I am sitting on the train writing this on Thursday evening, after a week in which we have well and truly seen just how far Boris Johnson will go to force through his hardline Brexit. He tried with last Saturday’s emergency sitting, and lost a vote when parliament insisted that he could not crash us out of the EU by refusing to seek an extension to allow us to complete a deal. He tried again on Tuesday, when he attempted to force through the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill in just 3 days, demanding parliament sit till 2 a.m. He lost that vote too. And tonight, he is trying to bounce us into an early general election, which would mean he would still have the chance to take us out of the EU with no deal at all.
This isn’t a Prime Minister who has any sense of his duty to serve the best interests of our country. This is a petulant, privileged bully who will do anything to have his own way. A general election doesn’t mean we get a better deal out of the EU; on the contrary, it means MPs won’t be there to do our job of scrutinising the deal and holding him to account. I won’t vote for an early election when I don’t even know the small print of the Brexit deal. That isn’t because I’m scared of the electorate, it’s because I take with the utmost seriousness my responsibility to do the job I was elected to do.
And this week has also shown just how important it is that MPs are in parliament to question the government. Because it’s only when we ask for the details that we discover what Johnson’s deal would really mean. Hundreds of pages of bill documents were published late on Monday night, ahead of Tuesday’s debate, with not nearly enough time for MPs to read and consider them properly. Yet even so, somehow the vital impact assessment, showing £7.5 billion hit to UK trade, was mysteriously missing. Meanwhile it was only on Wednesday, in the Home Affairs select committee, that we forced the government to admit that goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will be subject to regulations and checks.
We have a Prime Minister who doesn’t care about the law, doesn’t care about democratic accountability, and thinks he can do whatever he wants. But I will never allow him to trample over the security and prosperity of my constituents, or to stop me doing my job.
Away from Brexit, some better news. In recent weeks, we have once again seen appalling service on Northern Rail. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stood up in the chamber to complain about this in the past two years, and asked ministers to act. But to my surprise, this week when I did so, the secretary of state told me he had finally begun the process which could lead to the franchise being removed. I’ll be watching this like a hawk, so please keep the tweets, Facebook posts and emails coming about your experience of our local trains.
And there have been a few other interesting events and activities to fill my week. Last Friday, I spent a fascinating day with Stretford police. It gave me a very powerful insight into the pressures they face. I attended a parliamentary reception hosted by Aid to the Church in Need to support the campaign against persecution of Christians around the world. I had a very interesting meeting with the Airport Operators Association, who came to tell me about their worries about potential delays at passport control, and now Brexit could make things worse. And finally, this is Black History Month, and it was a great pleasure to join the Runnymede Trust in calling for Black history to be taught all year round.