In recess, but still so much to do

Parliament is officially in recess for the remainder of the summer. Given this status, and the fact that a number of high profile politicians are off on holiday (including the Prime Minister), it's tempting to believe that we're all off on an extended jolly, sipping drinks while resting by a beach at some exotic location.

Sunday, 30th July 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:25 am
MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya

When I worked in a law office, the idea of having a month or so off seemed outrageous; most of us have to sweat through August, whether at a desk or in a warehouse or elsewhere.

I think it’s the title that’s misleading: just because Parliament is “in recess,” it doesn’t mean that we Parliamentarians can, or should, stop working. The government doesn’t shut down because the calendar is about to flip over from July to August. Casework doesn’t cease because sun is temporarily more prevalent than rain!

Thus, I’m back in Peterborough, working on getting my office set up here. I’ll begin interviewing potential case workers and doing my utmost to set up an efficient operation to meet my constituents’ needs. This is rather like setting up a new business; it’s a painstaking process. There’s the application, the CV, and then there’s the person: someone may have the right skills, but do they have the necessary mindset? Will they fit into the environment I intend to set up? I want people who won’t be satisfied with “good enough”, but will pursue issues to achieve an optimal resolution.

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That said, even when I do find people, they often have to give notice to their previous employer. In the meantime, the work continues and there is little time to take a break.

Nevertheless, I’m very fortunate as “Come work for your local MP” is a pitch that doesn’t require much added onto it: people see the Palace of Westminster on postcards and news broadcasts and are naturally drawn to work there.

In contrast, I’m deeply concerned about Peterborough’s businesses: Redring Xpelair plans to close their Peterborough site. This will mean 150 jobs will be lost. Most indicators suggest that the British economy is slowing. I don’t think this is directly related to Brexit, per se: however, what business needs more than anything else is clarity. So far, what the post-Brexit world will look like is murky at best. Out of the European Union, yes: but what kind of trading arrangements will we have? If I were setting up a firm tomorrow, I’d wonder where most of my customers will be: Baltimore, Beijing, or Berlin? And what government will be in place in 6 months’ time? We need to be careful not careless. I hope the Prime Minister’s sojourn in the Alps will help her focus her intentions as a failing to plan is planning to fail.