This last month has been tinged with sadness following the passing of former Cornwall MP Candy Atherton. Candy was vital in securing EU Objective One funding for Cornwall whilst she was the brilliant MP for Falmouth and Camborne. She dedicated her life to public service in Cornwall and made a huge difference to people's lives. Her work rate and dedication on behalf of the Cornish people and the Labour Party will be sorely missed. Candy's kindness and generosity shone through. She could always be relied upon to stand up for Cornwall and stand up for Labour values. My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her husband Brod, her mother Pam and all of her family and friends. We miss her.
Another month passes by and we are still none the wiser as to what the Government actually wants. A transition deal, no deal, the Prime Minister and her Cabinet (whoever is in it when you read this) have being sending out mixed messages (to say the least) on what they hope to achieve and what they want and expect to be in place in March 2019.
Meanwhile, there’s fruit and vegetables rotting in the fields because of a lack or workers, the EU doctors and nurses who form the backbone of our NHS are leaving the country in droves, and the money that’s being spent on Brexit civil servants could be used to employ nearly 9,000 nurses. The Labour Party and Keir Starmer are absolutely right to be demanding that the Government release the sectoral analyses that they have carried out on the impact of leaving the EU. We are already seeing the damage being done to our businesses and our economy, although there are now fears that these analyses are not in depth assessments but glossing over the problems we are going to face.
The public and Parliament must be able to scrutinise this process so that decisions can begin to be taken in the interests of the country as a whole, and not just the Conservative Party.
Out and about in the constituency
This month has been particularly busy and interesting, attending meetings and events across the constituency. The main theme, unsurprisingly, has been the impact of Brexit. This was most keenly expressed in a summit that I organised in Cornwall; I heard from residents, business, councillors, trade unionists and researchers about their fears and also how Brexit could evolve if the negotiations are handled with some competence.
You can read more about the summit here: http://www.claremoodymep.com/clare_reflects_on_cornwall_brexit_summit
Whilst in Cornwall is was great to meet up with Labour Party members in the marginal seat of Camborne, Redruth & Hayle at their fund-raising dinner. Like other marginal seats across the South West, they have started selecting their candidate for the General Election and I look forward to working with their new PPC in the months ahead. It was also a great pleasure to speak to members at the other end of the constituency in Christchurch ahead of their quiz. Whilst in Dorset, I also met young people at an event organised by the MyLifeMySay charity, which is organising a series of meetings, Brexit cafes, to give young people the chance to have their views heard. Many points were expressed but the main concerns were around upholding citizens rights.
It was a great honour to lead the march to a rally organised by Bristol for Europe. I was carrying the Bristol for Europe banner alongside my fellow MEP for the South West, Julie Girling. Julie has had the Tory whip removed from her for voting in favour of a resolution which stated the fact that the UK had not made enough progress in the Brexit negotiations. We joined some fantastic inspiring speakers at the rally on College Green. You can read more about the rally here: http://www.claremoodymep.com/bristol_for_europe_rally
If you want to get more involved in Labour’s campaigning on Europe then why not join Labour Movement for Europe:- http://laboureurope.eu/
Finally, I was really pleased to meet up with a group of aspiring Labour women leaders. We must encourage and support a wider range of people into taking leadership positions in politics. But for me, the most pressing need, is to ensure that 52% of the population, i.e. women, are more equally represented at the top of our Party and throughout public life.
Work in Parliament
Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Committee
In Strasbourg this month, in the wake of the Hollywood sexual harassment scandal and press allegations regarding incidents within the European Parliament, MEPs debated tackling sexual harassment in this house.
More than half of all women (55%) have experienced sexual harassment and 33% have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15, according to a survey by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights carried out in March 2014. In addition, one out of five woman reported having been stalked at some point.
The European Parliament opposes sexual harassment in society in general, but clearly, when this harassment involves its own members and staff, questions must be answered. During the debate, MEPs condemned such behaviour, but also called for measures to be put in place and for the inclusion of men as part of the solution. Members then voted on a resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU, which passed by 580 votes to 10, with 27 abstentions.
The resolution calls for the setting up of a task force of independent experts with a mandate to examine the situation of sexual harassment and abuse in the European Parliament. It further spells out that the European Parliament will implement mandatory training for all staff and Members on respect and dignity at work with the goal that the zero tolerance approach becomes the norm.
Industry, Research and Energy Committee (ITRE)
This month the third annual EU Aeronautics Conference took place in the Parliament. The European aeronautics sector is facing great challenges including increasing competition due to excessive and well-hidden state subsidies and complex innovations in the field of security. The sector also must keep up with advances in digitalisation and the development of drones and other modern technology.
The conference provided a platform for industrial stakeholders, labour unions, research centres and organisations from different sectors to take part in an important exchange of views and knowledge with high-level decision-makers from the Parliament, the Commission and the Council.
At the latest Strasbourg session, the EU focused on some of the things that the EU does best; protecting workers, protecting the environment and striking trade deals that do the same.
The Parliament revised rules on the so-called Posted Worker's Directive which allows, for example, a Portuguese workers to temporarily work in the UK on a Portuguese contract. The Parliament tightened up rules to stop undercutting by ensuring that workers in the same place should be paid the same wage.
The parliament started discussions on what we expect from upcoming free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand.
Finally, the parliament revised the rules on glyphosate, the herbicide which has been linked to causing cancer. MEPs demanded that the EU start to phase out the substance with immediate effect with a full ban in place by 2022.