Published: 13:08, 06 November 2020
| Updated: 14:14, 06 November 2020
Our political editor Paul Francis gives his views on what's happened in the world of our politicians each week.
His first week's round-up includes, their stance on lockdown measures, the free school meal's vote, Brexit transition issues and more.
Kent Conservative MPs seem to have developed a rebellious streak in recent weeks and have become something of a collective thorn in the government’s side.
Mr Collins tweeted: "The government is right to keep schools open, but we should also maintain grassroots youth sport which is so important to the physical and mental health of young people, and can be delivered in a Covid secure way."
And of course, there is the continuing resistance to the government’s controversial housing reforms that have stirred up ill-disguised fury, with Ashford MP Damian Green and Maidstone MP Helen Grant leading the charge against the huge increase in homes that they fear will concrete over the Garden of England.
And while most swung behind the government on free school meals, both Sir Roger Gale, the North Thanet MP and Tracey Crouch, Chatham and Aylesford MP, made plain they were unhappy about the government’s stance and abstained in a vote calling for the voucher scheme to continue over the school holidays.
It may be a coincidence of these issues converging at the same time, of course, but such defiance is interesting.
Ever wondered what happened to the group set up to co-ordinate and address the impact Brexit could have on Dover?
The Dover Brexit Taskforce was established in June 2018 and was made up of council representatives, business leaders and MPs.
Explaining the motives, the group said it would act to “influence decision making, prepare local services, lobby for increased investment in infrastructure, and seek out any opportunities that Brexit presents, and most importantly to put the people of Dover and the wider district first.”
It took a while for it to get up and running: A Freedom of Information Request revealed that it had met only once in the first few months of its inception in June 2018.
It did manage one other meeting but the group, which some thought was a publicity stunt, has been wound up.
A council spokesman explained: “Brexit has happened, and we are now in transition. Transition issues are being handled by the Kent Resilience Forum and its various sub groups, on which we are represented, so there has not been a need for the Brexit Taskforce to meet again.”
Nigel Farage has something of a compulsive itch when it comes to political parties. The former leader of UKIP has founded another party - this time dedicated to the cause of preventing further Covid lockdowns.
It comes after his success with the Brexit Party, which pulled off a spectacular victory in the EU elections in 2019 but is in limbo and inactive since the government finally got the backing of MPs for its deal to leave the EU.
Consummate politician though he might be but this latest venture, which will see the Brexit Party renamed the Reform Party, could prove a damp squib as it seems highly unlikely the government will countenance another national lockdown.
Still, the news may cause a few palpitations among Tory candidates preparing to stand in next year’s local elections - notably the county council poll. Conservatives still bear the scars of Ukip’s triumphant offensive in the Kent County Council election of 2013, when it secured 22 seats and came close to depriving the Tories of outright control.
It was a flash in the pan moment: Ukip went on to lose every single seat in 2017 - at a time when Farage had moved on.
Which brings us to the petition to name the lorry park earmarked as one of the government’s customs holding facilities after Mr Farage.
The tongue-in-cheek petition to persuade the government to name the site at Sevington, Ashford, has been signed by nearly 30,000 people. But there has been less success with a crowd-funding initiative to raise money to support the venture: it has raised a paltry £45 and the support of just four people.
On the subject of the lorry park, there have been questions about the potential environmental impact of the Ashford site.
We have been trying to find out about this issue under the Freedom of Information Act. However the Department for Transport declined to release relevant information and refused our request.
We have appealed but that is in limbo after officials said they needed more time to consider whether it would be in the public interest to disclose information about environmental impact.
With work on the site already underway, it could become academic. The site is due to become operational within weeks whatever any impact assessment says.
Watch tonight’s edition of ‘Paul On Politics’ for our weekly review of the political news in the county on KMTV at 5pm. Guests are the Medway Labour councillor Alex Paterson and Sevenoaks Conservative.