MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM’s welcoming statement at Burns Supper: 21 January 2019

Source: UK Government

It is great to be able to welcome you here to Downing Street this evening for Burns Supper, this is the second one I have had the pleasure of hosting.
This house of course, has been the home of Prime Ministers of Great Britain and then of the United Kingdom since 1732, 25 years after the Acts of Union that created that single kingdom of Great Britain. So from the start, this house has been symbolic of that union.
It is important to me in everything we do here, and indeed in everything we do as a government, that we reflect the fact that the United Kingdom is a union of four nations. Our country has great diversity within it and we rightly celebrate that diversity. What we actually do in coming together is combine to make something greater than the sum of its parts and it is something that is unique and inspiring.
Of course, Scotland is an absolutely integral part of our United Kingdom – economically, socially and culturally.
Tonight of course in Robert Burns, we are celebrating a Scottish and British cultural icon, one of the finest poets in any language. It is a chance to celebrate a great poet, a great nation and an enduring union. Have a really good evening.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM statement to the House of Commons on Brexit: 21 January 2019

Source: UK Government

Mr Speaker, I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning Saturday’s car bomb attack in Londonderry – and paying tribute to the bravery of the Northern Ireland Police and the local community who helped to ensure that everyone got to safety.
This House stands together with the people of Northern Ireland in ensuring that we never go back to the violence and terror of the past.
Mr Speaker, turning to Brexit, following last week’s vote it is clear that the Government’s approach had to change.
And it has.
Having established the confidence of Parliament in this government I have listened to colleagues across parliament from different parties and with different views.
Last week I met the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the Westminster leaders of the DUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party, and backbench members from both sides of this House.
My Right Honourable Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster also had a number of such meetings.
The Government has approached these meetings in a constructive spirit, without preconditions, and I am pleased that everyone we met with took the same approach.
I regret that the Right Honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has not chosen to take part so far. I hope he will reflect on that decision.
Given the importance of this issue we should all be prepared to work together to find a way forward. And my Ministerial colleagues and I will continue with further meetings this week.
Let me set out the six key issues which have been at the centre of the talks to date.
The first two relate to the process for moving forwards.
First, there is widespread concern about the possibility of the UK leaving without a deal.
And there are those on both sides of the House who want the Government to rule this out.
But we need to be honest with the British people about what that means.
The right way to rule out No Deal is for this House to approve a deal with the European Union.
That is what this Government is seeking to achieve.
The only other guaranteed way to avoid a No Deal Brexit is to revoke Article 50 – which would mean staying in the EU.
Mr Speaker, there are others who think that what we need is more time, so they say we should extend Article 50 to give longer for Parliament to debate how we should leave and what a deal should look like.
This is not ruling out no deal, but simply deferring the point of decision.
And the EU are very unlikely simply to agree to extend Article 50 without a plan for how we are going approve a deal.
So when people say “rule out No Deal” the consequences of what they are actually saying are that if we in Parliament can’t approve a deal we should revoke Article 50.
Mr Speaker, I believe this would go against the referendum result and I do not believe that is a course of action that we should take, or which this House should support.
Second, all the Opposition parties that have engaged so far – and some backbenchers – have expressed their support for a Second Referendum.
I have set out many times my deep concerns about returning to the British people for a Second Referendum. Our duty is to implement the decision of the first one.
I fear a Second Referendum would set a difficult precedent that could have significant implications for how we handle referendums in this country – not least, strengthening the hand of those campaigning to break up our United Kingdom.
It would require an extension of Article 50. We would very likely have to return a new set of MEPs to the European Parliament in May.
And I also believe that there has not yet been enough recognition of the way that a Second Referendum could damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.
Mr Speaker, we do not know what the Rt Hon Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, thinks about this, because he has not engaged.
But I know there are Members who have already indicated that they wish to test the support of the House for this path.
I do not believe there is a majority for a Second Referendum.
And if I am right, then just as the Government is having to think again about its approach going forwards, then so too do those Members who believe this is the answer.
The remaining issues raised in the discussions relate to the substance of the deal – and on these points I believe we can make progress.
Members of this House, predominantly but not only on the Government benches and the DUP, continue to express their concern on the issue of the Northern Ireland backstop.
All of us agree that as we leave the European Union, we must fully respect the Belfast Agreement and not allow the creation of a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland – nor indeed a border down the Irish Sea.
And I want to be absolutely clear, in the light of media stories this morning, this Government will not reopen the Belfast Agreement. I have never even considered doing so – and neither would I.
With regard to the backstop, despite the changes we have previously agreed, there remain two core issues: the fear that we could be trapped in it permanently; and concerns over its potential impact on our Union if Northern Ireland is treated differently from the rest of the UK.
So I will be talking further this week to colleagues – including in the DUP – to consider how we might meet our obligations to the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland in a way that can command the greatest possible support in the House.
And I will then take the conclusions of those discussion back to the EU.
From other parts of this house concerns have also been raised over the Political Declaration.
In particular, these have focused on a wish for further precision around the future relationship.
The Political Declaration will provide the basis for developing our detailed negotiating mandate for the future.
And this new phase of negotiations will be different in a number of ways. It will cover a far broader range of issues in greater depth, and so will require us to build a negotiating team that draws on the widest expertise available – from trade negotiators to security experts and specialists in data and financial services.
And as we develop our mandate across each of these areas I want to provide reassurance to the House.
Given the breadth of the negotiations we will seek input from a wide range of voices from outside Government.
That must include ensuring Parliament has a proper say, and fuller involvement, in these decisions.
It is Government’s responsibility to negotiate, but it is also my responsibility to listen to the legitimate concerns of colleagues, both those who voted Leave and who voted Remain, in shaping our negotiating mandate for our future partnership with the EU.
So the Government will consult this House on its negotiating mandate, to ensure that Members have the chance to make their views known, and that we harness the knowledge of all Select Committees, across the full range of expertise needed for this next phase negotiations – from security to trade.
This will also strengthen the Government’s hand in the negotiations, giving the EU confidence about our position and avoiding leaving the bulk of Parliamentary debate to a point when we are under huge time pressure to ratify.
I know that to date Parliament has not felt it has enough visibility of the Government’s position as it has been developed and negotiated. It has sought documents through Humble Addresses, but that mechanism cannot take into account the fact that some information when made public could weaken the UK’s negotiating hand.
So as the negotiations progress, we will also look to deliver confidential committee sessions that can ensure Parliament has the most up-to-date information, while not undermining the negotiations.
And we will regularly update the House – in particular before the six monthly review points with the EU foreseen in the agreement.
While it will always be for Her Majesty’s Government to negotiate for the whole of the UK, we are also committed to giving the Devolved Administrations an enhanced role in the next phase, respecting their competence and vital interests in these negotiations.
I hope to meet both first Ministers in the course of this week and will use the opportunity to discuss this further with them. We will also look for further ways to engage elected representatives from Northern Ireland and regional representatives in England.
Finally, we will reach out beyond this House and engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions.
Fifth, Hon Members from across the House have raised strong views that our exit from the EU should not lead to a reduction in our social and environmental standards – and in particular workers’ rights.
So I will ensure that we provide Parliament with a guarantee that not only will we not erode protections for workers’ rights and the environment but we will ensure this country leads the way.
To that end my Rt Hon Friend the Business Secretary indicated the Government’s support for the proposed amendment to the meaningful vote put down by the Hon Member for Bassetlaw – including that Parliament should be able to consider any changes made by the EU in these areas in future.
Mr Rt Hon Friend and others will work with members across the House, businesses and Trade Unions, to develop proposals that give effect to this amendment, including looking at legislation where necessary.
Sixth, and crucially, a number of Members have made powerful representations about the anxieties facing EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU who are waiting to have their status confirmed.
We have already committed to ensuring that EU citizens in the UK will be able to stay, and to continue to access in-country benefits and services on broadly the same terms as now, in both a deal and a no deal scenario.
Indeed, the next phase of testing of the scheme for EU nationals to confirm their status has launched today.
And having listened to concerns from Members – and organisations like the “The 3 Million” group – I can confirm today that when we roll out the scheme in full on 30th March, the government will waive the application fee so that there is no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. And anyone who has or will apply during the pilot phase will have their fee reimbursed. More details about how this will work will be made available in due course.
Some EU Member States have similarly guaranteed the rights of British nationals in a No Deal scenario – and we will step up our efforts to ensure that they all do so.
Mr Speaker, let me briefly set out the process for the days ahead.
In addition to this statement, today I will lay a Written Ministerial Statement, as required under section 13(4 and 5) of the EU Withdrawal Act – and table a motion in neutral terms on this statement, as required by section 13(6).
This motion will be amendable and will be debated and voted on in this House on 29th January.
And I will provide a further update to the House during that debate.
To be clear, this is not a re-run of the vote to ratify the agreement we have reached with the European Union, but the fulfilment of the process following the House’s decision to reject that motion.
Mr Speaker, the process of engagement is ongoing.
In the next few days, my ministerial colleagues and I will continue to meet with Members on all sides of the House, and with representatives of the trades unions, business groups, civil society and others as we try to find the broadest possible consensus on a way forward.
Whilst I will disappoint those colleagues that hope to secure a second referendum, I do not believe that there is a majority in this house for such a path.
And whilst I want to deliver a deal with the EU, I cannot support the only other way in which to take No Deal off the table, which is to revoke article 50.
So my focus continues to be on what is needed to secure the support of this House in favour of a Brexit Deal with the EU.
My sense so far is that three key changes are needed.
First, we will be more flexible, open and inclusive in the future in how we engage Parliament in our approach to negotiating our future partnership with the European Union.
Second, we will embed the strongest possible protections on workers’ rights and the environment.
And third, we will work to identify how we can ensure that our commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland and Ireland can be delivered in a way that commands the support of this House, and the European Union.
In doing so, we will honour the mandate of the British people and leave the European Union in a way which benefits every part of our United Kingdom and every citizen of our country.
And I commend this Statement to the House.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Secretary of State opens Education World Forum 2019

