It’s Refugee Week and it was a privilege to join Sponsor Refugees and Citizens UK in Parliament to hear testimonies from refugees of their amazing journeys including young Mouteb making his first speech in Parliament. Before he came to the UK from Syria and Jordan he had never been able to go to school. I spoke at the event about how proud I am of all our volunteers and community groups in Hornsey & Wood Green who have stepped up to support the arrival and integration of refugee families locally. The Muswell Hill Methodist Church led Community Sponsorship scheme have supported Syrian families arriving here and I am very pleased this successful scheme will be continuing after the initial period ends in September 2010.
There is a growing problem in this country of debt. One that nine years of crippling Tory and Lib Dem austerity, stagnant wages, insecure zero-hours jobs, savage benefit cuts and rising living costs has compounded. Shamefully it is NHS workers, public sector workers and those in the gig economy who are the biggest users of payday loans. On Wednesday, I asked the Minister if he was aware of this debt trap and of the new non-profit service called Debt Hacker that I launched in Parliament last year, helping people who’ve been mis-sold loans to claim compensation.
With the support of the Speaker John Bercow I hosted a tea in Parliament for families of the London Bridge terror attacks who are in the UK for the inquest. Two of the victims were from Australia and I reached out to them through the Australian Embassy.
This week saw the important judgement that British arms sales to Saudi Arabia have been ruled unlawful. This is something I’ve campaigned on since I was a Shadow Foreign Minister, working closely with the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and it is utterly shameful that it had to reach the stage of going to court without this Tory Government recognizing the role British arms have played in supplying the Saudi’s war in Yemen which has cost so many civilian lives. A large number of these export licences were signed off by the then Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and current Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable. Following this damning judgement, it is now essential there is a full parliamentary or public inquiry into arms sales to the Gulf kingdom.
The attacks on oil tankers in the strait of Hormuz and President Trump’s announcement that he called off air strikes with minutes to spare highlight the clear danger of ever greater escalation in the region and of Britain becoming enmeshed in a new conflict. It is absolutely crucial that the UK works through the United Nations to ease tensions in the area, independently investigate and verify the facts around the tanker attacks, to prevent any repeat of them and, most of all, prevent rather than fuel any military escalation and seek to get the nuclear deal back on track.