Below is the transcript of a speech given on the state of the current EU negotiations by the Head of the European Research Group, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, at Churcher’s College, Petersfield, 25th January 2018
“First of all thank you very much for inviting me here. I am delighted to be the guest of Helen Jolliffe, who is a great family friend and Godmother to my second son, Thomas. Helen is a wonderful godmother so when she asked me to come I was really honoured to be invited and accept.
It is also very appropriate that I should be speaking at Churcher’s College because, as you know, it was founded in 1722 by Richard Churcher to educate local boys in the skills needed for service in the Merchant Navy.
This ties in with the subject of this evening’s talk ‘The UK in a post-Brexit World’ because this country has such a history of being a trading nation. The Merchant Navy goes back into the mists of time, trading with foreign nations. It is, therefore, wonderful to think how ambitious we were in 1722 to be setting up a school to ensure that those skills were available.
We want to be doing the same now. We want to have a bigger ambition for the 21st Century than people like Mr. Churcher had for the 18th Century. There is a great Brexit opportunity and some really obvious benefits that we can get that improve the condition of the people.
This is currently at risk. The negotiations that are about to begin sound as if they aim to keep us in a similar system to the Single Market and the Customs Union. ‘Close alignment’ means de facto the Single Market, it would make the UK a rule taker like Norway, divested of even the limited influence we currently have.
90% of global trade growth is expected to come from outside the EU but we would be tying ourselves to a system that seeks to protect the current declining status quo, rather than engaging with the challenge of the next generation.
Conformity with EU rules will also prevent us from making meaningful trade deals with other nations where we could secure reduction of the non-tariff barriers and regulatory distortions which are often worse than the tariffs. They impose such high regulatory burdens on importers that no-one bothers and they are not there for either safety or scientific reasons but for protectionist ones. No sensible nation would negotiate with the UK for a marginal gain when we would merely be a vassal of the EU.
The Customs Union is worse. It protects industries that we often do not have and helps continental producers on the back of UK consumers. The EU-funded CBI, that lover of vested interests, wants it to favour inefficient encumbrance against poor consumers. Whether it is ‘a’ or ‘the’ Customs Union it is a protectionist racket that damages the interests of the wider economy.
This would deny us some of the early Brexit advantages which relate so much to trade, to the ability to trade freely. Economic arguments for one way free trade, let alone for trade deals, are well known. For example, 21% of people’s income is spent on average on food, clothing and footwear. These are the highest tariffed areas in the Customs Union. 11.8% on clothing, 11.4% on footwear. Food is so heavily tariffed and obstructed that it is almost impossible to import.
This hits most on the poorest in society, the poorest who spend an even higher proportion of their income, even above the 21%, on food, clothing and footwear. The first gain that we can have is by removing all the tariffs on those goods which the UK does not produce thus giving a real terms income boost, most of all to the poorest in our society. To that group of people who Theresa May spoke about during her famous speech on the doorstep of Downing Street when she had just kissed hands and become Prime Minister. Just the people that Mrs. May wanted to help. I think Mrs May’s words were inspirational and should underpin what the Government does.
The United Kingdom, though, should be more ambitious than this and take the benefits of the best regulatory models and then challenge for global technological leadership. We know from Mr. Churcher in 1722 that we have long been one of the World’s great trading nations.
Despite our relatively small geographic size we are still the second biggest exporter of services and one of the largest foreign investors, the United States being first in both cases. We are also an open and welcoming nation not least to foreign investment. We have both a large stock and regular inflows of foreign investment coming into this country, by some measures second only again to the United States and even bigger than China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).
Such a nation should take responsibility for its own future and become a role model for the rest of the world. Already two of our universities are the best in the world. We have a high tech sector and are the site of the world’s premier financial centre. We must build on this comparative advantage in the knowledge economy. Surely we must become an innovative hub, a centre and driver of the world’s technological advance.
To do this we must ensure that our regulatory system promotes competition on its merits and thus enterprise. We should succeed or fail based on the quality of our ideas and our capacity for hard work, not on the ability to lobby the Government to get regulations or laws to obstruct competitors. Our system cannot be tied to regulations that stifle innovation.
At the moment the UK, in the European context, is the best of a bad bunch. Europe lags far behind other comparable regions in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s ranking of the rate of business start-ups. All we manage is to be the best in a sclerotic Europe. Compared to the dynamism of the United States and Asia the UK has a long way to go to translate its brainpower, its little grey cells, into entrepreneurial companies.
