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EU Scientists meeting

Yesterday, a number of famous scientists from Durham University talked to “Labour in” campaigners, Alistair Darling, former Chancellor; Angela Eagle, Shadow BIS Secretary; Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and myself about the importance of staying in the EU for securing funding for, and advancing, scientific research. 

The scientists, who included Prof Carlos Frenk (FRS) Prof Nigel Glover(FRS), Prof Keith Ellis, Prof Andy Monkman, Prof Alistair Edge, Prof Paula Chadwick, Prof Simon Gardiner and Prof James Currie talked about a number of networks and European projects that they are involved in.  They stressed the importance of remaining in the EU if Britain is to continue the leading role it has in pan European scientific research.  They also raised the fact that many of the more global networks and projects that they are involved in welcome the fact that Britain is part of the EU.

Angela Eagle in particular was keen to discuss with them how the research of companies and businesses benefits from academic/industry collaboration across Europe and the very important role Britain’s scientists play in promoting and delivering this.

All those in attendance were keen to continue discussions about EU funding for research and the importance of it to the UK economy if we vote to remain on Thursday. This is something that they very much hoped would happen.

A Remain vote is important for Science

Yesterday, a number of famous scientists from Durham University talked to “Labour in” campaigners, Alistair Darling, former Chancellor; Angela Eagle, Shadow BIS Secretary; Jude Kirton-Darling MEP and myself about the...

Of course, it is difficult to talk about anything that happened last Thursday without mentioning the appalling incident that led to the death of my wonderful colleague, Jo Cox.

Jo was a passionate voice for gender equality in politics, the Labour movement, as former Chair of the Labour Women’s Network, and wider society as well as a strong campaigner for a Remain vote. Indeed, we saw her husband, Brendan, and her children taking to their boat to protest the Brexit flotilla just last week on the Thames.

I know that she saw membership of the EU as a resoundingly positive thing for women and so I will try to talk about this issue and the event I took part in on Thursday as I would normally do on this blog. I am confident that Jo’s voice would have continued to be one of the loudest in speaking out about gender equality and it is only fitting that we continue to do so.

 

Women for Remain Event

Last week I took part in an event at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, together with Yvette Cooper MP and my Labour colleagues from across the region, Helen Goodman MP and Jenny Chapman MP, along with Jessie Joe Jacobs from the Stronger In campaign. The purpose of this event was to highlight how important membership of the EU has been, and doubtless will continue to be, in promoting gender equality.

The North East is a region with a very high proportion of female MPs- one of just many fantastic things about our region!- and so it was great to have so many of us at one event, along with Yvette who has done so much to promote gender equality.

The event was attended by a range of women, from varying political and social backgrounds, and what emerged was a very productive and interesting discussion not only relating to how the EU benefits us currently, but also how we might engage with the EU moving forward to continue to push the equality agenda.

 

 

It is through EU wide regulations that women have the legal right to equal pay; that there are guaranteed rights for part time and flexible workers, like the 7.8 million women working part-time in the UK; that there is paid maternity leave and the right to return to work without loss of position or pay; and EU regulations offer protection for everyone from gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

I do not think it would be fair to suggest that these rights would instantly be revoked if we were not in the EU but it is undeniable that the EU has been a powerful force for driving gender equality and empowering women.

As part of the International Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I am very involved with parliamentarians from all across the world, who serve in their national Parliaments. I know that the issue of gender equality, and in particular the equal representation of women, is best promoted through common endeavour; when we can share best practice and learn from other places. The EU provides a fantastic forum for us to engage not only with other EU countries but also as a body to further that agenda across the world.

So let’s take up that mantle and move it forward. Let’s do more, let’s demand more, and let’s expect more. Let’s continue to work with countries across the EU so that it becomes an international example of what a regional body can achieve when it comes to gender equality.

Of course, EU membership isn’t just better for women in the North East and wider UK. There are distinct advantages for all of us, both specific to the region and nationally, to staying in Europe.

I hope that we will see a high turn out on Thursday and that the women and men of the North East will use their votes to tell the rest of the UK that we are indeed stronger, safer and better off in the EU.

The positive case for women and Remain

Of course, it is difficult to talk about anything that happened last Thursday without mentioning the appalling incident that led to the death of my wonderful colleague, Jo Cox. Jo...

I am strongly opposed to the franchising of Durham Crown Post Office on Silver Street and I will continue to campaign with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and residents, during the Post Office’s consultation period, to oppose these plans. 

I attended the Customer Forum on Tuesday 14 June to meet Post Office Ltd representatives to discuss their plans if franchising goes ahead.  This would mean that Durham Crown Post Office will close and post offices services will be provided from within the WHSmith store, mainly on the lower ground floor.   It was also the perfect opportunity for me to meet with members of the public to hear their views and concerns too.  These are some of the points highlighted:

  • Loss of the beautiful post office building suitable for a historic city like Durham                                                                         
  • Concerns that WHSmith will provide a full range of services for the city and for the university too                                            
  • There will be enough space to accommodate queues that emerge in Durham                                                                                 
  • There will be adequate access including for people in wheelchairs and mums and dads with buggies                                                
  • People will have the privacy that they need

I will be writing to Post Office Ltd as part of the consultation process to convey our shared concerns.

I would urge members of the public to come forward and contribute to the consultation and have their say before the 6th July. I know from the many letters and emails I have received how important the Durham Crown Post Office is to many people and I will stand firm on my commitment to stand up against these proposals.

Roberta speaks out about Durham Crown Post Office

I am strongly opposed to the franchising of Durham Crown Post Office on Silver Street and I will continue to campaign with the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and residents, during...


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