The forecast state of high excitement in the House of Commons regarding the final stages of the EU Withdrawal Bill came and went quite gently. The Withdrawal Bill is on the statute book, the date is clearly on the face of the Bill, that of 29th March 2019, and can only be changed with another Bill. We’re on our way out. I am hugely mindful of the feelings of those who wish we weren’t, and not wishing to re-run the arguments aired during the referendum campaign, we have an opportunity of finding a new place for the country, returned to the global stage after 46 years of absence. We’ll be a normal, independent democracy once more. It is all rather exciting.
I have always maintained that the greatest ‘Brexit dividend’ will be the ability to forge new trade deals around the world. By the EU Commission’s own analysis 90% of global growth over the next 10-15 years will be outside of the EU. We will now be able to maximise those opportunities, but only if we reject calls for staying in the, or a new style Customs Union which will tie our hands. The UK brand is respected internationally; our services sector of insurance, pensions and investments will be well placed, as the global leader to sell into markets that are creating huge numbers of people now able, financially to consider such products that most of us in the West take for granted. I am therefore really pleased to be inviting the Department of International Trade roadshow to Thanet on Friday 6th July for an event at the Hornby Centre. If any Thanet businesses are considering exporting for the first time, or would like more advice and guidance, do get in touch. Exporting is already growing strongly – exports from the South East region in 2017 were £43.2 Billion, an increase of 10.8% over 2016.
I finally managed to obtain Parliamentary time to have the first reading of my Representation of the People (Gibraltar) Bill. It passed the House for second reading in October. A somewhat esoteric issue, but an important one. An internet search will give you more details and why it matters.
Locally, I was really pleased to present local resident Neil Butcher of KCC trading standards with a Chartered Institute of Trading Standards national hero award for his outstanding work in creating Community Alcohol Partnerships, which aim to prevent anti-social behaviour by working with licensed retailers, schools, the police and youngsters to tackle underage drinking. I also had my regular meeting with Chief Inspector Sharon Adley, which always has significant two-way value.
I was pleased to see a significant grant from the government to Thanet District Council to the tune of £367,000 to tackle homelessness on the Isle, putting real money behind the government’s ambition to eliminate homelessness by 2027.
As the Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Civic Societies, I was pleased to be present on national Civic Day the Ramsgate Society’s Design Award 2018 which went to the Falstaff, Addington Street. This is an outstanding renovation, privately funded, which brought dereliction back into life in the heart of Ramsgate. Wetherspoon’s Royal Victoria Pavilion was one of the significant runners up and deservedly so. This all amounts to investment in Thanet and is to be hugely welcomed.