Today our representative Members of Parliament will be returning to their Westminster offices after a weekend that was something of a mixed experience across the whole nation. For some it was clearly an opportunity for them to celebrate what took place on Friday at 11pm and for others like many residents here in Sussex and particularly in locations such as Brighton and Hove along with Lewes it was a time to feel concerned regarding what the future will be like. No doubt there will have been many people with less certainty having had mixed views regarding our membership of the EU and equally mixed views about the risks of our departure. It is clear that for the next 11 months things will not have changed very much except that our departure is now certain and cannot be easily cancelled, even if the problems begin to emerge in our nation. For the moment we are still part of the EU without any way of influencing what the Union will do in that period and of course all of our ex-MEPs are now looking for new roles in the public sector. Some managed to leave in a very dignified and professional way, expressing their pleasure at having worked with their international colleagues and their sorrow for leaving under these circumstances. Some of the others made our nation appear to be rather childish and lacking in any credibility, waving flags which if we are not very careful could soon need redesigning as many of our Irish and Scottish UK citizens are now feeling that their relationship with England and Wales is as much in question as their relationship with other nations in Europe. It is now vital that the MPs who have been complaining about their own lack of decision making, or that of their colleagues begin to explain where we are headed and what the implications will be. So far apart from some very broad and theoretical proposals we have lacked very much that truly makes sense. Here in Sussex we are very fortunate in one sense as we have 13 MPs out of 16 that campaigned or at least voted for our departure to take place and resisted the opportunity to make any changes on a number of subjects. They must now stand up and begin to explain to all of us, along with their colleagues who like many of us are not in favour of our departure, what the benefits will be so we can begin to hold them to account for this series of very questionable decisions.
One of the matters that arose last week on Wednesday was an attempt by the Labour Party to amend one of the current proposals by the Prime Minister. They were referring to the promise by Johnson to recruit an additional 20,000 officers which in Sussex will represent around about 500 police officers. The Labour amendment raised a series of concerns regarding the police arrangements that have been set out over the last 9 and a half years and the final comment which was the only call for action, called for “the Government to recruit 2,000 more frontline police officers than they plan and re-establish neighbourhood policing.” It seems hard to disagree with this as the cuts for policing has been more than 20,000 over the last decade. It was rather concerning that all of the Sussex Conservative MPs apart from Sally-Ann Hart voted to oppose the call of an extra 2,000 officers and so along with the request for all of them to explain what our future in a non-EU setting will be it would be very helpful if 12 of them could also explain why they support 20,000 police officers being added in, but reject the idea of 22,000 police officers? The only Sussex MP who spoke during that debate was Tim Loughton and his comments included: “police numbers are welcome but not the be all and end all. It is appropriate that the police have the right kit and the right powers to pursue criminals. Does [the Minister] agree that one of the most worrying things has been the huge increase in fraud crimes, which account for about half of all crimes, but for which traditional policing is completely inappropriate?”
Now of course there is a great deal of policing that takes place outside of public view, the very clear irony is that Mr Loughton is one of the most vociferous when matters arise for which he wants to see traditional police officers in his constituency. It seems strange whatever the case that he and most of his colleagues have rejected this valid amendment which thankfully three Sussex MPs, all based in Brighton and Hove voted for. No doubt there will be future questions for us to raise with them!