Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to back the deterrent puts the programme at risk

The Shadow Foreign Secretary was on Good Morning Britain talking about the nuclear deterrent yesterday and the message couldn't have been clearer: Jeremy Corbyn can't bring himself to commit to Trident.

Jeremy Corbyn's indecisiveness makes it easier for a future Labour government to scrap it - putting thousands of jobs in Barrow, and our national security, at risk.

Press Release: Simon Fell welcomes a moratorium on Fracking

Simon Fell has welcomed the Conservative Government’s decision to immediately halt all hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, activity across England, in light of the latest scientific evidence released.

Since it was announced that a licence for shale gas exploration had been granted in Barrow & Furness, Simon Fell has been urging the Government to keep safety and environmental concerns at the forefront of their decision-making and has made the case that local concerns must be taken into account.

A new report from the Oil & Gas Authority – the independent regulator – has found it is not currently possible to accurately predict the probability or magnitude of earthquakes linked to fracking, so the Government has immediately announced a moratorium and no more fracking will take place in England.

Ministers have always been clear that fracking should only proceed if the science shows that it is safe, sustainable and minimises disturbances to local communities – and Simon Fell has welcomed the Government’s decision to halt fracking in light of the latest evidence.

The Government will continue working to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels, having recently passed a new law that made the UK the first major economy in the world to target Net Zero emission by 2050 - meaning the UK’s contribution to global warming will end. As the independent Committee on Climate Change has said, natural gas will play an important part in achieving this target by moving the UK away from far dirtier energy sources like coal, along with other energy sources such as solar, wind and nuclear.

The deployment of 99 per cent of all solar capacity in the country has taken place under the Conservatives since 2010 and the Government is working to ensure offshore wind provides more than a third of Britain’s electricity by 2030. As a result, 2018 was the cleanest and greenest year on record – and 2019 looks to break yet more green records.

Commenting, Simon Fell said:

“Since 2014 I have been arguing that we should only proceed with fracking in Barrow & Furness if the science says that it is safe. Residents have repeatedly told me that they are concerned about this issue.

“That’s why I am so pleased that the Government has acted on the latest evidence and decided to ban fracking here in Barrow & Furness.

“It is crucial to put the safety of local communities first. The latest scientific evidence has changed the facts on fracking, and the Government immediately acted to put a stop to it across the country – the right and responsible thing to do.”

ENDS

UPDATED: Time for Barclays to rethink

UPDATED 25.10.19

I’m delighted that Barclays have reversed their decision to stop customers withdrawing cash from the Post Office. The proposal would have made it difficult for many people in Barrow and Furness, especially the elderly, to use banking facilities without having to travel.

The Post Office and the pub are often the central hubs of any community - taking services away from them risks their ability to continue to operate and serve the people who need them the most.

This is a very good result and I’d like to thank Barclays for listening to the public and reversing their position.

Simon Fell, Conservative Candidate for Barrow and Furness, has today added his voice to the calls for Barclays to urgently rethink its decision to stop customers withdrawing cash in Post Office branches.

Speaking from Dalton, Simon said:

"Not every town and village has a Barclays branch and so this decision leaves many customers stranded.

"481 Barclays branches have closed since 2015, including the one in Dalton. Allowing customers to continue to withdraw cash from the Post Office gave many people a lifeline. This decision is hugely frustrating and a slap in the face to those who have supported the bank for decades, not least those who are elderly and vulnerable.

"I have written to the Barclays Chief Executive to add my voice to this campaign, highlighting the stories that I've heard from local residents about how this decision will affect them. I very much hope that Barclays will listen to the overwhelming call from the public on this issue and continue to serve their loyal customers."

ENDS

We must leave the EU on October 31st

17.4 million people voted to leave the EU. I was one of them.

Today we saw Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP, the Lib Dems, and a rabble of remainers unite in an attempt to overturn the result of one of the largest democratic exercises ever undertaken in this country.

We cannot allow them to succeed. 

The people gave us their marching orders in the EU referendum. Shortly after, in the 2017 General Election, over 70% of voters backed a party that expressly committed to honouring the results of that same referendum.

It is past time for the political class to tell us that they know better. They must now get on and deliver Brexit.

We’ve already delayed leaving the EU once and betrayed the clear commitment we had with the British people. We cannot and must not allow the same thing to happen again. 

