Back in parliament after the halfterm break as the Tory leadership contest gets underway, numerous candidates, most vying to prove their Brexit credentials, present a troubling picture of what’s to come. Some have even suggested suspending parliament altogether (by a process known as prorogation) to prevent us from blocking a bad or no deal Brexit.
That is such an affront to democracy, and a constitutional outrage. But I think it makes an early vote of no confidence in the new prime minister’s government entirely likely. To get that round that, it’s also been suggested the government will simply start the summer break early, delaying any challenge until the autumn, by which time a new prime minister might have brought on board some dubious allies to shore up his or her goverment. These political games are an utter disgrace from a wholly discredited Tory party.
Meanwhile, I have been asking questions about why EU nationals resident in and wanting to vote in the UK were prevented from doing so in last month’s European elections. People up and down the country have been affected, including in Stretford and Urmston. The government were warned back in 2014 that processes were inadequate, but did nothing. I’ve co-signed a cross-party letter to the Cabinet Secretary and the Electoral Commission, complaining about it.
I also took the opportunity to ask a question about the desperate situation of migrants who have been trying to make the treacherous journey across the Channel from France, and who may have a right to claim asylum in the UK. It’s not clear that the government is ensuring those who could do so are given every chance to lodge an asylum claim, and following some rather vague answers from the minister to me and my colleague Thangam Debbonaire, we have written to her for more information, including about how the French and British governments will cooperate after Brexit.
Continuing the Brexit theme, I made a very interesting visit to Hardwood Dimensions in Trafford Park to hear about the effect of Brexit on the timber industry. The company is well over 100 years old, but the directors told me they had never faced so much uncertainty.
Meanwhile, I was very pleased to hear that another Trafford Park company, Tenmat Ltd, has won the Queen’s Award for Innovation. And while I am in congratulationsmode, a big shoutout to Greater Manchester Citizens for their award for their Living Wage campaign, and to Remembering Srebrenica North West who have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Last term, I surveyed head teachers in my constituency to ask about funding pressures in their schools. Many were pessimistic about their finances, and I was able to raise their concerns in a debate in parliament on Tuesday (you can read more at https://www.kategreen.org/latest-news/2019/06/05/kate-questions-minister-on-inadequate-school-funding/). It’s wrong that schools in my constituency, some of them serving pupils with the highest needs, should have suffered the greatest real terms funding losses, thanks to Tory cuts and an unfair national funding formula. Trafford schools perform very well, with some of the highest attainment levels in the country, thanks to excellent teaching and strong school leaders. But we shouldn’t be cutting corners when it comes to our children’s education, and especially when it disproportionately affects our most disadvantaged students.
This morning I’ve woken up to the news that Labour held Peterborough in yesterday’s byelection, fighting off the threat from the Brexit party, and with the Tories pushed into third place. Perhaps it’s not surprising that Tory leadership candidates are talking about shutting down parliament early!