People are worried about immigration – Labour must devise a fair system and reunite the country

Written with Emma Reynolds MP, published in The Guardian The EU referendum was a vote for change on immigration. Free movement of people was rejected and now, as shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer stated in his recent Bloomberg speech, “the status quo is not an option”. Some in the Labour party claim the proponents of managed migration are “Ukip-lite”. We reject this argument, which leaves a vacuum for the right to fill. Moreover, Labour has tended to attribute concerns about immigration to overstretched public services and unscrupulous employers, and tried to counter those anxieties with facts about the overall benefits of immigration. Continue reading

On Brexit Parliament Should Be Holding The Government To Account But Not To Ransom

  South Wales Evening Post ‘Taking back control’ was at the very heart of the argument to leave the EU, but unfortunately Theresa May's shambolic approach means that six months on from the referendum we are still none the wiser when it comes to the type of Brexit the UK government is planning to negotiate. It is therefore high time that the Prime Minister brings her plan to Parliament. The British people need and deserve to know how their government is planning to handle this immensely complex process, arguably the most important political challenge since the Second World War. Continue reading

Steel: Back From The Brink

They say a week is a long time in politics; well, try 9 months. Back in March I flew out to Mumbai with Roy Rickhuss and other leaders of Community, the main steelworkers' union, to present the workforce’s turnaround plan to Tata Steel’s Board. The response we received was negative, and the next day Tata announced their plans to sell Strip Products UK, the heart of which is the Port Talbot works, in my constituency, unleashing months of uncertainty that has had a terrible impact on thousands of steelworkers and their families. Continue reading

Paul Nuttall is no friend of Britain’s working people

FT For the UK Independence party, the EU referendum result on June 24 was mission accomplished. Now, the party that has been a one-man band has lost its one man. Nigel Farage is off to lurk by the lifts in Trump Tower, hoping for another golden selfie with the president-elect. It does leave you wondering: what is the point of Ukip in Britain after Brexit? For the Labour party, however, there is no room for complacency. Donald Trump, the Brexit vote, Leicester City winning the Premier League title, 2016 has been the year of the long shot. And now we have Paul Nuttall, Mr Farage’s replacement as party leader, pushing the idea that Ukip can supplant Labour as the party of working people. Continue reading

Building An Inclusive, Patriotic And Confident Vision Of Britishness

  LabourList I've been around politics for as long as I can remember, and I joined the Labour Party in 1985, when I was fifteen years old. It's fair to say that as a Party we've been through some tough and bruising times, and I've had a ring-side seat for much of it. But I have never been as stunned or disappointed by the response to my use of the word 'assimilation', that I used during a Progress panel on Monday evening.  For me, assimilation is synonymous with integration. Both words describe the process of people from different backgrounds and cultures embarking together in an entirely positive journey of mutual learning, respect and understanding. If that journey happens to be taking place in the UK, then the over-arching umbrella of values and lived experiences that shape and guide it will be British. Continue reading

House Heroes

  The House magazine For the 40th anniversary of The House magazine they asked a group of MPs to write about the Parliamentarians that they most admired over the last four decades. I wrote about my good friend Jo Cox: I first met Jo Cox in Brussels. She was my mum's researcher at the European parliament, and we became firm friends. Twenty years later, we were both taking up our seats on the green benches. Like all newcomers, we were looking forward hugely to entering parliament – there is no greater honour or privilege. But there was also a real sense of trepidation – it can be a pretty intimidating place at times. Continue reading

My friend Jo Cox was assassinated, but her legacy will be to unite communities

Guardian I’ll never forget 15 June 2016. That was the last time, after 20 years of friendship, that I saw Jo Cox. That was the last time she came bursting in, a bundle of positive energy in her cycling gear, to grab her work clothes out of the cupboard she kept in our shared office. Talking with such love, tenderness and humour about Lejla and Cuillin, her wonderful children. The next day, while doing her job, serving the people of Batley and Spen, the place where she grew up, Jo was assassinated. And we should be in no doubt, as the verdict makes clear, that this was a political assassination. Continue reading

The people have spoken – threats to block article 50 are just toxic

LabourList Imagine the polls had been right: a remain victory with 52% of the vote. Cue sigh of relief from pundits and pollsters – those 2015 election polls were just an aberration. But then, who pops up on our screens? None other than Nigel Farage, declaring, just five months on (ok, it probably would’ve taken him about five minutes) that the result was too close to be definitive: “Look at the polls now’, he’d proclaim, ‘they show people have changed their minds. We shall clearly need a second referendum in a couple of years.” What would our response have been? We’d have called him a sore loser: “Nigel, you don’t seem to understand how democracy works. You lost. Get over it“ Only, that’s not what happened. Britain voted leave. Yes it was close, but it was clear. Continue reading

A parliamentary vote on Article 50—now that’s taking back control

Prospect At the heart of the Leave campaign was the argument that Brexit would enable the British people to “take back control,” primarily by restoring parliamentary sovereignty. Those three words resonated powerfully with the electorate, and had a decisive impact on the result. I campaigned passionately for “Remain,” but, first and foremost, I am a democrat and there is no doubt in my mind that the people’s will must be done—we must leave the EU. However, it has become equally clear since 23rd June that “take back control” apparently means very different things to different people, and yesterday’s court ruling has thrown those differences into sharp relief. Continue reading

Six Tests The Government Must Pass

If everything goes according to Theresa May’s plan, Britain will leave the European Union in less than 30 months. The British people have voted and, after a summer of silence, the Prime Minister has finally set the timer for negotiations. But whilst it’s true that the countdown has begun, it is clear that neither the government or the country have any cogent idea of what May plans for their future. Her incantation ‘Brexit means Brexit’ must surely be the most vacuous phrase in modern political history. Continue reading