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Aquind Stopped: Portsmouth MP responds

Responding to the Secretary of State’s decision to stop the Aquind interconnector project going ahead, Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, said: 

“The government have finally seen sense and stopped the disastrous Aquind project.

“This is a victory for the people of Portsmouth over years of uncertainty and Tory cronyism.

“I pay tribute to local campaigners who have helped me lead our City’s united opposition.

“I will continue to raise questions about how Conservative ministers came so close to allowing party donors facing corruption allegations to control a national infrastructure project.

“Without our efforts, this would not have been possible. Together, we have stopped Aquind.”

The Portsmouth South MP has long opposed the Aquind interconnector project, working alongside the Let’s Stop Aquind grassroots group.

Since his election he has grilled Ministers in Parliament, secured a dedicated debate on the issue, attended protests alongside local campaigners and met the project company to discuss concerns.

In September, Mr Morgan submitted a 6,200 signature petition to Parliament calling on the Business Secretary to scrap the project.

Mr Morgan has also consistently raised concerns about the project company’s concerningly opaque structure and finances.

Media reports from the BBC and Guardian revealed that Aquind owner Viktor Fedotov benefited from a $4bn alleged fraud in Russia. This seems to have been achieved through a complex scheme that funnelled government cash through layers of shell companies that were ultimately owned by Mr Fedotov.

Similar concerns have been raised about Aquind’s finances, with little information available about where its money is coming from, who is providing it, or whether similar complex financial structures are being used to hide this.

Mr Fedotov had been able to remain completely anonymous as the company’s owner using a rare exemption in corporate transparency rules, until his identity was revealed following an investigation by The Times in August 2020. Why this anonymity was necessary is not clear.

Aquind’s public face, Alexander Temerko, has also conducted a coordinated and concerted effort to influence British political figures.

Since the project started, Temerko has donated £700,000 to the Conservative Party. In addition to this, research done by the BBC has revealed that Mr Fedotov’s businesses have donated a further £700,000 to 34 MPs and their local parties. This includes a string of current and former Ministers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State was asked directly on Andrew Marr on 10 October if he was in favour of the project. He replied, “I have never commented on this specific project”.

However, letters obtained by The Times through a Freedom of Information request show the Mr Kwarteng indicated both his and the government’s support for the project when he was Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth.

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Aquind: Portsmouth MP grills ministers on checks carried out on alleged ‘fraudster’ owners of ‘disastrous project’

Stephen Morgan MP grilled ministers in the House of Commons today on what checks have been carried out on the owners of Aquind, after one was implicated in a £72m fraud scheme linked to Putin’s Russia.

Revelations uncovered by BBC Panorama and The Guardian newspaper in October raised serious questions over whether a reported £72m, made by Aquind co-owner Viktor Fedotov through an allegedly corrupt company, made its way to the heart of the British government and has influenced its decision to give the Russian-born AQUIND co-owner’s infrastructure project the green light or not.

Alexander Temerko, who is a friend of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and also a co-owner of AQUIND, has together with the company donated £1.1m to the Conservative Party.

The Portsmouth MP recently hosted Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead MP on a visit to the city to meet with ‘Stop Aquind’ campaigners, as next month’s deadline (January 21) for the government to make a decision on whether to approve the controversial project looms.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“There are serious allegations surrounding the Aquind interconnector project and yet many questions are still left unanswered. After delaying its decision twice, the government has had more than enough time to do the due diligence that’s needed to get to the bottom of this.

“Reported shady ties between Aquind’s co-owners and dirty money tracing back to Putin’s Russia need to be fully investigated, particularly if any of it has made its way to ministers at the heart of the British government via political donations.

“Ministers must come clean on checks they have done around Aquind and its owners to protect our national infrastructure and finally bring an end to this disastrous project once and for all.”

 

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Small Business Saturday: City MP announces winners of his ‘Support local’ awards

Stephen Morgan MP has announced the winners of his ‘Support Local’ Portsmouth small business awards, as the country marked Small Business Saturday.

Last month, the city MP called for local people to nominate their favourite local shops and traders in his constituency in three different categories. With dozens and dozens of nominations across Milton, Southsea, Old Portsmouth, Eastney, Fratton, Landport, Buckland and Portsea, this year’s winners are:

  • Greenest Local Business: Package Free Larder, Elm Grove, Southsea
  • Friendliest Local Business: MAKE, Cornwall Road, Fratton
  • Overall Best Business: Andre’s Food Bar, Osborne Road, Southsea

The Portsmouth MP delivered the award winners with certificates on Saturday, and thanked them for their service to our communities.

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K. go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

£1.1 billion was spent with small businesses across the UK during last year’s Small Business Saturday, with 15.4 million people turning out to support small businesses.

