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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

Charity

Puffin Party fundraising initiative returns for another year

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THE Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust is inviting people to host a Puffin Party this July, to celebrate the Trust’s 6th birthday and raise vital funds.

The Trust has raised more than £380,000 from a range of sources since 2018, including projects such as People, Paths & PollinatorsMake More Meadows and Wild About Woodlands.

It has also provided Force for Nature Grants to help community groups and local organisations boost biodiversity, act on climate change or educate others on these important topics.

Puffin Parties were added to the list of fundraising activities last summer, and proved so popular that they are being brought back for another year.

Director of the Pembrokeshire Coast Charitable Trust, Katie Macro, said: “We are delighted to see the return of the Puffin Parties. These events not only help us raise essential funds but also bring the community together in celebration of our beautiful natural environment.

“Once again, there’s plenty of inspiration on hand to get you started, including some party food recipe cards (with healthier options available), invitation templates and some ideas for party activities.

“We encourage everyone to get involved and help us celebrate by arranging a tea party, coffee morning or cake sale with friends, family, colleagues, or the local community during the month of July. As well as having fun, you’ll be making a difference in protecting our stunning coastline and safeguarding it for future generations.”

The celebratory resources, including invitation templates, new recipe cards, and craft activity templates and instructions are available for download at https://pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales/how-you-can-help/puffinparty.

To find out more, register your interest and access the special celebratory visit www.pembrokeshirecoasttrust.wales.

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Business

RWE launches pre-application consultation for RWE Pembroke Battery

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TO support their decarbonisation ambitions as part of Pembroke Net Zero Centre, RWE is progressing proposals to develop a battery energy storage system on its land adjacent to Pembroke Power Station. 

Battery energy storage plays a crucial role in the integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, into the power grid, excess renewable energy can be stored and fed into the grid when needed. Electricity is consumed in real time and this technology will, where possible, enable homes and businesses to be powered by renewable energy.  

The consultation on RWE’s plans launches Monday 17 June 2024 and will end on Monday 15 July 2024. RWE is asking the community for their views on these plans and has launched a consultation where local people can provide feedback on the planning application. 

The proposed development would be located on a 5.1 hectare area to the south of the current power station and would comprise 212 Battery Containers, 106 Power Conversion Systems (PCS) enabling connectivity to the grid, and associated infrastructure. 

The battery would have a maximum charge / discharge power of 350 megawatts and would connect via underground cables to the grid at the adjacent National Grid 400 kV substation. Once fully operational, Pembroke Battery would be capable of storing enough electricity to meet the average daily domestic energy needs of more than 72,0001 typical UK homes. 

In line with RWE’s commitment to protect and enhance local environments, the company has pledged to deliver various biodiversity measures as part of the proposals. Field margins will be enhanced by species-rich meadow planting, native woodland and scrub planting, while a new large pond will be provided and managed to support local wildlife. The periphery of the development site will also be further enhanced with bat and bird boxes, insect hotels and reptile hibernation shelters around the field edges. A Habitat Management Plan will ensure the habitats created are managed sensitively in support of local wildlife for the lifetime of the project.

Commenting on the proposals, Richard Little, Pembroke Net Zero Centre Director, said: “RWE Pembroke Battery represents the next step in our plans to invest in new innovative energy technologies, as part of our vision for Pembroke Net Zero Centre. We would like to thank those who engaged with us in our Green Hydrogen consultation and encourage the community to get involved with the consultation process, learn more about our battery energy storage proposals, and have their say on the proposals.” 

Members of the community can contact the project team and leave feedback via the project website rwe.pembrokenetzerocentre.co.uk/battery, telephone 01646 370090, email [email protected] or by writing to ’Freepost PNZC Consultation’.  

Local people can also join RWE at an in-person event at South Pembrokeshire Golf Club on 24th June 2024 between 2pm and 7pm to speak with project team members, ask questions and provide feedback. 

Pembroke Net Zero Centre has a critical role to play in Wales’ and the UK’s pathway to Net Zero. By decarbonising its current operations at Pembroke Power Station, while investing in new innovative technologies, such as battery energy storage and hydrogen generation, RWE can establish Pembroke at the forefront of South Wales’ low carbon future.

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Charity

Megan’s Starr foundation launches Bottle Top Collection Appeal

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THE Megan’s Starr Foundation, a charity dedicated to supporting young people’s mental health and combating bullying, has recently launched an innovative recycling initiative and is calling on the community for help. The Milford Haven-based foundation is asking for donations of old bottle tops, both metal and plastic, to be dropped off at the Megan’s Starr Community Coffee House in Milford Haven.

This appeal is part of the foundation’s ongoing efforts to support mental health and community engagement through creative and sustainable projects. Bottle tops collected will be used in various community art projects and workshops, aimed at fostering a sense of togetherness and promoting mental wellbeing.

The Megan’s Starr Foundation was established in memory of Megan Evans, a vibrant 14-year-old who tragically took her own life after enduring severe bullying. Her mother, Nicola Harteveld, founded the charity to prevent other families from experiencing similar heartbreak and to provide much-needed mental health support to young people in Pembrokeshire.

In addition to their recycling efforts, the foundation offers a wide range of services including counselling, educational workshops, and support groups. They also run the Speakeasy Coffee Van, a mobile unit that brings support directly to young people in rural areas, offering barista training and mental health resources.

To contribute to the bottle top collection, community members can drop off their donations at the coffee house or arrange for a volunteer to collect them. The foundation expressed their gratitude for the community’s continued support, emphasising that even small acts of kindness can have a significant impact.

For more information on how to get involved or to learn about the foundation’s other initiatives, visit their website at Megan’s Starr Foundation.

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