Paul Blomfield MP

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

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A new study released today reveals the Government's miserly level of spending on transport infrastructure in Yorkshire - with London getting ten times more per head. The figures make an utter nonsense of the Government’s claim that they are building a Northern Powerhouse.

The new report by IPPR North shows that the average transport infrastructure spend per head in London is nearly £2,000, but in the north it is just £427, with Yorkshire and Humber getting the worst deal in England, with only £190 per person. The Crossrail scheme alone will cost £4.7bn, while the entire northern transport budget is worth £6.6bn.

The report follows the news in November that the planned electrification of the Midland Mainline from London to Sheffield by 2023 had been abandoned. Under pressure from myself and other local MPs, Ministers have refused to give any commitment to the previously promised electrification.

Transport spending is vital for economic growth and jobs. The Government must invest a fair share in our region and commit to vital projects like the electrification of the Midland Mainline. Sheffield and the rest of Yorkshire deserves nothing less.

The Government's miserly transport spending in Yorkshire

A new study released today reveals the Government's miserly level of spending on transport infrastructure in Yorkshire - with London getting ten times more per head. The figures make an...

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Parliament’s back after a recess week, in which I was in Sheffield meeting with constituents, visiting both universities, talking to local organisations, appearing live on Iman FM and catching up with casework, as well as finding time to campaign in Stoke. 

Back in Westminster today, I’ll be meeting constituents at a drop-in session held by UNISON, the3million and New Europeans  about guaranteeing the residency rights of EU/EEA citizens beyond Brexit, which I’ve been pressing since the referendum. In July, Labour won a vote in the House of Commons to give those living in the UK the right to remain. Then in October I led for Labour in a debate, urging the Government to take unilateral and immediate action.

In the evening, I’m hoping to speak in the Westminster Hall debate on the ‘Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit’ petition, signed by almost 6,500 of my constituents. Although we should obviously work with all foreign leaders, an early official State Visit sends the wrong message.

On Wednesday I’ll be speaking in a debate on the police funding settlement to raise concerns about funding cuts for local police and how it’s impacting communities – issues raised with me in this year’s Big Conversation. Do get in touch if you have any concerns about police funding cuts.

Back in Sheffield on Thursday, I’ll be catching up with constituents, casework and talking to my Sheffield team – and then heading along to my monthly meeting for local Labour members. And, as ever, I’ll be at Bramall Lane on Saturday for the big match against fellow promotion-chasing rivals Bolton!

Rights of EU Citizens, Donald Trump and police funding – some of my week ahead

Parliament’s back after a recess week, in which I was in Sheffield meeting with constituents, visiting both universities, talking to local organisations, appearing live on Iman FM and catching up...

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Last week Parliament voted to give the Prime Minister the power to start the formal process for the UK leaving the EU. It was a hugely difficult moment. I campaigned relentlessly for the UK to remain in the EU – for jobs, for our place in the world and as the best way to tackle the biggest issues we face, from climate change to the peace and security of our continent. I was deeply upset by the result. But I accept that we lost. Labour didn’t want a referendum, but all those parties that campaigned for it (Liberal Democrats and Greens, as well as the Conservatives and UKIP) said that we should accept the decision of the British people. It was never conditional on them voting one way. 

The vote on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill wasn’t about the terms of the Brexit negotiations, it was simply to allow the Government to open the negotiations over our exit. Labour tried to introduce conditions through our amendments to the Bill, which you can read more about here. But the amendments failed to secure the support of the House of Commons in which the Conservatives have an overall majority, enhanced on this issue by the support of the DUP.  

However we did secure a concession on one key issue. Until last week, Theresa May had only offered Parliament a vote on the Brexit deal at the very end of the process, at a stage when many feared it would be too late, and even that came only after Labour pressure. However, faced with defeat on a Labour amendment, the Government agreed to give Parliament a vote on the draft agreement before it is passed to the European Council, and before the European Parliament votes on it. Now we will try to embed this concession in the Bill as it moves to the Lords.

In fact there will be two votes, one on the exit settlement and one on our future relationship with the EU. They are unlikely to come at the same time, because the terms of the future relationship will take much longer to negotiate. However, transitional arrangements will be put in place, pending the establishment of a new relationship.

Until now the focus for the debate has been on the process of exiting the EU. It now moves on to the substance of the negotiations. Labour is completely opposed to the deep rupture between the UK and the EU that some in the Conservative Party want. At every stage we will be arguing for the best possible access to the single market; continued protections for workers, consumers and the environment; maintaining co-operation in education, science and research; and the closest possible co-operation in foreign and security affairs. We will also continue to press for other EU nationals in the UK to be granted the right to remain on the terms they currently enjoy.

Giving the Government the right to start the negotiations doesn’t mean that they have a blank cheque on the outcome. The British people didn’t vote for ‘hard Brexit’ and it wouldn’t be in the interests of the country. A vote on the deal before it is finalised provides some leverage, and we will use it to the full. Only last Friday I pressed the Government over their leaked negotiating priorities which threaten key UK industries. There is a long way to go in the negotiations, and much could change over the years ahead. Last week leaves us with Parliament in the position to instruct the Government on the outcome – be it to return to the negotiating table, extend the negotiating period or otherwise.

 

Brexit update

Last week Parliament voted to give the Prime Minister the power to start the formal process for the UK leaving the EU. It was a hugely difficult moment. I campaigned...


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