Having had the opportunity to gain an insight into the draft withdrawal agreement taking us out of the EU, published on Wednesday, I cannot support it. A Northern Ireland solution which divides the UK and a non-regression clause to ensure the UK cannot out compete the EU are completely unacceptable. The Prime Minister is not delivering the Brexit people voted for.
It appears Brussels plans to leverage the backstop customs deal agreed by the Prime Minister to keep Britain in a permanent post-Brexit customs union. Again, this is not what was voted for. A Customs Union is vassalage. Taking EU laws with no democratic say is something no self-respecting state would accept. If Northern Ireland is to have a separate regulatory regime then there will be some form of Irish Sea border. The Prime Minister has said that no UK Prime Minister could vote for that. This is bad for the Union and bad for Unionists in Ireland and Scotland.
If the future framework document is simply a regurgitation of Chequers, then the PM has learnt nothing. I cannot see how what was agreed at Chequers will deliver Brexit for our country. The proposal commits the UK to remain bound to the EU’s current regulatory framework via a common rule book, constraining us to maintaining a costly, anti-competitive EU regulatory structure across the economy and restricting us from pursuing independent trade deals. I will not support a deal put forward by the Prime Minister that keeps us tied to the European Union.
The Public Accounts Committee held a future planning session last week to decide what the Committee should focus on in 2019. I am pleased to say there will be a session next year examining transport infrastructure in the South West. It is vital to improve resilience and connectivity locally.
On Wednesday, the Committee held a session on the Whole of Government (WGA) Accounts. The WGA is a single set of accounts consolidating the financial activities of the UK public sector, published on an annual basis. The WGA consolidates the financial activities of over 7,000 organisations across the public sector, including: central government departments, devolved governments, local authorities, the NHS, academies and public corporations like the Bank of England.
On Tuesday, I met with fellow Devon MPs to discuss the Campaign to Protect Rural England Devon branch’s report into evidence-based housing needs in Devon.
The report argues that an average of 4,300 new homes per annum are required rather than the 5,800 predicted by the Local Plans. The report found that Devon is more affordable to buy and rent in 2017 than it was in 2007 and the number of second homes in Teignbridge has stayed below the Devon average of 3%. Furthermore, just under 20% of new homes completed between 2007 and 2017 were built by housing associations or councils, while at least 7.1% (2011) of properties are vacant in parts of Devon.
Looking to the future, we plan to invite the Housing Minister to Devon, alongside representatives from CPRE and other local stakeholders to discuss the this very important issue of housing building across Devon and the wider South West region.
On Friday, it was the judging of my annual Christmas Card Competition. I was joined by members of the Teignmouth Arts Action Group, and together we made a decision on the design for this years’ card. We had an incredible number of entries from over 10 schools in the constituency and the quality of designs was exceptional. Following a whole morning’s deliberation, the extremely difficult decisions were made to choose category winners as well as the overall winner and we look forward to informing the schools and seeing the final printed versions in due course!
My next surgery is on Friday 30th November at 2pm in Newton Abbot. Please call my office on 01626 368277 to arrange an appointment.