I would like to begin by wishing you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.
2019 certainly promises to be an eventful year and of course the first job as Parliamentary business resumes is to sort Brexit.
Whatever your politics there appears to be a widespread agreement that the Government has handled the negotiations with the EU very badly.
This is the biggest issue facing our country since the negotiations at the end of the Second World War and with only a few weeks to go the Prime Minister has still not come up with a workable exit strategy. For two and half years the ball has been well and truly in the Tory court and regrettably internal party squabbling has left us no nearer to achieving a deal.
The deal that Theresa May is busy ‘tweaking’ leaves the UK in a permanent state of limbo: with no say, no control over our borders, continuing to pay whilst being condemned to a bleak future tied to the EU, for as long as the EU decides.
If Parliament votes to support this deal it would be the first time in our country’s history that we had signed a treaty that we could not walk away from. This deal pleases no one and I will be voting against it, when or if the Prime Minister summons the courage to bring it before Parliament.
If this deal is defeated and there is a chance that it will be, Parliament will then be empowered to proceed on a cross Party basis to reach an acceptable deal, in the national interest. Of course this approach was suggested by Labour two years ago and would have had the support of the other opposition parties.
However, we are where we are and I can assure you that I am as committed as ever to ensuring we achieve an acceptable deal and finally on this I promise you that I will not put our country at risk by condoning a ‘no deal’ Brexit under any circumstances.
Whilst this turmoil continues so many other issues are in danger of being overlooked, not least in our NHS. It is true that the Government has promised to spend an extra £20 billion on the NHS over the next five years.
This is a lot of money and is welcome but I must stress that this still does not replace the money that has been taken out of the service since 2010. So it is really not surprising that even the Prime Minister will not guarantee that crucial performance targets will be met.
These include waiting times in A&E, for operations and for cancer patients. This is very serious but is being carelessly brushed aside.
The crisis in social care is also extremely serious and I have just heard that the long awaited Government Green paper on this has been delayed yet again.
Over a million people old people are going without the care that they need and undoubtedly some of these people will die before the Government makes some decent provision. This is a national scandal and should be tackled as a matter of urgency.
Quite shockingly social care budgets have been cut by over £7 billion since 2010 and considering this it really is not surprising that the service is in crisis. We are also seeing another Government -made crisis in the benefit system.
The Government’s new Universal Credit benefit system is both poorly funded and poorly organised and has caused misery for thousands of people in Burnley and Padiham this Christmas. I support the principle of a simplified benefit system that supports people into work but I do not support this flawed system that has left families and individuals without food or heating.
I will be pressing the Department of Work and Pensions to halt the roll out of Universal Credit until a full review and impact assessment can be carried out.
It seems that there is no end to the cuts in public services and important amenities. The NHS, schools, the police and even our brilliant hospices are all under tremendous pressures as Government funding continues to be reduced.
On Sunday I was really pleased to take part in the Community Epiphany service at St Catherine’s Church in support of our excellent Pendleside Hospice.
This is always a lovely service not least because of the excellent musical input from organist Malcolm Bulock, the Burnley Alliance Silver Band and vocals from John Garrett and the children of Springfield School.
If you require assistance with any matter please feel free to call my office on 01282425744 or e-mail me at email@example.com. If you wish to speak to me in person, my next MP’s surgery is Saturday 12th January 2019 in my constituency office on 8 Keirby Walk in Burnley from 10am – 12pm. No appointment necessary.
My constituency office is open to the public Monday- Friday next week 10am–4pm, and 10am – 12-30pm on Tuesday. My staff there will do their very best to assist you.