Well…. that caught us all by surprise! Monday morning started with the usual thoughts of returning back to Parliament following the Easter recess and soon turned into something quite different – the kick off of a short general election campaign.
I welcome the calling of a general election. Whilst we have been winning most Parliamentary votes by a 30 to 40 margin, it is clear that the message that we will be leaving the EU following last June’s vote had still not penetrated opposition parties in Westminster and the House of Lords. I can only imagine that the Prime Minister additionally felt some vulnerability of being the appointed PM rather than one chosen during a nationwide poll, and was also needing to adhere to a manifesto that was not hers. Britain has changed in the last two years and I agree that at this time as the UK embarks on a new global future, with potentially tough negotiations with the EU as we depart, a new mandate is required.
‘War of words’
It is never my intention to indulge in a never ending war of words with the leader of Thanet District Council, but he seems intent on an ongoing battle with me. We may be from different political parties, but far more beneficial in my view to try to work constructively, as I am successfully doing with council officers, towards the common good for all residents of Thanet.
I can only encourage local voters to do the right thing at the KCC elections on 4th May and to elect a new Conservative team for Thanet more obviously willing to work with Kent MPs, and for common goals. One only has to consider the unfulfilled promises locally: on Manston, the fiasco of new parking charges, the local plan and various property disposals to realise that many of the TDC councillor team are working to a different agenda from most Thanet residents.
On more parochial matters, I’ve been active in regional media discussing illicit and counterfeit tobacco, an issue that I’ve been working on for the past year, and also the new arrangements enforcing more properly what are known as IR35 tax rules applicable to ‘off-payroll’ or ‘disguised employment’ when a personal service company is used to supply labour only services to public bodies. This has particular relevance to locum health professionals supplying to health trusts. Whilst I have a view as to the practicality of the measures that the government has introduced, it cannot be right that those supplying the same service via a limited company have a far lower tax and national insurance bill than those employed under PAYE.
It has been pleasing to note improvements to mobile phone services locally, ‘EE’, which was Orange in old money have kept me informed of mast improvements making 4G more of the norm than the previous rarity. Another local battle to be fought is against bank branch closures with news that Lloyds in Broadstairs is to close. This follows a similar plan by Natwest. Surely it is time for some new thinking and for banks to get together in shared premises to keep counter services local. These are vital for older customers who prefer cheques and face to face transactions, and who do not want banking ‘Apps’ and online banking. Similarly cash businesses need counter services. I thank all who have signed my online petition which will be presented to bank officials shortly.
I will cease to be your MP at 0.01am on 3rd May, when Parliament legally goes into dissolution. I am obviously seeking re-adoption. This required process within the Conservative Party’s constitution happens next week. I look forward to ‘knocking on your door’ as a candidate in the weeks ahead, and hope to be serving you as your MP after June 8th.