Burnley just can’t seem to stop winning awards. Only two weeks ago we were formally recognised as the friendliest town in the country and then last week it was pleasing to hear that Burnley had won the Flag of Europe in recognition of the work done by Burnley’s Twining Association over many years. I was delighted to attend a special event at held at Burnley Central Library to see Baroness Massey present the Mayor of Burnley with the prestigious flag which has been awarded in recognition of very special relationship that Burnley has enjoyed with our twin town of Vitry-sur-Seine. Vitry-sur-Seine is a French town situated just a few miles outside Paris and has been twinned with Burnley since 1958. The Mayor of Vitry and other French guests attended to mark the award and it was a proud day for Burnley. I especially, enjoyed listening to a medley of French songs ably performed, by the children of Whittlefield Primary school. It is good to know that even after the Brexit result we in Burnley will continue to be a warm and welcoming town capable of enjoying a useful relationship with our European counterparts. Well done to everyone at the Twinning Association and to the staff at Burnley Library for organising such a heart-warming event.
Parliamentary business at the moment is dominated by Brexit and I have to say I am running out of patience. It is now a full four months since the people of Burnley and Padiham voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU. I accept the result and now we need to put an end to all the uncertainty and get on with organising our exit. Shockingly the Conservative Government did not have a plan for Brexit and so they are now hurriedly trying to cobble one together whilst refusing to discuss even a broad outline plan with Parliament. This seems strange as one of the reasons for voting to come out of the EU was to restore sovereignty to our British Parliament. This veil of secrecy is frankly not good enough. The people of Burnley and Padiham need to know how exactly Brexit will affect their lives. There are so many questions and we deserve some answers. So far we have seen with our own eyes: the pound at its lowest level for 30 years, the price of petrol is rising and it didn’t take an economist to see that the cost of a holiday on the continent this summer was much more expensive. Yesterday I met with representatives from the British Consortium of Retailers. They were very clear if we do not manage to stay in the single market, we will see a dramatic rise in food and clothing prices. Heaven help those who are already feeling the pinch. We need concrete assurances and in their absence worrying questions mount. Will we see a rise in unemployment as businesses head to the continent where it is easier to trade? What will it mean for our aerospace industry that employs 230,000 people in Lancashire a significant number of them in Burnley, some currently working on joint EU aerospace projects? What will it mean for travel? Are the days of cheap Ryan air and Easy Jet flights to European destinations numbered? Will we see a return to the days when air travel was only for rich people? Will British workers get to keep all their rights at work including the right to paid holidays? These are serious questions and we need serious answers. I know from my mail bag that a lot of people are worried. It seems at the moment the only thing we know for sure is that the NHS will definitely not get the millions of extra pounds promised by the Brexit campaign. Theresa May has clearly stated that there will be no extra money for the NHS. My priority will be to work to secure the best possible deal for all who live in Burnley and Padiham.