With Christmas almost upon us, it’s cheering to see all the decorations and lights around High Peak, the services, performances and parties.
They are a welcome antidote to Westminster, where discussions on both Brexit and ongoing cuts to public services are putting a decided dampener on festive spirits.
The Prime Minister has survived her own party’s attempt to oust her, but is still sticking to the deal she negotiated which is so unpopular, both with Parliament and voters.
Theresa May’s deal leaves our relationship with the European Union after 2020 to be negotiated later. Now she has agreed to stand down as Prime Minister, these crucial decisions will be taken by the next Conservative leader – one who could have very different views.
Parliament had hoped for a ‘meaningful vote’ on the proposed deal before Christmas so that if it’s rejected (as all expect), there’s more time to develop different proposals before the deadline of the end of March.
The Labour Party has always called for a deal that keeps the benefits of the Customs Union and single market. In my recent survey, half of local residents who had voted to Leave the EU supported retaining these practical measures so businesses can continue to trade with the EU, unhindered by different regulations, border checks and tariffs.
Instead, the Prime Minister is intent on wasting another month before a vote. This seems completely irresponsible when so little time is left to agree a deal.
I believe it’s wrong to limit our options and push Parliament into a single choice between a bad deal or No Deal. The consequences of No Deal for our businesses, farmers, food supplies, health service and travellers have been set out in worrying detail. No responsible government should consider such a threat.
The Labour Party tried to bring forward the ‘Meaningful Vote’ so we can move on with Brexit, but the government prevented it.
All of us want to be able to concentrate on other matters. Issues that I’ve been raising for many months – our voluntary services and libraries – are seeing decisions on cuts made just before Christmas.
We see more people forced to beg on our streets, and I’m receiving more requests for support from people struggling, especially with Universal Credit.
I’m hoping that some seasonal goodwill will spread into Parliament to help us all work together in the New Year.
I’ve urged the Prime Minister to listen to what people actually want from Brexit. I’m prepared to work with MPs of any party to come up with the practical solutions we’d all like to see.
In the meantime, I wish all of your readers a joyous Christmas and New Year.