Today marks a month since Russia invaded Ukraine. This illegal invasion continues to cause devastation, with more war crimes being committed each day. Labour stands with our allies, including NATO and other partners, and in complete solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Yesterday the Chancellor presented his Spring Statement to Parliament. At such a critical time for our national security, there was no mention of stopping cuts to our armed forces.  Other European governments have already acted to reboot their plans and review defence spending, yet the Chancellor has not announced a halt to army cuts. There was no review of defence spending, no reform of military procurement and no change to the real cut in day-to-day Ministry of Defence spending. This means less money for Forces recruitment, training, pay and families.

This Government does not take our national security seriously, nor does it comprehend the true scale of the cost of living crisis. In the wake of rising food, fuel and other everyday essential prices, working people across the country desperately needed measures to alleviate the financial burden they are facing. Unfortunately, as we have come to expect, the Tories did not pull through; even after the changes in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, Britain is facing the highest tax burden in 70 years under this Conservative Government.

The Chancellor has been responsible for fifteen tax rises in the last two years, and even though he proclaims that believes in low tax, the OBR has confirmed that has only reversed around a sixth of the tax rises he’s announced since he took the job. That means he’s raised five times more in tax than he’s cut. This is a Chancellor seemingly set on turning Britain into a country of low growth and high tax.

My colleague Rachel Reeves MP, the Shadow Chancellor, raised these points and more in her rebuttal. You can view her excellent speech here. On Monday 21st March, Labour also urged the Government to do more to support people struggling financially, with a particular focus on the impact the cost of living crisis is having on pensioners. You can see my colleague Jonathan Ashworth MP’s speech here.

Labour also used this day to call on the Government to take action on the indefensible action taken by P&O Ferries in their decision to fire 800 staff without notice. This despicable betrayal of the very workers who kept this country stocked throughout the pandemic is a cruel consequence of the Tory assault on workers’ rights. A leaked letter has revealed that Ministers were aware of the scandalous action taking by P&O before the workforce were told. This is not acceptable, and must be a line in the sand. Overseas billionaires must not be given free-reign to bully British workers. The Tories refused to support Labour’s proposal to ban fire and rehiring staff, once again demonstrating how this Government will not stand up for hard-won workers’ rights.

Tuesday marked five years since the horrendous events of the Westminster Bridge attack. Many events took place to mark this occasion, including a church service and the unveiling of a plaque on Westminster Bridge. Those who so tragically lost their lives are always in our hearts and minds. I reflected on them and thank those who continue to keep us safe as we serve our constituents here in Parliament.

March is Endometriosis Action Month. There was a drop in event in Parliament highlighting the action and tangible change needed to support those suffering with this condition. With one in ten women affected, this important cause is crucial to improving women’s health. Endometriosis UK are doing fantastic work to raise awareness and encourage action, and I urge all those with an interest to engage in their campaign.

Yesterday was also Marie Curie’s Day of Reflection. This was an opportunity for anyone who has experienced the death of someone they care about to connect across communities in support of thousands of people who have been bereaved across the UK during the pandemic. At such an isolating time, the last two years have reminded us that no one should have to experience loss alone. Marie Curie’s campaign has some excellent resources to help those who may need them. The National Day of Reflection website can be found here.

This week my fantastic Deputy Jess Morden MP spoke in Business Questions. She gave an excellent speech, covering the piecemeal ‘announcements’ in yesterday’s Spring Statement, the Prime Minister’s embarrassing act of going cap in hand from dictator to dictator for energy, and updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. You can watch Jess’ speech: here.

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