Parliament has now broken for the summer and it’s been good to get back to the cooler weather in Cornwall. Westminster has been hot and bothered in more ways than one in recent weeks. However, when we all return in the autumn, there will remain some important decisions to make as far as negotiation with the EU is concerned.
The EU referendum was divisive and parliament sadly remains divided today. The Prime Minister has a difficult task trying to put together a position that can command the support of all sides in parliament. The refusal of some MPs to respect the result of the referendum is undermining our country in these important negotiations with the EU about a future partnership.
In my view we need to put the arguments of the past behind us, and unite to make a success of Brexit with a new partnership with the EU based on friendship and cooperation. If we get this right we can reassure those who are nervous of change while also implementing the decision taken by our country in 2016. However, it is also important to remember that we do not need permission from the EU to leave. It was a decision to leave, not a negotiation. Parliament has already passed the legislation to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act and to end the supremacy of EU law in March next year. All that we are really negotiating at the moment are the terms of any possible future partnership.
The Prime Minister has been clear that she believes the latest position she has put forward should serve to unblock the negotiations and get the talks moving forward. Her proposal would mean that we would have full control of our own fishing waters, would have full control of our agriculture policy and we would have our own independent immigration policy and trade policy. The supremacy of EU law would end but we would agree to some regulatory alignment with the EU on a narrow set of issues around product standards which affect border checks. The ball is now in the EU's court and we will find out by the autumn whether they are serious.
As the Minister for Farming, Fisheries and Food, I have been working hard in recent weeks on two important Bills. The first will create the powers for us to design our own independent fisheries policy and to control access to our waters in future. The second is an Agriculture Bill which sets out the powers we need to put in place new schemes that really deliver for farming and our environment once we are free from the EU and can scrap some of the pointless bureaucracy and paperwork that goes with the CAP.
However, for now, I am focusing on issues closer to home. Last week I attended a roundtable meeting with representatives from voluntary sector organisations in Cornwall. The meeting was a great way to bring together MPs and voluntary sector organisations from across Cornwall to talk about a variety of matters from loneliness, to future funding arrangements for Cornwall, and looking at Social Action Projects. We discussed some of the challenges we have in Cornwall especially when it comes to transport and the importance of the charity and voluntary sector to help address need, especially when it comes to early interventions on issues like mental health.
I also recently took the time to hold an open surgery in Redruth to meet local people and hear some of their concerns and cases that they might have. One of the things that persuaded me to stand for election in the first place was seeing the work that MPs do in their constituencies to help people deal with specific problems in their daily lives. You can’t always solve the problem, but you can always try, give advice and lend a helping hand. When you do succeed, it makes the job worthwhile. I hold regular surgeries in my office in Camborne and if you have a case that you would like assistance with, then please email my office at email@example.com or by phone on 0207 219 7032.