MEP Life 11- Parliament, Police and Proroguing

BRUSSELS

Hello to you all, as you may have noticed, MEPs were back at work in Brussels, last week. The first week of the month is committee week, and I spent my formal working time considering plans and worries around 5G, budget provision for Erasmus and Creative Europe, and plans for Energy Transition with it the EU. How can I deny, though, that my heart was in Westminster …

BREXIT

One of our first actions on return was to meet up with other UK MEPs who are supportive of a People’s Vote and to sign a cross party Brussels Declaration which indicates we were not happy with the UK Government attempting to force through a no deal Brexit on 31st October. It was great to be acting with so many people from Labour, the Greens, Independent MEPs and Naomi Long from the Northern Ireland Alliance party. Despite our differences, we are all shocked and disgusted by the approach that PM Johnson and his cabinet have taken to the role of Parliament and the prospect of a no deal Brexit. I am hugely proud of the Remain Alliance and Jo Swinson for taking control of Westminster Business and finding a legal way to stop a No Deal Brexit.

MEP Life

With Westminster in mind, Caroline Voaden and I recorded an extra podcast this week, a special edition catching up on all the remarkable moves in Westminster, last week, to control business and forestall Johnsons’s foolish actions. You can listen to it here and catch up with the usual weekly podcast, here.

Euronews was also wrapped up in Brexit, and I also took part in a phone-in for Raw Politics where we discussed the potential for national embarrassment in the face of Brexit. I made the point that the only real embarrassment we face is that, when the referendum was initially put to the country, there was no explanation of WHAT Brexit was meant to entail.

Continuing on the same theme, on Friday, I was asked for an interview by SKY News and was delighted to have a chance to raise the specific hypocrisy of Johnson giving a speech in front of Police Cadets, while proposing a no deal Brexit which would trash more than 40 different cross border legal measures, like Europol and the European Arrest Warrant, on which UK forces of law and order, depend. We already have seen horrible cuts in Police budgets. What more will disappear if Brexit goes ahead is anyone’s guess. I hear from criminologists that we will have to fall back on legal agreements drawn up in the nineteen fifties.

The background to the interview was that I was expecting a gentle, pre-recorded interview. But no. I meet the Sky team, have an ear piece put in my ear and hear ‘Live in 5 minutes.’ Now, I know we are going to be talking about Westminster and Brexit so … I asked what the questions were going to be and was put through to the gallery to hear, ‘Live in 3 minutes’. Then ‘It’s Boris Johnsons’s week, OK? Live in 2 minutes.’ And so we tumbled into the interview.

It was pretty relaxed in the end, although (since this is MEP life) it would have been nice to see a screen to know when I was on camera, but in the context of Brexit, being given an opportunity to raise Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy is everything!

(All credit to Sky, they had no notice that I was going to raise the police cadet’s speech and they still managed to slip in a cut away.)

APPRENTICES

On a more positive note, in the Newsletter last week, I launched an Apprentice’s trip to Brussels in October. Whatever happens next, Europe will be our nearest neighbour and the subsidised trip is for apprentices 18-25 to come and visit Brussels, take a look at the Parliament, and speak to people who are shaping opportunities for apprentices, trainees and businesses across Europe. If you are an apprentice or are supporting apprentices or have an apprentice in your family, there is still time to apply for a place on the apprentices visit. The application form can be found, here. Deadline is 20.09.2019 at 6pm.

If you would like to sign up for next months newsletter, please click here.

By the time I write, next week, Parliament will be prorogued. Hold on to your Democracy, we are in for a bumpy ride!

Cross Party Declaration

A Cross Party Group of UK Members of the European Parliament has signed a Declaration committing themselves to work together in the face of brexit, and have called upon continental colleagues to support their efforts.

Meeting in Brussels, representatives of the Green, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Alliance, Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party were able to sign “the Brussels Declaration” stating:

We, the undersigned UK Members of the European Parliament, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, declare as follows:

The proroguing, or shutting down the UK Parliament in order to limit scrutiny of the implications of a potential no deal Brexit is completely unacceptable. Limiting the opportunity for MPs to debate, vote and crucially, to legislate, cannot be the response to a referendum in which Leave campaigned for the UK Parliament to “take back control”.

In the continuation of the spirit that UK MEPs have worked in since the 2016 Referendum we commit ourselves to continue to work across party lines and declare that it is vital that MPs do likewise.

