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Westminster diary – 06.06.19

THIS week marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings that turned the tide of World War II. On June 6 1944, 24,000 British, US and Canadian troops landed on France’s shores, catalysing the liberation of Nazi-occupied France and laying the foundations for an allied victory.

This week is an important time to reflect on those who tragically lost their lives in the pursuit of European peace. It is also a poignant reminder of what can be achieved when we stand united with our European neighbours and world allies.

Therefore, I find some irony in the fact that the anniversary coincides with President Trump’s state visit. It is extraordinary how some in the media are celebrating his visit, ignoring how he is undermining some of our most important global institutions. He is a misogynist, racist, homophobe with divisive rhetoric and isolationist policies. Simply, he should not have been afforded a state visit, at huge public expense. Few presidents before him have been afforded the same – not even President Reagan or Clinton.

His visit is predicated on the government’s utter desperation to strike a trade deal with the US, which would ultimately be on the US’s terms, leaving the UK open to exploitation and de-regulation. Trump himself declared that everything, ‘the NHS or anything else’ would be on the table in post-Brexit trade talks. Meanwhile, our same government is currently distracted by another drawn-out leadership contest.

Last week in parliament, I raised the need to make the Parliamentary Contribution Pension Fund fossil-free. Sadly, the largest holding in the pension fund is BP. As a county councillor, I proposed a similar initiative for the Warwickshire County Council fund, unfortunately, it never came to fruition. In our transition towards a carbon-neutral world the public sector needs to lead by example with sustainable investments. That’s why I’ve signed the divest parliament pledge to demand that we phase out investments in fossil fuel companies.

I joined the SEND National Crisis picnic in Leamington last Friday, which was part of a nation-wide protest against the government’s cuts to special needs provision. Since 2015, the government has cut funding for pupils with special educational needs by 17 per cent, while demand for these services has risen. Despite government’s claims that ‘austerity is over’, it’s clear that our most vulnerable children and their families are still suffering.