I’m extremely disappointed that Santander in Crouch End is one of 140 branches scheduled to close across the country, putting 1,270 staff at risk of redundancy. I met with Santander bosses to express my opposition and spoke during the Parliamentary debate about the lack of a social conscience in banking. View my full speech here and sign my petition to save the branch here.
On Friday I had the pleasure of meeting some of the young people from Hornsey & Wood Green taking part in the Climate Strike. It is the next generation who will pay the price of this generation’s failure to act on climate change and they’re right to be angry and to demand better of those in power. They have my solidarity and support and the Tory Government would have done well to listen to them rather than criticise them.
As I write this there are only 40 days to go until we crash out of the EU, but it feels like we are no further forward. Labour put forward an amendment on Thursday to try and stop the Prime Minister from running down the clock and blackmailing MPs into backing her botched deal. It had my full support but was defeated by the Tories and their DUP partners. I also backed an SNP motion calling to extend Article 50 and am disappointed that was also defeated.
So, whilst the Government’s defeat on their own amendment proved once again that Theresa May doesn’t have the support of Parliament for her failed plan, there remains no clarity in Parliament about what happens next. That’s why I continue to believe another public vote is the only sensible way forward. As it is we await what the PM brings back to the Commons, despite her admitting this week that the EU have refused to reopen the withdrawal agreement negotiations. I challenged her on Tuesday about her lack of appreciation of the impact of Brexit on Ireland (watch my intervention here) and took part in Parliamentary meetings of Labour for a People’s Vote and Labour for a Socialist Europe. I said that I want Labour to lead the fight to transform Europe from within the EU, because we can’t rebuild prosperity at home if we allow Brexit to devastate our economy. We discussed the need to build a progressive case for Europe that stands against austerity and anti-migrant policies and challenges a Tory Brexit that would be a disaster for workers’ rights, environmental protections and consumer standards.
On Tuesday I took part in an important debate about the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which I fear replaces one flawed system with another. There are certain circumstances where it is appropriate to deprive someone of their liberty if arrangements need to be made for their care and treatment but they don’t have the capacity to consent. However, this has to be managed carefully and Labour called for the Bill to be paused at second reading because it significantly weakens the rights of cared-for people to access independent advocates. During the debate, I raised concerns about the lack of consistency in the choice of advocates across the country and flagged up fears that the proposals will open a legal can of worms. The Bill currently allows local authorities to delegate control of the assessment process to the managers of private care homes. I oppose this because it would hand an excessive amount of power to someone with a clear conflict of interest in having the authorisation granted. If the Government were serious about protecting people’s liberty, they would be funding local authorities to process applications, not passing a law that weakens the safeguards protecting people’s liberty.