PLEASE NOTE: I refer to eating disorders further down in this blog. Please take care when reading. There are helplines included at the bottom if you need support.
Last week was dominated by Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustifiable attack on Ukraine. This is a heinous violation of international law. The Labour Party stands with our allies, including NATO, in condemning this act of aggression in the strongest possible terms, and we will continue to work with the Government so that the hardest possible sanctions are taken against all those linked to Putin and against the Russian government’s interests. The bravery of the Ukrainian people in resisting this assault is astounding. We stand with them.
Parliament had the great privilege to be joined by the Ukrainian Ambassador on Wednesday 2nd March, who briefed MPs on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I was lucky enough to meet the Ambassador, and to witness the poignant and emotional moment in Prime Minister’s Questions when he was applauded by Members and the public galleries. This was a touching moment, with Members from both sides of the House showing solidarity with Ukraine. You can watch this here.
Despite the horror in Ukraine, my work on behalf of my constituents continued.
I met representatives from the British Heart Foundation, who visited Parliament to tell us about projects to mark their 60th anniversary. The Foundation has achieved so much over the last 60 years to create a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases. I support this important work.
I also had the honour of meeting the fantastic Naomi, a PhD student from the University of Bristol currently working on a cross party project to create the Parliament coronavirus memorial quilt. With patches from as many constituencies as possible, this is a moving tribute to those tragically lost in the pandemic.
Last week was Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Eating disorder charity Beat found that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder, often suffering in secret. Requests for support almost doubled in the first six months of the pandemic. I have been contacted by many constituents who have an eating disorder or have a loved one suffering with one. It is vital that we continue to do everything we can to support those affected and to help them. As part of my current mental health campaign, I will be meeting with constituents and support organisations to discuss how I can help.
At Business Questions this week, I asked the Leader of the House to clarify Home Office advice on the ongoing situation in Ukraine. It is imperative that those fleeing conflict have clear advice on what assistance is available to them in the UK. The Home Secretary gave a statement on this on Tuesday, which is welcome, but questions remain around the practicalities of the scheme. There are confusing differences between the Home Secretary’s statement to the House of Commons last Tuesday and what is happening in reality. I asked the Leader of the House to ask the Home Secretary to provide an update.
While we will continue to work with the Government to strengthen support for Ukraine and our NATO allies, we also cannot ignore the reality of the cost of living crisis faced by people here. Last week we saw the highest rise to the cost of daily commutes in almost a decade. This will price passengers out of the railways and undermine urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency. In Business Questions, I asked for a statement from the Transport Secretary to make a statement on why commuters are being forced to pay the price for decisions made in Downing Street.
The Deputy Shadow Leader of the House, Jess Morden, also gave a fantastic speech in the St. David’s Day debate on Welsh Affairs on Thursday 3rd March. You can catch her excellent speech here.
Finally, I signed the book of support for Ukraine currently in Parliament. There has been an overwhelming outpouring of love in the face of Putin’s hideous acts of war. We will continue to stand with Ukraine.
You can watch my speech in this week’s Business Questions here.
If you need support regarding an eating disorder, please call Beat on 0808 801 0677 (England) or visit their website. If you need to speak to somebody regarding your mental health, please call the Samaritans on 116 123.