Labour MP Jess Phillips has said that the domestic abuse bill “could be dropped” as parliament focuses on Brexit.
Regardless of your political stance, we can all agree that the ongoing Brexit headache is preventing our MPs from focusing on social issues in the UK that urgently need addressing. Ahead of this week’s motion to pass a bill that will stop a no-deal Brexit in October, Conservative MP Justine Greening announced that she will stand down at the next general election. She explained her decision was reached after realising that her work on bettering social mobility will be more effective outside of parliament.
Now, Labour MP Jess Phillips has said she is “apoplectic” over violence against women being ignored because of the ongoing debates about Brexit.
Phillips has criticised the spending review 2019, which was delivered by chancellor of the exchequer Sajid Javid on Wednesday (4 September), for not including funding for refuges.
She shared a tweet from End Violence Against Women, stating: “VAWG not referenced in #SpendingReview - we know specialist support orgs face HUGE demand - this needs to be prioritised. The £££ for criminal justice system must focus on improving responses to domestic abuse and sexual violence #rapejusticefail.”
Phillips supported the statement by adding: “We were promised millions for the change to refuge funding. Also I’m hearing rumours of the domestic abuse bill being dropped. Of course this the stuff of people’s actual lives is not the vote winner they give a toss about. I’m apoplectic.”
Before stepping down as Prime Minister in July, Theresa May heralded the introduction of her long-awaited, landmark domestic abuse bill to parliament. The bill has been in the works for over two years. If it is finally passed, it contains measures that are all but certain to improve the lives of some domestic abuse survivors in the UK. The traumatic, dangerous practice of allowing abusers to cross-examine their victims in family courts will finally be banned. A statutory government definition of domestic abuse will also be introduced for the first time, one that includes economic abuse – a devastating but under-discussed form of coercive control.
The bill will also boost the powers available to courts to block perpetrators from contacting those they abused, place a legal duty on councils to provide victims and their children with a secure home, and see high-risk offenders forced to take lie detector tests when released from prison.
This will surely help the estimated 1.2 million women and some 713,000 men a year in England and Wales who are affected by domestic abuse.
As MPs need to pass the bill, it is incredibly worrying to see Phillips write about it being potentially dropped. The fact that funds for supporting people affected by domestic abuse hasn’t been mentioned in the spending statement only adds further concern to the issue.
This shocking news shared by Phillips isn’t the only reason she has gone viral on Twitter this week. The politician gave a powerful speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, calling out members of the opposition for not supporting their colleagues. She was referring to the 21 Tory Party rebels who have been sacked by leader Boris Johnson after backing the bill to stop the UK from crashing out of the EU. During her speech, Phillips also said that Johnson is playing a “bully boy game” and described how she “does not trust him one bit”.
Hopefully, after receiving such a positive and strong reaction by followers, Phillips’ mission to properly address domestic abuse will also be properly supported by her peers in parliament.
You can find out more about how to support women affected by domestic violence by visiting the End Violence Against Women website.