We were all elected just four months ago with clear mandates. We are working together. We call upon our European friends and colleagues to assist domestic efforts in keeping the door open to us.

Judith Bunting said on signing the agreement; “Our MPs were elected to represent us. We voted for them, they are our voice in Westminster. To silence Parliament is to silence the voice of the people.

“I salute the Conservative MPs who last night put Country before Party, and I call on all Remainers to hold fast. Any form of Brexit would plunge the UK into another long recession which would hurt Leavers and Remainers alike. We will, we must work together to Stop Brexit.”


The Declaration was signed by:
Liberal Democrat Party
Catherine Bearder MEP
Caroline Voaden MEP
Chris Davies MEP
Phil Bennion MEP
Jane Brophy MEP
Judith Bunting MEP
Dinesh Dhamija MEP
Barbara Ann Gibson MEP
Anthony Hook MEP
Martin Horwood MEP
Shaffaq Mohammed MEP
Lucy Nethsingha MEP
Bill Newton Dunn MEP
Luisa Porritt MEP
Sheila Ritchie MEP
Irina Von Wiese MEP

Green Party
Molly Scott Cato MEP
Alexandra Phillips MEP
Magid Magid MEP
Scott Ainslie MEP
Ellie Chowns MEP
Gina Dowding MEP
Catherine Rowett MEP

Labour Party
Richard Corbett MEP
Seb Dance MEP
Jude Kirton-Darling MEP
Neena Gill MEP
John Howarth MEP
Theresa Griffin MEP
Jackie Jones MEP
Julie Ward MEP
Rory Palmer MEP
Claude Moraes MEP

Alliance Party
Naomi Long MEP

Plaid Cymru
Jill Evans MEP

Scottish National Party
Alyn Smith MEP
Aileen Mcleod MEP
Christian Allard MEP

MEP Life- starter for 10

This week has been extraordinary from a political climate perspective and also in terms of the galvanising of thousands of people to step out of their usual lives and stand up to be counted to stop the current Government removing their say.

We need a People’s Parliament; a way for everyone to get their voices heard again. If Parliament is silenced, the people are silenced. We voted for them. They represent us. To suspend Parliament is a blow to the very democracy that Number 10 purports to protect. It was a cowardly act at the very time people need to see their MPs acting on their behalf. However chequered each constituency is in terms of voices, each deserves to have their opinions brought to parliament.

I was at College Green on Wednesday evening and was heartened by the show of support from (almost) every party and all walks of life. There was hope at this point that a legal petition could stop a suspension of parliament and our MEPs supported this move. So far, the work goes on… This week will bring profound changes to the UK. If you haven’t yet signed the petition against Proroguing Parliament do sign here. Still angry? Join us to #StopBrexit

This positive feeling continued throughout the week. Across the whole country people are clearly angry and determined to #StopBrexit and halt the imminent suspension of democracy.

 

My LibDem MEP and MP colleagues have been out speaking to their constituents throughout the past week. I caught up with @ReadingLibDems at the glorious Reading Pride on Saturday where, once again, hundreds of people took #StopBrexit stickers as well as filling out the Brexitometer. 

 

My different roles within the European Parliament mean that I sit on a number of committees and have a role on the EU Delegations to India and Korea. In such a role at the end of the week I met the Indian Foreign Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, and had a chance to speak to him about the current situation in Kashmir and Jammu. I challenged him to hold formal investigations into reports of beatings and torture and called on the Foreign Minister to respect and protect the human rights of all Indian citizens in this situation. I hope to meet with representatives from Kashmir next week.

This, as well as the work in the UK, shows me regularly the changes that can happen with collaboration, If we work towards a common purpose. I was elected to #StopBrexit and find common solutions that might be achieved with our closest neighbours. We work better when we work together, when we speak with the voice of many.

This coming week I will be back to work in Brussels on your behalf. Please continue to send me your questions and concerns, I love to hear from you, whatever your views.

Best wishes, Judith

 

 

MEP Judith Bunting calls on India to respect human rights of all citizens

Judith Bunting MEP responds to Kashmir worries, condemns human rights violations and use of excessive force in meeting with the Minister of External Affairs of India, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

At a meeting in Brussels today with the Minister of External Affairs of India, Judith Bunting MEP for the South East of England condemned the use of violence and called on Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar to respect the human rights of all Indian citizens.

