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West Leeds: A Day in the Life of a Member of Parliament

Rachel Reeves has been the Member of Parliament for Leeds West for ten years. In the latest ‘day in the life‘ series of articles she talks with community reporter Jo Fiddes about how her role has changed since Covid-19, her promotion to the Shadow Cabinet, and what’s on her to do list when we get back to “normality.”   

The day begins…

Rachel is an early riser – this is so she has time to enjoy a breakfast of toast and fruit with a cup of tea whilst catching up on the news and any briefings from the Shadow Cabinet.

She is often called upon to be the Labour spokesperson on news programmes such as BBC Breakfast, Good Morning Britain and Sky News. She says:

“It’s so important that Labour works constructively with Government in this time of national crisis, whilst ensuring that we press for improvements to be made as needed, for example with PPE, and so I enter into discussions with this frame of mind.

“It’s strange to have all the interviews taking place from home though, with people being able to see what your house is like and what’s on your bookshelves!”  

MP Rachel Reeves at Kirkstall Forge Station

The day unfolds…

After the early morning TV appearances, Rachel’s meetings start. These now take place over the internet, as per Government guidance.

A daily Covid-19 Shadow Cabinet committee meeting is followed by meetings with other stakeholders, such as councillors, local head teachers, and the West Leeds support hubs (Armley Helping Hands, BARCA, Kirkstall Valley Development Trust and New Wortley Community Centre).

“We have all had to learn a new way of working – it’s great that technology means I am able keep in touch with my constituents but I am really missing seeing people face to face. I’m especially missing my early morning swims in Bramley Baths!” 

In the afternoon, if time allows, Rachel watches the Parliament Channel to make sure she is up to date with any political developments.

The number of MPs currently permitted in the chamber is now limited so she is only allowed to attend for specific tasks, such as her recent appearance at the Dispatch Box, questioning Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Balancing work and family remains a priority for her. “Today I helped my daughter join her ballet class, which has moved from classroom to Zoom during lockdown – a new experience for us all!”

The day ends…

Like many of us, Rachel watches the Government’s daily press briefing. After this, there’s another virtual meeting, this time with Labour Parliamentarians.

The usual family things (making tea and reading bedtime stories to her two young children), alongside reviewing West Leeds constituency casework, fill the rest of the evening.

The bulk of recent casework has been related to repatriation of nationals stuck abroad, concerns relating to PPE, and providing practical support for businesses affected by the pandemic.

“Like everyone, I am looking forward to returning to normality, meeting with constituents in my weekly surgeries, supporting Leeds West businesses and non-profits in all their hard work and when it’s safe to do so, and swimming in Bramley Baths once again.

“For now though, the most helpful thing those of us able to work from home can do is just that, stay home and support the amazing staff working in the NHS in so doing. The national effort has been incredible to date but we must remain vigilant and be patient so that more loved ones are not lost.” 

She added that her parliamentary teams in both Leeds and London continue to work from home.

She can be contacted on 0113 255 2311 or at rachel.reeves.mp@parliament.uk.

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