I started the week attending the Police Gold Group following the appalling violence on the streets of Wood Green last Friday, that left one teenager dead and another young man in hospital with serious knife and gun wounds. I have written to the Home Secretary to set out my concerns and call for more resources for areas that are experiencing these spikes in gun and knife violence. 21,000 police officers have been axed and recorded crime is rising at the fastest rate in a decade following years of Tory and Lib Dem cuts. You can read my letter here. Over the weekend I went on a walkabout in the area to talk to local residents together with the ward councillors and the Police.
On Tuesday I raised the humanitarian crisis in the Yemen at Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions and asked the Minister what action was being taken to deal with the deeply concerning issue of child soldiers. Watch my question and the Minister’s response here.
I was very proud to officially take over as the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rare, Genetic & Undiagnosed Conditions on Wednesday and host the annual Parliamentary Rare Diseases Reception to mark Rare Diseases Day. There are over 6,000 rare diseases affecting over 3.5 million people in the UK – that’s 1 in 17 people who will be affected by a rare disease in the course of their lives. Collectively rare diseases are not rare. At the event we heard some of the experiences of people living with rare diseases and the impact it has on their lives. The Minister Baroness Nicola Blackwood also attended to talk about the Government’s approach and spoke movingly about her own personal experiences struggling to obtain a diagnosis for her rare condition.
But as every week at the moment and with barely a month to go, Brexit remains at the top of the agenda. When the Prime Minister came to Parliament to make yet another statement, I quizzed her about the financial cost of Brexit. She didn’t seem to want to tell me the numbers and it’s not hard to see why. £500 million pounds a week and rising. An economy smaller than it would have been, companies shifting operations overseas taking jobs and investment with them, £171,000 being spent every hour by this shambolic Government to prepare for a “no deal” Brexit that they refuse to rule out. So much for the desperately needed cash for our NHS.
I have long campaigned for the people to have a final say and am delighted that this week this became Labour’s official position. With so little time remaining it’s the only available option – something I spoke about when I took part in a Left Against Brexit public meeting in Wood Green this week.
In votes on Wednesday, I co-sponsored an amendment to the paper motion on the UK’s Withdrawal from the EU which focussed on environmental issues, supported Yvette Cooper and Oliver Letwin’s amendment to block a catastrophic “no deal” Brexit and the Costa amendment to protect citizens’ rights for EU citizens in the UK and British citizens living in other EU countries. It’s indicative of the way this Tory Government has treated EU citizens that Alberto Costa MP was sacked as a Minister simply for trying to defend them. Here’s the speech I made in Parliament during the EU Withdrawal Bill debate.
I had a busy and enjoyable Friday and weekend in the constituency, amongst other things attending the Haringey Women’s History Month Launch at Bruce Castle, speaking at a Justice for Colombia fringe event at London Labour Conference about my experiences visiting Columbia during my time as Shadow Foreign Minister and enjoying the wonderful hospitalist at Masjid Ayesha Mosque on the annual Visit My Mosque Day.
I also visited Coleridge Primary School to meet the Head and Chair of Governors and discuss the crisis in school funding.