The General Election campaign continues with Labour offering policy commitments that will improve the lives of people across the South West and the rest of Britain, while Theresa May and the Tories avoid speaking to voters at all, let alone telling the people what they intend to do if they win.
Keir Starmer’s announcement that one of our policies is that on “Day One” of a Labour Government, we will unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK. This is absolutely the right thing to do, for the people concerned but also it is a positive action to take with regards to the negotiations with our partners and neighbours in the EU27.
Meanwhile Theresa May seemed stunned by the news that the remaining EU27 will act in their own interests and negotiate as one once the General Election is over. She and her Ministers seem increasingly out of their depth in dealing with the biggest political and diplomatic challenge facing the country in our lifetimes.
I spent Thursday in Bristol at an event titled “Projecting Bristol and Britain to a post-Brexit World”. I was struck by the creative thinking and solutions people are coming up with in order to prepare themselves for the UK leaving the EU. This stretched from dealing with the practical problems presented by Brexit - residency, funding for our universities etc. - to how best to brand Bristol as a global city, continuing to welcome the world as Britain’s global status changes over the next decade or more. Given the Tory government has failed to do any Regional Impact Assessments on leaving the EU whoever wins the General Election in June should listen to the outcomes of meetings like last Thursday’s.
FEMM – LIBE hearing
In 2011 the European Parliament and Council adopted a Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, incorporating provisions on the investigation and prosecution of offences and the protection of victims. This week, an important hearing took place in Parliament, hosted by the LIBE committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs). We heard from experts who presented their analyses of measures taken to implement this Directive, so as to identify gaps in the application of existing rules and to compare best practices in Member States and abroad.
The evidence gathered by the LIBE Committee will be further used for its work on its upcoming report on the implementation of the Directive. I am in the process of helping to draft a FEMM opinion document which will advise the LIBE committee on what should be included in this report.
Energy UK meeting
I also met with Energy UK, the trade association for the British energy industry, to discuss the Clean Energy Package which covers energy efficiency, renewable energy, and security of electricity supply, amongst other important issues. We also discussed the implications of Brexit for the UK energy industry as well as the future of the nuclear industry in the UK including our withdrawal from Euratom, the treaty that safeguards our nuclear industry.
Welcoming constituents to Brussels
On Tuesday I was delighted to welcome a constituent who is Chair European Citizen's Science Association Policy Committee. He had raised with us the important issue of protecting global citizens from disease-carrying mosquitos, particularly in the light of the Zika virus. He attended the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee, where a colleague raised the important question surrounding the Zika virus and the Global Mosquito Alert. The vision of Global Mosquito Alert is to combat Yellow fever, Chikungunya, dengue, Zika, malaria, and West Nile virus through a shared, coordinated platform to control of disease-carrying mosquito. It was a privilege to help a constituent to bring this vital issue to the attention of the European Parliament. Similarly, I spoke to a group of Young Labour members from Bristol about my work in Parliament. It was a real pleasure to meet such engaged and passionate young people, and to be able to answer their questions about how the work we do in the European Parliament impacts on the UK.