Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Westminster View - October 2018
October. The language of politics plumbs a new low. Younger Members of Parliament say “of course you have seen all this before”. Those of us with grey or no hair have to respond “No. Even Maastricht was never this bad” as political pygmies shelter behind craven anonymity to level their crude insults not at the policy but at the person of the Prime Minister. The lady herself is mired in the backstop of European and Irish politics. It is said that seventy thousand people participated in a march that will have had the net effect of weakening an already bad negotiating position and enforcing the belief, in Brussels, that Britain will not leave the EU at all. The Conservative Conference at the rump end of a dreary political pantomime season, is predictable in its protestations, its hubris and its disloyalties. The Tramp gets his man as Kavanaugh is finally sworn in to the US Supreme Court and the Commander-in-Chief edges closer to the potential nuclear annihilation of the planet when he tears up the Reagan-Gorbachev non-proliferation treaty. The Western world is torn between jobs and arms sales and principles as Saudi Arabia tortures, murders and dismembers a dissident journalist in its Istanbul consulate. Unbelievably it is President Erdogan of Turkey, incarcerator himself of many such dissident journalists, who seizes the moral high ground and manipulates the world`s media to good Turkish advantage. Nelson Mandela`s friend Lord, formerly mere Peter, Hain, sometime liberal and now a Labour Peer, uses parliamentary privilege to trample over an injunction (or if you prefer the Daily Torygraph version, “gagging order”) and name Sir Philip Green, boss of Topshop and of BHS dereliction disgrace, as the “rich businessman” involved allegations of sexual assault. A dangerous road to go down. If parliament is now set to over-ride the judiciary, however right or wrong the latter may be, what price anything resembling a fair trial? Fracking is given the go-ahead in the UK but is delayed by the hurricane wrath of God, the roll-out of Iain Duncan-Smith`s Universal Credit scheme has the brakes applied while the Department of Work and Pensions and the Treasury seek to resolve funding problems left behind by cuts imposed by the current editor of the London Evening Standard “Boy” George Osborne, The Duchess of York`s daughter, Eugenie, is married in St. George`s chapel, Windsor, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, aka Harry and Meghan, embark upon their first overseas tour Down Under and announce, in mid-air, that another happy Royal Event is on the way. And there was a budget.
Those with thin skins should not engage in politics at any level. It is a rough, tough and brutal game that makes American Football look like a bout of kindergarten rounders. That said, there have been rules and at least superficial courtesies that mitigate both political and personal animosities. In the House of Commons colleagues are all `honourable `, dialogue is conducted in the third person through the Speaker, Members are referred to by constituencies and not by name and harking back to the days when our elected representatives wore weapons in the Chamber the red lines (“Toe the line” and “Don`t step over the mark”) in the carpet between Government and Opposition benches are two swords` lengths apart to prevent the over-excited from duelling on the floor of the House. That said, the art of the political insult has been honed by generations of statesmen and women and even in this miserable age of anti-social media there are Members capable of a withering one-line put-down. That is the stuff, so misunderstood by those from other legislatures and completely incomprehensible to our European neighbours, of the adversarial debate. The craft of caricature and newspaper cartoon dates back for centuries and the works of Cruickshank, Hogarth and Gilray leave even those like Gerald Scarfe at the starting gate in terms of the vicious dismembering of appearance and policy. It has been widely unappreciated that outside the Chamber those who have been at daggers drawn over Prime Ministers` question time, for example, can be civil and sometimes even close. I have often said that I probably have more personal friends on the Labour benches than on my own and whisper it softly but there are even occasional warm words between Members of Parliament and the vermin in the Press Gallery – sorry – “Gentlemen of the Press”.
Brexit and the rise of the Momentum movement and Red Jerry have, collectively and severally, brought us to a new and possibly all-time low. Dog is now eating dog, or bitch, on both sides of the House within the two major parties. My friends on the Labour benches now face de-selection for their heresies of moderation as `red in tooth and claw` becomes the doctrine of the Corbyn Labour Party and dissent is not tolerated. This is not a happy time to be a Blairite `New Labour` socialist and many are looking to the premature termination of careers not at the hands of the electorate but from the enemy within. That, though, pales into insignificance beside the backstabbing and mud-slinging that has epitomised the extreme right and the hard-remain left of the Tory Party.
