Westminster diary wb 27th February


After a spectacular display of the aurora borealis on Sunday evening it was nice to witness some early morning sunshine too.

It doesn’t quite feel like 6am when there is daylight. I had a briefing from the police regarding the tragic loss of two lives when a tugboat sank on the Clyde last Friday. Enquiries into such events always take longer than it feels they should but while the families must be kept informed, the authorities must also be given space to carry out their investigations. My thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives.

The big draw of the day at Westminster was the Northern Ireland protocol. There was the possibility of a vote but instead we had a statement and the media ate it up. Three years after the U.K. left the E.U. and they still had not fixed an issue which they knew all along was going to be one. The outcome now is that Northern Ireland has preferential access to the single market for goods and Scotland doesn’t, despite both counties voting overwhelmingly to remain in the E.U. The Prime Minister has been very quick to explain what a great deal Northern Ireland is getting, which is ironic as before Brexit the entire U.K. had that level of access and more. And something that won’t be in the news but it’s always heartening when my office gets a good outcome from a constituency case. Today we heard that a case regarding ESA/Carers Allowance has been rectified by the DWP and a constituent has received arrears of £1,010. That’s the day job of all MPs of all parties. Representing their constituents to the best of their abilities regardless of political persuasion or who they voted for. At least it should be.


I had an interview about the provision of medical cannabis and as often happens the discussion progressed to decriminalising the possession of cannabis for personal use. This was talked up by the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and talked down by the leader of his party, Keir Starmer.


It’s Saint David’s day today and appropriately it’s Welsh questions before Prime Minister’s Questions. The Welsh minister basically said the people of Wales should not get the same access to the single market as the people of Northern Ireland because they voted to leave the European Union! By that logic Scotland should get the same access because we voted to remain. There was a party of Lithuanian politicians in the gallery for PMQs and everyone was pleased to see them. Nobody in Westminster suggested that as a country, a small Northern European independent nation with a population of under 3 million they couldn’t survive. Apparently, that only equates to Scotland. Stephen Flynn’s questions were short, sharp and cut straight to the heart of the matter. Keir Starmer’s were not. I met up with my friends from Gambling with Lives at a reception in the Churchill Room. The U.K. government is still dithering over their gambling white paper. That two years now in-case you are counting.


I conducted an interview with Scottish Television on the gambling reform bill. The news article will be broadcast on the 16th of March along with input from academics and people with lived experience. The remainder of the day was utilised to address constituency case work.


I had a doctor’s appointment for vaccines. And then hosted a cost of living surgery in the oak mall along with Stuart McMillan MSP. In the afternoon, Stuart and I visited the asylum seekers that are residing in a local hotel. I have had extensive discussions with the Home Office regarding the lengthy time that asylum seekers have been held in hotels, it’s a situation that doesn’t suit anyone and we should be working towards better outcomes.

I am hoping to attend Origins by Willie Sutherland on Saturday in the Beacon Arts Centre.