There’s an old saying that a week is a long time in politics. At the start of this week Boris Johnson was Foreign Secretary. Whether he’ll still be in that office by the end of the week is anybody’s guess.
To be perfectly honest, I couldn’t care less if he’s there or not, but what does concern me is Boris and others in the Tory ‘hard Brexit chapter’ once again lying to the British public about what leaving Europe means to our NHS.
As the chaos over Britain’s negotiations goes from bad to worse, Boris showed callous political opportunism by repeating the false claim that leaving Europe would mean £350million a week for the NHS. This figure was used during the referendum campaign and has been completely refuted by everyone apart from the hard right of the Tory Party.
We are leaving Europe and Labour’s position on that is totally clear. But I take great offence at the NHS being used as a political football by rival Tory factions in an attempt to get their own way.
The NHS won’t be getting £350million a week. Britain won’t be getting £350million a week. No matter what Boris says, that figure is nonsense – even the chairman of UK Statistics Authority, Sir David Norgrove, is saying so.
l As any parent will tell you, reading with your child is one of the most rewarding and joyous experiences you can experience. Sadly, a poll this week from YouGov shows that a fifth of parents with primary aged school children do not spend any time at all reading with them.
This is a situation that could get worse if cuts to councils from central government continue. We really must do our utmost to protect our libraries – especially our branch libraries.
Although Hartlepool Council has been forced to make cuts, I’m pleased that branch libraries – especially at the geographical extremes of town like Seaton Carew and the Headland – are still operating and are at the hub of their communities.
I recently visited the Headland Library to present prizes and it’s a fine example of what I’m talking about, and I know that Seaton Carew and others are the same.
I’d urge all parents to read to their youngsters and I’d also encourage them to take their kids along to their local library.
Reading is a habit that all of us should encourage and in the case of our libraries the maxim ‘use it or lose it’ applies.
l I was gobsmacked to find out at very short notice this week that a Government minister was visiting Seaton’s Power Station.
Normally MPs get plenty of notice of such events, but in the case of the visit by Brexit Minister Steve Baker, I was only informed a few hours before he was due.
Had I been told earlier I’d have been delighted to personally welcome Steve to Hartlepool and accompany him on his visit. I’d even have been happy to buy him fish and chips along the road at Seaton washed down with a pint.