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New Year Westminster diary

FIRSTLY, may I wish everyone a happy and healthy 2019. The year will clearly be an important one for both our community and the country.

We are scheduled to leave the EU on March 29. This is fast approaching and the whole process unfortunately remains in disarray. The government is ramping up preparations for a reckless ‘no deal’ outcome if the prime minister’s deal does not pass through parliament. This would mean chaos for our local manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover, as parts get delayed at our ports. Far from ‘no deal being better than a bad deal’, the vast majority of MPs are urging the prime minister to accept that ‘no deal’ is not an option.

The prime minister decided to delay the meaningful vote for MPs until mid-January and it looks as if the prime minister’s deal will be voted down. But we will have lost a precious month and it seems deliberate on the part of the prime minister to run down the clock. We must now consider extending Article 50 to give us more time, and we need a general election or second referendum to find a way through.

This week the government announced it will spend £4bn on emergency planning for a ‘no deal’. Meanwhile, conservative cuts will continue to batter our local services. Local authorities in England face a funding gap that will exceed £5 billion by 2020. This means our social care crisis will continue, vulnerable children will not receive the support they need, more potholes will appear on our roads. And then residents’ council taxes are likely to rise. You’ll be paying more council tax for fewer services. Furthermore, the long-term plan for the NHS has been kicked into the long grass so it’ll be another tough year for those who work in our local health service.

I have received many concerned emails from constituents regarding the continued rollout of universal credit. Every day my staff are helping people locally deal with the misery of this failed policy and things are only set to get worse. It is causing poverty and homelessness and needs to be stopped.

The final decision on Warwick District Council’s proposed office is also likely to be made. Local residents have been campaigning for a year to stop it going ahead, but the council wants to press ahead with this move which would cause car parking chaos and sell off precious public land for unaffordable private housing. I will continue to oppose the changes leading up to this key final decision early this year.

All in all, 2019 looks like another bleak year in politics unless something radically changes and soon. On a more positive note, our vibrant local community gives me strength that Warwick, Leamington, Whitnash and the surrounding areas will remain resilient and I look forward to meeting many more of you in the year ahead.