Monday, 5 December 2016

The Opportunity To Rebalance Our Country

John Prescott writes:

While Labour is right to point out that Nuttall’s a big fan of more ­privatisation in the NHS , that alone won’t see off UKIP. 

What they have is a strong message. It’s completely wrong. It’s borderline racist. But it’s a simple message people understand. 

Close our borders, send back migrants, make Britain great again. 

You only have to look at how working-class areas across the North, the Midlands and the South voted in the referendum to see how popular the Brexit message is. 

In Richmond Park in London, 70 per cent voted to stay in the EU

Nearly the same percentage in Hull chose to leave. 

In working-class areas, they didn’t give a stuff about EU funding, the contribution migrants make to the economy or the ability to travel and live in Europe. 

Most of them find it a struggle just to live in the UK let alone the ­continent. 

They felt their communities had changed and they weren’t being listened to. 

So when presented with the chance to “take back control” they grabbed it with both hands. 

Some Remainers still believe in a second referendum.

Tony Blair argues Brexit can be stopped and makes the case for a second ­referendum. 

I know Tony can be persuasive but on Brexit he’s got no chance. 

The people made their mind up and we must accept it.

Labour won’t out-UKIP UKIP by being harder on immigration.

Doing so will be a betrayal of everything we believe as socialists – solidarity, fairness and equality.

But there’s nothing wrong with making the case for a fairer movement of people.

What Labour must do is own Brexit and spell out a vision that’s not only about getting the best deal from Europe – it’s about how we REALLY let the people take control. 

Last week I visited Gordon Brown in Scotland.

We’ve both been thinking how Brexit not only presents itself as a threat for growth and prosperity but also as a huge opportunity to recast Britain for the better. 

Labour helped redistribute wealth from the rich to the less well-off. 

Now we must redistribute power and wealth evenly across the country. 

By 2021, spending on transport infrastructure in London will be £1,900 per person. In the North East, it’ll be less than £300. 

London’s average disposable wealth is 60 per cent higher than almost every other nation and region in the UK. 

And in Wales and the Tees Valley wealth is around 70 per cent LOWER than the EU average. 

And as Ofsted’s head Sir Michael Wilshaw pointed out, schools in the North are trailing those in London, with kids having less chance of getting a good job or going to university. 

London also has more peers in the House of Lords than the West and East Midlands, the North West, Yorkshire and Humber, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North East combined.

Brexit gives us the opportunity to rebalance our country.

Our net ­contribution to Europe is about £12billion a year.

People shouldn’t stop with taking back control from Brussels bureaucrats.

They should demand the reclaimed money and powers aren’t left with Westminster’s faceless mandarins and out-of-touch southern ­politicians.

They should be pushed back to the people so they can spend the money and use the powers closer to home. 

And I’d replace the House of Lords with a Senate for the Nations and Regions that better reflects the makeup of the UK.

And why not base it in Birmingham? [What did Birmingham ever do to you, John?]

With strengthened local and regional government structures, this would give them power to set their own local future.

Power to spend their own money closer to home.

So let’s have a Constitutional Convention so we can all decide how we rebalance the UK and make Brexit work.

The British people voted to take back control.

Now it’s time to give them their cashback.

And their power.

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