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Today in parliament (Monday 11 September 2017), we will be debating and voting on the second reading of the European Union Withdrawal Bill. This is one stage in the bill's process through parliament. There will be further stages, and opportunities to debate and amend the bill, this autumn.

I regularly consult residents of Bristol West. Four out of five of them voted to remain in the European Union last June. Four out of five of them continue to tell me that they believe that the best relationship for the UK to have with Europe is full membership of the European Union (EU). I agree with them.

Full membership of the EU is best for jobs, for workers' rights, for environmental protection and for our place in the world.

If, reluctantly, we are to accept leaving the EU, I want us to keep full membership of the Single European Market and Customs Union for as long as possible and keep both on the negotiating table for our future relationship with the EU. You can read more about what these terms mean here (see especially Annexe 2, p.25).

It's important to note that membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union help maintain free movement of goods, services, labour and capital; reduce trade barriers, and maintain consumer rights. They also help our universities by keeping us in the Horizon 2020 and ERASMUS schemes. Other countries such as Norway are outside the EU but are part of the Single Market, for instance.

I believe it is best for my country and my constituents that we have as close a relationship with the EU as possible.

This government is recklessly throwing away all of the best possible options. Labour wants to keep them on the negotiating table. With this bill, the government is giving itself sweeping powers to make huge changes, virtually unchecked by parliament. They have also failed to protect environmental standards. This is worrying, because the only protection we have from air pollution for example, currently derives from EU rules and the government had to be taken to court to stick to them.

I voted against triggering Article 50 because the government had shown itself to be singularly ill-equipped to start the process of leaving the EU. I will be voting against the bill tonight because I believe this is the best way of making the government reconsider their strategy.

There is a long way to go in this process so I need your views and thoughts. I will continue to hold regular EU meetings, consult you through surveys, listen to your views in person and through my inbox.

Please do complete this short survey and add in anything you think I need to know or any questions you have. 

The EU Withdrawal Bill

Today in parliament (Monday 11 September 2017), we will be debating and voting on the second reading of the European Union Withdrawal Bill. This is one stage in the bill's...

In this week's 'Brexit questions' session I asked the government how they were going to ensure that collaborations between University of Bristol and UWE Bristol and other EU universities are protected in any future relationship we might negotiate with the European Union.

If this is an issue which concerns you, and you live in Bristol West, please complete my latest Brexit survey, to tell me what you value about our current membership with the EU, what you'd like to change, and what kind of relationship you want us to have. https://goo.gl/forms/YQocY2lYbG7wyhyO2

Brexit, universities and a survey

In this week's 'Brexit questions' session I asked the government how they were going to ensure that collaborations between University of Bristol and UWE Bristol and other EU universities are protected in any...

One of the things I’m most proud about as your representative in Parliament is how strongly you feel about the environment. One of my jobs as Opposition Whip for the Shadow Environment team is to help challenge the government to honour international agreements on climate change and environmental protections. I’m regularly inspired by your questions, your campaigning, your activism. Many of you have written to me, for example, about your concerns about climate change, about species decline, or about air pollution, and you often link the different problems with solutions which could help with all of them. Here are two ways I’m working to do my bit!

Many of you have urged me to do as much as possible to protect bumblebees, as the populations of most species are declining dramatically. I’m proud to say I’ve now become the species champion for the Shrill Carder Bee (Bombus Sylvarum), working closely with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and other wildlife organisations. The Shrill Carder Bee was common a century ago throughout the UK but it’s now confined to just a few areas in the South West, South Wales and the South East and risks becoming extinct.

Bumblebees are great pollinators and have a key role in producing much of our food; they also pollinate wildflowers that are the basis of complex food chains, feeding other wildlife. Declining populations will therefore affect our ability to grow crops, and generally undermine our whole ecosystem. So, expect to hear a lot about the Shrill Carder Bee from me over the coming years! You can find out more about the work of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust on their website: www.bumblebeeconservation.org

We also need to produce clean energy to start combating climate change. We have considerable expertise in this area right here in Bristol. I’ve recently met with local firms who are doing pioneering work to help harness tidal energy. And I’ve visited a test tidal turbine complex at Den Oever in the Netherlands to find out how the technology works and what challenges the industry faces.

Our region has considerable potential to develop this green technology. The Severn Barrage and Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon are two ideas that could provide a clean alternative in our energy supply. But they would need investment and government support to make tidal energy a viable source of power, and to care for the delicate ecosystems where they would be built.

I’ll continue to stand up for our environment in Parliament, and I hope you’ll continue sending me your questions and your ideas to help me do that.

 

(Article first published in the Bishopston Voice, September 2017)

 Photo by Dave Watson

Bees and barrages

One of the things I’m most proud about as your representative in Parliament is how strongly you feel about the environment. One of my jobs as Opposition Whip for the...

Thangam Debbonaire became Member of Parliament for the Bristol West constituency in May 2015 and was re-elected at the General Election on 8 June 2017 with an increased majority of 37,366. 

You can contact Thangam by email on thangam.debbonaire.mp@parliament.uk. 

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