The highlight of the month was definitely Newcastle beating Manchester City to escape the relegation zone! This followed my Westminster debate on financial transparency at Newcastle United which was welcomed by many constituents who stopped me in the street or wrote to me to express support.
NUFC Fans Food Bank donation point
But overall the month was again dominated by Tory Brexit chaos. The meaningful vote saw the most crushing defeat ever inflicted upon a Government, and yet Theresa May calmly took it in her stride, won the Vote of No Confidence that followed thanks to the DUP and Tories too scared to hold a General Election, and proceeded to claim to renegotiate what could not be renegotiated and then call a debate where she voted against her own deal… I was hugely disappointed to see both the ‘meaningful’ no-deal Brexit amendments defeated, the one which was passed, the Spelman-Dromey one, is non binding. A no deal Brexit will be a disaster for the North East economy in particular. It seems the ideological dogma of the Tory party is still the driving force rather than the interests of the nation. The Prime Minister continues to kick the can down the road, hoping no-one will note that despite almost three years of negotiations, there is nothing in the can.
May appears to believe that if she delays long enough some MPs will be panicked into voting for her Bad Brexit Deal as a consequence of no-deal fears with a little bribery thrown in. We are facing a huge number of ‘statutory instruments’ aiming to change laws and regulations to reflect a no-deal, these are complex and detailed but we have neither the time nor the resources to really scrutinise them.
Generally there are ongoing issues which are not getting the attention they deserve because of Brexit, not least the grossly unfair local government funding settlement, the pressures on our police and the chaos which is the rollout of Universal Credit. The Civil Service is also overwhelmed and my office sees even longer delays in obtaining proper responses to enquiries on departmental responsibilities such as visas and benefits.
Excelsior Academy presentation of projects
Backbench and Constituency Role
- My adjournment debate on the regulation of Newcastle United attracted huge interest with the video of my closing remarks being viewed 130k times. There was some criticism of the use of parliamentary time for football but this was almost exclusively from Sunderland fans. My view is that my job is to represent the interests of my constituents and this includes football, especially given the economic and social impact it has on the city. I am happy to raise any number of issues in Parliament and I regular publish on my website the issues constituents have raised with me and the correspondence I am undertaking on their behalf.
- Spoke from the backbenches 11 times– Leaving the EU (14 Jan); Primary care (15 Jan); Small scale farming post Brexit (17 Jan); Litter in Benwell (17 Jan); African visitor visas (22 Jan); No deal brexit and small businesses (24 Jan); Holocaust Memorial Day (24 Jan); NUFC Regulations (24 Jan); Sport at St James’ park- Rugby opening ceremony and sport for fans not finance (31 Jan); Equitable Life (31 Jan); State Pension Age: Women(31 Jan);
- I was particularly pleased to be able to raise Canning Street Primary School’s Keep Benwell Tidy campaign in a question to the Minister for Refuse, and invite the Minister to visit the school.
- I spoke in the Holocaust Memorial Debate on the rise of antisemitism and the appropriate response of the Labour Party, following a meeting with Jennie Formby to secure assurances of action.
- I asked four Written Questions to Ministers Film: Equality ( 16 Jan) ; Film: Tax Allowances and diversity (16 Jan) ; Mash Holdings: Company Accounts (25 Jan); Free School Meals: Newcastle upon Tyne Central (25 Jan)
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers on Leasehold , Primary Health Care, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary and Mesh, Newcastle United Finance, Stephenson Notebook; and with the Council on Kittiwakes, Homelessness and Fenham Hub.
First Steps women’s group
Shadow Ministerial Role
- A no-deal Brexit will have a huge impact on our manufacturing, industry, science and innovation, so there is a significant amount of work in my brief. I responded to the destressing announcement by Nissan that the X trail would not be built at Sunderland after all.
- Outside of Brexit, I am focusing on developing a Science Offer to highlight the excellent the importance of science as a basis for our future prosperity.
- The Shadow Business team launched a report from Sheffield Hallam for the Labour Party on reducing regional inequality.
My Parliamentary Assistant Matt left to take a job with Labour Headquarters. He will be much missed. His successor, Chi-Chi, started 4th February. Yes that’s right, Chi-Chi is working for Chi! Our living wage intern Lois will stay with us till the end of March.
Quoted in national and local media including Politics Live, Around the House and the Sunday Times. Wrote a number of blogs including: “Labour’s actions must match its words on Holocaust Memorial Day” for the New Statesman, and “Treating the Brexit negotiations like a car dealership needs to stop” for The Times Red Box.
Opening Ceremony of the 2019 Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations in Newcastle
Meetings and visits
Howard University Choir, Winterwonderland Scotswood Community Garden, Red Ramble, Reckitt Benkiser, End Violence Against Sex Workers, Melissa Mills – Women Like Me, BAE, APPG Women in Parliament, APPG Adult Education, NHS 70th Anniversary, Prospect Union’s Renewable Energy Sector, APPG Votes at 16, Tribune, Nutcracker London Coliseum, Guide Dogs Access All Areas, Cyber Roundtable, Royal Society Debate ‘Delivering the Industrial Society’, Sustrans, BAME meeting, Northern Stage, Populus research interview Network Rail, Positive Technologies, Aerospace Brexit event, Kiwi Health & Social Care apprenticeships, Positive Money, What is the future of lower league football, Jasia Education, St Anne’s Oxford, City of London financial services no deal contingency planning, 261 Fearless running club, Newcastle United Foundation Community event Get into Aviation, UK Cloud, Brexit meeting, Tribune meeting, ABHI parliamentary reception, Publishers Association, Future of business summit, Dallas Jones, Young Women’s Trust, Launch of Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List, FSB Small Business & Supply Chains, Jennie Formby, Sabby Gill – Sage, Action for Children visit, Excelsior North East Showcase, Citizens Advice Bureau,
St Cuthberts political society
Cervical cancer prevention week photocall drop-in, Premier league community portal drop-in, Holocaust memorial day book of commitment signing, Jo Reynolds – Royal Society Chemistry, Angola APPG meeting – Ambassador giving a briefing, Visas Africa APPG pre meeting, APPG Jazz Youth Orchestra, A taste of Cumbria, Yachad, 23 and Me, , ADS annual dinner, Ian Hogarth, Newcastle University – Steering group & Licensee’s, MP Meeting, Women’s dinner, Opening ceremony of the 2019 Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations, British Business Bank visit, AIRTO New Year Reception, Sense about Science, Pictfor Data & Trust event, Children’s mental health – local campaigning drop in, Nigerian minister open to APPG, Social Enterprise UK, R&D and Drug pricing meeting, Chartered Association of Business Schools, Keith McGee, Dementia research labs visit, Enterprise & Entrepreneurship, Paul Brennan MEP, Labour friends of USA: Lessons from the 2018 mid-terms, Torn from Home – Exhibition Launch, Greene King PLC reception, Unaccompanied Young Migrants Book Launch, Museum of the Moon VIP preview
Action for Children in Blakelaw
Waspi Anthem Launch, Northern launch of Women in Transport, Holocaust Memorial Day debate, Adjournment debate – Regulation of NUFC, St Cuthbert’s Year 12 political society visit, First Steps visit, Sheffield Hallam Report Launch, Keynote speaker at Not Equal Launch Symposia, TechWomen100 Awards,