I’m writing this as parliament prepares to embark on its summer break. As ever at this time of year, MPs are more than a little frantic with end-of-term excitement, with added spice provided this year by the spectacles of Boris Johnson’s last Prime Minister’s questions and the Conservative leadership contest.
In truth, PMQs on Wednesday exemplified everything that was wrong with Boris Johnson’s premiership. Rude, spiteful, brazen and misleading to the last, he demonstrated no regrets whatsoever for the way he has demeaned his office, and the damage that has been done to politics, and to our country, as a result. I’m glad I’ll never have to sit through PMQs to listen to him again.
The leadership contest to succeed him is scarcely more edifying. If I had a vote in it, I’d certainly be voting for ‘none of the above’. The past week has seen the candidates blaming one another, and their own government, for decisions that they themselves were fully behind just weeks ago. Indeed, so vicious were the TV debates among themselves that they were pulled altogether when the candidates began to realise they weren’t achieving anything - other than to remind the public more than ever just how bad Conservative government has been.
Now we face a summer of the final two, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, campaigning hard among Conservative members, while governing the country is put on hold. It’s troubling to think that the decision on the future prime minister now lies in the hands of a tiny number of disproportionately white, male, older voters in the south east, hardly representative of the country as a whole. I have to say I am very fearful for the coming months.
I, however, have spent the final week of term on more bread and butter tasks: participating in debates on BTECs and on buildings safety regulations, quizzing the Department for Work and Pensions about error and fraud in the benefits system, attending a briefing on the ongoing saga of delays at the Passport Office, and visiting the site of the HS2 works at Euston station on a baking hot Monday morning – very interesting, very extensive, and very impressive indeed. I took advantage of the time with senior HS2 staff to press them on getting the line to Manchester, and for proper investment in Piccadilly station. Debates on the HS2 route to Crewe and Manchester will take place when parliament returns after the summer, and my GM colleagues and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to ensure our constituents enjoy at least as many benefits as the line will bring to London and the south east.
But for now, I’m looking forward to a few weeks back here in the constituency, meeting local groups, businesses and residents. It was great to do that last Friday, when local councillors and I attended a brilliant networking session with year 7 and 8 students at Stretford High School, followed by the unveiling a set of fabulous paintings on the platform at Urmston station. They’re really striking, and fascinating, bringing together the history of the railway with contemporary social, political and commercial events. Don’t miss them next time you’re travelling through Urmston – or even if you're not travelling, drop by the station and take a look.
While I won’t be writing the blog now parliament is in recess, you can keep up with what I’m getting up to in and around the constituency over the summer by logging into my social media pages and my website. I hope to see many of you as I’m out and about!