Dear Newcastle June 7th 2019
Theresa May announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party triggering the start of a Leadership contest which whilst it may generate headlines and lots of media speculation is open only to Conservative members to vote on and means there will be no progress on Brexit until it is finished, in principle by the end of July. But Parliament continues to sit, although there is little or no business. This is extremely frustrating. Some progress can be made on other policy areas and we have seen announcements on Labour’s Green New Deal but there is no capacity to get anything through Parliament as the Government is desperate to avoid votes. Without a leader and with the DUP waiting to see what a new leader will offer there is effectively no Government majority in the House.
The Tory leadership election is hardening positions with potential leaders vying with each other to be the ‘hardest’ on Brexit. Labour continues to be subject to internal discussions on our own Brexit position and this was highlighted in the European Elections.
The Government did not acknowledge that the European Elections would take place until barely two weeks before the date – up until then they had repeatedly said they hoped the elections would not take place, making it more difficult for electoral officials and voters to prepare. The confusion, the ambiguous nature of Labour’s Brexit position, the anger of voters at having to vote unexpectedly and the second time in a month made for a difficult campaign. In the North East Jude Kirton Darling was re-elected as MEP but unfortunately Paul Brennan lost out to the Brexit Party. Vera Baird announced she was standing down as Police and Crime Commissioner to take up a national role as Victims Commissioner. This means another election in July.
The month was also marked with further rumours and apparent negotiations for the sale of Newcastle United. I have made my views on the current owner clear – we need ownership which invests in the club, reflects the passion and interests of the fans, and is financially transparent.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Spoke from the backbench ten times: Topical Questions: Brexit (16th May); Learning Disabilities Mortality Review (15th May); WhatsApp Data Breach (15th May); Topical Questions: FCO (14th May); Persecution of Christians Overseas (14th May); Topical Questions: Environment, food and rural affairs (9th May); Topical Questions: Health and social care (7th May); Facial Recognition and the Biometrics Strategy (1st May)
I asked 23 written questions: Assessment of the effectiveness of treatment of prisoner mental health (16th May); Prison officer training on mental health referral (16th May); self-harm and deaths in custody (16th May); delays in transfer from prison to hospital for people with mental health problems (16th May); effectiveness of the regulation of water, energy and telecoms sectors in promoting sustainability (16th May); association to the next Erasmus programme (16th May); continuity of benefits when the claimant gets married (8th May); assessment of job densities of Newcastle Central, the North East, London and the UK (13th May); international higher education exchange programmes after UK leaves EU (13th May); knife crime in Newcastle (13th May); promotion of double degrees (8th May); UK students studying in EU and EU students studying in UK (8th May); advice to UK travellers on racism and homophobia when travelling abroad (8th May); Mobile broadband (9th May); training budget for teachers (8th May); international school exchanges (08th May); mandatory international semesters at university (8th May); wind power (8th May); Universal credit out of hours appointments (8th May); cash dispensing fees and charges (1st May); changes to LINK rates (1st May); personal income and spending with cash (1st May);
- I was disappointed that Ipsa continues to refuse to offer relocation help for Parliamentary staff recruited outside of London and will continue
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers or Government Agencies on Leasehold, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Newcastle United Finance, Weinstein and Ipsa, Relocation and Ipsa, with the Council on Kittiwakes and Homelessnes and with LNER on Disability Access
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I spent a very useful day in Cardiff looking at the excellent University there as well as continuing to meet industry and science spokespeople.
- I drafted a letter asking for support for manufacturing as they stockpile for Brexit and am in the process of seeking approval for it.
- I continue to meet with business organisations on the implications of a no-deal Brexit as the first Brexit deadline approached.
- Brexit is severely impacting capacity to develop policy in other areas but I continue to work on science and industrial strategy.
Quoted in national and local media including Women of Colour in Science interview, Magpie Group Interview on NUFC, Filming for Newcastle University, Photo for Malawi Cancer Diagnosis Project, BBC Look North Child Poverty, Metro Radio on NUFC, Guardian – Visa Refusals, Drive Time Newcastle Fast FM Radio. Wrote blogs on Brexit for the Journal and the Guardian.
Meetings and visits
Northern Chords 10th Anniversary Gala, Pallab Ghosh BBC, Hilary Leevers – CEO Engineering UK, Our Planet Screening, International Thalassaemia Day Awareness, Employability of Disabled People, Leonard Cheshire Assistive Technology Showcase, RDMD Group – Cancer Diagnostic Technology, Inclusive Transport, Arcinova, Samuel Knight International HQ Visit, Share Action, Private Cross-Party International Development Dinner, Aviva, APPG on Markets, National Federation of Retail Newsagents, City Fibre, Girls who code, Care England, ADS Apprenticeships, Alcohol Health Alliance’s, Transport Knowledge Hub, Rolls Royce, VCTA, Marcial Boo IPSA, Labour North East and Yorkshire Farmer, Local Election Result Discussion, National Numeracy Day 2019, City of London Corporation, ITV Tyne Tees, Centrepoint Youth Obligation, Independent Press Standards Organisation, Ed Richard – Flint Global, Buckingham Palace Garden Party, Andrew Johnson – Special Adviser to the Minister for Economy & Transport Welsh Government, Cardiff University Visit, Federation of Small Businesses, UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund, Ed Johnson-Williams Open Rights, APPG on Cycling Bike Ride, Fulfilling Lives, Publishers Association, APPG on Infrastructure and APPG for Women in Transport, Natural History Museum 2019 Annual Trustees’ Dinner, No to No Deal Meeting with Senior Business Representatives, Brexit Briefing Session with the International Regulatory Strategy Group, Tom Barton – Key Issues Facing Newcastle Central & North East, APPG Engineering Lunch with Kenton Academy students, Hermes, Tes Schools Awards, , The Open University at 50, Peterborough Visit, Hospitality Skills Challenge Event. INCA Parliamentary Dinner, APPG Africa Harriet Matthews meeting
Keynote at Investment Association EmTech Futures Conference, Love Socialism Hate Brexit, The Fourth Annual Peace & Unity Iftar, L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science Awards, EU Election Results CLASS Event, Facilitator Local Economic Development at Party Policy Discussion, NE Radical History Festival, Transatlantic Comparative Corporate Law Series, Chair BAME Business Owners APPG, Gender Tech & Politics Event with Women Like Me, Westminster Hall Debate on Industrial Strategy in the North East of England, Present Certificates to Volunteers at Riverside’s Volunteer Celebration Event.