Monday 29th February 2016 – The EU referendum on 23rd June will impact generations to come so it’s no surprise it’s dominated the news. Behind the Eton farce of David Cameron and Boris Johnson’s rivalry, there’s a lot at stake. Many of the rights that we take for granted flow from our EU membership. It’s no surprise that the likes of Iain Duncan Smith, Nigel Farage and John Redwood want out. They crave a Britain free from EU protections for workers, consumers and the environment. You can read why I’m campaigning to stay in Europe here and the issue is an important part of my week ahead. I’ve meetings with the Party for European Socialists, which brings together Labour’s European sister parties; Labour In for Britain’s Yorkshire and Humber campaign; and a joint event with Labour’s MEPs and MPs.
But there’s a lot more happening too. I’ve a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Universities (of which I’m Secretary) on social mobility in higher education, where we’ll be discussing what more can be done to improve access for black, minority and ethnic (BME) students – and I’ll be at an APPG on Youth Affairs meeting talking with young people about racism and religious discrimination linked to the UK Youth Parliament campaign ‘Don’t Hate; Educate’. Later in the week I’m joining a breakfast meeting jointly hosted by the APPGs for Credit Unions and Debt & Personal Finance about a new ‘help to save’ initiative which supports low income families to build savings against financial shocks.
Last week I challenged the Home Secretary over South Yorkshire police cuts – her response was unconvincing so I’ll look to raise it again at a Parliamentary debate about reform of the police funding formula. As PPS to the Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn I’ll also be in the chamber for a debate about the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Spending Review. Then outside the chamber, the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, of which I’m a member, will be continuing our inquiry on exports. I’m also attending a board meeting, as a Trustee, of Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX), which works to end human trafficking for labour exploitation.
Back in Sheffield on Friday, I’ve a meeting with trustees and staff from the Sheffield Parent Carer Forum, where we will be discussing a survey of Sheffield parents and carers of children and young people with SEN, additional needs and disabilities. I’ll also be touring the Moor development to see the latest work on the new complex for shops, restaurants and a cinema. I will also have a lunchtime Q&A with Sheffield company Tribosonics, and am then visiting the University of Sheffield Counselling Service. At the weekend I’ll be out and about knocking on doors, with other Labour Party members, to listen to constituents’ concerns.