So Westminster is back and we're busy debating the bill to withdraw the UK from the EU – although given its enormous implications we could do with a lot more time for debate and a lot less flannel. This flawed bill enables legislative changes by ministerial decree in thousands of areas - workers' rights, for example, could be overturned without proper parliamentary scrutiny.It would allow the Tory Government to trample over the protections we enjoy as EU citizens and turn the UK into a low wage economy if they so choose. It grabs back power not just from Europe but from Holyrood and the other devolved administrations (read here what the Law Society of Scotland had to say) . The SNP opposed giving it a second reading and we hope Labour – which has so far given the Tories a blank cheque on Brexit – starts to wise up, do their job and stand with us to oppose this destructive mess.
Other things going on at Westminster: I've been asking more questions and getting some odd or non-answers as usual - such as this one from the Scotland Office where they couldn't share information "due to the commercially sensitive nature of government social media advertising". I suppose all the other twitters would complain....
I supported nurses in their campaign to scrap the public sector pay gap - and marked the centenary of disabled activist Leonard Cheshire's birth with an early day motion. He was an inspiring character who founded the charity that now supports 20,000 people with disabilities globally including 4 excellent centres in Edinburgh North and Leith.
Back in Scotland there was a lot more forward-thinking going on than in the creaky old palace down the road. I had a sneak preview of the renovated Riddles Court which officially opened on Friday and I attended the official opening of the Queensferry Crossing, a wonderful piece of engineering that the SNP Government made happen, funded through the public purse and brought in at £245million under budget. The Scottish Government also deserve praise for their ambitious new programme for government – described by Friends of the Earth as the 'greenest ever' Looks like Holyrood is going to be very busy implementing this exciting programme, while Westminster carries on with the chaos of Brexit.
In the constituency I was delighted to see the Edinburgh Mela Festival return to Leith Links with a bang last weekend – it's a great opportunity for a get together across cultures and communities. I met with the Chief Executive of Citizen's Advice Edinburgh to discuss the key issues affecting constituents, including tackling debt and ongoing issues around Personal Independence Payments - I certainly find lot of similar issues in my caseload. A recent UN report found the UK Government is failing to uphold disabled people's rights - this is something that they can't keep getting away with and I'll take every opportunity to challenge their damaging policies.
Then on Friday morning I was at a well attended Leith Trust meeting where we discussed the way forward for the area and initial findings of the 'Make Leith Better' research project - report due out soon.
At the time of writing I've just finished another very busy surgery at McDonald Road Library so lots more work to take forward before I head back to London for more Brexit fire-fighting!