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I've had an early start today to catch the train home to Manchester after a week of dramatic Brexit events. Monday saw a marathon 9 hour session in parliament culminate in a series of votes stretching till nearly 1a.m.

But the real drama was happening outside parliament as Theresa May's attempt to reach agreement with the EU on key elements of the divorce settlement fell spectacularly apart. The Democratic Unionist Party (who prop up the Tories in parliament) weren't happy with special arrangements to allow goods, services and people to move freely across the Irish border which wouldn't apparently apply to the rest of the UK.

This morning, the Prime Minister is back in Brussels, having agreed that there will be no 'hard' Irish border, and that the same rules will apply across all of the UK. These rules could be in a new, and yet to be negotiated, specific deal between the EU and the UK, but if that isn't possible, then we will continue to align with existing EU single market and customs union rules. As far as I am concerned, that must mean we remain permanently in the single market and customs union, in form if not in name. It's the only sensible, practical way forward, and I am pleased and relieved we have reached this point, but businesses will still want certainty about the detail to come.

The nerve shredding events of the past few days show just how complex and difficult it is to get these details right. It has taken 18 months just to get this far, and so far, all we have done is agree key elements of the divorce arrangements (there is also agreement on calculating the UK's financial obligations, at a cost of £50 billion - no Leave campaigner ever told us that would be price of leaving during the referendum campaign. And agreement has also been reached to protect the status of EU citizens already in the UK and UK citizens in the EU). But there are many more long and difficult negotiations to come about our future trading and other relationships. I hope the government has learned the lesson that none of this can be done by the UK shouting its demands and expecting it can just get its own way after the events of the last few days.

There's also been a parallel row rumbling this week about the assessments the government has - or hasn't - carried out into the impact Brexit will have on different sectors of the UK economy. For months, parliament has been given the impression that 58 detailed - or not detailed - assessments exist (Ministers' story about the level of detail changed from one week to the next). Now it turns out the documents are not really impact assessments at all. Whether or not MPs have been misled by ministers (which would be very serious, and the Speaker has been asked to consider the matter), what is absolutely shocking to me is that ministers haven't even bothered to do the detailed work to assess the economic consequences of Brexit and how we deal with them. These are the people we are trusting to negotiate the UK's future. Frankly, I wouldn't trust them with their own pocket money after all of this.

Meanwhile, away from the emotional rollercoaster of Brexit, it has been great to welcome some fabulous constituents to parliament this week. Sean from Flixton is the national coordinator for the Syrian community refugee sponsorship scheme run by Catholic charity Caritas. He has done brilliant work helping to settle the first Syrian family to come to the UK under this scheme, who are now living locally with the sponsorship and support of St Monica's church. He was in parliament with representatives of other charities to launch an exhibition about the project. I am so impressed by what he and parishioners at St Monica's are doing. Congratulations to you all.

And it was lovely to present an award to students from Stretford High and Stretford Grammar schools at an event in parliament on Tuesday, in recognition of their efforts to support children in a Dunkirk refugee camp. The students spent time there last summer, teaching and playing with the children, and I was very proud to nominate them for a national Kids Count award. Afterwards, we went off on a tour of parliament, including into the famous cupboard where suffragette Emily Davison locked herself in for the night. The students eventually left to catch the last, and very late, train back to Manchester - I'm not the only one who's had a 1 a.m. finish this week. 

 

A week of dramatic Brexit events

I've had an early start today to catch the train home to Manchester after a week of dramatic Brexit events. Monday saw a marathon 9 hour session in parliament culminate...

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Kate welcomed Stretford High and Stretford Grammar School students to parliament to present them with a ‘Most Inspirational Young Person’ Award for their work helping refugee children. 

Following a tough selection process, Ajai Singh, Danish Amin, Aimee Monaghan and Sania Muhammed from Stretford High and Lauryn Duncan-Rouse, Dylan Holden-Sim and Adeel Anwar from Stretford Grammar travelled to Dunkirk in July 2016, together with some of their teachers, to work in a refugee camp school.

