My Week 08/12/2016
This week I’ve been in New York and Washington DC where I’ve been having meetings, including with the President of the World Bank, and speaking at a conference.
I was delighted to discover that Wiston sparkling wine is on sale in New York! How amazing that our quality English wine is now being exported to the US.
As I was away I wasn’t able to participate or vote in the Commons debate on Wednesday about Brexit, which was only scheduled on Monday. But I think the Government has been wise to accept the need for a Brexit plan, and it’s right that MPs should “respect the wishes of the UK” and trigger Article 50 to leave the EU, as the Government’s amendment put it.
This respects the will of the people in the referendum, and - as I have consistently said - I would have voted for the amended motion if I had been present, and will do so at a later date if the Supreme Court gives MPs the opportunity.
Whenever I’m away I take my laptop with me and my constituency work continues. This week I’ve written a piece for the Telegraph about the disruption to Southern rail services. You can read this here.
I’ve called for fresh action to deal with the situation: first, to break up Network Rail to make the track answerable to the train operator so that there is proper accountability for failures, with smaller franchises and Southern’s to be removed if it doesn’t perform once the industrial action is over.
Second, the Government’s welcome compensation for season ticket-holders should be paid at least in part by Govia, not just by the taxpayer.
Third, we need long term capital investment in the south’s poor rail infrastructure. Other rail lines across the country have seen major capital programmes to improve services. The South writes the cheques but gets too little of the benefit. The Government cannot go on driving housebuilding in the region without a major improvement in the infrastructure to support it.
Finally, the Government should urgently review legislation which has allowed a few hundred staff to hold an essential public service to ransom on a bogus safety issue for months.
The time has come to call the rail unions out. Their action is selfish, unjustifiable and nakedly political. They should stand down now - or face the consequences.
*** A list of everything I have been doing on the rail issue can be found here ***