As we move on from the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, one of the things most raised with me is how Cornwall will be impacted by the eventual cessation of funding formerly provided by the EU.
As I recently said in Parliament, the funding we have received from the EU is not really EU money. The EU does not actually have any money—there is no magic EU money tree. It is our money, which we gave to the EU. It converted it into euros, then converted that into sterling to give back to us, except that it gave it back with a whole load of strings, bureaucracy and red tape attached about how we can spend it.
The money was meant to create 10,000 new jobs in Cornwall. In fact it has created around a third of that number. The funding is not raising wages or the standard of living and is essentially a failed endeavour. A major reason for this failure is that we were not able to spend the aid on what we need to in Cornwall. How we should spend it was dictated by the EU. The requirements were designed for a Europe-wide programme that does not fit the Cornish economy.
In fact, just last week the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that out of the current £500m EU grant funding that has been made available for Cornwall, only £36m has been spent. This is not a failure of civil servants in Whitehall but rather the criteria and regulations imposed by the EU are putting off the private sector from risking investing. The only projects currently on the table are all public sector. This is not what we need and I will be surprised if we manage to spend half the current funding available. It is also highly unlikely that Cornwall would have qualified for the next round of EU funding post 2020 anyway. With our economy growing far quicker than most of the rest of the EU it is very likely we will be out of the picture for the next round.
Now the dust is settling, a major decision we now have to make is who to support in the upcoming Conservative Party leadership contest, which ultimately also decides who will be our next Prime Minister.
There are five candidates and any one of them would make an excellent Prime Minister. However, I have decided to give my support to the current Secretary of State for Work and Pensions – Stephen Crabb. I have got to know Stephen well over the past 14 months and believe he has the right qualities to lead our country. He represents a rural coastal constituency that faces many of the same challenges we face in Cornwall. He has also confirmed to me that should be become PM he will continue to provide support for investment in our county’s infrastructure and economic support when we lose the EU funding.
There is a long road ahead but both myself and the Cornish MPs are committed to getting the best deal for Cornwall whether the funding comes from the EU, as was the case in the past, or solely from Westminster as will be the case in the future.
As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at: www.stevedouble.org.uk/events