Welcome to my CLP report for July 2018.
It has been a hectic month at Westminster. In between debates on Brexit, I have contributed to debates on the importance of NATO, and the need for regulations surrounding contracts awarded by the Ministry of Defence to ensure proper competition.
I asked a question to the new Brexit Secretary on how much the UK Government would be willing to pay for access to aspects of the Single Market. I also raised in a question to Defence Ministers about the need for the MoD to award the contract for the Fleet Solid Support ships to British shipyards. This followed on from my support for a lobby by the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions.
Also in my role as a Shadow Defence Minister, I attended a Lockheed Martin / Air League event on the future of aerospace in the UK and I was delighted to be able to join Shadow Defence colleagues in a “Help for Heroes” money collection at Westminster Underground station.
Visiting the Farnborough Air Show gave me a good opportunity to meet a wide range of companies in the aerospace industry.
I was able to go along to the inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Post- Brexit Regional Policy and Programmes looking at support for areas like the Valleys when European Social Fund monies come to an end.
I joined a number of colleagues at the excellent Bevan Society lecture by Torfaen MP Nick Thomas-Symonds reminding us all why we should celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the NHS.
Brexit chaos continues
This month, to date, we have witnessed no fewer than 9 resignations amongst Tory ranks over the Brexit negotiating strategy outlined by PM Theresa May. These have of course included Brexit Secretary David Davies, and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Whilst under ordinary circumstances the resignations of these two might be something over which to rejoice, it does of course raise grave concerns, as it is indicative of the complete chaos surrounding the Conservative UK Government’s Brexit strategy. This strategy, if it can be called that, shows increasing signs of being made “on the hoof” in response to the latest divisions within the Tory Party, rather than being driven by the best interests of the UK, post Brexit.
In the context of this Government chaos we hear increasing talk of a “no deal” outcome. This culminated in Theresa May making the extraordinary statement at the Royal Welsh Show this week that the Government is now preparing a plan for “stockpiling” vital food and medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
When it comes to Brexit we should also be mindful of the importance of maintaining a consistent stance within our own Party. Earlier this month there was an opportunity to inflict a damaging blow to Theresa May in the Commons vote on the Customs Union. This was the vote in which the Tories have been accused of cheating over long established principles of pairing – where an MP is unavoidably unable to attend a vote their “pair” from the other main opposing Party abstains from voting. The Government won this vote by 307 to 301, but were helped not just by this cheating, but also by 4 Labour MPs who voted with the Government. A loss by the Government would most likely have triggered a no-confidence vote in the PM, and whilst there is little doubt the Tory MPs’ instincts for self- preservation would have overridden any personal views, a very vote in itself would have seriously undermined the already significantly damaged credibility of Theresa May.
In the last month I have attended a number of events in the constituency including the Bedwas, Trethomas and Machen inter-schools sports day, Caerphilly Miners Centre summer fayre, a gala concert at the Van Guard Centre Caerphilly, and the Machen agricultural show
It was a pleasure to attend the Mayor, Mike Adams’ Civic Service and Reception, and I recently chaired the AGM of the Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services, of which I am President.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the RAF and I was proud to compere a celebration at Heolddu School, Bargoed. As well as visiting Tir Y Berth Primary School, it was an honour to be asked to present the Year 6 end of year awards at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Allta, and meet with pupil Lewis Moger who won a national competition with a poem, highlighting the dangers of carbon monoxide.
Hefin David and I spent an evening on patrol with PC Craig Ellis in Ystrad Mynach discussing the recent problems surrounding anti-social behaviour in the town.
I held a constructive meeting with senior Unite the Union stewards from GE Nantgarw to discuss Brexit and industrial policy.
Breast Cancer Care held a very successful afternoon tea at Machen Village Hall, which raised around £650. It was a pleasure to be able to join our local Labour Councillors at this event.