We must respect the result of the referendum and leave the EU on October 31st.

If rain makes Britain great, then Manchester is greater.

The barbarism of this latest terrorist incident is striking. To target innocents is awful, but to focus an attack on young people is something else indeed. 

My thoughts are with those who have lost their lives, the injured, and their families and friends.

The emergency services, joined by taxi drivers, hotel workers and local people have worked through the night to keep people safe, provide shelter and get people home. We should never forget that when we are struck low, our community keeps us together.

Our campaign is suspended until further notice. Now is not the time to be making political points.

Three thoughts on the attacks

I’m struck by what a remarkable country we live in.

London has been afflicted once again by terror.

The reason for this attack, the actions that led to it, and the attackers’ minutes, days and weeks before the incident will be picked over for many months. 

Those details will be written about later by others.

But three fragments stand out to me now:

First - that we owe a great deal to those public servants who shy away from danger, putting duty first and themselves a very distant second. As parliament was locked down, Police ran towards trouble (as reportedly did medics from St Thomas’). Even the Foreign Minister performed CPR on a wounded Police officer.

Second - that we should celebrate our democracy. It’s no coincidence that the incident was at the Palace of Westminster, the cradle of our democracy. Inside that building - as happens day after day, year after year - debates are held, and laws passed, in public by parliamentarians who are directly elected to speak for their constituents. Democracy is fragile and remarkable. We should treasure ours. 

Third - that as a wounded police officer was treated at the scene, so was his attacker. What better message can we give to our tormentors than that? That no matter the acts of barbarism which may come, we are confident in our democracy and the rule of law and so will afford them care and try them fairly? 

Our assailants detest our freedom and the institutions and people which underpin and defend it. If nothing else, today has shown that all three are strong.

Labour is Torpedoed

An article for Cumbria Pink following the announcement that there is to be - yet another - Labour leadership election... one that Jeremy Corbyn seems sure to win.

Less than a month ago we were dragged through a thoroughly miserable EU referendum campaign, all of us hoping that come June 23rd, that would be it for a while. 

But it wasn’t. 

The news that Britain voted to leave the EU quickly became a side-note to the political earthquake that followed.

But while the Conservatives united at breakneck speed behind Theresa May, Labour have taken the opportunity to wash their dirty linen in public.

The upcoming Labour leadership election is a battle for the party’s soul. But the fight is not just taking place in the gilded corridors of Westminster - it is just as real in Labour branches across Cumbria.

Just this month, Barrow’s MP John Woodcock overwhelmingly lost a vote of no confidence from the Ulverston Labour branch due to his continued attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Alongside this, a ‘Red Labour’ group has sprouted in Barrow, and a number of Labour stalwarts and councillors have signed a petition for him to stand down, citing the fact that he has neglected his constituents in pursuit of a ‘crusade’ against his democratically elected leader.

Up and down the country, we’ve seen Labour MPs challenged in a similar way. 

You might ask why this matters to Barrow. 

It matters because the future of Labour and the future of Trident are intertwined.

Next Monday, the Conservatives have called a vote in parliament to approve the next stage of the Trident Successor programme. The vote will pass as the Conservatives have a majority at Westminster. 

But if Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership election - and most pundits believe he will - he will have a refreshed mandate to change the party in his image. That means a harder left party that wants unilateral disarmament and for the Trident programme to be scrapped. 

What seemed impossible under Blair and Brown will become Labour party policy by 2020.

It will be suicide for Labour to fight the next general election in Barrow on a policy which will hurt up to 1 in 5 jobs in the area. 

Labour MPs who fought Mr Corbyn tooth and nail since his appointment may face deselection. As we’ve seen in Ulverston, there are already moves being made to soften the ground for this. 

MPs like John Woodcock had an opportunity to work with Jeremy Corbyn in good faith and find a compromise on important issues like this. Instead, they ran a guerrilla war against him and have used the Brexit vote to engineer a coup. It looks like they will lose.

John Woodcock has spent the last year fighting Mr Corbyn rather than speaking for Barrow. He protests that he did this to ‘save’ Labour. Instead he is now looking at the prospect of a split party, scrapping Trident being party policy, and deselection by his own party members. 

Bad judgement has torpedoed Labour and it looks set to sink John Woodcock in Barrow.