Newcastle MP first to question minister in the French parliament

Fluent French helped a Newcastle MP become the first ever English politician to grill a minister in Paris.

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah
Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah

Fluent French helped a Newcastle MP become the first ever English politician to grill a minister in Paris.

Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, flew to the French capital to take part in a committee of the country’s National Assembly, the lower House of the French Parliament.

She was invited by Michel Sapin, minister for Labour, Employment and Socialist affairs under the Government of socialist President Francois Hollande, to sit in the European Affairs Committee meeting.

She said: “It’s not been done by anyone before. It was a meeting like one of our select committees except they can invite people from other countries if they wish although this was the first. “They were keen to show they wanted to work with us and I think being part of Europe is really important to the economy of the North East.”

Her question to Mr Sapin inquired about the use of social enterprise projects as a way of tackling youth unemployment across Europe.

She made reference to pioneering French organisation Sport Dans La Ville which helps 15 to 19-year-olds gain work skills through sport activities.

She said: “Due to the failings of this country’s Work Programme at getting unemployed people into work I went to see what other countries are doing so that we can learn from that.”

Ms Onwurah, who grew up in Newcastle, is the Labour party’s representative to the French Government and became fluent in the language after living in the country for three years while working for telecom company Nortel in the 1990s.

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