While at Dunkirk, the students worked full time with the refugee children – doing everything from organising and throwing an Eid party to helping the children with their English, Maths and Art. The students also helped the children develop "soft skills" such as sharing, helping others and teamwork. 

The work undertaken by the Stretford students was very challenging. The refugee children had very little experience of school and even sitting at a desk presented a challenge for them. However, the students maintained a calm professionalism throughout and were a credit to their schools and their communities.

On returning to the UK, the students addressed a Trafford Council meeting to let councillors and the Mayor know about the work they’d done and implored the local council officials to do their part in helping to alleviate the refugee crisis.

Kate was really impressed to hear about the students work and therefore nominated the students under the category ‘Most Inspirational Young Person’ for a 2017 Kids Count “Inspire the House” Award.

Against a record number of nominations and a very high standard of entries, the Stretford students were awarded ‘Highly Commended’ in the Most Inspirational Young Person category.

Kate presented the students with their award at a special reception in the Terrace Marquee of the House of Commons on Tuesday 5th December. Education Secretary, Justine Greening also attended the reception. 

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Kate said, “I was incredibly proud to present the Stretford students with an award for their work helping refugee children in Dunkirk.

“Their award is thoroughly well deserved and it’s great that they’re getting recognition for their inspirational work.

“With so much division and uncertainty in the world today, the future of our community certainly seems bright when our young people take such positive action helping others.”

Christ Hirst, teacher at Stretford High, said “We're thrilled that the hard work and humanitarian efforts of the young people of Stretford have been recognised by this award.

“We would like to thank Kate Green MP for her support throughout the whole of our refugee project and for nominating us.”

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Stretford students presented with Inspirational Young Person Award from Kate

Kate welcomed Stretford High and Stretford Grammar School students to parliament to present them with a ‘Most Inspirational Young Person’ Award for their work helping refugee children. 

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Kate is calling on the Health Minister to do all he can to ensure people with Cystic Fibrosis get access to new medicines that could prolong and enhance their lives.

 

Kate has backed an ongoing campaign by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to ensure access to precision medicines in the UK after attending an event held in Westminster by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust on Wednesday, 29th November.

The event brought together parliamentarians and constituents affected by the condition to support the campaign for access to new medicines for those with Cystic Fibrosis and raise awareness of the issue.

One such drug is Orkambi, a precision medicine that 40 per cent of people with CF in the UK could benefit from. While conventional Cystic Fibrosis treatments target the symptoms, precision medicines tackle the underlying genetic mutations which cause the condition.

Orkambi is not a cure, but it has been found to slow decline in lung function – the most common cause of death for people with cystic fibrosis. It has also been shown to reduce pulmonary exacerbations requiring hospitalisation by up to 61 per cent.

Orkambi received its European license in November 2015 and in June the following year the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognised Orkambi as an important treatment.

They did not recommend the drug, though, on grounds of cost-effectiveness and a lack of long-term data. This means it is unavailable to most people with cystic fibrosis across the UK.

However, more recent 96-week clinical data - not available at the time of appraisal - shows that Orkambi can reduce lung function decline by up to 42 per cent.

Kate said: “It is unacceptable that thousands of people across the UK continue to be denied a potentially life-saving drug.

“I am joining the campaign to call on the government to bring about better access to precision medicine and demand that a resolution is reached so that patients across the country can access Orkambi as a matter of the utmost urgency. People with cystic fibrosis deserve better.”

Cystic fibrosis is a life-shortening, inherited disorder leading to severely reduced quality of life and life expectancy. Half of all people who died with CF last year were under the age of 31.

People living with this devastating condition experience a build-up of thick, sticky mucus that causes chronic lung infections and progressive lung damage. Daily life can be a struggle and people with the condition face a huge burden of daily treatments, with the most basic tasks causing such breathlessness that oxygen is required to help them breathe. 

Kate calls for access to precision medicine Orkambi for people with cystic fibrosis

Kate is calling on the Health Minister to do all he can to ensure people with Cystic Fibrosis get access to new medicines that could prolong and enhance their lives.  ...


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