Sharon Hodgson MP

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Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister for Public Health releases results of her Brexit Survey, and vows to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit Deal in the Meaningful Vote in Parliament

Between August and November 2018, Sharon Hodgson ran a Survey for her constituents on Brexit. The questions focussed on people’s reasons for their vote in 2016, and the potential future scenarios. Sharon is now releasing the results ahead of the planned historic Meaningful Vote in Parliament on the 11th of December.

The full results can be found here, along with some explanatory information about the Survey. Please see below, some of the key results from the Survey:

- The top three ‘Very Important’ factors for people voting to Leave in 2016 were:

 85.77% - The principle that ‘decisions about the UK should be taken in the UK’ (particularly in relation to Law making)

 67.53% - Concerns that remaining would mean little or no choice about how the EU expanded its membership or powers

 61.54% - The incentive of trade opportunities outside of the EU

- The top three ‘Very Important’ factors for people voting to Remain in 2016 were:

 82.72% - Concern that leaving the EU would be a risk to the UK economy, jobs and prices

 64.12% - Retention of tariff free access to EU Markets

 62.70% - Preserving the security and police cooperation between the EU and the UK

- 58.11% answered ‘Yes’ to the following question: For any exit deal to be ratified, Parliament must first vote in favour of it. Do you believe that the electorate should also have to approve a deal before it can be ratified?

- If Parliament rejects any deal with the EU, 25.04% of people think Brexit should be cancelled, 6.58% think the Government should ask for Article 50 to be extended, 16.05% think there should be another two-choice referendum on whether to Remain or Leave without a deal, 14.13% think there should be another three-choice referendum on whether to Remain, Accept the Government’s Deal to Leave, or Leave without a deal, 35.47% believe the UK should leave the EU without a deal, and 2.73% don’t know.

- In a ‘People’s Vote’ scenario, 58.59% of people would choose to Remain in the EU, 6.26% would choose to Leave the EU on the terms agreed to by the Government, 31.78% would choose to Leave without a deal, and 3.37% would not vote.

- When asked about various options for the EU Customs Union post Brexit, 50.4% of people want to Remain in the Existing Customs Union, and 26% want to negotiate a New Customs Partnership.

- When asked about various options for the EU Single Market post-Brexit, 38.36% of people would prefer to Remain in the Single Market (including accepting all conditions associated), 19.10% would prefer to negotiate a new arrangement with the Single Market, 15.25% would prefer to apply for Membership of EFTA, 23.72% of people want to Leave the Single Market, and 4.01% don’t know.

- When asked about immigration post-Brexit 41.73% of people would prefer to retain Freedom of Movement as it stands, and 33.39% of people would prefer a stricter visa system applying to people travelling from both inside and outside the EU.

Sharon said:

‘The results of this Survey show that there continues to be a strong variety of opinion in my constituency when it comes to Brexit, and how the process has unfolded thus far.

It is clear however, that very few people are happy with the way in which the Government has handled the negotiations, and that there is little appetite for a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario which would be disastrous for our region.

Of all those who took part in my survey, just under 60% believe that for any exit deal with the EU to be ratified, voters, as well as Parliament, should approve it.

Many people are also supportive of remaining in the Customs Union, and either remaining in the Single Market or negotiating a new arrangement with it.

After almost two years of negotiations, I believe that the Brexit deal the Prime Minister has agreed with the EU represents a complete failure of her approach, and the strong public feeling on this is reflected in the huge number of emails and letters I have received in recent days ahead of the Meaningful Vote.

I do not believe that this deal is in the national interest, and therefore intend to vote against the Prime Minister's deal in Parliament on 11 December, and support an Opposition amendment calling on Parliament to use all options to ensure we do not crash out without a deal.

If the Prime Minister’s deal is voted down next week, all options must be kept on the table.’

Sharon Hodgson MP releases the results of her Brexit Survey and vows to vote against May's deal

Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, and Shadow Minister for Public Health releases results of her Brexit Survey, and vows to vote against Theresa May’s Brexit...

