Your Local MP: July 2018
How many sugars in an energy drink?
Your Voice in Parliament
June was dominated by…can you guess yet? Yes, Brexit. The EU Withdrawal Bill returned to the House of Commons from the House of Lords. In the House of Lords, peers put down 15 amendments for us to consider in the Commons. The two crunch issues were on whether we get a “meaningful vote” on the trade deal between the UK and the EU, and whether we should keep the European Economic Area (EEA) as an option on the table as the basis of that future trading relationship.
Regular readers will know my position on Brexit. I think the whole thing has been a disaster, and I’ve stuck 100% true to what I said I would do at my election a year ago. At every opportunity I have voted to move us as far away as possible from a Hard Brexit, to stand up for EU citizens who live and work here and to do whatever I can to protect investment in the businesses that employ so many of us in Bristol. And this month was, sadly, another example of my having to reluctantly vote against my own party whip – this time, on the issue of the European Economic Area.
The EEA isn’t perfect, but it’s an off the shelf model that would keep the UK trading within the single market after Brexit. And the EU has confirmed that we can combine the EEA with a customs union to deliver that frictionless trade we all want. All I and other Labour rebels have said is that we should keep this option on the table and that, in the face of a Hard Brexit, we should consider taking it as a ready option. I will continue to make the case for the single market within Parliament and within my own party.
The meaningful vote is something more of us agree on in the House of Commons. The theory is that when the Prime Minister presents her post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU to the House of Commons (in October) that we have a right to vote that down if it isn’t good enough, and that that doesn’t mean we just automatically have a Hard Brexit. At the time of writing, Conservative MPs are waiting for the conceded amendment to be printed on the order paper. By the time you read this who knows what will have happened!
Lastly, I just want to mention two inquiries I’m working on that I’m quite excited about. We’re looking at the impact of social media and screen time on the physical and mental health of young people, and the regulation of sugar and caffeine content in energy drinks and the advertising of them. I’m not a nanny-state politician, but we’re hearing more and more about how young people are tired at school and obesity is a serious public health issue in Bristol (which is linked to tiredness too!). Once we’ve gathered our evidence I’m going to organise an event with parents, teachers and pupils in Bristol to go through it. A prize to the person who can guess how many teaspoons of sugar are in an energy drink!
Your Champion in Bristol
As part of my tour of all schools in Bristol North West, I recently stopped-by Henleaze Junior School. It was a delight to meet pupils and staff. It is clear more government funding is sorely needed to support our children’s education and to ensure these hard-working public-sector workers are paid what they deserve. We are losing more and more teaching staff because they are over-burdened and underpaid. I will continue to do what I can to champion lifting of the public sector pay cap (which must be funded by government not existing school’s budgets) and push the government to provide adequate funding for our schools and college.
I was also delighted to be able to stop-by some of BS9 Arts Trail locations in Westbury-on-Trym in June. The art - and level of talent - on display was inspiring and I was pleased to see the event was so well supported, the organisers should be very proud of their achievement – keep up the great work.
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Darren Jones MP
Member of Parliament Bristol North West
"Your voice in Parliament. Your champion in Bristol."