My first event at Westminster was a briefing regarding the cabinet meeting at Chequers the previous Friday. In keeping with the Brexit process so far, the intended host of the event was changed at the last minute and the projector required for the power point presentation went missing. I don’t know what goes on behind the closed doors of the upper echelon of power but every time I see it manifested in public it’s a shambles. Following the briefing the Prime Minister made a statement in the house. It was beyond contempt as she continued with the ‘All Right on the Night’ mentality. Meanwhile, three cabinet members had resigned. Things are clearly not alright and yet the UK government continues to reject overtures of conciliatory discussions from devolved powers. In the evening I met with Rachel Moran to discuss the Nordic Model for prostitution.
I met with various trade union representatives to listen to their concerns around the bidding process to build the ‘Fleet Solid Support’ ships. The FSS contract has been extended to countries across the world. The trade unions and many others believe that the FSS are warships and therefore should be built in the UK, which is the usual process. I had a meeting with the Glasgow coordinator for the WASPI campaign and it was good to catch up with ongoing campaign. I was disappointed to learn that the ministers with responsibility for the Department for Work and Pensions had still not managed to sit down with the board members of the WASPI campaign. This is another classic example of the UK government burying its head in the sand. This issue will not just go away, in fact after their upcoming AGM I expect it will come roaring back. The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Scottish Sport consisted of an extremely interesting briefing on transitioning back to normal life after a career in sport. It highlighted the lack of support that most sportspeople are given by their organising bodies and the financial difficulties along with psychological issues that can arise.
I had an interview with academics from Bath University regarding Universal Basic Income. It is an area that I have worked on since I was elected and shall continue to investigate. I spoke last year in Portugal on this topic and thirty one countries were represented. I have been invited to speak in Barcelona this September. It is an indication of the growth of this movement that it continues to spread across the globe and many professionals, politicians and academics are seeking a positive outcome. In the chamber, once again Scotland Questions was an ill-tempered affair as the Secretary of State dismissed all criticism regardless of how constructive it was. Prime Minsters Questions was bereft of the Prime Minster as she was in Brussels and as protocol dictates the Labour opposition was provided by their deputy too. So it was David Lidington against Emily Thornberry. And the winner was Ian Blackford who amidst the mindless barracking between Conservative and Labour, struck the correct tone, questioning the confrontational stance of President Trump. I spoke (all be it brief and quick) in the ship building debate. I put forward the case to build the FSS in the UK and highlighted the benefit to communities. The cheapest option is not always the best and the social economic benefit in the immediate community and throughout the supply chain should always be a consideration. The reason the debate was concluded before its allotted time and speeches were cut short was quite unbelievably because a football match was taking place. I think thousands of shipyard workers jobs deserve better than that.
I sat in on business questions and was expecting to read up on Carillion for the afternoon debate. I was not expecting the government statement on the Brexit White Paper. It turned into an extremely confrontational event. The process is that before a government minister gets to his or her feet to make a statement the spokesperson of the opposition parties are given a copy within a suitable timescale to read it and produce a response. This government decide to release the white paper to the media four hours before any opposition members. Another Brexit Shambles. In a very rare if not unique action the speaker of the house basically instructed the government minister to get the white paper into the hands of all members before he made his statement. To do this he had to prompt him a few times and eventually suspend the house. I took place in the last debate of the day which focused on the collapse of Carillion. I grabbed the 20:30 flight home.
Was mostly spent catching up with constituency casework and local issues. In the afternoon I managed to squeeze in a physiotherapy appointment for my latest sporting injury.