Happy new year! I hope everyone had the chance to take a bit of a break over Christmas. I was certainly very glad to have time to spend with family and friends.
But this week it has been back to parliament, with MPs keen to ask ministers what the UK could do to support Australians facing the appalling bush fires, to raise concerns about climate change, and to express disquiet about the decision by President Trump to assassinate Iranian general Soleimani, when, despite our clear appreciation that he has been responsible for horrific attacks in the Middle East, it’s not clear that he presented an immediate threat to the US which would justify the killing in international law.
And inevitably, it was also back to Brexit, as the government rushes through legislation for our departure from the EU at the end of this month. It’s shocking and distressing to see the Tories use their crushing majority in parliament to go back on commitments they were making just a few short weeks ago. We weren’t able to prevent them from removing guarantees for workers’ rights, or protection for unaccompanied child asylum seekers, or ending our participation in the Erasmus programme that enables EU student exchanges. This is the reality of a majority Tory government, and I fear it is a horrible taste of what is to come.
Labour is of course embarked on the process of electing a new party leader and deputy leader, and that has been the subject of a huge amount of discussion among MPs this week. I’ll be attending a meeting of Stretford and Urmston Labour party this evening, and I won’t be making any public statement about who I’ll support until I have had the chance to meet local party members tonight. Except that I will say that I have no intention of standing for either role myself.
Meantime, I’m preparing to move out of my office in Westminster…..to make room for a Tory MP. Different floors in our building are dedicated to the different political parties, but as we have fewer Labour MPs following the election, we are having to consolidate on fewer floors, and I must vacate my office on the 5th floor and move downstairs. It will be a daily reminder to me of the Tories’ large majority in parliament, of how badly we let down voters who desperately needed a Labour government, and of the urgent need to rebuild trust in Labour under our next leader.