Dear Newcastle May 2019
Brexit continued to dominate headlines and Parliamentary time until this week’s local election gave some insight into voting intentions. In Newcastle the results were mixed with Labour losing one seat to the Liberal Democrats and one seat to Independents (Newcastle First). Across the region the picture was worse for Labour with losses in Sunderland, Darlington and Hartlepool, but Labour won a significant victory as the people of North of Tyne chose Jamie Driscoll to be our first Mayor.
Scotswood Community Garden
Brexit was a big issue during the local elections, everyone is tired and frustrated with the lack of progress. That includes MPs like me! Parliament sat an extra week over Easter as the Government and Labour Party discussed options for a Brexit deal.. Theresa May spent over two and a half years arguing with her party about Brexit and still couldn’t produce something her own party could agree on. It is important that Labour works with the Government to see if we can agree something which is in the interests of our country. But as the Prime Minister refuses to move on any of their red lines which would be so detrimental to the North East economy, workers rights and the environment, a deal seems unlikely. I signed a letter organised by the Love Socialism Hate Brexit grouping arguing that a Confirmatory Vote should be Labour Party policy for any Brexit deal and made clear that is my position.
Backbench and Constituency Role
- Spoke from the backbenches 13 times: Electoral Registration: EU Citizens (25th April); UK Telecoms: Huawei (25th April); Women’s Life Expectancy (25th April); EU Customs Union (25th April); Topical Questions (25th April); Discrimination in Football (11th April); Manufacturing Output Levels (9th April); UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (8th April); Online Harms White Paper (8th April); Housing: Newcastle (8th April); Gender Pay Gap (4th April); Further Education Funding (2nd April) Topical questions (4th April)
- Asked 33 written questions: support for manufacturers (29th April); the UK’s future association with the Horizon Europe programme (30th April); whether local health profiles influence the allocation of public investment in health research (30th April); protections from vulnerabilities to hackers in mobile signalling networks (30th April); what plans to use the Spending Review to invest in the Northern Powerhouse (30th April); on the rights record of Bahraini ambassador to the UK Shaikh Fawaz bin Mohammad Alkhalifa (30th April); EU students and international student fees (30th April); training and assessments for UKVI Entry Clearance Officers (11th April); number of Entry Clearance Officers employed in hubs (11th April); data and user-generated content (24th April); financial support for manufacturers (24th April); support for circus skills (24th April); beneficiaries of Erasmus (24th April); funding support for manufacturers (11th April); support available for manufacturers (11th April); levels of stockpiling (11th April); cost of preparations for leaving the EU (11th April); number of visa applications (11th April); the scope of the duty of care in the Online Harms White Paper (9th April); the scope of the duty of care in the Online Harms White Paper; number of visa decisions made daily (11th April); African visa applications (11th April); comparative assessment of the trials of animal feed in UK and Canada (04th April); definition of victims of sexual violence (10 April); length of support for victims of sexual violence (10th April); publication of companies R&D spend (08th April); support for victims of sexual violence (04th April); response to children’s climate change concerns (2nd April); school days lost due to school strikes (2nd April); assessments of provisions for private rented housing (2nd April); allocation of funding for the Borderlands Growth Deal (2nd April)
Projects4ChangeUK – Geordie role models
- 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 Homelessness and with LNER on Disability Access
Shadow Ministerial and PES Role
- I participated in a British Council delegation to France to look at promoting successful collaboration particularly between in the Creative Industries, Higher Education, Science and Research. Concerns were raised at the impact of Brexit on these links and it also became apparent that the UK had not taken advantage of all the opportunities for collaboration. For example in France the Erasmus Fund is used to benefit school children from deprived backgrounds by helping pay for study breaks to other EU countries
- Spoke from the frontbench once: UK-EU Trading Relationship: Industrial Strategy (30th April);
- As part of the industrial strategy portfolio I continue to look at the challenges faced by particular sectors including the Care Sector, Pharma and Manufacturing..
- 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.
Tourism Week in Newcastle
Our London Living Wage paid intern, Lois, left us and will be much missed.
Quoted in national and local media including BILD Interview, Women Engineer photo, Newcastle United Documentary, ESRC Equity in STEM Education, Hope Not Hate, Celebrating Women of Colour Interview
Meetings and visits
St Anne’s College promoting Oxford University applications at St James’ Park
Macmillan Cancer Supports’ Health Inequalities Event, Celebrate the Tourism Industry, Mountfield Primary School visit, NUFC V Crystal Palace, FCO & DTI Welcome Reception STEM the GAP delegation, Nigel Tully – National Youth Jazz Orchestra, NESTA Dinner, Keith Magee, British Council Paris visit: Higher Education Leaders, Research & Mobility Connections in Higher Education, Visit to Theatre du Chatelet, English Teaching & Exams, Meeting with French Deputies, Meeting with Ambassador –International Opportunities for emerging Artists, R&D Drug Pricing, Hydrogen Showcase drop-in, Energy UK, Roundtable Robert Jenrick MP by PICTFOR, Single Launch of Let Nature Sing, Shelter, Training and Awareness on Trans Issues, Politico, Huawei Technologies, Celebration of Farm Africa’s, Briefing Dinner on Information Operations, Foundation for Science & Technology debate on two cultures, Trussle Trust, Writing: Making Your Mark, New Chief Supt Ged Noble, Shelter visit, Family Blossom Day at Scotswood Garden, Where Do We Belong performance at Northern Stage, Philip Lynagh – Giants on Quayside development, Sir Jim McDonald of Caesar, NoteMachine, Lotteries Council, APPG on Cycling, The Prince’s Trust; Centrepoint and the Children’s Society joint report launch, The Half God of Rainfall at Kiln Theatre, Projects4Change Parliamentary Visit, National Association of Retired Police Officer’s Survivors Pension Inequality drop-in, “Making Conservation Happen – The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife”, Small Island at National Theatre, Kilfrost Reception, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Alliance Healthcare Pharmaceutical Wholesale Service Centre Visit Turning Points – Live Theatre’s 21st Birthday, Turban Awareness Day with Sikh Channel, APPG on Mozambique meeting, Parliamentary Launch: Delivering Net Zero Carbon Buildings
The Young Company Northern Stage
Unison FE Conference, Labour Energy Forum, In Our Space event, BEIS Select Committee CCS Report, Host AFBE Advisory Board Meeting, NE Rwandan Association 25th Anniversary, Introduce Crackle. Dust. Women of the North Project, Debate on Facial Recognition and the Biometrics Strategy, Heathrow’s North East Business Summit, St Anne’s & Trinity Oxford event