I want to start this month's newsletter with a massive congratulations to my colleague Eilidh Whiteford who has worked so hard on her Private Members Bill. History has been made with the first piece of SNP legislation at Westminster as Parliament agreed to ratify the Istanbul Convention. There's still a way to go but this is a big step for those of us who want to see an end to violence against women.
We began the month with the the Committee Stage of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The SNP group tabled 50 amendments to the legislation to ensure we have the right financial and social protections in place before the UK begins the process of leaving the EU. Despite our efforts the Bill was passed without a single amendment from the SNP (or any other party).
When the substantive vote took place we still did not have the full details from the Prime Minister on what the arrangements would be for workers’ rights, EU nationals living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU, or the impact on the economy. It’ll not surprise you that the SNP group therefore voted against the triggering of Article 50.
Later in the month I’m hosting a public meeting in the constituency titled “Scotland and Brexit: Where Next?” with panelists Nicola McEwan and Simon Pia. It’s on Saturday 11th March at 2.30pm in Edinburgh Central Methodist Church. Book your tickets here.
I'm proud to support Arthritis Research UK's Work Matters to Me campaign. It calls for the Government to better support people living with long-term conditions such as arthritis, so that they can find and remain in suitable work. Find out more here.
Every 6 weeks, I get to ask the UK Government a question related to the Cabinet Office. This month I focussed on their obsession with ID-ing voters rather than getting them more involved. It’s definitely time to invest in the technology to allow people to cast their ballot easily and securely online. You can watch the question here.
Glad to support the RSPCA's Protect Primates Campaign - working to ban the sale of primates as pets. Currently around 5,000 such animals are kept in unsuitable conditions across the UK. Pleased to hear the Scottish Government are leading the way with plans for a new bill for Scotland.
I was proud to sponsor this month’s back bench debate on Illegal Israeli Settlements in the Occupied West Bank. While it was frustrating that I only had got three minutes to argue for the motion I was delighted that the motion was supported by MPs from all parties and in the end was agreed unanimously. I hope the Government will take note of the strength of feeling and take action to stop Israel's continued development of illegal settlements. You can watch my speech here.
I spent some of the February recess visiting the West Bank with the Council for Arab-British Understanding (www.caabu.org) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (www.map.org.uk). It was incredibly useful to get an up to date understanding of what’s happening on the ground – you can read my blog about the trip on my website.
Four weeks ago I was worried about writing this column on the eve of the last major parliamentary debate on Brexit. Anything could have happened, rendering my speculation obsolete by the time you read it. I shouldn’t have fretted. Anything could have happened but nothing did.
Here I am again. Groundhog day. It’s Tuesday. There’s a big debate tomorrow.
Tuesday. Another day spent discussing Brexit. Another day of my life I’m not getting back.
We are no further forward. As the clock ticks down to exit it’s only fair to ask: What the hell is Theresa May playing at?
Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn MP
Leader of the Labour Party