Ms Bunting vowed to consult with both India and Kashmir after the Modi government sent thousands of additional troops into the disputed region. She underlined the importance of constructive dialogue instead of the use of violence.

The Indian government has passed measures to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status and split the state into two Union territories firmly under the control of the central government in New Delhi. 

During the meeting with the foreign minister, today, Judith Bunting underlined the importance of avoiding an escalation of tensions in Kashmir and in the region. She encouraged the minister to maintain diplomatic dialogue with Pakistan and engage with international observers and to be open about the situation in the region.

Ms Bunting called on the Indian Foreign Minister for restraint on the part of the Indian government.

Concerned by recent media reports of beating and torture, Ms Bunting requested a formal investigation into the perpetrators and for those responsible to be brought to justice.

After the meeting, Judith Bunting said: “We have strong Indian and Pakistani communities across the South East of England. Many people have been in touch, extremely worried about friends and family in the area.

I call on India to protect the human rights of all Indian citizens. The government must maintain respect for human dignity, freedom and the rule of law.”

Judith Bunting has a meeting with the Kashmiri representatives in the coming week.

MEP Life 9- There and Back again: an MEP life of Journeying in the South East

Another terrific week travelling around the South East and meeting a lot of you. Thank you to everyone who has connected through social media, it is so nice to then meet you in person. Great to meet @sfosterld and the Portsmouth team during the week.

On Thursday I was at Kennet Radio in Newbury discussing all things Brexit with Russ Shackleton- check out the programme 5pm this Sunday @kennetradio. We talked about  the damage that a no deal Brexit will cause, why Brexit is NOT inevitable and talked about all the positive reasons for staying in the EU; Life, love, security and business – There is not much in our day to day lives that is not improved by working with our closest neighbours. Then it was onwards to a Curry night with Bracknell Forest East LibDems, where they were celebrating the election of the very first LibDem councillor onto Bracknell Forest Council. Good luck team! I am sure that with this great start you will win seats next time too!

On Friday it was full steam “Bollocks to Brexit” at Reading Festival as part of Team Remain- a cross party group, led by Berkshire for Europe and Open Britain Berkshire.  So many people came to have a selfie at the Team Remain stand – including Femi, who told me about his trip around the UK to find out about the impact of Brexit on Young People. All the festival goers that we met understand that life IS better inside the EU. We gave out 31,000 stickers- just fantastic! If you came to say ‘hi’ in the sun, thank you! It is your voices that are being heard the world over at events like this. 

On a more serious note, over the weekend, we were all horrified to hear of the wildfires burning in the Amazon rainforest, the impact of which will be felt across the world. There really are no borders when it comes to clean air and the impact of this loss on the hundreds of people who live in the forest will also be felt deeply by the entire planet. Our MEP group sent a letter to Commissioner Malemstrom to increase pressure on Brazil to act.

My final trip for this week was over to the Isle of Wight for a discussion on “Innovation on the Island”, with Richard Peckham former Chair of UKSpace, and Rosie Jones, Tech transfer Manager extraordinaire. It was a brilliant evening with discussion about education and vocational training on the island as well as how councils and government should be helping entrepreneurs and inventors turn their innovations into valuable businesses, employing people and adding to the economy. The reason I care about business is because this is where most people get jobs. Time for my favourite fact from the FSB: SME’S account for 60% of all private sector employment in the UK and yet Brexit would hit these companies hardest.

ANNOUNCEMENT

And finally – APPRENTICES: My Newsletter has just come out this week with an emphasis on Apprentices and I urge you to sign up if you have not already. I will be taking a large group of Apprentices over to Brussels in October to meet with MEPs and talk about the future of Apprenticeships if we leave the EU without a deal. If this is something that interests you or someone you know, do sign up for information about the trip here.

Bunting talks Business in Chesham- MEP Life 8

This week I have had a short break after visiting all over the South East over the past few weeks. However, I managed to squeeze in a couple of things over the weekend which I wanted to tell you about.

I was invited to speak at an event in Chesham, by the group Chilterns 4 EU, about Brexit (whether no-deal or bad-deal) and the effect that it has had so far on small businesses as well as the likely effect it will have should it go ahead.

I want to reinforce to everyone reading this that Brexit is NOT inevitable! Negotiations are afoot behind the scenes to force a vote of no confidence and form a government of national unity. The only job of this government will be to seek an extension to the Article 50 deadline and organise a ‘People’s Vote’ which offers one specific BREXIT option and the option to Remain in Europe.

