The war in Ukraine continues to dominate debates in parliament. It was an honor to hear from Speaker Zelensky when he virtually addressed the House of Commons last week – his bravery and determination to uphold democratic values in the face of unimaginable adversity was inspirational.
The people of Ukraine, who continue to suffer callous and unwarranted violence from Putin’s forces, are in our thoughts. I am grateful to all constituents of Newport East who have reached out to me to express their solidarity with the people of Ukraine at this time.
During the recent debate on Welsh Affairs in Parliament, I highlighted the ongoing ties between Wales and Ukraine and thanked those constituents who are doing what they can to help.
This includes the Polish Community for Ukraine and the women of Newport who were overwhelmed with support for their emergency appeal; residents of Caldicot who created a local Ukrainian donation fund; Newportonians in Prague collecting donations for Ukrainian refugees there; and all those who have donated to the DEC Humanitarian Appeal for Ukraine – donations which I am glad the UK Government has pledged to match up to £20million. You can donate here – www.dec.org.uk/appeal/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal
Keir Starmer and Labor have called on the UK government to provide all possible political, economic and practical support to Ukraine at this time.
This should include a simpler and safer system for refugees seeking to flee the country. I know from constituents who have tried to help vulnerable family members escape from bombed areas that what has been provided by our government so far falls far short of what is needed.
As Keir Starmer pointed out, we also need to take action to remove Russian money from British politics and the economy.
Last week I asked Foreign Secretary Liz Truss why British taxpayers might be forced to pay a £43million bill for loans taken out by Russia’s biggest coal company and underwritten by the government export agency when it was in charge of international trade. His response – accusing officials of signing the deal with one of Russia’s wealthiest oligarchs – underscored that we still have a government that is unwilling to tackle the current problem.
* Last week I backed the Labor motion calling on the government to scrap the planned National Insurance contribution increase.
Rising National Insurance is a tax on workers and businesses at the worst possible time, on top of soaring energy, food and gasoline costs. I raised this issue during my debate in Westminster Hall on the cost of living crisis last month. The Government’s decision to reject Labour’s motion last week shows where their priorities lie – and they are certainly not on the side of millions of ordinary families struggling to get by. There is another solution – and the Government should reconsider the Labor Party’s proposal to impose a windfall tax on oil and gas profits from the North Sea to reduce household energy bills.