I applaud the England squad for standing up to racism, shame on the Tory MPs who criticised them - Weekly update 16/07/2021
My congratulations to the England football team for their incredible achievement last weekend. Playing for your country is an incredibly moving experience and I hope that, despite much of the later events, that playing in their white shirts in a Euros final is something that they will always treasure. Although they didn’t quite make it in the end, they have shown throughout this tournament that they are excellent role models for our young people – taking a stand against racism despite intense criticism and attacks on their personal and political views. I am appalled that some Tory MPs, instead of applauding these brave young men, chose to criticise and attack them for ‘gesture politics’ – the same Tory MPs who clapped for our NHS workers and then refused to give them an adequate pay rise. I am also appalled by the shocking scenes and stories coming from outside Wembley stadium and reports in newspapers that foreign fans, even children, were abused in the streets and made to feel uncomfortable on the streets of London. The scenes showing people forcing their way through the security checks to get into the stadium without tickets are seriously concerning, and I can’t help but think that Wembley were lucky to avoid a tragedy. This security breach needs to be fully reviewed to ensure that nothing like that can happen again.
I was pleased to lead a debate this week in Westminster Hall on Climate Change in Wales. In Wales, we are extremely fortunate to have access to natural resources that can provide cutting-edge alternatives to curtail our reliance on fossil fuels. How we deal with these issues in the next few years will have a defining impact on future generations and their wellbeing. The changing climate will cause huge problems across the globe and lead to massive population displacement and challenges for food production in many parts of the world. Rising water levels, loss of biodiversity and extreme weather events have already been seen in many places, and we must take urgent action to tackle them. From innovative housing designs to make homes across Wales and the country more energy-efficient (and, incidentally, lower energy bills for householders), to planting hectares of woodland to mitigate flooding and air quality issues, from using timber in building more to capture CO2 emissions to supporting farmers make important changes to make their industry more environmentally friendly, there are already so many things we can and should be doing. It is therefore disappointing that the UK Government rejected a Swansea Tidal Bay Lagoon and that having promised rail electrification to Swansea, they decided to stop at Cardiff. These half-hearted gestures must end – we need real action to tackle the climate emergency.
Along with the other members of the Welsh Affairs Committee, this week I called on the UK Government to reclassify HS2 as an England-only project so that Wales receives proportional consequential funding. HS2 is costing £106 billion, but the Welsh economy is likely to lose out due to inferior transport infrastructure. The UK Government are classing it as an England and Wales project – perhaps they need to improve their geography skills – but we think this is unfair. Beyond the core valley lines, rail infrastructure is not devolved in Wales; we need proportional investment so that Wales is not left behind by this England-centric government.
During Welsh Affairs Committee this week, we also discussed the implications of the UK-Australia trade deal. It was clear that the UK Government are dragging their heels in setting up a new agricultural commission that is able to properly scrutinise UK Government decisions and that can ensure that UK farmers’ voices are heard. We need the UK Government to listen to concerns raised by the representatives of farming communities and those within the farming industry; signing a deal must not come at the expense of the sustainability and prosperity of our domestic farming industry. Executive Director of the Geneva Trade Forum, Dmitry Grozoubinski told us that there were reasons for Welsh farmers to be concerned that this Australian trade deal could squeeze domestic producers in both the domestic and EU markets as Australian producers are able to produce more cheaply because they have lower standards to meet. This may not be an immediate concern, but Dmitry gave us the example of Australian exports of beef to the US which have risen by a staggering 627% in the last 20 years. It’s clear to me that the UK Tory Government are putting the short-term goal of a signed trade deal with a country external to the EU ahead of the interests of UK producers. That cannot be acceptable to anyone who believes in the UK Government’s levelling up agenda or in the support of local businesses in local economies.
It has never been more important to join a union. This UK Tory Government are not promoting the interests of ordinary workers – they way they’ve treated our key workers, and particularly our wonderful NHS staff has been appalling. More than six million workers are part of a union and joining is affordable, easy and brings with it enormous benefits, such as legal advice if you need it, training and learning opportunities. TUC can help find the right union for you with a few quick questions. Together, we’re stronger.
We heard further information from the Welsh Government this week on the easing of Covid restrictions in Wales. From tomorrow, up to six people will be able to meet indoors, with limits on outdoor events removed. Then, if the situation with serious illness and hospitalisations remains under control, most existing restrictions will be lifted on the 7th August. Our ability to move away from restrictions is down to the amazing success of our vaccination programme, but it's important we all continue to follow common sense guidance and exercise caution to make sure we don’t throw away the progress we have made. You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increase, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – and remember - observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!