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Dear Ministers, colleagues, your Royal Highness and ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great pleasure to welcome you all here to London and to this 16th Education World Forum.

I know a huge amount of work has gone on behind the scenes to perpare for a day like this – and I’d like to start by thanking the very dedicated team who, year after year, make these forums such a success.

As I look around the room today, of course, we hail from all corners of the world, we have different cultures, different languages, different weather. Our experiences, our perspectives will be very different.

But some things are the same the world over – the fundamental importance of education, investing in training and shaping the next generation – this is something that every country represented in this room shares.

This is partly plain economics. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

But it’s also about business economocs and about national economics. If you want to build a more productive, effective economy – then you will need a highly skilled workforce.

And today of course, new technologies and industries are reshaping our world at lightning speed. But even in a world of thinking machines, of artificial intelligence, of robots and autonomous vehicles, it’s people that are imagining and building this high-tech future.

Any country that wants to prosper in tomorrow’s world will need to invest in their future workforce.

Because countries need, the global economy needs, more technicians, more managers, more innovators and more creators. We need engineers, coders, welders.

For the sake of our nations’ health we need more doctors, more nurses, more radiologists. And, of course, all of us need teachers.

And is it good enough to train up a few, or even a third or half the population? No – the most successful countries are drawing on all their talent, all their human resources.

But of course people aren’t just resources. They are individuals, individuals with a moral right to realise that spark of potential that exists in us all. And we realise that potential, in large part, through what we are here to talk about today, our education.

It’s not only that a good education helps you find skilled, rewarding work. It’s that everyone should have a chance to discover the joy that comes through learning. When we grow up with a thirst for knowledge, a curiosity about the world, an understanding of our and other cultures – we are happier, more fulfilled. We learn to be ourselves as we should and can be.

And of course we know that access to education is empowering. It empowers girls and women, it empowers the poorest, it empowers the downtrodden.

An education gives people the skills and the knowledge to pull themselves up. It can mean leaving a narrow existence behind to discover a whole world of opportunities.

And your education stays with you. It defines your future path, whatever start you may have got in life. Wherever you go in the world – this is a universal truth.

You can visit a refugee camp or a disaster zone, somewhere people are battling for survival – needing food, water, a roof over their head.

And yet, if you talk to the parents – one of their first priorities is getting their kids back to school, reading textbooks, learning. Because education is always key to a better future.

That’s why as a global community, as a world, we made it our shared mission to bring education to all, as set out in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2015.

But this is not just the right thing to do. It’s crucial for global stability, prosperity and peace.

When we co-hosted the Syria conference here in London three years ago, alongside humanitarian relief, we committed to educating Syria’s children, preventing a lost generation. A generation that could grow up alienated, despairing, in some cases vulnerable to toxic messages from extremists.

Great education can promote cultural and religious understanding, by teaching tolerance, by encouraging empathy and understanding for different points of view. Education means asking questions, coming out of our own narrow parameters…

Remember what Malala told the UN after being shot in the head for going to school: “The terrorists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them.”

The power of education. All of us here share in that immense privilege, the awesome responsibility, of sharing in the shaping of the next generation by providing them with a good education.

And we come here to this Education World Forum not so much as competing nations, but in the spirit of cooperation…

Civilisation arguably began when we found ways to record knowledge and pass on to next generation. When I spoke here a year ago, I said most of what is good in the world – great inventions, everyday conveniences – most of it exists only because we share knowledge or the fruits of knowledge.

