Politically Speaking - Withdrawal Agreement / Queen's Speech

On Monday night this week, it was a great honour in Parliament to be able to present Alice Daykin from Stafford with the national Kids Count Most Inspirational Young Person Award. Alice raised a large sum of money when 16 years old, cycling 230 miles from Stafford to Tenby for Katharine House Hospice in memory of her late mother. Alice said: “Just go for it because whatever you do or how much you raise, you’re changing someone’s life. It might be hard but it’s worth it in the end.”

As I write, the negotiations over the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement are continuing. I sincerely hope that an Agreement can be reached at the European Council on Thursday and Friday this week. This Agreement would then be put to Parliament for approval, probably on Saturday 19th October. As on every occasion to date, I will support an agreement which provides for a reasonable and orderly withdrawal from the EU.

What follows would then be intense negotiations over the future relationship with the EU on trade, security, research and much else – as well as trade negotiations with many other countries around the world. These will be detailed and technical. The UK should be able to conclude several agreements fairly soon, but there will be some that take some years. That is the reality of the world in which we live.

The Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s programme for the next session of Parliament. Although the Government does not have a majority and a general election is therefore likely in the coming weeks or months, the Speech gave a clear indication of the priorities of a future Conservative Government if elected.

The reform of adult social care was included. Governments of all colours over the past two decades have tried to do so and failed. This has to be dealt with. The current financing system is unsustainable, both for many of my constituents, who find it both complex and increasingly unaffordable, and for local authorities for whom it brings greater pressures every year – squeezing out other local services which they would like to offer. I have previously suggested a dedicated levy or tax based on income to provide for most of the cost of adult social care. This would be fairer than the current system which penalises savings. But whatever the solution, one must be found and soon.

I would like to thank all those who have made the first two Stafford ‘Walking Streets’ so successful. They are held on the second Thursday of the month from 3-9pm in the Town Centre and include food and stalls, late night shops, live music and much else. The remaining dates in 2019 are 7th November and 12th December. Even the heavy rain could not dampen spirits last Thursday.