Regular readers of these scribblings will say, with justification, that I have on occasions been less than complimentary to some of my own colleagues. I do not like treachery and disloyalty and while possibly guilty of it myself, I abhor hypocrisy in others. It requires some 48 letters from Conservative MPs, sent to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that represents all those Tories who are not on the Government (or when in Opposition Front-bench) `Payroll` to trigger a vote of No Confidence in the Leader of the Parliamentary Party and by virtue of office at present The Prime Minister. It is claimed by hard-Brexiteers that there are “nearly sufficient” such letters in Sir Graham`s safe keeping and that the calling of a ballot though the submission of the missing few is imminent. So at the moment when she is engaged in the endgame of the most difficult and dangerous negotiations that this Country has participated in within anyone`s living memory Some of my `honourable friends` are sending to the European Commission a signal that The Darling Bud is in trouble at home and that all they have to do is wait until that nice Mr. Corbyn becomes Prime Minister and we will be back in the fierce embrace of Brussels. Is that clever or loyal to the United Kingdom? I think not.
What to me is worse, though, and which is testimony to the gutter-level of politics into which we have now descended, is the personal attacks upon Mrs. May levelled at her by those, including some Ministers and former Ministers. The Prime Minister is courageous, she is determined, she is working to secure the best exit deal for Britain that is achievable under near-impossible circumstances and whatever your politics she does not deserve the level of abuse that, prior to the most recent meeting of the 1922 Committee at which she appeared, she has been subjected. To speak, anonymously, of “twisting hot knives”, of “bringing her own noose” to the meeting or of entering “a killing zone” is unacceptable even by the lowest of parliamentary standards. Those, the craven and unidentified - in public at least for we know who they are – who seek to curry favour with journalists in return for favourable treatment and publicity later, deserve the contempt and disdain that, thankfully, has been heaped upon them from both sides of the House. There have always been dial-a-quote MPs who cannot survive without the daily fix of seeing their names printed somewhere in a newspaper but just possibly the outpouring of derision from those with whom they are compelled to work may have a salutary effect. Just possibly!
On the sunnier side of the street the Prime Minister`s appearance before the widely-publicised `confidential` 1922 Committee (If you want to keep a secret, make a speech in the Chamber; if you want publicity talk about it at the`22”!) was well-received. One backbencher went so far as to say for the benefit of waiting journalists of course, “not so much Daniella in the lions` den – more of a children`s petting zoo”. I would not go quite that far but it was an impressive performance. She has a clear determination to secure, from the rest of the EU, a settlement that preserves the unity of the United Kingdom, does not create a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic or a border down the middle of the Irish Sea, re-patriates the powers that voters wanted to see returned to the Government of the UK, protects and preserves the rights of Britons living in Europe as well as EU citizens living in Britain, meets the need of just-in- time trade supplies and of our financial institutions and maintains the security and the economies of both the EU and the UK. Given the alternative of a hard and potentially damaging Brexit for both sides in this equation that seems to me to be an aspiration worth fighting for and if she can now be given the space to get on with the job in hand without `friendly advice` from Mr Johnson, Mr. Davis, Mr. Mogg, Ms. Soubry and a handful of disaffected former Ministers and camp-followers she might well yet deliver. EU negotiations always go to the last minute of the last hour but with the endgame now approaching it is vital that the voice of reason and common sense prevails. As The Prime Minister told the 1922 the final package will still have to be put to and approved by parliament but in the meantime a period of silence might be a good idea. And any talk of a `Canada Plus` deal or a `Norway Plus` deal or of a second (third, actually, if you include 1974) referendum is no more helpful than Mr. Corbyn`s naked ambition for a General Election.