So while our countries may seek to race ahead when it comes to creating more prosperous economies, exploiting new technologies, training more skilled workers – the pursuit of knowledge can, and does, transcend this competition.

Here at this Forum, we share our experiences, we share our expertise, we look at our innovations. We’ll be hearing from Education Ministers from Vietnam, Kenya, Albania to name a few, as well as organisations like the World Bank and Microsoft.

I know that Andreas Schleicher of the OECD spoke earlier, discussing their latest report which poses questions about the role education can play in lifting individuals out of poverty, promoting economic growth and creating responsible citizens.

The work of the OECD is also hugely valuable, precisely because it helps countries to work together, to learn from each other, to help each other.

There is also, of course, a commercial marketplace for education innovation. Indeed, there are few better examples of that marketplace than the BETT fair starting immediately after this forum.

As ever, this will be an amazing showcase of educational technology. Edtech that has been created to solve some of our most critical challenges – be it better training for teachers or helping children with disabilities to communicate in the classroom.

And for some countries, we offer direct aid to children who would otherwise miss out on an education.

I mentioned the UN’s global goal of education for all. Of course that is an enormous challenge. In the next decade, a billion more young people around the world will enter the jobs market, yet more than half of the world’s primary children are on track to leave primary school unable to read or write.

I’m proud of the work the UK is doing here. In the last three years alone supporting more than 11 million children in some of the poorest and most fragile places in the world, to access quality education, starting with the basics of literacy and numeracy.

I believe this is one of the best uses of international development spending. Because of the way education can put individuals on a different path, and, ultimately, put their countries on the path to development and independence. And yes we need more countries, in fact all countries, to honour their commitments to maximise this opportunity.

But beyond development – my country is committed to sharing and learning from you all.

As Education Secretary – and I’ve been in the job for exactly a year now – I believe our education system has enormous strengths – but that we also have much more work to do.

During my time in this job, one thing I’ve noticed is how frequently the same things up in conversations. I speak to my counterparts around the world and certain things come up time and again:

  • Teacher recruitment and retention;

  • Reaching the most marginalised families and communities; and

  • Creating parity of esteem between academic learning and technical and vocational training.

Different countries, different systems – but strikingly similar challenges. That’s why we have been determined to learn from the world.

For example, to improve maths teaching, we turned to China. Some 12,000 of our teachers have the opportunity to watch demonstration lessons by top Shanghai teachers. Or when we set about creating a more rigorous curriculum for our schools, we drew on Singapore’s curriculum and textbooks.

And our efforts to put teachers and school leaders in the driving seat, have – in part – been inspired by our visits to US Charter schools, where they have the freedom to innovate.

It doesn’t stop there. One of my top priorities is putting our technical and vocational education on par with the world’s best.

And, to this end, I’ve been on fact-finding missions to Germany and the Netherlands. Visiting top-performing technical colleges, meeting leading employers.

You learn a lot on these visits. But one thing that particularly struck me was the level of business involvement in training up the future workforce, not just co-designing courses, providing placements but sharing the responsibility, the ownership, for human capital formation, alongside the other equivalent investments.

Now as we transform technical and vocational education in this country, we too are seeking to put businesses at the heart of training up the next generation.

Our employers are designing our new, higher quality apprenticeships, which are longer and include more off-the-job training.

They are also designing course content for our new T Level qualifications, a technical equivalent to academic A-levels that will focus on teaching students the practical skills needed to do a specific job.

And at the core of this course is an intensive, three month, industry placement – where students put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Of course, I’m pleased to say, there are also things we do extremely well here and people come to learn from us.

Every year, my Department receives in the region of 100 visits from overseas governments and organisations. Last year this included teachers from Hungary and Japan interested in our policy reforms to improve initial teacher training and continuing professional development.

Politicians and officials from Ghana, Belgium, Croatia and Singapore interested in how we are scaling up apprenticeships.

Ministers and senior officials from the USA, Denmark, Malaysia and more have come to see what we’re doing on school autonomy, how we are putting more power in to the hands of head teachers and school leaders through our academies and free schools.

One area I’m particularly proud to showcase to the world, is our work narrowing the attainment gap between rich and poor students.

This is a global issue: the average gap in performance between disadvantaged and advantaged students internationally is worth three years of schooling.

Here, we’ve made narrowing that gap and targeting the most disadvantaged a top priority.

We are investing in more and better pre-school education, so more children can start school really ready to learn. We are currently piloting reforms to the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework which aim to free up teachers to spend more time on helping children develop the vocabulary, skills and behaviours they need to thrive at school and in later life.

As part of this we introduced 15 hours of free early education a week for the most disadvantaged two-year-olds in the country.

On top of the existing 15 hours free childcare offer for all three-and-four-year-olds, which we doubled to 30 hours for working families.

We’ve given schools the autonomy to work together and make their own improvements.

And we reformed our funding system for schools so that we now direct more funding the poorer, disadvantaged children than richer ones.

In particular, we introduced the Pupil Premium – an additional grant for schools that they can use to help those children who have more barriers to overcome, including children who are looked after by the state and children with disabilities. Two million pupils benefit from this grant every year.

And schools up and down the country have used the Pupil Premium to get better outcomes for pupils from the toughest backgrounds, pupils facing the biggest barriers.

We’re also spreading the best ideas on how to prioritise the most disadvantaged. We founded our Education Endowment Foundation to run trials in hundreds of schools to find and promote the most effective ways of working with disadvantaged children.

And last week I announced a new £2.5million fund to give disadvantaged children the chance to go on international exchanges and study trips abroad, to give them the chance to experience different cultures and improve their language skills.

And these reforms are working. We have narrowed the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged backgrounds and their better off peers at every level of education – at pre-school, at primary school, at secondary school and on entry to university.

Perhaps the biggest change we’ve seen in the last two decades is schools right here in London. Twenty years ago London schools were some of the worst in the country – now they’re are among our very best.

But there’s always more to do.

Now we must replicate the London effect elsewhere and spread opportunity across the country. Through initiatives like Opportunity North East, which I launched last year. My department will be working with the North East’s schools, colleges, universities and critically employers to help more young people in this region reach their potential.

While rightly entire regions have needs, we are also more sharply focused now on the particular issues in smaller geographies – communities that have seen significant industrial change for example, sparse rural areas, or coastal towns.

We are rethinking, what I call, the ‘face of disadvantage’.

While ethnic minorities still have labour market outcomes that are not good enough, one of our lowest-performing groups is in fact white working class boys.

Of course, there are areas where no country has all the full answers yet.

Take the Home Learning Environment – the home can feel like the last taboo in public policy. But we can’t afford to ignore it, what happens at home is crucial to what happens at school and a child’s development. So we have struck a partnership with publi and private sector groups to see how best we can support parents in a child’s early development in the digital age.

