Mary Creagh MP

Working hard for Wakefield

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What a summer it’s been! The Olympic and Paralympic Games have had me glued to the TV set.

We have so much to be proud of. At the Olympics, Team GB beat its own record from 2012, winning 67 medals - of which 27 were gold. Yorkshire athletes won 14 medals, including five golds. If we were a country, that would put us seventeenth in the medal tables, just behind Jamaica, which - let’s not forget - is home to Usain Bolt.

for every child every week. When Labour left Government in 2010, more than 90% of school children were doing two or more hours of sport – and over half were doing at least three hours a week. The Tories also cut £162 a year for the School Sports Partnerships programme, and their stripping back of funding for local councils means that even the basics of maintaining facilities like swimming pools, football pitches and gyms.

Keeping fit and active has huge benefits not only for physical and mental well being, but can help boost academic achievement, improve community cohesion and reduce youth crime. It’s a pity the Tories have done so little to encourage it.

The best activity is one you can stick to. I cycle to work every day, channelling my inner Laura Trott on the way to Westminster. A week tomorrow, Saturday 1 October, I’ll be putting on my trainers and heading to Thornes Park to celebrate the anniversary of parkrun. It’s a weekly 5k run (although lots of people, like me, choose to walk or jog!), open to everyone, regardless of age or ability, and free to attend. Find out more at www.parkrun.org.uk/wakefieldthornes. Parkruns are a fun way of getting a bit of exercise - and maybe getting into running!

The best way to celebrate the success of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes would be for this Government to show its commitment to sport. It might be a bit late for me, but the next Hannah Cockroft or Brownlee brothers are counting on it.

Wakefield Express column September 2016

What a summer it’s been! The Olympic and Paralympic Games have had me glued to the TV set. We have so much to be proud of. At the Olympics, Team...

Theresa May’s honeymoon is over. The government’s Brexit plans have started to unravel. May told the G20 that a points-based immigration system – the preferred model of Boris Johnson, her foreign secretary – won’t work.

David Davis said it would be hard to stay in the single market if the government wanted to restrict EU migration, only to be slapped down by No 10. Then Liam Fox labelled British businesses “too fat and lazy” to export successfully. Not the smoothest of starts to this vital period for the UK.

The priority in the negotiations must be to protect British jobs, British workers and the British economy.

The single market is the trading arrangement that benefits our economy most. The government’s focus must be on ensuring that Britain retains full, unfettered access to it. Without it, key UK industries like financial services and car manufacturing will be hit and our economy will suffer.

Remember when the Leave campaign promised that we would not lose single market access? Or that there would be no increased barriers to trade? Or that Brexit would not damage our economy?

The only way to keep these promises is to remain in the single market. Reform should be possible on freedom of movement, perhaps by introducing an emergency brake, or mandating that EU citizens must have a job offer before they can take up residency in the UK.

Mainstream parties in EU capitals will be willing to discuss reform. To keep the UK’s access to the single market, they and we must be prepared to make changes to some aspects of free movement.

As chair of parliament’s environmental audit committee, I am also worried a return to the bad old days when the UK was the “dirty man” of Europe.

The majority of laws protecting our wildlife, beaches, rivers and air quality come from EU legislation. During the referendum campaign my committee raised concerns that a Leave vote would spark a bonfire of environmental protections.

Last Wednesday in her evidence to the committee Therese Coffey, the Defra minister, offered no commitment that the government will keep these protections.

The chancellor’s August announcement on EU funding is not quite what it seems. Farm payments, known as CAP Pillar 1, are guaranteed until 2020.

However, funding for regional development schemes and agri-environment schemes for things like flood prevention, bog restoration and protecting endangered species is limited to projects approved before this year’s autumn statement.

There are no guarantees after that date. That means billions of pounds of environment and regeneration funding could be lost.

In their evidence, neither Coffey nor her colleague Robin Walker, the minister for the Department for Exiting the European Union, could say what the Treasury approval will rest on, nor what will happen after the autumn statement.

Farmers and disadvantaged rural communities who receive EU support deserve certainty about the future of their funding.

The fault lines in the government are exposed and multiplying. One thing’s for sure: May’s smoke and mirrors game on Brexit is wilting under scrutiny at home and abroad.

The uncertainty is toxic for our economy and our environment. “Brexit means Brexit” has been revealed as a soothing soundbite which signifies, so far, nothing.

This article was first published on The Times's Red Box on 16 September 2016, here.

This uncertainty is toxic for our economy and our environment

Theresa May’s honeymoon is over. The government’s Brexit plans have started to unravel. May told the G20 that a points-based immigration system – the preferred model of Boris Johnson, her...

Mary is taking part in #WearItPink on 21 October to support those affected by breast cancer.

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Wear It Pink is organised by the charity Breast Cancer Now to raise funds to fund breast cancer research, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Their aim is to ensure that by 2050 no-one dies of the disease in the UK and Ireland.

You can take part in Wear It Pink day at work, at school or even at home by dressing up in something pink and donating whatever you can to Wear It Pink.

Click here to find out how to get involved and get a free fundraising pack.

#WearItPink on 21 October

Mary is taking part in #WearItPink on 21 October to support those affected by breast cancer.


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