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Rosie Duffield reveals online abuse suffered in maiden Commons speech as Canterbury MP

PUBLISHED: 09:35 08 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:35 08 September 2017

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield

Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield

Archant

The Labour MP also discussed Brexit, the NHS and also paid tribute to her predecessor, Sir Julian Brazier

Rosie Duffield has told the House of Commons how she has experienced “vile” online abuse as she made her first parliamentary speech three months after being elected Canterbury MP.

The Labour candidate defied the odds when she beat Conservative stalwart Sir Julian Brazier in June’s snap election but has maintained something of a low profile in the subsequent weeks.

Speaking during a debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, Ms Duffield said: “Many people — especially me — were completely stunned on the morning of 9 June to wake up and find that a new red dot had appeared on the previously entirely blue political map of Kent.

“I am still recovering from the shock, but am also determined to bring as much positive difference as I possibly can during my time in this place.

“Before I speak a little more about my constituency, I want to mention the so-called ‘trolling’ of my, mostly female, colleagues over the summer. I have already experienced a fair amount of trolling myself.

“This ranges from ill-informed, badly researched articles published as fact to unpleasant personal messages late at night, and vile, vitriolic insults from a small, but persistent, handful of activists from other parties posted online.”

The MP said she acknowledged work being done to raise the issue and fight against it, insisting members on all sides should not resort to name-calling during political debate.

She added: “As the first woman ever to have been elected in Canterbury and as a single mother, I want to be a champion for equality not only for women, but also for the disabled, people of every ethnic and racial background, the young and the old, the LGBT community and people of all faiths and none.

“It is a scandal that in this day and age there is still inequality in pay and discrimination in many forms.

“All such prejudice has no place in our society; I will challenge and fight it wherever I find it.”

She also referenced the NHS, “our nation’s sickest patient”, and the ongoing troubles at the Kent & Canterbury Hospital in the city.

On Brexit, she demanded the rights of EU nationals are protected and that foreign healthcare professionals must still be welcomed.

“In around 1370, long before he wrote The Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer was sent to Italy by the King to negotiate a trade agreement between Genoa and England,” Ms Duffield added.

“Historical documents show that it was a very successful trade agreement indeed.

“I can only wish that our current Brexit negotiations with the EU will be as successful.

“You would think that after nearly 650 years, we would have picked up a tip or two.

“I hope the current government are listening to the whispers of history, and indeed to today’s shouts from up and down the United Kingdom.

“People want a good deal. They do not want no deal; this is not a television game show with a snappy title.

“We must come out with a deal that does not send us back into the economic dark ages.”

Ms Duffield also paid tribute to her Conservative predecessor, insisting that while they disagreed on many issues including equal marriage and leaving the EU, she wished him well for the future.

In her concluding remarks, she said: “I love Canterbury. I love her surrounding villages such as Littlebourne, Chartham, Blean and Bridge.

“I love the working harbour of Whitstable and the pebbles of the surrounding Kent coast.

“I am humbled by the people of my constituency putting their trust in me, and I want to work hard for all the people in my area.

“I believe in unity and togetherness, and that love and trust can transcend borders.

“I believe in progressive and thoughtful socialism in which we work for and think of our neighbours without prejudice.

“Thank you for listening, Mr. Speaker, and for allowing me to have my first moments fighting for the people who elected me. I will not let them down.”

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