Richmond Park News: 28 April 2023
SUDAN CONFLICT AND SUPPORT FOR BRITISH NATIONALS
Two weeks after fighting first broke out in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, violence has spread across the country due to a power struggle between military leaders.
The UK Government is currently running evacuation flights to help British nationals to leave Sudan. British nationals are advised to make their way to the British Evacuation Centre as soon as possible. A renewed 72-hour ceasefire in Sudan is in place and is due to end at midnight Sudan time on 30 April. Full information on other exit routes and support offered by the UK Foreign Office is available here.
At present, the Foreign Office is only evacuating British passport holders and immediate family members (spouse/partner and children under 18 years old) who are either non-visa nationals or those with existing UK entry clearance. I know that many people, including constituents of Richmond Park, have grave concern for the safety of family members in Sudan. The Liberal Democrats are therefore urging the Government to look at establishing a safe and legal route for Sudanese people escaping war.
If you are concerned for a British citizen in Sudan, you can call the Foreign Office on 020 7008 5000. You can also submit a submit a written enquiry, or contact the Foreign Office on Twitter or Facebook.
More broadly, we are urging the UK Government to continue to work with its international allies, both through the UN and the Quad, which comprises of the UK, US, UAE and Saudi Arabia, to stabilise and resolve this crisis.
I know that many parents and children across the constituency will have been impacted by industrial action in schools this week, which is also due to take place on Tuesday 2nd May. I met with teachers on Thursday morning to discuss their concerns, which align with many of my own.
Teachers are not only concerned about working conditions and pay, but also about the resources available to support students with special educational needs and about Ofsted’s approach to inspections - all of which have a detrimental impact on their ability to provide high-quality education to children in a supportive learning environment.
I am particularly concerned that the Government's most recent pay offer would have to be funded out of existing school budgets, which I know from my many conversations with headteachers over the last year would not be affordable. I can therefore understand teacher’s frustration and decision to reject the offer. The Government must urgently sit down with the unions to agree a fair, sensible and fully-funded deal that all sides can accept.
I previously wrote to the Department for Education on behalf of the many parents and teachers who wrote to me to voice their concerns. I have now received a response back from the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb. You can read the Minister’s response here.
MOTION TO SUPPORT CREATIVE INDUSTRIES
I tabled a motion to the Government this week as part of my ongoing work to support creative industries. This motion calls on the Government to scrap its proposals to grant artificial intelligence developers an exception to copyright and to work with the creative industries to develop a new Code of Practice which enables both the creative and digital economies to thrive. You can read the full text of the motion here.