I write this whilst on a Brexit Select Committee trip to Brussels. Of all European capitals, Brussels never ranks highly with me; unfortunate because I have always had an affection for Belgium, its architecture elsewhere is stunning and would be within easy reach of us in Thanet should a ferry service to Ostend return.
We are here to meet Martin Selmayr, Secretary General of the European Commission. Who, you might ask? He has been around the corridors of EU power since 2004 and was, before his controversial new appointment, the Head of Cabinet of the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (you might have heard of him) and we are also to see Guy Verhofstadt MEP, European Parliament Brexit Coordinator. You might have come across him as well, he usually rants on about the need for an EU Army or shouting at British delegates “You gonna pay the price”. You get the idea.
The carried vote in Parliament on the ‘Brady Amendment’ last week was significant. The EU have rightly asked - if you don’t want this (the current Withdrawal Agreement as drafted), then what do you want? The Brady Amendment suggests that a Withdrawal Agreement without the unacceptable backstop that could see us perpetually tied to the EU, in a half-in, half-out purgatory, or abandoning Northern Ireland, breaking up the Union, could be passed. The ball is now very much in the EU’s court.
Even I’m getting Brexit weary, so on to local issues. I finally had a long requested meeting with the CEO of East Kent Housing, to discuss what I perceive to be a lack-lustre approach taken against tenants intent on long term anti-social behaviour which makes life a misery to those who have to live close by. We agreed to work together to find a solution.
We await the outcome of Seaborne’s negotiations for ferry services from Ramsgate. I have been kept up to speed with developments across the parties involved, and so hope to be able to report more fully soon.
It is important that younger people see democracy in action; it was my pleasure to welcome Chatham and Clarendon year 13 and 14 students to Parliament. All local students are welcome and I hope to see many more of you.