For once there was plenty of warm weather this summer, so much so that the moor and many Newcastle parks were unnaturally dry. And there was also something else unusual– Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United and Sports Direct made contact. Not with me or with Newcastle United fans but with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport following my petition to Parliament on Football Club Ownership and investment in Newcastle United. In July, as the football transfer window was closing, constituents contacted me asking me to promote a petition supporting Newcastle’s manager Rafa Benitez. MPs can present petitions on any subject. Some have asked what this has to do with my job as an MP. My role is to raise issues of concern to constituents. The success of Newcastle United influences the economic and social well-being of the city I represent. I have now written to the Secretary of State and the BBC regarding Sports Direct involvement with Newcastle United. I will continue to pursue the issue for as long as constituents ask me to.
MPs returned to Parliament last week to find that everything is very much as it was – the Tory party in chaos, various members of the Cabinet campaigning to be the next leader but non with any practical plan for a Brexit deal that works for jobs and the economy. Just before the recess there were a number of votes on important issues like trade with the European Union. Many Tories were on TV vowing they would vote in the interests of the economy but in the end they were bought off by Theresa May who basically promised one thing to them and another to the hard Brexiteers. It’s a trick which is unlikely to work twice! The Government departmental technical reports have certainly highlighted the impact of a hard Brexit and the many, many outstanding questions to be resolved. Time is running out to do a deal and the Government appears less rather than more competent in its negotiations. A no deal Brexit would be disastrous for our economy in the North East, we are the only region to export more than we import, we need access to European markets.
Planned changes to electoral boundaries will split Newcastle Central constituency between Blaydon, Newcastle East and a new constituency to be called Newcastle North West. Labour opposes these plans as undemocratic.
Northumbria Water Innovation Festival
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Recess enabled me to hold a number of important meetings in Newcastle, spend a day with Northumbria Police and a 17 mile walk with Bishop Christine to Holy Island as part of St Cuthberts Way walk supporting Toon Aid
- Durham Miners Gala was particularly well attended this year and enjoyed by all.
- I spoke from the backbenches four times: in Home Office questions on refugee accommodation (16th July), Local Government questions on government funding for Newcastle City Council (23rd July), in Health questions on adult social care (24th July) and in DCMS questions on data ownership (6th July).
- I asked 31 Written Questions.
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers on Housing, Primary Health Care, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary and Mesh, Newcastle United Finance. I am corresponding with Newcastle Council on Kittiwakes and Homelessness.
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- As Vice Chair of the Party of European socialists I am working with the Leaders Office on our relationship with our sister parties post Brexit.
- Spoke from the frontbench three times: in a debate on the Government’s space policy announcements (18th July), at BEIS questions (17th July) and in a debate on Brexit, Science and Innovation (September 6th)
- I continue to work to further develop Labour’s industrial strategy.
Our intern from the US, Nichole Bloom returned to Berkeley. We are now advertising for an apprentice for the Newcastle Office and a Living Wage intern for the London office.
Quoted regularly in local media and nationally including BBC interview on the Cabinet visit to NE, ITV interview on northern powerhouse, Metro radio interview on Newcastle United petition, BBC Any Questions, Football Republic film recording, BBC Radio Newcastle Drive time about Wonga
Night time Patrol
Meetings and visits
Durham Miners’ Gala 2018, Wingrove Road Litter Pick, AGM APPG Jazz Appreciation, Breast Cancer Care drop-in, Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones, Channel 4 summer reception, Celebrating the Best of The National Lottery event, Marine Energy Showcase, Cisco / Michael Timmeny, Launch Labour’s Friends of Local Government, John Lewis Parliamentary Drinks and Dinner, Hermes / Helen Barker, Alzheimer’s Research / Emily Cook and Helen Davies, Riverside Community Health Project leaving lunch, Living Wage / Lola McEvoy, ‘Heaton!’ at People’s Theatre, Northern Pride march with LGBT Labour banner, Great North Boat Race, LSE / Adrian Thomas, Costain Group / Andrew Wyllie, Ian Hogarth, APPG Skills & Employment Reception, Dinner with World Bank & Jeremy Lefroy, APPG Management breakfast drop-in, Landsec / Miles Webber, Visit to Reading West, Grow at Green Park in Reading, ‘Exit the King’ opening night, Virgin Money / Jayne Anne Ghadia, Biochemical Society and Portland Press Summer Party, Nunsmoor Park litter pick, Newcastle University Business School / Professor Sharon Mavin, TusPark / Colin Tan, Northumbria Police / Neil Hutchinson, LSE / Charlie Beckett, Ernst & Young / Sandra Thompson, Barbara Keeley and George Dibb, Foundation roundtable on “Growing international research and development partnerships in a post-Brexit world”, Rabeh Meksem Mayor Tifra Algeria, Business in the Community / Gillian Burliston, Great Run Company / Brendan Foster, Ann Cleeves in transatlantic crime conversation, Constituency Policing day, visit to HC One Care Home, Newcastle Unity Carnival, GSK / Audrey Yvernault, St Cuthberts Way Walk to Holy Island with Bishop of Newcastle, WIMBIZ / Ronke Onadeko, Incoming Chair of Ofgem Martin Cave, ‘Great North Star’ closing of the Great Exhibition of the North
Durham Women’s Gala
Pictfor – Roundtable dinner with DIT Minister, Regional Industrial Strategy Roundtable West Midlands, APPG Infrastructure panel: feminist Cities & inclusive design, Great Exhibition of North Hexagon Experiment panel discussion, Byline Festival Corporate Surveillance panel, Byline Festival Digital Dominance and Digital rights panel, BEIS debate, Royal Society Science & Industry in North East Conference ‘Creating Connections – Science, innovation and skills in the North East’’