Craig welcomes Modern Industrial Strategy support for Discovery Park

Local MP, Craig Mackinlay, has welcomed a £6.5 million investment for the Kent and Medway EDGE Hub, a teaching and research centre with satellite facilities at the Discovery Park in Sandwich in his South Thanet constituency, as well as Canterbury Christ Church’s Medway Campus and other parts of Kent.

The Modern Industrial Strategy, through the biggest transformation to technical education in a generation, ensures that people can boost their skills to take on the challenges and jobs of the future. Last year, there were 31,080 apprenticeship starts in the South East of England, giving more young people to develop their skills while contributing to a business.  

In the year since the Modern Industrial Strategy was launched, £45 billion has been committed to support local infrastructure, research and development and businesses to back high-skilled jobs in communities across the country.  

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Commenting, Craig Mackinlay MP said: 

“I’m delighted that, as part of our Modern Industrial Strategy, my South Thanet constituency will benefit from a £6.5 million investment for the Kent and Medway EDGE Hub, which has a facility at the Discovery Park in Sandwich.

“This investment will have a very positive impact, and help to ensure that we continue to generate good jobs and higher wages in the future.” 

Why the Withdrawal Agreement agreed to by our EU partners simply won’t do

My apologies, but the ‘B’ word takes priority this week. Parliament seems unusually quiet at present; a lull before a powerful storm I think as the days approach for us to consider the EU Withdrawal agreement, due to be debated in the week commencing 10th December. Just settling for anything simply won’t do. The issue of EU membership and its one-way direction towards statehood at the expense of democracy has occupied British politics for a generation; now is the opportunity to settle the issue for good rather than allow it to divide another generation with a half-in/half-out fudge. There is nothing I’d like more than to get down to discussing the issues that affect us all on a daily basis – issues such as housing, health provision, defence and taxation.

The Withdrawal Agreement agreed to by our EU partners simply won’t do across 5 key areas.

Firstly, we agree to hand over at least £39 billion of your taxpayers’ money with nothing guaranteed in return with merely 23 pages of vague, unenforceable ambitions as to what a future trading arrangement may be like. We had been led to understand that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

Secondly, the UK will remain a ‘rule taker’ over critical areas of EU law such as social policy and even tax policy to prevent any perceived advantage that global freedom could bring. We will have to continue to obey EU laws, but have no further influence over how they are drafted.

Thirdly, there will be no obvious exit from a ‘backstop’ Customs Union. We could only subsequently leave the backstop with the agreement of the EU. We were able unilaterally to notify our intention to leave the EU via the Article 50 procedure, but leaving the Customs Union backstop would require their assent. This is clearly unacceptable and unheard of in any international treaty. While we remain in the backstop, we would be unable to strike international trade deals without the EU’s permission. For me, the ability to negotiate new trade deals with the growth areas of the world, and with naturally friendly nations, offered the greatest Brexit dividend. We are in danger of throwing that away.

Fourthly, the Agreement creates differences within the UK. Northern Ireland would become an enhanced ‘rule taker’ in further areas such as goods, agricultural products and VAT, and would create new barriers to trade within our own union of nations forming the UK. The EU would have more control over Ulster than Westminster or the province’s own assembly. This threatens the internal integrity of the United Kingdom and can never be acceptable.

Fifthly, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will remain in control of the agreement and large areas of EU law directly effective in the UK. The ECJ will remain as the final arbiter of the agreement and of the EU laws the UK will be subject to.

In summary, the current deal proposed is the worst of all worlds and is worse than EU membership. The UK will become a perpetual rule taker from the EU - a ‘vassal state’ which is completely against the instruction of the 2016 referendum in which 17.4 million UK citizens voted to leave the European Union. This is a punishment Brexit drafted by Eurocrats that are out of touch with the people, and is being used as a warning to other EU nations similarly sick of the project who might be considering their options. It does not pass any ‘sniff test’ of Brexit and I can see no way that Parliament will accept it.

Stamp Duty changes help 180,000 first-time buyers

Yesterday, new statistics showed that the changes to Stamp Duty introduced last year have benefited over 180,000 households, helping more people to achieve the dream of home ownership.

The Government are giving practical help to first-time buyers, reducing the burden that they face in purchasing their first home. Almost every first time buyer – around 95 per cent – will benefit from the changes, with around 4 in 5 paying no Stamp Duty at all.

These changes will save the average first-time buyer £2,300 and are just one of the steps the Government have taken to fix the housing market, helping people get on the housing ladder and have the security of their own home.

Craig Mackinlay MP commented:

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“It’s fantastic news that first-time buyers in Thanet are taking advantage of our cut to Stamp Duty to buy their first home.

“This comes on top of news last week that we have delivered 238 homes in Thanet and nationally, more homes than in all but one of the last 30 years - helping more people to get on the housing ladder and have a safe and secure home.

“But there is always more we can do, which is why I will continue to press for reforms to the Residential rate of Capital Gains Tax, which, if done correctly, has the potential to release hundreds of thousands of affordable homes and promote an inter-generational cascade of wealth.”

Remembrance, the Ageless Thanet 50+ Festival, Diwali and Brexit

Events of Remembrance to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War dominated both locally and in Westminster over the past week. St. Margaret’s Church, effectively the Church for Parliament serving both the House of Commons and the Lords, standing in the shadow of Westminster Abbey, held a service for Parliamentarians in exactly the same way as that led by David Lloyd George, the WW1 Prime Minister upon the Armistice in 1918. Locally, the Act of Remembrance was observed with record numbers attending services and memorials across Thanet. This year I laid a wreath at Broadstairs and attended other events across the constituency. The Proms in the Park at the Memorial Recreation Ground, organised by Bradstow School was a unique opportunity to visit exhibits, including a recreation of life in the trenches. World War 1 was in most people’s minds this year but we similarly remembered all those who fought for our freedoms across all wars.

Other local events included a stall at the Ageless Thanet 2018 Festival at St. George’s School, Broadstairs. Over a thousand people attended to find out more about what is on offer to the older generation across the Isle. Over 50s qualify (including myself) to be a part of what Ageless Thanet can offer. The wealth of activities to encourage healthier living and to prevent isolation were key. It was clear that we have far more on offer to older generations than elsewhere in Kent, something to celebrate. I had the opportunity to discuss a huge range of issues with residents in the form of a stand-up surgery covering national policy gripes and groans and more local issues of concern. Did you know there is an ‘App’ for smartphones to connect with Ageless Thanet’s activities and businesses offering discounts?

I had never attended a Diwali celebration before, so was pleased to attend the event, a Hindu annual festival at Newington Community Centre. A colourful and enjoyable evening with great food, entertainment and dancing – I did take part so look out for that tucked away on Facebook somewhere!

I finish with Brexit. The resignation of Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother as a Transport Minister is hugely significant. Jo Johnson supported remain at the referendum, indeed we shared a platform on opposite sides of the argument at a ‘hustings’ in the City of London during the referendum campaign. He sees the current deal proposed by the Prime Minister as the worst of all worlds – the UK becoming a perpetual rule taker from the EU with no say, and with no way out and that it simply won’t do as it does not pass the Brexit ‘sniff test’ with voters. I agree entirely and will not support the deal in its current form.