As the year comes to an end, thoughts turn to 2022 and to some of the issues which will be prevalent in the months ahead.
The cause of the Chagos islanders is one I have highlighted even since before my first election to Parliament in 2010 and I will continue to do so in the coming year.
Earlier this month my amendment to the Government’s Nationality & Borders Bill, which calls for descendants of those forcibly removed from their homeland under Harold Wilson’s late 1960s premiership to be allowed to register as British citizens, received the support of 245 MPs in the House of Commons. As this legislation continues its passage through Parliament I will look to see how these rights can be pursued further in the House of Lords.
As an elected member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee I play an active role in scrutinising the work of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
One issue we have been following up on is UK action on the atrocities taking place in the Xinjiang region of China.
We know that the Chinese communist dictatorship is responsible for the mass detention of more than a million Uyghurs, forcing them into industrial-scale forced labour programmes, and attempting to wipe out Uyghur culture in the region.
The Committee has given recommendations to the UK Government on ways the international community can put pressure on Beijing, including at February’s Winter Olympics. The atrocities of the Chinese government make it all the more galling that the International Olympic Committee have selected Beijing as the host city, so it falls to the UK and like-minded democracies to take a stand.
While it is long-established that sporting participation is a matter for governing bodies, it is welcome that the Government has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games. This means that no UK ministers will attend, depriving China of the attempt to convince its people that the world accepts their treatment of the Uyghurs.
The Committee has found that condemnation of the actions in Xinjiang poses a threat to China’s prestige. If the British Olympic Association were to send a lone flag-bearer to the opening ceremony rather than the whole of Team GB, it would send a powerful message.
As Blood Cancer All-Party Parliamentary Group Chair I am preparing for the upcoming launch of our new report on the impact of Covid-19 on blood cancer services.
We cannot allow non-Covid health issues to be forgotten as we address the pandemic and in 2022 this will be a subject I will continue to hold the Government to account over.
I would like to wish all in Crawley a Happy New Year.
Henry Smith MP