As we head towards the countdown to the so called “meaningful vote” on the EU withdrawal agreement, then there will be much debate about what it really means. For a start, it is not “a deal”. It is a withdrawal agreement, which confirms all the aspects that need to be decided before the UK can leave the EU. All the aspects that Teresa May says she has achieved – she hasn’t actually. These are the planned end agreements for her i.e. a free trade deal, ending of free movement, a customs arrangement. Not one aspect of this has been agreed as “a deal”.
The accompanying political agreement contains 144 paragraphs, most of which contain the word “should”. This is in the context of each party should explore options to..”, each party will discuss..” confirming all the outstanding dialogue and negotiations. A critical example near the start of the document is as follows:
“The future relationship should be approached with high ambition with regard to its scope and depth, and recognise that this might evolve over time. Above all, it should be a relationship that will work in the interests of citizens of the Union and the United Kingdom, “
Who can read this and conclude that Teresa May has actually secured a deal? It is also bizarre that for over two years she has blithely stated that “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal”. Now she says this deal is as good as it gets even if there’s stuff in it you don’t agree with it, and so therefore everyone just needs to back it as a No Deal scenario is so bad!
I spoke again in a WASPI debate, defending the fact that these women should be compensated for being misinformed about their pension retirement age. Only one Tory backbencher made a contribution – which was truly awful- and one of his key points is that to change anything is unaffordable. Knowing full well that has always been a Tory mantra, I got updated figures from the House of Commons library on what the likely affect has been of the tax cuts introduced in the 2017 and 2018 budgets. Cutting corporation tax, inheritance tax, higher tax thresholds and ISA giveaways is projected to cost £78.6bn by 2025. Think what this near £80bn could be used for instead of lining the pockets of the wealthiest in society. When you hear Tory MSPs calling in the Scottish Government to spend more money then remember they support their colleagues cutting these taxes at Westminster taking £80bn out of the economy.
William McIlvanney Visit
I was delighted to visit William McIlvanney Campus and speak to two Modern Studies Higher classes. It is always enjoyable to be put on the spot, and try to answer as honest as I can. It must be a sign of where the UK is heading when part of their topics are “poverty, health and wealth”.
I am always up for any school visit, and happy to try and assist with any enquiries regards school assignments- just get in touch with my office.
These views were first expressed in the Kilmarnock Standard.