40th Edition
November 21st, 2016

Monday 14th November

On Mondays my regular column appears in The National newspaper. This week I'm writing about the Trump effect.

And I'm on the train to London for four days in Parliament.
Photo: The National
George Kerevan: Wall Street is the real winner here: Trump is more pro-banker than pro-working class

IT’S almost week since Trump stole the White House – Clinton got more votes, remember – yet we are all still here. Can the world adjust? One bellwether is the state of the US stock market. By the weekend, Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which tracks a wide range of firms serving the American domestic market, was actually up by four per cent. The bond market also experienced a big sell-off, meaning investors think there is less risk around in the US economy with The Donald in charge.

You can read the whole article HERE
Caravan Club Reception

Travel around East Lothian and you will see a number of Caravan sites. Many local people own or rent a caravan, helping improve the quality of their life, while we also benefit from the tourist trade. I was pleased to attend the Autumn Reception of the Caravan Club, held at the House of Commons.

Tuesday 15th November

Treasury Select Committee Quizzes The Governor of the Bank of England

Our guest at the Treasury Select Committee was the Governor of the Bank of England. We asked him about the impact of the fall in the value of Sterling on the economy, the outlook for increased inflation and how involved he was in official discussions over Brexit.

The Guardian ran a report which you can access HERE

And you can watch the Treasury Select Committee meeting HERE

Wednesday 16th November

Each Wednesday lunch time the Prime Minister has to come to the House of Commons to be quizzed by MPs. There is a ballot of members to see who is selected. On Wednesday 16 November it was my luck to have my question tabled and it and Theresa May’s response won coverage across the media. Here is The Mirror’s account of the exchange:

“Theresa May stunned MPs by refusing to deny Nigel Farage is in line for a peerage today during Prime Minister's Questions.

Rumours have been flying around about the Ukip leader being a 'go-between' in the UK's relationship with Donald Trump.

A peerage would finally install Mr Farage in Parliament - something he's tried and failed to achieve on seven occasions through democratic means.

SNP MP George Kerevan asked Mrs May to put the rumours to rest.

He asked: "Can the Prime Minister confirm or deny if there have been any official confirmations at any level regarding giving Nigel Farage a peerage?”

The House erupted with laughter, but the Prime Minister wouldn’t rule it out.

She said: “All I can say to the Honourable Gentleman, I’m afraid, is that such matters are normally never discussed in public.”

After PMQs [Prime Minister’s Questions], the Prime Minister's spokesperson said Mrs May had been making a "point about process."

The serious side of this is such speculation about Nigel Farage being given a peerage or some sort of diplomatic role, acting as a contact with President Elect Trump, shows the chaos going on behind the scenes at Westminster over Brexit and the lack of any clear plan. The Cabinet is divided over “hard” or “soft” Brexit.

My colleagues and I at Westminster will continue to champion the interests of Scotland, particularly in allowing us access to the European Single Market and the rights of EU citizens living in Scotland, and in my case those living and working in East Lothian. Several have already contacted me over their fears.

You can watch my exchange with Theresa May HERE

Balfour Declaration Centenary

This month marked the Centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which in 1916 pledged the British government to the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire. At a debate marking the centenary in Westminster Central Hall I pointed out that, whatever position one takes on the current Israeli-Palestinian question, this was a centenary which should not be celebrated. Rather, we should point to the complicity of the British government in sowing the seeds for many of the problems facing today’s Middle East.

In 1916 Britain was promising a Jewish Homeland in territory it did not rule, encouraging the Arabs to rise up against the Ottomans by dangling the bait of a united Arab state in today’s Syria, Israel, Palestine and Iraq, and secretly signing an agreement to partition that region with France. These were in glaring contradiction to each other.

The subsequent post-war “settlement” of the region by the victorious Allied powers created the states of Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. It included rejecting an independent Kurdish state, and the legacy of that decision remains today.

Subsequently I was interviewed about this for BBC Radio 4’s Week in Parliament and by LBC Radio.

You can watch the debate HERE

Thursday 17th November

Opposing Cuts to the Employment Support Allowance

After representations from constituents concerned over cuts to the work allowance as part of the Government’s introduction of Universal Credit, I have written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking that he considers using his first Autumn Statement to reverse this damaging cut. With many families struggling to get by in work – two thirds of poor children live in working families - this is not the time to impose a cut to in-work benefits that will mean they have to work even harder, just to maintain their current incomes.

Analysis by the Child Poverty Action Group published earlier this year revealed that the cuts to the work allowance will mean a single parent working full-time on the new national minimum wage will need to work an additional 46 working days in a year. The Resolution Foundation has calculated that an in-work couple will lose out on £1,370 a year due to the benefits freeze and work allowance cuts.

With calls from the Child Poverty Action Group, the Resolution Foundation and the former Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith to drop this cut, there is clearly broad concern that a government cannot reduce the work allowance while also claiming to champion ‘just about managing’ families.

On Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 November I attended two debates on reductions to the Employment Support Allowance and was proud to contribute to the debate on the second day.

You can watch my contribution to the debate below.
Treasury Select Committee

The Committee heard from and questioned James Leigh-Pemberton, Chair of UK Financial Investments and Oliver Holbourn, its Chief Executive, on their annual report & accounts. What is UKFI? It is the bit of government that "owns" RBS.

As you will see, I don't think they are doing the best job.

You can watch the Committee meeting HERE
Supporting the Istanbul Convention Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence

My colleague Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP is moving a Private Members Billl which would require the United Kingdom to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention). I was pleased to be able to demonstrate my support for the Istanbul Convention when those campaigning in support of the Bill visited the House of Commons.

I write a column in the Courier every week which you can read if you scroll down the side bar.
Backing the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is the membership organisation for Scotland’s charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. I was delighted to visit the stall they had set up in Parliament promoting their work.

Friday 18th November​

This week I stayed on in London an extra day, which forced me to postpone my usual meetings in East Lothian, because the SNP had imposed a three-line whip for a very important debate on boundary changes.

Opposing Tory Boundary Revisions

The UK Parliament has decided to reduce the number of parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600.

East Lothian will not be affected by the boundary changes resulting but my colleague Brendan O'Hara explains that his new seat would be massive:

“The proposed new constituency of Argyll, Bute and Lochaber will stretch from Cardross to Mallaig, from Campbeltown to Fort William and from the Isle of Gigha to the Isle of Canna. It will cover 10,000 square kilometres and  take in two local authority areas; all of Argyll and Bute and part of Highland Council. According to the AA, to travel from one end of this new constituency to the other by car could take almost seven hours; just slightly less than it would take to fly from Glasgow to New York."

Brendan will have to travel to 30 different islands!

A back bench debate was called on the boundary changes by Labour, who will be badly affected by them in England and Wales. In inner London 14 seats will be cut, despite a growing population.

Opposition MPs joined together to oppose the changes and won the vote overhelmingly. While this will not stop the Second Reading of the Act the obvious unease among Tory back bench MPs may unnerve Theresa May!

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