Tuesday, November 01, 2016

My International Politics Day.

I think I'm rather unusual amongst MPs in that I have a great interest in international affairs but am not keen on travelling abroad. Partly that's because I don't think those who vote for me approve (they think it's a junket). And partly because I just don't like airports. They are little hells on earth. Since I was elected, I've been to Brussels once and to Gibraltar as a guest of the Rock's Government. All other overseas trips I've been paid for myself. 

Anyway, there are endless opportunities to meet with representatives of overseas territories at Westminster itself. Three of them cropped up today - international day. First visit was by a cross party group of Welsh MPs to Canada House at Trafalgar Square. We are interested in how other countries manage devolution. Canada has a federal system, where the states and territories have more power than devolved nations in the UK, and greater involvement in federal decisions. Really interesting at present, because Canada (that's all of Canada) has just signed a trade deal with the EU. I was much interested in the role  states and territories had played in this process.

Then it was back to the House of Commons for an offshore wind reception and a stint at the bar of the House of Lords, listening to the Wales Bill debate (in committee) about a distinct jurisdiction for Wales. There seemed to be little enthusiasm for it, contrary to what some Welsh academic 'experts' seem to be campaigning for. I much enjoyed comments accepting that this issue would be returned to in a future Wales Bill!!!  

Returning to the International theme, we then had a Japanese Embassey reception. A most impressive event. The Japanese Ambassador made a good encouraging and realistic speech. Impressive man. I liked him. Coincidentally, there was a statement on the floor of the House at the same time by the outstanding Sec of State, Greg Clark, about the Nissan announcement in relation to two new models to be built in Sunderland. It's given the UK economy a great boost. Enough to make make my next car a Nissan perhaps! Whatever, the U.K.- Japan relationship looks I good heart.

Final leg of our 'International' day was at the Gherkin. Never been there before. It's brilliantly impressive. The Gibraltar Govt were putting on a show on the top floor. I do get some good breaks. Gibraltar is, quite naturally concerned about the impact of Brexit. First Minister, Fabian Picardo was his usual bouncing self. And I was pleased to meet up with his predeccessor, Peter Caruana, who once came to speak to the National Assembly for Wales as my guest. I think we are going to be seeing quite a lot of them over the next year or three.

 And to cap it all, tomorrow, the Colombian Ambassador is speaking to Peers and MPs in the Queens Robing Room. I'm hoping to catch a chat with him, because I'm in the process of trying to establish a Colombia All Party Group. Rest of the day, I'll be nose to the grindstone, catching up with my office work. 

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