At midnight this evening I will cease to be the Member of Parliament for Streatham, a role I have carried out since 6 May 2010, when the people of Streatham elected me to represent the community I was born into and grew up in.
It has been a huge privilege to be able to work for the 100,000 residents who live in the area for the last nine and a half years. I am incredibly grateful to all those who worked for my election in three General Elections and to all those who voted for me in them. I cannot thank you enough.
There as so many campaigns on which we have worked together to improve the lives of our community, from securing school rebuilding projects (e.g. Dunraven School), to protecting our cross London transport connections (e.g. Thameslink) when they were at risk, to holding the first full debate on serious youth violence in the House of Commons in recent times.
Without a doubt, the biggest political issue for local residents that has arisen during this time is Brexit, not only because of its negative impact on our economy but, above all, because of the very European identify of our borough. We scored the highest Remain vote in the country in 2016 and Lambeth is home to more than 40,000 EU citizens. This is, in part, why I took a leading role in the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign during the referendum, and went on to co-found the People’s Vote campaign – in order to do all I can to Stop Brexit.
I could not do what I have been able to do without the help of a dedicated staff team who have helped me fulfil my duties over the years. They have worked all hours, often under extreme pressure. I will forever be in their debt. Since I was first elected, I have spoken in the House of Commons on behalf of my constituents around 1000 times, I have held weekly surgeries, and we have helped over 18,000 constituents. In addition, I have visited our schools hundreds of times, done over 100 estate walkabouts and so much more. It has very much been a team effort. I am proud of what we have all achieved together.
In Helen Thompson, Streatham Liberal Democrats have an excellent and incredibly hard-working parliamentary candidate. She lives in the community and works at an NGO that provides lifesaving aid to people in places such as Yemen and Syria. She led a European Election campaign in the constituency this year which the Liberal Democrats won comfortably, and I have no doubt Helen can win Streatham for the Liberal Democrats and be an excellent local MP.
In this 2019 General Election I will be standing for the Liberal Democrats in the constituency which, after Streatham, I know best: Cities of London & Westminster. Like any Londoner, it was a big feature of my growing up and I have worked in the constituency all my adult life, first as a solicitor in the City and then in the West End for almost a decade before becoming one of London’s MPs working in Westminster. Given that almost all my clients when I was solicitor were businesses in the area, I have a very real understanding of just how damaging any form of Brexit will be for local jobs, trade and people’s livelihoods – my experience working here is part of why I am so passionately committed to the UK remaining in the EU.
I relish the prospect of ensuring the constituency – which is a symbol across the world for open, liberal, internationalist values – is represented by a party and an MP who will be true to and champion those values in Parliament, not least by working to Stop Brexit so we can focus on the real issues facing the community, an amazing community that has been failed by the Conservatives. For example, under the Tories watch Oxford Street broke its annual air pollution limit with illegal levels of toxic air after 127 days in 2018. According to Imperial College London research, five of the 10 most polluted parks in London are in the City of Westminster. In the last year there has been a 16% rise in rough sleeping in Westminster. Westminster has the highest rate of knife crime in the UK and the Met Police’s budget has been cut every year since 2015. 7,000 jobs have moved out of the City since Brexit which will have a particularly adverse impact on the industries centred here.
Over the next 5 weeks the Liberal Democrats will be setting out how we will tackle the problems facing Cities of London & Westminster and build a brighter future for all our citizens, where every single person is valued, empowered and cared for, and where we protect our planet for future generations. This election is a contest between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories in this area – we will work to win every vote. If elected on 12 December as the new MP for the Cities of London & Westminster I will continue to work just as hard as I have been doing for the last 10 years for everyone in this community.