It has been a pleasure to welcome young people from across Hornsey & Wood Green to Parliament this week for my 2019 Politics summer school. It has been a packed week. On Monday, Kate Osamor MP joined me to introduce the group to the world of Westminster politics. Later in the week they visited Sadiq Khan and Joanne McCartney at City Hall, Haringey Council’s Leader & Councillors, met with trade unions and voluntary sector partners as well as talking to journalists including Stephen Bush from the New Statesman about the role of the media in politics. The make-up of Westminster still doesn’t come close to reflecting our diverse community, and I hope this week has given participants the confidence and knowledge to feel that politics is for them. Thanks also to BBC’s The Westminster Hour which has been following the group this week – I’m looking forward to hearing their report.
I attended an event on Monday to celebrate 70 years of legal aid. The fundamental principle of the right to justice is coming under serious threat as legal aid cuts have seen half of all law centres and non-for-profit legal advice centres in England and Wales close their doors over the past six years. This isn’t an accident, it’s a deliberate Tory policy that has left people powerless to defend themselves against exploitation and it is shameful. A Labour Government would invest in law centres and the essential services they provide.
The plight of British citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe, held in Iran for over three years, worsened this week with the news that she has been taken to a psychiatric hospital and visits from her family have been blocked. I attended the urgent question granted to my Labour colleague and Nazanin’s MP Tulip Siddiq and mentioned the similar case of my own constituent Aras Amiri, an innocent employee of the British Council. It is absolutely crucial that the UK Government redoubles efforts to put pressure on the Iranian regime for their release.
Hornsey & Wood Green had one of the biggest crowds at the Time is Now lobby of Parliament on the crucial issue of climate change. I’ve been gathering all the suggestions that people made about actions that this Government could be taking and joined by local activists I delivered them to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street this week. Theresa May might be on her way out, but this issue needs to be picked up immediately by the new Prime Minister – the future of this planet is relying on it.
Further warnings of the impact of a No Deal Brexit were made this week. The independent Office for Budget Responsibility said borrowing could double to almost £60 billion next year if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, causing a recession. The cross-party Exiting the EU Committee also said on Friday that No Deal would be the most economically damaging outcome for UK businesses. This information isn’t new, so to read in the weekend papers that the likely new Leader Boris Johnson was left “visibly shaken” after being briefed by civil servants about the likelihood of civil unrest in the event of no deal begs the question what on earth was he paying attention to round the cabinet table? To threaten this outcome that we know would be disastrous for the country without any concern or knowledge of the chaos it would cause is a shameful dereliction of duty.
I will continue doing everything in my power to stop no deal and on Thursday I voted to retain a Lords amendment to stop the next Prime Minister proroguing Parliament to force through a No Deal outcome. Any suggestion of suspending Parliament to force through a destructive No Deal is outrageous. The passage of the amendment by a majority of 40 votes is therefore a huge victory for Parliament and its role in the Brexit process.
Back in the constituency I spent a very interesting morning visiting the Divert Scheme at Wood Green Custody Centre, working to help young people move away from crime. I was very impressed by the staff and volunteers alike and all the work they’re doing seeking to change the lives of youngsters in custody for the better. Later that day I held one of my pop up advice surgeries at the Sandbunker on Friday afternoon then had a wonderful packed weekend enjoying the Noel Park Eco Wellness Festival, speaking at the Chestnuts Park Festival and marking the handover of the pavilion keys from the Bowls Group to the Friends of Chapmans Green at their summer fete.