View from Westminster: Brendan O’Hara
THE WESTMINSTER parliament reconvened last week after its summer recess and already, sadly my fond memories of sunny Spanish beaches and family outings to Kilmartin glen are becoming increasingly distant.
For MPs, it has been straight back down to business as Brexit and the unfolding UK chaos of the UK trying to legally disentangle itself from the EU begins in earnest.
And I have absolutely no doubt that Brexit will dominate this parliament like no single issue has ever done before in peacetime.
And that the outcome will be chaotic.
That is because the government is trying to do something that has never been done before; and it is trying to do it with negligible planning or preparation.
So we face the prospect of the Westminster parliament being bogged down for weeks on end debating and discussing the EU Withdrawal Bill, after which interminable line-by-line scrutiny on the minutiae of the Bill by the Brexit Select Committee will follow.
At the same time, the UK’s ill-prepared ministers will be being tied in knots during protracted negotiations with an increasingly emboldened EU.
Fortunately we in Scotland know that being in government doesn’t have to be this way, as our first minister proved last week when she unveiled the radical and ambitious programme for (Scotland’s) government.
She laid out a programme, the highlights of which will see an end to the paycap on our public sector workers, recognising their contribution to the health and welfare of our nation:
The extension of free personal care for those in need under the age of 65;
The creation of a Scottish National Investment Bank, dedicated to investing in our economy and infrastructure;
An ambitious carbon emission reductions target and making it easier to switch to non-polluting vehicles;
A bottle and can recycling scheme to take harmful waste out of our environment;
Brand new social security powers, with dignity and respect at its core; one tailored to Scotland’s specific needs.
While the government at Westminster sinks into a mess of its own making.
We are fortunate that Scotland’s government is getting on with the day job for our public-sector and low-paid workers, the sick, vulnerable and the elderly, our economy, our students and of course, our precious environment.
Argyll and Bute MP Brendan O’Hara.