Cat Smith column: This Brexit shambles is definitely not top of the pops

Flakefleet pupils launch their campaign for Christmas No.1
Flakefleet pupils launch their campaign for Christmas No.1

There’s so much bad news around, I want to start with the good news, from here in Fleetwood. The whole town is behind Flakefleet Primary School in their bid to be No.1 at Christmas!

I want to wish them all the luck in the world and I pre-ordered their song as soon as I could. Please buy their single – all proceeds go to the Alzheimers Society. The official release date is this Friday, December 14. You can buy the track from Google Play, iTunes or Amazon. Instead of another pop star being Christmas number one, let’s make some local schoolchildren’s wildest dreams come true.

As I boarded the train to London on Monday there were government ministers on television and radio all saying that Parliament’s meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement would go ahead on Tuesday evening. However, by the time the train pulled into Euston it was quite clear the Prime Minister had pulled the vote, knowing she couldn’t win.

Amid chaotic scenes, the Prime Minister failed to give MPs any clarity in the House of Commons that she knew when she would be bringing the vote back. As I write she is trying to persuade European leaders to help persuade her own MPs to support her. There is no realistic talk of the EU leaders giving her a new deal, so all she can come back with will be warm words. What a shambles. Our country deserves better.

Since the referendum, my priority has been to respect the vote and help secure a deal which puts jobs and the economy first. I voted in favour of Article 50 to allow the Government to negotiate a Brexit deal which could have achieved this. Sadly, after two years of ministers failing to agree among themselves, they have chosen a path that will not deliver the strong relationship we need with our nearest neighbours. Due to the government deciding against negotiating full access to the single market, their own forecasts now expect their Brexit plan to make us all poorer.

I believe the Government’s proposal represents a huge and damaging failure for Britain, and had it gone ahead I would have voted against it.

Neither will I support a ‘no deal’ proposition. I don’t believe it’s in the national interest to leave without an agreement, something which would relegate us to ‘least favoured nation’ status with our key trading partners.

If Parliament votes down the government’s deal, or there’s no deal being proposed, my preference would be for an immediate General Election. That would allow the public to have a more rigorous debate about the future of our country and its relationship with Europe. But, should that not happen, I will support all options remaining on the table, including a public vote.

To our NHS now, and new analysis by Labour today has revealed that waiting lists for nearly every treatable disease and disorder have substantially increased under the Tories. For some treatments, the number of patients stuck on waiting lists has increased by over 100,000 – the equivalent of more than doubling in just seven years.

The waiting list for lung treatments (thoracic medicine) has increased 128 per cent, disorders of the joints (rheumatology) 109 per cent and cardiovascular disease (cardiology) by 68 per cent.

Nationally, there has been a 62 per cent increase in the number of patients on NHS waiting lists since 2011 – or more than 1.5 million people.

In England, the number of patients forced to wait six months or longer for NHS treatment has risen by nearly 70,000 in a year. These are staggering and means patients are waiting longer and longer whilst suffering pain, distress and anxiety.