More Parliamentary shenanigans this week as we approach the March 29. I write my Herald column on Thursday morning so do not know, as yet, which amendments the Speaker, John Bercow, will select for debate this afternoon.
My understanding is the government’s one that incorporates two amendments which passed the last time; seeking an alternative arrangement to the Northern Ireland backstop and the amendment which urged HMG not to leave the EU without a deal (both of which I supported) is one of the amendments being considered. Logically it should pass as each did two weeks ago - but logic isn’t at a premium in Westminster at the minute so it may well have failed by the time you read my column.
The truth of it is that both the two main parties (and leaders) are at loggerheads with a group or groups of their own MPs, and struggle to reconcile their differing demands. In addition, neither have a large enough majority to ignore their irreconcilables yet don’t really want to work with the other political party, despite protestations to the contrary. Jeremy Corbyn wants Theresa May and the Tories to own a shambolic Brexit as he believes it’s his best way of subsequently winning a general election, and the PM finds it incomprehensible to seriously try and work with another political party - other than the DUP because she has no choice! Result, stalemate, whilst the clock keeps mercilessly ticking down. Meanwhile, I will hold to my promise to Eastbourne and Willingdon - back a withdrawal bill, not support calls for a second referendum and oppose a no deal. If I give you my word I keep it.
Failing Grayling: Just when matters couldn’t get more surreal in Westminster, I bring you the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP. There are some peculiarities in life which none of us can ever quite make sense of, and one of these is just how does Chris Grayling remain in post? His latest challenge was that a new ferry company his department had contracted to provide back up roll on/roll off ferry capacity after Brexit, had their contract removed. This is probably a good thing as they didn’t actually have any boats. Needless to say Grayling refused to accept any responsibility for the fiasco. I wonder what it would actually take for Theresa May to sack him; answers on a postcard please...
School transport for disabled youngsters: you may remember a recent campaign run by a remarkable mum and her disabled son to secure funding from East Sussex County Council to transport her lad to school. Leanna and Billy Forse. I raised it again during a Debate as recent cuts from county hall mean even more disabled children stand to lose out in future. I’ll not allow this injustice to be swept under the carpet.
Backing the fight against cancer: I was delighted to show my support for the charity Cancer Research UK in Parliament recently. Cancer is such a big issue not least as most of us have some personal experience of family or friends who have had this dreadful disease. My own father died of it as did his father before him, so I’m hopeful the improvements medical treatment and our better understanding of lifestyle choices have made over the years, mean I’ll not myself succumb. I’m also closely connected to Eastbourne’s Cancer Research UK group and have the privilege of being the patron of their annual fundraising Relay for Life event, which takes place again this year at the Sports Park on Cross Levels Way, 1st and 2nd June. Details here: http://www.eastbournerelay.com/ It’s always a tremendous success under the stewardship of Janet Geering and her family and team.
St Wilfrids Jail and Bail fundraising campaign: I want to thank you, the readers of my Herald column, for your absolutely astounding generosity to my piece last week re St Wilf’s Jail and Bail initiative. We’ve already smashed our £1,000 target and within only a matter of days! St Wilfrid’s Hospice is much loved and most of us have had a friend or loved one looked after there at the end of their lives. The care they’ve all received has been simply magnificent, and your generous support in ‘bailing me out of jail’ so quickly is a tribute to the fine work the Hospice does. Thank you.
If you still haven’t donated and would like to it’s not too late; see the link here for info: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephensbehindbars or you can send a cheque made out to St Wilfrid’s to my office, and I will pass it on. Stephen Lloyd MP, 100 Seaside Road, Eastbourne BN21 3PF.
That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.