Parliament broke for the summer recess this week with the Tory Government hanging on a thread and the Brexit Secretary confirming plans to stockpile food, medicines and blood in preparation for crashing out of the EU with no deal. It’s an absolute mess and I was on Sky News on Monday making the case for a people’s vote on the final deal, which includes the option to remain in the EU. I’ll be speaking at the Left Against Brexit North London launch on Tuesday 31 July, 7pm at the Cypriot Centre in Wood Green. Find out more and let me know you’re coming here.
I was horrified to learn this week that the Home Secretary Sajid Javid has refused to demand assurances that the death penalty won’t be used in the cases of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh. They stand accused of unspeakable atrocities and must be brought to trial to face justice. But I unequivocally oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and believe that as a nation we must never abandon our commitment to human rights. I made an urgent representation to the Home Secretary urging him to consider the repercussions of his department’s actions and am pleased that the latest reports suggest the Home Office has backtracked and temporarily suspended cooperation with the American authorities. It shows the impact political and public pressure can have, and we must keep it up.
On Monday, I attended Local Government Questions where I asked the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities & Local Government James Brokenshire whether his Department would consider looking at a requirement on all local authorities to place families within a reasonable distance of schools. All too often I hear about families in temporary accommodation who are travelling for over two hours to get to their school, which has a huge impact on family life, friendship building and health. His reply, which you can read here, was disappointingly vague.
Finally, as the Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and other Neglected Tropical Diseases, I had the privilege of spending the second half of the week in Kenya with the charity Malaria No More. Kenya has one of the highest rates of malaria, with over 3.5 million people affected in 2016 alone. Children under 5 and pregnant women are at particularly high risk. During the cross party visit MPs focussed on strengthening Kenyan health care systems especially in Siaya (Obama County). Leading UK paediatrician Mr Mike English of Oxford University is working on important areas to improve basic health care such as the role of community health teams, the quality of care in County hospitals and training Kenyan nurses and doctors.