Foreign Affairs Committee Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate

Foreign Affairs Committee

Mr Gavin Shuker Excerpts
Tuesday 19th March 2019

(1 year, 4 months ago)

Commons Chamber
Read Full debate
Alec Shelbrooke Portrait Alec Shelbrooke - Hansard
19 Mar 2019, 4:38 p.m.

I totally agree although, as a West Ham fan, it is difficult to spot the analogy. It is about talent, but it is also about the cumulative knowledge of so many years’ experience and the contacts around the world that make someone the go-to person on specific issues after the meetings of these organisations. It all feeds in.

Mr Gavin Shuker (Luton South) (Ind) Hansard
19 Mar 2019, 4:38 p.m.

The hon. Gentleman is incredibly kind to give way on that point. He was first elected in the same year I was, and we both aspire to the level and depth of experience of the two Members whom the motion seeks to discharge from the Committee. Is not his key point that the incentives in this place to speak out bravely when we believe things to be wrong need to be correctly aligned with our procedures? Both Members have found themselves in a position where they could do nothing but speak out and face the consequences. Today each of us, even those with the political experience of the hon. Gentleman and me, need to ask ourselves: if it is these two Members first, will it be us next?

Alec Shelbrooke Portrait Alec Shelbrooke - Hansard
19 Mar 2019, 4:39 p.m.

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I will preface it, but he reminds me of the poem about the holocaust that finishes:

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left”.

We should bear that in mind. What has led to this situation? I regard the hon. Member for Ilford South as a good friend, and we have travelled the world together. I saw the huge, incredible levels of abuse he received, often from his alleged supporters in his own party. I think he dealt with that stoically.

I know that it was no easy decision for the hon. Gentleman to leave his party. I do not want to embarrass him, but I know it broke his heart because we have had those conversations. He did not want to leave the Labour party. He was forced into that position for standing up for what was right and standing up for the values we should all stand for in this House. That is the problem with the motion.

What message are we sending to the House with this motion? The motion asks us to replace two Members of this House who have enormous experience. The context is a lack of tolerance in this place. The Brexit debate was framed around the fact that people wanted politics done in a different way—we can argue and disagree about what that way is. What we are actually saying today is, “Stand up for your principles and you’re out.” It is an establishment stitch-up.

The reason why I want the two hon. Gentlemen to stay on the Committee—this is what I worry about most of all—is that they are experts in their field. They are admired by the other Committee members and by the people they see around the world. We should not give in to the pressure and, frankly, intolerance they have had to face, and thereby lessen the capability of the Committee they sit on.