As we start the Easter period, the Brexit saga continues. The second ‘due date’ of our departure from the EU, of 12th April, has come and gone and we now enter a further purgatory period, potentially lasting until Halloween. Alternatively, it could be before if Parliament agrees to this wretched Withdrawal Agreement, or worse prior to this date. I simply do not believe, with the opportunity of more time now available, that this draft Withdrawal Agreement cannot be re-opened by the EU 27, and the perpetual ‘Backstop’ removed. As a Brexiteer who is trying to deliver on the 2016 referendum result that the electorate of South Thanet voted for, I could swallow the downsides of the Implementation period and the money within the draft Withdrawal Agreement if it were stripped of the Backstop provisions. What I cannot vote for is any possibility of being perpetually within the control of the EU, with part of the UK treated differently under the Backstop and only allowed to leave with the future consent of the EU. Far better, and reflecting polling indications, is a managed WTO Brexit – with it would come certainty and finality for all.
The potential for the country taking part in European Parliamentary elections in May is a fairly poor and costly joke, and I share your frustration at the thought of this nonsense.
To happier local issues. I was pleased to play a small part in the Keep Britain Tidy’s Great British Spring Clean. This is being encouraged across the country and I’m pleased to say has been widely taken up across Thanet. After some trying weeks in Parliament, it was a true pleasure to don a yellow vest (which I must point out is for quite different reasons to the ones currently being worn on the streets of France), take brain out of gear, and clean up the dirt and litter, weeds and detritus on our public facing streets. Huge numbers of volunteers have been getting involved and the results are startling. I have subsequently written to all utility companies with street boxes to encourage them to clean up, de-graffiti and repair their street furniture.
The Ramsgate Regeneration Alliance has met once more to discuss key issues facing Ramsgate. As ever, debate centred upon the future of Ramsgate Commercial Port which remains an important strategic piece of the Thanet puzzle crying out for a solution.
I have just returned from the local Federation of Small Business (FSB) first ‘Motivational Monday’ event, held at the independently owned Kafeine coffee shop in Albion Street, Broadstairs. I was pleased to be the speaker at this event, where I covered a multitude of local business issues –taxation, employment, infrastructure investment, the future of High Streets, and of course Brexit. I wish the new group well.
We are now well into the local election period, so expect door-knocking, leaflets and hustings with your local candidates. I will broadly respect the purdah period in this week’s article, but I’ll be proudly voting for my local Conservative candidates in Ramsgate where I live.