To build this capacity is to make our nation ready for the next hundred years. In the future there will be a premium on creativity and judgement, in industries that rely on intelligence as opposed to pure manufacturing. The jobs that people, as opposed to Artificial Intelligence, will do will be in precisely the space where Britain has the greatest advantage.
This does not mean a nation of computer scientists. Innovation and creativity can be applied to the leading edges of any industry and it is these leading edges that Britain is in a position to capture. In a truly competitive, enterprise environment no one can know precisely what those industries are. Our success will depend on our ability to capture the most valuable parts of increasingly complex supply chains.
An example of this is the iPhone. iPhones are manufactured in China but the value is added by the research and marketing being done in the US which reaps the bigger advantage. Consequently, China sees only 6% of the value created.
As I said, we do not know precisely where these areas will be but it will always be important. Interestingly, New Zealand, which produces only 3% of the world’s milk, controls 30% of the value of the global dairy market. It is not just high tech areas that will be dependent upon this knowledge economy. It is even in traditional areas such as agriculture.
Taiwan has developed a system of growing vegetables in a water solution rather than soil using a patent formula of antagonist micro-organisms which boost production with low nitrate levels. It wants to develop this in York and should be encouraged to do so.
Unfortunately, in the United Kingdom there are barriers which may prevent us getting to this bright future. First, the UK-EU relationship may continue to tie the UK to the kind of regulatory framework which has made Europe so inefficient. This would be bad for the economic environment in the UK but it would also be bad for the ability of the country to deal with other, faster growing nations.
A classic example of this is data. If the UK were tied to the European approach to data protection and data flow – a very restrictive one – it will limit the ability of our country to embrace the fourth industrial revolution: big data and all that this offers. Without data flow none of those applications are possible.
It is all very well for UK Ministers to extol the virtues of artificial intelligence and high tech as they are doing now almost, as we speak, amongst the panjandrums in Davos. But no one will take them seriously if they do not have the ability to set their own regulations in this area. The European regulatory system is simply not conducive to the development of entrepreneurial companies. Those companies will continue to come from the United States and Asia. For the UK to be active in this area it needs regulatory autonomy. As Michael Gove has put it: the EU is analogue in a digital age.
Second, the UK must be in a position to encourage pro-competitive behaviour across the globe. Highly developed agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represent the blueprint for trade discussions in new areas involving services that rely on the cross border supply of data.
It is noteworthy that the EU was unable to agree to cover new services like these in CETA whereas the TPP members were. In order to do this the UK must be able to determine its own regulatory system and negotiate freely with others.
Third, contracting trade deals is difficult and requires great flexibility. Any restrictions, such as the EU having an effective veto on UK changes of regulation or the UK instantly losing access if there were any deviation without some pre-agreed mechanism to manage divergence, will take the UK out of the negotiating game.
Other countries would not think it was worth their while to discuss trade deals with us. We would merely appear to be a mini-me version of the European Union and thus be of no interest to other countries.
There are disturbing signs that the EU’s position on a host of internal market distortions will mean that it is unable to play in this new world. These are data flow, prescriptive regulations like REACH chemicals regulation, the precautionary principle in agriculture, local content rules in broadcasting which are mainly there to protect unwatchable French films.
In addition to being unable to discuss new services involving data flow in CETA it could not discuss them in the Trade in Services Agreement in the WTO either. A plurilateral agreement that like-minded countries agreed in order to improve trade in services around the world.
This prompted the Americans to question why the EU were in the discussions in the first place. Why were it there if it were not willing to do anything? For the United Kingdom, dependent as she is on our service exports and the creation and realisation of ideas, it would be foolish indeed to put our future into such constrained hands.
If the UK can achieve the independence necessary it can become a rule-setter in the world. It can export with its trading partners ideas about how best to create a governance structure that will spur innovation and enterprise. Its future can be true to its history.
As I said, encapsulated in this College, it is vital to ensure that competition, not cronyism, determines the future prospects of our citizens. Competition allows aspirational societies to be formed where people truly believe that they succeed or fail on their own merits and not some crony interest.
Britain’s success as a nation can be attributed to the application of this competitive principle. It has been translated through free trade and free markets and has allowed people to come together to meet each other’s needs in voluntary exchange.
