Opinion column by Labour Party’s West Wolds Branch

The election weakened our position as we entered the Brexit talks.
The election weakened our position as we entered the Brexit talks.

In his 13th July opinion piece our MP Greg Knight says that the election result was one that no-one wanted.

However, for those of us who feared the predicted Conservative landslide and the continuation of their damaging policies, it proved to be a better outcome than we could have hoped for at the start of the campaign.

As a result of the vote, the Government is now being forced to listen to those (including in their own party) who warn of the very real dangers of their initial Brexit negotiating strategy and to consider the need for a transition period to avoid the worst effects of a ‘cliff-edge’ exit from the EU.

They are also being forced to listen to those who understand that the austerity programme has done serious damage to the social fabric of the nation and brought our social care, health, education, policing and other essential services to a crisis tipping-point.

In enacting such a programme, the Conservatives made a political choice and voters refused to give them the mandate to continue it.

Acknowledging that the Conservative campaign was ‘poor’, Greg Knight seeks to reassure pensioners, farmers and the fishing industry that the Government has listened to their concerns.

However, he makes no mention of the continuing concerns of other groups in his constituency: of the health service workers whose salaries have reduced in real terms since 2009; of the school leaders faced with reductions in teaching staff that will affect the quality of education; of the citizens of other countries who provide vital services yet are considering leaving the UK because they no longer feel welcome; of the people who are forced to use food banks; of the young people who see their opportunities diminished by student debt and house prices they cannot afford. Perhaps he, like the Government, should think more widely when he considers who he represents and what is in their interests.

Finally, Greg Knight asserts that the agreement with the DUP ‘will ensure that Theresa May can govern in the national interest’.

But everyone knows that the DUP deal was struck in order to keep the Conservative Party in power and should seriously question whether the Conservatives know what the real national interest is.

David Cameron called a referendum on the EU in order to settle divisions within the Conservative Party: the result? – a whole country that is divided from top to bottom.

Twelve months later, Theresa May called an election to boost the Conservative majority in Parliament: the result? – the country goes into the Brexit negotiations in the weakest position imaginable, our credibility seriously undermined.

This is hard evidence of self-interest on the part of the Conservative Party, of poor leadership, complacency and political incompetence, resulting in divisions that could seriously harm the UK.

The Conservatives did not get the result they wanted, but the voting public has delivered its verdict on their record.

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