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo.

Sharon_Echo_col_header_FIN.jpg

Amidst the latest Brexit chaos were several resignations of senior cabinet ministers.

One particular resignation of interest was Esther McVey, who has overseen the botched roll-out of Universal Credit (UC) and has failed to acknowledge the criticisms and real-life experiences of families up and down the country who have struggled to make ends meet because of UC.

Following the conclusion of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights report in the UK, it was expected that McVey’s successor, Amber Rudd, would finally recognise the failures of UC and make urgent changes to the system.

Instead, she said that the report was “disappointing”, not because of the shocking evidence it unearthed of 21st century Britain, but because of “the extraordinary political nature of his language”.

The UN rapporteur, Philip Alston, said that “British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach.”

He called Universal Credit “Orwellian”, and was struck by the mobilisation of food banks saying that they “resembled the sort of activity you might expect for a natural disaster or health epidemic”.

The UK is not suffering from a natural disaster or a health epidemic.

It is suffering from a Conservative Government that is so wrapped up in its own internal battles and negotiating a bad Brexit deal, that it is forgetting the people at home.

Fourteen million people, a fifth of the population in the UK, now live in poverty.

The use of food banks increased by 13% when comparing figures from April to September 2017, to the same period this year.

In the 2017-18 financial year, more than 1.3 million three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis by Trussell Trust food banks.

That is almost a million more packages given compared to in 2012-13, when 346,992 three-day emergency food supplies were provided.

The number of people sleeping rough in England has risen each year since 2010, with 4,751 people sleeping rough in 2017, and just last week it was reported that there are now 320,000 homeless people in Britain.

Life expectancy for both men and women has stagnated for the first time in over a century, and in some areas has even begun to decrease.

All of this would not be out of place in a Charles Dickens novel, but unfortunately it is the reality of 21st century Britain.

The UN rapporteur’s report should have been a wake-up call for the Government, but instead they are plunging our communities into a living nightmare.

Sunderland Echo website

ECHO COLUMN: Conservative Government plunging our communities into a 'living nightmare'

Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo. Amidst the latest Brexit chaos were several resignations of senior cabinet ministers. One particular resignation of...

In a Westminster Hall Debate on Proposed new integrated risk management plan for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Sharon spoke about the funding challenges that the Service faces, and raised constituent concerns about this issue. 

You can read the debate here

You can watch the full debate here

You can read Sharon's speech below:

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for North Tyneside (Mary Glindon) for securing this important debate and for her excellent speech outlining the issues.

Many people in the constituencies served by the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Services, whom we all represent apart from the Minister and the shadow Minister, are following this debate closely. A significant number of constituents have written to me in recent weeks to raise their concerns about the proposed new integrated risk management plan for Tyne and Wear fire and rescue service, and the ongoing cuts to fire and rescue services more widely. People will be particularly concerned about this issue in the light of troubling events in recent weeks in which firefighters have been verbally and physically attacked—I will come back to that.

It has been noted in this debate that fire services across the country have felt the significant impact of funding cuts since 2010. As a result, almost 12,000 frontline firefighter jobs have been lost, including 285 in Tyne and Wear. Tyne and Wear fire and rescue service faces a number of unique funding challenges—we have heard about them in detail—and I want to bring some particular ones to the Minister’s attention. By 2019-20, the revenue support grant will reduce by £10.8 million, to £45.8 million. Based on all current information, the authority is on course to face a cumulative funding shortfall of £3.96 million by the end of 2021-22. Doing nothing is not an option. I am sure that colleagues will agree that is a huge shortfall, especially when pressure on all our public services is increasing.

The Minister may say that there are fire and rescue services across the country whose finances are growing—we heard that from my right hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr Campbell)—due to their ability to raise funds from business rates and the council tax precept. Unfortunately, that is another way in which Tyne and Wear fire and rescue service, along with other metropolitan services, experiences serious shortfalls in funding, and shows why a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Although we have the highest council-tax band-D precept of all metropolitan authorities, at £79.94, the vast majority of households are in bands A, B and C. As a result, the council tax income generated by the authority is the lowest of all metropolitan fire and rescue services. That is extremely concerning.