Then there’s adult retraining – so relevant in our fast changing world, with AI, robotics and other technology likely to replace, create and change jobs. We are designing a new National Retraining Scheme.

And, finally, a big one for me is character. When it comes to forging a successful path through life, clearly it’s not just about the qualifications you pick up – it’s also your strength of character and what’s inside, your resilience, your confidence and your ability to bounce back from the knocks that life inevitably brings.

Fundamental issues – these are things I hope we’ll be sharing our experiences and insights on this week, on the conference floor, in bilateral meetings, and in coffee breaks, again and again in the years ahead. Becuase there is non practical limit to what we can achieve here.

We all share this unique responsibility – the responsibility of shaping the next generation.

What happens in your nurseries, your schools, your colleges, your universities has an enormous and far-reaching impact all on our societies, on our world.

Ultimately, the EWF Forum is not actually an event. It is a group of people. It’s about us, it is about you and me and the person sitting next to you. It is about us coming together to share and learn, to work together to deliver a world-class education for all our children.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: The need for a sustainable security infrastructure in Libya

Source: UK Government

Thank you very much Mr President. Thank you for scheduling this briefing. Very good to hear from the SRSG so thank you, Ghassan for everything you’ve said. I wanted to start by thanking you also for restructuring the mission and for the enormous progress made on opening the offices. I think that’s really important. As you were saying it’s a good signal of the international community’s engagement with the people of Libya and what is happening there so thank you for that. And many thanks to the German Ambassador as well for the sanctions report. Germany is now co-penholder with us on Libya so obviously we look forward to working even more closely together.
I wanted to start Mr President by reiterating my government’s strong support for what the SRSG is doing and what the UN are doing on the ground. And our thanks to them for all their efforts. In particular, we support the SRSG’s approach to the National Conference. We believe it’s the best way of reaching an inclusive political settlement and one which stabilises the country and we hope that all Libyans should come together and engage in this process. And in particular, Mr President, we hope that a broad spectrum of Libyan society is represented at the National Conference. And we think we should work to ensure that and we look for participants to be drawn from as broader political, regional, tribal and ethnic spectrum as possible. And of course, as this Council always says on these occasions, we look for a proper representation of women. The Council has been united pretty well so far, Mr President, and we hope that we can rally to the UN action plan and we hope that we can help other members of the international community and ensure that the UN mission is able to implement the outcomes of the National Conference.
The SRSG referred several times to spoilers. And I think what the pattern of attacks he described and the sporadic clashes throughout the country obviously of great concern. I think the Council needs to be very clear, Mr President, Libya’s future cannot and will not be determined by spoilers who wish to maintain the status quo purely for their own gain while ordinary Libyan citizens continue to suffer. And the deteriorating situation on security that the SRSG described simply underscores how unsustainable the status quo is. So we believe, Mr President, that Libya’s political institutions need to work with the National Conference and take account of its outcomes. This will signal they have the best interests of the Libyan people at heart and that they’re committed to finding a durable political solution to the crisis. The Libyan people will find it very hard to understand if those institutions continue to fail to do what’s been asked of them.
I think, on the economy, I was very interested in what the SRSG said about oil. I think again we’ve got to support the UN mission and the international financial institutions in putting in place further economic reforms. I think we need even more targeted and effective sanctions against spoilers. The progress that’s been made with the Central Bank of Libya is also very welcome but obviously it needs to take place in parallel with work to reunify the Central Bank and the Central Bank in the east.
And finally, Mr President, on security, we do think the ceasefire is welcome, but it does look fragile. A sustainable security architecture right across the country will be necessary for Libya’s stability.
Thank you very much, Mr President.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Jeremy Wright’s Value of Culture Speech

