Opinion with MP Craig Mackinlay: New Year resolutions, free trade and covid

MP Craig Mackinaly

Do we all make New Year resolutions anymore? I gave up any attempt at the usual ones long ago as they usually involve giving up some form of pleasurable, if usually unhealthy activity or promising to take-up a new healthy one. But I do have two resolutions this year.

I’ll come onto my second at the end of the article, but the first has to be keeping cheerful. All too easy and understandable to be down in the dumps during what I’ve always perceived as the most miserable month of the year. I always recall from my father, who had a small chain of greengrocers back in the day, that January was always the worst trading month, and then during my time working as an accountant in practice, the annual rush of tax returns to be filed by the 31st always meant 7 day a week working and long hours to beat the deadline. So January to me was always negative even before Covid came along.

The festive season brought full-time working for most MPs and additional pressure on Kent ones as we pored simultaneously over the new Free Trade Agreement with the EU and grappled with the blockade of our region because of French demands stopping the short straits traffic flow. A big thanks must go to Kent Police, the Army, the NHS, Kent County and Thanet District Councils, the Department for Transport and the huge number of volunteers who came together to assist.

All that seems to have been achieved is proof that lorry drivers are an extremely low source of infection (Lateral Flow Testing showed up about 0.25% or 1 in 400 to be positive, an unknown number of whom probably arrived in the UK with the virus in any event) and a serious headache to the logistics network of the whole of Europe, missed family time by drivers and local frontline workers, wasted short-dated produce, notably shellfish from Scotland, and a seriously jammed up Kent.

We were then recalled for a single Parliamentary day to consider all stages of the new EU (Future Relationships) Bill. There was a last rear-guard action by the usual suspects who have attempted throughout to overturn the 2016 Referendum result but the Bill sailed through both Houses of Parliament. I stayed to watch the final deliberations of the Lords, returning to the House of Commons to await the message that Royal Assent had been given at 12.30 in the morning of the 31st December, signifying that the Bill had become an Act of Parliament. It was, for me, a historic day that I was never going to miss. We start the New Year as a normal independent country.

The world has not fallen in as many seem to wish upon their own country in the hope of a short-term ‘told you so’ message; the Port of Dover and EuroTunnel are operating to a high degree of normality despite the ongoing Covid testing demands and we have already exercised some of our new freedoms by banning environmentally destructive Pulse Trawling within our waters and removed VAT from female sanitary products, the so-called ‘Tampon Tax’ that was not possible to remove under EU VAT law.

Let’s move on to Covid. The spread of the new variant, particularly in the South East and London, has been rapid leading many to call for enhanced lockdowns, including schools once more.

Kent has been either locked down or under serious restrictions for two months now with seemingly little effect on the advance of the virus. Across my constituency covering parts of Thanet and Dover District, schools have been told to remain open because of the local downward trajectory of infection rates; this mirrors the position experienced by much of the North of the country who had very high rates but kept education going as best they could.

Some schools have taken unilateral action to close – this is a tough one to rule upon. *If schools are closed even to the children of ‘key workers’ which includes NHS staff and care workers, then those essential people, desperately needed to care for the ill, could be taken away from their duties to manage childcare demands.

Obviously vaccination is the route out of this. The approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine – easier to store and distribute will play a key part. The country must put all effort into rolling this and the Pfizer vaccine out to the community as if on a war footing: we must strip away all and any red-tape to this effort with the speed of manufacture left as the only limiting factor.

With the cost of Covid restrictions mounting up at a £Billion per day, any cost less than this must represent a good return on investment on top of the primary purpose of saving lives and protecting the vulnerable. We then enter the ‘moral maze’ conundrum. It is obvious common-sense to vaccinate frontline care workers to minimise hospital and care home acquired infections, but after that how should the hierarchy of roll-out progress?

I don’t have the definitive answer but vaccinating those most in contact with the elderly must surely be positive, and to calm down the schools debate, teachers and school staff should also be considered together with those working in retail who interact widely with the public. I will be on the back of Ministers responsible to ensure the vaccination rollout is logical, efficient and rapid.

Finally, my last New Year resolution. It is to ‘block’ those who are increasingly taking to Social Media to peddle their own form of hate. I always enjoy robust debate but when the posts become personal, abusive, lacking in any proper content beyond expletives or are repetitively nasty there is little to be gained by either reading, or engaging. I have a feeling my new approach will enhance my first New Year Resolution of being cheerful. I’d recommend a similar approach.

