Like many of my constituents, I am deeply concerned to hear that Jagtar Singh Johal’s legal team have provided evidence that Jagtar’s detention and torture took place following a tip-off by MI5.
I attended an urgent question in Parliament to ask the Government to make a statement on its actions in the case of Jagtar Singh Johal. I was disappointed that the Minister stated he was unable to comment due to legal proceedings. I believe it was in the Government’s gift to fully explain to the House what measures were in place to remedy this appalling situation.
You can watch my questions asked by following link here, and you can read my speech here
I recently took part in a debate on the dire humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia as a result of the ongoing conflict, which I know many constituents are concerned about.
The reports of human rights violations and abuses – the killing of civilians, sexual and gender-based violence, indiscriminate shelling and the forced displacement of residents of Tigray and Eritrean refugees – are incredibly shocking. Those responsible for such abuses should be held to account.
All sides must exercise restraint: there must an end to violence, full humanitarian and media access, and protection of civilians. I am deeply worried by worsening food insecurity and shortages of water and medicine. Up to seven million people are now in dire need of food aid across Tigray and neighbouring Afar and Amhara. Hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing famine-like conditions – more than the rest of the world combined.
I called on the UK Government to use all its diplomatic tools to ensure access to aid for those affected.
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There will be a Westminster Hall debate at 4:30pm on Monday 8 March centring around protests in India against new farming laws after a petition gathered over 100,000 signatures.
I applied to speak at the debate. There were many MPs who wished to take part in this debate and so, unfortunately, I was not selected to speak.
I have been horrified by the images of water cannon, tear gas and brute force being used against peaceful protestors. For the sake of democracy, the farmers protesting in India must be allowed to exercise their right to peacefully protest.
For those who don’t know, concerns have been raised about the impact of three new laws in India on farmers. Taken together, the laws loosen rules around sale, pricing, and storage of farm produce – these rules have protected India’s farmers from the free market for decades.
The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the laws will “benefit small farmers the most”, however their introduction has been met with ardent protests – especially in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana state. Farmers have been camped on Delhi’s outskirts since 26 November 2020 to protest the laws. Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary troops have been deployed to halt the march of protestors.
India’s Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the laws “until further notice” and appointed a committee to broker a deal between the farmers and the government. Farmers have not accepted the committee, saying that all its panel members are pro-government.
Over British 100 MPs and peers have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister on this issue, calling on him to “convey to the Indian Prime Minister the heart-felt anxieties of our constituents, our hopes for a speedy resolution to the current deadlock and also for the democratic human rights of citizens to peacefully protest”.
On 12 January 2021 I personally wrote to the Prime Minister, urging him to “publicly state [his] commitment to upholding human rights around the world”.
The Indian authorities must commit to upholding the right to peaceful protest and I believe this is a point that the UK Government should be engaging far more actively and effectively with the Indian Government on.
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I want to set out my thoughts about the Deal and explain my reasons for reluctantly voting in favour of it.
It is clear for all to see that the deal has serious flaws:
UK firms will lose automatic access to EU financial services markets, which form a significant and vitally important component of the UK economy. We have already seen jobs moving out of the City and into Europe – the deal as it stands will do nothing to protect those jobs and may even turn a trickle of job losses into a flood.
This deal adds new burdens and red tape onto British business, with some businesses facing new customs checks on their products in order to prove their point of origin. In practice, UK firms will now need to get two sets of approval certification if they want to sell their products in both the UK and Europe. This is especially galling, given that during the referendum campaign businesses were sold the lie that Brexit would mean freedom from EU regulation.
The Government seem to have completely forgotten about the Arts and Creative Sectors when negotiating this deal. In practice, this will mean that actors and musicians will now face country-to-country restrictions, meaning multiple Visa applications and logistical red tape. This is both needless and unacceptable – this issue was specifically raised by Sir Keir Starmer in his formal response to Boris Johnson at the start of the Parliamentary debate today. Labour also proposed an amendment that would require urgent action from the Secretary of State to negotiate a specific agreement to rectify these problems.
Boris Johnson has negotiated for a divergence of employment and environmental rights legislation. Clearly, he has not done so because he wants to strengthen your rights at work or to improve environmental protection standards. I have deep concerns that the government has a desire for a race to the bottom that may impact both your rights at work – such as health and sickness protections, maternity and paternity rights – but also vitally important standards, such as the use of pesticides, the need for clean air and of course practices such as fracking.
These are by no means all of the problems with the Government’s Deal, but they do give a flavour of the mess that Boris Johnson has made of his negotiation.