We have reached the portals of tremendous possibility. If the UK is to execute an independent trade policy then it can play a role in ensuring that there is an injection of wealth into the global economy. This will improve the lot of all mankind and we, the British people, will be propelled forward on this rising tide.
To paraphrase Pitt the Younger we will have saved ourselves by our exertion and we will have saved the world by our example. If, on the other hand, this possibility is taken off the table then Brexit becomes only a damage limitation exercise. The British people did not vote for that. They did not vote for the management of decline. They voted for hope and opportunity and politicians must now deliver it.
If we do not, if we are timid and cowering and terrified of the future, then our children and theirs will judge us in the balance and find us wanting. ‘Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin’ – as the writing on the wall said at the feast of Balthazar. We have our future and our destiny in our hands.
To embrace the world boldly with this new policy is not a foolish leap into the unknown. Sometimes the bold move is the safest one. As Sir Walter Raleigh said: “fain would I climb, yet fear I to fall.”
For too long our negotiators seemed to have been cowed by the EU. Their approach seems to be that we must accept what the EU will allow us to do and build from there. This is no way to negotiate and it is no way for this country to behave. We must negotiate from the international trading framework in which both the EU and the UK sit as equal partners, whose provisions govern our behaviour. We must also not confuse the EU’s opening bid with its bottom line, it is not Holy writ. If we came out with our negotiating objectives nobody in Europe would assume these were set in stone.
If the EU and UK, who start out with exact regulatory alignment, cannot agree some mechanism to recognise each others’ regulations and one that manages divergence without the UK being prevented from exercising its independence, then who can? Both sides’ negotiators must not fail here and I am confident that as long as we are strong and negotiate properly they will not.
I have talked about who we can be as a nation. We must also understand our particular role in the world at this critical time. The world’s economic architecture is stuck and the UK is expected by the rest of the world to advocate policies that will release its energy.
There has been no concluded WTO round for twenty-three years, while indicators show that actual industrial output and global trade are stalled. If the UK is unfettered by the deadweight of the EU then it will play a role in jumpstarting the global economic system. This will unblock many initiatives that have been gummed up for too long.
We must never forget that wealth can be created or destroyed, but it is much harder to create than destroy. We are coming to a fork in the road. We can take the familiar path that leads to a gradual erosion of our wealth, our success and ultimately our values, by staying close to the EU and aligning our regulations to theirs.
We could simply manage decline. Or we could take another road that may look to us now like an unfamiliar one. In which case our best days lie before us. From the Agricultural Revolution to the repeal of the Corn Laws to the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution to being co-architect of the post-war system the UK has led the way.
Britain has been called on to be a shaper not only of our destiny but that of the whole world. If we get it right by opening up our markets, seeing the benefits of free trade and regulations that encourage enterprise others will follow. The EU has too many pen pushers to dare, the US is too big to care. Only a medium sized, flexible economy can lead the way and the next great economic revolution should be made in Britain for the benefit of the world.”
Transcript courtesy of The Freedom Association
As European Union negotiators can’t see any reason to support Brexit, they will continue to keep the European Union’s best interests in mind — which is to say, they will try to stop, slow, obfuscate, or otherwise derail the Brexit process by almost any means possible.
And why shouldn’t they feel that way? The EU is a net beneficiary of £8.6 billion annually courtesy of the UK, so there’s little incentive to stop a contribution that is larger than that of all other EU-member countries except Germany.
If there are any Brexit benefits to the European Union, nobody has bothered to tell EU negotiators or EU media channels.
So how would anyone know if there will be Brexit benefits for the EU when the UK government hasn’t mentioned them once? And yet there are likely many Brexit benefits — for both sides — that just aren’t being discussed.
How to Sell a Product or Idea
When you’re trying to sell apples to a potential customer, giving them a nonstop spiel about how much *you* like apples won’t help you sell many apples!
But if you hand your potential customer a hot glass of mulled apple cider and walk them past appealing displays of fresh apples, followed by a pleasant tour through the on-site bakery bursting with the aroma of piping hot apple pies and offer them a tantalizing sample at the exact moment their interest in apples is high, you’ll sell more apples.
If you’re selling cars, you don’t spend your time telling the customer about the specifications of the car and how it can transport you here and there with ease. Any ol’ car can do that.
Instead, you answer their questions about the car, you offer a test drive so they can experience how much better it drives, sounds, and looks than their present car, all of which work together to help them fall in love with the car you’re selling.
