Craig welcomes announcement that millions of Brexit 50p coins are to be minted in time for 31st October

Craig Mackinlay MP has hailed the news that millions of 50p coins will be minted in time for 31st October under the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid’s plans.

Under the previous Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, around 10,000 commemorative coins – costing £10 each – were to be produced. However, the new Chancellor – who is also Master of the Mint – has asked officials to look at whether the seven-sided coin can be produced in huge volumes in time for Brexit Day with a view to having some three million 50ps in circulation.

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The new coins will still be marked with the words “Friendship with all nations”, but will be stamped with the new Brexit date, 31st October 2019 rather than the previous date, 29th March 2019.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“Our joining the then EEC was commemorated with millions of 50p coins minted for general circulation; I am really pleased to see that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced that our departure from the EU should similarly be marked with a general circulation coin.

“This is a time for national celebration that our independence and new global freedom is with us.

“Great news and a clear, positive indication of intent from the Prime Minister and his new government.”

Are you South Thanet’s Best Small Shop?

Craig Mackinlay MP is calling on South Thanet’s small shopkeepers to enter the Best Small Shops Competition, celebrating the creativity of small shops and the central role they play in their local community.

The Best Small Shops Competition is open to any small shop* operating in the UK. The competition is free to enter and all shops who enter will also be promoted to consumers through an online Indie Retail Directory.

Shopkeepers can nominate their businesses until Monday 9th September via www.bestsmallshops.co.uk. A shortlist of 25 of the most impressive applications will be shortlisted by a panel made up of established representatives from the independent retail industry.

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The judges will be looking for evidence of a small shops’ entrepreneurial spirit, ways that they have been innovative in their business and what they have done to have a lasting positive impact on their community. The shortlisted small shops will be invited to a Parliamentary Reception on 5th November 2019 to meet their Member of Parliament and find out who will be crowned the Best Small Shop for 2019.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“The Best Small Shops Competition is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the array of lovely small shops we have in Broadstairs and St Peter’s, Cliftonville, Ramsgate, Sandwich and the villages.

“The South Thanet constituency has a real opportunity to make the shortlist and so I call on our local small shopkeepers to enter this competition.”

My regular update - 5 August 2019

Finally a long Parliamentary session came to an end and we officially entered the Summer recess period on Friday 26th July, a week later than usual. But what a week it was. Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister was announced following a 2:1 win across Conservative Party members. The sheer brutality of our political system as one PM leaves and another enters Downing Street across the course of just an hour following audiences with the Queen must be unique in any western democracy. Contrast this with the US where transition spreads across many months from any election to inauguration.

Under any measure, PM Johnson has made a blistering start. A barnstorming performance at the despatch box of the House of Commons, and a multitude of welcome domestic measures including a commitment to recruit 20,000 new police officers, an additional £1.8Bn of capital funding for the NHS on top of the £33.9Bn annual increase already earmarked under the NHS Long Term Plan. Proof if any further were needed that a Conservative government is always committed to NHS improvements and funding to match. And yet, the shrill cry of the Labour Party remains – that we want to ‘privatise’ and ‘slash’ the NHS. The facts are wholly different. The only cuts ever made to the NHS budget were by Labour during troubled economic times that they seem, uniquely to create, in the 1950s and 1960s; the fastest private sector expansion within the NHS came under Tony Blair. Given that the Conservatives have been in power for 44 of the 71 years since the foundation of the NHS, we’ve had the levers of power to do all these awful things to dismantle the NHS, but haven’t, and won’t. This is not to say that the NHS is perfect. It is far from it, with a bureaucratic management system absorbing too much time, effort and money that would be better spent on the front line; a system ill-equipped to cope with population change and the pressures of an ageing demographic. It has not kept up with technological change that we see universally in everything else we do. We are, as taxpayers, the direct funders of the NHS but often don’t always feel as well served as we do as consumers of any other service that we choose to pay for more directly when it should be the same. Money helps, but we should not just throw funds at a system with a hope that some might stick - that has been tried before and failed. We need a new renaissance of ideas to explain to ourselves what the NHS is for, what it is not for, and to plan accordingly.

