Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 14th July 2018
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Brexit, Chequers and the White Paper
I rarely write about Brexit in this newsletter, preferring instead to focus on my activities as North Devon’s MP. This week, however, it’s difficult to ignore, so here’s my take on it.
I want ‘Brexit to mean Brexit’ because that’s what the British people voted for; in North Devon nearly 60% did so. The government gets that, but also knows there are tough negotiations ahead. So the Chequers agreement and subsequent White Paper deliver on the referendum result, whilst at the same time being realistic about the deal we can achieve.
I hope it will help if I list the ten main points of the government’s position, because these basic facts have been somewhat lost in the fog of discussion:
1. The UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, full stop
2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders
3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU
4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world
5. Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations
6. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy
7. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK
8. No hard border between NI and Ireland or between NI and GB
9. Continued close cooperation on security to keep our people safe
10. An independent foreign and defence policy
As we said in our general election manifesto, ‘the negotiations will undoubtedly be tough, and there will be give and take on both sides’. The Chequers agreement and White Paper move things forward in a way that is consistent with the commitments in the manifesto.
Rest assured I want to deliver the outcome that the majority of voters in North Devon called for, and I will hold the government to that.
Lobbying for the South West
On Wednesday I joined a small group of South West MPs on a visit to Whitehall to lobby Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick – see this week’s photo.
We wanted to make sure he – and therefore the Chancellor – are aware of our priorities as they work on the budget and spending plans for the coming year.
Of course we raised all the issues you would expect, including the health service, schools, road & rail links and broadband. But we wanted to take the opportunity to ensure he was aware of some of the things that matter specifically in our region.
We brought up the issue of the £50 ‘government contribution’ that South West Water customers currently receive as a discount off our annual water bills. This was introduced to offset the increased costs of supplying services for the huge numbers of visitors to our region during the holiday season. It’s unfair that permanent residents have to foot the bill, so the government covers some of it with the £50 ‘rebate’.
This arrangement, however, only lasts until 2020. We need to make sure that proper consideration is being given to its continuation. We left the minister in no doubt about our views!
The future of policing
You may remember that almost a year ago, Devon & Cornwall Police announced they were in the early stages of talks for a possible merger with the neighbouring Dorset force.
At the time I gave the plans a cautious welcome and have since been monitoring the situation as it moves forward.
We’re now at a point where it looks as if the plans will go ahead. Last week I met the Chief Constables and Crime Commissioners of Dorset and Devon & Cornwall to discuss the final proposals.
I have told them I am supportive in principle and have sought and been given assurances that North Devon will be appropriately served by the future arrangements.
I welcome any moves which mean police resources can be more efficiently deployed and effectively targeted. Already these two police forces work closely in many areas and share a large number of ‘back office’ operations, so this is the obvious next step.
It is important that everyone has their say, and so I welcome the fact that a wide-ranging consultation process has been launched. I urge as many people as possible to take part.
You can do so at this website, and please note the closing date for comments is 27 August.
In the House
There are many ways of contributing to debates in the House of Commons, and my appearances in the last week show how different they can be.
On the one hand we have a lengthy speech about a pretty detailed policy area. This was about the way we protect private medical data, which will become increasingly important as new technology allows us to access healthcare online.
Looking at the minutiae of legislation is vital to make sure we get it right. There’s often no partisan politics involved; it’s just about getting a better law. It’ll never make it on to a news bulletin, but I regard this sort of speech as vital to my work as a parliamentarian.
If you have 13 minutes to spare, you can watch it here:
The other sort of Commons contribution is the quick intervention designed to make a political point or as a rebuttal to something the opposition is saying.
On Tuesday I used this device during a debate about Brexit, organised by the Liberal Democrats. I thought it was worth reminding the House what the leader of the LibDems had said about people who voted leave in the EU referendum.
You only need 30 seconds to watch this one, and it’s currently pinned at the top of my Twitter page, here:
Yes, that was a shameless plug to get more Twitter followers, but it really is the best way to keep up with my activities. It’s updated very regularly, often several times a day. However please note I cannot reply to issues raised on Twitter, or for that matter Facebook; please get in touch by email or letter and I’ll be happy to respond.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Mail: 1st Floor Office Suite, Church House, Church Lane
Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
Telephone: 01271 327990