If you’re a really smart salesperson, you’ll slap a dealer plate on the new car and let your customers take it home for the weekend so they can show it off to their comrades who will help convince them the new car is much better than their old jalopy.
And have you ever noticed that beer commercials don’t show you endless cans of beer and a quick snapshot of the brewery?
Breweries are highly experienced marketers and they want to show you good-looking people having a great time socializing with their friends and family in a picturesque setting or while engaged in enjoyable activities.
Look at that product placement! There’s the can of beer right beside those sizzling steaks on the barbecue while those great people in the background are enjoying their evening.
Considering a run to the beer store? Well yes you should — because you’re a good person, you work hard, you love spending quality time with your friends and family and you deserve a summer’s evening just like the people on that commercial. That’s the message.
Marketing types call this Feature/Benefit selling, ‘Selling the sizzle, not the steak’ which isn’t about what the product or service actually is, it’s about what it can do for you and how it can make you look or feel happier and better.
What Isn’t Theresa May Doing?
She isn’t selling the benefits of Brexit to the EU.
We know there are many benefits for Britons but even that has been under-sold.
In the early days following the Leave referendum it might’ve looked to Remainers as though Brexit could still go either way, so Theresa May was probably wise to move cautiously at first. But that time has passed. Almost every person and business in Britain wants to get beyond the present period of uncertainty and get on with creating a fresh start for the UK outside the European Union.
The right time to begin crafting a trade agreement that works even better than the present trading system has arrived. And now that we’re at this point in time, under-selling the benefits of Brexit to UK and EU citizens is not the way forward.
What Is The Way Forward?
In a word, Vision.
Theresa May needs to put on her ‘Steve Jobs hat’ and figure out what the best possible Brexit vision looks like from both the UK and EU perspectives.
Starting with a completely clean sheet; What would that look like in its entirety? What would it look like five years on?
If she doesn’t offer an inspiring vision that a majority of people on both sides of the English Channel can ‘buy-in’ to her government will be paddling upstream all day, every day, for as long as she remains Prime Minister. (And that’s definitely a no-fun lifestyle, even for a British PM)
Once the vision has been considered by Theresa May, only then should it be communicated to her Cabinet, while the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) should oversee all other UK ministries and departments as they compile reports that describe what their best-case scenario would look like in practical terms.
Then it’s simply a matter of working to those ideals as much as is practicable to create a Vision Statement that can be released to the public, sans the excruciating detail required in government policy papers.
“This is the Vision we’re working toward…” (Giving UK and EU citizens a view of what a better Brexit looks like)
‘How do you like those apples?’ someone cheekily asked.
The Three Principles Common to all Organizations
- Vision (or Mission)
Without equal weight given to each of those three factors any organization or project will ultimately fail.
It can’t be emphasized enough; Endless discussion about the best Brexit from the UK standpoint are irrelevant to European Union citizens and businesses. Brexit must work for the EU too, or it will be increasingly uncomfortable and expensive for the UK as time rolls forward.
Theresa May needs to find what things will work better for the EU in a post-Brexit world and promote those items on every visit to the EU. If there aren’t any Brexit positives for the EU, she better create some as they negotiate forward to a final trade and financial services agreement.
Without an overarching vision even the best management and leadership will underperform. Perhaps severely.
But as soon as May gives the order to each of her 25 Ministerial Departments and 20 non-Ministerial Departments to submit their best-case scenario (their best hopes and aspirations showing what their jurisdiction could look like five years on from Brexit) and from that she will be able to write a one page vision for each of the 45 departments.
From there she will need to direct the Department for Exiting the European Union to create a list of items that could be seen as positives by EU governments, EU businesses and EU citizens. Those are the apples she needs to sell on every visit to the European Union. And then sell the ‘sizzle’ Theresa, not the steak.
Theresa May must ‘create’ and ‘sell’ (Vision + Leadership + Management + Marketing) a Brexit that will benefit both the UK and the EU and begin to disseminate that better vision throughout both blocs.
Throwing £40 billion at the EU now and (potentially) another £40 billion to obtain a trade and financial services agreement isn’t visionary — it’s ‘buying an agreement’ with taxpayer’s money — which is fine if that’s the only option. But it isn’t the only option.
Getting citizens, businesses, and governments on both sides of the English Channel to buy-in to a grand vision that works even better than the present paradigm without it costing another £40 billion, must be Theresa May’s Number One Priority before the October 2018 Brexit deal-making deadline arrives.
