Commons Diary: Vicky Foxcroft
Moving forward, our goal must be to ensure that the public health approach to youth violence stays at the top of the political agenda, writes Labour MP Vicky Foxcroft
I know it’s a bit of a cliché, but I can’t believe we’re only four weeks into the New Year. So much has happened in such a short time: the leadership and deputy leadership contests are well underway, the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill has received royal assent and Friday marks the real start of our journey towards leaving the European Union.
After much deliberation, I decided to join Lisa Nandy’s campaign for leader. All of the candidates have a great deal to offer, but after talking to Lisa over the last few months I am confident that she has an excellent understanding of where things went wrong for us during the election campaign. She has what it takes to reunite the party, take the fight to the Tories and ensure we can win the next election.
As I write, we are counting down to 11.00pm on Friday 31st January when our departure from the EU will really begin (no doubt marked by Nigel Farage and his mates throwing a party in Parliament Square). There seems to be a misconception among some people that we will instantly throw off the “shackles” of Europe and get on with doing things the Good Old British Way; but of course, it’s not that simple.
“Lisa has an excellent understanding of where things went wrong for us during the election campaign”
What Friday really marks is the beginning of an extensive and complex set of negotiations with the EU, which could continue for many years. And as yet, we have very little information from the Government on how those negotiations will work. When I speak to third sector organisations in my role as shadow minister for civil society, their top concern is always “what will happen to us after Brexit?”. Unfortunately the honest answer is nobody really knows, and we probably won’t for a good while yet.
Lisa has been vocal about her support for freedom of movement and the need to protect workers’ rights after Brexit. We may have had different opinions on the best way of dealing with Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill (I opposed it at every opportunity while she believed we should support it at second reading and seek to make amendments during committee stage) but I am convinced that as leader Lisa would do everything she could to push for the best possible outcome for the UK.
The one silver lining of the Tories winning a big majority in December is that the business of the House is a bit more predictable and we can make longer term plans (especially useful given that I’ve currently got a broken foot and need to plan my movements very carefully!). One significant event I’ve got in the pipeline is the launch of the Youth Violence Commission’s full report.
I set up the YVC in 2016 after seeing several young people in my constituency lose their lives to knife crime in my first few months as an MP and, after three and a half years of amazing dedication from our commissioners and core team of sector experts, we are almost ready to present the results of our investigation into the root causes of youth violence.
Moving forward, our goal must be to ensure that the public health approach to youth violence stays at the top of the political agenda. We must also push for long-term, sustainable funding which will not be at the mercy of every change in government. As chair of the YVC I will continue to raise this in Parliament, alongside my colleagues from the APPG on Knife Crime and the many individual MPs who have brought their own experiences to the Commons.
It might sound trite, but I’ve got a Year 10 work experience student with me this week and it’s making me think even more about the difficulties our young people are facing. These are preventable deaths and we are seriously failing our young people if we do not succeed in finding sustainable, properly funded, long-term solutions. I just hope we can convince the Government to adopt our recommendations.
Vicky Foxcroft is Labour MP for Lewisham Deptford