The city awards build on last year’s successful initiative by the Portsmouth South representative that saw hundreds of people nominating local shops and traders across constituency.

The City MP has been a long-time supporter of Portsmouth’s local businesses.

In May, the Portsmouth representative launched his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign that encouraged local people to support small businesses as the economy unlocked. Since being elected, he has been lobbying government through a range of parliamentary questions, raising concerns in Parliament and calling on Government to better support Portsmouth’s businesses.

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our city, but the past 18 months has been an incredibly difficult time for many of them.

“That’s why I have been calling on people to ‘Support Local’ this Christmas, and am delighted to finally announce this year’s winners of my small business awards. They truly deserve recognition for the way they have gone above and beyond in serving our city’s communities this year.

“Like many Portsmouth people, on this weekend’s Small Business Saturday, I’ll be out and about supporting local traders and shops. So many small businesses and shopworkers helped keep our city going during the pandemic. Now it’s our turn to support them not just this Saturday, but all year round.”

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City MP praises local heroes at this year’s Inspiring Fratton Awards

Stephen Morgan MP praised this year’s winners of the Inspiring Fratton Awards, a scheme set up three years ago by the locally born parliamentary representative in partnership with Fratton Big Local.

The Portsmouth MP handed out the awards to winners during a ceremony at St Mary’s church on Friday evening.

The Inspiring Fratton 2021 Award Winners for are:

  • Contribution to Creativity in Fratton Over 18: Claire Phillips
  • Contribution to Creativity in Fratton under 18: Darcie Kingston
  • Contribution to Education in Fratton Over 18: Lynn Harris
  • Contribution to Education in Fratton under 18: Keira Coles
  • Contribution to Sport in Fratton in Fratton over 18: Ali Fayazi
  • Contribution to Sport in Fratton in Fratton under 18: Christopher Lillie
  • Contribution to Volunteering in Fratton Over 18: Kay Ackerman
  • Contribution to Volunteering in Fratton under 18: Lilyann More
  • Best Café / Take Away in Fratton Rd: Paanchi
  • Best Trader/ Business in Fratton Rd: Electric Arms
  • Contribution to Community Life in Fratton in extraordinary time Over 18: Helen Barter
  • Contribution to Community Life in Fratton in extraordinary time under 18: Alice Stoneham

Fratton Big Local is a ‘Big Lottery’ funded 10-year project which aims to make lasting improvements to Fratton.
Run by a partnership of local residents, the scheme makes decisions about how to spend the funding, based on engagement and conversations with local key groups and those living in the area.

Awards categories are split between over 18s and under 18s, ranging from best community volunteer, to the best café or takeway on Fratton Road.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, commented,

“Born and bred in Fratton I’ve always believed the area is a strong and resilient community, but the last 18 months have tested every resident, in every part of this area.

“When, three years ago, I set up the Inspiring Fratton awards with Fratton Big Local, we never thought our community would be tested in the way it has in recent months.

“After last year’s hybrid award ceremony, I was delighted to be able to hand these awards over to their richly deserving winners, with so many more people there to see it in person this time.

These unsung heroes in Fratton who have gone above and beyond this year are truly making a positive and lasting legacy for our community.”

This is the third year the awards ceremony has taken place, with last year’s Inspiring Fratton Awards ceremony being hybrid event that was broadcast online.

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Don’t miss out: Stephen Morgan’s next ‘Pint with your MP’ session set to take place this weekend

Stephen Morgan MP is set to host his third ‘Pint with your MP’ session of 2021, with the next post-lockdown event taking place this Sunday at 3pm.
The pop-up ‘Pint with your MP’ sessions are designed as informal opportunities for constituents to say hello to their local Member of Parliament and share issues and concerns about topics of interest both locally and nationally.
The Portsmouth representative is determined to take up every opportunity to have more face-to-face conversations with constituents safely after more than a year of restrictions, whilst also helping to support local businesses, as the city recovers from the pandemic.
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“I’m looking forward to hosting the next ‘Pint with your MP’ event, after really useful and well-attended sessions so far this year.
“This is a great way for local people to share views and issues with me to take back to Westminster whilst supporting a local business.
“As Portsmouth’s voice in Parliament, it’s really important to be out and about and speaking with people to ensure that everyone’s views are heard, not just the loudest ones or those who have better access to technology.
“I hope these sessions have been a chance for others to come and speak to me in a way that is more accessible to them.”