The idea that this deal settles the issue of our relationship with the EU is deeply flawed. As laws change within the EU, we will have to either align our standards to match these changes, or risk a financial penalty, most likely in the form of new tariffs on trade. Rather than free our businesses of what some saw as the burden of EU rules and regulations, we have simply given up our influence over the making of those rules. Something that in the long run I believe we will come to regret.
Despite the deep flaws with this deal, it is my view that I have no choice but to vote in favour of it. At this stage of the process, this is not about whether or not Brexit can be stopped, or whether or not we can add more time for a new negotiation – the chance for either of those outcomes ended with the result of the last General Election. The only choice at this stage is between this bad deal, or a no deal exit.
Exiting on January 1st without a deal would mean chaos, with the potential of food and medicine shortages as well as substantial regulatory barriers and tariffs placed on trade. I do not believe it is morally right for me to vote against a deal – which at this very late stage would be to effectively vote for a no deal exit – unless I am prepared for that eventually to occur. Therefore, I feel that I had no choice but to support this Bill.
This is by no means the end of the Brexit process. The deal that the Government has negotiated must be the minimum agreement that we reach, not the final agreement. As we move into the New Year, the Government must urgently look to plug the gaping holes in the agreement it has negotiated before too much economic damage is done. Needless to say, I will be pushing the government hard on our future relationship and holding them to account to do all that can to ensure this deal is significantly improved.
I campaigned hard for Remain during the referendum and I stood on a manifesto that would have given the British people a confirmatory referendum. I spoke to many people during the General Election who were furious at what they saw as their vote during the Referendum being ignored. Whether we agree with their view of Brexit or not, I believe that we must acknowledge the deeply felt anger that people feel over the way that Parliament has handled the issue of Brexit since the referendum.
This is not the outcome that I pounded the streets and spoke at meetings for, nor is it one that I know many of you will have hoped for. I know that some constituents will not agree with my decision to vote for this deal, but I have done so in good faith and for the reasons set out above.
I hope that you have a healthy and happy New Year.
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A debate on the situation in Yemen is due to take place today. I am aware that many of my constituents are concerned about the conflict in Yemen and arms exports to Saudi Arabia. Whilst I am unable to attend the debate, I would like to make my views on this issue clear.
First and foremost I want you to know that this is an issue that I have been following closely since I was first elected and therefore share your deep concerns about potential violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen. The appeal judgment last year that UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia were unlawful shows the Government wilfully disregarded the evidence behind these concerns.
Following the judgment, the Government said it would not grant any new licences for arms exports that might be used in the conflict in Yemen. However, it then breached this commitment by granting several new licences for equipment that could be used there. In February, the Government published the results of its investigation into these breaches, which found that they were due to shortcomings in licence-issuing processes.
I believe we need root-and-branch reform of our arms export rules. Ministers must never again be able to turn a blind eye to British-made weapons being used to target innocent civilians. We must also implement our export controls to the highest standard, putting an end to exports where they might be used in violation of human rights or international humanitarian law.
The people of Yemen have suffered so much throughout this conflict. We cannot allow their suffering to continue year after year. I believe the Government should end its support for the Saudi-led coalition’s conduct in this conflict and use the powers vested in it at the UN to bring about an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and play a constructive role in ending this humanitarian crisis.
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Following an internal vote within the Parliamentary Labour Party, I have been elected to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly as one of four Labour Party Member’s of Parliament to sit on the Assembly.
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly was established in 1955 and gives Members of Parliament from across the Atlantic Alliance the opportunity to discuss and influence global security decisions. The Assembly is separate from NATO but provides a forum for greater transparency of NATO policies.
Since 1955, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly has been active in influencing matters of international importance such as, promoting gender equality in the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, election observation and strengthening the transatlantic relationship.
I’m looking forward to being a strong voice in the UK’s response to global security challenges. Building partnerships with our NATO allies is a vital dimension of democratic governance and I am pleased that I will be able to play a role in ensuring the UK has strong global relationships and that our voice is present at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
This is a great opportunity to engage with parliamentarians from all over the world to examine really important policy relating to global security. I’m delighted to be able to work with female parliamentarians from across the globe to make sure that female voices are present in decisions about peace processes endorsed by the alliance.
I also hope that through my role I can inspire young people across Erith and Thamesmead to pursue their passions and realise the importance of a diverse range of voices in national and international politics.
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Here for Erith and Thamesmead
Through my work I am determined to work with local residents, community groups, businesses and public services to ensure that Erith and Thamesmead is put on the map and we get a fair deal for our community.