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.

 

This is a Climate Emergency, Dirty Air Knows no Borders!

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Following her speech in the European Parliament last month, Judith Bunting MEP highlights the case for calling a Climate Emergency.

“Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature deaths. We need to work smarter, we have the technology to do this and we should embrace that.”

The Government has passed a Net-Zero target for Carbon emissions by 2050 whilst also making chaotic decisions that will undermine this target. They have slashed subsidies for solar power, banned the cheapest form of renewable onshore wind energy generation and ended the ‘Green Deal’, which aimed to improve the energy efficiency of people’s homes. As well as these cuts, there is a policy of pursuing fracking to access fossil fuels throughout Britain, including areas of outstanding natural beauty such as the Weald Basin in the South Downs covering Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, to further compound their policy of supporting expanding the airport provision in one of busiest Airports in Europe, London Heathrow.

TrafficJudith continues, “Unfortunately Dirty Air knows no borders, the problems in the South East will affect the nearby areas of the country and impact the health of the world. We can do better than this and the South East deserves better.”

Judith Bunting calls for a stop to meaningless targets on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and a reversal of the cuts to incentivise a change of approach for each and every citizen. Instead we should adopt meaningful policies, which can make a difference to climate change from day one.

Air pollution from carsThe Liberal Democrats demand better and have set out a way of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. We are fighting for a net-zero EU by 2050 across the 28 member states of the European Union. Dealing with carbon emissions will not only deal with the climate emergency but cut air-pollution, reduce fuel poverty and create thousands of jobs in the renewables sector. These targets can be positive for our health, our economy and the planet.

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 .

Brecon & Radnor – Tomorrow, Weds 31st July

Jane Dodds

The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election is this week 
Thursday, 1st August.

 

Can you join us to help get out the vote TOMORROW, Wednesday 31st July?

 

There is a real chance that we can steal this seat away from the Conservatives – but only if we get the vote out.

Jane Dodds is a terrific candidate – and the first Councillor for whom I ever campaigned. She is Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats and will make a brilliant MP.

I am taking a car of activists on WEDNESDAY 31st July to join the work to Get Out the Vote. If you would like to join us, please message me via Facebook messenger (Judith Bunting MEP) to arrange where to meet. Or contact me by text, if you already have my phone number. 

Pick up:

  • Reading area: ~08:00
  • Newbury/Thatcham area: ~08:30
  • Hungerford area: ~09:00

Please message or text before 8pm TODAY Tuesday to arrange pick up.

I look forward to seeing you. 

An eventful week in politics- MEP Life – week 5

MEP Life

They say a week is a long time in politics, well they are not wrong!! From the London march through to two new party leaders, this week was super-eventful. Thanks to all who attended the March for Change in London, the many photos and videos from the day are just brilliant. We must keep up the pressure and be vocal of our need to Stop Brexit.

Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal DemocratsMonday saw the Liberal Democrat leadership announcement, with Jo Swinson elected as the first female leader of the party. Jo gave a barnstormer of a speech that was powerful and motivating and she was clear: “I stand here as a candidate for Prime Minister”. 
And if you have any doubts about how realistic this is, take a look at the latest You Gov polls on Westminster voting intention.

Jo’s election continues the LibDem surge and we have seen well over 20,000 new members join us after our successes in both local and European elections. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to join us. This is the fightback for liberal Britain.

Judith Bunting officeArriving back in Brussels I have recorded another MEP Life podcast with Caroline Voaden, where we discussed everything from travel, pollution, elections, and the heatwave. In Brussels, this was a week of committee work. Committee weeks come twice a month and are where the real legislative and policy work gets done. On the Education and Culture committee, the Renew team is currently campaigning to increase the budget for Creative Europe, Erasmus Plus and other educational schemes by 10%. On the Industry and Science committee, I was involved in proposing a visit to the fascinating Chalk River Research Facility in Canada, where they do a lot of good work from which I believe the EU could learn, The suggestion was welcomed and the visit may well go ahead in 2020. 

