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By Jim Hancock

By Jim Hancock

Wallace: Victim of Brexit

Jim partly blames Brexit for Ben Wallace NATO snub and looks at the toxic culture at Westminster.

We continue to pay the price for Brexit in all sorts of ways. There is the day to day inconveniences. Stand by for long delays at ports and airports during next week’s holiday getaway. The cultural loss as Britain’s important music industry struggles with the need to register every instrument for an EU tour. Then there are the big issues. To replace our integrated partnership with twenty-seven countries on our doorstep, we have signed a nebulous deal with countries in the Pacific, and there is no prospect of the promised trade deal with the USA.

We are losing influence on the world stage, and that is the under reported point about the Preston North MP Ben Wallace being snubbed for Secretary General of NATO. The military alliance has close relations with the trade bloc, and the UK for all its help to Ukraine, is not in the EU. Former Labour Defence Secretary George Robertson got the NATO job in 1999, but that was before the turmoil of Brexit.

Wallace is one of nearly 50 Tory MPs calling it a day and whilst he has made it clear it is not because of any row with the Prime Minister, the ever open exit door can be doing nothing for Tory morale.

Some don’t fancy being on the opposition benches but is striking how many have mentioned the toxic culture at Westminster. One of the most prominent has been Charlotte Nicholls, the MP for Warrington North. She was warned within days of arriving as a new MP to watch out for certain MPs It really is a disgrace that the place where our laws are passed and people come from all over the world to see the cradle of democracy, that stories of sexual abuse and drunkenness mount up.

Boris Johnson must take his share of responsibility. He still doesn’t see the seriousness of the Chris Pincher case. When asked recently about it, he affected to fall asleep. He is not alone in thinking Bullingdon Club antics can be brought into the Commons.

A new independent complaints system was brought in 5 years ago, but it takes for ever, with MPs hiring lawyers and junior staff making the complaints find it worse than the original offence.

Again, I find the reporting of a potential solution to this thin on the ground. MPs should not employ their staff directly, creating a huge power imbalance. The House of Commons Commission should be the employer and MPs choose from a pool provided.

Downtown in Business

Scots and the General Election

Amid all the turmoil in Scotland, Jim notes the support for independence is still strong. He also reports on a great Downtown event that looked at the challenges Manchester still faces in redevelopment.

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