Phil delivered an important speech in the House of Commons defending Britain's role in the world. He said: "I believe in the abiding principle that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we do alone, and the meaning of this principle does not stop at the Scottish border or the English channel."
Phil's speech to the House of Commons in full:
"I wanted to take part in this debate because, like my Labour colleagues, I believe in the abiding principle that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we do alone, and the meaning of this principle does not stop at the Scottish border or the English channel.
I believe in a United Kingdom that plays a major role in the planet’s global institutions, and I believe that Britain is a force for good, which is why I said on the night I was re-elected that I would campaign to ensure that the UK remained at the top table of European nations by maintaining our membership of the EU.
When I joined the Labour party in Sedgefield more than 30 years ago, I joined a constituent part of a British Labour party, not an English Labour party, and I will fight to ensure that the values we adhere to will find renewed strength and favour in all four parts of the UK, because they are not restrained by a cynical nationalism that says, “We want our independence, as long as it is not fiscal independence and we can keep the BBC.”
If we can achieve more together than we can alone, surely our country should stay united. In a world where decisions taken on the other side of the world affect our communities here at home, we should realise that we cannot, and should not, pull up the drawbridge to the rest of the world. Instead, we should embrace it, with all its faults, be they climate change, national financial markets, ISIS or rampant technological change; all these things affect villages in Sedgefield, from Thornley in the north to Hurworth in the south.
We should remember that the forces that swirl through the towns, cities and villages of the UK are now global. I say that not just because companies such as Nissan and Hitachi have invested in the north-east, but because being an active member in support of our global institutions means being confident not only in those institutions but in ourselves. Yes, we will need to reform and renew them, but surely we are part of such institutions because we achieve more together than we ever do alone.
As part of our outward and optimistic approach to world affairs and the UK’s role in that approach, we should play a key role in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The negotiations are a long way from completion, but it is not right to say no to the partnership without first knowing what is in it.
To those opposed to TTIP now I say: if the agreement goes ahead, it will help us go some way towards reforming and negotiating 50% of the global economy, which can only be a good thing.
Our role in the world as a permanent member the UN Security Council means being a military contributor to the maintenance of global security, which is why we should be very careful before we allow our military budget to fall below 2% of GDP. But all that is at stake if this country is dismantled and its component parts diminished, and if the UK also leaves the EU questions should rightly be asked about whether we should have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
Surely if we believe that Britain is a force for good, we should not be undermining our role in the world by bringing uncertainty, but that is exactly what we are doing. We should not allow the UK’s future to be put at risk for party political reasons or out of narrow nationalism.
I do not believe in a little Britain. We achieve more together than we do alone, and that principle should guide us in our negotiations in Europe, in any referendum and in any goals we set for Britain in the world."