Laura Pidcock, 30, has defended missing a key debate on Universal Credit because she tweeted about it
A Labour MP has defended taking a holiday in Venice during a debate on Universal Credit because she tweeted about it.
Laura Pidcock admitted that though she had taken a break while Parliament was sitting, she followed what was happening online.
The MP for North West Durham, who is a leading critic of the Government’s welfare reform, posted a response on Facebook to the Mail’s story about skipping the debate.
In it, she admitted that she had taken a trip to Venice with her partner for a few days to celebrate her 30th birthday – though a spokesman said she had a ‘long-standing commitment’.
She said that she was ‘gutted’ not to have taken part and had instead followed the discussion online before she returned on Wednesday.
‘I tweeted from Italy in the lead up and during the debate because, naturally, I was keeping up to speed with what was happening in the Chamber,’ she wrote on Facebook.
‘That’s the beauty of social media. We live in a connected world. However, I was always planning to be back in London for the debates and votes taking place on Wednesday.’
She said her partner had booked the three-night trip in half term as he is a teacher and said she would be back for debates yesterday.
But she was not seen in the Chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday.
Yesterday, she said she would ‘probably’ not have gone on holiday had she known there was a vote, adding: ‘I take my responsibilities very seriously.’
She also said she had declined to speak to the Mail when it attempted to contact her as she didn’t want to give the paper ‘the oxygen of publicity’.
Ms Pidcock was seen boarding an EasyJet flight to Venice before the debate, and has since admitted she was there to celebrate her 30th birthday
Miss Pidcock, who famously said she would never be friends with a Tory, said that the whips had approved her trip, which was booked before she became an MP.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman denied that Labour was hypocritical in granting Miss Pidcock permission to go to Venice, but criticising Tory Douglas Ross for missing a debate to referee a football game in Spain.
‘As I understand it, in Laura Pidcock’s case, she had a long-standing engagement which had been flagged up to the whips in advance back in House.’
Miss Pidcock was seen boarding an EasyJet flight to Venice from Edinburgh Airport on Sunday afternoon, according to Politico.
A Labour spokesman said she had missed the debate because of a ‘long-standing commitment’ but would be back for opposition debates.
During her trip to Venice, she tweeted a link to live coverage of the debate and sent several tweets about the subject – despite being more than 700 miles away.
She tweeted a link to Labour’s campaign on Universal Credit, urging her followers to sign a petition to ‘fix’ the reform and retweeted comments by fellow Labour MPs
The tweets gave the impression she was participating in the debate. Miss Pidcock has previously described Universal Credit as a ‘looming disaster’ that will ‘ruin Christmas’.
Miss Pidcock is a rising star in the Labour Party and is close to leader Jeremy Corbyn. She regularly tweets about Government ‘cuts’ and welfare reforms.
She has previously said: ‘This Government will fall – and we have to go out and convince even more people to vote for socialism.’
Miss Pidcock has given interviews in the past in which she plays up her working class roots.
Labour criticised Tory Douglas Ross for missing a Universal Credit debate last week to referee a football game in Barcelona.