I’ve lost count of how many times in recent months my blogs have started with me expressing my incredulity at what’s been going on in parliament. This week is no exception. Since Monday, the prime minister has managed to lose 23 of his own MPs (including his own brother), numerous votes, his dignity and his temper. Not a good start for the first full week MPs have been able to scrutinise him in prime ministerial office.
Brexit is tearing the Tory party apart. And Johnson’s arrogance is accelerating that process. He believed he could force through any Brexit deal (or no deal) that he chose. But it is his own MPs who have stopped him.
So on Monday parliament will complete the passage of legislation to rule out a No Deal Brexit. We will also vote (again) on the prime minister’s motion to call an early general election. He lost a vote on that on Wednesday, because Labour MPs can see it for the trap that it is. If an election were to take place before we’ve secured either a deal or an extension from the EU, it could give Johnson the chance to repeal or ignore the Commons’ vote to prevent No Deal, and crash us out at the end of October. I’m desperate to kick him out of Downing Street, but I don’t trust him one little bit, and I won’t be voting for an election until we’ve totally boxed him in after 31 October.
Not only is he untrustworthy, his behaviour in parliament is disgraceful. Threatening, bullying, insulting, sneering – it is shocking, and the world will be watching. I was so proud of my colleague Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi on Wednesday, when he challenged Johnson on his racist behaviour. If you haven’t watched Tan’s heart stopping question, you can do so here.
I can’t quite describe the mood, the chaos, the pandemonium in parliament right now, but I know the tone is set from the top. Johnson, and his sidekick Jacob Rees Mogg, are making a mockery of our democracy. But away from the theatricals in the chamber, I’ve been getting stuck into some serious business. In particular, this week I’ve been concentrating on some of the implications of Brexit for children and young people.
So, on Tuesday, I participated in an important debate to raise concerns about EU children who are looked after by UK local authorities. Their legal status will change after Brexit, and local authorities need to take action to protect them. Then on Wednesday, at the Home Affairs select committee, I asked police and security chiefs how they would guard children against the threat of cross-border crime, grooming and abduction when we no longer have access to EU justice and intelligence systems.
I also continued to press the case for much more stringent rules to protect homebuyers from cowboy builders when the secretary of state made a statement about building regulations on Thursday (read my question here). Constituents will know I have repeatedly raised concerns about shoddy building, and builders who refuse to rectify defects, with ministers. This is an ongoing problem in Stretford and Urmston, and I wrote to the secretary of state straight after his statement to reinforce my concerns.
Finally, a couple of great visits and events in the constituency. I was honoured to open the new phlebotomy unit at Trafford General last Friday, and to meet the expert team there. It was great to join Friends of the Earth at Stretford Precinct last weekend to chat to shoppers about what we can all do in Trafford to tackle the climate emergency. And as Brexit is never far from my thoughts, I spent a wet Saturday morning with very determined campaigners at Another Europe is Possible’s Defend Democracy rally in Manchester. It’s clear to me that people see the danger Boris Johnson poses to our country. And that’s why I promised the campaigners I’ll do everything I can in parliament to thwart him.