View from the House: Families react with dignity to stabbings


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A column of two halves this week.

As shadow secretary of state for Brexit, I was looking forward to writing in detail about Labour’s positive vision of our future relationship with the EU. Yet, as MP for Holborn and St Pancras, the past week has been dominated by last Tuesday’s tragic events in Kentish Town.

The murders of two young men with their lives ahead of them is something that we had hoped never to see on our doorsteps, and it is difficult for many of us to understand how such senseless and brutal events could take place.

The investigation is ongoing and feelings are raw, but I would like to pay tribute to the dignity of the families, with whom I spent time last week, and to the strength of the community in Kentish Town and across Camden. I’d also like to applaud the professionalism and compassion of Camden Council and Camden and Islington police who, in straitened circumstances, have stepped up and met an incredibly challenging situation face on.

The youth safety taskforce that I co-chair, was set up late last year with the exact intention of addressing this growing problem.

It continues its work to give the children of Camden the support and guidance they need. I look forward to dedicating a column to our work in the near future.

Given my role in the shadow cabinet, I should expect every day to be dominated at a national level by the complex issues thrown up by the decision to leave the European Union. And so it is.

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But these past few weeks have been especially busy, as the Brexit negotiations in Brussels get deeper and deeper into the second phase in which we set our future relationship with the EU.

The speech made earlier this week by Jeremy Corbyn, setting out Labour’s positive vision was significant too.

As I made clear last summer, no future deal with the EU will be agreed by March 2019 and we will need transitional arrangements on the same terms as we have now to bridge us from then until we reach a new agreement.

On Monday, we spelt out that, for the long term, Labour would seek both a new comprehensive customs union with the EU and a new strong relationship with the single market. The importance of this is obviously that such a close relationship with the EU will be in our economic interests and help protect jobs.

But we went further in other areas this week, setting out how and why we want to remain in key EU agencies that affect different areas, like health and security.

As I walk around Holborn and St Pancras, holding meetings, visiting schools, colleges, hospitals and businesses, and talking to people on the street or the bus or the tube, I know how important these issues are for all of us.

Having set out our stall with a clear set of values and priorities, it is now time for the Prime Minister to do the same in Brussels and in parliament.