Source: UK Government

Thank you very much for that introduction Martin.
I couldn’t agree more about the importance of the UK City of Culture and the huge impact it can have on the cities that hold the title.
As some of you will know, during its year as UK City of Culture, the city of Hull added 300 million pounds to the local economy and created 800 new jobs.
But perhaps more remarkably, and perhaps more importantly, over 95 per cent of its population attended a cultural event in the course of that year as City of Culture.
And in two years time, it’s Coventry’s turn. What Hull’s experience showed and what I am convinced Coventry’s experience will show, is that culture really matters.
It matters to the wellbeing of us as individuals, it matters to the health of our communities and it matters to the strength of our nation.
So first, let me say something about us as individuals.
Recent analysis of the Understanding Society survey painted a compelling picture of the impact that the arts can have on our development and wellbeing.
It showed how engagement with the arts is linked with higher happiness and self-esteem in young people, helping them to foster feelings of personal pride and achievement.
Adults who make more frequent visits to libraries, arts events or cultural sites tend to have better health and well-being than those who visit infrequently.
So culture plays a big part in making us healthier and happier people. But it also provides some of the answers to complex questions around the future of employment and productivity.
Creativity is increasingly recognised as a vital skill by employers and educators alike. In many ways, it is the most future proof skill we can have.
Automation is set to further transform the way we live and work. And this means the attributes that can’t be replicated by machines, like creativity, empathy and ingenuity, will be at a premium.
Nobody has yet developed an algorithm that can create an Oscar winning film, or create a TV show that drives profound social change, like BBC’s Planet Earth.
And the UK’s cultural and creative industries are a vital and growing part of our economy.
They made a record contribution in 2017, more than a 100 billion pounds for the first time.
And they will be providing good jobs for a long time to come.
The challenge is how to help our young people to see the range of careers that culture has to offer.
And wherever they come from and whatever they look like, to help them see themselves pursuing those careers.
But we don’t have to make a living through culture for culture to change the way we live.
How we engage with culture of all kinds can change the way we see the world and the way we see ourselves, and that is particularly true when we are young.
When I was 13, the same age as my daughter is now, I was persuaded to act in the school play. Now I don’t remember the reviews, most of them anyway, but I still feel the benefit to my self-confidence.
So much so that I can still make the connection between standing on that stage then and standing on this stage now, not to mention the stages, real and metaphorical, I have stood on in between, performing in the courtroom and in the Commons.
And it’s not just me of course.
Look at the alumni of our world renowned National Youth Theatre.
They are not only celebrated actors like Helen Mirren, Daniel Day-Lewis and Idris Elba, but also writers, musicians and journalists who have been able to transfer the skills they learned to thrive in their chosen career.
Skills of self-confidence, teamwork and dedication are eminently transferable, and they are learned through the opportunities arts and culture can offer.
And I want more young people to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.
And so in September I was delighted to announce a 5 million pound pilot to create youth performance partnerships across England.
This scheme will bring arts organisations and schools together to teach practical performance skills, both on and off stage, to those who wouldn’t have the chance otherwise.
It will also link primary and secondary schools with playwrights to give children the opportunity to perform new works by up and coming writers, from diverse backgrounds and from across the UK.
I’m pleased to have seen some really strong bids and I’m looking forward to making the final announcement of the successful bidders in the Spring.
I know my colleagues at the Department for Education share our ambition in these areas. And I will be working with them to bring the benefits of drama, dance, art, music and more to a greater number of young people.
But culture of course can make all of us healthier, happier and safer.
My department is working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, and NHS England, to support greater use of social prescribing, in particular to address loneliness and help people with their mental health.
Evaluation of existing projects in England has shown that prescribed arts and reading programmes can reduce anxiety, depression and lead to an increase in feelings of social inclusion – strengthening communities and giving people a sense of belonging.
And I very much welcome the Secretary of State for Health’s recent speech on the value of arts and health.
And I look forward to social prescribing becoming a mainstream part of NHS delivery, with 60 per cent of Clinical Commissioning Groups currently supporting the delivery of social prescribing projects.
So culture can offer us opportunities, teach us about ourselves and even help to keep us healthy.
But it can also help to offer us second chances. I had the privilege of serving as Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation for two years.
In that time I came across offenders who painted, sculpted and even sang opera as part of their rehabilitation. And in many cases it worked.
It worked because those things provided an outlet, they offered a sometimes new experience of excelling at something, and for some, indicated a lawful way to make a living.
We can all benefit from access to the arts and we should all be able to.
And so I welcome the Arts Council England’s clear indication that they want to use the next 10 year strategy to further increase participation.
The Creative People and Places programme has already been hugely important – reaching 2 million people who would not ordinarily participate in art and culture.
It gives local communities the chance to make decisions to shape the culture they want in their local area.
And I wholeheartedly support today’s announcement from the Arts Council that they will be investing an additional 27 million pounds in this programme.
Funding which will be targeted at places with the ‘least engaged’ population in arts and culture, and that will build on the success of other projects that have previously received funding.
I want every cultural organisation receiving public funding to have the objective of boosting participation.
Because culture is good for us all.
And it’s good for communities too, because our culture brings us together – through objects and experiences from which we can all take pleasure and pride.
And I am sure none of us can remember a time when Britain has needed that power to unite more.
So this week, of all weeks, I make the case for culture’s capacity to heal our wounds.
Whatever our views on the European Union, we are proud of…
Our film industry, which in the past five years has picked up 61 BAFTAs and 25 Oscars.
We are proud of the impact of our hit shows like Sherlock, which are being enjoyed in over 230 territories across the world.
And we are proud of our recording artists, who accounted for 8 of the top 10 artist albums in 2017.
We share our culture. It belongs to us all.
It can bring us together and we need it to do so now.
We are the same country that united to host the Olympics and Paralympics with such warmth, pride and passion only a few years ago.
A Games that not only showcased the world’s athletic talent but transformed attitudes to disability.
Its famous opening ceremony was a celebration not just of a great country but of a united one – proud of things we achieved together. We need to remind ourselves of that.
So this is a good time to make this case, and this is a good place to make it in.
The City of Coventry stands as an international symbol of reconciliation, of bridging divides.
It has achieved that not least through arts and culture.
From Philip Larkin to the Specials, this is a city that has helped to shape our nation’s cultural history.
And I am sure that record will be amplified in its year as City of Culture.
And of course it isn’t just in cities of culture where culture must thrive.
The year after Coventry’s year of culture we will hold a Festival that will celebrate the creativity that exists across the whole country.
More immediately, we announced in the Autumn Budget, we will be providing 55 million pounds as part of the Future High Streets fund, dedicated to support the regeneration of high street heritage assets.
Those much loved historic buildings that provide a sense of place, community identity and connectedness.
Another example is the Cultural Development Fund, which we launched as part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal.
This is an important part of the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy, which has seen over 150 million pounds jointly invested by Government and industry through the Creative Industries Sector Deal.
Designed to help cultural and creative businesses across Britain thrive and consolidate the country’s position as a global creative and cultural powerhouse, and further support the view that culture is an integral part of our society and economy.
And so this 20 million pound fund aims to strengthen our advantage as a creative nation by investing in culture, heritage and creativity to unlock economic growth and offer opportunities for regeneration.
In the bids we’ve had we’ve seen cultural and creative leaders joining forces with local authorities and higher education to form partnerships and create distinctive bids.
The quality of the bids was exceptionally high, and we should celebrate the fact that so many towns and cities are developing ambitions for investment in culture to drive growth.
And today I am delighted to announce the places that were successful in receiving funding.
The winning places are: Grimsby, Plymouth, the Thames Estuary in Kent and Essex, Wakefield and Worcester.
Together, these successful projects are set to create over 1,300 new jobs, train and upskill over 2,000 people and leave a lasting legacy in their local communities.
Take the Wakefield bid. Bringing together major and respected cultural organisations including Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth, this project will help promote Wakefield to the world.
And this is just one of several transformative projects that will be created thanks to this funding.
Grimsby will focus on using public art to revive its historic town centre, alongside creating a new film, TV and music production facility.
Plymouth will be using cutting-edge digital and immersive technologies to help bring to life the celebrations to mark the 400 year anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage.
The Thames Estuary bid will develop a world leading creative production corridor.
And Worcester will regenerate the city’s iconic railway arches, providing affordable workspaces and business support connecting local businesses with local creative talent.
I’d like to thank the Arts Council for administering this fund, and to all the expert panellists who helped us review the bids.
I hope the CDF will suggest to Local Enterprise Partnerships and to local authorities how they might focus their attention on cultural and creative investment as part of developing their local industrial strategies.
We also know that our libraries, leisure centres, historic buildings, museums and galleries help contribute to some of the healthiest and most vibrant communities up and down our country.
Through initiatives like the CDF and the recently launched Northern Cultural Regeneration Social Investment Fund, we can give the financial boost needed to help local communities grow and prosper.
Earlier this week we announced that 4 million pounds from our partnership with the Wolfson Foundation will go towards improving 35 museums and galleries across England, with over 80 per cent of this funding going outside London.
All these investments and improvements matter because strong communities make for a strong country.
And we are a nation that is renowned for its cultural heft. We are a soft power superpower.
The UK recently reclaimed top position in the Global Soft Power Index, driven by our artists, our writers and our cultural institutions. Now we are back on top, we need to stay on top.
And thanks to the great work of our creators, our culture is in demand all across the world.
UK creative and cultural sectors export 27 billion pounds worth of services to the rest of the world.
The exciting growth of digital culture means that our traditional creative institutions have been able to reach new global audiences, for example through live streams of theatre productions.
But they bring huge benefits to our tourism and heritage sectors as well, when people decide that they want to come here and see it for themselves.
One in five visitors to London go to the British Museum.
One Ed Sheeran track is thought to be responsible for 100,000 extra visitors to Framlingham Castle.
And Downton Abbey has helped Highclere Castle, Sherlock Baker Street, and Emily Bronte the moors of West Yorkshire. Our culture and our heritage reinforce each other.
And these cultural exports allow us to break down barriers and reach those that we may not be able to reach with traditional diplomacy.
Our culture and civilisation are our calling card to the world, saying loud and clear that we are committed to equality, tolerance and freedom.
And so I am proud that we are working hard to ensure the protection of cultural assets across the world.
For instance the DCMS funded the 30 million pound Cultural Protection Fund to help preserve and protect heritage in 12 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
And we have been joining the international effort to make sure that buildings, monuments and works of art threatened by Daesh can be given a new lease of life and can be seen and enjoyed by the whole world.
We will maintain these values of openness and cooperation.
And our close cultural links with our friends and partners in the EU, as shown by the agreement for the Bayeux Tapestry to come to England for the first time in 1000 years.
And we can develop new and enduring partnerships.
Only last week we announced that some of the masterpieces in the National Gallery, including van Gogh’s famous sunflowers, will go to Japan for the first time as part of Japan’s Olympic year.
As we equip our country for the future, a strong arts, heritage and cultural strategy isn’t just an afterthought, but rather central to our plans.
In a modern and interconnected world, the places that will be successful are those which can attract and retain highly skilled and talented people.
And places will not attract those people without a strong cultural and heritage offer.
That means our culture isn’t just a cause of our soft power and a great export product, although it is both of those things, but also a factor in inward investment decisions, at a local and national level.
Culture is one of the greatest pull factors. Build it, or stage it, and they will come.
China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors at the World Museum in Liverpool drew 600,000 visitors, and in turn brought in a staggering 78 million pounds to the local economy in just eight months.
We all see so many examples of culture proving its worth. But we need to make sure that we keep shouting about it.
Some of you may know there is a Spending Review coming up and so it is more important than ever that we all give the most robust possible evidence about the impact of what we do.
And I don’t just mean evidence of economic impact. But demonstrating that the superb experiences that you provide are benefiting all parts of the United Kingdom.
In terms of geographical spread, but also race, gender and social backgrounds.
Proving the social and cultural impact of our work will be an important part of our argument and I know it is an argument that we can make with real force.
The UK is already leading the world in our work to understand and properly measure the impact that culture can have.
I have asked my department to build on this, and DCMS will bring together academia and policy makers at a forthcoming summit on the measurement of cultural value.
So that we will be better placed to make fully rounded arguments about culture’s true value to society.
Because culture shows humanity at its best and the United Kingdom’s culture shows our country at its best.
Our capacity to create new experiences that transcend boundaries and make life more fulfilling for all of us.
Our capacity to make and do things that make us all laugh, cry, sing, dream or ponder together.
And what better moment than now to remind ourselves of what our culture can do.
Thank you very much.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: The importance of the sanctions regime in Sudan