Happy New Year. It will get better.

*(Editor’s note) Schools in Thanet which have taken the decision to delay face to face learning are open for vulnerable and key worker children.


  1. Happy new year Craig, I disagree with your politics but agree that personal attacks on social media and on websites like this are to be condemned. You use a football term , I always play the ball not the man(woman)

  2. Other than the removal of the “tampon tax”, what other benefits have we enjoyed post Brexit?
    Delays at ports? – yes.
    Increased Ted tape – yes.
    Increased price on some food stuffs- yes.
    UK manufacturing moving to Europe – yes.
    Green card needed – yes.
    Full medical insurance needed – yes.
    Control of our borders- no.
    Control of our fisheries – no.
    Deal on financial services – no.
    £350M a week to the NHS – no.

    So, just run it past me one more time, Craig: what have we gained by leaving the EU?

    • ‘Ted tape’ ? Are you thinking of the individual the late Ted from St Peters? You are really a Euro bore! Oh by the way if we we were still in the EU we would be still mired in the European Medicines Agency dragging its feet on approving COVID vaccines!

      • It was Craig Mackinlay who used his Opinion Piece to trumpet (a kazoo would be more appropriate ) the wonders of Brexit.
        Is that the vaccine being manufactured in Belgium (Pfizer) or the one being manufactured by AstraZeneca (a Spanish company)?

        • Where vaccines are manufactured has nothing to do with their approval. Still looking back at your posts over time, you and I will never agree. Ever thought of standing for Thanet Council ? You can put your armchair views into action.

        • AstraZeneca are British company. Pfizer(American) / Biontech (German) vaccine manufactured in Belgium, yet we were able to approve and order before European countries because the MHRA had more staff freed up because of Brexit and not having to drag our heels with the EU.

      • Face facts. We were offered the Promised Land. Brass bands. Pomo, majesty, knights in shining armour, gun boats up the Yanksee, High Commissioners dispensing the British notion of democracy throughout the world.
        What have we actually got?
        A trade deal with the USA?
        No. (But they have one with the EU)

      • As a citizen of a small country heading towards a post-industrial situation (in which we will be dependent on some seriously dubious countries/continents for things as basic as our household crockery) and currently governed by right-wing politicians, I wish we had stayed in the EU and had MEPs to present our case to the other members of what is essentially an international co-operative.

  3. Maybe if you acted like a decent human being Craig you might not encounter such issues. Your voting record is out there for everybody to see. Maybe your resolution should be to stop voting to further punish the worst off in society, against improving the environment, against equality & human rights & not voting for tax/gains relief for the super rich.

  4. Oh dear, it seems we have all the usual moaning e u luvvies on here to day why don’t you give everyones backside a rest from your constant belly aching?

    • MP, So agree, some people never give up whinging and cannot wait for everything to turn tits up, just so that they can say’”I told you so”.
      Well, it isn’t going to happen and you haven’t even given it four days to see how it begins to pan out.

      • Instead of the personal insults, why not list a dozen tangible benefits of us leaving the EU?

        Ok, half-a-dozen?

        A couple, even?

        • the saving of billions that can be spent in this country the control over our own laws and money just a couple like oh and if we want we can grow bent cucumbers we can I mean how pathetic is that to stop the growing of bent cucumbers? that sums up the sort of stupidity in Brussels,I tell you dictators and we all know what happens to them at some stage?or perhaps you don’t?we are at last free from all that bullsh…

          • Bent cucumbers?

            We do have control over our own laws. As for saving money, perhaps we need a different party in power pdq, as this one isn’t doing too well when it comes to saving money.

