Before moving onto comment on the current political crisis, I want to pause and imagine the final part of the journey of the 39 people found dead in a container in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It now seems they had come from China or Vietnam and the suspicion is they were more victims of modern day slavery and human trafficking than war or poverty. In any event, their deaths are a real and ghastly tragedy. I think it’s also important to remember the effect their deaths will have had on our emergency services and thank them for all they do.
Once more I feel the need to apologise for the current political situation. It is quite bizarre for a Prime Minister who won an important vote on his flagship policy (the “Brexit Bill”) and his Queen’s Speech programme of new legislation, to demand a General Election. Whilst I accept that we simply can’t go on like this, the last thing we need is a General Election just before Christmas. Far better for Boris Johnson to bring back his Withdrawal Bill and agree a proper timetable so that MPs can scrutinise and debate it. A General Election will solve nothing at the moment.
I will continue to make the case for a confirmatory referendum, and then a general election. If I and others are unsuccessful then we will leave the EU, in which event Boris Johnson could more legitimately call an election. Anything else is just a silly stunt.
The sooner we return to grown up politics the better.
I hope you enjoy the weekend (and if you’re affected by it, the new two week half term!).
As ever, Anna
Caring for the most vulnerable of children
You may recall the findings of a nationally led inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in care homes run by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Council. It found that, for decades, a large number of the most vulnerable children who had been placed in the care of the state, were appallingly let down and had suffered horrific abuse from workers in homes, or from other residents.
Nottinghamshire County Council didn’t hesitate to make a full apology to all the victims and to undertake a rigorous review to learn lessons and safeguard children in their care.
This morning I met the Leader of Notts County Council, Cllr Kay Cutts and the Chief Executive Anthony May and I am satisfied that they have done everything they can to keep children in care safe. They have published a response to the original consultation which includes actions the council is taking to make sure the same abuse doesn’t happen again. If you would like to read their report please click here.
Nowadays there are only a few homes in the county for the most vulnerable children; the maximum number of residents is 6, which makes them very different places to the ones where abuse was almost endemic. Other councils are properly criticised for moving youngsters too far away from their original home, making them more vulnerable to sexual and criminal exploitation. However, it is vitally important that we recognise that providing these important services is inevitably costly and Notts is in need of more funding.
Last week’s Oxjam in Beeston was a great success and congratulations to the remarkable organisers, all the various musicians, the venues who gave so generously and everyone who joined in.
At the moment I don’t know how much they have raised but am confident it will be a lot; good news for Oxfam.
This year’s Christmas card competition is open. Please send me a seasonal or festive photograph which you have taken. The winning photograph will feature on the front of my Christmas card with two runners up inside. My card goes by email or hard copy in the post to 13,000 people and the winner will receive a canvas print of their photograph.
Please email your entries to me at email@example.com by Tuesday 3rd December and remember to include your full address and contact details.
Thank you to last year’s winner, Derek Martin, whose winning entry is on the right!
My work in Parliament
As I said in my introduction, bloomin’ Brexit invariably swamps all the other news, including the terrible events in Kent on Wednesday when 39 people were found dead in a container.
I joined in the debate in Parliament which you can read here or watch here.
On Saturday I spoke in the debate on the Government’s new deal with the EU to facilitate Brexit. I voted for the amendment for the reasons I gave in my speech which you can read here or watch here.
On Tuesday the EU Withdrawal Bill was debated and passed its Second Reading stage. However, because the Government’s timetable is far too short it was opposed by a majority of MPs. The Prime Minister then “paused” the Bill refusing to bring it back for the next stage on Wednesday and yesterday.
It really is difficult to believe Boris Johnson seriously wanted a deal with the EU given he tried to suspend Parliament for 5 weeks and has spent 7 days of debate on the Queens Speech. Now he has the deal, I am all in favour of it being properly debated and scrutinised as we normally would with any important piece of legislation.
You can read my speech on Tuesday here or watch it here.