From Caroline Lucas <[email protected]>
Subject Latest Newsletter
Date May 18, 2020 10:42 AM
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Green Party mailing
For the first time since the coronavirus crisis began, the Prime Minister
made a statement in the Commons about the Government's response. Sadly
there was no humility over the catastrophic mistakes it's made, and the new
strategy of "Stay Alert" is muddled and confusing. I'm not surprised it's
been rejected by the devolved administrations. I wrote about the litany of
failings in my column for Metro [1].


I had my own chance to question Boris Johnson directly during Prime
Minister's Questions. I pressed him on the importance of ensuring that any
recovery package is one that also helps to address the climate and nature
crises, and in particular sought assurance that any taxpayer-funded bailout
to airlines would have strict climate conditions attached. You can see my
question - and his response - here [2].

Earlier in the week, I spoke in the parliamentary debate on Coronavirus via
video link where I criticised ministers' consistent failure to make the
right calls at the right time and their sense of English exceptionalism,
which leads them to believe their way is always best and they have nothing
to learn from the experience of other countries. You can read my speech on
my website here. [3] While waiting to speak, I was struck by how
Conservative as well as opposition MPs were highly critical of ministers'
handling of the crisis. There will no shortage of issues to look into for
the Public Inquiry on the response to coronavirus when it happens, as it


Very gradually, parliamentary business is returning and I spoke in the
debate on one of the most important bills going through Parliament - the
Agriculture Bill. It will shape food and farming for a generation or more,
yet does little to address some key issues: pesticide use, the need to
transition to a sustainable farming system and agroecology, and the role of
farming in the climate emergency. My speech is on my website [4].


I remain in close touch with the care sector in Brighton and hear their
continuing concerns over issues like access to PPE, the delay in the
arrival of supplies and its cost. They are also worried about access to
testing, the length of time test results are taking, and staffing levels
because of care staff having to self-isolate.


I continue to raise the issue of support for the self-employed with the
Chancellor, because too many people are falling through the gaps - in
particular, those whose income comes from dividends or who combine
self-employment with a part-time PAYE job. I also asked him [5] to consider
cutting the VAT on tourism to 5%, an issue which has support across the
House of Commons, to help that sector recover when lockdown is lifted.

I also took part (via video link) in a self-employed 'summit' in Brighton
to hear more from self- employed people about the ongoing challenges facing
them. Among other things, we spoke about the Government's Bounce Back loan
scheme, the discretionary fund for small businesses which is being managed
by Brighton and Hove City Council, and the discrimination against both
recent start-ups, and against women (since they are most likely not to have
a full 3 years self-employed earnings which ministers use to calculate the
amount owing to them, since many will have taken time out for maternity
leave and childcare).


I remain in regular touch with Brighton and Hove City Council, following up
grant applications for local businesses. BHCC was slow to start paying out
these government-funded grants, but I'm pleased that some small businesses
are now receiving them [6]. Please do contact me if you're still waiting.


I was dismayed to hear the Government say people could drive long distances
for exercise, which effectively gave the green light to day trippers to
visit popular tourist areas like Brighton. The police are already
over-stretched and, as I told the Argus [7], those businesses which would
normally cater for tourists cannot do so because they're not allowed to. I
discussed the challenges of policing social distancing with both Sussex
police and the Police & Crime Commissioner.


I've met (by video link) the Vice Chancellors of both universities in
Brighton in the past two weeks, raising with them the concerns of students
and staff. I'll also be talking to colleges in the city too, and remain
particularly concerned about the challenges facing special schools who
teach some of the vulnerable children with acute special needs.


I was delighted to attend an online Ramadan event on Sunday to mark Iftar,
the end of the daily Ramadan fast. Ramadan is usually a time which brings
members of the Muslim community together and when the city's mosques are
full, so this year's Ramadan has been very strange. But the spirit of Iftar
was there, even though we could not attend in person.


I hope some of you were able to follow my Green Steps to Better campaign on
social media over the last two weeks. It sets out the initial steps that we
should take to build a better, fairer and greener society as we emerge from
the coronavirus crisis.

All the steps, and the full report, are on my website here [8]. The
momentum towards building back better and greener is growing as more and
more people, politicians, experts and commentators resist the pressure to
return to business-as-before.

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Contacting Me

If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]

I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.

If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]

You can also keep up to date with my news on:

Twitter: @carolinelucas

Facebook: /

My Website:

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