As a new year begins, it is customary to set resolutions for the year ahead. At the start of my first year as the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge, here is what I have resolved to campaign for in 2023:
Boxing Day brought the harrowing news that, while many of us had enjoyed time with our family and friends, 90 people crossed the Channel in two small, inflatable boats. Whatever the reasons that compel people to risk their lives in the icy waters of the Channel, it is not a choice someone makes easily.
Cambridge has always been a city of sanctuary and has proved this time and time again by offering resettlement to people from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine. Conservative and Labour’s MPs are currently falling back on toxic rhetoric, branding refugees and asylum seekers as a burden to be avoided at all costs. All governments across the world need to recognise that this is a humanitarian crisis and to work together to fulfil their international obligations to resettlement.
In 2023, I will campaign for safe routes for people to flee to the UK to have their case for asylum processed quickly and efficiently, while they are treated with dignity, and will challenge our local Conservative and Labour MPs to do the same.
This year saw both Conservative and Labour MPs repeatedly asserting that there is no case for re-joining the EU, with both Jacob Rees-Mogg and Labour leader Keir Starmer claiming that they were looking to reap the opportunities provided by Brexit.
With a war raging in Europe, an energy crisis and the Financial Times reporting that Brexit has cost the UK £600 million per week since 2016, these opportunities do not seem to be plentiful. For Cambridge, the impact of Brexit is palpable: our universities are suffering due to the loss of European research grants, our hospital and retail sector feel the lack of EU workers, and red tape is making it even harder for our small businesses to thrive.
It is clearer than ever that the UK needs to re-join the single market, to give our businesses full access to the European Economic Area, grant full settled status to EU citizens and re-join the Erasmus programme.
In 2023, I resolve to campaign for a strong, united, democratic Europe to promote peace, co-operation and prosperity across the continent and throughout the world, with Britain as part of this.
Despite the excitement that the freezing weather might bring a white Christmas this year, we cannot forget that the summer of 2022 was the hottest on record. The extreme weather, alongside real fears that Cambridge, in the driest region in the UK, would run out of water, was probably the most obvious symptom of the climate crisis that many of us have experienced during our lifetimes. Water sustainability must be integrated with all environmental and social challenges facing Cambridge and the world. The future of this water supply is vital to sustain the level of house building needed in the East of England, and to support the employment our city needs to be sustainable.
In 2023, I will challenge the water industry to fix their leaky pipes; respond to the Liberal Democrat campaign for increased liability for water company bosses who dump sewage in rivers and chalk streams; and work with my colleagues in local government to ensure new reservoirs and pipelines are built to support Cambridge’s economy.
Ultimately, it has never been clearer that Britain needs a change of government. The Conservatives are taking the country in the wrong direction on all of these issues, and are doing real damage to Cambridge along the way. My final resolution is to do everything I can to remove this destructive government, and I look forward to working alongside other parties to achieve this across the country.