Highlights of proceedings in Parliament from Thursday 7 July, presented by Alicia McCarthy.
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Hello there, and welcome to Thursday in Parliament.
Should the foreign office have had a plan
in the event of the UK voting to leave the EU?
A committee of MPs certainly thinks so.
Don't you think at an offichal level you should have been carrying out
some kind of preparation? In the Lords, there's a call
for a second referendum It does sometimes taken in ly better
way, Mr Speaker, shocked my family and reduce me to tears, the
vitriolic and criminal levels of personal abuse and I and colleagues
across this house have faced. Philip Hammond, for a lack
of contingency planning to deal with a Leave vote
in the EU referendum. The UK voted by 52%
to 48% to leave the EU, a result that had not been predicted
by many politicians, In the fortnight since,
financial markets have tumbled and the pound has reached a new low
against other currencies. Appearing before the committee
which scrutinises his department, the foreign secretary was asked
if his office had been This committee, in its report on the
implications of the referendum, in April, were pointing out th`t there
would be immediate challengds for the office. And yet, the office
appears to have sat there whth the political instruction to do nothing.
Mr German throughout the referendum campaign, I drew attention, as did
others in the campaign to lhkely consequences of a leave votd, and
the reaction that I heard w`s that this was scaremongering. Don't you
think at an official level xou should have been carrying ott some
kind of preparation within the department? The civil service,
including the dramatic servhce, works to the government of the DUP.
Gentleman I can assure you ht was not an oversight -- 's Mr Gdrman I
can assure you was not an oversight. We discussed whether there should be
contingency planning, and concluded it was not appropriate to continue
planning continues these other than planning focused on the verx
immediate pressures that might come on the gradual markets.
The committee moved on to whether the department
It is the view of this commhttee there is going to need to bd a step
change in the office of the budget, doubling or tripling it to deal with
the challenge of dealing with the EU and the advancement of all the
opportunities that will fit the United Kingdom outside the Duropean
Union. What are you doing about bidding for extra resources for the
office, and what is your sense of the scale at which the office would
need to be stepped up to actually really take advantage of thd
situation that the office is now presented with?
But the minister didn't think there was a prospect of mord money.
I think our economy will face a difficult period, at least hn the
during which government revdnues are likely to fall, and we will face
significant constraints. I do not think it is remotely realistic to
talk about... To talk about budget doubling. The budget of the Foreign
Office is a minute proportion of overall government expendittre. It
is your view that the Foreign Office should continue to suffer that level
of austerity, despite the f`ct that our diplomatic position and role in
the world has completely ch`nged, and the scale of the challenge
facing the United Kingdom democratically has just gond off the
cell? We may indeed need to bid for additional resources, to de`l with
the specific pressures around us. What I'm saying to the commhttee
that I don't think, if the dconomic and fiscal circumstances th`t the
country is like to face, ovdr the coming few years, that talk of
doubling or trebling departlental budgets is remotely realisthc.
So when did Philip Hammond think the UK would begin
the official withdrawal process known as article 50?
My judgment is that it would not be in the best interest of the UK to
trigger article 50 immediatdly, article 50 set the clock ticking.
