Every week since I became an MP I’ve gone into the lottery to speak at Prime Minister’s Questions, the weekly slot when the PM comes to the Commons and 650 MP’s scream and shout! But I’ve never been drawn to ask a question, until today.
I was number 11 on the list, plus Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP leader get 8 questions too, so the problem with thinking about what to ask is that there’s a good chance the question you want to ask will already have been down. So I had three questions in my head ready to go!
I’ve been very open about the fact that the Commons is a terrifying place to speak. It’s not like any other environment on earth. 650 MPs where you face your opponents, not your friends, the press gallery above and to your right, the public to your left, and TV cameras all around. But always for me is the thought of all of you back home in Hove and Portslade and I desperately want to give you the voice you need and deserve – and not screw it up!
The question I decided to go on might not be the most obvious one. This week Britain failed to get one of our judges appointed to the International Court of Justice. It’s the first time since 1946 this has happened. It’s important for two reasons.
Firstly, this is the court that enforces international human rights law and all of the other protections we need when we set foot out of our country. Its also the best way we have to enforce laws that protect people in countries with poor records on rights.
Secondly, the fact that we lost the post to India tells us a very powerful message. India, in their campaign for the role, told other countries that Britain was now too unreliable, not interested in multi-lateral institutions, and was in decline – all because of Brexit. The fact that India won and we lost tells us an awful lot about how the rest of the world beyond Europe views us right now.
And bear in mind that Brexiteers tell us time and time again that we are leaving the EU to become ‘Global Britain’.
So, PMQ’s is an amazing chance to get something onto the agenda. Sometimes its local, sometimes its a national issue, and others global. Today I wanted to use this chance to highlight an issue that’s not had much press coverage but speaks to the world around us but also linked to who we are as a country.
As it’s Budget Day today too the House was packed and extremely noisy. Every time I’m nervous in the Commons – this is the truth – I think of people who voted for me because it’s the only thing that truly gives me courage. You gave me this job to get onto my feet and stuck-in, not to sit on the sidelines! I was thinking of you all today believe me!!
Anyway, I slightly mis-phrased the question to give the impression Theresa May appointed the judges which slightly got her off the hook, but since then I’ve done many interviews about this issue and started off a brilliant discussion among people who’d not have heard of it otherwise. And, for me, it was another ‘first’!
I’ve already gone on too long here, so I’ll write about the budget tomorrow – that will give you time to watch the news and read about the Budget so you can tell me your thoughts too! All the best, Peter