7 March 2023
Grasping the Brexit Nettle
The ‘Windsor Framework’, a much-heralded success by Mr Sunak, is an example of the options and negotiation tools that already exist in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement if there is political will on both sides. We note with interest that MPs from different parties are quoting examples for further solutions to limit Brexit damage detailed in our paper ‘Addressing Brexit Problems - Legal Option Paper’) published at the beginning of February.
For example, Labour’s David Lammy has been talking about student visas, and even Andrea Leadsom has talked about resolving issues for touring musicians and access to Horizon. Not only are these examples in our paper, but we have also been told that copies of our Brexit paper were at the cross-party Ditchley Park meeting. This shows that we can influence politics through thoughtful, robust output.
We believe the government must go much further to tackle the Brexit-related fallout the UK, not just Northern Ireland, is suffering. The True & Fair party does not have the political baggage of the larger parties, and her policy is to grasp the Brexit nettle. Our aim is to have a grown-up relationship with our neighbours in the EU and negotiate a closer, more pragmatic, and mutually beneficial relationship without losing our independence or sovereignty.
See my interview on BBC Newsnight on Wednesday on the Windsor Framework. The government have caused terrible damage to our country, and part of that was Brexit. It is time to begin to fix that damage and repair our international reputation.
Protect our Green Belt!
On Saturday 25 February members of my Epsom and Ewell campaign team joined other protestors at the non-political green belt protest organised by the Epsom and Ewell Green Belt Group. I had the pleasure of speaking to many cross-party people, residents and campaigners, all concerned that despite a “brownfield first” brief, planning officers have not proactively engaged with developers on central urban rejuvenation possibilities, but are preferring to accept opportunistic bids from selected green belt landowners and developers. One very knowledgeable campaigner, Alex Deval, vice-chair of the Clarendon Park Residents Association, confirmed my concerns that the plans and data I’ve seen do not add up. Using outdated ONS 2014 population figures, rather than the lower 2018 and official 2021 Census figures, show Epsom’s housing needs are being significantly overstated.
I will continue to listen to residents’ concerns and seek to understand further why, despite the Council’s reports, showing that the site close to the Horton Farm green belt site contains a critical drainage area with high flood risk and that their transport analysis recommends not taking the site forward, they are still planning to progress irreversible, seemly unjustifiable destruction of so many green belt sites. So please email me at email@example.com
At a meeting of the London Assembly transport committee last Wednesday, during a consultation on expanding the ULEZ charge, we heard that Transport for London is considering replacing the Ultra Low Emission Zone and Congestion Charge with a ‘pay as you drive’ model. Later this year, the Mayor of London is set to expand the ULEZ, which will mean hundreds of thousands more drivers, including those in Epsom and Ewell, will be facing a £12.50 daily charge for driving vehicles which do not meet emission standards. Whilst we need to put in place measures to tackle air quality levels in central London, the cost-benefit analysis for people in rural areas who rely on cars is being completely ignored. As with so many issues, the ULEZ debate needs to be approached sensitively and focus on data, not on political or conspiracy theories. Rushing ahead with the expansion in August is too soon, in my view.
St Helier’s Hospital
A very disturbing expose by ITV News showed footage of leaks and holes in the ceiling at St Helier’s. Senior staff say conditions at the hospital are ‘not suitable’ for patients and is a local as well as national disgrace.
St Helier Hospital was among the NHS Trusts the former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had vowed would receive funding as part of his £3.7billion pledge to build 40 “new” hospitals across England by 2030. But so far, there are no signs of shovels in the ground. The redevelopment of St Helier Hospital appears to be hit by delay after delay, and upgrades to existing facilities are not on the horizon. James Blythe, the Trust’s managing director, said the new hospital will not be built until 2027 at the earliest.
Again please do write to me with your concerns.
The Lockdown Files
As soon as I started to read the numerous WhatsApp messages between the then Health Secretary, Matt Hancock and colleagues, I was as horrified as I know many of you must be. This could prove to be the biggest leak since Watergate, with over 100,000 messages revealed, and we are sure to learn much more over the coming days, weeks and months. Every day another deluge of the blatant disregard of the public and self-serving ‘them and us’ nature of the discourse, and decision-making, is enraging. This was at a time when the protection of people across our nation should have been paramount. Around the world, politicians and even governments, have fallen for not protecting their populations. Yet in the UK, they continue to squirm their way out of any responsibility or redress.
As a result, I have written to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) asking why they have not launched an investigation into Mr Hancock. My letter can be found here.
Save the Date
On Thursday 23rd March at the Epsom Playhouse, join me for an evening entitled ‘In Conversation with Gina Miller’. This promises to be a lively evening, with the audience participating in a Q&A session. More information to follow soon.
For me to truly understand and represent the residents of Epsom and Ewell, it is vital I hear from you. Please help me to help you by emailing me, and my Team, at [email protected] – we also need volunteers and helpers, so please contact us.
Candidate for Epsom and Ewell, and Leader of True & Fair