We are in momentous times when the 11 judges of the Supreme Court unanimously agree that the Prime Minister acted unlawfully in closing down Parliament at a time when we most need scrutiny of the decisions and action being taken. I’m heading back to Parliament as constituents are raising important matters with me where ministers should be accountable. It’s not just Brexit preparations that need investigation.
Along with many colleagues, I wrote to the government last week following the request from Thomas Cook for support, but as it was refused we are seeing the distress of both passengers and staff at the company, and the huge costs and disruption of picking up the pieces. More pressure can be put on government when Parliament is sitting and ministers have to publicly answer questions about their actions. I’m pleased I can re-submit all the questions that the government avoided answering before Parliament was prorogued – on issues from NHS recruitment where we are seeing vacancies causing problems for High Peak patients with cancer, heart problems and mental health, to benefits where victims of Universal Credit fraud are still being treated as suspects.
I hope I will now start to receive the answers that will help us to see some action taken in these difficult cases. Government needs to be accountable, or we all feel powerless. As High Peak’s MP I’ve been proud to raise numerous local issues in Parliament – from our ambulance service to cuts to voluntary services, food banks, special needs children in our schools, nurseries and youth services. Whether ministers respond and help directly, or whether the pressure forces action from other agencies, we need to be able to let government know how people are affected by their policies, and where things go wrong, to try and get them righted. That is how a democracy functions. Without the possibility of such oversight, governments can feel they can act how they like without repercussions.
That is what is really at stake here. At a time when our government says they are prepared to inflict all of the difficulties of leaving the European Union without a deal onto our country – without even publishing the full information on the impact – it’s worrying for all of who could be affected, whether by higher prices, medical shortages, or jobs being lost. Some people assert this is just ‘Project Fear’, but the government need to set out how these projected outcomes will be avoided, or how the deal they have promised is shaping up – and its effects. We all need information to base our decisions on, and I’ll be in Parliament to try and get these important questions answered and see the government acting in the interests of people affected.