Welcome to my e-newsletter. Inside you'll find information about my work during January 2020
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Tommy Sheppard MP Newsletter
Today the UK leaves the EU. It wasn’t what I, or the people who voted for me last month (or indeed in 2017) wanted. I have fought every step of the way but sadly it is happening. It’s happening against the will of the people of Edinburgh East and against the will of the people of Scotland. In today’s Evening News I’ve written an open letter to the people of Europe. You can read it here ([link removed]) .
Tonight I will be joining hundreds of others in a vigil outside the Scottish Parliament. Join us from 5pm. Our relationship with Europe does not end today. And even those who are happy about us leaving the European Union must accept that Brexit is not done today. We now enter an even more difficult phase of trade talks and negotiations. We still face the prospect of no deal in December.
Before I move on to share my work in Westminster and Edinburgh East, I just want to mention December's general election. This is my first e-newsletter since the people of Edinburgh East re-elected me as their representative. I would like to say thank you – to those that voted for me, I am incredibly grateful that you have put your trust in me to represent you again at the third time of asking. And to those who didn’t, I have always, and will always, represent and serve all constituents to the best of my abilities.
My team are back up and running in the constituency offices and we will help anyone as best we can. I want to take this opportunity to thank them. Those who’ve had help from my office will know just how hard they work and how committed they are. It’s not easy knowing you might lose your job at every election but the team stayed positive throughout.
So it was back to work in Westminster before Christmas when I was sworn in as an MP for the third, and hopefully last, time. It’s something I have to do in order to be able to represent the people of Edinburgh East. You can watch it ** here ([link removed])
There's nowhere else to start but with Brexit. With Boris Johnson having a majority of 80 there was no doubt about him being able to get his Withdrawal Bill through. And, as you know, that's exactly what happened. It happened despite the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish parliaments refusing to give their consent. Make no mistake, this puts us in an unprecedented constitutional position, the consequences of which we are yet to fully appreciate.
And distressingly, despite the attempts of the Lords and opposition parties, the government removed its commitment to protect the family reunion rights of child refugees. I say again, this is not in our name.
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I spoke in the debate before the SNP voted against the miserable Withdrawal Agreement Bill which will be terrible for the people of Scotland. Scotland’s voice was ignored once again. Watch the clip ** here ([link removed])
or see the full speech by clicking on the image above.
Away from Brexit, as SNP Spokesperson on the House of Lords I had spent some time last year compiling a report on the Lords and its disconnect with Scotland. Not only are they unelected, they are expensive, unrepresentative and out of touch. The publication of the report was delayed due to the election but the arguments remain. You can read it ** here ([link removed])
I started the year with a new role in our expanded SNP group. I am now the SNP's Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. What does that mean? Well, every Thursday I question Jacob Rees-Mogg on all things related to House of Commons Business. I started by pointing out that the Tory government has no mandate in Scotland (watch ** here ([link removed])
). However, neither Rees-Mogg nor his party are showing any signs of recognising their lack of a mandate - so you'll not be surprised if it's a theme I return to.
I've also been pressing him to recognise the Claim of Right for Scotland, which endorses the right of the people of Scotland to choose how they wish to be governed. He doesn't seem to quite get it yet - he has compared Scotland to Somerset (see it ** here ([link removed])
) and seems to believe that our right to choose our future ended in September 2014 (watch ** here ([link removed])
). Thursday mornings just got a bit more interesting!
** ([link removed])
I had the luck of the draw this month. The oddity of Prime Ministers' Questions being that you only get a question when your name is picked from the figurative hat. I sought a commitment from Boris Johnson to consider a pilot scheme of supervised overdose prevention facilities to help tackle the drugs crisis. He appeared to be at least open to the discussion but we need a firm commitment. The evidence is clear - he must act now. You can watch my question to the Prime Minister on this above.
This week I have been representing the SNP at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The UK’s representation and participation at PACE will continue after we leave the EU. So what is it and what does it do?
PACE comprises of politicians from across Europe who come together to debate current social issues and aspects of international politics. It recommends policies which are then submitted to governments for action. I think it’s even more important now that the UK will no longer be part of the EU. This is our link to the European community: keeping and building relationships and showing that Scotland wants to work with others to tackle issues affecting us all. At this session I spoke in the debate on press freedom. Watch it ** here ([link removed])
This week Donald Trump presented his so called 'deal of the century' on Palestine and Israel. This is not a peace plan and it will deliver neither peace nor prosperity for anyone.
I was one of 133 UK parliamentarians who wrote to Boris Johnson this week rejecting the US 'peace plan' and calling for action against annexation.
Following the election I have been straight back to work in the constituency too. Those who have been subscribers to this newsletter for a while will know that constituency visits are one of my favourite things about being an MP. And the visits I’ve been on in the past few weeks have been as enlightening and interesting as ever.
It was great to meet Iain at ** Offbeat Studios & Music Production ([link removed])
this month. Thanks to him for chatting to me about the business - it's a fantastic recording studio in the heart of the city. As well as doing music and voice-overs they also do pretty unique kids' parties.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Steven Anderson at East Coast Cured - a small producer making world class charcuterie in a basement in Leith. His produce is on the menu at many of the city’s top restaurants and available to you in the shop.
I had a very positive discussion with ** Scotland's International Development Alliance ([link removed])
: about the work they do for their members, the importance of international development and how we can work together in the future. Thanks to Jane and Lewis for taking the time to meet with me.
Another hidden gem of an organisation in Edinburgh East is Scottish Environment Link (representing 39 national organisations). Good to chat with Vhairi and Lloyd about the impact of leaving the EU on the environment and the upcoming Environment Bill.
I was horrified to hear about the recent attack on two local shopkeepers. I popped in to see the guys and was pleased that the police took is very seriously. This week the local Craigmillar community has come together to protest against the attacks. Racism has no place here.
There have been a couple of developments in the Scottish Parliament that might be of interest to you. We're still to see fine detail of it but the announcement by Local Government Minister Kevin Stewart MSP looks like a very encouraging move by the Scottish Government in tackling the growing problem of Airbnb and short-term lets.
I've seen the impact that short-term letting can have on our communities - particularly in areas like the Old Town, Southside, Abbeyhill and Leith - and I've been campaigning for proper regulation of this for some time now. I know that this announcement will be welcomed by many of my constituents.
There was a big public response to the recent consultation and it's great to see our government taking decisive action to protect our communities. Find out more ** here ([link removed])
I was also delighted to hear about the £10 million investment in upgrade at Seafield by Scotland's publicly owned water company. This will improve quality of life for my constituents around Leith Links, and it is in no small part down to great work by Ben Macpherson MSP who helped to make this happen.
With everything that goes on at Westminster it can be very easy to get caught up in the day to day minutiae. Sometimes we need a reminder of the bigger picture. I got that last week when I met with one of my constituents, Gica, who spent time volunteering in Samos last year.
Gica volunteered with refugees and the situation she described is appalling - and worsening. She shared with me the blog of another volunteer, Giulia, and I share it, unedited, on my website.
Please take the time to ** read it ([link removed])
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94 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1AN
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Tommy Sheppard MP . 94 Portobello High Street . Edinburgh, EH15 1AN . United Kingdom
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