World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day when globally we recognise the dire situations facing refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. In the last year, I have visited the charity Help Refugees in Calais and seen the shocking conditions in which many refugees are forced to live just a three hour drive from our community. The UK and the international community must help refugees, who have fled unimaginable experiences, to rebuild their lives. You can read about what I have been doing in Parliament this week here >>

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Helen speaks about the closure of Barclay's Bank in West Norwood

This week the Barclay's branch in West Norwood will close its doors for the final time - leaving residents in West Norwood with no bank branch in the town centre. I have been working with the local Labour councillors to oppose this closure and I'm grateful to everyone who has responded to our survey and signed the petition.

We have met with Barclays, provided evidence of the heavy reliance of local businesses, elderly and vulnerable customers on a physical branch, and urged them to think again. It is very disappointing that they have not done so.

This latest closure is the fourth bank branch closure in my constituency in as many years, and this is happening across the country. It highlights the urgent need for banking reform. Labour will make banking more ethical, requiring the banks to retain at least one branch in every town centre so no community is stranded and making it harder to invest in harmful industries like fossil fuels. Watch my short film here>>

 

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Helen speaks in Parliament about the Revoke Article 50 Debate

Yesterday Parliament debated the petition calling for Article 50 to be revoked, signed by more than 6 million people - more signatories than any other petition to Parliament has received. I spoke on behalf of the 26,000+ residents in Dulwich and West Norwood who signed the petition, and all who are opposed to Brexit, worried about the impacts it will have and would like the opportunity to vote on any proposed Brexit deal, with an option to remain on the ballot.

You can watch my speech here >>

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Helen's Statement on Recent Resignations from the Labour Party

I am very sorry to see a number of MPs leave the Labour Party this week. At a time when our country is riven with division and anxiety over Brexit, and the damage the Tories have caused to our public services is visible across the whole country, we should not be seeing the resignation of Labour MPs.

The Labour Party, our Trade Unions and the wider Labour movement are a part of my DNA, just as they have been for generations of my family. There is no question of me leaving the Labour Party.

 

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Helen Hayes MP's Brexit Update

Update - 27th March 2019

Events have continued to move at a rapid and tumultuous pace with regards to Brexit recently. Since my last update Parliament has twice rejected Theresa May’s Brexit deal by large majorities.

I was proud to march alongside more than one million members of the public last weekend, including hundreds from Dulwich and West Norwood, to call for a People’s Vote.  It was heartening to see the strength of support and widespread passion for a People’s Vote. Please rest assured that I will continue to work to this end.

Despite these momentous events, my position remains the same. I still believe that Theresa May’s deal will be damaging to the country and that there is no alternative Brexit deal that will be better than our current membership of the European Union. I will continue to represent the overwhelming majority of my constituents who are opposed to Brexit by voting against the Prime Minister’s damaging Brexit deal and campaigning for a People’s Vote. 

I recently voted against the possibility of a no-deal Brexit and in favour of extending Article 50. The Prime Minister continues to run down the clock and use the threat of a no-deal Brexit to exert pressure on MPs to vote for her deal. Parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove this threat and to extend Article 50. The EU has been clear that the UK must offer a clear and credible plan for moving forward to receive a longer extension.

Last night, I voted for the Letwin amendment seeking to allow Parliament to take control of the Brexit process and stage indicative votes. I am pleased that this has passed. Later this week, Parliament will vote on a series of Brexit proposals with the aim of identifying a way forward that can command a majority. At this stage, any form of Brexit including the Prime Minister’s deal is very far removed from the promises of the Leave campaign, and I firmly believe that any form of Brexit must therefore be returned to the British public for a final say on whether to leave the EU or remain. I will vote to secure a guarantee that the current Brexit deal or any potential renegotiation of it will be ratified through a public vote.

I am pleased that Labour Party policy is now to support a public vote on the Brexit deal. Keir Starmer and Tom Watson have both very recently reaffirmed the Party’s position that there must be a public vote on any deal, with the option to remain.

 

The Short Read:  a summary of my position on Theresa May’s Brexit deal

I am a pro-European who campaigned very strongly to Remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum. I believe that the EU has contributed hugely to peace and prosperity in Europe and that cooperating with our neighbours is the only way to tackle the big challenges facing us in the 21st century.

