CAROLINE ANSELL MP: Pulling together is our best story

Recent news has been eclipsed by the paralysis to train services brought about by union strikes. Little wonder when a meltdown on public transport means people's lives seriously impacted on every level - work, family, health etc.

Friday, 16th December 2016, 9:01 am
Updated Saturday, 17th December 2016, 9:41 am
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001
Caroline Ansell, MP for Eastbourne SUS-160604-141512001

As I write - Wednesday - ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has agreed to talks. I earnestly hope with today’s publication of the Herald, there has been progress made. Coverage has featured beleaguered passengers, forthright union leaders, angry ministers and people asking is this really about who closes the train doors?

What the tribulation of strikes has also meant, is a temporary dip on Brexit coverage and yet just days ago, a hugely significant vote took place in the Commons.

A motion, tabled by Labour on an opposition day debate (which I regret to say is generally characterised by division) saw a massive majority of MPs of all parties, save the Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists, walk through the lobby together having found, in this moment, common ground, namely that the result of the EU Referendum be respected.

461 MPs voted for the government to invoke Article 50 by the end of March 2017.

Now, whilst this vote is not legally binding, it marked the first time that a majority of parliamentarians have voted to leave the European Union. I recognise and respect all the more that some will have done so with a heavy heart but to serve democracy.

With the vote on Thursday, the government has agreed to publish a plan for leaving the EU before Article 50 is invoked.

It is right that there will be close scrutiny by Parliament throughout the process, engagement at every level and transparency. However, it has also been made clear and accepted that the government is under no obligation to disclose any information that could damage the UK in any negotiations to depart from the EU.

Here in Eastbourne, understandably, I have been contacted by many with concerns about what Brexit could mean. This being without precedent, there is much to debate and determine going forward but with the vote, regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, the Prime Minister has the mandate she needs to take forward the result of the Referendum.

In addition to my regular meetings with those who lead our fishing community, our businesses, language schools etc, I will be inviting local people to come together to look at the latest developments and what lies ahead. Perhaps not Brexit for breakfast but maybe coffee or perhaps that engine room of social policy, the pub!

On a very sober point, the dire situation in Aleppo continues with desperate pictures of destruction and disregard for human life. Our absolute priority must be the protection of civilians and ensuring safe and immediate UN access for humanitarian aid.

With so much happening at home and overseas, pulling together is our best story.