Outside of committees, our MEP delegation joined colleagues in co-signing a letter to the Polish Prime Minister in response to the attacks on the Pride March in Bialystok, and distribution of ‘LGBT-free zone’ stickers. This goes against the Liberal Democrats fundamental principle of a ‘free, fair and open society’. We firmly believe in tolerance, respect, and anti-discrimination for all.

We also met with the group ‘British in Europe’ and counterpart campaigners, the3million, to talk over what will happen to the 1.3 million Brits currently living in Europe and the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK if Boris Johnson goes ahead with a no deal Brexit. These citizens are our friends, family and neighbours. They set up cross-border families and working lives in good faith, while no one had any thought of the UK leaving Europe. If our government chooses to break that contract, they should receive special dispensation to live as Europeans for the foreseeable future. We also discussed the ‘Denied my vote’ movement is raising money to take the UK government to court over the electoral chaos which surrounded the most recent European elections. They have the lawyers and a great case, now they need the cash.

This week saw the launch of my monthly newsletter, you can sign up here. Other ways to keep in touch are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Podcast, Website, or email.

Dirty Air Knows No Borders

Judith Bunting MEP, in European Parliament, delivering her speech to the European Parliament on Climate Change.

Giving my maiden speech in plenary at the European Parliament, I addressed the Clean Air debate. Air pollution directly causes both chronic and serious diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular problems and lung cancer. Ill health caused by air pollution costs the economy billions in lost working days. Causing 400,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, it is currently the number one cause of premature death. Poor air quality has more than ten times the health impact of road traffic accidents. In this age of innovation and advanced technology this is simply unacceptable. I demand better, and we must do better.
 
The EU has a solid framework in place which includes Ambient Air Quality Directives, with low emission zones and incentives for cleaner transportation starting to be implemented across cities and regions in Europe with encouraging results. To combat dirty air, we need ambition, we need to work together. 

We need to work with member states to enforce Ultralow Emissions Zones in our small towns, our market towns, as well as in our cities. Every small town has a road or junction where locals know that the air pollution is out of control. There is a clear case, to charge dirty drivers on health grounds and we can. There is a need for targeted clean air zones in our towns across the UK.
 
As a British Liberal Democrat, I was elected to keep Britain in the European Union – and one of my main reasons for wanting to be here is to help protect our shared environment.
 
Dirty air knows no borders. 
 
What are your thoughts on clean air and ULEZ? Do you live in an area where air pollution is excessive? Please get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.

Demand better for education

The Education Select Committee report, published today, calls on the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges. Sitting on the Education and Culture committee, I have been horrified over the past few years by the way that the Conservative government has cut funding for schools and colleges to the bone. Funding levels have failed to keep up with spiralling costs and increased pupil numbers. 

Representing the South East of England in the European Union, I wholeheartedly support the cross party call for the Government to commit to a 10-year, multi-billion cash injection for schools and colleges.

Teachers have been forced to buy resources out of their own pockets, teaching assistants have been let go, and many schools have been forced to shut their doors early. Schools report not having enough funding to pay for textbooks, stationery and science equipment. 

Today’s report shows that MPs across all parties are not prepared to see our schools and colleges face years of continued uncertainty. Yet this is exactly what the Conservative Government has created. They have seemingly scrapped an announcement on school funding planned for this week, and have not yet told teachers how much they will be paid next year. 

As Liberal Democrats, we demand better for our children and teachers. That is why we are campaigning for an emergency cash injection into our schools and colleges, so that they have the resources teachers need to teach and pupils need to learn.

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.

 

Busy in Brussels and Berkshire -MEP Life – week 3

European Parliament

At the start of the week I travelled back to Brussels for the start of our legislative and committee work. For me, that means a focus on education and culture, specifically life-long learning, STEAM subjects, and the Creative Europe funding scheme, which is important for all of our creative industries here in the UK.

I got to discuss the Erasmus+ extension, which is looking to include apprenticeships. I think these changes are a great idea, so watch this space!
 
As a group of MEPs, the Liberal Democrats co-signed a letter to the Japanese Ambassador to the European Union, this week, calling for a halt to commercial whaling. There is no need for commercial whaling, it is a cruel trade that provides nothing that the world really needs.