[P.S. to Michel Barnier, chief negotiator for the European Union] Jeez, Michel, for £40 billion shouldn’t the UK have received a bespoke customs deal, a bespoke trade deal, a bespoke financial services agreement *and* a chocolate mint on every UK pillow?
Prime Minister Theresa May launches the 25 Year Environment Plan with a speech at the London Wetland Centre, Barnes.
Published 11 January 2018
Delivered on: 11 January 2018 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)
“It is wonderful to be here at the Wetland Centre – a true oasis in the heart of London.
In our election manifesto last year we made an important pledge: to make ours the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it.
As we leave the European Union, which for decades has controlled some of the most important levers of environmental policy, now is the right time to put the question of how we protect and enhance our natural environment centre-stage.
And it is a central priority for this government.
Our mission is to build a Britain where the next generation can enjoy a better life than the one that went before it.
That means tackling the deficit and dealing with our debts, so they are not a burden for our children and grandchildren.
It means building the houses that people need, so that the dream of home ownership can be a reality.
Ensuring every child has a good school place and can get the best start in life.
And it also means protecting and enhancing our natural environment for the next generation, so they have a healthy and beautiful country in which to build their lives.
Making good on the promise that each new generation should be able to build a better future is a fundamental Conservative principle.
And whilst every political tradition has a stake in our natural environment, speaking as the Leader of the Conservative Party, I know I draw upon a proud heritage.
Because Conservatism and Conservation are natural allies.
The fundamental understanding which lies at the heart of our philosophical tradition is that we in the present are trustees charged with protecting and improving what we have inherited from those who went before us.
And it is our responsibility to pass on that inheritance to the next generation.
That applies to the great national institutions which we have built up as a society over generations, like our courts, our Parliament, the BBC and the NHS.
And it applies equally to our natural heritage.
Value of our natural environment
Britain has always been a world leader in understanding and protecting the natural world.
From Gilbert White’s vivid descriptions of the ecology of his Hampshire village in the first work of natural history writing, in the eighteenth century, to Sir David Attenborough’s landmark TV series in the twenty-first century, which have opened the eyes of millions of people to the wonder of our planet and to the threats it faces – the appeal of our natural world is universal and has caught the imagination of successive generations.
In the United Kingdom, we are blessed with an abundance and variety of landscapes and habitats.
These natural assets are of immense value.
Our countryside and coastal waters are the means by which we sustain our existence in these islands.
They are where we grow and harvest a large proportion of the food we eat. Where the water we drink comes from.
Our green and blue places have inspired some of our greatest poetry, art and music and have become global cultural icons.
Shakespeare’s Forest of Arden has been recreated on stages across the globe.
Beatrix Potter’s stories and William Wordsworth’s poetic descriptions of ‘the calm that Nature breathes among the hills’ has made the Lake District world-renowned.
The Suffolk landscapes of John Constable, and the beautiful depictions of the River Thames in my own constituency by Sir Stanley Spencer, are iconic.
People from every continent are drawn to our shores to enjoy these beautiful landscapes, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs in tourism.
Industries which directly draw on our environment – from agriculture and forestry to aquaculture and fishing – support hundreds of thousands of jobs and contribute billions to our economy.
The natural environment is around us wherever we are, and getting closer to it is good for our physical and mental health and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Millions of us visit the countryside, the seaside, a local park or places like this, every week to recharge our batteries, spend time with friends and family, and to exercise.
So the environment is something personal to each of us, but it is also something which collectively we hold in trust for the next generation.
And we have a responsibility to protect and enhance it.
Conservation and growth
It is sometimes suggested that a belief in a free market economy which pursues the objective of economic growth is not compatible with taking the action necessary to protect and enhance our natural environment.
That we need to give up on the very idea of economic growth itself as the price we have to pay for sustainability.
Others argue that taking any action to protect and improve our environment harms business and holds back growth.
Both are wrong. They present a false choice which I entirely reject.
A free market economy, operating under the right rules, regulations, and incentives, delivering sustainable economic growth, is the single greatest agent of collective human progress we have ever known.
Time and again, it has lifted whole societies out of abject poverty and subsistence living, increased life expectancy, widened literacy and improved educational standards.
More than this, it is in free economies and free societies that the technological and scientific breakthroughs which improve and save lives are made.
