Last day of recess before heading back to Westminster. I met with the new management of the Oak mall and was heartened to hear about their plans to consolidate their investment in Inverclyde. High street retail has changed almost beyond recognition and we must move with the times. Combined with the announcement of £3 million pounds being spent to reinvigorate West Blackhall street, including £1.5 million from Sustrans Scotland, hopefully that area of the town is on the up. To achieve its potential, it will need to benefit from the cruise ship traffic and the new reception centre for cruise ships will help that. On that note it is good to see Inchgreen in operation building the floating pontoon for cruise ships to berth at. I travelled to London on a late flight with some colleagues including Dr Phillipa Whitford who despite being in a wheel chair having broken her ankle was required to travel to take part in important votes.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gambling Related Harm met to prepare for an important evidence session the next day. In the chamber there were two government statements. The Prime Minister bumbled through a statement about the G7. I am not one for the pomp and ceremony of Westminster. I am comfortable with a less formal approach but to work effectively certain codes of conduct and levels of professionalism are required. It is not just my observation that the current Prime Minister has none of these abilities. His statement was a disgrace. The Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove then delivered a statement on leaving the E.U. I attended an event arranged by Transform Drugs in conjunction with the APPG on Drug Policy Reform. Speakers from Canada and Massachusetts outlined the routes they had taken to legalise cannabis. It is worthwhile noting that if you travelled from Alaska down to Guatemala every country or state you travel through has legalised cannabis. Importantly, in different ways to suit their own local concerns and needs. When Washington D.C. voted to legalise cannabis, 242 out of 243 districts said yes, the other said no, by nine votes. In the chamber there was a Standing Order 24 debate on the E.U. withdrawal. It is designed to protect the UK from leaving without a deal. The government opposed it but lost. They also managed to lose their majority and remove the whip from 21 rebel MPs. The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg lounged about on the front benches following his Prime Minster’s lead showing utter contempt for the proceedings. Their public schoolboy, superior than though arrogance is now openly on display at every opportunity.
Prime Minister’s Question Time. The Prime Minister was so appalling bad that he made the leader of the opposition look good. He blustered, bumbled and even tried to bully his way through but it was clear to everyone that we have a Prime Minister who is incompetent and incoherent. In the evening the bill to ensure we don’t leave without a deal passed its next stage and headed up to the House of Lords. All things being equal it shall return on Monday for the 3rd reading and ten go for Royal Assent. In an attempt to thwart this the government called for a general election. Under the terms of the fixed term parliament act they need two thirds of all MPs (434) to vote for this motion and they only got 298. I did not vote for a general election currently as it was only a means to an end. When the time comes, I shall vote for a general election.
I acknowledged the spirit of inventiveness and ingenuity that these times call for by wearing my James Watt tartan tie which was gifted to me by the Provost of Inverclyde Council.
After all the shenanigans of the past two days business was slow. I did get taken during an urgent question on HS2 and asked if the government could confirm that HS2 is still planned to extend to Scotland as this was the original plan when it was announced in January 2009. He couldn’t confirm this despite the parliamentary under Secretary of State telling me it would in a Westminster Hall debate last July. I caught the 20:35 flight home.
In the morning I had meetings with local traders and the GMB trade union. In the afternoon I had surgeries until 5pm.