Green Party mailing
This is the first newsletter I have written with the UK outside the
European Union. December 31st was a very sad day for many of us when the
transition period ended, the UK officially became a "third country" and we
lost the freedom to live, work, study and settle down in Europe. I felt a
huge sense of regret and sadness, but I know it isn't the end. We will pick
up the struggle for a future based on closer ties with countries which
share our values. We are still European.
THE BREXIT DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT
Parliament was recalled for a day on December 30th to agree Boris Johnson's
dreadful deal. It was a travesty that MPs were given only a few hours to
debate an agreement of more than 1,200 pages, which had been finalised at
the eleventh hour. I voted No, for reasons I set out in a comment piece in
the Independent.  And I will continue to press for closer relations with
our European neighbours, and oppose any attempt by this Government to lower
or dilute the environmental protections or workers' rights that we have
enjoyed as EU members.
NEW YEAR – NEW LOCKDOWN
Rapidly rising coronavirus cases, and a botched handling of rules on social
mixing over Christmas, made it inevitable that England would need to be
placed in another lockdown to try to control the virus - particularly as
the new variant is so much more contagious. But it beggars belief that it
still took the Prime Minister nearly two weeks to act on scientific advice
that the new variant demanded much tougher action if the NHS was to be
protected. As it is, our hospitals are under huge pressure with staff
exhausted after months of dealing with this awful virus.
Unfortunately, Boris Johnson's leadership is proving as poor this year as
it was last. The communications and planning on schools has been especially
bad - confused and contradictory. It took less than 36 hours for his
declaration that schools were safe to be followed by an announcement that
they would all close. I am very glad that the Green party leadership on
Brighton and Hove City Council had decided beforehand that schools needed
to move to online learning. It is now essential that ministers step up and
provide the laptops and internet access via dongles they promised to
children who currently can't learn at home. Allowing them to attend school
is one answer - but it risks schools becoming overwhelmed in areas where
many children don't have internet access in their homes.
I welcome the vital support offered by the Chancellor to business as a
result of the new lockdown, but the one-off grants of £9,000 are
completely insufficient to keep many of these businesses alive. They need
ongoing support and assurances about the future.
LOCKDOWN RESTRICTIONS AND SUPPORT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED
It is also unforgiveable that the Chancellor is still ignoring the 3
million self-employed and small limited company directors who have had
nothing since last spring. I have now written to him outlining a Directors
Income Support Scheme (DISS), drawn up by a coalition of ForgottenLtd, a
former senior policy adviser to the Office of Tax Simplification, the ACCA
and the Federation of Small Businesses, which would give vital support to
the directors of small limited companies who have fallen through the gaps
of existing support schemes because of a quirk in the tax system. The
letter is on my website .
LOCKDOWN DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT
Parliament was recalled again for one day for an announcement on the new
lockdown measures. I raised with the Prime Minister  the test, trace,
isolate and support system which is still failing to deliver what was
promised, even after £22 billion of public money was handed over to
private companies and consultants to make it work. It is failing on so many
levels, including on the lack of support given to those who are required to
self-isolate. We will only stop or slow down transmission of the virus if
people self-isolate, but those in low-paid insecure jobs are much less
likely to be able to afford to do so when they expected to survive just on
statutory sick pay. Many more - nearly 2 million - don't earn enough to be
eligible for SSP, which is why I have called for the criteria to be widened
as well as the amounts increased. The £500 self-isolation payments also
need to be more widely available.
The only positive news about coronavirus is the rollout of both the
BioNTech/Pfizer and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. I am in close touch with
the public health team in Brighton and Hove, monitoring the rollout of the
vaccine in our city, to ensure that those most in need do not miss out.
CLAP FOR CARERS
The wonderfully unifying clap for carers on Thursday evenings is being
restarted. But frontline workers, in the NHS, care homes and essential
services, deserve more than applause. They should have pay rises and be
prioritised for vaccinations. That's why I'm supporting the
#ThunderclapForCarers, started by chef and campaigner Jack Monroe, who has
suggested using this moment to push for Government to ensure essential
workers earn a decent wage. I hope many of you will join in and sign the
petition  to give NHS workers a 15 percent pay rise.
SUPPORT FOR HOMELESS DURING CORONAVIRUS
The Government's support for people sleeping rough has been short-lived.
While it found shelter for homeless people last spring with the Everyone In
scheme, now - in the depths of a cold winter - it is refusing to do so.
Brighton and Hove City Council is extending the scheme to the end of March,
but it should not be up to hard-pressed and financially-stretched councils
to make sure people are not sleeping rough on the streets during a
pandemic. The Everyone In scheme must be continued.
Thanks to some brilliant campaigning by MoreThanAScore, teachers, parents
and others, this year's SATS exams have been cancelled. This is a campaign
I've worked on for some time, so I'm glad the Government has finally
listened. Now we just need to make the cancellation permanent so this
pointless testing regime is abandoned for good.
FUTURE GENERATIONS BILL
I am very pleased to be sponsoring the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill
in Parliament, alongside John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, who has
introduced the Bill in the House of Lords. The Bill aims to build in
long-term thinking and planning into policy-making, and give future
generations a voice in decisions being made today. I'm delighted that it
has support from MPs and peers from both sides of the Commons and Lords,
and I hope many of them will have a chance to meet young supporters of the
Bill at a drop-in session  later this month. I wrote about the Bill, and
why it's so important, in my column in Metro .
SCENES IN WASHINGTON
Like many of you, I was shocked by the scenes in Washington when Trump
supporters stormed the Capitol building, vandalising it and showing their
defiance of US democracy. Whatever he says, this is Trump's legacy. But it
is also a reminder that democracy can never be taken for granted. It is up
to all of us to protect it and stand up for the values we believe in.
RIP SUE ADDIS
Finally, many of you will have had some contact with the wonderful Sue
Addis, who owned Donatello and Pinocchio restaurants in the city, and will
share my sadness over her death. She was such a special presence in the
city, her passion for this place and its people was infectious and her
kindness legendary. Almost every good cause in the city had some contact
with Sue, who was an amazing charity fundraiser, and a towering force for
good. She will be hugely missed.
 [link removed]
 [link removed]
 [link removed]
 [link removed]
 [link removed]
 [link removed]
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:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
To unsubscribe from this mailing list click here: [link removed]