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No one should be alone at Christmas

Christmas is a day which many of us spend with the family, where we languish in the throes of a food induced coma because we tried to convince ourselves that eating a dozen mince pies and cheese after Christmas dinner was a good idea. Of course we then top this off with the obligatory game of Monopoly- which always goes on for far too long!- and which of course would not be complete without that one family member who takes it all a bit too seriously…

However, this is not how Christmas day is for everyone.

Over the years we have become accustomed to seeing the growth in rough sleeping on our streets and across the capital. It has become a grim and yet normalised reality to see people queuing outside food banks, with those queues symbolising everything that is wrong with today’s Tory run Britain. But for the past 40 years, through both the good times and the bad, Ealing Soup Kitchen has been at the forefront of providing a warm and safe place to go to on Christmas day for those with nowhere to go, or no one to share Christmas with.

Since 1974 when it as first founded, and where initially it served food out of the back of a van to a small number of service users, Ealing Soup Kitchen now regularly finds itself cooking for up to 90 people on Saturdays and Sundays, and this Christmas was no exception.  Joined by Rupa and Nitin Ganatra- also known to many of you as EastEnders’s very own Masood! - Ealing Soup Kitchen turned St Johns Church into a roaring hub of Christmas festivities.

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Rupa swapped the dispatch box for table service and pot washing, whilst Nitin mucked in with drying the dishes and the amazing volunteers of Ealing Green Baptist Church led by Julian and Chef Herman kept the Christmas dinners- with all the trimmings!- coming until 9pm!

Rupa had the following to say about the day’s events:

“It was fun to be part of Julian’s amazing team and feed dozens throughout the afternoon. Christmas day is a day that no person should be alone for and we served some familiar faces known to be from doing my weekly advice surgeries in Ealing and Acton. Sadly given the government’s ever more punitive tax and benefit policies it seems that my surgery queues and those using excellent services that our churches provide such at Ealing Soup Kitchen, Ealing Foodbank and Ealing Churches Winter Night Shelter will continue to be ever-lengthening. There is a sense that it’s all well and good to volunteer on Christmas Day but services like this need our help all year round, not just for Christmas!”

If you wish to be a part of this great organisation and to do your bit in helping the most vulnerable residents of Ealing and Acton then you can donate to Ealing Soup Kitchen here:

http://www.ealingsoupkitchen.org/get-involved-.html

Alternatively if you would like to donate your time the Soup Kitchen is always looking for volunteers to help out with their Homeless Drop in Centre held every Friday at St Johns Crypt. Unwanted but wearable clothes are also welcome donations.

If you would like to know any more about the services offered by Ealing Soup Kitchen then please see here:

http://www.ealingsoupkitchen.org/

The Work Never Stops! Rupa's Christmas with the Ealing Soup Kitchen

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I will not let the Government take us over a cliff edge

Dear all,

I believe that there is some confusion regarding my vote to support the Labour Party's motion calling upon the Government to put its Brexit strategy before Parliament.

Firstly and foremost I want to make the following clear.

I will vote against the enactment of Article 50. I will vote against the repeal of the European Communities Act. I will vote against the Great Repeal Bill.

These are not just words. They are promises. I have put them on the record before and I have absolutely no qualms about doing so again.

Now there are some who are trying to indulge in petty point scoring, or if you are the local Lib Dems, trying to claim that I have voted in favour of Brexit. This is absurd.

Firstly, Opposition Day Debates are not binding. Labour has tabled successful motions in the past such as the time the Commons voted overwhelmingly to preserve the rights of EU citizens to stay in the UK post Brexit. Did the Government accept that result? No it did not. The Government views EU citizens as being nothing other than bargaining chips. So despite what some may say, in no way shape or form am I bound to vote in favour of triggering Article 50.

So why did I vote the way I did? Well it’s simple.

The Government has consistently sought to avoid parliamentary scrutiny. If it wins its High Court case, and let’s say Labour had not tabled this motion, do you really think that the Government would have been fair and honest with the British people?

The Government has consistently insulted the intelligence of my constituents, the British people, the House and our continental brothers and sisters. Its “strategy” of repeating vacuous mantras, such as the mind numbingly stupid “Brexit means Brexit” slogan or the “Red, White and Blue” Brexit slogan is the best we would have got.

So for that reason I voted tactically to ensure that the Government is held to account.

Brexit is an issue which should trump party politics. Of course I can expect the Lib Dems to play on the absurd contention that I voted in favour of Brexit. Why wouldn’t they? They were consigned to the dustbin of oblivion for taking part in a Government which systematically attacked the rights of working people whilst reneging on all of their principles.

So whilst they, and leavers, are busy snipping at me regarding the way I voted, I want you to know that I voted, and have always voted, in line with what is in the best interest of my constituents.

If we get to the stage, and of course I will do everything in my power to ensure that we don’t, but if we do end up in Brexit negotiations, do we not want our continental brothers and sisters to have some good will towards us?

Well so far they have been insulted. They, like you and I, have been subjected to vacuous mantras and the ramblings of an inept Foreign Secretary who has consistently offended them. If Brexit happens, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that it doesn’t, we need the best possible deal for those who voted to remain. That means access to the single market, being in the customs union and having free movement of people. But that will only happen if they are provided with some clarity.

Secondly, I have been inundated with letters from constituents running small businesses which are suffering due to the pounds devaluation. The uncertainty is having real and damaging effects upon their livelihoods. The quicker we can get the Government to show its hand the quicker we can begin to see how we can resist those aspects of its strategies which would put these businesses at risk.

Thirdly, I believe the referendum result is reversible. I believe the British people can be persuaded to rethink their decision. But this can only be done if a strategy is outlined which can be scrutinised, and which can be used to demonstrate the costs of leaving. As a result of how I voted this can now be done via the Office for Budget Responsibility.

Brexit is an issue which trumps playing political games. But the Government’s amendment last night was just that. It was attempting to divide the Labour Party and to play on tensions. But Brexit is going to affect our livelihoods and our jobs for the foreseeable future. It will have real effects on the lives of our children and their children. It will determine whether they can live, work and retire in other countries. It will determine whether they live in a pluralistic, open and inclusive multicultural society or an inward looking backward country racked with xenophobia.

So yes I voted tactically so that my constituency, and the country, could finally start to have some transparency about the cliff edge the Government wants to take us over. The people of Ealing and Acton and the whole of the UK do not want an opposition which is inward looking, divided and fighting during a time of economic, political and constitutional crisis. So no, I did not give the Tories what they wanted.

Ultimately the people of Ealing and Acton voted 72% to remain in the EU. We are a parliamentary democracy. We are not governed by referenda and I will not be swayed by any pathetic attempt to claim that I am somehow thwarting the will of the people by voting against Article 50. The press and the Tory party can say what they will.

I do not recognise the result of the referendum as being legitimate. It was secured by nothing other than lies.

The £350 million pound pledge was a lie.

I made it clear in the past that all Brexit packages should be subject to another referendum or another general election. The result of which I would of course respect.

But until that time I will not be voting for the enactment of Article 50, I will not be voting in favour of the Great Repeal Bill and I will not be voting in favour of the repeal of the European Communities Act.

I hope that this has cleared up any questions you may have surrounding my position on this issue. However, if you have any more questions then please do let me know, as I am only too happy to be of service.

Yours Sincerely

Rupa Huq MP

A Statement on My Vote Last Night

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Dr Rupa Huq MP, Ealing Central and Acton

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