As it is my first column of 2019, I hope all News readers had a great Christmas and wish everyone a happy new year, writes Neil Coyle MP…
It is almost nine years since David Cameron and Nick Clegg waltzed into Downing Street at the head of their Lib Dem-Tory Coalition. Since that day, we have all been told there was no money for the NHS, policing or to build the homes we really need in Southwark and across the country. The cuts and austerity since that day have caused huge problems.
The police lack the resources to investigate all crimes. We’ve lost over 400 officers and PCSOs in Southwark and have witnessed a national rise in crime.
The NHS has been undermined and now struggles to meet demand with rising waiting times and staff shortages causing millions of routine appointments and operations to be postponed or cancelled.
The housing crisis has worsened with ever growing homelessness, insufficient council housing and house prices far outpacing people’s ability to afford a home.
Suddenly, the Government have found billions of pounds. They are spending over £6 billion on stockpiling medicine and other nonsensical ‘No Deal’ preparations.
Millions of pounds have even been earmarked for a ferry company with no ferries.
This profligate squandering is sickening given the difference it could make to our police, NHS or to building the homes we really need.
The waste echoes the £1 billion found suddenly for the DUP after Theresa May called the election in 2017 and lost her majority and mandate. Her reliance on their ten votes in Westminster to keep her own job was hugely expensive to taxpayers.
The sums prove, however, that politics is about choices and priorities. May chose to put herself first in 2017 and the Government has abused No Deal in an attempt to threaten the whole country and hold Parliament hostage over its fake choice between May’s dodgy downgrade plans or the chaos and damage of crashing out of the EU with no agreement at all.
There are other options, including extending Article 50 to secure a different withdrawal package or for the UK to hold a further election or new referendum.
I believe a ‘people’s vote’ might help demonstrate the shift in opinion since 2016 as so many people recognise they were lied to and no longer trust the Leave campaigners who appear to have Putin’s blessing.
Revoking Article 50 is also a means of avoiding damage – and possibly avoiding Brexit altogether to help ensure our country does not decline further, face the even greater undermining of our international standing and reputation, or break up altogether given the implications for Northern Ireland and also Scotland.
I heard from many local people before Tuesday’s crunch vote. Six asked me to back May’s proposals. Two dozen called on me to support No Deal. Many thousands of people requested I continue opposing anything that would damage the UK.
I was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017 with the biggest personal mandate ever seen in the constituency on a promise to never vote for anything that would harm our community.
May’s deal and Brexit can only harm our community and I stand by my promise to you.