I feel I owe you all an apology, so here it is: on behalf of the House of Commons, I want to apologise for the scenes you might see on the television news tonight. I’ve not seen anything like it in my three years as your MP. So here follows something positive I did today, followed by a rant!

The Government published its immigration plans today – including the requirement that people coming to work here should be coming to do ‘skilled jobs’ earning over £30,000 as I pointed out in the video below, the Prime Minister and her Cabinet are proof that being highly paid and highly skilled aren’t the same thing! I also pointed out that there are people in our community and across the country working as NHS workers, care workers, technicians and a whole range of other jobs that require people with skills – and they’re paid a lot less than £30k a year. I regularly make the point that we need better education and training for our own people, but we should be honest with our country that we also rely on attracting people from overseas, particularly with our ageing population and shrinking working age population.

As for the rest of it… We are in the midst of a national crisis over Brexit. We’re heading off to Christmas without having had a vote on the way forward and the Prime Minister is spending BILLIONS of pounds preparing for a ‘No Deal’ scenario, which she admits would be a disaster and which she knows we can prevent.

Instead of debating the way forward, we’ve had MPs shouting at each other for most of the afternoon about whether Jeremy Corbyn called the Prime Minister “a stupid woman” at Prime Minister’s Questions. He denies saying it. The footage is online for you to judge for yourself. Then it turned into a row about the Speaker. Then it turned into a row about how MPs talk about, and to, each other.

There’s no doubt that we all need to be respectful towards each other and passions do run high, but I think most people watching the evening news tonight will be appalled by the unedifying spectacle of MPs having arguments amongst themselves about themselves while the country is in crisis and when people have much bigger worries in their own lives.

Tonight I left Parliament and walked past some homeless people who regularly sleep by the tube entrance to our building. They were holding a vigil to their friend who died on the steps of our Parliament yesterday. Someone had given them a music player and Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’ was playing. It was haunting and upsetting. Today’s circus in Parliament could not have felt more removed from their lives or their loss.

To end on a more positive note, I really believe that most people are in politics because they have noble ideals and intentions. I see that every day I go to work in Parliament and I see honourable people across the political divide. We must do better – and be better – to serve our country.

Redbridge Council has opened a new homeless shelter this week with the Salvation Army, local charities and businesses that have come together as ‘Redbridge Together’. No one needs to be on the streets in Ilford this Christmas. That’s the difference that politics can make. It offers some hope after a truly terrible day in Parliament.


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