NEWS THIS WEEK – from Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington
09 Feb 2017My Statement on Wednesday’s Vote
I campaigned for remain and still believe that it is not in our best interests to leave the European Union. However to say that because the vote went the wrong way we are going to ignore the votes of millions of people up and down the country, would be a blow to democracy.
This does not mean that we have to accept Brexit in the haphazard way in which it is being handed to us. I like many are rightfully concerned about Theresa May’s Brexit. A Brexit in accordance with Tory values.
I was in Parliament for the Maastricht Treaty, which was just a revision to the EU Treaty. We debated it for forty-two days. MPs have been given just five days to debate coming out of the EU all together. This demonstrates how arrogant Theresa May is, how much she does not want to involve Parliament, and how much she wants to bulldoze things through.
The passage of this Bill has been a challenge for Labour. Our MPs represent the top six most passionately pro-leave constituencies, and the six most passionately pro-remain constituencies.
Following the decision taken by the Shadow Cabinet on voting for the Article 50 Bill, I voted for the Bill as a loyal supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and a loyal member of the Shadow Cabinet.
Labour will continue to oppose Theresa May’s intention to carry out a ‘Hard Brexit’. We will continue to fight for jobs and living standards, to protect workers’ rights and environmental standards and the rights of EU citizens, which are all under threat.
Sale of the student loan book is a bad deal for students and the tax-payer
The Government this week announced the sale of the student loan book. The Tories have tried to do this before, but abandoned the idea when they realised it was a bad deal for students and a bad deal for the tax-payer.
As Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, said "This Government never learn any lessons – this sale will do nothing to ease the burden of debt piled on students by the Tories who have trebled tuition fees and scrapped maintenance grants.”
Labour has committed to restoring maintenance grants to help young people from all backgrounds have access to University and will oppose this sale of the student loan book.
The Government’s disappointing proposals fall far short of what is needed to tackle the housing crisis
Government announcements on renting this week fall far short of what is needed and show the Tories are failing to get to grip with the housing crisis.
Affordable housebuilding has fallen to the lowest level in 24 years, with the number of homes being built for social rent now at the lowest level since records began.
As we all know, here in London and Hackney, the crisis is becoming more and more acute.
Last year, ministers even voted down Labour’s efforts to ensure that private rented homes were simply fit for human habitation.
Now ministers continue to do next to nothing to help people who rent from a private landlord and have consistently blocked Labour’s attempts to change the law to control costs and give renters security.
Tory Policies mean that NHS recruits are driven away before they’ve even started
UCAS figures published last week show that applications for undergraduate nursing degrees starting in September 2017 are down 23 percent compared with the previous year.
The Government have been warned repeatedly that cutting bursaries and funding for student nurses would cut off the future supply of NHS staff, yet the Tories have failed to change course.
These measures have come alongside misguided reductions in training places under the Tory Government and a permanent pay squeeze, meaning that the NHS is becoming dangerously short of staff.
Patients are seeing wards closed, operations cancelled and treatments delayed, but the Tories are still burying their heads in the sand about the crisis in the NHS.
Britain on course for the biggest increase in inequality since Thatcher
A Resolution Foundation report issued last week showed that Britain is on course for the biggest increase in inequality since Thatcher.
As Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell put it, “this report is damning of the unfair economic policies of this Chancellor, as the gap between working families and a wealthy few gets wider, with the poor getting poorer and the rich getting richer. It demonstrates to us all once again that the economy under a Tory government will be rigged for those at the top, with poor and middle income households facing their worst Parliament for income growth since the 1960s.”
Labour called on the Government at the Autumn Statement to end the unfair cuts to in work benefits, but Philip Hammond chose to carry on with the work of his predecessor, going ahead with tax giveaways to a wealthy minority.
It is becoming clearer by the day that working families will be forced to pay for a Tory Brexit that favours the rich and not the majority – in contrast to this, Labour is committed to making our economy work for the majority people, with proper investment to ensure no one and no community is left behind.
The inadequate housing system for refugees is a disgrace
A report from Parliament’s Cross-Party Home Affairs Select Committee has delivered a devastating critique of the system of housing for those who apply to be a refugee in 21st century Britain.
My colleague Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Committee, described some of the conditions as simply a “disgrace,” with reports of people being placed in accommodation with infestations of mice, rats and bedbugs. Findings also confirmed there is inadequate support for victims of rape and torture.
As many of us have felt for some time, the committee also found that the “dispersal” scheme used to place asylum seekers around the country simply doesn’t work. As the scheme is voluntary, some local authorities are not taking part, meaning that applicants are more concentrated in a small number of areas, including some of the most deprived areas.
For example, while there are 1,042 asylum seekers housed in Bolton and 1,029 in Rochdale, there are none at all in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency and only 88 housed in the Hastings and Rye constituency of Home Secretary Amber Rudd.