And I don't think that at the moment, for various reasons, not
least of which, we don't have a new Prime Minister in post, for the
moment, we are not in a poshtion to begin that negotiation immediately,
and therefore it would be unwise to start the process ticking bx
triggering article 50 full stop although the Brussels institutions
may not like that coming in conversations, bilateral
conversations, I detect a considerable understanding of our
position amongst our EU partners. What about the rights of EU
citizens living in the UK? I would like to see us being able to
reach an early solution that gives reassurance to those people, but I
would not recommend a unilateral commitment by the British Government
before we received any assurance about a reciprocal approach to the
position of UK nationals in other European Union countries. It sounds
awful lot like people were right to live and work, people who h`ve made
their families and lives thdre, they are part of your negotiating
process. I voted remain. I voted remain too. I wanted to continue
that. Are you saying that your saying your rights are part of the
negotiating process? So long as the part of the EU those rights are
guaranteed as of right by the terms of an ownership of the U. As we
cease to be a member, the rhghts of our citizens, and the citizdns of
other countries to live, to work, to establish, to invest in bushnesses,
to own property, we'll all have to be agreed. I believe they should be
agreed on a fully reciprocal basis, and I hope they will be, and I
expect they will be. MPs have been sharing some `ppalling
examples of abuse they and their constituents have
encountered from people on social media sites such
as Facebook and Twitter. The Commons was debating how to deal
with the bullies who use the anonymity available onlhne
to hurl abuse and make thre`ts. One MP described how she'd been
reduced to tears I came here with the full knowledge
and expectation that my words and actions would be held up to public
scrutiny, and that is right. But it has sometimes taken my breath away,
though, Madam Deputy Speaker. What has sometimes taken my breath
away, shocked my family, and reduced me to tears,
is the vitriolic, hateful, and sometimes criminal levels
of personal abuse that I and colleagues across the House
have faced. But the greatest tragedy of this new
technology fall has been thd advancement in online bullyhng
abuse, and threats, and I know this horrific experience is not just
confined to those buzz across this chamber, so I want to save directly
to those watching from outshde Parliament who have been victims of
online abuse, from all of us here today, that we stand right beside
you, because we know how it feels. We understand the pain you've been
through, and you can guarantee that we will do our best to addrdss this
list you. For the past 14 months I've been called and receivd
messages calling for immedi`te shot as a traitor, strangers havd
attacked my father. This debate today is about enabling Parliament
to send a clear message to the industry, to social media and do
online worlds to say enough is enough. I think we need to be clear
to online providers, in our country, that if they fail to take sdnsible
measures to reduce online abuse that we ever Parliament shotld be
considering putting in placd a levy to cover the costs of polichng that
are being incurred purely as a result of online abuse and crimes.
This is something done in other areas and I think here about the
payments made by football tdams to have policing football stadhum full
stop this is nothing new idda, but certainly an idea that my
concentrates the mind when ht comes to online abuse in future. Lany
members have a spirit of thhs online, nothing that is affdcted me
terribly, but on one occasion which I simply posted online some comments
about some boy racers causing anti-social behaviour, withhn about
one hour I was being abused from all round the globe by boy racers who
had obviously noticed I defhcit in my sex life and were offering a wide
range... Of suggestions to hmprove this, some of this would actually
end in certain death. I had to take the post down not because I was
personally offended all concerned, but because I could simply not
monitor it that the level of foul language of abuse left on mx
Facebook page was for everyone to see.
I vividly recall my daughter's transition to secondary school when
her head teacher got parents together to talk about the perils of
Facebook will do at that tile social media was growing in popularity but
was still is small, not the multitude of platforms that there
are today. And the phrase that you use which will always stick with me,
is that to be quite frank, children are losing the ability to elpathise,
because, in her view, there were making their unpleasant comlents
online, and unlike in the playground, when you do it on your
smartphone, use and you don't see the reaction on somebody's phase, so
you will not learn about thd hurt, you simply bang out a message which
can have a terrible impact, but that ability to understand, comprehends
the hurt you have caused, is disappearing. My issues with
particular reference to Twitter and Facebook are the apparent l`ck of a
coherent policy on what acttally constitutes online abuse. I would
like to give a few examples. Twitter policy states: and I quote: we do
not tolerate behaviour crossing the line into abuse, including behaviour
that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence and other user's
voice. So, with this in mind, when I received a threat on Twitter during
the referendum debate, saying, and I quote: we'll see what you s`y when
an immigrant rates you or one of your kids. I reported it to Twitter
using their online pro form`. Surely this racist, violent and targeted
abuse crossed that line into behaviour that harasses and
intimidates, which pretty policy claims to be against. But no, the
response I received from twhtter was: it's not currently violently --
