Happy New Year! It is now 2019 but already the year appears old, or at least repetitive, what with talk of a buyer for Newcastle United, but no cash for players, and another ‘Meaningful Vote’ on Brexit, it is as if 2018 is still with us. MPs returned to Parliament in the knowledge there is only a few weeks before Article 50 means we leave the EU. There is still huge uncertainty as to what will happen. Before Christmas, when many thought it couldn’t get any more shambolic, Parliament descended further into farce with Theresa May pulling the Meaningful Vote on Brexit hours before it was due in order to renegotiate a position she couldn’t actually change, as I set out in my HuffPost Blog. Parliament was a hub of rumour and blame with very little meaningful work going on. This is despite the fact that there were a number of important statements such as the Local Government Funding Settlement, which demonstrated that austerity continues and local services are paying the price. Newcastle is particularly badly affected, as I highlighted in my parliamentary contribution.
Royal Mail sorting office Newcastle
Over the Christmas recess I spoke to many people and businesses locally about their rising concern about Brexit. Businesses are spending money preparing for a No Deal Brexit which could be spent creating jobs. Not ruling out a No Deal Brexit is economic sabotage on the part of the Prime Minister as I set out in a blog for the Guardian
Last week saw uproarious scenes in the Chamber as the speaker allowed the Dominic Grieve amendment which means the Government must come back to Parliament within three days after the Withdrawal Bill is almost certainly is defeated on Tuesday. Within the Labour Party there are of course divisions but not nearly as ideological or deep as in the Tories. However with the Prime Minister deliberately running down the clock the next few weeks are going to be both critical and turbulent. I posted a short video giving my commitment to act in the interests of the country and my constituents.
Back in Newcastle, on Friday I launched our branch of 261 Fearless
261 Fearless Club Newcastle launch
Started by the first woman to run a marathon, Kathrine Switzer, this global organisation aims to empower women through running and sport. I met Kathrine at last year’s Great North Run & was inspired by her story and the prejudice we faced. Sport is a great way to help deal with the challenges and stresses of life – and I know there is going to be a lot of challenges over the next few months! 261Fearless is open to all women in Newcastle.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- I spoke in the first, pre-Christmas Brexit debate, the speech was based on my long readon the reasons for the Brexit vote, emphasising that Brexit voters won the right to a voice, the importance of bringing the country together, the failure of the Tories to do that or reflect national rather than party interest and the impact of Brexit on the North East.
WASPI event in Newcastle
- I spoke from the backbenches 15 times – in an Urgent Question debate on the appointment of Sir Roger Scruton (12 Nov 2018); an Urgent Question debate on Police Employer Pension Contributions (14 Nov 2018); International Trade Questions (15 Nov 2018) on guidance for North East companies post-Brexit; a debate on the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (20 Nov 2018); twice in Transport Questions (22 Nov 2018) on inequality in regional transport investment; and in encouraging diversity in the transport sector; a debate on the Brexit Economic Analysis (28 Nov 2018); Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions (29 Nov 2018) on the impact of Brexit on the North East countryside; a debate on the publication of the Brexit Legal Advice (29 Nov 2018); in Business of the House Questions (29 Nov 2018) on making jobs in Westminster available to people from all regions; the debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Act (4 Dec 2018); Exiting the European Union Questions (6 Dec 2018) on maintaining supply chains after Brexit; debate on the Police Funding Settlement (13 Dec 2018) debate on the Local Government Funding Settlement (13 Dec 2018) and on the importance of local organisations and charities in filling the gap left by slashed Further Education funding for language skills for hard to reach women.
- I wrote to Lee Marshall of Newcastle United Football Club raising issues regarding finance and governance which have been raised with me by constituents.
- I asked 41 Written Questions to Ministers
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers on Housing, Primary Health Care, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Mesh, Newcastle United Finance, Stephenson’s Notebook and Brexit; and with the Council on Kittiwakes, Homelessness and Fenham Hub.
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I travelled to Lisbon twice, firstly as Shadow Minister for Innovation I spoke at Websummit, the largest gathering of internet people in the world, with over 70,000 attendees. It was an interesting insight into the current state of play in the tech sector. I wrote a blog for diginomica.
- As Vice Chair of the Party of European socialists and now the UK Labour member of the presidency I attended the Congress in Lisbon. I had a number of bilaterals with sister parties, I think it is important to emphasise the strong relationship we will have with European socialists inside or outside the European Union and the need for Europe to change to better represent working people.
Howard University Gospel Choir with Newcastle’s Voices of Virtue
I spoke from the frontbench three times – in Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions (20 Nov 2018) on support for manufacturing, in Westminster Hall debate on State Aid, Public Ownership and Workers Rights after Brexit (11 Dec 2018) and in Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions (8th Jan 2018) on the impact of No Deal Brexit on Supply Chains and our economy.
Airbus in Gosforth
My Parliamentary Assistant, Matt Davies, is leaving to take up a role in Labour HQ, he will be greatly missed. His replacement was recruited in an open process and will start at the beginning of February. Her name is Chi-Chi Shi (Chi-Chi working for Chi is going to be fun!) and she is currently a policy officer within the NUS.
