less than three months until our exit from the EU, we have reached the point where we need to accelerate and intensify these preparations.
The Government has now published 106 pieces of advice on different subjects to help businesses, citizens and consumers to prepare for 29 March in the event of a no-deal scenario. These are available on the government website. They are called “technical notices”. Those dealing with passports and driving licences might be of particular interest to people here.
Our objective in a no-deal scenario is to minimise disruption by taking unilateral action to prioritise continuity and stability. Stability in a no-deal scenario partly depends on the EU taking a similar, non-disruptive approach to planning.
You may be aware that on 21 September, the Prime Minister confirmed that in the event of no-deal, all EU citizens resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 would be able to stay. And we are asking Member States to respond to the guarantees we have given to EU citizens and confirm that UK nationals can stay, even in a ‘no deal’ scenario too. I am very pleased to say Hungary has already done that, about which I am sure State Secretary Takács will wish to say more.

I appreciate this is a period of uncertainty and many of you want more information and advice. We want to help you prepare for all scenarios and are committed to ensuring relevant information is available in a timely, transparent and accessible way. Further information will continue to be made available on GOV.UK over the coming weeks.
If you only take one thing away with you today, it should be to have your affairs in order. If you haven’t already done so, register with the Hungarian authorities. Any deal will only apply to those who are lawfully resident in Hungary, which means you have to be registered if you have been residing in Hungary for 3 months. This is a long-standing requirement.
In order to register, you have to submit your application to the relevant regional directorate of the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office by presenting a valid travel document or personal identification document alongside with the documents that prove you have the right to residence, e.g. in case of employment the relevant documentary evidence provided by your employer. The application fee is HUF 1,000. You will find further information in English on the website of the Immigration and Asylum Office.
I’d also like to encourage you again to follow our embassy Facebook and Twitter pages. Both accounts are called ‘UK in Hungary’, and should be easy to find. But details of all of these are on the cards on your seats.
We’re constantly working to improve these events. Therefore, we would really appreciate your feedback. We will share the link to the online feedback form on our social media channels.
Finally, we understand that this is a difficult time for many people, but we continue to work together with the Hungarian Government to ensure that you are able to continue to live your lives as you have done to date, and that you have the best information possible.
Thank you very much for your attention, let me now give the floor to State Secretary Takács.