What a week it has been, with the Tories continuing to find new ways to sink even lower into the pit of incompetence and ineptitude that they have dug for themselves.
Labour wins motion to refer the Prime Minister to Privileges Committee
A huge focus of the work for Labour in Parliament this week was our success in referring the Prime Minister for investigation about whether he has intentionally misled Parliament. This relates to his comments in Parliament last December about whether there were illegal parties in Number 10 Downing Street during the first lockdown. Being truthful in Parliament is essential and MPs are not allowed to intentionally mislead the House. The Tory whips were ordered by Boris Johnson to try to defeat our motion. However, too many Tory MPs indicated they would vote with Labour so the motion was passed unanimously. Keir Starmer made an outstanding speech, as did other MPs from all sides, calling on the Prime Minister to do the decent thing and either submit to the investigation or resign.
Our motion comes in the wake of the fine he received from the Metropolitan Police for breaking his own lockdown rules. This is a Prime Minister who should have been standing in solidarity with the people of this country through the pain and heartache of the last two years. People sacrificed so much for the greater good: precious time with loved ones, significant personal milestones, comforting friends and family in their final days.
This is a Prime Minister who is unfit to lead, particularly when we are facing a horrific war in Ukraine and a devastating cost of living crisis. A Prime Minister who fails to understand the importance of his responsibilities. A Prime Minister who has betrayed the British people.
We should never have been put in this position of having to bring this motion. The Prime Minister should not have broken the rules and he should have been honest from the outset. This is not good enough, and we will not stand for it.
Labour is on your side, and we will not rest until this country has the leadership it deserves.
Building safety and the cladding scandal
This week saw the return of the Building Safety Bill to the Commons. This is particularly close to my heart, as during my previous role as Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, I met with many of those affected, trapped in unsafe housing with no options and feeling little hope. One of these people is the excellent Steph Pike, a fantastic campaigner from Bristol. Along with others in her situation she is refusing to let the Government get away with the cladding scandal. I had the pleasure of meeting Steph outside Parliament.
Guide Dogs UK
On Wednesday, Guide Dogs UK visited Parliament. This visit was focused on children and young people, and how the work that the organisation does can make life changing adjustments to their lives. Though the organisation welcomes the recently published outcome of the SEND review, there is still much more to do to ensure that children with visual impairment are able to participate in education and live their lives to the fullest. This includes emphasising the vital role of specialist professionals and support being introduced from an earlier age to prevent children from falling behind. I was delighted to meet Erin and her buddy dog Quince. Erin told me about how much Quince means to her and all the positive changes he has made to her life.
Online Safety Bill
The Online Safety Bill came back to the Commons on Tuesday. Despite the Bill going through two redrafts, this is still a shambles. It has been nearly four years since it was promised. In the meantime, disinformation, including Russian disinformation campaigns, has spread like wildfire. Child sex abuse online has become rife. Scams have proliferated. Labour has repeatedly called on the Government to take tougher action to make the Bill work and ensure people have security and respect online.
Home Office Failings
On Tuesday, the Home Secretary delivered her update on changes to the Government’s immigration policy. People seeking asylum in the UK will be flown to Rwanda, rather than processed here by the Home Office. After long and most likely treacherous journeys after being forced from the place they called home, displacing vulnerable people is appalling. You can read more about this policy on my blog.
By definition, asylum seekers cannot be ‘illegal’. International law means that someone fleeing war or persecution in their own country is permitted to seek asylum in UK, where they should be properly processed. Others are permitted to apply to join relatives already granted asylum.
In a shocking display of callousness and cruelty, she seeks to enact this policy under the guise of what she calls ‘fairness’. I cannot think of anything further from the truth.
Labour recognises the need to tackle vile people smuggling and the devastating loss of life in the Channel. However this is not the way to do it. We put forward plans to criminalise advertising smuggling on social media, yet the Government rejected them, and the independent anti-slavery commissioner has stated that the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill makes it harder to prosecute human traffickers.
Whilst she is busy demonising asylum seekers, the Home Secretary is certainly not getting on with the rest of her responsibilities. We are facing a mounting backlog across all areas of the Home Office, from passport applications to visas and everything in between. We are unable to properly update our constituents, many of whom desperately want to see family abroad or just want to take a very well-deserved holiday. I raised this shocking departmental failure and much more in yesterday’s Business Questions.
You can watch the debate referring the Prime Minister to the Privileges Committee here.