This summer, I worked as a Parliamentary intern for Tom Brake MP. Tom belongs to the Liberal Democrat Party and represents the constituency of Carshalton and Wallington. Tom has been serving a Member of Parliament since 1997, which is longer than I have been alive. Thirteen Members of Parliament represent the Liberal Democrat Party, and because they are a smaller party, they have to work diligently to make an impact on the Government policy and in the media. In Tom’s office, I assisted in managing Tom’s diary, as well as writing local, and national press releases as well are a series of other tasks depending on the day.
Since the EU Referendum, the Tory Government have made a mess of Brexit. For three years the Conservatives have been dragging the UK through the mud. The inability to push any deal through Parliament meant that Theresa May was forced to resign and, to no surprise, Boris Johnson came on top of the Conservative leadership race and got his hands on the keys to Number 10 claiming to deliver Brexit before the 31st of October deadline, “do or die.” Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party complacently aided and abetted the Tory Government’s attempts to deliver on Brexit. After three years of assisting May with Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has proven that he will sit passively by while Boris Johnson pushes Britain to the brink of Brexit.
The Liberal Democrats have been the only party consistently calling for a People’s Vote, and the reason I decided I want to work for a Liberal Democrat MP. Since Jo Swinson’s leadership announcement in July, there have been 30,000+ new members! The Liberal Democrats have been hugely successful in the local elections and European elections. In the local elections, the Liberal Democrats secured 700+ seats. In the European elections, the Liberal Democrats were the overall winners in London taking three Member of European Parliament (MEP) seats, while electing a total of sixteen new Member European Parliament (MEP) across the UK.
The day after Boris Johnson became the next Prime Minister he appeared before the House of Commons to present his plan for the new Government he had formed. My colleague Ian and I were able to attend the entirety of the event, and witness Boris Johnson make several promises, some of which included employing 20,000+ police officers, and raising the national living wage. He was charismatic and had immense gusto when he spoke, and I understood why many compared Boris and Trump together. Like Trump, Boris made massive promises with no real fiscal capital to deliver on. While the moment was historical in nature, I felt as though I was watching the beginning to the end. By the end, I am referring to is the promise made by Boris that the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal on the 31st of October.
The skills I feel I have learned the most during my time in Parliament are time management, communication, corporate blogging, networking, campaigning, and social media strategy. I managed many tasks at once, and with the fast-paced environment in Government, especially with the change in Prime Minister and the instability with Brexit, I was always balancing multiple tasks. Communication has also been an overarching theme in my internship. I was in constant contact with my Member of Parliament, my supervisor, my colleagues, and the constituents. Before this internship, I had never written a press release, and by the end, I had written over twenty-six. I called this corporate skill blogging because I feel these press releases gave me the experience needed to confidently write in any capacity for a variety of companies or environments. These press releases allowed me to find my own voice while working within particular guidelines. I feel I learned, I learned through all of the interaction I had with other Members of Parliament, constituents, human rights advocates, and ambassadors who had meetings with Tom. Two of my most memorable experiences were with the Swiss and Swedish ambassadors, who I had the opportunity to speak to through my position on Brexit with.
This experience has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. Living and working in London during this unprecedented time in political history has made the work I performed felt equally meaningful and crucial. This is because the future is so uncertain in the UK with Brexit and the security of the Union. This internship I know will go on to shape my future political career, and the experiences I have had, the people I have met, and the memories I have made have shaped the person I am. If you had told me as a Freshman at FSU that I would live in London and work in Parliament, I would have laughed. However, today, I am so proud that I took the initiative to apply for the Internship Program at FSU because it has changed the trajectory of my life in more ways than one.
Ally Frith is studying International Affairs and Political Science at Florida State University.