A peoples vote is essential to avoid and ‘Armageddon’

Labour Party

A Government report published over the weekend reveals a doomsday scenario if a no deal Brexit is drawn up. It states that Britain could be hit with food and medicine shortages within two weeks of leaving the EU if a Brexit deal isn’t reached.

The civil service paper speculates on three different scenarios which it categorizes into three possibilities 1. Mild, 2. Severe and 3. Armageddon. Either way none of it sounds hugely promising. Worse still is that it’s not even the so-called ‘Armageddon’ scenario which could plunge the UK into metaphorical darkness.

Indeed, The Sunday Times revealed that its source said even the second scenario will lead to serious consequences for the UK: “In the second worst scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”

The source added that “the RAF would be needed to transport emergency medicine to the far corners of the UK and warned that the country would also quickly run out of petrol.” It is deeply concerning to read let alone considering it could be a reality.

A people’s vote on the outcome of the deal is not only sensible but essential to give legitimacy to whatever the final agreement is.

And I am not alone with this view. I was pleased to see an open letter from 18 London MP’s to Jeremy Corbyn calling for a people’s vote on the deal Theresa May will bring back from the EU.

The letter, published in the Independent, calls on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to push for a referendum on the deal.

The letter states: “It cannot be right that 650 MPs decide on whether to accept the deal…that’s why we think it’s essential that there is a people’s vote on the final Brexit deal, so that 65 million people can have their voices heard as well.” The emergence of a deal is still far from clear, and there is an increasing possibility that there may be no deal at all.

This scenario as we have seen from the above will to lead to significant problems. These concerns have been raised by civil servants and therefore cannot be dismissed as “project fear” by David Davis and his team.

Equality between men and women means supporting the EU

Labour Party

Having a statue of the formidable campaigner Mary Wollstonecraft in London is long overdue and I fully support the campaign to commemorate the first public feminist in this way. It is, of course, true that Mary Wollstonecraft had been ignored by history. Her ground breaking book Vindication of the Rights of Women, published in 1792 is nothing like as well- known as it should be. Mary deserves much more recognition than she gets.

I was, therefore, pleased to see Labour’s Leader Jeremy Corbyn endorsing the campaign for her to have a statue, citing the statistic that 90 per cent of statues in London were men. I even thought Jeremy may have been converted to the cause of women’s rights.

Then I stopped to think. Jeremy is, to say the least, lukewarm about Britain’s membership of the EU. This matters as for the past seven years most of the official work relevant to the UK on women’s rights has been done by the European Parliament Women’s Rights Committee of which I am Vice-Chair. (I do not mean to take away from the excellent work done by sisters such as Harriet Harman, Stella Creasy and Jess Philips, but most of their contributions have been their own work not that done by the Government or even the Opposition).

The European Parliament Women’s Committee has worked on the gender pay gap, violence against women and sexual harassment, stereotypes of women in advertising and the media, as well as sexual health and reproductive rights and work-life balance.

Since its founding treaty in 1957, the EU has maintained a commitment to gender equality. As we celebrate the centenary of women gaining the vote in Britain, we would do well to take stock of where we are now. The UK is not in the forefront for gender equality across the EU and were we to cease to be in the European Union British women would be worse off, possibly even losing maternity pay and leave, the right to equal treatment between women and men at work and the EU legislation that means the burden of proof for cases of sex discrimination lies with the employer not the female victim.

Jeremy Corbyn, if you really believe in equality between women and men you need to come out strongly in favour of Britain staying in the EU. If you fail to do so, millions of women in Britain will suffer.

Mark Ferguson

Labour Party

Another change, Alex Smith who has played such an important role in Ed Miliband’s Leadership election campaign has had to pull out of today’s fringe meeting at Labour Party Conference – Blogging for Labour – How Social Media can drive a wedge into the Coalition at Manchester Central – Charter 1, at 6pm.

Alex kindly arranged for his colleague at Labour List, Mark Ferguson to step in for him, thank you Alex. Mark is the acting editor of LabourList,who sends me like many others a daily email with all that is happening in the Labour Party. I recommend subscribing which you can do here. I first met Mark when he was Islington Labour’s borough organiser, where he helped Emily Thornberry to increase her majority in Islington South from under 500 to over 3000 and to double Jeremy Corbyn’s majority in islington North to over 12,000. Superbly his organisation helped Labour to win back Islington council back from the Lib Dems by 35 seats to 13.

Mark was brought up in the North-East, before studying Social and Political Science at Robinson College Cambridge, where he was elected President of Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU). . He has appeared on the BBC News Channel, BBC Radio 5 and has been interviewed for Channel 4 news. I am pleased he will be joining the panel this evening.

Islington Liberal Democrat cuts to target children

Labour Party

Almost 12 months ago I wrote about the importance of school meals for all children, and called upon Islington Liberal Democrats to scrap their plans to cut back on their provision. Congratulations to the Labour team in Islington for winning their campaign to ensure that every child at Islington Council’s primary schools and nurseries will be entitled to a free school meal from March 8th.

Amazingly Islington Liberal Democrats have warned that if they win the Council elections in May, they will scrap the universal free school meals initiative for ever.  I am not an expert on local government finance but I find it hard to believe there are not other areas of expenditure that cannot  be looked at. I think as we approach a General Election and London Council elections it says much about the Liberal Democrat’s priorities.

The picture shows Islington South MP Emily Thornberry. Islington Labour Group Leader Catherine West and Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn with a young supporter. They have launched a petition which you can sign here.

Independent experts know that a nutritious meal is best for our children’s health and education. I agree and thank my colleagues in Islington for all their hard work on this campaign.