Isles MP makes formal move to abandon Brexit

Isles MP Angus B MacNeil is asking MPs to support a move to abandon Brexit and avoid inflicting economic damage on all countries of the UK.

He has already secured the support of Father of the House, Kenneth Clarke MP, and several other cross party MPs.

With the choice of the Prime Minister’s damaging Brexit deal –  being presented to the House of Commons once again today (Thursday) – or an even more damaging No deal, Na h-Eileanan an Iar’s SNP MP has tabled an amendment to the Government’s EU Withdrawal motion calling for Article 50 to be revoked before March 29th.

Mr MacNeil said: “I am tabling an amendment to the EU Withdrawal motion to revoke Article 50, not to extend it and breathe further life into this economically damaging phase.

“Leaving the EU will negatively impact all of us and damages the economy of the islands.

“Membership of the Single Market and Customs Union is crucial for industry in the islands and the rest of Scotland.

“Free movement of people is also hugely beneficial to us as we really need more people to live and work here and to make a valuable contribution to our communities.”

The Treaty of Lisbon outlines the constitution of the EU. Any member state wishing to leave the EU must invoke Article 50 of the Treaty. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in December that the UK can unilaterally revoke its withdrawal notification made under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

Scotland needs an escape plan from Brexit chaos, says Isles MP

SNa h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil says Scotland has the option to escape the chaos of Brexit through independence.

Mr MacNeil and his colleagues at Westminster have fought hard to ensure Scotland’s voice is heard in the Brexit process but the UK Tory Government have refused to move on extending Article 50; have refused to rule out a devastating No Deal scenario; and have refused to hold a second EU referendum.

Mr MacNeil said: “Last week I voted against the Prime Minister’s economically damaging Brexit deal, a deal which was overwhelmingly defeated and she came back to Parliament yesterday without any fundamental changes to her deal and with no commitment to any meaningful dialogue with opposition parties and devolved Governments.

“I believe that Scotland has an obvious way out of this Brexit nightmare and that is through independence.”

Mr MacNeil has been inundated with emails and letters from constituents wishing to express their concerns about Brexit.

He pointed out that the UK Government has shown no understanding of some of the fundamental issues facing Scotland post Brexit including how proposed arrangements will affect the fishing industry.

He said: “I asked the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox MP last week about the disadvantage facing the Scottish industry compared to the Northern Irish industry post Brexit. Fish landed in Northern Ireland will be in a more advantaged position for export to Europe than fish caught and landed in Scotland for export to Europe.

“But Mr Cox couldn’t see the difference between fishing quotas and fish as a marketable product which will incur tariffs after Brexit. I asked the Prime Minister a similar question on this in July and she also failed to answer or show any understanding of this issue.”

He added: “The UK Government have shown more respect to, and have engaged more with the Government of Ireland than they have with the Government of Scotland. This shows that independence gives you power, a voice and respect. We know already that in Scotland, the EU is more popular than the UK.”

MSP and MP slam Tories for ‘sneaking in’ changes to Pension Credit

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and MSP Alasdair Allan have slammed the Tory government for ‘sneaking out’ changes to state pensions, which could affect older couples to the tune of £7,000 per year.

Changes to benefits for mixed-age couples – which will be introduced from 15 May 2019 – were quietly released by Tory ministers on the eve of Theresa May’s humiliating Brexit deal defeat.

Currently, couples can claim Pension Credit – an income related benefit meant to top up the state pension as long as one partner is of pension age. Universal Credit will reverse this – meaning a mixed-age couple will be defined by the working-age person, not the pensioner.

Experts have claimed that the changes could leave some pensioners almost £7,000 worse off per year, and Age UK warned that it could leave “some of the poorest pensioners paying a hefty price for having a younger partner.”

Alasdair Allan MSP, who sits on the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee, commented:

“People will rightly be aghast that the UK Government tried to quietly bury the news that new pensioners with younger partners are set to lose out on hundreds of pounds each month.

“Amid the chaos and distraction of Brexit, those who may be affected by this change in the islands deserve to know about it, and have been let down by UK government attempts to ‘sneak out’ the news at 7.20pm on the night of the Brexit vote.

“Serious concerns over the Tory government’s welfare policies have already been raised by my SNP colleagues at Westminster and, at Holyrood, the SNP will continue to tackle poverty and create a social security system based on equality, fairness and dignity.”

Angus Brendan MacNeil MP commented:

““This change was conveniently brought in amongst the ongoing chaos of Brexit, showing complete disregard for those who will lose hundreds of pounds a month. The SNP at Westminster are pressing the UK Government to reverse this cut which will hit those on the lowest incomes.”

Isles MP – Ferry fares hike not a solution to capacity issues

Commenting on reports that Transport Secretary Michael Matheson MSP is looking at a range of options to help alleviate ferry capacity issues during peak times, Isles MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil said:

“RET introduced by the SNP Government has been hugely beneficial, particularly to the economy in our islands with ever increasing tourist numbers. I do not believe that increasing ferry fares during peak times should be considered as a solution to capacity issues. 

“A possible solution to capacity issues could be found by only selling 70% of bookings by a certain date prior to travel, thereafter staggering bookings but leaving 10% of bookings until the last week of travel.  This would help locals who need to travel at short notice.

