This week, the PM travelled to Brussels to negotiate a longer extension to Article 50, as Parliament remains in deadlock. Away from Brexit, I’ve been pressing the Government on the urgent need for new, fit for purpose electoral laws and transparency on online political advertising, the situation in Brunei for women and LGBT+ people and the arrest of two journalists in Northern Ireland for exposing police’s protection of killers in the Loughinisland massacre during The Troubles in 1994. I also questioned the Justice Minister on the lack of legal aid for bereaved families at inquests and why the Government’s review into legal aid has made no provision for bereaved families.

Brexit

On Monday, the Cooper-Letwin Bill received Royal Assent after flying through its stages in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Cooper-Letwin, (now The European Union Withdrawal No 5 Act) legally rules out the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without a deal and forces the Prime Minister to seek further Article 50 extension.

The PM has spent the last few days in Brussels, desperately arguing for the longer extension, and an extension to October 31st was finally agreed.Parliament must use this time wisely, and I firmly believe that if we cannot get agreement to revoke Article 50, then the next best solution is to put thePrime Minister’s deal, up against the option of remaining in the EU to a public vote.

I will continue to press for this at every available opportunity.

Government’s ‘Online Harms’ White Paper and the Urgent Need for Fit for Purpose Electoral Laws for Online Political Advertising

This week the Government published its Online Harms white paper, but there was one glaring omission. There was nothing to address the serious concerns in our Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee reports about transparency in online political advertising & scourge of disinformation.

On Tuesday I pressed the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the urgent need for new, fit for purpose electoral laws for online political advertising. These rules are essential in the fight against disinformation and fake news – and with the prospect of European Parliamentary elections next month, an early General Election or confirmatory referendum ever present, this is an extremely pressing matter.

Loughinisland Massacre and the Arrest of Two Journalists for Exposing a Police Cover-Up

On Thursday I pressed the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the arrest of two National Union of Journalists’ members, who produced the award-winning documentary ‘No Stone Unturned’ on the police’s attempts to protect the killers involved in the Loughinisland massacre towards the end of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Last week, the Foreign Secretary claimed that “democracy and freedom of expression mean nothing unless journalists are able to expose the truth”. Following these arrests, how can that be the case?

Brunei

Following on from Written Questions I submitted last week, I have raised the situation in Brunei twice in Parliament this week. Brunei’s tyranical regime has cracked down on LGBT+ and women’s rights – becoming only the 8th country in the world to introduce the death penalty (via stoning) for same-sex sexual activity. On Wednesday, I spoke in a debate, calling on the UK Government to suspend the UK’s military training of Brunei’s armed forces until this crackdown has ended.

On Thursday I then asked the Leader of theCommons for an Urgent Statement from the Defence Secretary about the UK providing military training to countries like Brunei, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia – whose repressive regimes brutally crack down on LGBT+ and women’s rights.

Racism in Football

Following a spate of racist abuse in international, Premier league and Welsh football matches recently, I raised the issue with the Sports Minister asking that the Government support a long-term educational programme in schools with the pioneering educational charity Show Racism the Red Card. Children aren’t born racist – they learn and absorb racism. Anti-racism education in vital so we can kick racism out of sport and society.

 

This week I was thrilled to welcome Newport West’s new MP, the fantastic Ruth Jones to Parliament for the first time. I watched Ruth get sworn in, and she hit the ground running with a brilliant opening question on Thursday. I know she will do the people of Newport West proud.

Today I have visited the new refurbished clock tower at Cardiff Central station which has been undertaken with advice from CADW and will be unveiled after the Easter weekend. Look out for it when you catch your next train!

Thank you to everyone who came to my busy advice surgery this afternoon. I am having a few days break next week but my team at Albany Road are available to help if you need advice or support. You can drop in the office Monday to Wednesday 9am to 5pm and on Thursday morning. The office will then close for the Easter weekend. You can still contact me anytime at jo.stevens.mp@parliament.uk

 

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