And so, back to Chesham; this Town Hall event sold out within a few days. Chaired by Walid Marzouk of Chiltern Lib Dems, the meeting went ahead with 115 people attending, all of them people who wish to remain in the EU and many of them running local businesses which are being damaged already. The popularity of this session was a surprise to me. It shows how even in areas which are represented by Brexit-supporting MPs, the strength of feeling and understanding of what a disaster Brexit would be, is growing.

Ian Slaney was an attendee who told the meeting; “I was a businessman during the early 1970s. I dealt with imports and exports for major manufacturers of motor cars.  I remember shipping cars through a freight ship and the paperwork and the delays and the complications we had to engage in. When we finally joined the EU and this was probably about the turning point of my responsibility, in 1973, things suddenly changed completely and the world became so much easier.”

I was joined on the panel by Sonali Parekh, an Independent Expert from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) who leads their research into the effect of Brexit on small businesses. Sonali told the meeting; “A lot of our [FSB] members are concerned about preparedness within the smaller business community for a potential no deal on 31st October. When we polled last year, only 14% of smaller businesses were prepared for a no-deal scenario.”

“A total of 66% of our members that trade with the EU felt that a no-deal could have a detrimental impact on their short-term business continuity.”

“1 in 5 of our smaller businesses have at least 1 EU member of staff. Since the outcome of the EU referendum, 40% felt that recruitment from the EU had become more challenging.”

“For those of our smaller businesses that have a supply chain that criss-crosses the EU and the UK, they are giving serious consideration to moving more of their operations to the EU.”

As well as taking about business, I met Yasmin, who passionately wants to remain part of the EU so that she and her generation can enjoy the opportunities that the rest of us have enjoyed for almost sixty years.

Brexit, especially leaving without a deal continues to be doggedly pursued by the Prime Minister and we hear daily about the horrible effect that this would have across the whole of the UK including Agricultural Business;

We still have a chance to make a difference and push for the MPs to get involved in blocking a no-deal scenario. 

I have one further week before I return to Brussels and will be visiting Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. I look forward to getting back to representing you in EU parliament. Have your say by making contact with me

My newsletter will be concentrating on Apprenticeships and the impact Brexit will be having on these, do sign up before the end of August to hear about some exciting news about supporting Apprentices across the UK.

 

Summer in the South East- MEP Life 7


For the last couple of weeks, I have been back for the Summer, working in the UK, meeting and campaigning with local groups in the South East. It has been great to meet new members and old, as well as other Remain supporters who are part of the fantastic Grassroots for Europe network.

Attending a meeting of West Berkshire for Europe  (formerly West Berkshire Stronger Together EU), this week, I enjoyed some encouraging and positive cross-party discussions about how Remain parties can work together to stop Brexit. If you have a ‘for Europe’ group in your area, please do get in touch with them. 

Have you listened to the Our MEP Life’ podcast yet? In this week’s episode our conversation ranges from reforestation to Erasmus+ and Creative Europe, to girls in science and many things in-between. If there is something you would like us to discuss or if you have feedback for us, please get in touch: MEPLife@judithbunting.co.uk. The podcast is now available on Spotify (which for some reason makes me feel madly cool!). 

On Saturday I joined an EU street stall in Basingstoke where we proudly flew the EU flag. I spoke with many people about the EU and Brexit and had a number of great conversations. We had new stickers to hand out, “Bonkers to Brexit’, as well as the classics, so many conversations end with the priceless question: ‘Would you like Bonkers or B*llocks?’

 Next weekend, on Saturday, I will be at Chesham Town Hall in Buckinghamshire, on a panel with the Head of Brexit Research at the Federation of Small Businesses, Sonali Parekh. If you are in the area, please come along.

Don’t forget you can keep updated with all of my activities and news in the following ways TwitterFacebookInstagramPodcastWebsite, or email and, of course, you can:

SIGN UP TO MY newsletter, HERE.

 

Campaigning, Councillors and Congratulations- MEP Life -Week 6

The big event last week was, of course, the by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire. What a fantastic result! Jane Dodds is a hugely welcome addition to the Lib Dem team in Westminster. Most importantly, right now, her presence in parliament reduces the Conservative majority to just one vote.  

