Weekly Round-Up

This week the spotlight was firmly on the Conservative Party. Their no confidence vote in the Prime Minister dominated headlines and that was only turbo-charged when 41% of his party voted against him. This means that out of 650 MPs in Parliament only 211 have confidence in Johnson’s premiership. A damning indictment on a Prime Minister that drifts from crisis to crisis.

Whilst Tory MPs navel gaze and bicker the rest of us were working hard to make sure that decisions were being scrutinised. On Tuesday I joined the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee to quiz Lord Frost – the Prime Minister’s chief negotiator for Brexit – on the way in which Parliament is involved in scrutinising trade deals.

The session started badly and continued that way. Putting aside Lord Frost believing any difficulties in negotiations were everyone else’s fault bar his, he was keen to argue Parliament should have a limited role in trade agreements. I pressed on the specifics of Memorandums of Understanding and political agreements. It was clear he believes that political agreements aren’t worth the paper they are written on. This undermines our international standing as good faith between sovereign governments won’t be expected to be upheld. Scrutinising his determination to secure a written agreement in a self-imposed one-week timeframe also baffled the committee. No answers were forthcoming as to why this is a good way to reach international agreements.

Tuesday also saw me attend the Unison roundtable on overseas nurses. It was a chance for me to meet with the UK’s largest union and discuss the challenges faced by nurses recruited from overseas to the UK. I will always stand firm on our dedication to the NHS and its employees. Without their determination to provide compassion and decency when we most need it our national health would take a nosedive. As a former NHS Manager, I have worked hand-in-glove with our nursing professionals and as the Shadow Health minister I will bring my experience to everything I do.

The Labour Party secured a debate this week on strengthening standards in public life – timely considering the Prime Minister’s own MPs were turning on him for this very reason. I made clear that Bristol South constituents, and those across the country for that matter, deserve a government which respects them and the democratic institutions of our nation. Sadly, under Boris Johnson we have seen an erosion in public trust, and a lack of clear sanctions for serious breaches of the Ministerial code. I went on to vote for a strengthening of the rules, which the Tories didn’t even bother to turn up to.

As many of you know, this week is Carers Week 2022. A time for us to speak up, thank and seek positive change for carers. All too often when we think of carers, we think of those who work in residential care. But this belies the fact that a huge number of people are unpaid carers. In my Shadow Health role, I continue to make this point. That’s why, on Thursday, I was glad to meet with unpaid carers. Hearing first hand the difficulties they face under this government is enough to get anyone fired up to make meaningful, lasting change. It is vital that we make sure that people who provide care get the support they need.

I quickly hopped onto a train to support Labour’s excellent candidate, Simon Lightwood, in the Wakefield by-election this week as well. The resignation of the disgraced Conservative MP following charges of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old has caused this by-election. I popped to the small town of Ossett and the response was clear: people are fed up with lying, cheating and general sleaze of the Conservative Party. They want to see a progressive Labour Government that delivers policies based on respect, prosperity and security.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.