The “Green Affair” is a messy business. It began when the Torygraph ran a silhouette of a “rich businessman” who had obtained and injunction or, as the media likes to refer to it a “gagging order” to prevent them from publishing the lurid details of alleged sexual impropriety and “bullying”. Never mind the fact that this was an interim order imposed by three High Court judges who had heard the evidence while they considered further the merits of the case. These days the “rich and powerful” are fair game. Step forward that pillar of Liberal virtue Lord (Peter) Hain who took it upon himself, having decided that exposure was `in the public interest`, to name Sir Philip Green as the Corporate figure in question. A pity, perhaps, that Mr (sic) Hain declined to mention that he himself had resorted to gagging orders when he had a spot of bother in his youth or that the enobled Lord Hain was taking money from the same firm of lawyers, Messrs Gordon Dadds, who act for the Daily Torygraph. Hain, we are told, was unaware of this fact when he sheltered behind parliamentary privilege to unmask` Sir Green` in the House of Lords. As the firm`s name was on the front cover of the injunction he either was ill informed or he was being mildly disingenuous. Either way the wrath of a number of distinguished lawyers, including the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve, rightly descended upon him for abusing privilege, a rarely used and precious commodity that dates back to Magna Carta, to set himself above the Courts. The sisterhood, not surprisingly in this day and age when a man (it usually is a man) is guilty until proved innocent of an accusation, applauded Hain`s actions but there may well be a heavy constitutional price to pay for his desire to be in the limelight. In the meantime, and whatever the public perception of `Topshop Billionaire` Green it might not go amiss if the Lords` watchdog were to investigate Hain`s motives and his relationship with Gordon Dadds.
`Bullying` is an allegation that, as Mr Speaker Bercow has discovered, is almost impossible to refute. There is a fine line between what `Sir Green` has described as `banter` and abuse, whether verbal or physical. Speaker Bercow is known to have a short fuse but then so, known by friends in the House of Commons as ` Mr Angry` have I! Not tolerating fools gladly is regarded by some as an attribute and by others as rude, arrogant and offensive. On the Government benches there has been a rear-guard campaign, aided and abetted by the Bourgois Women`s Tabloid and other journals, to secure the departure of a Speaker regarded as biased and a man elected to and maintained in office by the Labour Party for its own advantage. Others have regarded Speaker Bercow as the scourge of the executive and the champion of the backbenches, a man unflinching in his determination to allow MPs to `speak truth unto power`. It is certainly the case that some highly respected servants of the House have levelled charges at the Speaker that have to be answered and it is clearly right that he has removed himself from the Chairmanship of the committee charged with the duty of looking into these matter but few would doubt that, whatever his shortcomings, he has an encyclopaedic knowledge of members and a mastery of the procedure of the House that leaves even those of us who have spent years on the Panel of Chairmen at the starting gate.
In the context of bullying the name `Trump` springs to mind! The President of the United States has imposed his will upon the FBI, the judiciary and the House and secured the election of Judge Kanaugh to the Supreme Court for life. The Tramp`s wife, Melania, has described herself as “the most bullied person in the world” which is probably a mild exaggeration and a swipe at the media rather than at the Commander-in-Chief but the latter has seemed uncharacteristically reluctant to throw his weight around when it has come to criticising Saudi Arabia for facilitating the brutal murder of a critical journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, in that country`s consulate in Turkey. The Tramp “does not want to hurt jobs” in the United States and of course arms sales are worth a lot of jobs in America as indeed they are in Britain and throughout the major states of the European Union. The President has described the Saudis eventual admission that Mr Khashoggi did die in the Consulate and their assertion that this was as the result of “an interrogation that went wrong” as “the worst cover-up in human history” but there is small sign of any practical condemnation emanating from the White House. This, of course, is the same President who, while blaming the Press for generating a hostile reaction towards journalists and calling upon politicians to `generate civility`, also praised such a Republican politician running for office who treated a newspaper reporter to a `body slam` as “my kind of guy”. His explosive “lock her up” rants against Hilary Clinton and his abuse of President O`Bama were, of course, the epitome of civility. Rather more worrying, though, is The Tramp`s decision to tear up the Nuclear Arms Proliferation Treaty brokered by President Reagan and Comrade Gorbachev in 1987. This agreement has kept something of a lid on the nuclear arms race for three decades since the ending of the cold war but under the guise of “the Russians have medium range missiles” that can reach NATO countries and of a Chinese arms build-up in the Pacific the President has decided that it is time to heat up the cold war again. Presumably to the strains of Tom Lehrer`s “We will all go together when we go” if you can remember that far back. We live in very dangerous times.
