Burnley MP Julie Cooper column: Frustrating to see Prime Minister stumble from one crisis to another

Brexit continues to dominate political and news agendas
Brexit continues to dominate political and news agendas
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After weeks of threats and bullying we really are no nearer to resolving the Brexit deadlock.

For more than 18 months the Prime Minister has refused to discuss the exit negotiations within anyone.

The Supreme Court, not the European Court, ruled that she could not just dictate, she must engage and that our Sovereign Parliament was entitled to a meaningful vote.

In December last year the Government refused to publish Brexit legal advice and was found to be in contempt of Parliament.

This is the first time that this has happened in the history of our country.

Theresa May told us that no deal was better than a bad deal and cancelled the vote delaying Brexit still further.

In January she insisted that MPs must vote for her deal, but MPs from all parties thought her deal was a bad deal and she again made history with the biggest defeat of any serving British Prime Minister.

Sadly she seems to have learnt nothing from this and has tried to bully Conservative MPs into voting for the exact same deal on two more occasions.

She has threatened them with no deal, a long delay or a no Brexit but still they haven’t listened and she has lost two more votes.

Now almost unbelievably she is apparently planning to try again – this time threatening them with a general election. You really could not make this up.

As a Labour MP it is extremely frustrating to see Theresa May stumble from one crisis to another and I know that the MPs from all the other opposition parties feel the same.

Brexit has never been a Party political issue and if the Prime Minister had put as much effort into serving the national interest as she has in to trying to unite the Conservative Party, we would by now have agreed a Brexit deal.

Her Party has been blunt and told her that they do not want her any more so she will go soon and when she does she will undoubtedly be remembered as the worst Prime Minister this country has ever had. Finally on this, I would like to thank everyone who has emailed me about Brexit.

I listen to all viewpoints and I want to assure you that I am totally committed to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone in Burnley and Padiham.

Meanwhile, in the background the legislation needed to protect our interests post Brexit, is passing through Parliament.

I’ve been directly involved in some of the Health related Bills. Last week a Bill to ensure healthcare for UK citizens who have retired to an EU nation, for British holidaymakers and for those whose work or studies take them into the EU, reached its final stages.

This Bill passed easily through Parliament and is now awaiting royal assent because MPs on all sides realise its importance for British citizens.

On Tuesday I raised the issue of prescription charges with the Secretary of State for Health.

This week the charge has risen to £9 per item. I know from my old pharmacy days that these charges are not directly connected with the price of medication but represent a tax on medicines that is collected by community pharmacists on behalf of the Government.

My immediate concerns in connection with this is the whole issue of medical exemption.

The current situation is that some long standing medical conditions entitle those suffering to get all their prescriptions free of charge whilst others do not and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to any of it.

There are many anomalies, for example diabetics qualify for free prescriptions but asthmatics don’t. The process governing this has not been reviewed for over 50 years and indeed some of the chronic diseases that require regular medication were not even known about when the system was established.

A review urgently needs to happen because it is a fact that for many on low incomes prescription charges at £9 a time are a significant financial burden.

Consequently it is a regular occurrence for patients to go without inhalers etc.

Going without prescribed medication is never good and can lead to a worsening of the condition and hospitalisation causing unnecessary stress for the patient and increased costs for the NHS.

On Sunday I spent a pleasant morning on the doorstep, chatting to residents in Brunshaw about a variety of issues and I want to thank everyone for their time and attention.

My next MP’s surgery will be on Saturday 6th April from 10am - noon in my Constituency office at 8 Keirby Walk, Burnley.

No appointments are necessary and people attending will be seen on a first come first served basis.

Alternatively email me at julie.cooper.mp@parliament.uk or call 01282 425744.

The constituency office opens Mon-Fri from 10am-4pm (half day Tuesday) where my staff will do their best to assist you and keep me informed of the issues you raise.