Theresa May’s Brexit statement on Monday didn’t say anything new. But what was revealing was how little support there was in a packed Chamber for her negotiating stance. It’s glaringly obvious that any deal this hapless government manages to negotiate will be worse than the one we already have. We have the rabid Brexiteers pushing for no deal, irrespective of the damage it would cause to jobs, industry and people’s lives, the DUP threatening to vote down the upcoming budget and a growing call from all sides of the House for a People’s Vote as the only way out of this mess.
Incredibly, over 700,000 people took part in the People’s Vote March for our Future on Saturday and I was one of them. There was a deep sense of anger and sorrow that a leave campaign that lied, cheated and broke electoral law is being allowed to get away with it. It certainly feels like momentum is continuing to grow for a second vote as the consequences of Brexit become more real. This week we learnt that AstraZeneca have halted their UK investment because of the lack of Brexit clarity and when I spoke at a meeting of the Industry Forum on Monday evening it was clear that the uncertainty is affecting business.
Everybody – except the Tories – knows Universal Credit is an expensive failure. I’ve been urging Esther McVey to cancel the plans for a full rollout across all postcode areas in Haringey, but to no avail. On Tuesday, I asked the Minister Alok Sharma whether he had read the Trussell Trust’s insightful report on Universal Credit and food bank use, not only did he fail to answer he didn’t even recognise the clear links between the failing roll-out of Universal Credit and the rising rates of food bank use. Watch the video here.
I joined Labour Friends of Local Government on Wednesday to show my support for their campaign against yet more government cuts. Eight years of Tory-Lib Dem austerity has put local councils at breaking point. I’d like to see the Chancellor use this month’s Budget to reverse next year’s planned £1.3 billion cut to council budgets; immediately invest £2 billion in children’s services and £2 billion in adult social care to stop these vital emergency services collapsing; and use the Spending Review to restore council funding to 2010 levels over the next four years.
I was proud to be the guest of honour at St Thomas More School’s Prize Giving on Thursday evening, where I spoke about the heart of education being the education of the heart. You can read my speech here.
On Friday I held one of my pop-up advice surgeries at the ArtHouse in Crouch End and joined Members of the European Parliament Lucy Anderson, Seb Dance and Peter Kouroumbashev to speak at an event at City Hall on the impact of Brexit on Eastern European Londoners. For me, one of the worst things about Brexit is that people who have made their homes here for many years and contributed so much to our great city have been left feeling unwelcome and unsure about their future. The event looked at how we can build an inclusive London in the Brexit climate.
It was a theme I picked up again on Saturday when I took part in the Stand up to Racism conference. I also spoke about the cruelty of indefinite immigration detention. It is a complete violation of human rights and it must be abolished.