As a committed Brexiteer, the No 10’s commitment to leave the EU no ifs, no buts by 31st October, deal or no deal is particularly welcomed. The EU Commission may finally have cause to blink and re-open the failed Withdrawal Agreement and to re-write it to one that will allow a deal to pass our Parliament and be properly perceived as a real Brexit to the 17.4 million who voted to leave. The atmosphere in Westminster has become buoyant once more with a ‘can do’ attitude lifting the clouds after three years of constitutional drift.

Summer fetes, carnivals and fayres are in full swing across the constituency. A warm welcome to all visitors and tourists is always given, but a small plea – please treat our towns with respect and not leave piles of rubbish across our beaches and thoroughfares. Your footprints and memories are treasured – your carelessly abandoned waste is not.

My regular update - 22 July 2019

As I write this at the start of the week, few things are certain. One thing that is certain is that we will have a new Prime Minister before the end of the week, beyond that I will not guess. A change of Prime Minister is significant, as so much of the policy direction, Ministerial and other appointments in and around government are at the behest and direction of No 10. The gravity of this change of administration is not quite as dramatic as a general election but hugely significant none the less. As I wrote in my last article, despite an inordinate amount of hours being spent in and around the Westminster estate, very little of any great note is currently happening in Parliament; time I’d rather be spending in the Constituency. Those opposed to Brexit continue to do their best to attach baubles to the Christmas tree of any legislation that comes along. The Labour Party has come out clearly as a party of ‘Remain’. The usually innocuous, but now annual Northern Ireland Bill, needed to maintain the normal functioning of government in Ulster whilst the arguing factions find it impossible to re-assemble the devolved assembly at Stormont, has been hijacked as a vehicle to try to derail Brexit. Additionally, with no debate, other clauses added to the Bill were abortion on demand (with seemingly no upper time limit), same sex marriage for Ulster, and the potential for pension payouts for terrorists. The proceedings were too odd for words and I did not support these amendments as they were bizarrely grouped together as one vote. Not because I don’t agree with the sentiments, it is obviously ridiculous that choice and equality is not the same throughout the UK, but adding these matters of conscience, without debate, and with no consultation of the Ulster electorate who should be at the heart of this, when these are clearly devolved matters, was just wrong.

Health matters have occupied me greatly over the past weeks. I was pleased to contribute to the Thanet Mental Health forum, held in Ramsgate last Friday. We have a growing demand for mental health support across East Kent. Difficult to summarise easily what is wrong with the system, but clearly communication within the various NHS bodies responsible is a major issue as patients move from one service to another. Local staff shortages through recruitment problems, not money, another issue. The individual harrowing stories of personal experiences, family suicides and of the system simply failing were poignant and saddening. We need to help those with problems today, but what we need to do longer term is get underneath the societal issues that are driving many into mental health difficulties. I would advance social media as a negative influence on the young with bullying and isolation at its core. I continue my fight against the normalisation of cannabis: legalisation by the back-door. The permanent psychotic effects of skunk use across all ages but particularly on developing brains is now clearly made through scientific research. Have we created a world of bureaucracy that gets people down, whether it is the struggle to access the benefits that we are entitled to, or dealing with government agencies and local authorities that are remote and unresponsive?

Lots there to think about, and I haven’t even started on my campaign to see the BCG – TB vaccination rolled out universally once more, or of the various sites across the area that I’ve visited that need business plans and vision to get them back into community use. Lots to do over the recess period so looking forward to a chat and a cool drink with many of you over the rest of the summer.

Sir Roger Manwood School’s Combined Cadet Force Inspection and Rebadging Ceremony

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Craig Mackinlay MP has attended Sir Roger Manwood School for the inspection of their Combined Cadet Force by the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, which is the School’s new Army link regiment.

The inspection consisted of a drill parade, incorporating a presentation of Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment berets to the Cadets, officers and instructors, and a presentation of Awards and Promotions to the Cadets.

After the proceedings, the South Thanet MP met and talked with the cadets and staff.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

“It was a fantastic afternoon at Sir Roger Manwood School in Sandwich’s Combined Cadet Force’s parade and biennial inspection. I was greatly impressed by the pride, teamwork and discipline all the cadets displayed.

“My thanks goes to the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment for their tremendous support for the cadets, and many congratulations to Headteacher, Lee Hunter, Contingent Commander, Lieutenant Stuart Stokes, and all the cadets, officers and instructors on a magnificent day.”