Universal Credit was the flagship of Irritable Duncan Syndrome`s flotilla of reforms during his sojourn at the department of Work and Pensions. Designed to consolidate six separate benefits into one easy-to-understand and easy-to-claim package it should have been rolled out nationwide many months ago. A combination of the inevitable Government IT issues coupled with the laws of unintended consequences have left the programme way behind schedule. As those operating within the DWP and they will tell you that the new system is hugely beneficial and so far as new claimants are concerned it appears to have been working well. Former claimants who have been the recipients of several of the former benefits, such as child tax credit, tell a very different story. The transition from old to new has clearly, in some cases, led directly to delay in the receipt of payment and to real hardship and in other cases a cut in income. The doomsayers have forecast discontent of poll tax proportions and there have been the inevitable calls from the Opposition to chuck the baby out with the bathwater and to scrap the whole scheme. St. Vincent of Cable, if you recall the current Leader of the small band of Liberal Democrats, criticises the “disaster” that is Universal Credit while at the same time extolling its “inherent merits”. Fortunately, the Secretary of State Esther Mc Vey is another of the Cabinet`s tough women and unlike some behind her on the back-benches has not been minded to roll over at the first whiff of incoming fire. Sensibly, she pauses for breath to allow time for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, “Spreadsheet Phil”, to make additional funding available to smooth the path of a policy that will in time be seen to have been revolutionary in its desired effect of helping people to make the transition from a life on benefits back into full and worthwhile employment.
The budget itself, the first on a Monday since the 1960s, is a balancing act. Philip Hammond has been blessed with £13 billion of funds that were not anticipated in his Spring statement and that has created to welcome room for manoeuvre. During the Party Conference the Prime Minister announced that “austerity is at an end”. While that might have been a little previous – the Chancellor could only say that austerity was “coming to an end” there was enough light in the darkness to lift Tory hearts in the House of Commons and beyond. The elephant in the room of course remains Brexit and Phil-anthropic found it necessary to both hold back a fighting fund as a hedge against next March and to also indicate that a No Deal Brexit would mean tearing up the budget and re-cooking the books he nevertheless had some sponduliks to give away. Even with £2.2 billion to be spent on Brexit preparations and a further £2 billion in the war chest the number of people in low-paid jobs is now at its lowest since The Legacy Blair came to office in 1997 and that is good for tax revenue that can be spent on the Health Service and other causes close to the hearts of the electorate. Local Government, mental illness, schools, defence, counter-terrorism, social services, roads (including a `potholes fund`) and a raising of the levels at which standard and higher rates of tax apply all featured in what was if not a “give-away” package most certainly a slice of welcome relief in the run-up to big decisions this Autumn and in the Spring of 2019. “Austerity is coming to an end” said the Chancellor adding, as you would expect, “but Discipline will remain”.
In Defence news the futures of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, two of our capital fighting ships has been secured. In taking the fight from the sea to the land the Royal Marines have historically delivered the impossible but to do so they require the landing platforms and Albion and Bulwark have provided those with distinction. I was privileged to spend a week on Bulwark in The Gulf and I am hugely relieved to know that she will not be heading off to the knacker`s yard any time soon. A billion extra pounds in the budget on top of an earlier funding increase has almost put a smile on the face of the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson. Reductions in capacity at a time when we are seriously short of sailors to man the frigates that will escort our aircraft carriers would have been little short of disastrous. Gavin is the Prime Minister`s former Parliamentary Private Secretary and subsequently her Chief Whip. Having friends in high places can sometimes help but the argument for defence stands on its own merits. Meanwhile in New York Harbour H.M.S Queen Elizabeth has been doing sterling work as a base for future Trade deals. She is now affectionately known in The Big Apple as “The New Royal Yacht”.
Fracking has been given the go ahead by the High Court and the process of extracting shale gas in the United Kingdom has been commenced by the Cuadrilla firm, only to be halted as minor earthquakes were caused by the process. Red faces all round in the lobster cuadrilla office! The cost of the HS2 rail project is now projected to hit the £100 billion mark which is giving pause for thought to even the most enthusiastic supporters of Britain`s first new railway since the Doomsday Book. (Apart from HS1, of course). Red faced Jerry Corbyn is revealed as having congratulated the Vote Leave campaign while publicly campaigning to Remain. Comrade Jerry describes the accusation as “nonsense”. Why are we not surprised by that? St. Nicholas of Clogg, who as the former Liberal Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam was Deputy Prime Minister in Man David`s coalition Government, has taken a million pounds a year sinecure as Head of Global Affairs for Facebook. This would be the same Mr. Clogg who while in the House criticised Facebook for not paying enough in UK tax and subsequently lost his seat to Labour. Johnny Mercer, a Devonshire Member of Parliament and former soldier is described by the tabloid press as `a future Prime Minister` which is one notch up for the usual `Senior Backbencher` tag usually attached to the obscure. Young Mr. Mercer has earned praise from former Mayor Johnson, once also tipped as `a future Prime Minister`. He should beware.
