We live in an increasingly interdependent world. Effective international cooperation is key to many of the issues facing the UK today: climate change, economic growth, migration and security – and internationalism is at the heart of my values. I’ve highlighted some of the issues I’ve taken up below, but there are many other countries and problems on which I have worked.
Opposing the injustice of apartheid in South Africa got me involved in politics, when I was 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 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). I 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.
In 2016, I campaigned relentlessly for the UK to stay in the European Union. 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 Keir Starmer. I have challenged the Government on their catastrophic handling of the Brexit process, helped form Labour’s policy and pressed the concerns of constituents. Although we have left the EU, our team is continuing to press the Government on its handling of the negotiations on our future relationship. You can read more about my work 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 challenged the Government many times on their inaction on Israeli policies of illegal occupation, child detention and demolitions. I repeatedly called on the Government to increase efforts to stop the demolition of the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, which I visited, and I am supporting moves to build links between Sheffield and Nablus. I voted in favour of recognising the state of Palestine and challenged Ministers to reject Trump’s so-called ‘peace plan’, which will undermine the chance of negotiations to secure peace based on mutual recognition of the two states of Israel and Palestine.
Many Sheffielders have roots in Kashmir, which has been at the centre of conflict between India and Pakistan since partition. I am a Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir and have regularly spoken in Parliament to urge the Government to support the right of the people of Kashmir to a plebiscite on self-determination. I have also pressed the UK Government to raise the issue with the Indian Government, the United Nations and the Commonwealth. When India revoked Kashmir’s special constitutional status in August 2019, I wrote to the Foreign Secretary arguing for stronger action in response, raised it with him in Parliament when we returned in September, and will continue to press the issue.
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 joined Hong Kong students at a protest in Sheffield to support their right to demonstrate safely and have been following the situation closely. I condemn violence used against protestors, and wrote to the Foreign Secretary to ask what further steps the Government will take to press China to uphold the provisions of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
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.