A number of local residents have reached out to ask me why my name was not included in a letter signed by 61 out of 650 MPs about the very concerning deportation flight to Jamaica. I wanted to explain how the process works.
Firstly, let me say that this was an incredibly serious matter, which is why I was pleased to see my colleague, Holly Lynch MP, the Shadow Immigration Minister, send an urgent letter to the Government raising concerns. I added my voice to her letter by writing to Priti Patel myself - requesting that the points Holly Lynch raised were answered urgently. A copy of that letter is below:
As a member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, my role is to intervene in matters related to mental health (because I am the Shadow Minister for Mental Health). Members of the Shadow Cabinet do not speak in debates, sign letters, sign EDMs or intervene in matters which are not related to their role. This rule has been in place for as long as I know, it was the same when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.
I have noticed that my name was put on a list along with 12 colleagues, suggesting we were the only people not to sign this letter. No member of the Labour Shadow Cabinet signed the letter, indeed, almost three quarters of Labour MPs didn't sign the letter. Does that mean that they don't care? No, of course not. Sometimes they miss the deadline to sign, sometimes they can't sign, sometimes they make representations in different ways. It's very disappointing that some would single out me and 12 other colleagues, suggesting we were the only ones not to sign - simply to fit their political agenda.
My background has seen me work in war torn countries, disaster zones and refugee camps helping the world's most marginalised and vulnerable people. I always care deeply about these issues and to suggest otherwise is incorrect. I'll continue to liaise with my colleagues in the Home Affairs team with regards to this, and other important issues.