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Stephen Crabb: ‘I will vote to deliver Brexit tonight’

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STEPHEN CRABB MP, member of parliament for Preseli Pembrokeshire, has written an open letter to his constituents explaining his position over Brexit and explaining his intentions in supporting Theresa May in the Brexit vote tonight (Jan 15).

On his Facebook page, the MP posted: “I have received thousands of emails and letters from constituents in recent weeks outlining their views on Brexit. I am taking the time to read through every piece of correspondence because I believe it is important to hear all views from the constituency at this serious moment.

“It will not be possible to reply to all emails ahead of the vote tomorrow but I will respond as soon as I can.

“Attached is an open letter to all my constituents about the Brexit vote tonight.

“It is highly likely that the deal will be defeated later, but I believe that this deal or something very much like it will eventually have to be passed in order for us to move forward. Please take the time to read over the letter to hear my views on the process so far and what is yet to come.”

The full letter below:

Dear Constituents,

Firstly, many thanks to everyone who has contacted me about Brexit over the last few weeks and months.

I have received more than two thousand emails and letters from constituents. No other issue, including the proposed downgrading of Withybush Hospital, has generated anything like as much correspondence – and opinion has been split right down the middle. Many constituents are now arguing for a second referendum and for Brexit to be stopped, whilst on the other side many are arguing for the Brexit vote to be respected and implemented.

Tonight the House of Commons will vote on the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement. It will be the most significant vote for over forty years.

In 2016 the country voted 52% to leave the EU and 48% to remain. In Preseli Pembrokeshire, that majority was even clearer with 55% of voters wanting to leave. On the night of the referendum result I promised to give my all to ensuring that the outcome of that vote is delivered.

It would be an enormous breach of trust with voters for the referendum result to be ignored or overturned. So at every stage of the process since June 2016 I have voted consistently to implement Brexit and to allow the UK Government flexibility in the way it conducts the negotiations. I have voted against every attempt to block or water-down the referendum result, or to try and shackle the hands of the Prime Minister.

As we approach the end of the negotiation process, there is now a deal on the table. It is important to be clear about what this deal is and what it is not. This deal does not set out in detail our new long-term relationship with the EU once we leave; this is purely about the terms on which we exit at the end of March this year.

Under this Agreement, the UK ceases to be a member of the EU at the end of March but it provides for a transition period which will give clarity on trade rules for businesses while the details of the new long-term relationship are negotiated and agreed.

I will vote for the deal because I believe it is the surest and most responsible way of delivering Brexit. A lot of the criticism I have heard about the deal is ill-informed and, in some cases, blatantly untrue.

This deal ensures:

  • Free movement of people will end
  • We are free to sign trade deals with other countries
  • A free trade area for goods with the EU
  • No more vast contributions to the EU budget
  • Flexibility on services and digital
  • We leave the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy
  • The European Court of Justice won’t have jurisdiction over the UK
  • Continued security cooperation
  • Direct effect of EU law in the UK will end
  • No hard border in Northern Ireland, or a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK

On the issue of the so-called ‘Irish backstop’, I think that taking a careful approach to the sensitivities around the Irish border and protecting the gains of the peace process is the responsible thing to do. Polls show that a majority of people in Northern Ireland actually support the Irish backstop regardless of what the DUP may say.

If this Brexit deal is blocked tonight, it is very unclear what will happen next. Different groups of MPs have their own ideas on the way forward. There is a growing number of MPs calling for a second referendum to stop Brexit; there is a group of MPs arguing for a Norway style deal which would be an even softer Brexit; some are arguing for the Brexit day to be postponed to allow more time to negotiate the current deal. All of these scenarios make Brexit less likely.

Even though it is not my preferred outcome, I have consistently voted to allow the Government to spend money preparing for a No Deal outcome as I believe we should be prepared for all eventualities. However, as we saw in the votes last week, there is a majority of MPs in Parliament who will do everything in their power to try to prevent No Deal.

How we leave the EU really does matter to the lives of people who work in key sectors in Pembrokeshire, such as the ports, oil refining and agriculture. I have taken the time to discuss the different Brexit scenarios with all of the leading employers in Pembrokeshire and I honestly believe that the deal on the table is the best way forward given the very serious and specific concerns that have been raised with me by the people who create jobs for my constituents.

The deal is not perfect but no one seems to have a serious Plan B that can command a majority in the Commons. Britain needs a way forward from the current divisions and arguments that are poisoning our national politics.

Nobody knows what will happen next but I genuinely believe that the Brexit deal on the table is the only way to deliver on the referendum result with any kind of certainty.

Tonight I will vote to deliver Brexit.

Rt Hon Stephen Crabb MP

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10% Council tax rise supported

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IN A RECORDED vote, Pembrokeshire County Council has approved its draft budget for 2019/20, which will see a 10% rise in council tax.

The budget was approved at Thursday’s (Feb 21) Full Council meeting but was met with some opposition by some members who said other options were available.
Cabinet member for Finance, Cllr Bob Kilmister described his role as a ‘poisoned chalice’ but went on to say: “We are still cheaper in Pembrokeshire than any other local authority in Wales. I have heard that increasing the council tax may have a burden on many who fit into the category of working poor.
“However, if we cut more services it will affect these people the most.”

