Let me wish everyone a Happy New Year. It will be a critically important one in deciding the kind of country we want to live in. In just a few months time the UK is timetabled to leave the European Union. But we start the year not knowing what our future relationship with our major trading partners will look like. Ministers have been condemned by the United Nations for being in a “state of denial” over the poverty and misery they are inflicting on our people.
So throughout last year I have been touring the towns that have been neglected after eight years of austerity to hear from people what they feel is needed in their local community to transform the quality of their lives and to work with them to develop our alternative. The message is clear. We need a Labour Government that redistributes power and wealth fairly away from a small elite. Our aim is to build a prosperous economy which is economically and environmentally sustainable but where that prosperity is shared by all. So this year I look forward to campaigning alongside you all for the fairer society we all believe in and delivering it in Government. Happy New Year to you all.
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and in Parliament in the last month.
Finance Bill 8th
The Government was defeated again on its Finance Bill. Along with MPs from other parties we supported an amendment aiming to prevent a “No Deal” Brexit. The Government must now stop playing with the livelihoods of our people and rule out a “No Deal” Brexit.
Campainging in Botwell
I joined our local campaigners knocking on doors and delivering a letter advertising the contact details of our local councillors and my own. The weekly doorstop campaign is organised by Helen Lowder, our CLP Chair, and I aim to join the teams every Saturday I am free to do so.
People’s Assembly Demonstration 12th
I spoke at the demonstration about the need to defeat Theresa may’s deal and call for a general election because we will be able to debate not only Brexit and our future relationship with Europe but in the context of what this Government has done to our communities in the 8 years of harsh austerity. In that way we can have a real debate and elect a Labour Government that will tackle all those issues that motivated people to vote leave.
European Union Withdrawal Debate 14th
I closed the economic debate on the Withdrawal agreement, which was a healthy and straightforward debate where people were honest with one another and straightforward about their views on Brexit and its impact on our Country. The overwhelming majority of Members were seeking not to ignore the referendum result, but to make sure that we do not have imposed on us a Brexit that undermines our economy, costs people their jobs and threatens their livelihoods. MPs were seeking to do their best by their constituents and by the country.
Labour’s negotiating priorities differ from this Government’s. We prioritise a permanent and comprehensive customs union with a say in future trade deals. We would deliver a strong, collaborative relationship with the single market, and we would guarantee that the UK does not fall behind the EU in rights for workers, consumers and the environment. It is clear that the Government’s deal does not have the confidence of the House, and that a new approach is needed.
A link to the full debate set out in the Hansard can be viewed here
European Union Withdrawal vote 15th
The EU Withdrawal Meaningful Vote result was the largest defeat (432 votes to 202 to reject the deal) of any government in British history. The scale of the defeat is completely unprecedented. Usually a Prime Minister would resign immediately in such circumstances.
Theresa May’s government has clearly lost the confidence of Parliament and the country on her flagship policy, the defining issue of her premiership. Her deal is dead. She is not capable of negotiating a good deal for Britain,that will command a majority of support in Parliament or the country. She has no authority and has no ability to govern. She’s reached the end of the line.
That’s why Jeremy Corbyn tabled a motion of no confidence in her government. Theresa May should do the right thing and step aside so there can be a general election, to allow the people of this country to elect a government which commands their confidence and support, and the confidence of Parliament.
Interview with Robert Peston 16th
During my interview with Robert Peston I confirmed that Labour will not enter talks with Theresa May until she takes “no-deal” off the table. The interview can be viewed here
HPA Trustees Meeting 18th
I chaired a meeting of Hillingdon play association at which we planned HPAs activities for the coming year. As part of our programme we intend to bring together all those interested in play in our area to discuss future play provision and its importance to the wellbeing of local children.
Little Rd and Chalfont Rd residents meeting 19th
I convened this meeting to discuss the plans to develop the Pump Lane site. This is a large scale development that residents are concerned will impact detrimentally on the local environment.
PCS Picket Line 22nd
I joined PCS picket lines to support workers who are demanding the real living wage, parity of terms and conditions for outsourced workers in the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Ministry of Justice and an end to outsourcing. Labour will introduce a Real Living Wage of £10 an hour and end the scourge of outsourcing.