Source: UK Government

Thank you Mr President. And may I, like others, start by thanking the Chair of the 1591 Committee Ambassador Wroneka for her briefing and our continued efforts as chair, based of course on her considerable personal experience.
It’s disappointing that due to a lack of consensus among the committee, she was unable to give a more comprehensive briefing on our activities.
Mr President, the subsidiary bodies of this Council, including its sanctions committees, constitute a vital part of our collective work to maintain international peace and security. We rely on – and we require – the wider UN membership to implement the sanctions regimes that are agreed by this Council and we have a responsibility to demonstrate transparency in the conduct of the work of the sanctions committees.
Mr President, the United Kingdom continues to support fully the 1591 sanctions regime and the Panel of Experts. I’d like to thank the Panel for their ongoing efforts to provide the committee with comprehensive analysis of the implementation of the sanctions regime and wider political and security dynamics in Sudan and the region.
Mr President, I take issue with the Russian delegation’s depiction of the position of the United Kingdom and of Western countries on sanctions in general and on Sudan in particular. It has no relation to the facts. Sanctions regimes and the criteria that underpin them are agreed by this Council, as set out under the United Nations Charter. That is proper. It is right. The United Kingdom will continue to act objectively on this and all sanctions regimes and we encourage all colleagues to do likewise.
In relation to the Panel of Experts’ activities, the United Kingdom welcomes the increased cooperation of the government of Sudan. However, we note concerns raised regarding the regular presence of government officials at some of the Panel’s meetings. We therefore encourage the government of Sudan to extend its cooperation to the Panel with full respect of its independent and investigative mandate.
As noted by the Chair, the Panel recently transmitted its final report to the committee. In this report, they singled out the clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army – Abdel Wahid and government of Sudan forces in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur as the main development during the reporting period. We have heard during briefings on UNAMID that these clashes have resulted in a significant number of civilian casualties, new displacement and human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by all sides. Reports of indiscriminate shootings, looting and burning of villages and conflict related sexual violence are particularly alarming.
There have been welcome improvements in the security situation in some parts of Darfur and we saw some progress in the peace process with the signing of a pre-negotiation agreement by the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi and the Justice and Equality Movement with the government of Sudan in Berlin in December. However, the clashes in Jebel Marra are a stark reminder that the situation in Darfur is not yet normalised and remains fragile. It is therefore incumbent upon this Council, Mr President, to ensure a responsible drawdown of UNAMID and to hold the government to account for progress towards the achievement of the exit benchmarks and indicators as we agreed in the past we adopted in December.
Additionally, the arms embargo continues to be violated by all armed groups and the government of Sudan. The Panel’s report details the destabilising flow of weapons into and out of Darfur. We call upon all parties to adhere to the arms embargo and remind the government of Sudan of the requirement to request approval from the 1591 Committee for transfers of military material to Darfur.
Mr President, the Chair also noted in her remarks that the committee was briefed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten. During her briefing, the SRSG reminded the committee that conflict-related sexual violence remains widespread in Darfur and that survivor and firsthand witnesses regularly identify members of the security forces as perpetrators. She also highlighted that sexual violence continues to be chronically under-reported due to fear of reprisals, acute stigma, lack of protection for victims and the inaction of law enforcement.
The United Kingdom welcomes the government’s engagement on a framework of cooperation to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence. Agreement and complete implementation of this framework is necessary. If the Sudanese Armed Forces and rapid support forces are to be delisted from the report to the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
I would like to highlight, Mr President, to draw attention to the important recommendations made to the committee by SRSG Patten. They were namely;
That sexual violence the elevated as a standalone designation criteria.

