I’m writing this from Brussels, as the Brexit story takes another turn. The atmosphere in parliament is at fever pitch, with ministerial resignations (including the Brexit minister himself!), speculation about which Tory MPs have submitted ‘no confidence’ letters in the Prime Minister, and much discussion about the possibility of a ‘people’s vote’ on the deal. The Prime Minister hopes to sign her withdrawal deal and political declaration about the future relationship between the UK and the EU this weekend. But it seems likely a majority of MPs (myself included) will vote against it, as it leaves us worse off than now, still following EU rules but with no say in them, and with the likelihood of new regulatory provisions in future that will inhibit our trade with the EU.
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My own visit to Brussels is to hold meetings specifically about immigration. We are still looking for assurances about the status and rights of UK nationals living in the EU after Brexit, and I have also been asking questions about the Government’s planned ‘settled status’ scheme for EU residents living in the UK. With literally weeks to go until exit day, there is still so much that is uncertain. Brexit is proving more and more complicated and troubling every day that goes by.
It’s been a relief to get back to my constituency at weekends! Last week, it was great to visit Seymour Park School and Trafford College to mark Parliament Week, and answer some challenging questions from students across a wide age range on why politics matters and what I do in my job. I was delighted to visit Safe Store in Old Trafford to support Human Appeal’s Wrap Up Manchester campaign for the third year running, collecting coats for homeless people – if you have a coat to donate, you have until this evening to pop down to Safe Store and hand it in. And I was proud to support staff at Ambleside Road Coop in Flixton and USDAW union in their annual campaign for shopworkers to be safe at work. That Coop store has suffered a very nasty attack recently, and the huge pressure on police numbers is a worry to many of my constituents too.
Finally, some important news for residents who’ve been following my campaign to protect the rights of home buyers. On Monday, I met representatives of the National Housebuilders Federation to discuss the steps they’re taking to tighten up warranties and inspections, and I am very pleased to announce that I have now been allocated time for a debate on the subject in parliament on Thursday 13 December, when I will be raising my constituents’ concerns. I’ve already heard from hundreds of people in Stretford and Urmston, and across the country, who’ve had problems with the quality of workmanship, and poor customer service from their builder when they’ve asked for defects to be put right. If you’ve had problems when you’ve bought a new-build house recently, I’d be very happy to hear from you. It does look as if government and the industry are beginning to listen – my debate will be a chance to step up the pressure on them to act.