Claims that Russia is using its influence to try to block the passage of a post-Brexit UK-WTO trade deal should not be taken lightly. Nor should the representations bordering on treachery made by the current Mayor of London, Mr. Khan, during a meeting with M. Barnier in which he is reported to try to further undermine our negotiating position by suggesting that constructive delay could lead to a second referendum. Which side is Khan batting for? The concerns of ex-pat UK citizens currently living with the EU 27 might be allayed by the knowledge that plans are in train to introduce a `Healthcare (International Arrangements) Bill` to replicate the benefits of the EHIC should such a provision be necessitated by a No Deal Brexit. The far-right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro has been elected as the President of Brazil by a landslide. As Brazil is one of the countries that we will need to do post-Brexit business with the future of democracy in that country is of serious concern to our national interests.
Sir David Natzler, who has announced his future retirement as the hugely respected Chief Clerk of the House of Commons has observed that a Commons vote in the event of a No Deal Brexit would be `of no statutory significance`. Louis Hamilton has won his fifth Formula 1 World Motor Racing Championship and now has only one record left to beat. And Ruth Davidson, Leader of Scotland`s Conservative Opposition has become the first Party Leader to give birth to a baby son, Finn, while holding office. Her partner, Jen Wilson, is understandably well-pleased.
The national chairman of the disability charity SCOPE, formerly the Spastics` Society, suffers from Parkinson`s Disease and Prostate Cancer. It should come as no surprise that he has had his own application for disability benefit rejected.
It is reported that some Britons who fled from Nazi Germany are now using their historic status to seek German passports in order to retain post-Brexit EU `nationality`.
The `Old Knuckleduster`, David Davis, suggests that if the EU cuts up rough over European airspace and our rights to over-fly then we should retaliate by denying the European Union rights to over-fly the United Kingdom en route to the Americas. No truth in the rumour that he also learning how to fly a Spitfire.
As reported earlier the Labour sisterhood was delighted by Lord Hain`s use of parliamentary privilege to circumvent a non-disclosure agreement acquired in the interests of Sir Philip Green. Looking a tad closer to home they might now wish to investigate the NDAs imposed upon Labour Party Staff to prevent the comrades from saying beastly things about J. Corbyn
The Royal mint is allegedly planning the release of a Brexit coin that will carry the slogan “Friendship with all nations”. Given the likely rush to buy them they could become a collector`s item as a rarity.
Marks and Spencer are now selling hijabs for nine-year-old girls in their “Schools Essentials” range. A snip at £6.
Shock! Horror! The Oxford University Conservative Association has proscribed the Bullingdon Club, erstwhile haunt of those hail-fellow and destructive revellers Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Johnson.
Meanwhile Kent Students` Union has outlawed stereotypical fancy dress that might be offensive on grounds of race, gender orientation or disability – so nuns, priests, Native Americans and Harry Enfield look-alike Tory Boys are out.
Launching his publication “How to Ride A Bike” at the Hay literary festival the Olympic Gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy says that “cyclists should stop hogging the road”. Anyone who has experienced the daily rush-hour pelaton circling Parliament Square will say `amen` to that.
Eton, that epitome of British Public Schools is trialling a ban on the use of mobile phones in classrooms. Some teaching staff are viewing the restriction, which is also in force at Wimbledon High School and Brighton College, as `Luddite` claiming that the devices serve as dictionaries, calculators and encyclopaedias.
And along with Harrow and a further two hundred and ninety public schools Eton is also severing its ties with the East India Club, an establishment that only permits males to be full members. The Public Schools` Headmasters Conference includes, of course, many single-sex educational institutions but the irony is clearly lost upon the worthy academics.
Top Judges are to receive a 33% pay increase from £181,500 to £240,000 per year. This is in an endeavour to improve upon `low morale`. High Court judges only receive a miserly £165,000 per anum. (sic)
Poppy the Robot has scored a first by becoming the first Artificial Intelligence to give evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee. On wag suggests that he/she/it answered the questions “better than some Ministers”.
