MY WEEK IN REVIEW-
20th Edition
4th July, 2016

Monday 27 th June

Monday morning and I'm on the train to London for the first week at Westminster following the vote to quit the EU.  On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper. 

George Kerevan: A better future can emerge for everyone on these islands – if we all keep our heads


THURSDAY’S Brexit vote has precipitated a civil war in the British Labour Party. This is likely to end in an organisational split and possibly a general realignment in UK politics. I’ve already heard anti-Corbyn Labour MPs speculate about joining up with the remains of the LibDems to create a new centre-left party, shades of the old SDP of David Owen. Equally, with Ukip enjoying a new lease of life on the English populist right, it is not without the bounds of possibility the Tories could see their own schism.

We should not be surprised. The UK and its state institutions have been in crisis for quite some time. Brexit is not the cause but one of the symptoms of this process. So is the demand for Scottish independence. Deep down there is a need to reform the economically ramshackle, bureaucratically over-centralised, and constitutionally undemocratic dinosaur that is the (disunited) United Kingdom. If we all keep our heads, something better can emerge for everyone in these islands. Unfortunately, keeping the heid is not what is happening inside Labour, as the right launch a coup against Jeremy Corbyn.

You can read the full article here



Photo: The National
On Monday afternoon, following the weekly meeting of the SNP Westminster Treasury Team, I went to the Chamber to listen to the Prime Minister's statement following the EU referendum result last Thursday.  Mr Cameron simply passed on all the hard decisions to his successor.


Tuesday 28th June

My office was flooded for a second time last week, so I had to move to a temporary office on the upper Committee Corridor Floor in the Palace of Westminster. On the upside, I will no longer have to sprint across the parliamentary estate when there is a vote.

After settling into the new office, I went directly to a session of the Treasury Select Committee where we discussed the financial costs of the decision to leave the EU. The three witnesses were Lord Turnbull, Professor David Miles of Imperial College London, and Stephen King, Senior Economic Adviser to HSBC.

You can watch the session here:

After the Treasury Select Committee meeting I went to the Chamber to support my colleagues on the SNP benches during the debate on the Finance Bill.

Wednesday 29th June

On Wednesday morning I had a meeting with two representatives of the Stop the War coalition to discuss the logistics of their protest event, at which I will be speaking, on 6th July, the day that the long-awaited Chilcot Report is published. 

We also started to plan the organisation of a briefing meeting in Parliament for MPs across the spectrum on the impact of the Report, the military activities in Libya, and the upcoming NATO summit on Friday 9th July.


Later that day, I met with Clive Selley the newly-appointed CEO of BT Openreach. I took this opportunity to raise cases of slow broadband connection in parts of East Lothian.  Getting better broadband and mobile coverate in East Lothian is vital for the local economy and is one of my top priorities.
Just before I went into the Chamber to take part in the debate on the UK economy following Brexit, I joined the Women Against State Pension Inequality protest to show support for the activists who had come down from Scotland. I have every sympathy for women whose pensions are being delayed in this way.

Thursday 30th June

My weekly column appeared in the East Lothian Courier. Scroll down on the right hand side to read it.
On Thursday morning, during Business Questions, I asked the Leader of the House why queries regarding “Full Service” Universal Credit claims are no longer being dealt with directly by the MP telephone hotline. Instead they are being referred to an office in Bolton where response times are too long. The minister agreed to look into the matter urgently. The weekly Business Questions lets MPs get urgent constituency issues on the Parliamentary record, so departmental civil servants have to reply quickly.  

Watch the question here :

Later I took part in a debate on bank branch closures, one of which was recently announced by the Royal Bank of Scotland in Prestonpans. I have written to Ross McEwan, Chief Executive of RBS, but have not received a satisfactory response. In my speech I urged him to make himself available for a meeting with me to discuss the consequences of closing the only bank branch in Prestonpans and to find a way of reconsidering his decision.

You can watch my speech here :


​Friday 1st July

Back home in East Lothian, I started the day with a visit to Lewis, my constituent in Bolton, who is extremely concerned that his overnight care may be cut, I firmly support the Change.org petition and encourage you to sign it.


https://www.change.org/p/east-lothian-health-social-care-partnership-don-t-use-the-living-wage-as-an-excuse-to-cut-my-brother-s-overnight-care
























Then to Dunbar to meet the new Harbourmaster, Quentin Dimmer, who gave me a tour of the Victoria Harbour. The boats were just unloading their catch after a night at sea, so I chatted with a number of local fishermen I know. Work is progressing on their new ice-making and cold storage facility: a great project, which will revolutionise local fishing.

At the same time the north pier is being repaired, little by little, as tides permit. Quentin seems to have the work well in hand, especially since he was only appointed in April.

Today we celebrated our first year in the office. It's difficult to remember now that crazy time when we were making up IKEA flat packs, ordering stationery, wrestling with phone and broadband providers. And now we even have our own EU flag, fluttering bravely in the wind. We are flying it in honour of all those EU citizens who live and work in East Lothian.  I will fight to ensure you can stay.

​Saturday 2nd July

The day of the Haddington Agricultural Show. We were there bright and early for a meeting with farmers, who are understandably anxious at the prospect of losing EU subsidies. I reassured them that I will do all I can at Westminster to convince the UK Government that it must move quickly to reassure Scottish farmers that there will be a replacement support system for the agriculture sector post Brexit.

In addition, I am working with East Lothian Council on a project to showcase the products of East Lothian food and drink producers in London. This will involve exhibiting local food and drink products at the famous Borough Market, and in Westminster Hall at the Houses of Parliament. The event will promote East Lothian’s food industry to the wider world. 
 

  
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Here I am with Willie Thomson, the NFUS chairman in East Lothian, and Allan Bowie, the National President for Scotland. We agree that UK withdrawal from the EU without a plan for the future of our farmers is a potential economic disaster.

Both myself and the Scottish Government are working overtime to ensure there is a commitment to a profitable and productive agricultural and fishing sector at the core of any negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union. 
I also met the Hasties, dairy farmers near Haddington who have a herd of Jerseys and supply Graham's Dairies. I'm planning to visit them during the summer recess.

And I said hello to the Lothian Broadband Team, all nine of them - there were four when we first met, six months ago, so business is booming. They're now supplying Haddington, so we'll need to get them into the office to see if they can improve our erratic service.

Finally, I helped launch the new Tyne Esk Leader programme, £3.49 million of EU/Scottish Government funding for rural enterprise projects in East and Midlothian. It is supposed to extend until 2020, but we will see.
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