In our Renew Europe Group meeting this week we discussed human rights, EU Global strategy, and the crisis in the Persian Gulf. On Wednesday, I attended our group meeting with the Commission Presidential Candidate, Ursula von der Leyen. She confirmed to our Renew Europe group that she hopes the UK will remain in Europe. Because the allocation of the EU top jobs depends on the votes won from across Europe, Ursula is a Conservative choice for the role. She is a progressive conservative and I think we will be willing to support her. 

Later in the week it was great to meet former MEP Felix Schwalba-Holt with Yorkshire for Europe.  Back in the UK I was on the panel for ITV’s ‘Last Word’, where we discussed life as an MEP, the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, the future Prime Minister and of course Brexit. Afterwards I stopped to chat to the wonderful Steven Bray and the SODEM group outside of Westminster. Their tireless campaigning is incredible, do go and say hello if you get the chance.

As seems to now be my working pattern, I attended regional events over the weekend. First I attended Newbury College where I had the pleasure of meeting the Principal and his team, where we discussed apprenticeships and opportunities for young people. I was then honoured to join the Twinning events and ceremony between Newbury, Berkshire and Carcaixent, Spain. Twinning is a shared European project and a fantastic exchange of culture and people. Such opportunities are invaluable and they transcend politics. I love this movement that has kept doors open to our neighbours across #Europe.
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 an MEP. As well as this  weekly blog: I am releasing video updates which you can find by following me on Twitter and Facebook. We are busy preparing a new newsletter which you can sign up to here. We have also launched a new podcast called MEP Life.

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

info@judithbunting.co.uk

The European Parliament is open for business! -MEP Life week 2

Judith Bunting MEP

This week has been momentous, with my time having been spent in Strasbourg for the opening of the European Parliament, voting for the president, finalising our committees, and continuing to find my feet as an MEP.


Monday was a day of travelling and emails as I made my way from the UK over to Strasbourg to finally take up my elected role as an MEP.

The opening of the European Parliament took place on Tuesday, and was an historic and emotional experience. Our group of 16 Liberal Democrat MEPs donned bright ‘Stop Brexit’ t-shirts to draw attention to the serious point that Brexit is not inevitable.

My personal goal as a Pro-European, British MEP is to be visible, accountable and show what really goes on in the European Parliament. 

We sixteen Liberal Democrats were elected to stop Brexit. We are committed to achieving this. I am pleased to say that our bright message was heard across Europe and was received well by our fellow Europeans in Parliament. As a group we will continue to fight for Britain to play a leading role in the EU. I will do my best to represent you in this while I am a MEP.

Our first official task as MEPs was to vote for the next president of the European Parliament. I supported the newly elected president, David Sassoli, an Italian politician who has been very active in his support for young people and who is committed to tackling climate change. Later in the week Mr Sassoli addressed the European Parliament and stated; “Only when we are united can we counterbalance the most powerful global players.”

There were many voting sessions to elect the President of Parliament, 14 Vice Presidents and the Quaestors – sometimes described as the trades union leaders of MEPs. At almost 10pm on the second day of voting, we even voted on which method to use, with the quick and efficient electronic voting devices winning – thank goodness! With so many new MEPs we were given a trial run to ensure that everyone was happy with how to use them. This involved us voting yes, no or abstain on our favourite musicians. I am pretty sure that the Beatles won. I will get a photo to show you the voting device soon.

Judith Bunting MEPOur committee positions were officially confirmed this week, and I am delighted that I represent the UK on the Education and Culture committee (CULT) and on the committee for Industry, Research and Energy(IRE). With my team I have also made a start on the applications for three pilot projects, putting together ideas around increasing interest in science among teenage girls and promoting lifelong learning. Both of these areas are close to my heart.

Back in the UK we had a number of team meetings in our new office space in Reading. The week was once again rounded off with visits to local Liberal Democrat teams, including a second party in Wokingham constituency where we celebrated their fantastic council gains and I talked with them about my role as a MEP.

If you are planning to hold street stalls to promote Europe over the summer, please let my team know by contacting us at; SocialMedia@JudithBunting.co.uk 

You can keep updated with my activities by signing up to receive my new MEP newsletter here.