I took part in three important votes over the past week. All three were amendments to the Queen's Speech which would have forced the Government to alter its plans for new laws over the next two years:
Sarah and fellow female Labour MPs who helped bring about change in abortion rights for women from Northern Ireland
The first amendment, from Labour, called for an end to the public sector pay freeze and to recruit more police officers and firefighters. I voted in favour but we lost that vote by 323 to 309. The Conservatives won because of their own deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) who will support them on important votes in return for £1 billion. People will make their own judgements on that.
The second amendment was from Stella Creasy MP. It called for equal rights for women from Northern Ireland (where abortion is not legal) to receive abortions in England on the NHS without having to pay. In the face of growing support across the political divide, the Government agreed to change their policy rather than lose a vote. That meant the amendment was dropped shortly before the vote, as we had secured the desired policy change. As one of the first MP's to co-sponsor Stella's amendment I am proud to have played my part in this change.
The third amendment called for the UK to remain in the Single Market and Customs Union after Brexit. I abstained on this vote. I had a long meeting this week with Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary, who believes we can negotiate to retain the benefits of the single market and customs union outside of the EU. His arguments were compelling and credible. I stood on a clear manifesto that we respect the result of the referendum but fight to protect jobs and growth. I will always be mindful that Croydon Central voted pretty much 50:50 - there are many people who voted to leave and many who voted to stay and that will always been front of mind. I look forward to fighting for a successful Brexit deal but I am also clear that if the Government cannot negotiate a good deal I will vote against them in the final vote in Parliament. I also want to hear your views on this topic, the more debate the better.
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