The dominant national political news is of course the leadership race for the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. I have not kept my views hidden and have supported Boris Johnson throughout the five rounds of voting that took him to the final.
What is significant is that he achieved more than 50% of the votes of Conservative MPs in rounds four and five. While his positive and unequivocal views on Brexit, that 31st October 2019 must be the day of departure no matter what was a key factor for me, he found appeal across the Conservative Party amongst leavers and remainers. In poll after poll across a spectrum of normal voters, he also shines out as the candidate most likely to encourage people back to voting Conservative and securing a future Conservative government.
He is an obvious choice, and given his positive record over the eight years that he served as London Mayor on cutting crime, delivering affordable housing and keeping tax low, and in a City that has to be considered a tough place for any Conservative candidate, he has an enviable record.
My work on the leaving the EU Select Committee continues. As I’ve written previously, the divisions across the Committee, both political and conceptual makes this a tough committee to serve upon. I achieved some national coverage last week for daring to debunk ‘project fear’; this time raised by the pharmaceutical and chemicals industries. If the fear is to be believed, the normal folk of the USA, Australia, Singapore or Israel would be dying of shortages. Of course, they are not. Why – because if you have money to spend, and companies wanting to take the money, i.e. the very basis of commerce, local or international, then the transaction will proceed. Are we really to believe that the EU, whose citizens similarly need pharmaceuticals and chemicals made uniquely in the UK, will, for political purposes and bureaucratic intransigence, prevent the free interchange of trade? I don’t believe it either.
I was delighted to be part of the launch of new ‘Loop’ buses to serve Thanet. The new British built buses operated by Stagecoach are Euro VI compliant (this means the cleanest possible standard for diesel engines), and offer wi-fi and USB charging. This is a commitment to a successful operation and to Thanet and I look forward to using them over the years to come.
I did my periodical appearance for BBC South East Sunday politics last weekend. It is strange how some agenda items keep making an appearance. This week was the attempted denigration once more of our hugely popular and successful grammar school system across Kent by both Labour and the Green Party. I see them as a source of pride, are drivers of social mobility, aspiration and excellence and long may the system and general improvements to education continue.
It was an extreme worry to note the failures of East Kent Housing regarding annual Gas Safety Checks, with hundreds found to be overdue across Thanet, Canterbury, Dover and Folkestone districts. EKH is a joint venture across these authorities which manages the day to day management and administration functions across the housing stock owned by these local authorities. I have had concerns about this organisation for many years. I receive numerous complaints, occupying a measurable amount of my office time relating to EKH. Time for a debate as to its future. I’m all for geographically adjacent local authorities pooling resources and working together, but this cross-working structure clearly isn’t working. Is managing 17,000 properties simply too big? Would it be better to be split up and brought back to local management? Does it need a breath of new life with a new direction? Whatever happens, it has to be considered currently to be a failing organisation.