The progress towards a Brexit deal announced on Monday is clearly welcome and the confirmation of a transition period up to the end of December 2020 will reassure businesses across the UK with the exception possibly of just one sector, fishing. And for good reason. The approach by Brussels to UK Fishing and the Common Fisheries Policy has all but crushed the sector with the British fleet only allowed to catch a fraction of the fish in UK waters leaving our fishermen simply looking on as huge foreign factory ships trawl our waters. Monday’s announcement ‘however glammed-up’ makes it clear that powers in Brussels are not compromising on fishing whilst they still have us in their grasp. The UK’s control of UK waters is now postponed until 01/01/2021 giving Brussels the freedom to dictate the terms with us simply as a third party until then. I am completely opposed to this as are large numbers of colleagues. On Monday night these colleagues and I met with the Chief Whip and Michael Gove to try and understand why we have ended up where we are and make our views known. We have been assured that control of total access to UK waters will be ours by the close of 2020. It is what takes place in the meantime that concerns me.
I’ve sat opposite Jeremy Corbyn for countless Prime Minister’s Questions and statements and, as you would expect, rarely agreed with his position on many things. However, I’ve never felt particularly troubled until last week. His response to the PM’s statement following the Salisbury poison attack confirmed for me, once and for all, what a risk he is to national security. Our Prime Minister is very clear who is behind this attack on British soil. There is no way that she (who is naturally risk adverse) would be as robust as she has been without compelling intelligence provided by our security services. She deserves, as does the nation, the solid support of the Opposition Leader, as has been the case with every opposition leader in all previous incidents of this kind.
On Saturday I met with a small team to look at measures we should ask for in West Cornwall to address the housing challenges for our residents. This follows on from the petition I received in February asking for powers to charge a council tax premium on second homes. We also discussed removing tax loopholes that allow holiday lets to avoid council tax, ideas to increase home ownership, measures to accelerate the work to refurbish empty homes and whether a planning application should be required to turn a home into a ‘bolt hole’. Cornwall Council need to decide how to use the powers they already have to increase the supply of homes for local people but I recognise more can be done by Government to empower local communities to address this problem – this I will pursue.