This is obviously a momentous period for our country and our politics. Making sure we use this unique moment to change direction on Brexit is my priority. But it’s really important for me that you know I’ve been working really hard on lots of other issues too even though it doesn’t always get talked about as much.
Last week was really busy on lots of fronts. I was pleased we reached a milestone in ‘sex for rent’ when the Crown Prosecution Service published guidance on how they intend to prosecute landlords who sexually exploit vulnerable tenants. I’ve been working flat-out on this so in the BBC interviews I happily praised them for it. But I do have worries that the guidance is a little woolly and the law classes victims as prostitutes which is a disincentive for coming forward. But there’s progress!
I also asked the new rail minister (fourth minister in three years!) about a promise his department made to me to simplify the fare system on the Brighton mainline. Back in April I was told it would be done ‘speedily’ and we’re still waiting. Now it seems they have forgotten all about it! I’ll update you more on this soon.
I also got to speak about something I’ve waited three years to speak on. It felt good to get it off of my chest in fact!
On Thursday last week there was a debate in the Commons on the Post Office. Three years ago there was a consultation on the Brunswick Town Crown Post Office in Western Rd. I had only been MP for a few months and I met with Post Office managers and asked them if it would be a genuine consultation into the future of the branch. They looked me in the eye and promised that it would.
I chaired a public meeting, worked with brilliant community campaigners, delivered 5,400 signatures to the Post Office , and was endlessly building bridges between our community and the Post Office in this difficult time. And then, against all of the evidence, they closed it.
I was heartbroken not just because our community had lost a valuable and important service, but because I had been misled. The consultation was a sham. To prove the point, a year after it closed the Post Office opened a counter in a shop right next door to where the old Post Office had been. What an insult.
Anyway, I got to say all of this in the Commons, to tell the Post Office what I think about them, and then turn directly to the minister and tell her to roll her sleeves up and get stuck in on behalf of communities and the people who work in Post Offices like the one we had.
The Post Office is a public company and it is offensive to know they are doing this sort of thing just so they can cut the costs of having full time staff and pay other shops to do it for them where staff have less benefits, less support, and worse pensions. It just isn’t right.
So the week ahead will be a big one. I am ready to jump in with both feet and give you the strongest voice I can. Tomorrow I am speaking in the Brexit debate and I finished my speech this weekend. You might have seen that I have been doing a lot of media to reassure people that even though Theresa May’s deal stinks, there is a better way forward.
The debate finishes on Tuesday and the cliff-edge vote will happen at around 7pm. If she looses there will be a huge vacuum in our politics and I will be working harder than ever before to ensure it is filled with the most common sense approach to this mess. That is including you, residents and voters, in these final important steps.
Parliament has lived and breathed this for two years and it is looking like the deal will not pass. If so it is only right that we turn to you and ask what direction you want parliament and government to go in next. Accept the deal and leave on Mrs May’s terms, or to reject the deal and remain a member of the EU. That is what I will be trying to deliver for you.
And then on Wednesday, the morning after that all-important vote, I have been selected second on the Order Paper for PMQs. It means I will be able to put a question to the prime minister at the very start of PMQs at this hugely important time.
It’s a very big week for you, our community and country. And for me too. I’ve always worked as hard as I can in this job so that I can get the skills needed to do justice to our amazing community here in Hove and Portslade. This week will put everything I’ve learned truly to the test. I’m not scared but I am very anxious to get it right because I know how high the stakes are for all of us and many of you are counting on me. But one thing’s for sure, I’m also raring to go! Yours, Peter