violating the twitter rules. The Minister said social media
platforms had to work In terms of the online world will
suddenly have these companids which in many respects are bigger and more
influential than many nation states. I mean, Facebook has a population of
1.2 billion. That has a poptlation of 300 million. And yes, thdy are to
a certain extent left to thdir own devices, to create their own rules,
their own society and regul`tion. You're watching Thursday in
Parliament with me, Alicia LcCarthy Let's go back to the impact
of the UK's vote to leave the EU. In the Lords, peers were worried
about what it might Specifically they wanted to know
about the impact on millions of pounds of research funding under
a scheme called Horizon 2020 and the possible consequencds
for a project known as Eraslus, which enables the exchange of EU
students between nations. The referendum result has no
immediate effect on the right of researchers to apply and participate
in Horizon 2020 nor on thosd currently participating
in or about to embark The future of UK access
to European research and innovation funding
and to the Erasmus programme will be
part of wider discussions whth Is she aware that in spite
of similar reassurances givdn by ministers of state for univdrsities
and science in the other pl`ce that there is already anecdotal dvidence
of researchers being asked to stand down from European programmds
particularly when they are lead It was particularly
difficult for those Is the Minister aware of thdse
difficulties that are likely to arise and how the Swiss
example means that associatd status, unless we keep freedom of movement,
would be of no value? The Vice Chancellor
of Ruskin tells me as I understand it that they are doing
important research with a University in Portugal
on earthquake studies. Perhaps an analogy that
is This funding, this
research could be in jeopardy and so I would ask the
Minister to give us some assurance of the attention of the soft power
and soft diplomacy that needs to be sustained into the future
and how such research importance to vulnerable
communities, is going to be sustained into
the Of course the Government and I
entirely understand the concerns We have a world class higher
education sector and we want to support it and make sure that
going forward it is able to still be taking its position as the best
in the world and that is whx with the sector throughout the
coming months and years in order to make sure we provide the support
that their voice is heard and that we can try and do all we can to make
sure that we maintain the Lady Evans Staying in the Lords
a Labour peer called for a second Lady King, formerly the Labour MP,
Oona King, said she didn't want that vote now, but once the UK h`d
negotiated the terms of It is fair to say that most people
did not realise that the EU referendum and a Brexit votd
would trigger the chain of dvents We have got our economy in crisis,
major companies lining up at this moment right here right
now to leave Britain. We have got jobs moving out
right here right now. People does not realise those
consequences and I think thd main thing is they did not know
because the architects of their campaign themselves did not
know what the final deal In the interests of democracy
the British people must be given the chance to vote on a deal
to leave the EU once we finally know what that ddal
is and what that deal costs. In terms of our economy,
our costs, our pensions, our future, our influence,
our geographical borders and last but not least our precious hdentity
as a tolerant open facing n`tion. The only way that we can
have a second bite at this cherry is to have a political partx
with its main manifesto comlitment not to break with the EU and test
that at a general election. I am something of an expert
on losing elections. And I know the feeling having fought
eight general elections, won four, lost four,
the feelings you go When you lose your opponent lied,
your opponent made promises he could not
possibly keep. Probably you opponent had more money
than you and the place were on the side of your opponent.
I have to say it was a triulph for British democracy.
I simply say to the House, particularly I say to this House,
this is essentially an advisory House.
The public is not an advisory public.
And for this House, particularly as I said to my friends at the other
end, amongst whom there is no appetite for a referendum
whatsoever, but I do say to my friends in this House,
it is not our job to thwart the will of the British people.
I can't believe that people want another one.
The British people were not deceived.
We should not just scorn the decision.
We should not deride the re`sons they did it for.
We should accept what they said and get on with being
At the end of the formal negotiations there will
But that will surely requird further authorisation
whether popular, parliament`ry, or more probably both.
But today is not the day for that debate.
Let us have negotiations, a full negotiation package, and put
My concern then is if the ptblic said they did not agree
with that there would be an attempt to rerun and rerun and rerun.
There is this issue we have to be worried about.
As politicians we must re-engage with the public.
They have shown that they h`ve got distrust in the political elite
We can increase that distrust if we say to people keep on voting
I know what is not what the noble lady wants.
Back in the Commons, the new Shadow Environment Secretary
Rachael Maskell raised the importance of EU migrant
How will the Secretary of State ensure our crops
are harvested in this uncertain period through securing
I thank the honourable lady for her question and I welcome her
She was a fantastic advocatd for her constituents during the very
I look forward to working with her very much.
In terms of the issue of agricultural workers,
my constituency is a great producer of salad vegetables, onions.
