Karl McCartney: Delivering Brexit in 2017

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The last four weeks have been busy in both Westminster and Lincoln as is often the case as each year comes to an end.

One pleasing aspect is the fact that despite what all the doom-mongers predicted about the future of the UK economy if we voted to Leave the European Union, the economy is happily still growing. So much so in fact that the Chancellor, in his recent Autumn Statement, raised the limit to £11,500 before people have to start paying tax and he also froze vehicle fuel duty.

In my mind, the key obstacle to a successful Brexit is from the “enemy within”. These are the legions of Labour and SNP MPs, media commentators and vested trade union and business interests who on the one hand say they accept the result, yet are doing all they can to derail it.

They keep talking our country down, spreading fake news and putting parliamentary and legal obstacles in the way of an orderly departure from the EU.

It is as if they want this country, and our economic wellbeing, to fail.

I see this every week from the SNP members who I sit with on the Brexit Select Committee. Rather than taking the job of both scrutinising and supporting the government seriously, they act like they are in a students’ union debate.

Such Machiavellian behaviour is immature, anti-democratic and un-British. It is also out of kilter with the millions of people, including those in the City of Lincoln, who voted Remain in the referendum.

While the vote did not go their way, they, and the vast majority of our nation have accepted the result in a grown up way.

They, like the rest of us, now want the government to be allowed unhindered to strike the best deal with the European Union and of course with the rest of the world.

I wish those who deliberately want Brexit and our country to fail would take a leaf out of their book by behaving in a sensible, British and mature manner. Their tantrums have lasted long enough.

We know, not unexpectedly, that the European Commission and Council (not our fellow European countries though) is being deliberately unhelpful.

This is especially the case on reciprocal rights for UK citizens living and working in the EU, and EU citizens living and working here.

Perhaps the commission should remember that they are not democratically elected and their behaviour was one of the reasons people in Lincoln, Lincolnshire and the whole of the UK voted Leave.

At a local level, I am gravely concerned about the decision by the Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (LWCCG) to close two of the City of Lincoln’s GP surgeries in January next year. This means 5,500 patients have had to register elsewhere in our city.

My concern is not just for those patients who have to find a new GP surgery but with the knock-on effect this will have on the whole city.

Unless the LWCCG can find extra capacity in the city to replace the surgeries they are closing then there is a clear risk that GP waiting times will increase for all.

They have stated that they will provide extra financial support to enable other GP practices to take on additional staff.

However, that is not good enough without a clear commitment that there will not be an increase in average waiting times. It seems to me that the LWCCG are forgetting that local people pay their taxes and expect better public services, not worsening services.

This is even more so when the Conservative government continues to spend more on the NHS each year. Please rest assured, I will be continuing to hold the LWCCG to account over the coming months.

On a more personal and non-political note, I wish everyone in Lincoln and across the whole county a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.

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