Emotions are running very high in Parliament as some huge decisions approach.
The Budget is next week, and we will see if the Prime Minister’s claim that austerity is at an end will be borne out by immediate support for our beleaguered NHS, local councils, schools and emergency services.
Turning around the damage that has been done over the last eight years, particularly to staff morale, will not be easy. I visited Buxton College last week as part of ‘Love our Colleges’ week and saw for myself the impact of cuts of over 30% in the last ten years since my own son was there.
The NHS is facing another winter of crisis, which hospitals have warned could be worse than last year’s when Stepping Hill’s A&E became so overwhelmed they had to shut their doors as they could not safely cope with any more patients.
As well as the impact of local cuts, in Parliament I have been fighting for the three million families who face losing an average £200 a month under Universal Credit. Most of these families are lone parents or people with a disability, none of whom can afford to lose £20 a month, let alone £200.
I have been informing all MPs of the numbers of households that will be affected in their own area. Those figures – an average of around 5,000 families in each constituency losing out – have helped to spur cross-party concern and led to some leaked proposals to support these families.
I very much hope that a substantial amount will be included in the Budget to help these families, but the Chancellor’s planning is not helped by the continuing uncertainty around Brexit which is leading to high tensions in Parliament and in particular within the Conservative Party.
With the October summit over, the next few weeks will be frantic as the government attempts to finally make a deal with the EU. The Prime Minister’s task is being made all the more difficult by her own MPs undermining her and seeking to prevent a ‘soft’ Brexit deal to protect our manufacturing and service sector jobs, which would force us to leave with no deal.
Any deal on Brexit seems further away every day, much less a good deal. But Parliament must not be blackmailed into a bad deal that harms our businesses and destroys good quality jobs by the threat of no deal.
If no deal is the only option, I believe the British people must be able to choose their future with their eyes wide open to the consequences. That’s the only way to ensure confidence that Brexit has been a democratic process and not a con job.