The innovation and invention of a free enterprise economy will help to deliver new technology to drive a revolution in clean growth.
Around the world, economies at all stages of development are embracing new low-carbon technologies and a more efficient use of resources to move onto a path of clean and sustainable growth.
And our Industrial Strategy puts harnessing the economic potential of the clean growth revolution at its heart, as one of its four Grand Challenges.
From how we generate power, and transport people and goods, to our industrial processes and how we grow our food – new clean technologies have the potential to deliver more good jobs and higher living standards.
The UK is already home to around half a million jobs in low carbon businesses and their supply chain.
We are a world-leader in the manufacture of electric vehicles.
We are the biggest offshore wind energy producer in the world.
And we must continue to press for sustainable economic growth, and the immense benefits it brings.
Of course, for a market to function properly it has to be regulated.
And environmental protection is a vital part of any good regulatory regime.
So where government needs to intervene to ensure that high standards are met, we will not hesitate to do so.
That is the approach which underpins our corporate governance reforms and our plans to make the energy market work better for consumers.
Government stepping-up to its proper role as an engaged and active participant defines our Industrial Strategy.
And it is the approach we are taking in this Environment Plan too.
Together, they combine to form a coherent approach to boosting economic productivity, prosperity and growth, while at the same time restoring and enhancing our natural environment.
Conservative Governments have always taken our responsibility to the natural environment seriously.
In the nineteenth century it was Benjamin Disraeli’s Conservative government which passed the River Pollution Prevention Act, providing the first legal environmental protections for our waterways.
A Conservative government in the 1950s passed the Clean Air Act, making the Great Smog of London a thing of the past.
Margaret Thatcher was the first world leader to recognise the threat of global warming and helped to protect our ozone layers through her work on the Montreal Protocol.
And David Cameron restored environmentalism to a central place in the Conservative agenda.
The measures set out in this plan build on this proud heritage, and the action which we have taken in office since 2010.
We have seen some notable successes.
Thanks to concerted action over many years, our rivers and beaches are now cleaner than they have been at any time since the Industrial Revolution.
Otters are back in rivers in every English county.
We are releasing beavers to the Forest of Dean, to help reduce the risk of flooding and enhance biodiversity.
Action at the EU level – of which the UK has consistently been a champion – has helped drive these improvements.
Because we recognise their value, we will incorporate all existing EU environmental regulations into domestic law when we leave.
And let me be very clear. Brexit will not mean a lowering of environmental standards.
We will set out our plans for a new, world leading independent statutory body to hold government to account and give the environment a voice. And our work will be underpinned by a strong set of environmental principles.
We will consult widely on these proposals, not least with many of the people in this room.
But be in no doubt: our record shows that we have already gone further than EU regulation requires of us to protect our environment.
Thanks to action we have taken, 7,886 square miles of coastal waters around the UK are now Marine Conservation Zones, protecting a range of nationally important, rare or threatened habitats and species.
Our ban on the use of microbeads in cosmetic and personal care products is another positive step towards protecting our marine environment.
And we want to further restrict neonicotinoids to protect our bees.
We will use the opportunity Brexit provides to strengthen and enhance our environmental protections – not to weaken them.
We will develop a new environmental land management scheme which supports farmers who deliver environmental benefits for the public.
And once we’ve taken back control of our waters, we will implement a more sustainable fishing policy that also supports our vital coastal communities.
That is action for the future – but we are also acting in the here and now.
When animals are mistreated, our common humanity is tarnished.
So we are pursuing policies to make Britain a world-leader in tackling the abuse of animals.
Here at home we are introducing mandatory CCTV into slaughter houses, to ensure standards of treatment are upheld.
We are increasing the maximum sentence for the worst acts of animal cruelty in England and Wales ten-fold.
We recognise that animals are sentient beings and we will enshrine that understanding in primary legislation.
We have consulted on plans to introduce a total ban on UK sales of ivory that contribute either directly or indirectly to the continued poaching of elephants.
In 2014, we convened the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade, the first of its kind, to help eradicate an abhorrent crime and to better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction.
In October we will host this conference again and will press for further international action.
Whether they are pets, livestock or wild fauna, animals deserve the proper protection of the law and under a Conservative government that is exactly what they will receive.
Enhancing our natural environment
I am proud of the progress we have made but recognise that the challenges we face remain acute.
