Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill.
As many people may be aware, I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this, I recognise that a majority of people voted to leave, and ultimately I respect the outcome of the referendum.
Respecting the result of the referendum however, does not mean giving Theresa May and the Conservative Government a blank cheque to force through a hard Brexit. It has been almost two years since the referendum took place, and the Government is still arguing about which negotiating position to take when it comes to important issues such as Customs, and Northern Ireland.
This chaotic instability is already damaging the economy, and putting people’s jobs at risk. The manufacturing industry has repeatedly warned that a failure to secure the right customs arrangement with the European Union could cause significant damage to the sector, and the economy more widely. Indeed the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned this week that without a Customs Union, ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.’
It appears as though the Government is continuing to ignore these warnings, with its dogged insistence that we must leave the Customs Union, regardless of the cost.
Manufacturing makes up an integral part of the fabric of our region, and I will always vote in the best interests of my constituents. That is why I voted for amendments to force the Government to negotiate a continued customs union with the EU, although unfortunately they did not pass.
One of the most significant drivers for people voting to leave the European Union was the desire for the country to take back control. Sadly, this has not been the case, and the fact that Parliament was given just two days to debate 15 amendments to the Bill is yet another example of how democracy is being side-lined in this extremely important process.
I firmly believe that as elected representatives, Members of Parliament must have a truly meaningful vote on the deal negotiated with the EU. That is why I voted to retain an amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote.
This would have made clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next, not the Prime Minister. Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat on this amendment, and has now promised all things to all people with a proposal to discuss the details at a later stage.
I do not accept that leaving the European Union means accepting whatever deal the Government comes back with, regardless of the real human cost that a bad deal, or ‘no-deal’ scenario could have. I therefore await details of the concession made by the Prime Minister, and will hold the Government to account to ensure it lives up to the promises made in Parliament.
I would like to thank every constituent who has written to me on this extremely important matter, I will be replying individually in due course. I welcome contributions to this debate from everyone in Washington & Sunderland West, the process of leaving the European Union is a matter of national interest, and one that I take extremely seriously.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
Click on picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Mar-Apr 2017 number 94
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Feb-Mar 2017 number 93
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Feb-Mar 2017 number 93
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan-Feb 2017 number 92
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jan-Feb 2017 number 92
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Jan 2017 number 91
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Jan 2017 number 91
Sharon has launched a Brexit Listening Exercise ahead of the triggering of Article 50 later this year.
The listening exercise will include two public hearings: one at Harraton Community Centre on the 21st January and one at South Hylton’s Tansy Centre on Saturday 25th February.
The exercise will also include a questionnaire, as to allow those who cannot attend the public meetings to still have their thoughts fed into Sharon Hodgson MP’s work as the local Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West as she continues to scrutinise the Government’s approach to Brexit.
Following the launch of the listening exercise, Sharon said:
“Brexit is the most momentous constitutional, economic and diplomatic issue facing our country at the moment and it is important that we get it right.
“It is now six months since the referendum result, and three months out from when the Prime Minister has proposed to trigger Article 50, yet still we are none the wiser about what Brexit will look like.
“The voices of local people must be heard as these negotiations begin and that is why I am launching this listening exercise so that residents from Washington and Sunderland West can help inform my work as their local Member of Parliament when scrutinising the Government’s approach to Brexit.
Further information about the Brexit Listening Exercise:
- Constituents can contact Sharon's constituency office to RSVP and register for either of the two public meetings, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 417 2000, and can also request the Brexit questionnaire be posted out to them.
- Due to capacity of the venues, constituents of Washington and Sunderland West must RSVP and register for one of the two public meetings well in advance and will receive a confirmation letter letting them know further details.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Nov-Dec 2016 number 90
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Oct-Nov 2016 number 89
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or find the published column on the Sunderland Echo website.
Last week saw Nissan solidify its relationship with Sunderland and the North East further when the company announced that their two new car models, the new Qashqai and the X-Trail SUV, would be built here in Sunderland.
The news which was expected later this month, was brought forward and definitely lifted a weight off the shoulders of those who work at the Sunderland plant and within the supply chain, here in the North East and across the country.
It is not surprising that many people were apprehensive about the impending decision, especially after comments by Chief Executive, Carlos Ghosn, on future investment here in Sunderland due to Brexit. But what this news has done is allowed families who depend on Nissan for their jobs and livelihoods to plan for the future, now that they are secure.
It is only right that we celebrate the good fortune our City and the wider North East region received last week, and recognise the sigh of relief for the many tens of thousands of families, rather than dampen the jubilant mood felt across the region with scepticism. There will be time to discuss what deal was struck and the content of the letter, but for now, this is good news and that should not be forgotten.
+ This week saw LACA’s National School Meals Week return.
National School Meals Week is a year-round initiative which promotes pupils taking up school meals and showcases the improvement seen over the years. Our school catering workforce is larger than the British Navy but can often be overlooked when it comes to celebrating the improvements we have seen in school food over the last decade.
That is why it is important that we recognise all of their contributions to the health, education and well-being of our children.
It was for this reason that I was delighted to invite Audrey Chappell of Albany Primary School to come down to London and cook in Parliament’s kitchens, and for me to go along and see her in action and hear about her day’s experiences. It was lovely to hear about everything Audrey got up to on her visit and how it would not be an experience she will forget.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - July-Oct 2016 number 88
Read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - July-Oct 2016 number 88