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Portsmouth MP calls government out on ‘withheld funds’ for city port

Stephen Morgan MP called for the government to provide answers in the House of Commons today on why Portsmouth International Port was not afforded the funding it needs to complete post-Brexit preparations.

Portsmouth International Port applied for £32m of funding in October from the government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, to prepare for new customs arrangements that are set to come in this July, allowing it to adapt to the government’s own new Border Operating Model.

However, the city port was only handed £17.1m of what it asked for – leaving a very large of shortfall of almost £15m.

Meanwhile, the government has also so far ignored the port’s further request for funding for the new Border Control Points, and without it, they will have no facility to use to check the 30,000 breeding animals that are expected to come through each year.

Portsmouth’s local authority owned port contributes around £135m to Portsmouth’s local economy, over 1420 local jobs as well as close to £390m to the national economy each year.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Our port contributes around £390m to the national economy each year, so it is frankly absurd that government continues to slow the port’s progress to adapt to its own new Border Operating Model.

“Government cannot continue to chronically underfund our local council, but meanwhile expect it to cough up the cash for this huge infrastructure project. It just is not realistic.

“The Minister for EU negotiations has the power and influence to resolve this, so I expect to hear how they plan to fix this problem very shortly, with no answers forthcoming from the Transport Minister today.”

Mr Morgan has been working closely with the city port to support its funding needs, writing to Ministers in December demanding further funding for the port to prepare for post-Brexit trade.

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UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement: My commitment to you on next steps

Today Parliament debated and voted to implement the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, which provides a legal framework for the UK’s future relationship at the end of the transition period.

Brexit has been a fraught and lengthy process. It is an issue which has divided opinion here in Portsmouth and across the country for decades. I believe you cannot welcome this deal with any enthusiasm but I do want to set out the reasons why I voted in favour of implementation legislation today and importantly, what I will do next to hold the Government to account on what happens next.

I have always been a proud advocate for Britain’s future in Europe and have always tried to represent the views of the many thousands of Portsmouth people who feel the same, and also respect those who do not.

That has meant standing shoulder to shoulder with campaigners and using my voice in Parliament to support a public vote on any deal. It has meant working across the House and across party to prevent a no-deal and to protect workers’ rights and safeguard our environment. It has meant fighting hard to secure investment in Portsmouth Port to avoid disruption and traffic chaos.

I remain steadfast in my belief that Britain should be a modern, outward-looking nation, with close economic and cultural ties to its nearest neighbours in a world of superpowers. Whilst this deal puts that at risk, it must be seen as a foundation to build on with a Labour Government ensuring closer cooperation and prosperity for all.

The Trade and Cooperation Agreement is not the deal we were promised. Instead of the Prime Minister’s much-vaunted “oven-ready deal”, what has emerged is the bare minimum that the public could have expected from a needlessly fraught process.

The months of dither, delay and theatrics have caused unnecessary damage to businesses and the wider economy, all in the middle of a global pandemic and the worst recession in three centuries.

There is no doubt that a better deal could have been reached, but that is not what was voted on today and it is important to recognise this.

There are only two choices facing the country: implement an underwhelming but mutually-agreed trade deal, or immediately face a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

I have always been clear that crashing out of the EU without a deal would be unthinkable. It would cause permanent and unacceptable damage to communities including our own. It would be bad for British business and it would be bad for Portsmouth people.

On an issue like this, I don’t believe we can sit on the sidelines. The tough, but necessary decision to accept the implementation of legislation is one that reflects the urgency to avoid a disastrous no-deal. It allows the country to focus once again on the day-to-day priorities that matter: fighting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.

But I am absolutely clear that this does not give the Government a free hand for the future. The consequences of the deal are this government’s, and this government’s alone, to own. I can reassure you I will hold them to account every step of the way.

So my vote today was conditional. It is based on what you have told me that right now people and business want stability and certainty. It recognises what our partners in the EU have fought for – an agreement that they have collectively agreed and I believe can be put right.

The Brexit debate may be over. The fight for the future isn’t. Nothing in this trade agreement closes the door on a stronger future relationship with Europe. The first review point for the agreement is in 2026. There will be at least one general election before then.

That’s why in the coming days I will be setting out a series of demands on government must deliver for Portsmouth. I will be listening to constituents, local businesses and trade unions in the coming days to shape these priorities for our city. To be part of that task, please get in touch.

