Today is the final day of the recess from the House of Commons so tomorrow our local Members of Parliament will be travelling up to Westminster to begin working on a range of themes. This Easter break has been a challenge for many communities and it seems vital that the issues that have arisen will persuade our MPs to put their heads together and come up with some ways forward. One theme that arose just over a week ago was the report on racism in our nation and we need our MPs to respond to that report in a constructive way. There are of course also the very tragic issues that have arisen primarily in Northern Ireland over the last few days which need a huge amount of shared thought and responses. Parliament needs to try to put right some of the problems that have arisen over the last 6 months or perhaps over the last five years depending on one’s view of our separating from the EU. It has certainly been very challenging for many English, Welsh and Scottish families and companies but is clearly far more challenging for those based in Northern Ireland. Whatever the claims that are made from the people who are currently leading our nation in the Government, their promises made in June 2016 and December 2019 were not what was handed out to us in January 2021 as we departed from the EU. Along with that they also stated in their manifesto “Our commitment to the 1998 Belfast Agreement and its successor agreements is unshakeable and we will not deviate from the principle of consent or the three-stranded approach.” It would seem vital for all Sussex MPs to now call on the Government to make the changes needed to avoid this deviation going any further.
Another theme that was also part of the 2019 Manifesto was the section in the document that “We Will Strengthen Britain In The World” and it was clear that in order to help do that, they would “proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7% on development, and do more to help countries receiving aid become self-sufficient.” Sadly just as things have gone badly wrong in the context of our departure from the EU, there has also been a breakdown in this subject which is being claimed was on a COVID-19 response. While we may struggle to find agreements or indeed comments from our local MPs on the first two subjects, the views regarding our Foreign Aid or Overseas Development Aid are much more consistent amongst the majority of the Sussex Members of Parliament. Given that this is the case perhaps we can call on all of them as they travel up to Westminster for tomorrows reopening to find some common threads to present in front of the Government. There are a small number of Sussex MPs who have not publicly commented on this subject so clearly one action would be for the Father of the House of Commons, Peter Bottomley who is the MP for West Worthing to ask the newer MPs such as Caroline Ansell and Sally-Ann Hart in East Sussex along with Andrew Griffith in West Sussex to disclose their views. He could also ask Maria Caulfield and Gillian Keegan to also express their views. This would follow on from his call to the Prime Minister just over three weeks ago. He did so following on from the statement from Mr Johnson that “The greater our unity at home, the stronger our influence abroad” and Peter’s call which was sadly ignored at that point was that Johnson “did not mention development much in his statement, and I ask him to meet us to have a discussion on it.” Clearly if that discussion could also involve the Sussex Politicians who have argued for the Overseas Aid to be set at the level in the manifesto, that would be a clear sense of home unity. Along with Peter Bottomley there have been recent calls from Peter Kyle, Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle for this to be put back where it was. Another local based person is Jenny Jones who is the Baroness of Moulsecoomb who raised the theme in the House of Lords back in January and pointed out “Indeed, today in the Daily Mail there is a headline: “Theresa May blasts Boris’s ‘moral failure’”. She has criticised Boris Johnson, our Prime Minister, “for abandoning British values”” Along with these local Politicians, in earlier times there have also been clear commitments to our Overseas Aid from Tim Loughton, Huw Merriman, Henry Smith and Jeremy Quin. It is always encouraging to find themes that are part of the important work of our nation and that are supported by a significant number of local Members of Parliament from every political party.