Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Harriet Harman statement on the G7

Today, following Prime Minister's Question's, I gave the Labour Party's response to David Cameron's G7 statement.

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement. I welcome the conclusions of the summit, including the reaffirmation of the G7’s aid commitment and the commitment to fighting corruption and to fighting disease overseas. I particularly welcome the support for Nigeria.

As the Prime Minister said, this is the second G7 summit from which Russia has been excluded. It is right that there should be consequences for what it is doing in Ukraine, and Russia should continue to be excluded until President Putin changes course. Sanctions against Russia should remain until the Minsk agreements are fully implemented. European Union sanctions will expire at the end of July, and the Prime Minister has said that  

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they should be rolled over. He said in his statement that the G7 stands ready to take further restrictive measures, so will he argue at the next EU Council for sanctions to be strengthened?

At the summit, the Prime Minister acknowledged that sanctions are also having an impact on those who are imposing them, so it is right that G7 leaders agreed that more must be done to support those EU member states that are being particularly affected. Will the Prime Minister tell the House what that could mean in practice? 

The Prime Minister mentioned the fight against ISIL, and we have seen the horrors of what they are doing in Mosul. It is extremely worrying to see their advances in recent weeks, particularly into Ramadi. A strong and united approach to tackling ISIL continues to be vital. We back the UK’s contribution to that effort and welcome the extra 125 military trainers being sent to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi Prime Minister. 

As the Prime Minister said, the Iraqi Government must be supported in their efforts to push back ISIL’s advance and to restore stability and security across the country, so is there a need to further accelerate the recruitment, training and equipping of Iraqi forces? An inclusive and enduring political settlement is vital, so is Britain continuing to press the Iraqi Government to do more to reach out to Sunni tribes, who are key to that? 

The summit also reached important conclusions on the global economy and climate change. Can the Prime Minister confirm whether, in discussions on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, he sought specific assurances from President Obama that our NHS will be protected? On climate change, will the Prime Minister clarify whether the G7’s commitment to a global goal of greenhouse gas emissions reductions will, like our Climate Change Act 2008, be legally binding?

Most of the press coverage of the G7 summit was not about the global economy, climate change or ISIL; it was once again about the Tories rowing about Europe, and it was entirely of the Prime Minister’s own doing. On Sunday, he spent the flight to Germany boasting to journalists that he would sack any Cabinet Minister who did not toe the line on the referendum. On Monday, a loyal Minister was dispatched to the “Today” programme to drive home the Prime Minister’s tough line.

Later that very day, however, the Prime Minister sounded the retreat: the travelling press had apparently misheard—it was a case not so much of collective responsibility for the Cabinet, but of collective mishearing by the travelling press pack. That sometimes happens on a flight: your ears get blocked. The Prime Minister graciously and kindly said to them:

“If you’re not certain about something I said…ask”.

May I say how grateful I am for that new approach? There are things that people are still uncertain about, so I ask the Prime Minister: what are his reform proposals and his red lines? Will he say clearly now whether, when he has finished negotiating and he comes back arguing for a yes vote, he will sack Ministers who do not agree with him, or does he agree with the Mayor of London, who says that Ministers can vote as they want? What about the Work and Pensions Secretary? Will the quiet man be here to stay, or will he be allowed to turn up the volume? 

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Yet again, another international summit vital to our national interests has ended in the usual way: a Tory Prime Minister fighting with his own party on Europe.

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