The leave campaign lied during the EU referendum campaign and broke the expenses limits that were designed to ensure that the campaign was run fairly. There are many things which are now clear, which were either not known or not discussed and debated at the time of the referendum, including the UK government’s own analysis that there is no Brexit scenario in which the UK will not be poorer.

Residents of Dulwich and West Norwood voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU in 2016, and I made a firm commitment to continue to represent their views, and to place our values of tolerance, diversity and internationalism at the heart of my work on Brexit.

I have received many thousands of emails and letters since June 2016 from constituents asking me to oppose Brexit, and if that doesn’t prove possible, to work for the softest possible Brexit.  In Parliament I have voted repeatedly against leaving the EU and in favour of a People’s Vote, representing the very strong pro-Remain views of the vast majority of my constituents in Dulwich and West Norwood.

It is completely reckless and unacceptable that the Prime Minister has delayed the meaningful vote on the Brexit deal until mid-January.  I have added my name to the motion of no confidence in Theresa May as Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will be harmful to the UK.  I will vote against it on 15th January and continue to campaign for a People’s Vote and for the UK to stay in the EU.

The Long Read: my views on the European Union, Brexit and what happens next.

At this critical moment in the UK’s history, I wanted to set out in full my position on the UK’s relationship with the European Union, explain how I have represented the residents of Dulwich and West Norwood’s views on the EU over the past three and a half years, the approach I am taking to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and what comes next.  Bear with me, it’s a bit of a long read.

 

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Helen visits Auschwitz-Birkenau with local schools

On 21 March I travelled to the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland with the Holocaust Education Trust and a group of young people from Dulwich and West Norwood and South London.

I learned about the Holocaust as a teenager at school in the North-West of England, every year in January I commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day, and I have met and spoken to a number of Holocaust survivors. Yet nothing quite prepared me for visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau. The museum which has been created at the sites of the two camps which formed Auschwitz-Birkenau communicates very powerfully the horrific scale of the mass persecution and killing which took place there, but the displays of personal belongings stolen from the prisoners – a handmade child’s dress, a decorated cup and bowl, thousands of pairs of shoes – also remind us that each and every person who was murdered by the Nazis was an individual with their own story, their loved ones, their talents, their struggles and their hopes.

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Helen leads debate in Parliament on Dulwich Hamlet FC

I recently led a debate in Parliament on Dulwich Hamlet Football Club. The club was locked out of its Champion Hill ground last month by its landlord Meadow Residential LLP.

I have received countless emails, letters and messages from my constituents who are deeply concerned about the Dulwich Hamlet FC’s future. DHFC has deep roots in our community and it is loved for its charitable and community work as much as for the inclusive approach to football, family atmosphere at its home games and its recent strong performance in the Bostik League. I was delighted to join around a thousand fans at the protest and rally the day after the debate support of the club.

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Helen delivers letter to Royal Mail opposing delivery office closures

I have been fighting Royal Mail’s proposed closure of the SE27 delivery office in West Norwood and SE22 delivery office in East Dulwich since these plans first came to light.  The plans would see residents in SE27 having to travel to Penge to collect parcels and registered post on a journey which can take up to an hour in each direction, and residents in SE22 having to travel to Peckham to an area with no on-street parking.

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Helen tables Early Day Motion on mental health

I’ve tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament to highlight the pressures faced by mental health services in my constituency and across South London. Despite the Government’s tough talk on mental health, the reality is that under the Tories half of all Clinical Commission Groups say they plan to reduce the proportion of their budget spent on mental health.

My Early Day Motion calls on the Government to review current NHS spending standards for mental health and to ensure future funding for mental health is properly ring-fenced.

It’s great to have support for the EDM from MPs across South London. I will continue to press for mental health services to be properly resourced and to receive the priority that they deserve.  You can read my EDM here: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/895

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Helen leads debate in Parliament on the pressures at King’s

Yesterday I led a debate in Parliament on the financial pressures at King’s College Hospital.

I gave birth to my two children at King’s and my mum worked there for ten years until she retired. The situation at King’s is as personal and as important to me and my family as it is to tens of thousands of my constituents, and it is very concerning to see the current financial difficulties the Trust is facing.

King’s has been on a journey over the past twenty years. Back in 1998, when I was an in-patient, it was a struggling, failing hospital. Years of investment under the last Labour government transformed King’s so that by 2010 it was meeting all of its main clinical targets and consistently achieving a small annual financial surplus.

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