Inside view of an MP’s work

Leigh MP Andy Burnham with outgoing Bedford High School head girl Rebecca Halliwell, 16, at Westminster
Leigh MP Andy Burnham with outgoing Bedford High School head girl Rebecca Halliwell, 16, at Westminster
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A STUDENT is dreaming of a career in politics after being given a first-hand insight into the corridors of power while shadowing her local MP.

Leigh teenager Rebecca Halliwell, 16, took a trip to Westminster with the town’s MP and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham to see Parliament in action and find out how decisions in the shadow cabinet are made.

Rebecca was picked to accompany Mr Burnham to London as she was head girl at Bedford High School when he visited to speak to the year 11 leavers about his rise to the highest levels of government.

Rebecca, who is now going on to study Spanish at college, says the experience has opened her eyes to a potential career in politics and given her valuable insight into how the country is run.

She said: “As head girl I was chosen to officially greet Mr Burnham when he arrived at our school. During his speech he told us how we could achieve anything we wanted to with the right amount of hard work and determination and we all got a lot from it.

“After his speech, we met with Mr Burham and he invited me to be one of the students to visit his office in Westminster and find out more about the work of an MP. I jumped at the chance.

“I was really impressed with the amount of work they have to do. It really is non-stop. They have to deal with really important subjects and it’s given me a real interest in politics.

“The experience has made me think about how I can apply it to my future career. Ideally I want to be a translator and I am now thinking about a role possibly working in government or the European Parliament.”

Rebecca’s time at Westminster saw her accompany Mr Burnham to many high-level meetings with other MPs to discuss policy as well as getting a seat to observe the drama of Prime Minister’s Question Time up close. She is now hoping to find out more about the other half of an MPs working life away from London when she work shadows Mr Burnham at his Leigh constituency office next month.

She said: “Seeing Prime Minister’s Question Time was really exciting. Lots of people were all trying to speak. It was good to see something for real that I’ve only ever seen on the television before. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done and if I had the chance I’d go every week.

“More young people should be given this kind of experience because it’s really important that we all take an interest in how our country is run. We are the voters and the politicians of the future so people have to learn more about it at an early age.”

Mr Burnham was also highly impressed with Rebecca’s enthusiasm and interest in politics.

He said: “It was a real pleasure to be able to show a young person from Leigh how Parliament works behind the scenes. Rebecca learnt a lot, mostly good, and I have no doubt she will go very far.

“I want all young people in Leigh to have the highest ambitions for what they might achieve and hope more will follow Rebecca’s lead.”