We have had a remarkably mild winter and the joy of seeing Newcastle top the Championship league on the way, we hope, back into the Premiership next season. In Westminster, Brexit was temporarily eclipsed by the budget and by election only to return to the Commons next week.
Of the two by elections Labour won one, Stoke but lost Copeland. This understandably gave a boost to the Government allowing them to say their handling of Brexit had been endorsed by the public. I do not believe that to be the case, when I talk to businesses and constituents there is still great concern and uncertainty over the Prime Minister’s negotiating stance and what it will mean for jobs in the North East as well as for European nationals here and Brits abroad. Guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in Britain would have been the morally right thing to do, as well as winning goodwill for our citizens in EU countries.
The Chancellor’s delivered his budget with a level of complacency which was not justified by the figures on growth, borrowing or investment. Whilst growth was revised upwards by the OBR for this year, for all subsequent years it was revised down. Critically, he did not seem able to recognise the difficulty many self-employed will have paying increased national insurance contributions, especially when the supposed increased benefits have not been defined. He also tried to deny that it broke he Tories election promise ‘triple tax lock’. The resulting investment in social care will hardly meet existing requirements never mind future ones. Overall the budget was a missed opportunity to give confidence to business, the self employed and workers as we leave the EU.
Our NHS remains in crisis and whilst the Government refuses to publish the school funding formula we know that North East schools will lose out because of the increased funding for schools in London.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Northern Stage organised a half day event on how to resist and respond to the election of Donald Trump and I was pleased to be able to open it to emphasise how important political engagement is.
- I collated complaints from constituents on bus services in Newcastle for discussion with Stagecoach.
- I spoke from the back benches on March 9th on relations with Africa, on 7 March 2017 antibiotic resistance, on 6 March 2017 on cyber security and IoT, on 6 March 2017 on Non-UK EU Nationals: Status Regularisation, on 1 March 2017 on Bus Services Bill [Lords] on 23 February 2017 on Unaccompanied Children (Greece and Italy) on 20 February 2017 on Young People in Work.
- On 7 March 2017 I presented a petition from the Waspi women in Newcastle upon Tyne Central.
Shadow Ministerial Role
- I spoke from the Frontbench on The Government’s Productivity Plan on 28 February
- Our industrial strategy consultation closed with over 1000 responses. As new Shadow Secretary of State Rebecca Long-Bailey is keen to carry on with the focus on industrial strategy. Labour’s consultation has ended with approximately 1000 responses.
Media, Organisation & visits
Megan has been offered a paid position with Jon Trickett and is leaving us with thanks for all the hard work and the great contribution she has made. We have caught up on casework and are getting to grips with improving our processes
Quoted regularly in local media and nationally. Quoted in local and national media. Interviewed by New Statesman, RTV interview and EG. Wrote blog on Labour Immigration
Meetings and visits
Gary Haywood (INEOS), Mike Parker (Schools North East), Streetwise Young People’s Project visit, meet with the Princess Royal during her Newcastle visit, Muzoon Almellehan from the Malala Fund, Alistair Ford (Public Transport User Group), Bingo at Holly Court, Anila Dhami (ITV), Digital Inclusion Activity City Library visit, Phil Kite (Reece), Skill Mill Birthday Party, Central Gosforth Sea Scouts visit, Fenham Scouts visit, UNISON Support EU Citizens’ right to remain in the UK Post Brexit, WASPI Group Rally, Virgin Atlantic, Airbus, and Rolls-Royce celebration of Virgin Atlantics purchase of 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, Jean Duprez (Women in Construction), Christoph Harwood (Sustainable Marine Energy), Fran Heathcote (DWP PCS), ICE’s Thought Leadership, Hitachi Rail parliamentary event, Twelfth Night, Rudi Shafie and Alan Maine (Pfizer), Simon Hansford and Nicky Stewart (UK Cloud), PES Conference 2017 Reception, Katy Minshall (Centre for Public Safety), IET Launch 9% is not enough campaign, ‘Save Adult Education’ event, Saifaldin Z. Al-Darraji (Iraqi Embassy), Emmeline Pankhurst Statue Campaign, UK Defence Forum briefing, BCC Annual Conference, Beat’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week Launch, The national smart meter rollout event, David Southwood (UK Space Agency), The Foundation for Science and Technology Council Board Meeting, Liz Schoenberg regarding Freedom City, ONE Poverty is Sexist celebration of International Women’s Day, Opening Night of Ugly Lies the Bone, Celebration of Women Engineers in the North, Meredith Fowler Academic Study regarding Toon Beef, Visit to Space 2 (YMCA Newcastle), DWP PCS Pickett, Pope John Paul II Award, Burnfoot Court Sheltered housing visit, Community Foundation lunch, David Spicer, HPE CodeWars event, Trevor Phillips (Workers’ Educational Association), Elizabeth Linder, Theirworld celebration of IWD, Westminster Abbey-Westminster Conversation, A taste of Bath and North East Somerset, ActionAid UK, Fawcett Society and CPAUK Parliamentary Reception, John Moorcraft and Liz Waugh (National Trail), The British Museum-The American Dream: pop to the present, BGIPU and Parliagender IWD reception, Cambridgeshire Food and Drink Day, WASPI Parliamentary drop-in, Nigerian Progressive Governors forum, Dallaglio Foundation reception, Royal Academy of Arts: “Russian Revolution” exhibition, John Zarnecki and Robert Massey (Royal Astronomical Society), French Ambassador Residence IWD, Nexus end of works on Central Station photo call, Dame Allan’s Junior visit, Oonagh Aitken and Anne Heal, Chair (Volunteering Matters), Jiří Król, Shamez Alibhai, Darren Carter and Charlotte Lang (Alternative Investment Management Association). , Mathematics in Education and Industry reception,
NGI Freedom City event, Angelou Centre AGM, Martin Luther Who? (International Development Conference), Anti-Trump platform (Northern Stage), Nesta final report launch, New Statesman Cyber Security Report Launch, Chair the APPG Africa Report Launch, Modern Muse Launch.