Brexit

I make the case for the County Council to lobby government for the least damaging Brexit trade and migration deal – the Conservatives vote it down

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The majority of people in the Seaton and Colyton area, and Devon as a whole, voted for Brexit. But they did not vote to make themselves or the country poorer. At Devon County Council yesterday, the Cabinet gave their response to a motion I submitted supporting staying in the Single Market and Customs Union, which would be the best deal for Devon’s exporting companies, farmers, universities, tourism industry and especially our NHS.

However the Cabinet took out all references to post-Brexit options and just said they would assess the ‘opportunities and impacts’ of Brexit. I then proposed an amendment that the County Council should lobby government for the least damaging Brexit trade and migration deal. In the end, every single Conservative councillor voted against this – some, I’m pretty sure, against their beliefs – although Lib Dem, Labour and other Independents supported it. You can WATCH THE DEBATE HERE – FORWARD TO 3:38 FOR THIS RESOLUTION.

Neil Parish seems to have gone AWOL on this issue, along with all Devon’s MPs except Conservative Sarah Wollaston and Labour’s Ben Bradshaw. So all the more important that the County Council should speak up loud and clear for the post-Brexit deal which will best safeguard Devon’s economy.  Unfortunately DCC’s Conservatives put party unity and loyalty to the Government before the interests of Devon.

Devon for Europe County Hall 15.2.18I’m pictured here with other councillors and DEVON FOR EUROPE supporters attending the meeting. Anthea Simmons (second from the right) gave an excellent speech in the public speaking session.

 

 

 

New evidence that Brexit is harming NHS staffing – but Devon County Council has no figures for the local situation

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There is new evidence that Brexit is adding to the NHS’s chronic staff shortage. Far fewer nurses and doctors from other EU countries are coming for jobs in the UK, while many of those already here are leaving – or plan to leave.

Locally, the RD&E is struggling to recruit care workers for the ‘new model of care’ to replace community beds. Council officers freely admit that Brexit is making Devon’s social care recruitment crisis worse, and at the County Council meeting on 5th October I asked for figures on the number of people from other EU countries in health, social care and education in the county. The answer was that the Council can’t produce them – in a follow-up question I asked the Cabinet to remedy that, and also to reassure EU citizens that they are valued here.

Many people voted for Brexit partly to help the NHS – but are now realising that it is doing the opposite. Of course the Leave campaign said that it wanted to allow professionals like nurses and doctors still to come to Britain – it was more the unskilled workers it wanted to stop (although where that would leave our farming and tourism industries is another problem). What this argument overlooked is that doctors and nurses who move here are not just making a decision about a job – they are looking at whether the country is open and welcoming. The message that Britain didn’t want foreigners went out loud and clear to the people we need to keep our NHS going, as well as everyone else.

Leave voters rightly hoped to see more money go to our underfunded NHS. However it is now universally recognised that the Leave campaign’s idea of saving ‘£350 million a week’ was utterly misleading. Much of the money never goes to the EU (because of the rebate negotiated by Margaret Thatcher) and most of the rest comes back to support things like agriculture, scientific research and regional development in places like the South West – expenditure that the British government will need to replace. Recently it has become clear that the economy has fallen back since the referendum to the extent that the Government is already losing much more in tax revenues than it will eventually save by leaving the EU. So the NHS has no hope of gaining money from Brexit, and is hit on the staffing side too.

Does Neil Parish know which side he’s on?

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Neil Parish photoAt the 2015 election hustings in Seaton, MP Neil Parish enthusiastically supported holding the Brexit referendum.

When Cameron announced the vote, however, he was for Remain, although neither he nor the local Conservatives did much obvious campaigning.

After the vote, Parish backed Boris Johnson, the chief Leaver, for the Tory leadership.

When Michael Gove forced Johnson out, Parish plumped for another Leaver, Andrea Leadsom (the one who robotically repeated ‘We need to take control’ in the TV debates).

Does it even matter to Parish whether we’re in or out of the EU?

Devon Wildlife Trust warns over Brexit

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As Seaton devonwildlifetrustJurassic opens this weekend – it’s a great visit – the organisation that runs it, Devon Wildlife Trust, has warned that wildlife protection would be threatened by Britain leaving the EU.

In a letter to DWT members, chief executive Harry Barton – who I had the pleasure of meeting at Thursday’s opening ceremony – notes that ‘many of the improvements of the last three decades have much to do with the environmental and wildlife legislation that has come out of Europe. The Habitats, Birds and Bathing Waters Directives, to name just three, have required Britain and other countries to increase standards dramatically.’

‘European nature laws have provided a common platform’, Barton points out, ‘and they are long term and binding, making it much more difficult for individual governments to weaken or circumvent them at their own convenience. … Our relationship with Europe has many imperfections, but in my view there is no doubt that, where the environment and wildlife is concerned, it has been a real success.’

Next time you hear someone moan about EU bureaucracy, remember these (and other) sensible common standards which EU laws uphold. How are we going to maintain these standards if Britain leaves? And will Continental visitors be so keen to come to the Jurassic Coast if Britain has turned its back on Europe?