Keir Starmer

Immigration and Refugees: Listening and learning in Colchester, Ipswich and Cambridge

On Friday I was in the East of England – as part of my tour to hear from and discuss issues concerning immigration and refugees, who are part of my brief.


I’ve been to Scotland, Northern Ireland and across the North of England. Other destinations are in the planning.


It’s been fascinating and I have learnt a great deal. But I thought I would share some images of what one day includes.


Hectic and tiring, but well worth it!



First off, meeting Mohammed and Khadija Harrah – refugees from Syria, who arrived in Colchester on 15 March.


Mohammed is blind and has now been registered.


They are part of a group of five families who are being assisted by the charity New Beginnings.




The refugees told me how grateful they are to be in the UK, looking forward to re-building their lives.


I was able to explain how some of the systems work here.





Ryan Jennings, from Colchester’s Daily Gazette, came to interview me.




You can read his article here.


From there it was on to Ipswich – and a chance to get out and about with people visiting its thriving market.


Mike Young has been selling fish at his stall for a staggering 34 years – and he was a mine of information about the views of his customers.





It was also a chance to do a little campaigning for Cath Pickles, who is standing as Police Commissioner.






The BBC’s Look East wanted a quick word – so another interview.





Then, off to meet the local party – and warm up with tea and cake in the Ipswich town hall café!



Also an opportunity to discuss policing with Cath Pickles, and wish her well with her campaign





…then off to Cambridge, where I spoke on immigration and refugees, at Hughes Hall




…to a most attentive and well-informed audience.




…before dropping in at a Refugee Action event in Cambridge.


Jess Mills – singer and songwriter   -  and daughter of Tessa Jowell and David Mills, who was a pupil at Acland Burghley School, spoke eloquently about the situation in Calais.




Finally, I had a fundraising dinner with my friend colleague Daniel Zeichner MP and his Cambridge Labour Party. So another speech, before climbing back on the train back to London!


A long day, but getting out of Westminster is invaluable: to hear what local people have to say, to discuss and clarify the issues. 


It will all feed into our work over the next few months.