The European Parliament closed down for the Summer at the end of July. Most MEPs take their annual leave at this time but, for Lib Dem MEPs, this year the story is different as we continue to campaign to stop Brexit. 

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of going to Brecon and Llandrindod to campaign for Jane Dodds in the by-election. Jane was the first Council Candidate that I ever delivered for, and it was great to meet her team in Wales as well as so many terrific people, including June Davies, an important part of the Remain Alliance. It was a brilliant day of campaigning in a truly beautiful part of the world.

Jane’s win in Brecon sends a clear message to Boris: Brexit is not a foregone conclusion. With only one vote in hand, and with pro-EU Tory MPs considering whether to defect, the government’s Commons majority could be wiped out at any moment.

Continuing the LibDem surge, more than 35,000 people have joined the Liberal Democrats since May. We demand better for Britain. We need to use our time as MEPs wisely, and as Liberal Democrat MEPs we are working hard to stop Brexit.

On Saturday I joined local councillors and the newly announced Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate, Councillor Lee Dillon, in Newbury. The street stall was a great opportunity to meet with people and discuss some of their concerns with Brexit. 

Later that day I attended an event in Whitchurch and Overton where I met the fabulous Gavin James and Lucy Sloane Williams, as well as newly elected Councillors Ryan Hickling and Andy Koniecko. If you are holding any local events or street stalls in your area, over the summer, please let me know at judith@judithbunting.co.uk .

In this week’s podcast Caroline Voaden and I discuss our committee work and what it has involved so far. My areas of responsibility are education, industry, research and energy – with a little culture thrown in for good measure. We also talk about pilot projects, STEAM, climate change and so much more!

If there is something you would like us to discuss please let us know at MEPLife@judithbunting.co.uk .

A week of firsts- MEP life- Week 4

My second week in Strasbourg started with a meeting looking at renewable energy with Jerzy Buzek, MEP, Chair of the European Energy Forum, and Miguel Arias Cañete, the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy. It was good to discuss with them the latest long term plans for sustainable change across the EU.

The Women for Europe group met with us on Wednesday, which was a pleasure. It was great to finally meet everyone, including the Commissioners for Transport and Justice and also Margarate Vesteger, recently appointed Renew Europe Vice President of the Parliament.

Later in the week the Liberal Democrat delegation had the opportunity to meet with the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier. It was a positive meeting which provided us with some keen insights into what may happen next for Brexit. As Liberal Democrats, we are not here to play, and for the good of everyone in the UK, we must stop Brexit.

Coming up I will be looking at UK apprenticeships in more detail, and sharing how apprentices can benefit from our membership of the EU. Please do get in touch if you have a story to share. 

The big news of the week was that we voted to elect the first female president of the European Commission. Voting itself was a highly democratic process and, before the vote, we had the opportunity to meet with Mrs von der Leyen. What I took away from these meetings is that she is listening. Her commitments on climate change, fighting tax evasion, social justice and an extension to Article 50 are all promising. Hearing her promise to put forward a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days of office as well as looking to hold Amazon accountable is also encouraging.

Making my maiden speech in plenary, I joined the debate on clean air. As part of Europe we have the opportunity to protect our shared environment. Dirty air knows no borders, and poor air quality has more than ten-times the impact of road traffic accidents. We have the technology, we need to use it. I call for the enforced targeting of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) to be extended to smaller towns and cities.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at info@judithbunting.co.uk. We would love to hear from you!

In the spirit of transparency, I am making it easy to see what I am up to as a one of your MEPs. As well as this weekly blog: I have video updates on Twitter and Facebook, a newsletter which you can sign up to here and our MEP Life podcast

 

If you like what you see, hear or read – please let us know!

Election of the first female European Commission President.

The election of the first female European Commission President is good news for Europe and the UK.

Voting itself was a highly democratic process, and we had the opportunity of meeting Mrs von der Leyen to discuss various points of note with her. What I took away from these meetings is that she is listening. Her commitments on climate change, fighting tax evasion, social justice and an extension to Article 50 are all promising. Hearing her promise to put forward a Green Deal for Europe in her first 100 days of office as well as looking to hold Amazon accountable is very encouraging.
Everyone understands, now, that leaving the European Union would be a disaster for British families, jobs and education. I was pleased to hear her commitment to grant a further extension to the Brexit deadline, to give Britain space to think and our next Prime Minister time to do the sensible thing to call a referendum on the final deal. We need to be central to the European Project, not outside of it.