From Stephen Kinnock MP <[email protected]>
Subject March 2022 Newsletter
Date March 23, 2022 10:31 AM
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** March 2022 Newsletter

** Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine
The Putin regime’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a severe attack not only on the Ukrainian people but also on sovereignty, democracy, freedom and the rule of law. It has been heart-warming to see Aberavon’s’ response to the people of Ukraine. I visited the Aberavon Parish and The St Pauls Centre and saw the generous donations made to the Ukraine Crisis Emergency Appeal. I’ve also signed up for the Homes for Ukraine scheme to offer a Ukrainian family to stay with me in my home.

My office and I have been helping and supporting an Aberavon family to bring relatives to the UK from Ukraine. What the family have been through in the last few weeks is unimaginable, forced to leave their home and flee the terror of war. In attempting to help them, they were faced with Home Office bureaucracy, which prolonged their ordeal. Despite applying for visas early on, they experienced unacceptable delays in processing and issuing, which left the family in limbo, waiting for the paperwork they needed to come to the UK. Thanks to the hard work of my team, who’ve spent hours pressing the Home Office, the family have been reunited and are safely in Aberavon. The government must now heed Labour’s calls for an Emergency Visa Scheme for the Ukrainians who are fleeing the horrors of Putin’s barbaric war – maintaining sensible biometric and security checks, but reducing the 50 page bureaucratic nightmare they currently face. Ukrainians need a safe and straightforward route to sanctuary in
the UK right now. The Home Office must get a grip so that Britain can play its part.
I have spoken on Ukraine several times in the House of Commons Chamber. I also spoke at the 14 March Ukrainian Refugee debate at Westminster Hall. I paid tribute to the Ukrainian people, whose bravery, fortitude and eventual victory will never be forgotten, and highlighted the dismal performance of the UK Government to the refugee crisis. From the Nationality and Borders Bill to the response to Putin’s barbaric assault on Ukraine, we are witnessing a Home Office whose approach is defined by a toxic combination of incompetence and indifference. The UK Government need to show some empathy and immediately simplify the visa process, cut the red tape and facilitate quick and easy access to the UK for Ukrainian refugees.

In parliament, I was proud to sign the book of solidarity to be sent to the people of Ukraine. I was also moved at Prime Minister Question’s on the 02 March to see every MP stand to salute the Ukrainian Ambassador in the public gallery. I was also in the House for the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s virtual address about the invasion by Russia. Our standing ovation for both men is a testament to the courage and fortitude of the Ukrainian people. President Zelenskyy is currently the leader of the free world. He is fighting not just for Ukraine’s freedom and democracy, but for us all.

I fully support providing military assistance to Ukraine, in addition to all possible political, economic, and practical support. We must impose sanctions and not let the government’s incompetence and delays allow dozens of Putin-linked oligarchs to run away with billions in loot. I am calling for the government to increase the number of Putin-linked individuals and entities sanctioned; apply sanctions to wealth held under the name of family members of sanctioned individuals, and extend financial sanctions - including SWIFT - to Belarussian banks. The government must also accelerate the clean-up of dirty money that has damaged our economy and our democracy for too long.

** Neath Port Talbot Labour Super Saturday
It was great to be out knocking doors in Aberavon ward ahead of the 5 May Elections. There was a great response to our two brilliant candidates, Stephanie Lynch and Dean Thomas.

** Welsh Labour Conference

I attended the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno. Mark Drakeford gave a powerful speech where he clearly set out the difference that a Labour government makes in building a stronger, fairer, and greener nation. I also got the chance to meet representative from some fantastic organisations including Mark Brown and Toby Dickinson at the Labour Friends of the Forces stand.

** Visit to Skewen

I visited Skewen with Councillor Mike Harvey where I got the chance to speak to residents whose lives were turned upside down by the devastating flood in January 2021. There are still, lots of issues to resolve. I will continue to press the UK Government and the Coal Authority to take responsibility to properly protect and compensate residents.

** Gwynfi Advice Surgery

I held an Advice Surgery in Gwynfi at beginning of the month. If you live in Aberavon, my advice surgeries are your chance to speak with me about the issues that matter most to you and to raise any issues you are having that I may be able to support you with. My next advice surgery will be on Friday 25 March between 4pm and 5.30pm at Briton Ferry Community Hall.

