There are many negatives aspects of the Tories’ handling of Brexit. Perhaps the most damaging is the sheer amount of parliamentary time Brexit continues to soak up.
I came into politics to try and help reshape society for the better, to bring about a Labour government that invests in public services, from hospitals to schools, and improves people’s living standards. I did not come into politics to endlessly debate our constitution.
Parliament demonstrated last week it would not support Theresa May’s Brexit deal, would not support a calamitous no deal, and that an extension of Article 50 was required. All were welcome steps, but politicians want to be doing more than simply ruling out damaging outcomes. Instead we want to be legislating for a programme of investment that will give this country the increase in living standards people are crying out for.
Once we step back from the drama of Brexit, the reality of what this Tory Government is doing to our country is all too clear and the Spring Budget this week was a timely reminder that they’re failing our society on so many levels. Young people’s expectations of their future are bleaker now than their parents’, insecure work, insecure housing and tenancies give little chance of home ownership. Low and insecure wages, zero hours contracts, and average wages still lower than they were ten years ago. Cuts to college places and the growth of unpaid trial shifts have all led to a breakdown of opportunities for our young people. In some local areas we’ve got 70% of children already living in poverty and 59% of people in poverty in the UK live in a household where someone is in work.
Women have been disproportionately affected by this Tory Government. Pensioner poverty is once again on the rise and 26% of households with a disabled person are in poverty.
Nine years of failed Tory rule have created an economy where food bank use is increasing. Since December 2014 Kirkcaldy food bank has issued 425,000 meals feeding 50,000 people. The roll-out of Universal Credit continues to wreak havoc wherever it goes. It is indeed destitution by design.
For all these reasons, this is why we need a general election and why we need a Labour government that will invest in our communities, our young people and our society.
Outwith the Brexit bubble the real divide in our society is not between those who voted Remain and Leave or those who voted Yes or No, but between the haves and have nots and, unfortunately, the gap between the two is getting bigger.
We mustn’t let Brexit overshadow the real issues within our society. We have so many battles still to fight, and they are far from Brexit.