Theresa May’s decision to call a general election three years early was an enormous surprise. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, she’d said she would do no such thing.
This election isn’t needed by the country, but it is needed by the Conservative party. The prime minister knows that things are about to turn very sour for her, with rising prices, stagnant wages, and huge challenges in negotiating a Brexit deal that’s good for Britain all looming on the horizon. It’s pure political opportunism for her to call an election now.
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks in parliament as we scramble to complete unfinished business. I tried to cram in as much time as possible in the chamber, challenging ministers on a range of matters. I asked about air quality, prison officer numbers, probation, what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit, and problems being experienced by local businesses who were contractors on the construction of the Carrington power station, and have been left unpaid because one of the major contractors on the project has gone into liquidation.
I’ve also made some important visits in the constituency. I really enjoyed the Question Time session at Stretford Grammar school last week. It was a great pleasure to join the Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Judith Lloyd, at Voice of BME in Trafford’s tenth birthday celebrations. And I was also very happy to call by Radio Wishing Well (Trafford General’s very own hospital radio station), who were fundraising in Urmston last weekend. We were also pleased to welcome the Labour candidate in the election for the first ever elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, to Urmston on Saturday. I hope we’ll be seeing much more of him once he’s elected Mayor.
Next Tuesday, the 2015 parliament will be formally dissolved, and there will be no MPs until after the general election on 8 June. We’ll be out in local constituencies, campaigning as candidates for re-election, but legally we have to stop all but essential day to day parliamentary business during the campaign. That means I won’t be holding my regular advice surgeries, and I won’t be able to take up problems with government ministers or other bodies - although it will be possible for me to conduct some emergency casework. If you think I can be of help during the dissolution period (from 3 May to 9 June), you can contact me on 0161 749 9120, email email@example.com, and my team and I will be happy to help as much as we can.
Looking back, the 2015 parliament may have been an unexpectedly short one, but I still managed to pack in a huge amount. So as my final act in this parliament, I’ve put together a short video of some of the highlights of the past two years - in parliament and with my constituents. I’ve had the chance to meet so many fantastic people.
It has been a great privilege to represent you since my re-election in 2015, and I’d be proud to do so again. Please look out for me over the coming weeks as I’m out and about in the constituency, meeting as many local people as possible. I look forward to hearing your priorities for the new parliament after 9 June!