I spoke out against Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Spring Budget of missed opportunities. I urged the Chancellor to end massive oil & gas subsidies and fund a mass home insulation programme; and introduce a wealth tax on the richest 1%, raising up to £70 billion to fund a proper pay rise for public sector workers – but he didn’t make those choices. I’m glad he froze beer duty, which is good news for Brighton’s pubs – now all small businesses should receive green grants or vouchers to cut energy bills for the long-term. But with Brighton & Hove facing an acute housing crisis, comprehensive grant funding to enable councils to build warm, affordable and zero carbon social housing was shamefully absent. On BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions, I argued the Budget showed this is a Government is run by millionaires, for millionaires.
I criticised the Government’s ‘Green Day’ plan – of which the greenest thing was the recycling of already announced ideas. For all its bluster, the Government laboured and brought forth a mouse – with Ministers gambling on unproven-at-scale technologies like carbon capture and storage, and incredibly slow and costly nuclear white elephants. There was no removal of the onshore wind ban, no mandatory solar panels on new homes, and no properly funded mass insulation programme. This was a criminally wasted opportunity to take real action and address the climate emergency. You can watch me discuss the plans on Sky News.
Refugee Ban Bill
I ripped up a copy of Suella Braverman’s Illegal Migration Bill during a House of Commons debate on the legislation. In the words of British Somali poet Warsan Shire, “no-one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land; unless home is the mouth of a shark or the barrel of a gun”. Yet Braverman continues to stir up division and hate, defend the indefensible, break international law and launch a profound attack on asylum, blocking people seeking safety from ever being granted protection or justice. She invited Parliament to rip up international law by supporting her Bill - so the only act of a Parliament that has any kind of moral integrity is to rip up her illegal and immoral Bill itself, which has no place on our statute book. Watch my speech in the House of Commons.
Solar 'Rooftop Revolution'
I led a Westminster Hall debate urging the Government to make solar panels mandatory on all suitable new homes. Mandatory rooftop solar is a win-win: lower energy bills, reduced carbon emissions, improved energy security, thousands of new high-skilled jobs, and no cost to the taxpayer. Solar panels are going onto domestic roofs at just half the speed that's needed to meet the Government’s own targets, so it's time to pick up the pace. If we're going to secure a liveable future – with clean, green, abundant & affordable renewables – we need to see a real rooftop revolution. You can watch my debate speech here.
Energy Charter Treaty
I’ve urged the Government to withdraw from the deeply dangerous Energy Charter Treaty. This treaty is the dirtiest deal you've never heard of – it lets fossil fuel giants sue Governments for adopting climate laws and policies that could threaten their already obscenely high profits. Many other countries have already withdrawn, and the entire EU bloc is also about to pull out – yet in the UK, Ministers are merely “monitoring” the situation. I wrote an article for The Times arguing that the Government must withdraw from this climate-wrecking treaty immediately.
Sewage on Brighton beach
I condemned Ministers’ attempts to end sewage dumping as a pitiful plan from a wet wipe Government. Brighton beach has been one of the worst affected in the whole country – Southern Water discharged sewage 45 times last year, over a total of more than 107 hours. Our rivers and seas aren't just full of plastic wipes, as the Government seems to think – they're full of chemicals, toxic waste and literal shit. The whole system needs an overhaul – that’s why the Green Party would bring profiteering private water firms like Southern Water back into public hands. I tweeted about the story here.
Poole Harbour oil spill
Where there's drilling, there's spilling – as shown by the recent devastating spill of 200 barrels of toxic fluid leaking into Poole Harbour, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and marine protection zone. There have been 721 North Sea oil spills in last 3 years alone – yet rather than stop opening new sites, the Government refuses to review the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to allow testing for shale oil drilling in Balcombe – in the middle of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. I’ve urged the Government to tackle oil spills, and review the Balcombe shale oil drilling decision. When climate-wrecking fossil fuels are prioritised above all else, nature pays the price. Watch my question in the House of Commons.
Mothers Hunger Strike
I stood in solidarity with brave mothers on hunger strike, highlighting extreme food poverty ahead of Mother’s Day. The rate of food poverty in the UK is among the worst in Europe – and as food insecurity worsens due in part to the climate emergency, millions of children around the world are at risk of extreme hunger and malnutrition. Meanwhile, the Government fans the flames of these interlinked crises by cutting the overseas aid budget and handing over billions in public subsidies to fossil fuel companies. We should strive for a world where no child goes hungry, and no mother should have to skip meals to feed her children.
It was great to meet with representatives from Acorn Brighton, to show support for their Renters Demand Action campaign. British homes are amongst the worst insulated in Europe, and 4.4 million private rented sector households in England have the coldest, leakiest, lowest quality homes, and worst levels of damp. In order to provide renters with need safe, affordable homes, the Government must end no-fault evictions, offer stable long-term tenancies as standard, introduce rent caps to stop spiralling rent prices, and bring forward the Renters Reform Bill to protect tenants and keep them warm. I tweeted about the campaign here.
It was so lovely to hear the amazing Ukrainian Voices Choir again at the Dialogue Society’s annual Iftar dinner, and to celebrate all the extraordinary work done by so many community and faith groups in Brighton and Hove.