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First published in the January edition of South Leeds Life, available online here http://www.southleedslife.com/read-january-newspaper-online-2/

First of all, Happy New Year to one and all. I cannot pretend that 2016 was my favourite 12 months of all time so I am hoping that 2017 will represent a distinct improvement.

Talking of which, best of luck to Leeds Utd and their manager Garry Monk for the New Year. At the time of writing, Leeds are in a rich vein of form, and after quite a lot of difficulties and disappointment, could this be the season when Premiership status returns to Elland Road? Here’s hoping. 

Because I am now chairing the House of Commons Brexit select committee, I am spending a lot of my time in Westminster looking at the implications of Brexit. There is no doubt that we are leaving the EU – that’s what the British people decided - but we do have to work out what kind of relationship we are going to have with our 27 neighbours once we have gone. In particular, what kind of trade deal will we have and how will we be able to continue to sell into the EU things like financial services which support a lot of jobs in Leeds. These are really important questions that will affect many people and businesses and we need to get it right in the exit negotiations that will start in April. What we need to try and do is make sure that companies in Leeds and across the country can continue to trade and do business without having to face any tariffs, bureaucratic obstacles or extra paperwork. After all, Europe is our biggest export market.

Turning to matters closer to home, one of the great privileges of my job is getting to work with, encourage and support a huge range of voluntary organisations in South Leeds. From Holbeck Elderly Aid to the Middleton Railway, from the Friends of Middleton and Cross Flatts parks to the Asha Neighbourhood project, and from the Hunslet Club to Health for All – to name just a few - we are really lucky to have so many organisations working for the common good in our community. They rely a great deal on voluntary effort and participation so if you’re still thinking about your New Year resolution then why not consider giving a local voluntary organisation a hand? Volunteers are always very welcome and there’s a wide range of jobs to be done.

Finally, best of luck to the roundabout – I don’t think I’ve ever said that before!  I was intrigued to read in South Leeds Life online that the roundabout near Asda and the St George’s Centre in Middleton has been shortlisted for a Leeds Architecture Award. This is thanks to the imaginative planting which last summer turned it into a beautiful wild flower meadow and a haven for biodiversity. South Leeds has quite a tradition in recent years of wild flower planting so as we peer out of the window at the winter gloom, it lifts our spirits to be reminded that summer, when it eventually comes, can be blooming marvellous.

Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

Hilary's Article for South Leeds Life - January 2017

First published in the January edition of South Leeds Life, available online here http://www.southleedslife.com/read-january-newspaper-online-2/ First of all, Happy New Year to one and all. I cannot pretend that 2016 was...

Many constituents have contacted me about the horror of Aleppo.

What we have all seen going on there has been unspeakable and it is to our shame as a world that we have been unable to prevent it. The Russian and Syrian governments have attacked hospitals and civilians, and in effect besieged eastern Aleppo by refusing to allow aid in.

As MPs we have repeatedly raised the issue with ministers in Parliament, and before Christmas I was part of a cross-party delegation of MPs who went to see the Russian ambassador in London to express our deep concern about what has happened. We pressed for humanitarian aid to be allowed in to reach the people of Aleppo and for the people trapped there to be able to leave safely.

At the same time evacuations from the city began following a local ceasefire deal which halted the army's offensive. Some reports now say that the evacuation is complete but accurate information is hard to come by. It is however clear that wherever most of the refugees end up – and it looks like it is Idlib – they will need food, shelter and medical support after the terrible trauma they have been through.

Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war has gone on for five years now since President Assad decided to turn on his own people. It has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and forced half the population of the country to flee their home. At the end of December Turkey and Russia announced a ceasefire involving the Syrian Government and most of the groups fighting (the jihadists of so-called Islamic State (IS/Daesh) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS), and the Kurdish YPG militia are excluded).

The deal has mostly held since then. The UN Security Council has voted to back these efforts to end the fighting in Syria and hold fresh peace talks in Kazakhstan between the Syrian government and opposition next month. The resolution, drafted by Russia, also calls for rapid access for humanitarian aid to be delivered across the country.

Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations envoy, has been working tirelessly to try and bring the parties together, and the only way this conflict will be brought to an end is by political negotiation so that the people of Syria can decide how, and by whom, they are to be governed in the months and years ahead. We all hope that day comes soon, but in the meantime I can assure you that I and my colleagues will continue to keep up the pressure on the government and on the international community to do everything we, and they, can to help the long-suffering people of Syria


Hilary Benn
MP for Leeds Central

Aleppo

Many constituents have contacted me about the horror of Aleppo. What we have all seen going on there has been unspeakable and it is to our shame as a world...

See Hilary's speech in yesterday’s Brexit debate in the House of Commons.

The Government has now accepted Labour’s demand that it will have to produce a Brexit plan before it triggers Article 50 to start the process of leaving the European Union. 

http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/353f9224-e34b-4f1b-ab00-5d4c09c7a28d?in=14:21:50&out=14:32:25

 

Yesterday's Brexit Debate

See Hilary's speech in yesterday’s Brexit debate in the House of Commons. The Government has now accepted Labour’s demand that it will have to produce a Brexit plan before it triggers Article...

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