Of paramount importance is the notion that democracy is a process, not an event. It is our duty to defend and deliver the will of the people. From Portsmouth to Pickering and from Penzance to Peterborough, it is essential that the referendum result is respected. However, it is clear that no one voted in the referendum for this half-baked deal put forward by the Prime Minister.
This deal is a galaxy of uncertainty. The Treasury Committee has highlighted that, explaining that the Government analysis did not assess the short-term impact of leaving the EU. When that fact was put to the Chancellor, he agreed. If the Chancellor himself agrees that the deal is uncertain, how can the Prime Minister expect MPs to gamble with the lives of their constituents?
What does this Government’s deal mean for Portsmouth? For the Queen Alexandra Hospital, it means staff shortages induced by the Prime Minister’s continuation of the hostile environment and a reduction in shared research and international co-operation, and it threatens the prosperity needed to fund our much-loved local NHS. It rules out a permanent customs union with a British say, which is vital to support Portsmouth’s businesses, local jobs and the manufacturing supply chains they depend on. It also threatens Portsmouth’s international port, which generates £7 million directly to council coffers to fund local services in an area where a third of children live in poverty and a city forgotten for too long by the Government.
Will that continue under the Prime Minister’s deal? I have asked, but unanswered questions remain. It is inevitable that multifaceted challenges are posed by exiting the EU. In my constituency, we have seen a 12% swing towards remain from the leave vote. Uncertainty perpetuated by this Government’s deal has left many others with unanswered questions. That is why 70% of people in Portsmouth South want some kind of final say when it comes to Brexit. The people need clarity. The people need control. The people need a final say. A no-deal scenario would see the most vulnerable bearing the brunt of decisions made by the few. If no-deal Brexit was imposed there would be a 29% increase in average food import costs, affecting people on the lowest incomes disproportionately.
The Palace of Westminster is the birthplace of democracy, where so many decisions have been made to shape not only our great country but the world. We can all agree that Brexit is the most important decision this country has taken since the second world war. My grandparents grew up in Portsmouth. My parents grew up in Portsmouth. I grew up in Portsmouth. The importance of this deal is not just for us here today, but for the generations that will inherit the consequences of our actions. It is a privilege to stand here and represent a constituency that has contributed so greatly to our nation’s success. I cannot jeopardise Portsmouth’s future by voting for a deal that will make my home city poorer.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on traffic levels around Portsmouth International Port.
Some 95% of fresh produce in the Channel Islands gets there via Portsmouth international port. Delays at our port would mean empty shelves in the Channel Islands in 48 hours. What guarantee can the Secretary of State give today to ensure uninterrupted delivery from all our ports of critical goods such as fresh food and medicine?
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan, local councillors and Labour campaigners were out in force this morning at Fratton station to hear views as many commuters returned to work and their daily travel after the festive season.
Campaigners were talking with commuters about increasing fares yet increasingly overcrowded rail services and Labour’s plan for a better deal for our rail.
Last year saw cancelled or significantly late services at their highest level in 17 years.
- Labour has released analysis of overcrowded rail services, which reveals that:
- Overcrowding on our railways is at one of the highest levels since records began.
- The top 10 most overcrowded peak train routes are on average 187 per cent in excess of capacity; an increase of over 25 per cent since 2011.
- The most overcrowded route in 2016 was the 07:16 Southern service from East Grinstead to London Bridge. The service had nearly double (191 per cent) the number of passengers on the train as the service is designed to be able to carry.
- The top 10 most overcrowded peak train routes will be an average of over 207 per cent in excess of capacity by the end of the parliament.
Following talking with commuters and campaigners today, city MP Stephen Morgan said:
“The Government’s shambolic mismanagement of our railways has been a national embarrassment.
Prices are rising, performance is in decline, promised investment has been scrapped and industrial relations have worsened.
Government rail policy has not delivered affordable fares, decent services or value for money for taxpayers we need to see here in Portsmouth, meaning our city’s commuters suffer”.
Labour want to see the entire network to be brought back into public ownership, so that the railways are run in the interests of passengers and taxpayers not private profit.
Mr Morgan added:
“Passengers, our economy and our environment need affordable fares and reliable services, which Tory policy is failing to deliver.
Labour would take our railway back into public ownership as franchises expire, using savings to cap fares, and would upgrade and expand the rail network”.
Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said:
“Under the Tories, fares have risen three times faster than average wages and severe disruption has blighted the network meaning services are often delayed or cancelled.
