We live in an increasingly interconnected world. Effective international cooperation is key to many of the issues facing the UK today: climate change, economic growth, migration and security.
Opposing the injustice of apartheid in South Africa first got me into politics, when still at school, and I remain passionate about human rights. I have argued for continued UK participation in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and. In Parliament, I have challenged the Government to come clean about its plans to replace the Human Rights Act and threaten our international commitments (read more here and here), and will continue to challenge any Conservative efforts to weaken our human rights laws.
I’m proud of the last Labour Government’s legacy on international development. We established a Department for International Development, trebled international aid and set the UK on track to be the first major economy to reach the target to give 0.7 per cent of gross national income to development. I have questioned International Development Ministers on issues from climate change to Bangladesh. I have also pressed DfID to ensure that tackling HIV is high up their agenda and to involve HIV groups in the planning of a summit on family planning.
European Union (EU)
In 2016, I campaigned relentlessly for the UK to stay in the European Union. I made the case to hundreds of people at dozens of meetings and, with a great team of volunteers, spoke to over 8,000 people on their doorsteps – as well as delivering around 50,000 leaflets to people’s homes. I was pleased that my constituency voted by around 70:30 to remain in the EU, but was deeply disappointed by the result across Sheffield and the country. I accepted the outcome, but argued that the close vote was not a mandate for the deep rupture wanted by the Brexit extremists.
In October 2016 I was appointed as a Shadow Minister in Labour’s Brexit team, led by the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Keir Starmer MP. I have challenged the Government on their catastrophic handling of the Brexit process, as well as helped form Labour’s policy and pressed the concerns of constituents. You can read more about my latest activities on Brexit here.
I am a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East, have worked with local members to set up a group in Sheffield, and in 2017 I led a Sheffield delegation to the West Bank. I have questioned the Prime Minister over the UK Government’s inaction on the Israeli policy of illegal occupation and I voted in favour of recognising the state of Palestine. I’ve repeatedly called on the Government to redouble efforts to stop the demolition of the Bedouin village Khan al-Ahmar, which I visited, and am supporting moves to build links between Sheffield and Nablus.
Many Sheffielders have their roots in Kashmir, which has been at the centre of conflicts between India and Pakistan since partition. I have spoken in Parliament to urge the Government to support the right of the people of Kashmir for a plebiscite on self-determination, and am a member of the the APPG on Kashmir. I have also pressed the UK Government to raise the issue with the Indian Government, the United Nations and the Commonwealth Secretary General. I wrote to the Foreign Secretary arguing for stronger action in response to the decision by India to revoke Kashmir’s special constitutional status.
As a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, over 20 million people are in desperate need of aid. I have long opposed the arms sales to Saudi Arabia, including as a signatory to the Joint Select Committee recommendation in 2016 that arms sales which could be used in Yemen were suspended until the independent, UN-led investigation was concluded. I have pressed the Government to secure UN Security Council action towards peace, to address the humanitarian crisis and secure aid. I also raised more than £6,000 for the children of Yemen in an appeal I launched in 2018.
I am very concerned about human rights abuses in Myanmar. In 2017 I co-signed a letter to the then Foreign Secretary calling on the UK Government to take further steps to halt violence against the Rohingya people, and have pressed Ministers on the issue of statelessness of the Rohingya population and humanitarian access. I have also asked Ministers what they are doing about the militarisation in Kayin State and the provision of aid to the Karen people.
I have backed calls to recognise Somaliland as an independent state, supported Sheffield City Council’s lead in recognising the country, and I am a member of the APPG on Somalia and Somaliland.
These are just some of the issues I’ve taken up. Please get in touch if you want to know about my work on an issue that isn’t mentioned here.