The full address for the ‘Pint with your MP’ session is: Groundlings Theatre, 42 Kent St, Portsea, Portsmouth, PO1 3BS.
Whilst national restrictions have eased, attendees are encouraged to take reasonable precautions to feel safe to attend.
The event is open to all constituents and booking is essential. To confirm your attendance, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/pint-with-your-mp-tickets-191631694557

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Respect Shopworkers Week: Portsmouth MP calls for Christmas shoppers to ‘keep their cool’

Stephen Morgan MP has back USDAW’s Respect Shopworkers Week campaign and called for Christmas shoppers to ‘keep their cool’ over the busy festive period.

The Portsmouth MP has paid a visit to South Parade’s Co-op to speak with staff and understand the local challenges they have faced this year.

Respect Shopworkers Week is a national annual campaign that works to both curb and raise awareness of the physical and verbal abuse shopworkers receive day-to-day across the country.

USDAW’s survey results have shown a troubling increase in violence and abuse against retail workers in recent years — with another significant increase in 2020 during the Coronavirus crisis.

According to the shopworkers union, 90% of retail workers were abused whilst working on the shop floor over the last year.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Shop and retail workers both here in Portsmouth and across the country have been the backbone of local communities over the last 18 months.

“During this crisis, our key workers have been there to support us when we needed it most. The very least they deserve is to be treated with the dignity and respect we would all normally expect from each other when in our place of work.

“That’s why I am proud to support this year’s Respect Shopworkers Week’ and urge local shoppers to keep their cool this Christmas.”

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City MP challenges Tories on Russian-linked AQUIND donations

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has backed Labour’s calls to investigate whether donations to the Conservative party from Russian-linked individuals like Alexander Temerko are connected to Putin’s Kremlin.
Questions from Labour follow revelations on a series of wealthy donors who have given money to the Conservatives and have business links to Russia or other wealthy Russians.
Donors who have made money from Russia or Russians have given £1.93m to either the Conservative party or individual constituency associations since Boris Johnson took power in July 2019, according to calculations made by Labour based on disclosures to the Electoral Commission.
This includes Alexander Temerko and Aquind, the energy company he part-owns. Temerko has handed more than £1.6m in donations to Conservative political figures over recent years.Its majority investor, the Russian-born oil tycoon Viktor Fedotov, secretly co-owned a company once accused of participating in a massive corruption scheme relating to a Russian pipeline.
Labour’s Security Minister Conor McGinn said it was “deeply worrying to see revealed potential financial links between senior donors and Putin’s Russia” and asked about “the adequacy of the processes” by which donors are vetted.
In a letter addressed to his opposite number in government, Damian Hinds, he asked “What checks have been completed on the financial origins of the donations themselves and were any links to hostile state actors discovered?” He also asked whether MI5 had raised any concerns about the cash and its influence.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“I have long raised concerns about AQUIND’s opaque financial structures and the possible threat the project poses to our national security.
“The fact is, we don’t know where AQUIND’s money comes from or who is providing it. Until recently, even its true owners were able to remain anonymous. This, plus their sizeable donations to senior Conservative politicians, paints an increasingly sinister picture of their motives.
“Serious questions remain about whether we should trust them to build nationally significant infrastructure. We don’t know what Tory MPs promised them before lining their pockets and accepting their cash.
“One thing is clear: Ministers must immediately stop AQUIND, once and for all. Any pretence that this Tory Government is able to make an impartial decision on the project is laughable”.

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Small Business Saturday: City MP calls for nominations of best local businesses

Stephen Morgan MP has called for nominations for the best local shops and traders as Britain prepares to mark Small Business Saturday on December 4th, 2021.

The Portsmouth MP is calling for nominations in his constituency in three different categories:

  • Greenest Local Business
  • Friendliest Local Business
  • Overall Best Business

Small Business Saturday UK is a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses in their communities.

On Small Business Saturday, customers across the U.K. go out and support all types of small businesses, online, in offices and in stores. Many small businesses take part in the day by hosting events and offering discounts.

£1.1 billion was spent with small businesses across the UK during last year’s Small Business Saturday, with 15.4 million people turning out to support small businesses.

The awards build on last year’s largely successful initiative by the Portsmouth South representative that saw hundreds of constituents nominating local shops and traders across Southsea, Milton, Fratton and Eastney.

The City MP has been a long-time supporter of Portsmouth’s local businesses.

In May, the Portsmouth representative launched his ‘Pride in Portsmouth’ campaign that encouraged local people to support small businesses as the economy unlocked. Since being elected, he has been lobbying government through a range of parliamentary questions, raising concerns in Parliament and calling on Government to better support Portsmouth’s businesses.

Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“Local businesses are the lifeblood of our city, but the past 18 months has been an incredibly difficult period for many of them.

“That’s why I’m calling on local people to help me showcase the best of our city and highlight independent businesses that go above and beyond in serving communities across our constituency.