It’s outrageous that passengers are being hit with yet another above-inflation fares rise following such a miserable year on the railway. Making passengers pay more to travel on increasingly overcrowded trains is simply not sustainable.
The Government’s blind obsession with privatisation is putting the future of the railway at risk”.
Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan has today met with representatives of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, ahead of votes this month on Theresa May’s Brexit deal to hear views and concerns.
Businesses of all sizes in all sectors are concerned about the lack of planning for a no-deal scenario from Government. Despite recent and last minute efforts by Ministers to prepare for no-deal, many firms are already pausing investment, stockpiling goods and enacting contingency plans in the absence of clarity from the Government.
In advance of the meeting, Maureen Frost, Chief Executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce wrote to Mr Morgan:
“While many companies are actively preparing for a no-deal scenario, there are also hundreds of thousands who have yet to start – and cannot be expected to be ready in such a short space of time.
Firms need clarity, precision and reassurance. The longer businesses wait to understand what the future UK-EU relationship will look like, the bigger the hit to their near-term investment, expansion and confidence.
What they want is to know who they will be able to hire in future, how they will pay VAT, whether their goods will be stopped at borders, and whether the contracts they enter into will be enforceable”.
Hampshire Chamber of Commerce have already met with a number of local businesses that have operations across Europe in order to discuss the best ways in which to prepare.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“Research from the British Chambers of Commerce shows that in a ‘no-deal’ scenario, many businesses would cut investment and recruitment, or move some of their operations elsewhere.
It was really helpful to meet with local representatives to continue to hear concerns from city businesses, as part of ongoing dialogue I’ve been having with fellow residents and our community.
It is clear from what I hear, that for businesses, time is rapidly running out. Even basic business planning for next year has become difficult, if not impossible, for many firms and their investors”.
Five British business groups, including the CBI have also expressed their concerns. The CBI have said that there is simply not enough time to prevent ‘severe dislocation and disruption’ and that ‘firms are pausing or diverting investment that should be boosting productivity, innovation, jobs and pay.
Mr Morgan has undertaken a survey across the constituency asking for people’s views on Brexit; pressed the Government on it’s economic analysis on Brexit and its impact on Portsmouth; repeatedly written to Ministers with concerns; used his role on the Public Accounts Committee to scrutinise Whitehall’s preparedness for Brexit; and; brought down the Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer MP to hear small businesses’ views.
Speaking ahead of the meaningful vote in Parliament expected this month, the MP added:
“Labour has been clear from the beginning that we must ensure jobs and our economy are protected, and standards and protections guaranteed.
A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs in Portsmouth, the nation’s economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is simply not a viable option. It is testament to the Prime Minister’s failure that this is even being discussed.
That is why I will work with colleagues across all parties and all in Parliament to block a no-deal as soon as the Government’s half-baked Brexit deal is voted down”.
Data released shows a shocking number of children and young people struggling with mental disorders and falling numbers of specialist consultant psychiatrists.
The figures, collected by NHS Digital and released by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ show that one in eight (12.8%) children and young people aged between five and 19 had a mental disorder in England in 2017. This is around 1.25 million children and young people.
Only one in four children and young people with a mental disorder are seen by a mental health specialist and over 400,000 children and young people are not getting any professional help at all.
In conjunction with these statistics, there has also been a drop in the number of consultant psychiatrists specialising in helping children and young people.
Across England, the number of consultant child and adolescent psychiatrists, the most senior doctors specialising in children’s mental health, has declined by 5.1% since August 2014. The latest training programme data shows that 60% of training places for child and adolescent psychiatry were unfilled.
Stephen Morgan MP said:
“The Government talks a lot about improvements to mental health services but that is all it is, talk.
“The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper sets out plans to improve service provision and strengthen the link between schools and the NHS.
But by the Government’s own estimates, a quarter of a million children and young people who could be helped will still be missing out in five years, this is simply not good enough. Young people in Portsmouth and across the country need better access to support now.
“I will continue to lobby Ministers to commit to a significant improvement in access to services, and to recruiting and retaining physiatrists that can provide the specialist care that children and young people with mental disorders so desperately need.”
The constituency office at 72 Albert Road is now closed until Wednesday 2 January 2019.
Voicemail and email will be checked periodically so Portsmouth South constituents should leave any urgent messages on the answerphone of 023 9229 1088 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch as soon as we can.
If you need any other type of help, the following telephone numbers may be of use:
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023 9283 4092
023 9283 4989
023 9228 6000
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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Stephen Morgan MP, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South