This weekend we await news on the trade negotiations with the EU which have been in deadlock for months.
The options Prime Minister Boris Johnson has brought us to are a thin deal (the so-called Canadian option) or no-deal (the so-called Australian option). At present, the Prime Minister has indicated that there is a “strong possibility” of no-deal.
Crashing out of a trading bloc with our nearest and largest partners without a deal would be a disaster for Britain. We risk our security intelligence sharing arrangements, huge tariffs on many products (especially food), massive tailbacks and blockages to trade at our borders, and a predicted additional 2% hit to GDP according to the OBR. Put simply, this would mean higher unemployment, higher inflation and a smaller economy.
That the UK is even in this position with just days to go before the deadline on 31st December and while already facing the worst economic downturn in the G7 is incompetence of the highest order. Last year, the British people were promised an ‘oven-ready’ deal. The Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in the run-up to the general election that ‘We won’t need to plan for no-deal because we have a deal’.
Yet with 20 days to go, many businesses still don’t know where they stand, and the uncertainty is causing chaos at our borders.
For Birmingham and the West Midlands, whose economy is built on industries like automotive and manufacturing that rely on frictionless trade, this is especially damaging.
With news earlier this week that Honda had to shut its Swindon factory due to a parts shortage, I wrote to the Government to ask what it is doing to address the gridlock. You can read my letter by clicking the link below.
On Tuesday we saw the wonderful scenes of 91-year-old Margaret Keenan becoming the first person to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 jab. This was a great moment for humanity, and I congratulate the incredible achievement of the scientists who have worked on the vaccine.
However, as we woke up to this news, it also emerged that Birmingham had been overlooked for early rollout of the jab. With Birmingham in Tier 3 and having lost over 1,400 people to coronavirus, it was incredible that no hospital in our city had been prioritised. When asked about this in PMQs, the Prime Minister had no answer.
Earlier this week, I, Liam Byrne, the Leader of Birmingham City Council and other Labour MPs wrote to the Government demanding answers as to why we had been overlooked, despite our hospitals having been ready to go from December 1st.
Following talks with the Health Minister, the latest news is that we have been promised a delivery this evening to hopefully start Saturday – but could have to wait until next week if this is any later due to no weekend deliveries.
The second city getting second class treatment from this Government…
Birmingham is at an important juncture. As the need to address climate change becomes increasingly critical, the city must transition to a zero carbon environment, with future investment and developments playing in important role in helping the city achieve this.
To help guide elements of this transition and create healthy, high quality spaces across Birmingham, the City Council has produced the draft Birmingham Design Guide. This sets out the design aspirations of the city, with guidance to ensure all development aids the creation of high quality, people focused places that are resilient, innovative and healthy.
The consultation period is open now until 5th February 2021. Click below to learn more.
On Thursday, it was a pleasure to join an international coalition of politicians and activists to discuss the Indian Farm Laws and subsequent protests in Punjab. On the call were Punjab legislative assembly members, US and Canadian MPs, along with the activist Deep Sidhu.
I come from a family of farmers who are part of this strike. 250 million people have joined, making it the largest protest in history – yet farmers have been met with police violence including the use of water cannons and tear gas.
Freedom of peaceful assembly is a fundamental right, and it must be protected.
You can also hear Preet on this week's episode of 'What were you thinking?'
"Laura talks with Preet Gill MP, Shadow of State for International Development. Preet shares how her dad and family influenced her, her experience as Shadow Secretary for International Development, Labour’s views on the creation of the FCDO, COP26, and the changes in the Labour Party. Preet has been named MP of the Year in the prominent Patchwork Awards."