On Monday, Liz Truss announced the new international development strategy. As the Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development, it was good to finally have a copy of the much-delayed strategy. However, I was extremely disappointed with its policy and content to say the least.
In an article in the Times, a few weeks ago I set out the five tests the strategy must meet to help Britain solve global crises and champion the international order, rather than retreat further inwards. Sadly, it fails all five.
‘Aid for trade' simply doesn't work. British people want the aid budget to help those most in need around the world, not horse-traded for favours to big British corporations. The Government appears to want to take us back to the 1980s and corruption scandals like the Pergau Dam. It's not just bad for those facing famine and conflict - it's short-sighted and wrong.
This strategy also dramatically weakens and will cut funds to the United Nations and our multilateral system. In the middle of climate change and war in Ukraine, Britain must not turn its back on the world's poorest. The truth is that the Government aren't taking back control. Where once we led, this strategy risks relegating Britain to a secondary role in the international order.
If this government was serious about helping the world's poorest, it would start by returning to 0.7% immediately, not in the distant future. Without money behind it, this strategy is barely worth the paper it is written on.
Joining Schools for the Commonwealth Connections
I was thrilled to be able to join with pupils at St Paul's School for Girls to take part in online activities with children in Nigeria in the run up to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. We linked up with Bomas Academy in Jos, Nigeria, and exchanged information about families, school life and favour subjects.
Steve Frew, who took gold in the 2002 games and 400m champion Lesley Owusu also joined us at the school for a morning of sporting activities. The event was part of Commonwealth Connections - a partnership between the British Council and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. It involves 60 primary, secondary, and special schools in the West Midlands linking up with 60 schools across 10 Commonwealth countries. Through the partnership, children explore cultures and beliefs and learn how to communicate with people from different backgrounds and perspectives through sports and arts.
Our wonderful city of Birmingham is one of the most diverse in the world and truly reflects the Commonwealth. It’s fantastic to see Commonwealth Connections promoting collaboration and encouraging young people to make new connections with people from different backgrounds and different countries.
The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 affect us all and it is vital that young people, as future leaders, understand why these are so important. By talking to people across the world with different perspectives of how climate change and sustainability is impacting people’s lives is how we show how global Britain can be a force for good.
Standing up for residents against the cost of living
This week in Parliament Labour has kept the pressure on the Government over the cost-of-living crisis. With prices for food, fuel and energy continuing to rise and residents across the country experiencing increasing financial difficulties, Labour stepped in to force a vote in the House of Commons on two proposals.
First, by calling for a one-off windfall tax on the billions of pounds of profits on energy and oil producers that would raise billions of pounds and cut energy bills across the country for millions of families by up to £600. The money would also help insulate 19 million homes to be energy efficient and cheaper to heat, ultimately saving households a further £400 per year.
I, along with my Labour colleagues, stood up and voted in favour of this. However, after much dithering from the Prime Minster and Chancellor, Conservative ministers voted against a plan to help people across Birmingham and the rest of Britain. This I found particularly shameful. Every single day that the Conservatives delay support, working families are suffering. Families across the country can’t afford to wait for the Prime Minister to make his mind up whether help will be provided.
Under the Conservatives, UK inflation just hit a 40-year high and working families and pensioners are paying the price. That is why the second vote which Labour brought forward was calling for an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis now. Again, I voted for taking action and helping millions of people including my constituents. While the Conservatives voted this measure down, Labour will continue to fight for residents and better support through this entirely Conservative-made cost of living crisis.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and advice surgeries
You may have read the above title and wondered how the Jubilee and my advice surgeries are connected. The answer is that the Jubilee falls on Friday 3rd June. This is also the date of my next advice surgery.
Due to the bank holiday, a few locations where I would normally host surgeries are closed. Therefore, on the 3rd June only, I will not be running my advice surgeries. Instead, I will be looking to meet with residents at street parties and other community events across the constituency. I hope to see as many residents as possible.
In the meantime, if you need my help or support with anything, please contact me on email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me 0121 392 8426. Usual service will resume on 9th June with my Edgbaston ward surgery running at the Community Centre, B15 2HU from 10.30-11.30am.
Preet Kaur Gill MP
Birmingham Edgbaston covering Bartley Green, Edgbaston, Harborne and Quinton