As I write, polls are open in the European parliamentary elections, although we won’t have the results until Sunday night, when all EU countries have finished voting. There is no doubt these elections have been difficult for both the main political parties here. I want to express my thanks to everyone who has been to vote. A low turnout helps far rIght populist candidates, and with signs that candidates from those parties will do well in a number of countries, a vote to thwart the spread of their mean-minded, nationalistic policies here in the UK really makes a difference.
In parliament, meanwhile, we have been watching the slowmotion meltdown of Theresa May’s premiership. Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday were agonising. Even her own MPs were openly angry and contemptuous, heckling her as she answered their questions. Yet she has refused and refused to accept that she simply no longer commands any ability to govern, that her authority is completely broken, and that she must resign.
I’m acutely anxious about the Tory leadership battle that will follow her eventual departure, and that we will have a hard Brexiteer in Downing Street by the summer. It’s one more reason why I think it’s become absolutely imperative that the final Brexit deal should be returned to the people in a confirmatory vote. We have to resist leaving with a bad deal or no deal at all. I don’t trust any Conservative Prime Minister to protect us from that.
The mood in Westminster is again strained and fearful, so MPs were absolutely delighted to welcome a number of Therapy Dogs to parliament this week. These affectionate and friendly animals work in a range of settings, including hospices, schools for children with special needs, and prisons. They allowed MPs to pat and play with them, and by the time they left, we all felt a little more chilled and in a better mood. I can’t help feeling we need them as regular visitors to parliament, but in the meantime, I’m looking forward to meeting a Therapy Dog at work in the constituency soon. The dogs are volunteered for the work by their owners, so if this is something you think your dog could do, visit http://www.tdn.org.uk/ for more information.
It’s also a pleasure and a real relief to spend time at great constituency events. A huge thanks to the students at English Martyrs school in Urmston for inviting me to visit you, and for your great questions about parliament, Brexit and the environment. I hope you’ll come to visit me in Westminster sometime (an offer that’s open to all schools in my constituency, by the way, and help with travel costs is available, so please contact my office if you’d like to know more).
Thanks also to St Matthews Primary School parents, staff and students for welcoming me to your Community Fun Day, and to Urmston police for allowing me to join your drop-in surgery session. And it was a particular pleasure to visit Pride in Trafford, along with Cllrs Tom Ross and Anne Duffield, in one of their final mayoral engagements. Tom’s term as mayor ended on Wednesday, and I think he has been the most fantastic mayor, creative, inclusive, and exceptionally hardworking, having clocked up a massive 486 different visits and events in a year. Tom, you have done a really exceptional job, and we have been so lucky to have welcomed you as Trafford’s first citizen over the past 12 months.