In England, changes in patterns of land use have seen habitats lost and species threatened.
Since 1970 there has been a significant decline in the numbers of woodland and farmland birds.
Pollinating insects have declined by 13% since 1980.
And while the water in our rivers and beaches are cleaner than ever, around the world eight million tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans each year.
The problem was vividly highlighted in the BBC’s recent Blue Planet II series, which was public service broadcasting at its finest.
And I also pay tribute to the Daily Mail for its tireless campaigning on this issue.
The 25 year environment plan for England, which we are publishing today, sets out the action government will take to tackle all of these challenges, and I pay tribute to Michael Gove and his team for their work on it and the energy and enthusiasm they have brought to this.
Its goals are simple: clean air, clean and plentiful water, plants and animals which are thriving, and a cleaner, greener country for us all.
These are all valuable in themselves, but together they add up to something truly profound: a better world for each of us to live in, and better future for the next generation.
We have worked closely with the devolved administrations as we have developed this plan, and we want to work closely with them on these issues in the years ahead.
This is a plan for the long-term: as our environment changes, our plan will be updated to ensure we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to deliver a healthy natural environment.
Nothing is more emblematic of that natural environment than our trees.
A tree is a home to countless organisms, from insects to small mammals.
They are natural air purifiers. They act as flood defences.
We have committed to plant millions more trees, in urban and rural locations.
We also support increased protections for England’s existing trees and forests, both from inappropriate developments and from invasive pests and diseases.
To make more land available for the homes our country needs, while at the same time creating new habitats for wildlife, we will embed the principle of ‘net environmental gain’ for development, including housing and infrastructure.
And as we pursue our Northern Powerhouse, connecting the great cities of the North of England to promote their economic growth, we will also create a new Northern Forest.
It will be a new community woodland for Cheshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, provide a new and enduring amenity for the growing population of the north of England, and act as a carbon sink for the UK.
Decades from now, children as yet unborn will be exploring this forest, playing under the shade of its trees and learning about our natural world from its flora and fauna.
Access and participation
But today, more than one in ten young people do not spend time in the countryside or in large urban green spaces, meaning they are denied the benefits which spending time outdoors in the natural environment brings.
These young people are disproportionately from more deprived backgrounds and their effective exclusion from our countryside represents a social injustice which I am determined to tackle.
The National Park Authorities already engage directly with over 60,000 young people a year in schools visits, and they will now double this figure to ensure that even more young people can learn about our most precious environments.
I have seen for myself this morning the excitement and enthusiasm of children learning about these wetlands and the birds that inhabit them.
And to help more children lead happy and healthy lives, we will launch a new Nature Friendly Schools programme.
Targeting schools in disadvantaged areas first, it will create improved school grounds which allow young people to learn about the natural world.
It doesn’t have to be big, difficult or expensive.
It could be planting a garden, growing a vegetable patch, or setting up a bird feeder.
Whatever form it takes, it will be putting nature into the lives of young people, because everyone deserves to experience it first-hand.
And this work with schools will be supported by £10 million of investment.
We look back in horror at some of the damage done to our environment in the past and wonder how anyone could have thought that, for example, dumping toxic chemicals untreated into rivers was ever the right thing to do.
In years to come, I think people will be shocked at how today we allow so much plastic to be produced needlessly.
In the UK alone, the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.
This plastic is ingested by dozens of species of marine animals and over 100 species of sea birds, causing immense suffering to individual creatures and degrading vital habitats.
1 million birds, and over 100,000 other sea mammals and turtles die every year from eating and getting tangled in plastic waste.
This truly is one of the great environmental scourges of our time.
Today I can confirm that the UK will demonstrate global leadership.
We must reduce the demand for plastic, reduce the number of plastics in circulation and improve our recycling rates.
So we will take action at every stage of the production and consumption of plastic.
As it is produced, we will encourage manufacturers to take responsibility for the impacts of their products and rationalise the number of different types of plastics they use.
As it is consumed, we will drive down the amount of plastic in circulation through reducing demand.
Government will lead the way by removing all consumer single use plastic in central government offices.
And I want to see other large organisations commit to doing the same.
Supermarkets also need to do much more to cut down on unnecessary plastic packaging, so we will work with them to explore introducing plastic-free aisles, where all the food is sold loose.
And we will make it easier for people to recycle their plastics, so less of it ends up in landfills or our waterways.
But I want us to go a step further.