** Neath Port Talbot Labour Campaign Launch

This month we launched the Neath Port Talbot campaign for the 5 May Elections. I was out in Neath and Port Talbot, where it was fantastic to see such a great turn out and get to meet some of the fantastic new candidates.

** Steel Workers Protest in Parliament Square

I was proud to join steelworkers from Port Talbot for a rally at Parliament Square calling for urgent support for their industry in the Spring Budget.

Steel is a national strategic asset, a foundational industry for good jobs and the beating heart of Port Talbot. It is also a vital part of the green economy needed for electric cars and wind turbines. The Chancellor must act quickly on the high industrial energy prices that have been holding back our steel industry back for many year – closing the gap with the costs faced by our European competitors.

** This Month In Parliament
Steel All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) reception

As the chair of the Steel APPG I attended a reception with colleagues from across our steel family to stand up for steel. Steel is the backbone of manufacturing, which is itself the bedrock of many communities. Steel is a 21st century industry and critical to net zero. What brings us together is the knowledge that despite current challenges, a bright future for our steel industry is possible.

Coalfield Communities All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG)

I was proud to attend an Important meeting with the APPG Coalfield to discuss the Levelling Up White Paper and how it affects our coalfield communities. You deserve better than this rehashed set of old policies that have consistently failed Aberavon for the last decade.

St David’s Day debate on Welsh Affairs

I was delighted to contribute to Wayne David MP’s St David's Day debate on Welsh Affairs. I made it clear that the Shared Prosperity Fund (replacing EU development funding) should involve strategic input from the Welsh Government. I also highlighted my concerns that the UK Tory Government is seeking to roll back devolution – an action that I strongly oppose.

Steel APPG with Minister Lee Rowley

I chaired a Steel APPG meeting with Lee Rowley MP from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Community Union, and UK Steel. We had a productive meeting where we discussed rising energy costs, procurement and the net-zero transition.

The Shared Prosperity Fund APPG with Minister Neil O’Brien

I chaired the Shared Prosperity Fund APPG meeting with Jo Gideon MP, Christina Rees MP and Professor Steve Fothergill – acclaimed expert on the Shared Prosperity Fund and acting secretariat of the APPG. We were joined by Minister Neil O’Brien from the Department for Levelling Up and Communities. We questioned the Minister on the recent Levelling Up White Paper and pre-launch guidance, including allocations to local areas.

Global Soft Power Summit 2022

I attended the Global Soft Power Summit, where I spoke about my time in Russia. I spent three years in St Petersburg from 2005 to 2008 working as Director of the British Council– an organisation which plays a vitally important role in using economics and culture to build Britain’s relationships and influence around the globe. It was soft power that won the Cold War, and it is soft power that will bring about the downfall of Vladimir Putin and his barbaric regime.

** Media Highlights

I had a busy month speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Sky News, Talk Radio, Times Radio and The Guardian about Putin's attack on Ukraine and the refugee crisis. In interviews, I emphasised the need to provide urgent help to the families fleeing conflict in Ukraine to reach safety and get support. We've all heard and seen the harrowing stories from those driven out by the Russian bombardment and forced to flee across Europe. The Home Office's toxic combination of incompetence and indifference has been an absolute shambles that is badly letting down desperate Ukrainian families in their hour of need. It is shameful that the UK Conservative government haven't extended the visa scheme to offer sanctuary for all Ukrainians who need it. The Home Office need to broaden the scheme and cut the bureaucracy and red tape. I also highlighted the need for the government to expedite the clean-up of dirty money that has made its way through London and is damaging our economy, democracy and being used to fund
the Kremlin's war machine. The UK Government needs to do more and impose the strongest possible sanctions as fast as possible to cut Putin's rogue regime out of our financial system.

** Contact Details

You can get in touch with us by calling the office on 01639 897660.

Alternatively please send an email to stephen.kinn[email protected] (mailto:[email protected] )

We are not currently operating a drop-in surgery in the office, but you can book a call-back or Teams appointment with a caseworker, Monday to Friday, by completing this form [link removed]

Check my website and Facebook page for details of my next advice surgery.
All the best,

Stephen Kinnock
MP for Aberavon

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