That the Panel of Experts be granted adequate resource and expertise to investigate sexual violence. The committee explicitly requests the Panel to investigate and document alleged incidents of sexual violence and for good;

Any future benchmarking process for the possible lifting of targeted sanctions include provisions related to sexual violence in Resolution 2429 and the prevention and accountability measures required under Resolutions 1960 and 2106.
The United Kingdom expresses its support for these recommendations and for the continued efforts of SRSG Patten and her office to address the worrying prevalence of sexual violence in Sudan.
Mr President, while it was not discussed by the committee, let me also take this opportunity to say a couple of words on the current situation in Sudan regarding the ongoing protests. The United Kingdom is concerned by the current situation. Security forces’ use of lethal force and arbitrary detentions in response to peaceful process protests is unacceptable and it should stop. We are appalled at reports that security forces have used tear gas and violence within hospitals against those being treated and against doctors providing medical assistance. We repeat our calls for restraint in policing the protests for the release of detainees and for accountability for those killed. The government of Sudan’s response to this process will shape the United Kingdom’s approach to engagement in the coming months and years.
Mr President, in concluding, let me again thank our Chair for her ongoing commitment, reiterate the importance of the sanctions regime in Sudan and express our hope that all members of the committee will be constructive as we approach the renewal of the 1591 regime next month.
Thank you Mr President.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: The Natural Laws of Brexit

Source: UK Government

The Natural Laws of Brexit: The future for environmental principles and governance post EU Exit
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency
Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum, Thursday, 17 January 2019

Good morning.
The tennis champion, Billie Jean King, said: “Pressure is a privilege”.
Standing in front of you today, beginning a 10 minute speech about what will happen with Brexit…
…I’m not sure that pressure always feels like a privilege.
But, I am lucky to represent the Environment Agency.
There, I see collaboration everyday as Government, NGOs, businesses, and local communities work together to enhance the natural environment, and manage the biggest political issue of our time: climate change.
Talking about that work – certainly is a privilege.
People react to pressure in different ways.
Around the world in 2019, we can see a kaleidoscope of human responses to political uncertainty.
Not all of it is as generous to our fellow citizens as we’d like – but pressure does strange things to people.
In these times, I would like environmentalists to set an example – by not rushing to judgement – on social media, or anywhere else – and working constructively with others to realise our shared, long term goals.
Like you – public servants are under pressure.
Despite a decade of austerity, my colleagues apply themselves with dedication and good humour. They create an organisation that is passionate about its purpose, and capable of much more besides.
In 2019, it is one of my priorities to make sure they are properly supported.
Their work to protect the country from the physical impacts of climate change protects people from severe weather, and makes the UK economy a safer place to invest in.
At the same time, our regulatory work provides ordinary people with a safeguard against unlawful business practices – (and, I am interested to read the details of the Labour Party’s report on regulation this week, to see how their proposals could help this work).
“Environmental principles and governance” may sound legalistic, but this is not an academic exercise.
The consultation on the first Environment Bill in 23 years received 176,746 responses.
We think there’s a lot to celebrate in it. We are ready to collaborate to turn the 25 Year Environment Plan’s ambitions into action.
We look forward to working with the Office for Environmental Protection, as we work with the Committee on Climate Change – which plays a similar role.
We recognise outstanding questions about its resource and ultimate powers, but we think the Office’s proposed approach – investigating complaints about environmental law and bringing about compliance through legal proceedings – could hold Government and public bodies to account effectively.
By putting the 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing, the Bill takes a world-leading step forward for environmental law, just as the Climate Change Act did 10 years ago.
Environmental principles influence the substance of law and policy, and guide decision-makers about how to apply the law.
Without them, deregulatory duties from other Departments could override environmental protections from Defra.
The inclusion of principles – along with Environmental Improvement Plans – means we would like to see this Bill play a role in the long-term management of the environment, regardless of what happens in politics in the short-term.

That said, there are risks.
Clause 4 of the Bill ensures that Ministers must “have regard to” the principles when making policy decisions.
However, those policy decisions risk being narrowly defined. We would like to be certain all Ministers will respect the principles.
Embedding them in our domestic framework of policy and law would ensure that law and policy makers respect environmental principles, and decision makers – including courts – may refer to them.
This Bill can help foster the collaborative working environment we aspire to.
The inclusion of a broad and transparent legal mechanism – to set environmental standards – would require business, government, regulators and NGO representatives to work together to establish what is achievable from an economic, social and environmental perspective.
Without it, standards could be set in Whitehall alone. But with it, wider civil society would be able to help safeguard environmental protection for generations to come.
We look forward to long term goals on specific ambitions in part two of the Bill.
For example:
Proposed legislation concerning the assessment and management of environmental risks – could help the country manage water better: by reducing damaging abstraction from rivers; by making improvements to long term planning for drainage and waste water; and by improving regional planning for water resources.

On waste, modernising the regulatory framework could allow us to take even more effective enforcement action against waste criminals.
We also think making businesses more accountable for the environmental impacts of their products would bring significant change – and we would welcome legislation making it easier for businesses and ordinary people to recycle.

Legislation for mandatory biodiversity net gain would be welcome. We would like to see Environmental Net Gain as a long term ambition. The Bill has the flexibility to make this happen in the future.
Finally, speaking in my capacity as UK Commissioner to the Global Commission on Adaptation, I would like to see hard targets on climate change adaptation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said we have 11 years to limit global temperature rise to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels.
But, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2019 – prepared for Davos next week – says: “Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening.”
If we don’t come together to deal with climate change, the impacts will tower over our present political disagreements. The accelerating physical risks mean environmental management and adaptation must be given more focus, alongside essential efforts to reduce emissions.
There is no point in building low carbon, energy efficient infrastructure that could be washed away in a flood or destroyed by heat.
This Environment Bill is a close relative of the Climate Change Act, and both are still relatively young.
By helping them to develop together – reducing emissions; making our country more resilient; and allowing continued prosperity – the UK can be a leader in a new and challenging global climate.
I began this speech by quoting a hero – Billie Jean King – but often it’s not the “pressure” itself that is the “privilege”.
The Environment Agency is a Category 1 responder, helping people in life-threatening incidents.
Last year, Environment Agency colleagues were part of the response to the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury.
They said:
“We come to the aid of other Category 1 responders (like Police, Fire and Rescue) when they lead a major incident. They, in turn, come to ours.”
“We all had to deal with a situation which was unprecedented whilst being unable to speak about it due to security restrictions.”
“Many hadn’t worked together before… We pulled together and relied on each other. People were approachable, caring, absolutely 100% there for the team. Sometimes it’s the small things that help – like humour and good spirits. We became a close group and have met socially since.”
“I’m a firm believer in staying positive: that’s what saw us through.”
The laws and policies discussed today are only two elements of a project that everyone in society has a stake in.
In a world where bitter disputes flair-up at the swipe of an i-phone, I would like us to apply the kind of inclusive and collaborative attitude displayed in Salisbury to our long-term environmental ambitions.
If Government, politicians, businesses, regulators, and NGOs, recognise that our environmental goals are more alike than not – and we can work together…
even if our methods may sometimes appear incommensurable
…then – in years to come – we may come to look back at January 2019… and say that the pressure was a privilege.

