It was a privilege and an honour to have been elected as your MP in 1992. Over the years I have met many of you first as children on visits to schools and then as parents yourselves.
Thank you so much for your letters of support following my announcement that after 41 years I was resigning from the Labour Party. I am sorry for the distress I have caused colleagues in the local party. This was not a decision I took lightly.
My values have not changed and I and the excellent and committed people who work for me will continue to help and support you with your problems.
Sick and disabled hit hard by benefit delays
It is always very sad to hear about people in Stockport who are under great stress and suffering financial hardship. I have recently been contacted by people who have disabilities and long term illnesses who have been refused Personal Independence Payments or are not being paid their full entitlement.
They are having to wait on average about eight and half months for their appeals to be heard and are struggling with high levels of anxiety and massive money problems. Personal Independence Payments replaced Disabled Living Allowance in 2013 and are paid to some of the most vulnerable people in the country who have difficulty with daily living and getting around.
It is a disgrace that such deserving cases are having to wait such a long time.
Happy New Year everyone.
Many of you will be wondering what the New Year holds as the crisis around the Brexit negotiations continues.
The flow of emails I have received on the issue has soared and in the last few weeks more than 600 have arrived.
It will come as no surprise that people have expressed many different views about the way forward. The people of Stockport voted to remain in the EU by 53.2 per cent to 46.8 per cent in the 2016 referendum.
I also conducted a postal survey of 4,500 people in those areas where a high number of people voted to leave in 2016.
What is striking is that, of those who responded, 71 per cent now feel ‘the people’ should have the final say on the Brexit deal and 72 per cent said that remaining in the EU should be an option.
I have detected a definite sign of a change of heart amongst people who voted leave but who now say they would like the opportunity to vote again. Of those who voted leave in 2016, 13 per cent said they would now vote remain, with many saying they felt misled or misinformed in the EU referendum.
The young in Stockport are much more pro Europe than older people with 83 per cent of 25-49 year olds saying there should be another vote and an option to remain in the EU against 50 per cent for those aged 64 plus.
I know that the fundamental issue of sovereignty and what it means to be British, which featured so heavily in the 1975 and 2016 referendums on Europe, will not be finally resolved by a ‘people’s vote’.
But we are where we are now and we need practical solutions. The Brexit deal the Prime Minister has negotiated will not be voted on until January 17 and without major changes from the EU, is unlikely to win support from MPs. Also there appears to be no majority support for any other option.
And yet time is running out. We leave the EU on March 29 at 11 pm and we need to make a decision.
My view, reinforced by the survey of constituents, is that we should have another public vote.
This time people would be voting on proper detailed options for the way forward with the full knowledge of what is actually on the table – the Prime Minister’s compromise deal, another deal, no deal or remaining in the EU.
If we do not get support for a People’s Vote then I can assure you that I will support the option that is the least damaging to the economic and social fabric of Stockport and the nation.