My regular update - 19 August 2019

The foul trade of live animal exports out of Ramsgate has been an unwelcome feature of July and August, always reaching peak annual activity around the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. I joined campaigners at one of the transports as I always do when my diary permits. For all the doom and gloom about Brexit, entirely without foundation in my view, the new team at DEFRA including The Rt. Hon Theresa Villiers MP and Zac Goldsmith MP, both of whom I have worked with on the issue of live exports, gives a clear steer as to where policy should be heading after our withdrawal from the EU on 31st October. I hope, along with a huge majority of local residents, that this will be the last year we’ll see Ramsgate port used for this activity.

It is always a pleasure to support Sharon Goodyer and her ‘Summer Kitchen’ which brings the community together for activities and her nutritious home-cooked food over the summer holiday period. This opens a wider debate about cooking skills, unhealthy additives in our processed food and domestic budgeting. I have committed myself to work further with Sharon over the coming months.

Myself and family have had a few days away in Hungary to visit my wife’s family. An annual trip but that much more logistically complex this year with our new baby, Olivia. Whereas we used to whistle through the airport with minimal baggage, the added dimension of pram, baby clothes, nappies, toys and of course the little one makes the airport experience, never a joy in anyone’s book, a true nightmare. I now know what many of you have been going through all these years. I recall writing at a similar time last year about Debrecen airport: an old military base virtually within the city, now transformed and growing each year as passenger and logistics flights increase and with it an increasing number of associated businesses. Sound familiar?

Whilst commenting on Hungary, which politically gets its share of negative press under the Fidesz government which dominates nationally and locally (it is obviously doing plenty right in the view of the electorate), I was struck by the liberal amount of Palinka, the snapps style, high strength, fruit brandy that is offered by hosts upon even the most casual of meetings. Some years ago the government allowed each person to distil 50 litres per year free of tax for domestic consumption. How anybody could possibly drink this much per year eludes me. The EU took Hungary to the European Court of Justice for this policy, on the basis of duty evasion, and won. The Hungarian government’s response – this is ‘cultural heritage’ so we’re taking no notice. This should be our current response to madcap expensive rulings of the ECJ, the latest of which could see the final banning of red diesel for boat use in the UK, and with it a dangerous inability to refuel along the coast as sellers simply will not wish to invest in new tanks on such a low-margin product.

Obviously this, and other lunatic EU pronouncements can be a thing of the past in a couple of months’ time. As we return to Parliament, there are many forces still unreconciled to the biggest democratic vote (to leave) ever seen. They will fail as we see proposals to install Jeremy Corbyn or Kenneth Clarke as temporary Prime Ministers similarly fade away as reality returns after the summer recess. I’m delighted that measures are being taken to ensure that a no-deal Brexit will work if the Commission refuses to rethink the now dead Withdrawal Agreement. The signing of the ‘Commencement Order’ to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act was a totemic signal that we mean what we say. A great few weeks for Boris Johnson and his new team with pledges to increase police numbers, wider use of stop and search, more prison places and sentencing to more properly reflect the severity of the crime, more funding for the NHS and schools. Expect similar good news in the Autumn budget.