Quoted in national and local media including Business Insider UK, Wall Street Journal, BBC 5Live, Victoria Derbyshire, Bloomberg & Sky. Wrote a number of blogs.
Meetings and visits
APPG Africa- Rising Private Debt roundtable, HM Ambassador Lisbon, Web Summit Lisbon, Roberto Trotta – Imperial College London, Valerie Corcias – Mycoccon, Nikita Thakrar – Women in STEM Global, United Hebrew Congregative Civic Shabbat commemoration event, Armistice Day service at City War Memorial, Call with Jo Dipple – Newcastle Live Nation event, 10,000 Small Businesses UK, DFID and Gates Foundation, Science and Innovation for Development, LNER, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Hadestown Olivier Theatre, Law Society Dinner for St Hugh’s College, Uni of Oxford, Canning St Primary – Parliamentary Teacher Ambassador assembly, North East Economic Forum seminar with Keir Starmer, St James park Festive Fayre, Hugh Masekela celebration Concert, STEM gap: Awareness raising event, Fabian Mentoree, UK Major Ports Group, National Gallery – Mantegna and Bellini, Promoting Confidence, Trust and Standards in the Internet, Advancing Al in the NHS,25th Anniversary of National Schools Meals Week, Abbvie – care, Ditchley/British American Parliamentary Group – the Special Relationship in the AI Age, Youtube on Stage 2018, National Grid, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. #AskHerToStand in Parliament. BAE Systems Technology , Globe- Jazz ARQ, John Goddard – Newcastle Uni, HSBC SME Fund, Marie Curie Hospice, Women’s Dinner – Helen Cadzow, Coffee Morning to discuss burglaries in Gosforth, Small Business Saturday Reception. Connect Immune Research, Kellogg’s 20th Anniversary Breakfast Club Awards, Association of Medial Research Charities,
Canning Street Primary School visit
Railway Industry Association, SEC Group, Airbus, Kevin Maguire – Daily Mirror, National Energy Action – Tackling Fuel Poverty and Clean Growth Strategy, The Sunday Times Annual Business Party, A Taste of West Sussex, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner’s Lecture by Speaker of the House, UCU Activism against gender-based violence, FBU at Northern TUC, Airbus Geo Intelligence Office Visit, Small Business Saturday visits – Glamorous Owl & Grow up Green, Tesco Food Collection, Tyne & Wear Chief Fire Officer & Chair, Nissan, Richard Davies – Newcastle Uni, Christmas Mini Market Blakelaw, Hillsong Church Carols, Disability North AGM, Board of Deputies Chanukah Reception, APPG Stem and Diversity, Office for Students, Queen’s Reception for Diplomatic Corps, , APPG Italy, Skills for Care – Social Care Data, Cross-Party, Cross-Sector celebration of Northern Potential, Equality in the Arab Region, Science and Engineering Community, Smart Energy Innovation Showcase, Susan Eisenbach – Imperial College, Octopus – High Growth Small Business Research, PES Conference Lisbon – Swedish Delegation, Royal Mail Visit, Mwenza Blell -Newcastle Uni, Northumbria Uni Carol Service, Royal Mail Reception, Western Isles – Growth Deal, LEGO Engineers of the Future, Parliament #MincePieMoments for Jo Cox MP, Celebrating Small Businesses Reception, Chartered Institute Of Building, Commission on Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and a Changing Economy, Northern Powergrid Science Park Innovation Visit. Howard Choir at Hotspur School, Red Ramble, Reckitt Benkiser, End Voilence Against Sex Workers, Melissa Mills – Women Like Me, BAE, APPG Adult Education, APPG Votes at 16, Tribune, Nutcracker London Coliseum, Guide Dogs Access All Areas, Cyber Roundtable, Royal Society Debate ‘Delivering the Industrial Society’, Sustrans, Northern Stage, Populus research interview Network Rail, Positive Technologies, Positive Money, What is the future of lower league football, Jasia Education, St Anne’s Oxford, City of LondonCorp, 261 Fearless running club, Newcastle United Foundation Community event Get into Aviation, Stephenson Trust.
Chartered Association of Business Schools Annual Conference, Web Summit: Harnessing the Data Revolution, Chair Africa APPG roundtable -Africa Strategy. Podcast Interview Government vs Robots. Politics Summit 2018. Labour Housing Group, New Scientist- Careers in Science, Schools Leocoin Cheque Hand Overs, Nigerian-British Economic summit event, Nesta’s 20th Birthday, Chair Nigeria Conflict Event , Bridging the Digital Divide, Royal Society Pairing Scheme , Local Government Association, IET: 10th Anniversary, Doteveryone Digital Regulation Panel Event, Women in Tech, Women in the Trades: Jobs for the Girls, Imperial & Kings Labour Society Panel Discussion: Where does Brexit leave Science?, Waspi Anthem Launch