We can start now on beginning to build on this agreement to secure a more prosperous and fairer future for everyone. I urge you to help me here in Portsmouth with that mission.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

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With no option of renegotiating left, Labour votes in the national interest to reject a no-deal

Labour votes today (30 December) “in the national interest” to implement the legislation on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU, therefore avoiding a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

While the deal struck with the European Commission and 27 Member States has many shortcomings, Labour made it clear in the House of Commons that it was still preferable to the severe damage of a no deal scenario and that it brought stability and some certainty for businesses already under huge strain from the pandemic.

In the debate today, MPs were not given an opportunity to vote on the deal itself, but merely the implementation legislation, just hours before the transition period comes to an end tomorrow night.

Opening the debate for the official opposition, Labour Leader Keir Starmer also criticised the late delivery of the deal, and how it falls far short of the government’s promises on services, security and cutting red tape for British businesses and producers.

Labour have made clear they will build on the foundations of the deal to make the UK the best place to grow up in and grow old in.

Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster who closed the debate said:

“For some stability, in the national interest, and up against the only other choice of a disastrous no deal scenario, Labour has voted for the trade deal agreed between the UK government and the 27 member states of the EU.

“But not only does this unambitious deal fall far short of what this government promised – months of dither, delay and theatrics mean it has come far too late for many businesses and caused unnecessary damage to the economy.

“This government must now deliver on its promises, and plug the gaps in their preparations for our businesses and borders – and fast. A Labour government will build on the foundations of this deal to change the UK for better.”

Stephen Morgan MP has a strong record of proudly speaking out in support of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

He has called in Parliament for a public vote on any deal. He has worked across the House and across party to prevent a no-deal Brexit and to protect workers’ rights and safeguard our environment. He has fought hard to secure investment in Portsmouth Port at risk of disruption and traffic chaos under a no-deal scenario.

Stephen Morgan MP commenting on the debate today said:

“Whilst it is a relief that a deal has been secured it falls vastly short of what the Prime Minister promised was oven-ready back in December last year, and it allows the country to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit.

“This is a thin deal and I have huge misgivings about it. Voting for or against it wasn’t an option before MPs today. The tough, but necessary decision to accept the implementation legislation is one that reflects a long-term effort to avoid a disastrous no-deal Brexit. It also allows the country to focus once again on the day-to-day priorities that matter to people: fighting the pandemic and rebuilding the economy.

“Portsmouth people will know only too well that after all the dither and delay the consequences of this deal and its weaknesses are this government’s to own”.

Commenting on Keir Starmer’s remarks that Labour will build on the deal, the Portsmouth South MP added:

 “A Labour government will hold Ministers to account on this deal, and will forge a new future for our country, leading the way globally, but working with our neighbours and those with shared values on crucial issues like tax justice, tackling climate change and workers’ rights.

“The deal falls far short of what the government promised. It neglects services which makes up 80% of our economy and weakens our security measures. I will hold Ministers to account on the promises they make and break to the British people.

“That’s why in the coming days I will be setting out a series of demands on what government must deliver for Portsmouth. I will be listening to constituents, local businesses and trade unions in the coming days to shape these priorities for our city.”

 

 

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UK-EU trade deal: Have your say

The Government has now published the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement following news on Christmas Eve that a deal had been struck. The deal sets out the relationship the UK will have at the end of the Brexit transition period. 

Since being elected MP, Stephen Morgan has had thousands of letters, messages and conversations with constituents to hear views on Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU. He has also been meeting with local businesses to understand and address the uncertainty of a no-deal and liaising with the area’s branch of the European Movement.

In this latest survey, in order for Stephen to continue to represent your views in Parliament, he is keen to hear your ideas.

 Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Let me be clear: I campaigned to remain in the EU, and wanted people to have a final say. Sadly after the result of the General Election last year that is no longer possible.

There are two paths for the country now. A no-deal or a deal.

I want to hear from you with your views on what should happen next as I continue to hold the Government to account”.

To complete the short survey and tell Stephen what you think click here.

 

 

 

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“There are two paths for our country right now” Portsmouth MP responds to UK-EU deal

Responding to news the UK Government has finally struck a trade deal with the EU, Stephen Morgan MP has said that whilst a better deal could have been negotiated, there are just two paths now left for our country: to move forward with this negotiated deal, or without one and the trading on WTO terms.