Our communities in the north-east have suffered hugely as a result of austerity and its associated problems. It should therefore not be the case that the very deprivation that this Government have caused has the knock-on effect of preventing some of our public services from having access to the funding that they need to keep us all safe. Even worse, in areas with high levels of deprivation there is a higher risk of fire and fire-related deaths. Will the Minister take a nuanced approached when developing a fair funding model for fire and rescue services, based on risks related to deprivation and local needs? It is absolutely clear that the Government should trust local services to outline their own specific needs. Those who work for and in communities on a daily basis are best placed to know where resources are best deployed and how much they cost. Budgets allocated on the basis of scarcity alone will not provide sufficient funding.

Like many of my colleagues here today, I recently met the chief fire officer of Tyne and Wear fire and rescue service, Chris Lowther, to discuss proposals for the new integrated risk management plan, and wider concerns about the funding available to him. He is doing everything within his power to manage the resources currently available, in a way that guarantees the safety of my constituents, and everyone across Tyne and Wear. In response to the consultation that the service is currently running, there has been some pushback from members of the public, who are understandably concerned.

Let me make it clear that I hold this Government solely responsible for their failure to provide sufficient and sustainable funding for our fire and rescue service, and I do not blame Chris Lowther, or the Tyne and Wear fire and rescue service, for trying to make the best of a very bad deal. It is particularly frustrating that services such as ours are being put in such a terrible position. They are doing everything they can to deliver their services while coming under ever increasing financial pressure, and as we know, these are not the first round of such cuts in Tyne and Wear.

I also discussed with the chief fire officer the spate of recent attacks on firefighters, which I mentioned earlier. Last year, there were 148 attacks on firefighters in the north-east, and only a few weeks ago in Southwick in Sunderland Central—the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland Central (Julie Elliott)—an incident took place that has been described as the worst attack of its kind in a decade. Firefighters were called to an incident in which a car was driven on to a bonfire, and they were pelted with bricks, bottles, and fireworks. The firefighters were ambushed and cordoned in by criminal “pool” cars. It is difficult to comprehend the mindset of someone who actively sets out physically to harm those on whom we rely to keep us safe, and I was pleased to see Sunderland Council back a motion just last week to call for a zero tolerance approach to attacks on emergency service workers.

The recent Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 will hopefully begin to have an impact, as the maximum sentence for such attacks has now been increased from six to 12 months. However, we must acknowledge that such things do not just happen or appear out of nowhere, and those attacks are a symptom of the underlying damage to the fabric of a community that has suffered almost 10 years of punishing austerity that has imposed cuts on all our public services. We know that when services engage with communities through education and outreach programmes, the long-term relationships that are forged can prevent such incidents from happening in future.

The successful preventive work undertaken by Tyne and Wear fire and rescue Service’s and its fast response times have, over the past nine years, reduced the number of injuries from accidental dwelling fires, and in two of the past six years it has been the only metropolitan authority to report zero accidental fire deaths. Its preventive work includes work in our communities on home safety, education and youth inclusion, and collaborative partnerships with other public services such as Sunderland clinical commissioning group and the Northumbria police and crime commissioner. I urge the Minister to ensure that all fire and rescue services are given the funding necessary not only to fulfil their statutory duties, but to continue engaging meaningfully with the communities they serve.

In conclusion, I wish to reiterate how important it is that the Minister listens to the concerns raised today by Tyne and Wear MPs, and to express my deep gratitude to Chris Lowther and the firefighters—some of whom are in the Gallery today—and everyone in Tyne and Wear fire service who works tirelessly day in, day out, serving our community and keeping us safe.

Westminster Hall Debate - Proposed new integrated risk management plan for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service

In a Westminster Hall Debate on Proposed new integrated risk management plan for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Sharon spoke about the funding challenges that the Service faces,...


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