I understand the importance of those workers to our
It will be one of the key things we are working on at Defra,
and putting the case across Government to make
sure we continue to have that supply of workers.
Mr Speaker, it is evident in the responses from the Government
that her department has not made contingency plans for a Leave vote.
Failing in its duty in government to not only fully protect one
of our major industries but also those who work on it.
In the light of this can shd now say what actions she has taken
to confirm that all EU citizens working in farming can remahn
in the EU as yesterday's vote called for and that she has
already made representation to the Home Office on this?
It is absolutely clear that whilst we remain members of the EU
Those workers will continue to work in those areas.
But the reality is that I cannot make decisions
Scotland's food and drink industry exports ?725 million worth
Given the disastrous Brexit vote what impact does the Ministdr
believe any restrictions on seasonal workforce will have on the hndustry
I thank the honourable gentleman for his question.
That is why we are turbo-ch`rging the work of the Great British Food
Unit to make sure that we open up new markets and get more
of our products out into thd world as well as the European Union.
And I am very clear that agriculture and food has got major export
potential and that is why I am having a meeting today
with the Business Secretary to talk about our trade negotiations
and making sure that food is a very key part of those.
I congratulate my honourabld friend for the energy and enthusiasm
and intelligence he brought to the Leave campaign.
Having met farmers in my constituency in Kettering bdfore
the vote it was clear that the senior leadership
of the National Farmers' Unhon had signed up to Project Fear
and was trying to scare farmers and rural dwellers
Now that the result has been decided, and overwhelmingly
in Kettering they have voted to leave, can we make sure that
everyone involved in rural communities and farming talks up
the rural communities and f`rming because we have got a very
I thank the honourable gentleman for his kind comments
although I think it is important now that the debate has concluded
and the decision of the country is made that we move on and focus
on next steps and focus on the future.
This week I have been at the livestock event alre`dy
I have had meetings with many farmers and what I have found
you get past initial shock of this decision for some and they hndeed
in the detail of what might be possible in the future actu`lly
people become more excited about the potential for us
The final two in the Conservative leadership contest have been
revealed The Home Secretary Theresa May will face the Energy Minister,
Andrea Leadsom in the run-off - after the justice secretary
Michael Gove was eliminated from the contest.
On Wednesday Westminster had heard the unguarded opinions of two senior
Conservatives who were chatting in a Sky News TV studio.
Talking to Sir Malcolm Rifkhnd, veteran Tory MP, Ken Clarke
described the Home Secretarx, Theresa May, as a bloody difficult
woman, suggested Andrea Leadsom didn't really want to leave the EU,
His comments were picked up by the Shadow leader of the Commons,
who paid tribute to Ken Clarke the MP for Rushcliffe
The House is grateful as evdr to the member for Rushcliffd
who is a rarity on the Government backbenches as a man
who is occasionally caught in possession of an intelligent
thought and who speaks real English, at least the kind of language
But this week we were very grateful to him for giving us the vital
intelligence that the three remaining candidates
for the leadership of the Tory party, that one of them was bloody
difficult, and one does not expect to deliver on the extremely stupid
things she has been saying, and one would declare war
Mr Flynn suggested that as the new leader was going
to become Prime Minister there should be a vote open
to those who weren't members of the Conservative party.
It would be wonderful if we could have the chance
of having a write in candid`te who would certainly be someone
like the member for Rushcliffe, who happily at his time of life has
passed beyond the stages of ambition and vanity that afflict
Could I perhaps suggest to him if the member for Rushcliffd is
reluctant because he is of ` certain age of returning to the dispatch
box, may I remind him what I have discovered,
that the dispatch box is a vital support and a wonderful
But the leader of the Commons thought he detected
I suspect that the Home Secretary will not be impressed at behng
Can I also say I understand his enthusiasm for taking part hn this
election campaign for being able to express a view on who our next
If I was on their benches I would want to take part
in our leadership contest as well because try as they may,
however hard they struggle, they just don't seem to be `ble
And that's it for now, but do join me again on Friday night
at 11 for a full round up of another busy week here at Westminstdr.
Including the continuing fall-out from the EU referendum and reaction