“I look forward to receiving nominations from our community and encourage everyone to show support to local traders and shops as we approach this year’s Small Business Saturday and beyond.”

Nominations for Stephen’s Support Local awards can be made here. The deadline for nominations is December 1.
All nominations will then be considered and winners from each category will be selected and awarded with a certificate for Small Business Saturday.

Greenest Local Business nominations could be for those that have a ‘zero-waste’ policy, while nominations for Friendliest Local Business could be those that have gone the extra mile or offered that personal touch. For Overall Best Business, nominations should be for businesses that have gone above and beyond in serving the constituency this year.

All entries must be based in Portsmouth South (Fratton, Milton, Southsea, Old Portsmouth, Eastney, Landport, Buckland or Portsea).

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City MP: Levelling Up ‘postcode lottery’ won’t help our city

City MP Stephen Morgan has branded the Levelling Up Fund a ‘postcode lottery’ after the Chancellor refused to give the south of the city a single penny of government money in yesterday’s Budget.

The north of the city, represented by Conservative Minister Penny Mordaunt, received £20m for several projects, including an urban park, upgrades to Hilsea Lido and a new cruise terminal.

Mr Morgan supported the City Council’s bid for a number of projects across the whole city, including funding a step change in leisure provision and a new cultural hub in the Portsmouth South constituency. He lobbied for all proposals for the whole of the city recognising the benefits it would bring communities across Portsmouth. However, proposals for the south of the city received a penny from the Chancellor. Gosport, which the government identified as a ‘priority 1 area’ for levelling up, also got nothing.

Worse still, many projects that would have genuinely benefited the city had to be excluded from bids altogether, because of the fund’s narrow criteria.

This includes the long-overdue regeneration of the city centre, the rejuvenation of Portsmouth Harbour’s transport hub to improve access to the Historic Dockyard and Gunwharf Quay, and improving pedestrian access between Fratton station and the football stadium. The MP has previously lobbied the Chancellor separately about these matters.

Ministers required projects to be ‘shovel ready’ and able to demonstrate that investment will begin delivery on the ground in this financial year, with all funding being spent by March 2024.

The City MP wrote to the Chancellor in July to raise concerns about the narrow scope of the fund in July, suggesting that it was ‘likely to stifle the very projects the fund should be investing in’.

He also said that the ‘mad rush’ for projects to be completed by 2024 raised concerns that the government is “administering the fund for short term political gain, as opposed to taking a long-term, constructive approach – the absence of which has arguably created the need for a levelling up agenda in the first place.”

The lack of cash for the south of the city is particularly puzzling, given that recent research indicates that Portsmouth South was officially in need of ‘levelling up’. Consultants ranked 573 parliamentary constituencies in England and Wales based on key indicators of wealth, health and deprivations, with Portsmouth coming in at 160.

The constituency was shown to be 30% higher than the England and Wales average on both crime and deprivation and ranked in the bottom 20 constituencies on health, based on the number of GPs and the average life expectancy for the area.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan said:

“It’s now clear the government’s approach to Levelling Up is a postcode lottery based only on their political ambitions, not a genuine desire to support communities.

“I have long-supported improvements to the north of the city, including the new John Jenkins stadium, but to leave the south without a penny fails to address the major inequalities between our areas.

“Ministers must take a long-term approach to supporting prosperity across the whole of Portsmouth. I will continue to work with the Council on the next round of bids, and lobby government to put opportunity and prosperity on the doorsteps of everyone in our city.”

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Tiffin Cup Nomination

Please vote for your favourite South Asian restaurant in Portsmouth South. The restaurant with the most nominations from constituents will be nominated by Stephen Morgan MP to the Tiffin Cup judges.

Following Stephen’s local nomination there will be a Regional Final from which 12 Finalists are chosen. At the final each restaurant will be asked to prepare a signature dish which will be marked by a panel of expert Judges which is chaired by the Celebratory Chef Ainsley Harriott MBE. The winner is crowned Tiffin Cup winner for the year. The Tiffin Cup celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Established in 2007 it seeks to promote the importance of South Asian restaurants throughout the UK. Nominations need to be made by Monday 22 November. The Regional Final stage will be completed by 27th January 2022. The Grand Final with the live judging will take place in March 2022

Thank you for nominating. Stephen Morgan MP will use the personal information you provided for the purpose of the Tiffin Cup awards. Where you have opted in, Stephen and the Labour Party may contact you via the communication channels you have chosen and for the purposes specified. We may also contact you by post using the electoral register, which Stephen is entitled to use as an MP and the Labour Party is entitled to use to further its objectives as a political party. You can opt out of communications from us or manage your preferences at any time. For more information about how we use personal data please visit here