MP's Column

Sir Edward Leigh MP speaks on Brexit, airports and local pubs.
MP Sir Edward Leigh. EMN-180123-093658001MP Sir Edward Leigh. EMN-180123-093658001
MP Sir Edward Leigh. EMN-180123-093658001

Some constituents have written in to me expressing scepticism that we will ever leave the EU or claiming the Prime Minister is secretly trying to scupper Brexit.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and the significant effort Theresa May has put into passing this bill – as well as a certain amount of political bravado in standing up to the unelected Lords and calling their bluff – are proof enough of that.

We are getting on with the job of leaving the European Union, and further details of our proposed future relationship with the EU will be delivered shortly in a White Paper.

I hope we will pursue a friendship that is very closely aligned to our friends on the continent, but maintaining our sovereign independence, control over our borders, the ability to make our own trade agreements.

I am glad that the new runway at Heathrow Airport will be entirely funded by private finance with no money from taxpayers.

It is all very well to argue about the importance of London to the nation’s economy, but we have things in Lincolnshire that need doing too.

Delivering a new runway may deliver as many as 100,000 new jobs, double freight capacity, and with 15 per cent of new slots reserved for domestic routes it will help us get around as well.

Pubs are, of course, central to the life and vitality of many of our villages and towns here in Lincolnshire and across the country.

The Government has recognised this and has provided additional support to ensure that our English pub culture can survive and thrive.

The Asset of Community Value scheme allows communities to list facilities of local importance such as pubs to prevent them from being converted to private residences.

Since 2016, £3.6 million has been invested in the ‘More than a Pub’ community business support programme. This helps communities across England who want to come together and own their local pub.

In addition, there is the ‘Pub is the Hub’ initiative helping landlords to diversify into providing essential services like post offices and village shops in order to make their business more sustainable.

What’s more, the Spring Budget last year provided a £1,000 discount on business rates for pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000. That’s a year long discount for 90 per cent of the pubs in England, which the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Autumn Statement would be extended all the way through to March 2019.

These programmes and initiatives, together with the freeze on hiking alcohol duties, will go some way towards preserving our unique pub culture in this country as well as providing savings for those who enjoy a tipple at their local.