Following the Government’s press conference this afternoon and initial briefings on the deal, the Portsmouth South MP said:

The Prime Minister said he would deliver the British people an ‘oven ready deal’ but what he has announced today is not what his Government promised the country.

It is appalling that we got so close to the end of the transition period causing huge uncertainty for our economy and for British business with little over a week to prepare.

This deal is the bare minimum that Portsmouth people and our local businesses could have expected from this unnecessarily fraught process. What’s worse, it comes with a backdrop of the worst recession in three centuries and in the middle of a global pandemic. 

There are two paths for our country right now. A no-deal, which I’ve long argued would cause unimaginable damage for our city, or this thin agreement, with responsibility for it squarely at the steps of Number 10. I will therefore be looking very closely at the detail of the deal in the coming days ahead of Parliament’s return.

Whilst Labour accepts this deal is better for the national interest than a no-deal, the consequences are well and truly this government’s to own.

For the sake of the future of our city and Portsmouth people’s prosperity, I will continue to hold Ministers to account over their promises every step of the way”.

This is the deal Labour would inherit if elected in 2024 and it will be the job of the party in Government to build on it to make it succeed. That is why Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer MP has confirmed Labour will accept this deal and vote for its implementation in the national interest when it comes to Parliament next week.

MPs will be recalled to Parliament on 30 December following the Prime Minister’s press conference today. It is expected MPs will have a vote on the implementation of legislation for the deal.

 

 

 

 

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“The nation needs Portsmouth to build new port infrastructure” says Portsmouth MP

Today (Monday 21 December) Stephen Morgan MP paid a visit to Portsmouth International Port as part of continued efforts to secure Government funding for vital post-Brexit trade infrastructure improvements.

With just 10 days left until the end of the transition period, Portsmouth has been left high and dry by Ministers leaving the port £8m short on funding to build new facilities by next July to meet the Government’s own ‘Border Operating Model.

Following countless correspondence with the Cabinet Office, putting pressure on Government via parliamentary questions, and meetings with officials, the city MP has today shared his frustration as Britain heads towards a no deal Brexit.

Meeting with Port Director Mike Sellers on site this morning for a further briefing and tour of the site, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Whilst we are seeing more delay, dither and excuses from Government over the negotiations with the EU, getting a deal and ending the threat of a no-deal Brexit and its risk our city’s economy and businesses means the Prime Minister must now show leadership.

We were promised an ‘oven-ready deal’ and Government must now get it finished for the sake of the country. Ministers must also end the uncertainty we are seeing here in Portsmouth.

We all know in Portsmouth that our port’s success is our city’s success, and it is in the national interest for Portsmouth to build this vital infrastructure. Our country needs new facilities at our port if we are to continue trading effectively in a post-Brexit Britain.

With just 10 days to go, Government must stop the shortfall and give the port the £8m it needs to deliver on this important project to protect Portsmouth’s economy”.

Questions have been raised in the House of Commons by the Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves MP after it came to light that  a number of the nation’s ports have been short-changed on government funding needed to build vital infrastructure.

The Portsmouth South representative has vowed to continue working alongside the Port and city council until the Government finally listens to the city’s demands.

 

 

 

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Stephen Morgan MP: government funding for post-Brexit port infrastructure “falls far short”

Responding to the £8m shortfall in funding awarded to Portsmouth International Port through the Government’s Port Infrastructure Fund, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This funding falls far short of what the port say they’ll need to complete work to manage the once in a generation changes to trading following the end of the transition period.

“This government’s incompetence is setting Portsmouth up to fail. The funding awarded is not enough to cover the major infrastructure work mandated by the government’s own Border Operating Model, and without additional contingency funding it cannot be completed in time. 

“Portsmouth is the UK’s second busiest port and its success is our city’s success. Not only does the port facilitate vital trading routes critical for our economy, but it also helps fund our local public services.

“With a post-Brexit deal in the balance, I urge Government to close this gap in funding and ensure lengthy lorry queues don’t become a reality in Portsmouth”.

The latest intervention from the Portsmouth South MP follows a string of actions taken to ensure minimal disruption at the port.

Last week, Stephen Morgan MP wrote again to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove to ensure the Port’s plans to avoid disruption receive the required funding.