Johnson’s botched Brexit deal failed on “Super Saturday” because even his own side can’t trust him. Letwin’s amendment, which I backed, prevents us crashing out on 31 October with a devastating no deal. Crucially it also allows us time to properly hold this Government and its plans to account and to try and attach second referendum and customs union amendments to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Forgive me if I don’t believe the Tories’ laughable assurance that they took workers’ rights protections out of the legally binding part of the agreement because they’re “so important”. If they’re so confident their deal is a good one – put it back to the people in a final say referendum.
Last Monday’s Queen’s Speech was more a party-political broadcast than anything else from a Government with a majority of minus 45. I certainly won’t be backing it, with measures including voter id plans that risk preventing millions of the poorest and most socially excluded people from voting. 11 million people in this country don’t have a passport or a driving license and 3.5 million don’t have any form of photo ID. Not only that, the Cabinet Office has said it could cost up to £20 million every election. That’s money that should be spent on dealing with the real problem of low voter participation – a much bigger issue.
I challenged Johnson on the lack of detail on measures to tackle the climate emergency and used my speech in “Britain’s place in the world” to speak out about the horror of the situation facing Kurdish people in Rojava in the north of Syria. Watch my speech here.
I also spoke up in defence of the right to peaceful protest, a fundamental part of our democracy, in response to the disproportionate issuing of a section 14 order against Extinction Rebellion. I joined them in a peaceful protest at Trafalgar Square in solidarity and am a sponsor of this Early Day Motion – That this House notes that on Monday 14 October the Metropolitan Police imposed new conditions under Section 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 on the Extinction Rebellion protests in London; further notes that the Metropolitan Police has banned any assembly linked to the demonstrations; highlights the increasingly punitive and restrictive actions of the authorities against Extinction Rebellion; acknowledges Article 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998, which guarantees everyone the right to associate with others regardless of whether a protest could cause inconvenience to others; and calls on the Government to protect the rights of climate activists to peacefully protest. I’m pleased that Mayor Sadiq Khan has now stepped in.
I was appalled on Saturday that Haringey Borough FC were forced to abandon their FA cup tie with Yeovil Town following racist abuse from the stands. There is absolutely no place for racism in football, yet as we’ve seen from the England v Bulgaria game it is becoming widespread at all levels. I fully back the team’s decision to abandon the game and have written to the FA to ask what action is being taken to address this growing menace.