Gazette & Herald Column: Government pushes ahead while the EU drags its heels

This week has seen a flurry of Brexit related activity as we enter the third round of negotiations. I was surprised to read this week that Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker have accused the UK of not taking the talks seriously and being ambiguous on topics such as the Irish border, when the UK Government have published position papers on Ireland and a number of other issues, whilst the EU have not yet published a position paper on this or any of the other issues they insist must be resolved before we can start planning ahead. So whilst the EU side continues to be drag its heels, the Government has pushed ahead with plans for the future, and in the last week alone the Government have published papers setting out our plans for continuity in the availability of goods, the confidentiality of documents, future civil judicial cooperation, clear dispute resolution, and data protection- which may all sound like quite tedious technical issues, but are all vital considerations as we leave the EU, and demonstrate that the UK Government is sensibly getting on with the job at hand.

Labour meanwhile have been creating more chaos after Keir Starmer’s policy U-turn at the weekend. Despite, just last month, Corbyn confirming that a Labour Government would not take Britain out of the EU single market, Labour have now turned around and announced their plans to keep Britain in the single market indefinitely. This has seen some Labour MPs jumping at an opportunity to effectively prevent Brexit altogether, and other Labour MPs warning that this could see the return of UKIP. With the Labour Party even further divided over Brexit, perhaps if Comrade Corbyn put as much time and thought into his Party’s Brexit policies as his festival speeches this summer, Labour would have a more realistic and coherent Brexit plan.

Locally this week, we have had celebrations over the bank holiday weekend with the Pewsey Scarecrow Festival and Devizes International Street Festival, as many young people received their GCSE results, with the first subjects being graded under the new system. My congratulations to all those who received results- the culmination of two years hard work by students, parents and teachers! I am also thrilled that after two years of fundraising, this week has seen the official opening of Julia’s House, the first children’s hospice in Wiltshire, which will provide facilities for Wiltshire children with life-limiting illnesses, and support for their families. So much to celebrate as we draw towards the end of the summer holidays and start to prepare for busy term ahead.