        • You want a dozen tangible benefits in leaving the EU? I can give you twelve here:
          1. The restoration of democratic national sovereignty.
          2. A break with the secretive, technocratic and anti democratic decision making of the EU, and the expensive fig leaf of democracy the EU Parliament.
          3. Autonomy over defence and intelligence concerns fundamental to a sovereign country.
          4. An immigration policy which can draw from a wide pool of talented individuals from across the world.
          5. The Turing scheme supporting placements for 35,000 UK students globally (versus Erasmus which sends to the EU only) aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds who benefited little from Erasmus.
          6. Immunity from the budgetary consequences of any future Eurozone debt crisis.
          7. A closer relationship with our allies in the English speaking world and less pressure to co-ordinate with the EU (for instance the German led desire to cosy up with China), reflecting Britain’s historically global outlook and liberal concerns an example being the recent offer of citizenship for eligible Hong Kong residents.
          8. Trade deals with developing nations, boosting Britain’s relations with high growth regions of the globe, and compensating for the relative decline in Europe’s economic weight and China’s aggressive policies of investment in Africa and elsewhere.
          9.Freedom from restrictive and anti competitive European regulations which threaten Britain’s flourishing tech industry.
          10. The end of the EU Common Agricultural Policy allows the UK to focus its subsidy regime for farmers on environmental and conservation concerns as well as food production.
          11. The power to ban mink farming.
          12. The power to ban electric pulse fishing and factory trawlers to conserve our marine environment.

          There are many more benefits to leaving the EU I could mention but I’m not going to bore you anymore. With apologies to the late great Irish comedian Goodnight and May the EU Commission go with you.

    • We’ve all lost , because we are leaving the EU. Well- all except a small minority of the population, who are well-off enough not to have their way of life change for the worse.

        • Andrew ‘Flim flam’? Not at all. Still you won’t convince me and I won’t convince you so there we go. Glad we are out but I would say that wouldn’t I.

        • Read George Nokes’comment below. Having lived in the UK for 70 years it seems to me that it is not the EU which has put us in our current economic situation but a combination of ruthless economic expansion by eg China and poor government by several successive governments.

  5. Don’t worry Craig will be blocking anyone who disagrees with him.
    I wonder what life is like in an echo chamber?

    • Is that it? Headline is EU firms stop delivering, but then goes on to say some EU firms have stopped delivering. And it is probably just a temporary measure anyway! BBC sent notification of this article to my phone but no other leading news today, strange that isnt it? Dont let them hoodwink you Phyliss.

  6. and you watch them come running back when they realise how much money they are losing surely you don’t believe anything put out by the Biased Broadcasting company where Brexit is concerned?but they are remainers as well,they should not have the right to call themselves British Broadcasting Company

  7. I like the BBC and its absence of commercial advertising. The licence fee is a very small price to pay for not having the programmes I watch cut into frequently by adverts for things I am very rarely interested in buying.

      • It’s only about £3 a week and it’s well worth it. How much does it cost to watch Sky etc, none of which I subscribe to? How much extra do people pay on the goods they buy in the shops, the hidden surcharge which covers the cost of advertising?
        No, I think the licence fee is very reasonable indeed. Especially given the amount of music I listen to.

  8. Craig is gonna block peddlers of hate. He will have to block all of his friends in the houses of P and his old boss Nige, before finding a way to block himself.

    The irony is the biggest peddlers of hate are the biggest “snowflakes” (to use their own term).

    The usual nonsense from Craig though here a MP that does very little – only speaks up on matter that will personally he is invested in and hates to be challenged on any subject because he can’t justify his terrible voting record.

    But yeah – you block all that challenge you.

    Happy new year.

  9. Let’s all calm down.
    Insulting Craig might act as a personal safety valve but is not really nice or satisfying in the long term.I think Craig turned off listening to his critics or even those offering soundly based advice, long ago.He lives in an alternative world where up is down and black is white and I am afraid there is no saving him.
    I looked at Mr Davies 12 apostles and I am afraid they are built on sand.
    1. Sovereignty:Are you telling me that all countries in the EU are somehow in thrall to a supra national body;if so why are we in NATO or the WTO?
    2.A secretive, anti democratic,technocratic institution: What about some bodies closer to home I could think off.At least the EU was handing out funding, where as our local and national technocrats have done what?
    3.Defence we already had autonomy and not being part of Europol is harmful to our security.Here collective security benefits all.Think of WW2 where Hitler picked off sovereign nations one by one.
    4.We don’t have an immigration policy we have Priti Patel.
    5.Turing: reinventing a very expensive wheel and please remember what happen to Alan Turing during his life.
    6.Do we have immunity from our own debt crisis? We still have debts from the banking crisis and now we have the Covid debt crisis.Have you not heard of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank? The great depression showed that ourselves alone, is no solution and is in fact part of the problem.
    7.Closer relation with our allies: Hogwash! There is no change.I can foresee the response from some here about immigration from Hong Kong.
    8.Trade deals:These require give and take and will not replace a close relationship with Europe.We may well find we are trading sovereignty for trade,that’s not going to be a comfortable process.Do we want to become the world’s arms dealer on an even greater scale?
    9.Tech:I am not sure everyone is sold on kowtowing to Google,face book and Amazon, if that’s what is intended.
    10.Farming: Agreed that the Common AG policy was not wholly beneficial, but I am not sure farmers are that happy.One need only to look at what happened pre-war, if farming is not supported.
    11.Mink farming: Really? How many mink are farmed here? Or do you mean that it should be encouraged in the UK.Mink are a pest and a reason for water vole decline (Ratty out Wind in the Willows).Thank god for Otters, that kill the mink, because they are competitors.
    12.Pulse fishing is already on the way out.
    So there we have it.A rag bag of minuscule and unsubstantiated reasons for leaving the EU.
    Laurence and Craig, you should read more widely and in some volume, and comment less about things that you have little knowledge.

