It’s been a very busy first week back in Parliament after the festive break. We have a new Speaker and Deputy Speakers were elected this week. Unfortunately I was not successful in the Private Members’ Bill ballot, but I hope to revive my Automatic Voter Registration Bill this year through another mechanism.
Firstly, this week the Labour Leadership election properly got going as MPs started nominating their preferred candidates for leader and deputy. I’ve nominated Keir Starmer for Leader and Angela Rayner for Deputy Leader.
For me it comes down to who I believe can effectively lead our Party out of the current mess and successfully into the future, building trust and confidence with the public on a radical policy platform and who can win a general election. I believe Keir is the strongest candidate. During the recent General Election campaign, Keir was mentioned by many voters across Cardiff Central as being the best choice to lead Labour. Angela is a great campaigner, motivator and a grafter. All the skills needed for the campaigning Deputy Leader we need. I believe Keir and Angie would make a winning team.
We had some good news in Cardiff Central on Tuesday as the very first cycle superhighway in Cardiff opened along Senghenydd Road in Cathays. The route was officially opened by Welsh Government Minister Lee Waters AM, Leader of Cardiff Council Huw Thomas and several local cyclists and organisations were in attendance. Safe cycling routes like this are the key to getting people out of their cars and travelling by bike and I’m very happy to see the first route of its kind in Cardiff Central.
Wednesday and Thursday were consumed by votes on the EU Withdrawal Bill. As the opposition we put down several amendments to the Bill, which would have protected workers’ rights, included protections for child refugees to be reunited with their families, guaranteed the rights of EU citizens after Brexit and continued the UK’s membership of the Erasmus+ scheme, but all were voted down by the Conservative Government. Just after 5.30pm on Thursday evening, the Bill had completed its passage through the House of Commons altogether. A thoroughly depressing moment. The Bill now goes to the Lords where it may yet be amended, but with the Government having a majority of the size it does, it’s extremely unlikely these amendments will be accepted. I spoke with Lord Alf Dubs after the vote yesterday and he is committed to continuing to fight for family reunion rights for child refugees and I will continue to work with him on this.
On Thursday I also spoke in my colleague Carolyn Harris’s Urgent Question on the deal between the Football Association and Bet365 and the wider need for urgent reform of our gambling laws. I asked why the Government is yet to commit to starting their promised review of our outdated gambling legislation and when we can expect it – you can watch my Question by clicking here.
Above all, this week in Parliament has served as a grim eyeopener as to what the next four or five years will be like. Defeating and challenging a Government with an 80 seat majority is going to be an extremely difficult task, but I will continue to challenge Johnson and the Tories and hold them to the promises he and they made before the referendum and ever since.
On Friday I was back home in Cardiff Central meeting constituents and working on casework, with a busy advice surgery in the evening – thanks to everyone who dropped in. I’ll also be at Sainsbury’s Colchester Avenue tomorrow afternoon for another advice surgery between 1pm – 2pm for anyone with any issues they’d like some help with. Next Thursday I’ll be running a joint advice surgery with Citizens Advice for constituents with questions or problems applying for Settled Status. It’ll be between 4pm and 6pm at Cardiff Central Library.
I hope you all have a great weekend.