THE PRESS recently sat down with Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff to talk about the work she has been doing in the constituency – and issues that have arisen in her challenging role as an MP.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Ms Sherriff spoke on topics including the future of Dewsbury Hospital, how her work has changed since the killing of Batley MP Jo Cox and the future of the Labour Party.
The Labour MP is well known for attending as many community events as possible in her Dewsbury & Mirfield constituency.
But she admitted that some local people don’t have a positive view of her.
“The hardest thing about the job is the perception that some people have of me,” she said.
“I can be in the supermarket and people will shout ‘are you putting that on expenses?’
“I’m not driven by money, I do the job because, as cheesy as it sounds, I want to make a difference, I want to improve people’s lives.
“If you look at some of the campaigns we run, we do not always do the populist causes.
“Equally with votes, I voted against air strikes in Syria and some people said that I only did that because Dewsbury has a Muslim population, which I find really offensive – the idea that I would vote just to appease people.”
The Dewsbury MP also made it clear that she was not in favour of Jeremy Corbyn remaining as the party’s leader.
But after the Islington MP was re-elected, she admitted that the party must unite if it is to have a chance of winning the next General Election.
She said: “I didn’t support Jeremy in the leadership vote as I did what I thought was right.
“However, I appreciate Jeremy was re-elected with a mandate and I will support him as our leader.
“I am hugely for this unity agenda and I will be doing everything I can to help unite the party.
“Locally there were people who supported both Jeremy and Owen Smith and I wrote to members locally to explain why I had reached the decision to vote for Owen. But I am clear now that Jeremy was re-elected and we have to provide a serious opposition.”
This week the Labour MP also had the chance to ask the first question at Prime Minister’s Questions.
She revealed that private health contractor Virgin Care imposed a system of ‘double appointments’ to artificially increase its income from the NHS after taking over the dermatology service for which she had worked before being elected as an MP.
Speaking in the Commons she said: “I previously worked in an NHS service which the coalition government gifted to Virgin Care, who are now seeking another contract covering my constituency.
“Among many unethical practices I witnessed, Virgin imposed a system of ‘double appointments’, forcing patients to have an unnecessary extra consultation before minor surgery, boosting their profits at the expense of the taxpayer and patient safety. Is this acceptable, and if not, what will she do about it?”
The Prime Minister Theresa May refused to promise any action.
• Read the second part of The Press interview with Paula Sherriff in next week’s edition