He went on to highlight a number of outcomes should council tax not be increased by 10% and added: “An additional £1.89 a week avoids these outcomes.”

There is also an extra £1m to cover Brexit but Cllr Kilmister said he had ‘no idea’ if that would be enough.

Cllr Brian Hall asked how many redundancies would be made if certain services were changed but Cllr Kilmister said they were looking at what they have got in the council and looking to train for those people who are leaving vital jobs.

Cllr Hall said that the majority of staff were really concerned, and Cllr Kilmister said they could not start that process until a decision was made on the budget.

Cllr Jamie Adams said they needed to come up with a budget that was more ‘wider-thinking’ and said it was about ‘delivering value for money for Council Tax payers.
He said he was unable to support the budget that demands 10% and challenged other members saying: “Don’t be afraid of doing that, there are different ways to square the circle.”

Cllr Josh Beynon said that while a 10% rise was not the most popular it was the right thing to do.

Cllr Phil Kidney said he was finding it tough to get his head round the customer service centre closing and said they would ‘disenfranchise’ a lot of people by doing so.
However, Cllr Kilmister later said that the service would still be provided but in a different way.
He also said that the current administration was doing more of getting rid of buildings that the previous administration ever did. He added: “This is not something I am doing out of choice, I am doing it out of necessity.”

Cllr Pat Davies said she was ‘dismayed’ to find the previous administration had no strategic plan and said that she had done a lot of catching up over the last 18 months.
Speaking on the transformation program, Cllr Michelle Bateman said progress was being made and that she didn’t want to be part of a council that cuts services and keeps council tax low.

Cllr John Davies explained that the council does have other options and Cllr Kilmister challenged him saying he was welcome to make a new proposal but told Cllr Davies he would have to tell him where the money would be coming from.

Cllr Kilmister went on to say they could only do the budget on the information they have.
Council Leader Cllr David Simpson praised Cllr Kilmister for what he had done over the past 12 months saying he had done an ‘exceptional job’.
He went on to say that he was ‘proud’ of his whole cabinet who had the ability to answer any questions that came their way.

Cllr Simpson then said: “The staff we have in this building are superb, do we want to slash their jobs? No we don’t. We are looking at departments and making cuts where we can.”
When it was put to the vote, 37 members voted in favour of the budget, with 21 voting against.

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Councillor denies ‘bullying’ claim

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A COUNCILLOR has denied that he ‘bullied’ a senior officer of the council when he said that the Chief Executive and Dyfed Powys Police enjoyed a ‘cosy relationship’.
That was the claim made by Cllr Jacob Williams at a recent meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee in relation to the delay in sending a letter of complaint to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The complaint related to the Pembroke Dock Commercial Property Grants scheme, which is still being investigated by Dyfed Powys Police.
At a meeting of Full Council on Thursday (Feb 21), Cllr Ken Rowlands submitted a question asking if the leader agreed with his statement.
The leader, Cllr David Simpson simply replied: “No, I do not.”
In response, Cllr Rowlands said: “Would you agree that the member concerned slandered our chief executive and the police?”
He went on to say that he was far from happy for an officer to be insulted and bullied in such a way.
Cllr Rowlands felt it was a breach of the code of conduct and added that Cllr Williams should make a public apology.
Cllr Simpson responded: “I have had three communications after the Jacob Williams and Chief Executive incident. All three left a meeting with me understanding that it is not the leaders’ role to interfere with members.
“If the actions are unreasonable the chair is there to make sure members act in a good way. There are sixty members and I can’t alter their opinions. As for a breach of the code of conduct, that is a matter for you and if you think he has you have an obligation to go to the monitoring officer.”
Cllr Jacob Williams stated that he ‘categorically denied’ the claims made by Cllr Rowlands and said he understood that he did make a complaint to the monitoring officer but that it wasn’t considered appropriate to refer to the ombudsman.
At the same meeting, questions were also asked by Cllr Mike Stoddart in relation to the council’s handling of the letter of complaint.
He asked which officers were involved in drafting a letter and was told that the Head of Legal services made a decision to provide a draft which was authorised by the committee services manager.
Cllr Stoddart also asked why there was a lack of clarity as to who the letter should be sent too.
Cllr Simpson responded saying the resolution was unambiguous and that the IOPC website directed complaints to Dyfed Powys Police which was contradictory to the resolution of council.
Finally, Cllr Stoddart asked when the letter of rejection was received by then chair Cllr Paul Harries, how long after putting it in his briefcase did he rediscover it.
Cllr Simpson replied on behalf of Cllr Harries stating it was found on October 10, 2018.
Cllr Stoddart replied simply to say that it had been ‘lingering in the bottom of his briefcase for five months’.

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Haverfordwest: Pedestrian killed on A4076 at Dregeman Hill

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AT 11.10PM on Wednesday, February 20, Dyfed-Powys Police received a report of a road traffic collision on the A4076 at Dredgeman Hill, Haverfordwest.

The collision involved a car and a pedestrian. Tragically, the pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.

The police told The Herald: “We are appealing for any witnesses that may have been travelling along that section of road at that time. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Serious Collision Investigation Unit quoting message 431 of February 20.”

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