A voice of sanity in the PC darkness. The Chief of the West Midlands Police Federation – the Coppers` Trade Union – has declared that “wolf-whistling is not a hate crime” and that ribald construction workers indicating their appreciation of passing young ladies should not be taken to courts of law. The Court of Twitter will no doubt have something to say about that.
Kimberley Clark, purveyors of Kleenex have decided after 60 years of successful sales, to end their “man-size” tissue range. The feminist Fawcett Society has welcomed the move to “sensible 21st Century marketing” that describes the handkerchiefs as “soft and strong” and is “not exclusively masculine”. This will be of great comfort to all of those men and women and of indeterminate gender who just want something tough to deal with a streaming cold.
For the first time in 1500 years there will be no Mass held at the Church of the Sacred Heart in County Fermanagh. There is, it seems, a shortage of priests to officiate.
We are told that waiters and waitresses (or should that, like `actors`, now just be waiters only) receive better tips when the background music playing in the background in restaurants is by ABBA. “Money, money, money” presumably.
And Gravesham Council and the Port of London Authority have postponed a fireworks display in order not to upset Benny, a whale that has been stranded in the Thames Estuary. ` Aaaaaah`.
Sir Alan Greengross (89) was the Leader of the Conservative Opposition on the Greater London Council from 1983 until Margaret thatcher abolished the institution in 1986 when one Ken Livingstone was Leader. He first served on Holborn Borough Council in 1957, was elected to the newly formed Camden Council where he led the Opposition and became an Alderman and represented Hampstead on the GLC from 1977. He was a courageous man and, to an embryonic politician (I fought a Camden Council seat in the 1960`s) a good friend, kind and generous with advice.
Geoffrey Hayes (76) delighted the young viewers of the Rainbow TV programme and, together with Zippy, George and Bungle participated in a thousand episodes over a run of twenty years.
Charles Aznavour (94), singer of a thousand songs, was known as “The French Sinatra “outside France. At home no such comparison was necessary.
Ray Galton (88) was, with his co-author Alan Simpson, the genius behind the 1950`s radio series Hancock`s Half Hour which translated to the television screens in 1956. The duo went on to write Steptoe and Son and Galton received his OBE in 2000.
Tom Cox (88) was the Member of Parliament for Tooting for thirty-five years until he was succeeded by the current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan. He joined the Labour Party in 1944 as a Trades Unionist with the ETU, became a Fulham Councillor in the 1950s and latterly was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. A staunch supporter of the cause to re-unite the Island of Cyprus following the Turkish invasion and occupation in 1974 his megaphone diplomacy was a feature of many pro-Cypriot rallies.
Jamal Khashoggi (59) was a dissident Saudi journalist until his torture and murder inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. The man who interviewed Bin Laden was the Editor of Al Madina from 1991, the Deputy Editor of the English Language Arab News from 1999 and fled Saudi Arabia for the United States, having crossed swords with the Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, in June 2017. He was writing a monthly column for the Washington Post at the time that he was killed on, many believe, the orders of Bin Salman.
And Vishai Srivaddhanaprapha (61) was the Thai businessman that made his fortune out of the Duty Free franchise in Bankok before, as an Anglophile, buying and transforming the fortunes of Leicester City football club. Vishai took the club into the Premier League in 2014 and his team won the league in 2016 against all odds. The man who died, with four others, when his helicopter crashed into the car park at his beloved King Power stadium will be remembered not only as the owner who backed his Managers, his players and his fans with hard cash but also as a philanthropist who gave much to the city that he put upon the map.
Work has commenced to transform lanes of the M26 motorway, which links the M20 and the M25 in Kent, into a Lorry park. Government plans to build a permanent lorry park off the M20 near the Channel Tunnel were put on hold following flaws in the planning process, Manston Airport, for which the Government has been paying rental for some years, is in completely the wrong location and because of potential interference with air safety radar cannot take anything like the number of vehicles originally envisaged and post March 2019 there could, given a No Deal Brexit, be a rather long queue on both sides of La Manche. What is needed, of course, is a long term solution to goods vehicle parking to shift trucks out of the lay-bys and stop drivers using the hedgerows as latrines but long-term solutions cannot offer the quick fix that may be needed to stop the Garden of England from congealing with traffic in the Spring of next year. So it`s the M26 or bust.