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

Theresa May is bulldozing parliamentary democracy

Brexit is becoming an exercise in bureaucratic manipulation. Read my article in Prospect Magazine. Continue reading

We must develop a new approach to immigration and freedom of movement

Fabian Policy Report     The result of the EU referendum revealed a divided Britain: 52 per cent voted to leave in a rejection of a status quo that hasn’t worked for them in decades. People decided to ‘take back control’, even though they knew there’d be economic consequences.  Continue reading

My cure for a divided Britain? A programme of managed immigration

The Guardian: The EU referendum revealed a divided Britain and it’s clear: nothing polarises attitudes like immigration. One end believes it’s a universal good – economically and as a real-life expression of British openness. Continue reading

Securing Britain’s approach to Putin’s Russia is critical post-Brexit

The Times When the Olympic track and field events get under way in Rio next week the sizeable contingent of Russian athletes will be missing. Given that they are banned as a result of the long overdue exposure of a state-sponsored Russian doping programme, it may seem odd to us in the west that Vladimir Putin should protest that his athletes have been subject to ‘blatant discrimination’. But most Russians will back him wholeheartedly – even if he does not truly believe it himself. Sporting achievement is a deeply important part of the Russian psyche; and in Russian politics impulse and emotion are far more important than we realise. Russians’ understanding of their nation’s relationship with the west is steeped in decades of angst and suspicion, as well as the ancient belief that Mother Russia has historically been denied the respect she deserves. I have written in these pages before that we must understand this national mentality if we are to achieve the sort of respect-based realism that the UK-Russian relationship demands. Continue reading

MPs Seema Malhotra and Stephen Kinnock lay out a 6-point plan for Brexit

The New Statesman Angela Merkel has called on Theresa May to “take her time” and “take a moment to identify Britain’s interests” before invoking Article 50. We know that is code for the “clock is ticking” and also that we hardly have any idea what the Prime Minister means by “Brexit means Brexit.” We have no time to lose to seek to safeguard what is best in from our membership of the European Union. We also need to face some uncomfortable truths. Yes, as remain campaigners we were incredibly disappointed by the result. However we also recognise the need to move forward with the strongest possible team to negotiate the best deal for Britain and maintain positive relationships with our nearest neighbours and allies. Continue reading