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December Newsletter


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Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter, which gives me the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Christmas is a time for us to not only look back on the past year, but also to look forward to the New Year, the challenges we face and the changes we might want to make in our own lives.

For me personally, 2016 will always be remembered as the year my friend and colleague, Jo Cox, was so tragically taken from us. Jo was an energetic campaigner and represented the community she had grown up in. Jo was murdered at a constituency surgery, killed while helping her constituents and the constituency she loved so much. In the aftermath, I was proud of Northfield’s response, the vigils held in Birmingham city centre and the book of condolence which was signed by so many constituents. These have been clear demonstrations of “uniting to fight against the hate that killed her” – as Jo’s husband Brendan so profoundly said. Read more

NHS Update

In recent weeks, I have received petitions, postcards and hundreds of other correspondence relating to funding, services and reorganisational threats facing our National Health Service. This is the response I have written to constituents.

Many of you will recognise that for the last six years Labour have warned about threats of a funding crisis and an increase in unnecessary private investment from commercial companies in our NHS permitted by the Conservative Government. This is not scaremongering or playing political games, the challenges facing the NHS, including an ageing society increasing demand, in the past six years are ever-mounting and have only been exacerbated by Conservative cuts, so much so that the NHS is facing one of its the biggest financial squeezes in its history. Read more

Brexit – Five Months On

I have received a huge number of emails and letters about Brexit in recent weeks and months. I wanted to share with you all the response I have sent out to constituents on Brexit and the way forward.

As you may be aware in the weeks after the referendum, I wrote an initial response to the defining and far reaching challenges Brexit brings for our country. If you have not a chance to read it, much of it still hold true, and I would encourage you to read it:

In the months since, I have done my best to attend the debates and opportunities to scrutinise the Government’s work on prospectively leaving the EU in Parliament. You can find the latest updates on Parliament’s scrutiny of Brexit here:

You may also be interested to know the House of Commons Brexit Committee has recently been established, under the Chairmanship of former Shadow Foreign Secretary, Hillary Benn MP, which will review Government policy closely to ensure British interests and our regions are best protected. You can track its work here:

Returning to the work I have done here are a few updates I hope you find interesting:

Protecting UK automotive

As Chair of Parliament’s cross party Motor group (APMG), I was delighted to organise and Chair a breakfast meeting with Brexit Minister, Robin Walker MP, Parliamentarians and industry representatives to discuss the sector’s priorities in future negotiations.

The UK automotive industry is a significant part of our economy, accounting for up to £34 billion or 12% of the UK’s total export of goods. It directly employs 170,000 in manufacturing, with hundreds of thousands more jobs in supply chains dependent on the automotive sector. Currently UK automotive thrives on access to the Single Market, with around 50% of UK vehicle exports destined for the EU.

The meeting highlighted many of the questions so far unanswered by Government including single market access, movement of labour, addressing skills shortages, international trade, uncertainty, supply chains and protection for small businesses.

Backing Birmingham’s Higher Education Institutions

Our city’s Universities and FE colleges contribute immense economic and cultural value to Birmingham and the wider region, so I was very pleased to organise a meeting in the House of Commons between Birmingham MPs and the Student Presidents of Birmingham City University, University of Birmingham and Aston University

The meeting was an opportunity to discuss Brexit in detail and what their key priorities and concerns were in ongoing negotiations. We also discussed related issues facing Higher Education as well as strengthening the ladder of opportunity for young people in Birmingham. We also touched on the private rented sector, transport in the city, visas and rising xenophobia facing students and staff.

Article 50

Following the High Court’s recent decision in regard to parliamentary approval on Article 50, I received a large number of correspondence from local residents stating strong views on either side.

My view is clear, this judgement is not and must not be about whether Article 50 should be triggered but about how. I am very mindful many people voted leave to ensure the UK took back control, it is therefore a fundamental democratic principle that our Parliament does not let the Conservative Government to make any decisions on our future without full and fair debate.

I would urge you to read my thoughts in detail on Huffington Post here:

My Speech to the Boundary Commission Consultation

Below you can see my contribution to the Boundary Commission public consultation in Birmingham last week. You can have your say too here.


I am grateful for the opportunity to provide some observations on the Boundary Commission’s provisional recommendations for the West Midlands and specifically for Birmingham.

Introduction – Legislative Framework

By way of introduction, I know that I will not be the first to say that I think that the framework in which the Commission has been required to draw up its recommendations this time is both unreasonable and unfair.

The first thing to say is that using December 2015 as the reference point for assessing the size of the electorate is perhaps the worst of all possible dates. It comes after the disappearance of many thousands of voters following the introduction of individual registration and before the increase in voter registrations that we saw in the run up to the June 2016 referendum on the European Union. Read more

Brexit – It’s not about if, but how

high_court_2423851bLet’s get one thing straight at the start. Thursday’s High Court decision did not change or overrule the result of June’s Referendum which voted for Britain to leave the European Union.  I know that claiming something else makes for more lurid tabloid headlines but it is a fact.

The High Court decision is about who should have a say in how Britain should go about leaving the European Union, not whether we should do so. The judges expressed no opinion on whether Brexit is a good idea or a bad one. That is not down to judges to decide that anyway.  And nobody – on either side – asked them to do so. Read more