• Parliament – It’s been a hot few weeks

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    27 July 2018

    Parliament has finally arrived at the end of July and recess. It has been hot. The lack of rain and a muggy sun reduced most of us, as we scuttled around the airless corridors to feeling distinctly sticky. The business during the penultimate week was critical for both government and country. Getting the customs bill which I piloted through the Commons completed on Monday and the trade bill which completed its Commons stages on Tuesday were key moments in ensuring that we are able to continue to negotiate Brexit with the EU knowing that we are able to implement any deal and to go it alone if they press us too hard. On the latter point the EU would do well to reflect on the fact that they refused to provide the most significant concessions sought when David Cameron requested them during the run up to the referendum – if they had given us more at that time then we might not have decided to leave at all. My speech to the House at the conclusion of the custom bill’s Report Stage was preceded by the Speaker congratulating me on my wedding anniversary and acknowledging my wife and children who were in the public gallery. “An unusual way to spend the evening but we hope they are enjoying it,” John Bercow remarked. You can see the exchange on my twitter at @MelJStride. The rest of the debate was a little less genteel – there are many different views of Brexit in the Commons just as there are in the country and members on all sides of the House made their points with passion. But with the latest round of legislation sorted and with the government having now put forward a clear and sensible proposed deal, it is now up to the EU to respond and to do so positively. In the meantime we are preparing at pace for a no deal so that we are ready for any eventuality – a significant information campaign for businesses will be rolled out over the summer – especially relevant to those 250,000 businesses that currently export solely to the EU who may in future need to complete customs declarations. We do not expect or desire no deal but we must be prepared. Closer to home, between the legislation I lobbied our transport minister hard on community transport issues. An EU directive means that many may now face more onerous licencing for voluntary community transport drivers - a situation which poses a threat to our brilliant community transport organisations across Devon. I spent valuable time with Sue Wonnacott recently when I visited Okehampton District Community Transport and discussed these challenges in some detail. I am hopeful that there will be now a sensible outcome and the minister is now fortified by my firm representations. Those who provide their time and support in these organisations do a vital job and we want to keep them going. More from Mel at