Brexit issues dominate as ever, with an initial deal struck by the Prime Minister to allow new year negotiations to advance to future trading relations. This was essential to complete, given that we had, reluctantly, agreed to comply with the three demands of settling the status of EU citizens’ rights, the Irish border conundrum and the dominant item in any divorce – the money before entering phase two. Such ‘deals’ are never going to satisfy everyone, I have my own disquiet in many areas, but the news has been well received by business and from most people I talk to, so I too salute the PM and the Brexit negotiating team in moving discussions ahead.
Co-incidentally I visited Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland just a day before negotiations concluded as part of my duties on the Exiting the EU select committee; a fascinating trip and my first to Northern Ireland.
Issues of animal welfare post-Brexit are very much on the agenda once more and I am delighted that we, as Conservatives are taking the lead on so many fronts – the banning of the Ivory trade, the introduction of CCTV in abattoirs, and the Secretary of State giving ever more clear indications as to his likely measures in future Agriculture and Fisheries Bills which will include the banning of live animal exports and the regaining of our historic fishing grounds. We are going further still on environmental measures – the banning of plastic microbeads and real discussion on the global effects of plastics, particularly on the marine environment. All issues upon which I have been campaigning strongly. I even had an input on local media on the detrimental side of puppy smuggling, very much to the fore at Christmas.
I attended and spoke at a well supported event at Chatham House School, Ramsgate where views were aired on the proposals being put forward by the regional health trust and local Clinical Commissioning Groups as to the future of healthcare in East Kent. This issue will run and run. The health professionals recommend either a ‘where we are plus’ or a radical re-think which could see a downgrading of QEQM and the William Harvey to make way for a Canterbury based super-hospital. Kent County Council have put forward a third option of a three hospital solution with three A&E departments based upon likely future population growth in East Kent. At this stage I would oppose any downgrading of QEQM, not least because of population pressure, geographic isolation and transport links. We do have to appreciate that healthcare is specialising at a rapid rate, and the days of everything, everywhere does not necessarily result in the best survival rates compared to best practice particularly for strokes and cardio-vascular conditions.
The Christmas season for me always starts with the annual Thanet Male Voice Choir and Upton Juniors concert at Holy Trinity Church, Broadstairs. As ever, a fantastic event, and a sell out with the chosen charities being 14th Broadstairs Scouts and 1st Broadstairs (Holy Trinity) Guides. Do enjoy yourselves in the run up to Christmas, and stay warm in this inclement weather.