Thursday, 31 October 2019

Get Brexit done or more dither and delay?

As I write this article, MPs are voting on whether to hold a General Election in December. Many of us had hoped that it would not get to this stage, that MPs would have found a way to compromise and finally deliver Brexit, indeed there was a moment where a Brexit deal looked possible, but it was not to be. Once again factions in Parliament, Labour and the Liberal Democrats came together to dither and delay and force the Government to abandon any hope of delivering Brexit this side of Christmas.
When the election comes, people will have a clear choice to make between a Government who will get on and deliver Brexit or a Labour opposition that will dither and delay and force more years of referendums and misery on this country. There will be a choice between a government that is putting 20,000 more police on the streets, delivering the biggest hospital building programme in a generation, investing £14 billion more in our schools and levelling up education funding across the country and a government that will truly deliver on the public’s priorities. Or a Labour Opposition who would turn 2020 into a toxic, tedious torture of two more referendums, one on the EU and one on Scotland, hike up taxes, ruin the economy and run this country into the ground.
Here in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle there is also a choice to be made. In my time as an MP I have made the economic regeneration of our towns and job creation my number one priority. We have made good progress in recent years with the new link road, developments around Tuckingmill and the Kresen Kernow Archive, the prospect of South Crofty reopening and new jobs in industries like computer software.
We’ve also seen huge levels of investment into our local health services, and are fortunate to have some of the best healthcare facilities in the country. Recently, there have also been significant commitments from the Government to build a new maternity and children’s unit at Treliske as well as funding to be directed towards a new hospital helping more people have access to first class public health services. Across the constituency, I’ve also worked hard to protect our precious green spaces, campaigning alongside residents to ensure that our precious green spaces are protected from inappropriate developments.
In Westminster I have worked to support those who need help the most, representing constituents cases, helping to unblock problems, proposing a bill that would correct the historic injustices that affect properties affected by mining subsidence as well as fighting for fairer funding for Cornwall, for our schools, nurseries and local services.
In the last nine years we have achieved a great deal, but there is still more to be done to drive forward the growth and reforms that people yearn for. It is time now for the people to decide between a government that will get Brexit done and get on with delivering on the publics priorities or more dither and delay with Labour.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Are we in the home strait at last?

For the first time since the Falklands War, MPs assembled in Parliament on a Saturday to discuss Brexit and the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement. This was an important day and there were hopes that we might finally turn the corner and settle this long running Brexit saga which has sucked the life out of all other debate.
However, it was not to be. Once again, factions in Parliament and Labour and the Liberal Democrats came together to add a wrecking amendment that blocked the deal. Then, because they passed an earlier, rather bizarre Act of Parliament, the government was forced to send a ridiculous letter on behalf of Parliament begging for an extension.
A couple of weeks ago these remainer MPs said they just wanted to “take no deal off the table.” But now that a deal has been secured by the Prime Minister, they now say they want to take a deal off the table, ignore the referendum result and extend our membership to the EU instead. Not only would this betray the trust of those who voted to leave and who expected their government to implement the result, it would also be the first time in our history that we have not respected a democratic vote.
For over three years, politicians in Westminster have been arguing about how to deliver on the referendum result. We’ve been able to say what we don’t want and even voted against a deal three times. As someone who campaigned to leave and sought to compromise in order to achieve Brexit, it’s been a frustrating time. But it’s now time to get Brexit done and despite the frustrations of this week we may just have turned the corner and entered the home strait.
Since becoming Prime Minister over 80 days ago, Boris Johnson has shown huge determination to get Brexit done and taken a stand against those factions in parliament who want to block democracy. It was initially said that Boris Johnson wouldn’t get a new deal but he did. That he wouldn’t get rid of the backstop, but he did. That the EU would never change the Withdrawal Agreement, but it did.
The fact that a new deal has been secured with the EU changes the dynamics completely and although factions in parliament have been using tactics to play for time, they couldn't block the legislation to implement the deal. It passed with a majority of 30. By hook or by crook either before an election or after an election, the deal that Boris Johnson has secured will eventually be done and Brexit will finally be delivered.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Britain’s first Superbus network

In a peninsula like Cornwall, there will always be challenges to building a resilient public transport structure. However, some good progress has been made in the last few years. We have invested to improve our railways and there is now a regular half hourly service running through Cornwall which has led to a significant increase in passenger numbers.
However, for most people in Cornwall, it is the local service that matters most and the key to making things work better is to try to integrate or join up the bus network with the rail network more effectively than we have done in the past. This will allow rail and bus timetables to work in tandem to give people more frequent options to get from one destination to another.
I have long pressed for a regular and routine 30-minute local train service through Cornwall with buses then providing onward connections over shorter rural routes to our villages and this is now starting to come together. By joining up commercial routes of buses and trains with smaller, local, shuttle buses travelling shorter distances, you start to get the makings of something that could really work, and you could build more confidence in the public transport network.
There are now however some really interesting and important things happening with the Government announcing that local bus routes will be supported more than ever with the new ‘Superbus’ network. This network is part of the government’s plans to reverse the impacts of dwindling services in local towns and drive forward a bus revolution that will improve access to these fantastic local services.
As the home to Britain’s first ‘Superbus’ Cornwall will pioneer the service with investment driven towards more frequent public transport in the countryside and rural places where often the remaining local services have often struggled to meet demand. New apps will also be developed that draw together information on bus routes, fares, and timetables from different bus operators across England into one place. As ever the need to think about the environment has been factored into these plans with buses for larger cities and towns to be electrified, and hybrid engines ordered for those on more rural routes.
Creating an integrated public transport system for Cornwall is an important step forward in ensuring that our communities are supported. Often you’ll find in Cornwall that you may be able to get a train for part of your journey but that it is very difficult to get to that train. The ‘Superbus’ network will help deliver that support by improving the quality, frequency and capacity of rail and bus services to create an integrated public transport system for Cornwall so that no one is left behind.
The idea of the ‘Superbus’ network planned for Cornwall is to have low fares improving the affordability of the routes whilst also introducing more bus priority measures to speed up journeys and make them more reliable. For many, it is often the cost and difficulty of travel is a major barrier to getting work, seeing loved ones or travelling at all. The ‘Superbus’ service will help to alleviate the problems that people experience and will be a major boost for local residents in Cornwall.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

