This is my weekly update for the week beginning 25th September
Arms sales to Saudi Arabia
I’ve continued to press the Government over arms sales to Saudi Arabia. With London hosting an international arms fair this month, I’ve asked a number of parliamentary questions to apply more pressure to ministers who insist on flogging weapons to this vicious regime. I also revealed the Government’s invitation list to the arms fair, and worked with campaigners to ensure that the horrific human rights record of our so-called allies are out in the open.
RIGHT now, in Myanmar, a heinous crime is being committed by a military force against its own people. Security forces and local militia have burnt villages of the muslim Rohingya people, committed extrajudicial killings and shot fleeing civilians. This isn’t a legitimate response to terrorism, as they claim: it’s ethnic cleansing.
Meanwhile the government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, remains almost silent. The treatment of the Rohingya people has sent shockwaves across the world, not least here in Brighton and Hove. I’ve been meeting with the muslim community and we are shocked as to how little coverage this atrocity has had in the mainstream media.
I’ve written to the Foreign Secretary and I urge him to put pressure on Myanmar’s government to stop the military operation, let in UN inspectors immediately and implement the recommendations in Kofi Annan’s report.
To step up the international pressure on this issue we need your help too. All of us have the power to make a difference, whether that’s writing to the Government or sharing the news about this atrocity. We need to spread the word ourselves so that pressure mounts to end this violent campaign.
I’ve been keeping the pressure on the Government to sign up to the UN’s nuclear weapons ban treaty. That treaty opened for signatures last week, and more than 50 countries signed this ground-breaking document. This is an open invitation from the majority of the world’s states to all countries to sign up and work to make the abolition of nuclear weapons a reality. Our government says it is committed to the same aim, yet it boycotted the talks that produced the treaty and insists the UK will never sign. But the opportunity is there; the UK must seize it and work to make a success of it. The alternative is spiralling nuclear proliferation, massively increased danger and inevitable annihilation.
You can see my letter in the Guardian on the issue here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/19/sign-up-to-the-un-ban-on-nuclear-weapons
The latest week in Parliament before the current break was dominated by Brexit. I’ve continued to stand up for our city on the issue – pressing the Government to keep a close relationship with Europe. I know that businesses and universities are particularly worried about the impact of a ‘cliff edge’ brexit – and I used my speech in Parliament to both highlight those risks and focus on the damage that ending free movement will have on our city and beyond.
I also spoke at the Stop Brexit rally in Brighton at the weekend – where I urged the Labour party to join me in campaigning in favour of remaining in the Single Market, as a majority of people in Brighton and beyond desire.
As hurricanes swept through the Caribbean I’ve been pushing the Government to take the climate crisis more seriously. In the House of Commons I was accused of ‘lacking humanity’ after I highlighted the links between hurricane intensity and climate change – and called for emergency action on this great challenge. Though the Government might not want to hear about their shortcomings on this issue – I won’t be silenced!
Last week I shadowed the St Mungo’s outreach team on shift in Brighton. The Brighton SOS service, which St Mungo’s has been managing for the last two years on behalf of Brighton and Hove Council, works with people who sleep rough in the town, supporting them into accommodation and finding lasting routes off the streets. I was really impressed by the trust they have gained with people sleeping rough in the city, and their commitment to helping them rebuild their lives.
Fracking in Preston New Road
Last week I travelled up to Lancashire to join campaigners at the Preston New Road fracking site. The struggle facing the community there is likely to be replicated across the country if the Government’s plans come to fruition. It was heartening to see so many people campaigning on the issue – and using the power to protest to make their point heard.
Money Advice Plus
I’m really proud to be a patron of Money Advice Plus, and I was very happy to have a catch up with them last Friday. Money Advice Plus is a registered charity based in Brighton & Hove, helping and supporting people experiencing difficulty managing their money or financial affairs. They give peace of mind through advice and assistance, confidentially and impartially. One of the huge challenges on the horizon will be the roll out of universal credit. Given the experiences so far, where people have had to wait for weeks to get the money they’re owed, I’m arguing strongly for the roll out to be paused, at least until lessons have been learned and changes made.
Westdene Village Fair
I was honoured to be asked to open the Westdene Village fair at the weekend. It was also a celebration of all the hard work that had gone into securing Westdene Barn for the community - a fantastic achievement and a wonderful good news story, made even more enjoyable by the sunshine and delicious cake!
The campaign to Scrap the Cap continued to grow over the weekend with a rally and speeches at the Level. I was very pleased to continue my support, and to take that message back to Jeremy Hunt.