PCS Launch 22nd
I spoke at the launch of the PCS Alternative Vision for Social Security booklet, in the Houses of Parliament. The booklet sets out the union’s key recommendations for a future social security system, drawing on lessons of past Governments as well as academics and campaigning organisations, and its members, to formulate a vision that encompasses the aspirations of those who fought for the establishment the Welfare State and that promotes a future system to benefit and support society’s most vulnerable in their time of need. In order to achieve this vision, PCS believes the time has come for a Jeremy Corbyn-led Government, and welcomes the opportunity to work with the main Opposition in formulating a positive approach to the reform of the social security system.
Neurodiversity briefing for MPs 22nd
I sponsored and spoke at the steering group of Neurodivergent Labour who are now working to redress the under-representation of neurodivergent people in determining local and national policies to support them in our society.
I spoke with Kirsty Wark about Brexit. She asked if we would back the cross party amendment led by Evette Cooper. I explained that it’s a sensible proposal but will have to go through our normal process of consultation with the PLP, shadow Cabanet and then discuss whipping arrangements. I also said that as Shadow Chancellor and a local MP I believe that a No Deal would be catastrophic for jobs and economy and this is not only my view but that of the Treasury, the Bank of England, the CBI and Trade Unions. The Labour party would open up options of a deal with a Customs Union with a say on trade deals, a close relationship with the single market, protection of regulations with regard to employment, consumer and environmental rights.
The full interview can be viewed here
London Stock Exchange 23rd
I spoke alongside Keir Starmer and David Schwimmer, Chief Executive Officer, London Stock Exchange Group at the London Stock Exchange with a number of business representatives and London based European Ambassadors about the current Brexit situation and the Post-Brexit economy, including issues relating to trading relations with Europe and the rest of the world
I spoke with Stephen Sackur about Labour’s Brexit policy and the March 29th deadline for Britain to leave the European Union as well as socialism, and my background in work and politics. The interview can be viewed here
Jeremy Vine Show
During an interview with Jeremy Vine I explained why we need a socialist Government. I also talked about Britain’s Brexit Policy, Labour’s plans to transform the economy on the basis of a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor which will include a policy relating to employee ownership of shares. I chose Clean Bandit’s song “Synphony” as my favourite current recording. The interview can be viewed here
Meeting with New Zealand’s Minister of Finance 26th
I met with Grant Robertson, New Zealand’s Minister of Finance in Hayes Town Centre. Following on from his visit to Davos and Brussels Grant presented his wellbeing budget at the London School of Economics. Grant told me that improving the wellbeing of current and future New Zealanders will be the focus of their Budget 2019. He said The New Zealand economy will continue its momentum over the next few years, underpinned by investment, productivity and wage growth.
Campaigning in Bell Farm
I was really pleased to join our campaign team as we delivered a letter inviting local residents to a coffee morning we have organised at Bell Farm Christian Centre.
Meeting with Lord Agnew’ re Harlington School 28th
I arranged a meeting for the School’s headteacher and myself with the education minister to resolve the outstanding issues with Hillingdon Council, needed to enable the school to be rebuilt, in effect a brand new school.
Treasury Questions 29th
I reminded the Chancellor of the impact that no deal would have on people’s everyday lives. The British Retail Consortium warned yesterday that a no deal would lead to higher food prices, and even to empty shelves. The Government’s own economic analysis suggests a 10% hit to real wages. In addition The Bank of England has warned that we are potentially facing an economic crisis even more severe than the financial crisis of 2008. Given the crises that faces our Country I suggested that a responsible Chancellor would stand up to the Prime Minister to insist that she rules out a no deal.
Withdrawal from the EU 30th
MPs instructed the Prime Minister to reject a “no deal” Brexit and voted in favour of The Brady amendment to replace the backstop in Northern Ireland with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard boarder- 317-301.
As a result Jeremy Corbyn has offered to meet the PM to discuss a deal to protect jobs and the economy. We are working hard to do all we can to protect jobs and our economy in any deal.
I am continuing to meet and work with the WASPI women’s campaign with the aim of securing justice for these women.
Campaign against corporate tax avoidance roundtable 31st
I chaired the first meeting of Campaign against corporate tax Avoidance meeting with the aim to coordinate campaigning against corporate tax avoidance. We are launching a shareholder campaign to expose tax avoidance and force companies to comply with a fair tax charter.