I’m delighted to have been appointed as the new Shadow Sports Minister, following in the footsteps of the excellent Dr Rosena Allin-Khan. As the founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Swimming and a proud member of the Rugby League APPG, I am passionate about the role sports can play and the importance of ensuring children can access sports facilities. I am also determined to use my time on the front bench taking on some of the big issues in sport, particularly following the appalling racist abuse Haringey Borough FC experienced last year. In my new role, I attended an FA Cup drop-in to discuss inclusion in football and how the FA and Parliament can work together. I also took part in my first Department for Culture, Media and Sports Parliamentary Questions, asking the Minister what steps are being taken now to ensure that the 2022 Commonwealth Games are carbon neutral.
I took part in the Queen’s Speech debate about our place in the world, and argued the case that leaving the EU will threaten our security and economic prosperity. I have always championed close ties with the rest of the EU and whilst we sadly are now leaving on 31 January, I will continue to fight for the closest of ties to protect Britain’s national interest.
I was proud to co-sponsor a Parliamentary Refugee Reception by the VOICES Network, a UK-wide group of experts-by-experience on refugee and asylum issues who share their experience of forced displacement and campaign for change. I’ve long called for the cruel ban on asylum seekers working to be lifted and continue to ask Parliamentary Questions and push for change. I’m very disappointed that in response to my latest question, the Minister couldn’t tell me how many asylum seekers had been granted the right to work last year. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2020-01-09/1776 . It’s very clear the current system isn’t working and needs radically reforming.
I’ve been extremely concerned at reports this week that Extinction Rebellion has been classed alongside the likes of National Action and other far right groups. Last summer, I asked Parliamentary Questions about data being held on school children taking part in environmental protests because I was worried that peaceful protest was being classified as something more sinister. These reports seem to confirm my fears and I have now asked the government whether the names of any school children – who have been inspired by the climate movement – have been passed to the Prevent programme as a result.
Finally, there’s a wonderful opportunity to come and join my team as I’m advertising for a full-time Caseworker. Find out more and apply before 31 January here.