Dear Newcastle April 2019
I always feel Spring is really here when the clocks go forward and the cows return to the moor. But in Westminsterland, nothing much is changing. The Brexit train grinds on even as the buffers are moved. Either two or one and a half, depending on how you counted them, further meaningful votes were held. The Government lost Meaningful Vote 2 by 149, less than the 230 vote margin on Meaningful Vote 1 but still historic. Following the Speaker’s ruling that the Government couldn’t just keep on bringing back the same motion to parliament, the Government then tried to split the withdrawal agreement from the political declaration despite that being against the intent and fact of the UK legislation and designed solely to meet the requirements of the EU Council that the Tories Bad Brexit deal should be approved by March 31st. The irony of the Government ignoring UK law to follow EU requirements in order to, supposedly, regain UK sovereignty was not lost.
Bridgewater School in Parliament
In any case these latest Government shenanigans were also defeated. The Government cannot get its Brexit deal through Parliament and has finally realised that it needs to reach out to the Labour Part, initiating talks on a Brexit solution over the last week. But the fact is agreeing to a customs union to protect jobs would split the Tory party where a block of Hard Right Brexiteers refuse to support their own Prime Minister even after she promised to resign. I won the opportunity to ask a question to the Prime Minister on 27th of March.
Newcastle voted, by 50.7% to 49.3%, to remain. It divided our city, and I was determined that we should not have to vote again, but this is a complete shambles. Parliament gridlocked, Government paralysed, businesses stalled, jobs lost, households stockpiling, our global reputation trashed and a Prime Minister incapable of holding her Cabinet together, never mind the country. Will she consider the possibility that she is making a terrible mistake?
Her answer did not give me confidence. I set out in an article for the Chronicle why I now, reluctantly, think we need another vote: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/now-back-peoples-vote-campaign-16009928
We are passing through a very difficult time as a country and we can only hope that Newcastle can remain united as a city even if we disagree with friends and neighbours over Brexit.
International Women’s Day at Newcastle College
Backbench and Constituency Role
- I spoke from the backbenches 14 times– The decrease of per-pupil funding (Mar 4); adequately funding Newcastle’s public services (Mar 4); funding cuts for children’s social care (Mar 4); stronger towns fund (Mar 4); EU Withdrawal Act and trading agreement between Northern Ireland and Ireland (Mar 12); investment in cyber-security (Mar 13); Article 50 Extension Procedure (Mar 18); funding for child sexual exploitation victims (Mar 19); Article 50 Extension and other Brexit options than the PM’s deal (Mar 22); cervical cancer screening (Mar 26); cuts to local government funding and its impact (Mar 27); question to the PM about making a terrible mistake (Mar 27); impact of Brexit resourcing on public services (Mar 28); approving the Withdrawal Act without the requirements (Mar 28)
- I asked 32 Written Questions since Written questions since March 1: 21 – The number of refugee minors that resettled under the Immigration Act 2016 (Mar 6); reducing dangerous journeys taken by unaccompanied child refugees (Mar 6); progress relating to the national retraining scheme (Mar 6); effect of the devolution of the adult education budget (Mar 6funding JET nuclear fusion reactor (Mar 13); funding to the European Bioinformatics Institute (Mar 13); protecting R&D funding after implementation period (Mar 13); increasing funding for the British Business Bank (Mar 13); the distribution of the Construction Sector Deal funding (Mar 13); exemption of minimum salary requirement for PhD-level roles (Mar 13); assessment of increasing police stop and search powers (Mar 13); local authorities re-housing refugees without notice period (Mar 13); assessment of financial regulatory framework (Mar 19); preventing investment schemes (Mar 19); steps to compensate who invested in London Capital of Finance (Mar 19); taxation of online accommodation booking businesses (Mar 25); effect of Airbnb on tourism in the North East (Mar 25); the Serious Fraud Office investigation into London Capital & Finance (Mar 25); investigating the effectiveness of competition in online hotel booking (Mar 25); protecting businesses from cyber-attacks (Mar 28); shoplifting in Newcastle (Mar 28) );
- I was proud to be recognised as an inspiring woman of the North East for International Women’s Day (Mar 8) : https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/business/business-news/international-womens-day-north-east-14380277
- I was proud to march with Tyneside Irish veterans including Fifth Fusiliers on St Patricks Day to remember the contribution of Irish Geordies in the service of our country.