Thank you very much.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM’s statement at Downing Street: 16 January 2019

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

This evening the Government has won the confidence of Parliament.
This now gives us all the opportunity to focus on finding a way forward on Brexit.
I understand that to people getting on with their lives, away from Westminster, the events of the past 24 hours will have been unsettling.
Overwhelmingly, the British people want us to get on with delivering Brexit, and also address the other important issues they care about.
But the deal which I have worked to agree with the European Union was rejected by MPs, and by a large margin.
I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. And I intend to do so.
So now MPs have made clear what they don’t want, we must all work constructively together to set out what Parliament does want.
That’s why I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward.
One that both delivers on the referendum and can command the support of Parliament.
This is now the time to put self-interest aside.
I have just held constructive meetings with the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and the Westminster leaders of the SNP and Plaid Cymru.
From tomorrow, meetings will be taking place between senior Government representatives, including myself, and groups of MPs who represent the widest possible range of views from across Parliament – including our confidence and supply partners the Democratic Unionist Party.
I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has not so far chosen to take part – but our door remains open.
It will not be an easy task, but MPs know they have a duty to act in the national interest, reach a consensus and get this done.
In a historic vote in 2016 the country decided to leave the EU.
In 2017 80% of people voted for Parties that stood on manifestos promising to respect that result.
Now, over two and a half years later, it’s time for us to come together, put the national interest first – and deliver on the referendum.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: Rapid progress on peace agreement in Mali

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

Thank you Mr President.

Let me also thank Assistant Secretary-General Keita for her briefing and wish her well in her new role, since it’s the first time since I’ve seen her in her new role. And I also welcome the presence of Her Excellency Foreign Minister Camara and welcome her to the Council.

Mr President, I will focus largely on the implementation of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in my statement.

2018 saw renewed commitments by the Government of Mali and the signatory armed groups to the expedited and full implementation of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation. In March, we saw the parties commit to a roadmap for the implementation of priority actions and in October, the Pact for Peace was signed, recommitting to the swift and inclusive implementation of the Agreement.

The United Kingdom welcomes recent progress, notably the launching of the accelerated disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration (DDR) and integration process and the establishment of a working group on the participation of women in the peace process. We welcome the efforts of the Malian Prime Minister in support of the implementation of the Agreement, including the establishment of a new Ministry.

Mr President, these developments are welcome and they underscore the genuine importance that the Government attaches to the process. And having heard the Minister speak with passion and conviction, I know that she is also personally committed. However, there must be considerable and rapid further action in order to achieve the full implementation committed to by all parties to the Agreement.

For example, as noted in the Secretary-General’s report, progress has been made to establish ten district level interim administrations. But steps must now be taken to operationalise these interim administrations. Of 72 civil administrators appointed in June of last year, only seven, we understand, have been deployed to their duty stations.

It is now three and a half years since the Agreement was signed. Timelines in the March 2018 roadmap have passed unfulfilled. We are encouraged by the Government’s plans for 2019 and we hope that these will be successful in order for the Malian people to enjoy a more peaceful and prosperous future.

As ASG Keita recalls and the parties to Agreement will recall the Security Council’s decision last month to place three individuals on the 2374 sanctions list for impeding the peace process. The parties will also recall our expressed readiness to take further such measures if needed.

The United Kingdom therefore reiterates our previous calls on the Government of Mali and the Plateforme and Coordination armed groups to redouble their efforts and take the additional steps needed for the immediate and full implementation of the Agreement. As ASG Keita said there is an impatience around the table about the missed milestones we have heard about session after session in this Council.

Mr President, turning to the situation on the ground, we recognise the challenging circumstances in which the Malian Government and MINUSMA operate. The United Kingdom unequivocally condemns recent attacks against MINUSMA personnel and supporting contractors. We express our condolences to the families of those who have tragically lost their lives and we thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali and all of his staff for their important work in very challenging circumstances.

The United Kingdom is deeply concerned by the large numbers of civilians who continue to be affected by targeted terrorist attacks and intercommunal clashes, particularly in the centre of Mali.

We welcome the steps taken by the Government of Mali to re-establish state presence via their integrated security plan for the centre. However, to ensure that the root causes of the instability in the centre are sustainably addressed, and to enable MINUSMA to provide complementary support, the United Kingdom encourages the Government to also develop a comprehensive political strategy for the centre.

Mr President, the human rights situation remains concerning. However the United Kingdom welcomes the progress that has been made in the prosecution of members of the Malian defence and security forces who were accused of perpetrating human rights violations. To increase the people’s confidence in those defence forces, it is critical to thoroughly investigate all human rights violations and ensure justice and accountability.

Mr President, in conclusion, the United Kingdom welcomes recent steps that have been taken to foster stability in Mali. Now is the time for further action. Rapid progress is needed on the implementation of the peace agreement in a full, effective and inclusive manner while political, security and development efforts – particularly in central Mali – are intensified. And the United Kingdom stands ready to support. We are increasing our diplomatic presence in Mali, Niger and Chad. We have deployed Chinook helicopters to Operation Barkhane which provides logistical support to the G5 Sahel force. Our Department for International Development is spending $370 million across the Sahel in the last four to five years, and we will significantly increase our development assistance in coming years.

Thank you Mr President.


MIL-OSI UK: Speech: PM statement to the House: 16 January 2019

Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

On a point of order, Mr Speaker, I am pleased that this House has expressed its confidence in the government tonight.

I do not take this responsibility lightly.

And my government will continue its work to increase our prosperity, to guarantee our security, and to strengthen our Union.

And yes, we will also continue to work to deliver on the solemn promise we made to the people of this country to deliver on the result of the referendum, and leave the European Union.

I believe this duty is shared by every member of this House.

And we have a responsibility to identify a way forward that can secure the backing of the House.

To that end, I have proposed a series of meetings between senior parliamentarians and representatives of the government over the coming days.

And I would like to invite the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with me individually, and I would like to start these meetings tonight.

Mr Speaker, the government approaches these meetings in a constructive spirit and I urge others to do the same.

But we must find solutions that are negotiable and command sufficient support in this House.

And, as I have said, we will return to the House on Monday to table an amendable motion and to make a statement about the way forward.

The House has put its confidence in this government.

I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit, and ensure that this House retains the confidence of the British people.