WESTMINSTER DIARIES: Local elections more difficult after parliament's failure to resolve Brexit - The Solihull Observer

WESTMINSTER DIARIES: Local elections more difficult after parliament's failure to resolve Brexit

Solihull Editorial 11th May, 2019   0

The local elections were made more difficult by Parliament’s failure to resolve the Brexit debacle before they took place. On the doorstep I did emphasise that the local elections are about choosing the best person to make decisions for you about the level of council tax, waste collections, planning and other local services but inevitably people also wanted to express their views on Brexit.

When I had the opportunity on the doorstep, I tried to explain why it is so difficult to deliver Brexit. My analogy was that, rather like the end of a marriage after 47 years it was always going to be difficult. For one party to try and bring this through Parliament when it does not have a majority is also bound to be difficult. I have voted for the withdrawal agreement each time but others in my party haven’t or won’t. Hence the quest for cross-party support which each party’s activists find unattractive too. The position of the DUP was also not anticipated by many at the time of the Referendum. Some people told me they’d voted for No Deal in the Referendum; but that was not the official position of the Leave campaign which said it wanted to leave with an agreement in place. So now we find ourselves facing European election where MEPs will not take their seats if Brexit is delivered. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that.

What does this all mean for us locally? Solihull Council is still Conservative controlled but the majority is cut to a thread. I commiserate with all those who lost in turbulent political times and I’m sorry Westminster clouded the objective of the election. I respect the principles of democracy which is why, despite having voted Remain, I’m trying to find a way for us to Leave. However, leaving with a deal will protect the economy and keep the U.K. together; in the end a customs arrangement of some kind may be necessary, at least in the short-term. A customs union will benefit our region as we export more to the EU than any other region and many jobs and livelihoods locally depend on this. Trade agreements are not needed to trade with the rest of the world as demonstrated by Germany exporting more to China than the rest of the EU without one. But market access is crucial and since the EU is our principal market we will need to have arrangements for access. I sincerely hope this will all be resolved soon as the uncertainty is killing business and I know people’s patience is wearing thin.

Solihull is widely regarded as a very well-run council that has been stable and consistent over the years. I congratulate all those who were recently elected as local councillors and wish them the very best as they begin serving our local community.

Dame Caroline Spelman MP

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