Last week I warned that the “Indicative Votes” were unlikely to form a consensus in the Commons on Europe. They didn’t.
The reality is that in 2017 the UK elected a Parliament with no political party (and no majority viewpoint on the form Brexit should take) having an overall majority.
The Government have a “supply and confidence” arrangement with the DUP which has allowed Government to continue smoothly for the last two years. However on Brexit this independent political party have a different viewpoint stemming from the unique history and geography of Northern Ireland.
Last week I supported, as I have consistently supported, the agreed Withdrawal Agreement which has been negotiated with the European Union and which (if Parliament had approved it earlier) would have enabled our departure last week, on March 29.
The Withdrawal Agreement is the gateway to our departure from the EU and to future negotiations on trade. Shorn of its accompanying “Political Declaration” there is nothing apparent within it to which the Opposition objects but it was rejected nonetheless.
In the coming days we will see if there is any prospect of reason prevailing.
Despite all the shenanigans on Europe the UK economy, though seldom reported, prospers. Our growth outstrips most of Europe including Germany.
One particular highpoint is employment – we have the highest rate of employment ever recorded and unemployment is lower than at any time since the early 1970s. In Horsham our unemployment level continues to be well below the national average and one of the lower levels in the country.
That is half the battle but the other half is ensuring that people get well paid. Horsham employment pays on average well above the national average but as with every area of the country, wage levels vary.
Wages are on average increasing above the rate of inflation and the fastest rate of growth has been among the least well paid. The Government’s National Living Wage has helped boost the wages of the lower paid and this will shortly increase again by almost 5%, the highest rate increase since it was introduced in 2015.