- I enjoyed welcoming Bridgewater Primary School to Parliament and being asked tough questions by the young students.
- I am engaged in correspondence with Ministers or Government Agencies on, Northumbria Police Officer re-instatement, Leasehold, Litter, Long Term Support for Victims of Operation Sanctuary, Newcastle United Finance, Weinstein and Ipsa, with the Council on Kittiwakes and Homelessnes and with LNER on Disability Access.
Investing in Children
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I met with many 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.
Our London Living Wage paid intern, Lois, left us and will be much missed.
Quoted in national and local media including ITV, Victoria Derbyshire, the Chronicle.
At Disability North
Meetings and visits (till April 1) Meetings (Organisation/Name)
Bibi 50th Celebration, SMMT National Apprenticeship Week Reception, Mobile UK, Destination for Education, Microsoft Apprenticeships Reception, NHS Parliamentary Awards 2019, Skills for the Future in a Fourth Industrial Revolution Dinner Discussion, Russia: Royalty and the Romanovs viewing, Marie Curie Great Daffodil Appeal drop-in event, Drop-in celebration of the Hospitality and Food & Drink Industry in Wales, Hospitality Apprentice event, Malcolm Corbett – INCA CEO, SMMT Motor Industry Industrial Strategy, Building Societies Association 150th Anniversary Celebratory Reception, Thales’ UK Economic Impact Report Launch, Let Us Learn’s Parliamentary event, 2019 Visit to Bombardier in Crewe, International Women’s Day Launch, Disability North Visit, Meeting, John McDonnel Labour’s Key Demands from the Spring Statement, Launch of Cambridge’s 2019 Research Horizons, NSPCC Wild West Web Campaign Reception, , CHAMPs St Patrick’s Day Reception, Red Nose Day Parliamentary Reception, STEM for Britain, Roundtable with Catriona Laing CB – British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bahr Academy, Eugene Milne – Cervical Screening, NHSA, St Patrick’s Day Remembrance,
Celebrating St Patrick’s Day
The Brighton B&B Visit, Lady Tunnicliffe – Science Education, BAE Systems, Coca-Cola European Partners’ Annual Parliamentary Dinner, NCC Group Cyber Security, Harriet Matthews – FCO Director Africa, Reception to mark the Launch of the Strategy and First Work Programme for the Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation, AMRC Sheffield visit, Anti Brexit March, ACTSA Dinner, All Party Engineering Group Lunch Discussion , Materials Processing Institute, Global Food banking Network Parliamentary Reception, Future Leaders Connect drop-in event, Local Government Funding Westminster Hall Debate, Catherine City of London & Ronnie Kent UK Finance, Refugee Rights, Metapraxis Financial Focus Dinner, Tourism Alliance Parliamentary Reception, UNISON drop-in reception: 20th Anniversary of the National Minimum Wage, Brendan Foster
Speaking (till April 1)
UNISON Northern Labour Link Forum, Debate on school funding, Chair initial BAME Business APPG, Chair Westminster Energy, Environment & Transport Forum Keynote Seminar, North West Business Team Event Manchester, Newcastle College Campaign Launch at International Women’s Day, Property Network Group – Rebuilding the North East, Young Women’s Trust Listening Session, UK Tech & Innovation Smart IoT, Voice of the Future 2019, Bridgewater School after their Parliamentary tour, Chair APPG STEM & Diversity, NESTA UK Report Launch, IPSOS Interview, Regional Technology Foresight event Sheffield