We have seen a powerful example over the last couple of years of the difference which a relatively simple policy can make for our environment.
In 2015 we started asking shoppers to pay a 5p charge for using a plastic bag.
As a direct consequence, we have used 9 billion fewer of them since the charge was introduced.
This means the marine-life around the shores of the UK is safer, our local communities are cleaner and fewer plastic bags are ending up in landfill sites.
This success should inspire us.
It shows the difference we can make, and it demonstrates that the public is willing to play its part to protect our environment.
So to help achieve our goal of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, we will extend the 5p plastic bag charge to all retailers, to further reduce usage.
And next month, we will launch a call for evidence on taxes or charges on single use plastics.
We will also use the United Kingdom’s international influence to drive positive change around the world.
When we host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April we will put the sustainable development of our oceans firmly on the agenda.
We will work with our partners to create a Commonwealth Blue Charter and push for strong action to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.
And we will direct our development spending to help developing nations reduce plastic waste; increase our own marine protected areas at home; and establish new Blue Belt protections in our Overseas Territories.
I want the Britain of the future to be a truly Global Britain, which is a force for good in the world.
Steadfast in upholding our values – not least our fierce commitment to protecting the natural environment.
You can see that commitment in our work on climate change.
Since 2012, the carbon-intensity of UK electricity has fallen by more than twice that of any other major economy.
In 2016 the UK succeeded in decarbonising at a faster rate than any other G20 country.
And last April, the UK had its first full day without any coal-fired electricity since the 1880s.
We are supporting the world’s poorest as they face up to the effects of rising sea waters and the extreme weather events associated with climate change.
Last month I attended the One Planet Summit in Paris, where I announced new support for countries in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa to help them build resilience against natural disasters and climate extremes.
We will continue to lead the world in delivering on our commitments to the planet, from fulfilling the environmental aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to complying with the Paris Climate Agreement.
Our Clean Growth Strategy set out our commitment to phase out unabated coal fired electricity by 2025, and through the Power Past Coal alliance, which the UK established with Canada, we are encouraging other countries to do the same.
26 nations have already joined the alliance – and I will carry on pressing others to join too.
We can be proud of our success in facing up to the reality of climate change.
But as the plan we are publishing today demonstrates, we are not complacent about the action needed to sustain that success in the future.
And we are not complacent about the action we need to take here in the UK to improve the quality of the air in our towns and cities.
Since 2010, air quality has improved, and will continue to improve, as a result of action we are taking, but I know that there is more to do.
That is why we have committed £3.5 billion to support measures to improve air quality.
We are investing in electric vehicle infrastructure and new charging technologies, supporting the roll-out of low carbon buses, and expanding cycling and walking infrastructure.
In July we published our plan to tackle traffic pollution and we will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
In the last Budget we announced a £220 million Clean Air Fund, paid for by tax changes to company car tax and vehicle excise duty on new diesel cars.
This year, we will set out how government will support the transition to almost all cars and vans being zero emission vehicles by 2050.
And the UK will host an international zero-emission vehicle summit, driving innovation towards cleaner transport.
I am determined that we will do what it takes to ensure our air is clean and safe for the future.
The New Year is a time to look ahead.
The UK is making good progress in our discussions on EU withdrawal – and I am determined that we will keep up that progress in 2018.
We are pursuing a modern Industrial Strategy which will help promote sustainable growth in our economy and deliver greater prosperity across the country.
We are improving standards in schools, investing in our National Health Service and helping more people to own their own homes.
And in our comprehensive 25 year environment plan, we are setting out how we will protect and renew our natural inheritance for the next generation.
How we will make our air and water cleaner, and our natural habitats more diverse and healthy.
How we will create a better world for ourselves and our children.
It is a national plan of action, with international ambitions.
But what it really speaks to is something much more personal for each of us as human beings.
That is: the impulse to care for and nurture our own surroundings.
To protect what is vulnerable and precious.
To safeguard and improve on our inheritance, so we can pass on something of value and significance to those who come after us.
It is what Roger Scruton has described as: ‘the goal towards which serious environmentalism and serious conservatism both point – namely, home, the place where we are and that we share, the place that defines us, that we hold in trust for our descendants, and that we don’t want to spoil.’
Our goal is a healthy and beautiful natural environment which we can all enjoy, and which we can be proud to pass on to the next generation.
This plan is how we will achieve it.”