The Brexit finishing line is in sight

For over three years, politicians in Westminster have been arguing about how to deliver on the referendum result. We’ve been able to say what we don’t want and even voted against a deal three times. As someone who campaigned to leave and sought to compromise in order to achieve Brexit, it’s been a frustrating time. But the finishing line is now in sight, and it’s time to finally get Brexit done.
Despite his detractors and attempts by those who have sought to frustrate and cancel Brexit, the Prime Minister last week delivered a workable proposal that both delivers on the referendum and takes into account the concerns around making the Irish border.
It removes the so-called “backstop” which was anti-democratic and would have left the UK trapped in EU law with no way of getting out. It also disregarded the importance of political consent in Northern Ireland so it compromised one of the key aspects of the Belfast Agreement. That is why Parliament rejected the last Withdrawal Agreement three times.
The proposal was a revised offer that would have passed parliament. The UK would leave the Custom Union and Single Market whilst also restore the supremacy of British law over EU law and freeing the country from the European Court of Justice. It would ensure that British taxpayers’ money remains in Britain and spent on priorities that matter to the public but it would have addressed all the issues that were of concern to Ireland.
There would be a regulatory zone on the island of Ireland covering all goods but eliminating the need for all regulatory checks for trade in goods between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and any customs checks would take place either electronically or, where necessary for physical checks, at traders’ premises or other points in the supply chain. Northern Ireland would remain completely part of the UK customs territory and not the EU customs union.
It was well thought through and made a lot of sense but sadly, as usual, the EU have refused to engage in it. The problem all along in this process has been that the EU have adopted a stance that says they want us to stay fully in the EU so that we will still pay them large amounts of money and so they can still have control of our laws and a free run of our market. Getting them to accept that we have voted to become an independent country making our own laws has been a struggle, not least because they see a faction in Parliament including Labour and the Lib Dems who want to ignore the referendum result. If the EU senses that Britain no longer values it's democracy and us willing to simply ignore election results, then why should they have any qualms about demanding they maintain direct control of our laws?
This situation cannot continue. We need a General Election to settle this stagnant argument but first we must get out of the EU at the end of this month with or without an agreement. The vote to leave the European Union was a momentous decision in this country’s history and we need to embrace democracy.
As the world’s fifth largest economy with world leading expertise in science, finance and industry, we have an incredibly strong hand of cards to play as we leave the EU and we should not fear leaving without an agreement.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Party Conference

This week is Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, which marks the end of the conference season for MPs. However, in this world of upside down politics that we appear to be living in, I am writing this article not from Manchester but from Westminster as a result of cynical attempts by opposition MPs to wreck our conference.
Last week the Supreme Court entered the realm of political judgements and stated that the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue parliament was unlawful. I fundamentally disagreed with the Court’s decision and it was clear that those who brought this particular challenge before the court did so for the sole objective of frustrating Brexit and cancelling the result of the referendum. The events that followed this decision led to opposition MPs voting against the usual practice of a parliamentary recess to cover the conference season.
Westminster politics has become quite feral at the moment and only a General Election can settle things. However, in the meantime Boris Johnson is undeterred by these attempts to undermine him. The Conservative Conference went ahead as planned and was a great success with many exciting proposals on schools, police and the NHS once we get Brexit done.
Locally there have been significant announcements for Cornwall with the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock announcing that Cornwall will receive up to £450 million for a new hospital. This is great news for everyone in Cornwall and will be a significant boost to the many staff and patients who have come to give so much to our NHS. The plans are part of a new strategic Health Investment Programme of £13billion to upgrade hospitals across the country. This will include funds for the NHS in Cornwall to begin work, with local decision makers, to consider options and work up the business case, which could include a brand new acute hospital on a new site, upgrading of existing Community Hospitals as well as redevelopment of existing facilities at Royal Cornwall Hospital Treliske. This truly is welcome news and once more demonstrates the government’s commitment to delivering first class public services for everyone.
There was also an announcement that the National Living Wage, which was introduced by George Osborne a few years ago, would be increased to £10.50 meaning that the lowest paid will receive a substantial pay rise. Unemployment is at a record low but there are too many people who work hard but still struggle financially. This will be a boost for them.
There have of course been other issues discussed at the conference that received less attention. In my time as an MP and particularly as a Minister at DEFRA, I have worked to try to improve environmental and animal welfare standards. This week plans to restrict the export of live animals and to ban the keeping of primates as pets was announced. At DEFRA we’ve made great strides in improving animal welfare from installing CCTV in slaughter houses to improving the legislation around the breeding of puppies and we want to continue to improve the law.