23 MAR 2017

Howard Interns: a week in British Politics

Kent Messenger Column - 24-03-17

Taylor and Mirabella present Helen with a gift depicting Howard University

In last week's column I heralded the arrival of two young female politics students from Howard University in Washington D.C. for a week with a British MP. Here is an extract of Mirabella (20) and Taylor's (19) reflections on their time with us as 'mini interns';

'What a week! Amidst our busy first day in Parliament we witnessed history in the House of Commons as the Article 50 Bill was passed, and almost unbelievably we met with former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who just happened to be on site too.

As the week unfolded we met a broad range of MPs from all parties, attended receptions, committees, debates and engaged in a variety of issues such as Brexit, international aid, the evolution of political parties and diversity in Parliament. Surprises? One was the large number of members in both Houses compared with US Congress. Similarities? An understanding of the fact that both our nations are going through a process of controversial change, Britain with Brexit and we with a new President.

Our itinerary closed with a visit to the beautiful constituency of Maidstone and the Weald, having heard so much about it from Helen's team in London. We met with KCC leader Paul Carter, took part in surgery appointments to learn about the local issues that matter to local people, and took a lunch trip to the fabulous nearby Leeds Castle. Amazing.

We have learned so much and it has been an unforgettable experience.'

These young ladies have great aspirations and their UK trip has reinforced those hopes enormously. I will be staying in touch and I'm looking into reciprocal opportunities for Kent students to 'intern' in Washington.

Outward looking initiatives are so important for our younger people, especially in countering regressive, inward-looking, populist nationalism. On that note I was delighted with the Dutch election result last week and hopefully France will follow their anti-extremist example.

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