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.
As Parliament prepares to vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, I spoke this week in the debate to explain why I will vote against the deal. You can watch my speech below.
I've also written a blog explaining in greater detail the ways in which I have been representing my constituents views on Brexit since June 2016. You can read this here: https://www.helenhayes.org.uk/brexit_update
Universal Credit is causing enormous hardship and anxiety for many of my constituents and the Labour Party has been calling for the roll out to be stopped so that the problems can be addressed. Under pressure, the government announced some changes to Universal Credit in the Autumn Budget, but they do little to fix many of the issues. In particular, for many people suffering with anxiety and other mental illnesses who are too unwell and fearful to open their post, still less to begin a complex application process, there is a risk that they will be left without any income.
It is completely unacceptable that the DWP’s plans offer no means to protect vulnerable people from being left without any form of income. This week I challenged the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to halt the Universal Credit roll out until this problem is addressed.
The Chancellor claimed in his budget speech this week that austerity is ending, yet our local councils continue to face tens of millions of pounds of cuts over the next four years; 1.4 million adults who need social care are receiving no support at all; our schools are cutting teacher and teaching assistant posts; police numbers are falling while crime is going up; and our local hospital remains in financial special measures being penalised by the government for not having sufficient funding. The Tories have outsourced austerity to local government and our public services and our communities are living with the consequences every single day.
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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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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.
In Parliament I asked the Sports Minister to join me in calling on Meadow to re-engage with the Council and the club, and to negotiate a way forward which places a secure future for Dulwich Hamlet Football Club at its historic home Champion Hill as its highest priority. The situation at Dulwich Hamlet has implications for non-league and league football in communities across the country.
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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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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