    • Oh dear Mr Nokes you cannot help yourself can you? Your last comments about reading in volume and little knowledge epitomise the arrogance of many in the pro EU lobby when anyone dare contradict their views. Still I will leave it at that. I will go back to Viz or Beano my preferred reading. Have a good day!

  10. Oh dear, saying that the sky hasn’t fallen is hardly a ringing endorsement of the UK leaving the EU is it? We were all promised a golden era and we would ‘prosper mightily’.
    I suspect that Craig knows full well that it was possible to ban pulse fishing and to charge 0% VAT on sanitary products whilst being in the EU but he is hard pressed to actually come up with some positive examples.

  11. And again to day we are plagued by the doomsters it really is becoming quite tiring now so many sad people now their glorious e u has been ousted from this country

  12. I am not sad about it,just astonished that people don’t see what advantages the UK had from being an EU member. Still, we remain Europeans, though not in the EU at present.

    • totally oblivious as to what is going on in this country/world buy a t v dear your life can only be enriched in a way that no radio radio will ever manage.There is life beyond Marvas’ world

  13. MP- Please don’t call me dear .

    I have a television but watching it is not the way I “enrich” my life. I am not “totally oblivious…to what is going on”. What an unpleasant and condescending online persona you have. I hope you behave differently in real life.

    • ok dear you did not know that Britain was an island you did not know that Britain lost its sovereignty no idea we could not grow bent cucumbers stopped us using pounds and ounces for goodness sake where have you been cloud cuckoo land?

    • perhaps it is la la land you are in?and name calling is very childish.you yourself should stop being rude to people and I am not the first person you have done it to.Nothing further to add goodnight.

  14. Your online persona is unpleasant and condescending as i said earlier and you don’t seem to be reading my comments carefully. Why do you not use your real name?

  15. why should I?still with the name calling I see?good night bully listen if you attack me I will attack you straight back for the third time tonight good night

  16. I am not a bully. I am not attacking you. Read this again:your online persona is unpleasant and condescending. Your online persona. That does not necessarily coincide with your real-life persona. Just change the way you write. All that has happened is that you do not agree with my opinions and vice versa. But you are writing insulting things about me- I assume you have never met me.

    By the way, why are you focussing on my comments and not those of the other writers here who don’t agree with you?

    • not attacking me?so I am insulting condescending am I?and you are not a bully and you have not attacked me? the law does not take kindly to cyber bullying so bear it in mindmind have tried several times to night to stop this with you but you still can not let it go so for the last time good night

  17. Your online persona is unpleasant. If you wish to alienate other readers, then don’t change it But if you don’t want it criticized, then change it to something more reasonable.

    • You and I are never going to agree on anything just one last thing though at your age I
      would have thought you was well past the name calling stage of your life. Goodbye and have a happy if not confused life.

  18. I have not called you any names. I have described the characteristics of your comments. You may be a nice polite person in everyday social intercourse- but on this thread you don’t come across like that. So I assume you are inventing an online persona. People often do.

  19. Thanet is being ravaged by tbe worst pandemic we have ever known. Our hospitals are full. The whole country is in crisis and weeping for its dead. And Craig mentions it half way through his article. Where is your sympathy, Craig? Where is your humanity?

  20. The arrogance of pontificating on topics such as schools without bothering to inform himself of the facts. Schools have always remained open for vulnerable and key worker children and remote lessons. The tone of the article comes across as Hastily composed, lazily ill-informed and ‘I’m OK so who cares about the rest of you’

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