My latest monthly e-newsletter has just gone out to thousands of homes across Hornsey & Wood Green. If you’d like to receive it, and you don’t already, you can sign up here.
Here’s what it said:
Welcome to my July e-newsletter
School’s out for the summer, although for many young people their last day in the classroom was back in March.
It hasn’t been easy for parents trying to juggle their own jobs with home-schooling and childcare these last few months. Now just as the summer holidays begin, Boris Johnson has put many families in an impossible position – calling on them to return to the office without putting in any support for a childcare sector on its knees.
It’s yet another example of this Government’s confused, mixed messaging that is making an already difficult time even harder.
If we are going to reopen our society and our economy safely, there has to be support for children and families. The public needs to have confidence that the advice coming from government is thought through and science-based, businesses need to know they’ll be backed if local lockdowns are needed and test, track and trace needs to be working properly – and legally.
This month in Parliament, I’ve been asking questions about the Government’s plans to support the growing number of people who are reporting long-term health problems after contracting Covid-19. There needs to be resources and adequate support in place, including mental health provision, so GPs and other primary care services recognise the symptoms and know how to refer people.
Here are some of the other things I’ve been doing this month:
Covid-19 mustn’t cost people their home
At Prime Minister’s Questions this month, I asked Boris Johnson what action his Government would take when the eviction ban comes to an end in August to support the 230,000 private renters who’ve fallen into rent arrears during the pandemic. He brushed aside my concerns and answered the question he wanted to hear – not the one I actually asked. The Government’s failure to address this looming problem is a real issue here in Hornsey & Wood Green, where unemployment has risen by 176% since March and 16,700 people, almost 20% of the working age population, are currently on furlough. Housing costs are high and private rents have soared in recent years, leaving many struggling to pay their bills even before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, with jobs disappearing and the country sinking into a deep recession, the government needs to act urgently to prevent tens of thousands of people from losing their homes.
Virtual climate lobby of Parliament
Hornsey & Wood Green always has one of the largest turnouts at the annual climate lobby of Parliament. Whilst this year it had to take place via Zoom, it was wonderful to be joined by so many people who care so deeply about climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing the next generation. If we’re to learn the lessons of the last recession we should aim to build back better, which means acting now to lay the foundation blocks for long term, sustainable growth and creating large numbers of good green jobs. I used the debate on the Finance Bill to highlight the need for a green thread through all financial decisions. Watch my speech here.
I spoke in Parliament in support of a range of measures in the Immigration Bill which would help fix the shambolic and unfair nature of the system which impacts so many people in my constituency, and which would help make Britain a fairer and more welcoming place for the most vulnerable. Despite the support of many MPs across the House, the Government voted these measures down. Instead of fixing the system, they have pressed on with their unnecessarily cruel plans for post-Brexit immigration rules.
I also took part in the domestic abuse bill debate to express my frustration that it excludes migrant women with no recourse to public funds. Nobody should be denied vital, often life-saving support because of their immigration status, yet the government rejected Labour’s amendment which would have addressed this gaping hole in the legislation.
Hundreds of you have got in touch about the Trade Bill which had its third reading this week. I don’t believe the Government has a mandate to weaken and water down our trade rules when we leave the EU and my concerns about the impact of new trade deals on the NHS, our food standards, environmental protections and workers’ rights were some of the many reasons why I backed remain. This Bill is a huge disappointment that fails to address my concerns and certainly doesn’t “take back control” as it deprives Parliament of a vote or even any say on the content of future trade bills. Sadly, Labour’s amendments to protect UK farmers from sub-standard imports and allow proper Parliamentary scrutiny of future deals were defeated, so I voted against the Bill.
As I have always been clear I was a firm and committed opponent to leaving the European Union, but the 2019 election made this inevitable. With the Covid-19 virus reinforcing the need to work with our friends and allies I have focused on building positive relationships with Ambassadors from across Europe to show that the UK will forever remain European, and under a Labour Government they will have a willing and eager partner to champion our joint concerns. You can read my regular Brexit updates here.
In recent months we have seen the Chinese Government increasingly rail against international law and human rights, from its brutal treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province to its imposition of a draconian National Security Law on Hong Kong, destroying that cities promised autonomy. Working with my colleagues on Labour’s shadow Foreign Affairs team we have called on the Government to do more to oppose China’s repression, and I am pleased they have listened to our demands to protect BNO passport holders in Hong Kong by offering them a pathway to British citizenship. Relations with China will be increasingly dominant over the summer and I’m pleased that though the government has come late to the issue of the Uyghur minority, which I have been raising for over two years in Parliament, they have finally spoken out.
This week saw the delayed publication of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report in to alleged interference by Russia in Britain’s democratic processes. As the shadow Minister for Europe I have been consistent in calling for the report to be released, and in urging the Government to do more to oppose the outrageous abuses of human rights and flagrant disregard for international law by the Russian Government in many regions of the world. Maybe the release of the report has been so slow because of the Conservative Party’s reliance on wealthy Russian funding. Last week saw confirmation that Russian agents have attempted to meddle in the 2019 election and have tried to hack Covid-19 vaccine research in the UK, and so the report comes at a crucial time. As we head into a crucial time, with the US election coming near and vaccine research intensifying, we need to be alive to the threats and be clear to Russia that we will not stand aside as they attempt to undermine Britain and our allies.
Modern Slavery in Fashion
Coronavirus has exposed the deep inequalities in the garment industry – the same system which has built huge profits for CEOs, has left garment workers living in poverty. As Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion, I’ve written to the Home Secretary to request an urgent meeting to discuss recent allegations of modern slavery in Leicester’s garment factories as well as the impact of the proposed points-based immigration system on the fashion and textile industry. Support the campaign for change and for brands to step up and protect the people who make their clothes https://labourbehindthelabel.org/covid-19-support-workers/
Black Lives Matter
I attended BLM’s excellent exhibition at Albert Road Rec last weekend highlighting a centuries-long timeline of Britain’s slave trade legacy, from abolition to Windrush. Thanks to all those involved in organising, including local members Andrea, Sue, Tay and Hornsey & Wood Green Labour’s BAME Officer Joy Wallace. I hope the Government will respond to my calls to review the curriculum so our education system better reflects Britain’s past.
Falling through the gaps
I’ve been contacted by thousands of people since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, including many in the creative industries, who have fallen through the gaps of Government support. I’ve written repeatedly to the Chancellor to urge that more is done and I’m one of over 200 MPs who have joined the new All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Excluded UK to push for action.
If this issue has affected you, get involved with Excluded UK here.
I welcomed the Government’s announcement of funding for the creative industries but raised with the Minister the importance of ensuring it protects the people who work in the industry as well as the buildings.
Advice & support:
If you need help accessing food or other essential supplies, health and care support or are worried about your finances you can call Haringey Council’s advice line on 020 8489 4431 (Monday-Friday 8.30am-6.30pm).
These newsletters are only a snapshot of my month. If there’s an issue you’re concerned about that I haven’t covered here, do get in touch.
Have a lovely summer.
MP for Hornsey & Wood Green