“Increasing ferry fares will not help and will just make it more expensive to live in the islands.  I will be writing to Transport Secretary Michael Matheson about this and to ask that he considers other solutions.”

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Isles MP will vote against PM’s Brexit deal

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil will vote against the Prime Minister’s damaging Brexit deal in the House of Commons next week.

The delayed ‘Meaningful Vote’ is scheduled to take place next Tuesday (January 15th) following several days of debate starting today (Wednesday).

Mr MacNeil says the Prime Minister has made the UK an ‘international laughing stock’ due to the ongoing Brexit chaos and that the time has come for Scotland to take its own path.

He said: “Even the most deluded can see that Brexit is not going terribly well and that the UK is now an international laughing stock. The delusions of the Prime Minister, the Tory Party and the Labour Party leadership must come to an end after next week’s vote.

“Theresa May’s Brexit deal will be economically damaging for all of us, no deal will be even worse.

Angus MacNeil MP

“She has crashed the Rolls Royce and the only choice now is to go down to the second hand car shop and choose a second hand car or a moped.

“What this whole fiasco has shown more than ever is that Scotland needs its independence and the time is now to start this process.”

The SNP Group of MPs will vote against the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and would support any move to hold a second referendum, a People’s Vote on EU membership.

Delivery charges feedback

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Photo by sl wong on Pexels.com

I have been inundated with the names of companies which charge excessive delivery charges to the islands.

Working with cross party colleagues in the House of Commons, I am compiling a list of firms which will be presented to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

If you would like to add your feedback on delivery charges, please email me angus.macneil.mp@parliament.uk by January 10th.

TA Veteran finally receives Service Medal

South Uist resident Captain Eoghann Maclachlainn was presented with the General Service Medal 62 with Clasp South Arabia at a ceremony at Edinburgh Castle last weekend – more than 50 years after he was seriously injured in a battle which took place overseas while on a Territorial Army mission.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil attended the special occasion to see Captain Maclachlainn finally receive recognition from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Medals will also be issued to the families of Sergeant Major John Lonergan who was killed in the battle in 1965, and Sergeant George Gibson Earl.

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They were all members of the 300 Parachute Field Squadron Royal Engineers, 131 Parachute Engineer Regiment TA who were the first Squadron to see action after WW2. They were attacked by enemy fire during a training exercise and the ensuing battle led to the loss of two lives and five others including Captain Maclachlainn and Sergeant Earl, were wounded.

Mr MacNeil received confirmation from Earl Howe, Minister of State in the House of Lords, last month that Medals would now be issued. This follows more than two years of Mr MacNeil writing to the MoD pressing for action to remedy the injustice.

The MoD have previously stated that members of the squadron were not eligible for General Service Medals because they were in South Arabia on training and not operational duties.

Mr MacNeil, who has known Captain Maclachlainn for many years said: “It was a great occasion to see Eoghann finally receive recognition of his service.
“I have been writing to the MoD about this injustice for more than 2 years and am delighted that they have finally taken action.

“However all the brave men who served in 300 Parachute Field Squadron deserve recognition for their service. The battle which took place at 0015 hours on 12 April 1965, was not part of a training exercise but was active service.
“The award for Captain Maclachlainn and others is a very welcome step forward in what has been a long running campaign for the veterans.”

The Medal was presented to Captain Maclachlainn by Governor of the Castle Major General Mike Riddell-Webster CBE DSO.

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MP asks constituents to tell all on delivery charges

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is asking constituents to name and shame companies who charge excess delivery charges to the islands.

Working with cross party colleagues in the House of Commons, Mr MacNeil is seeking assistance from the people of the islands to compile a list to be presented to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Following a meeting with Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at BEIS, Kelly Tolhurst MP, MPs are asking for input from Highlands and Islands residents on which firms are charging excessively.

Mr MacNeil said: “Excessive delivery charges have been impacting the Highlands and Islands for too long. Some progress has been made on this recently and much work has been done by colleagues in the Scottish Parliament including Richard Lochhead MSP for Moray who is campaigning for an end to unfair charges.

“A list of companies is now being compiled for presentation to the Minister and I would ask constituents for help with this.

“Please email me at angus.macneil.mp@parliament.uk with details of excessive delivery charges you may have encountered.”

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Iolaire to be remembered in debates at Westminster and Holyrood

The Centenary of the loss of HMY Iolaire will be marked by debates in both the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil has secured a debate on ‘Remembering the Iolaire’ in Westminster Hall on Wednesday December 12th at 4:30pm and Alasdair Allan, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, will lead a bilingual members’ business debate in the Scottish Parliament on December 19th.

Mr MacNeil will host the Westminster debate which will include attendance by a Minister from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). This follows Mr MacNeil’s laying of an EDM on the Iolaire before Parliament last month which was signed by more than 50 MPs from across the political spectrum.

Mr MacNeil said: “The Centenary of the Iolaire disaster is being marked in many fitting ways in the islands and it is also fitting that MPs have the opportunity to commemorate it during a short debate.”

Alasdair Allan MSP said:

“Even 100 years on this disaster is still raw in the minds of the people of Lewis and Harris. As we approach the centenary of the Iolaire’s loss, I hope we will be able to come together as a Parliament to commemorate the immeasurable sacrifice of those who were lost so tragically close to home.”

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