EU work­ers de­serve much more min­is­te­rial re­spect

Yorkshire Post - - OPINION -

THE RE­SPECT be­ing af­forded to com­mem­o­ra­tive events to mark the cen­te­nary of the Armistice is in to­tal con­trast to the dis­re­spect that the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to show to­wards EU cit­i­zens liv­ing and work­ing here over Brexit.

Ir­ri­tated by her in­qui­si­tion be­fore the Home Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee last week, Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Caro­line Nokes was even more mud­dled when she was forced to give a Com­mons state­ment on the le­gal sta­tus of EU na­tion­als – and the checks that em­ploy­ers will have to carry out.

I’m sorry, but she had not got a clue. In re­sponse to Jus­tine Green­ing, the for­mer Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, she promised “a rea­son­able and sen­si­ble tran­si­tion pe­riod”. To Brex­i­teer-in-chief Ja­cob ReesMogg, she pledged that “we will end free move­ment”. To Hi­lary Benn, chair of the Brexit se­lect com­mit­tee, she replied that “we will in due course set out the fu­ture im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem, which will en­able there to be fur­ther clar­ity”.

The Min­is­ter left MPs even more be­mused when Liz Ken­dall, a very mod­er­ate Labour back­bencher, asked: “How will free move­ment end at the end of March if EU cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing peo­ple ar­riv­ing here af­ter March, do not have to do any­thing dif­fer­ent, other than pro­duce their EU pass­port as they do now?”

The re­ply? “We will be bring­ing for­ward the Par­lia­men­tary timetable for the Im­mi­gra­tion Bill shortly, and fur­ther de­tails will be set out in due course,” said Ms Nokes.

It got no bet­ter when Tory back­bencher Peter Bone asked: “If there is no deal, what will hap­pen on March

Next Jake Berry. Not only is he sin­gu­larly in­ef­fec­tive as the North­ern Pow­er­house Min­is­ter, a job, I be­lieve, that was only given him to stop him plot­ting on be­half of Boris John­son to whom he sup­ports, but the high streets – the sec­ond of his pol­icy briefs – aren’t ex­actly pros­per­ing.

And then there’s Chris Grayling. Daily emails from be­mused com­muters show the ex­tent to which he is fail­ing the North – and why it speaks vol­umes about the re­spec­tive records of Messrs Bro­ken­shire and Berry that they’re now com­pared to the Trans­port Sec­re­tary.

TALK­ING OF Chris Grayling, com­muters in the Pen­nine com­mu­ni­ties of Slaith­waite and Mars­den are still wait­ing for their meet­ing with him over hun­dreds of can­celled ser­vices – and the knock-on ef­fects.

I sug­gest he shows some ur­gency. They re­vealed this week that a Tran­sPen­nine com­muter ser­vice from Manch­ester to Leeds was so over­crowded that a girl fainted on the train and kind-hearted pas­sen­gers of­fered first aid be­cause they say the guard couldn’t get through the car­riage to as­sist. “TPE en­tirely re­liant on hu­man good­will, pa­tience and per­se­ver­ance,” posted one mem­ber of the lo­cal cam­paign group. It shouldn’t have to take a tragedy for Mr Grayling to act.

SHIP­LEY MP Philip Davies says the Speaker should not be forced out over West­min­ster’s bul­ly­ing and ha­rass­ment scan­dal be­cause its ori­gins pre­ceded John Ber­cow’s elec­tion in 2009.

I dis­agree. Mr Ber­cow has not done enough to tackle this cul­ture and is clearly com­pro­mised by a num­ber of out­stand­ing al­le­ga­tions against the con­duct of his own of­fice.

And with Glas­gow MP Ali­son Thewliss high­light­ing “a per­va­sive cul­ture of al­co­hol” at the Palace of West­min­ster from “re­cep­tions at lunchtime serv­ing drinks and peo­ple en­cour­aged to hang around in bars while we wait for late-night votes”, why are the bars not shut down?

Af­ter all, how many mod­ern work­places have a sub­sidised staff bar on the premises? Not many.

SEP­A­RATE RE­PORTS in the past week about at­tacks on NHS per­son­nel, and then fire­fight­ers, have been fol­lowed by the Gov­ern­ment say­ing new laws be­ing in­tro­duced will see the max­i­mum sen­tence for per­pe­tra­tors rise from six months to a year.

What Min­is­ters don’t say, how­ever, is that this leg­is­la­tion is the re­sult of a Pri­vate Mem­bers’ Bill in­tro­duced by Hal­i­fax MP Holly Lynch, a po­lice­man’s daugh­ter, and then taken up by her Labour col­league Chris Bryant as they built a cross-party con­sen­sus which con­vinced the Gov­ern­ment to back the so-called ‘Pro­tect the Pro­tec­tors’ re­form. As the Gov­ern­ment won’t ac­knowl­edge this, I will in the hope that it en­cour­ages more bi­par­ti­san pol­icy-mak­ing.

I’M GLAD there’s one MP who reads my work. I’m re­fer­ring to the Par­lia­men­tar­ian who sent a grate­ful text af­ter back­ing Definitly Red – the first York­shire-trained win­ner of Wetherby’s pres­ti­gious Char­lie Hall Chase in 31 years – af­ter read­ing my pre­view in­ter­view with jockey Danny Cook. They clearly have the right pri­or­i­ties.

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