I kicked off the week on the Westminster Hour, speaking up in support of a People’s Vote on the final Brexit deal. We are lurching ever closer to stumbling out of the EU with so many outstanding questions, yet Parliament returned this week to the sight of Tories jostling to position themselves as the next leader, rather than provide answers.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister dismissed my concerns about British science and research post Brexit, when I challenged her directly. Yet this week we learnt that Britain’s leading role evaluating medicines is collapsing and I’ve heard first-hand from Hornsey & Wood Green constituents about the impact. We are losing exceptionally talented people who are moving overseas as their jobs disappear and the well-respected Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are losing contracts and failing to win new ones because there’s such uncertainty over what will happen from March next year. That’s devastating for jobs, our economy, and our position as a global leader in science. On Tuesday, I asked the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab what actions the Government is taking to mitigate the effects on British science of the disastrous move offshore of the European Medicines Agency. In the event of no deal, how many research jobs do the Government estimate will be lost during the scramble to set up a new statutory authorising body? Again, his answer provided little reassurance.
The Civil Liabilities Bill came back to Parliament on Tuesday for its second reading. I tabled an Early Day Motion earlier this year setting out my concerns that, in attempting to reduce fraudulent whiplash claims, an aim I support, the bill risks removing access to legal redress for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. It appears from the Minister’s response during the debate that the Government has made a partial concession and is now planning on exempting vulnerable road users from the scope of its whiplash compensation reforms. That’s a step forward, but until we get the exact details we need to keep up the pressure.
I’ve been campaigning against payday lenders since my time as Council Leader, when we tried to ban them from the borough for the damage they cause. So I won’t shed a tear over the demise of Wonga, whose name has come to represent the exploitation of people who have nowhere else to turn. Until we put an end to the culture of low paid, insecure work and the failure of the benefits system to respond quickly to people’s changing circumstances, another Wonga will rise from the ashes. I want to see the Government actively supporting credit unions as an ethical alternative to payday lenders, and I’ve raised Parliamentary Questions on the issue this week.
Finally, I am pleased that Labour’s NEC took the decision this week to accept the full IHRA definition on anti-Semitism with all its examples. It’s what I’ve been calling for and I hope this can be the start of a process of listening, fully acknowledging and addressing the Jewish community’s genuine concerns. That is the only way that trust can be rebuilt.