EVEN THOUGH Britain continues to be mired in a constitutional crisis over Brexit, there is now a weary familiarity to the week’s events that do little to inspire public confidence in the country’s political elite.
Each new week begins by being billed as the most difficult of Theresa May’s premiership. And they always end with the PM clinging to power and no clarity on Brexit as new ways are found to delay and defer decisions.
It was the same this week – the latest EU summit gave Britain a new deadline of April 12 “to indicate a way forward” – and it will be the same next week if the Government attempts to put Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement to another meaningful vote of MPs, assuming, of course, the Speaker accedes to this.
Yet there is another recurring theme – and it is the extent to which the Government, and Parliament, is now so hamstrung by Brexit, and its ramifications, that any progress on other critically important issues, like adult social care, has been totally stymied.
This matters. Just as every day without resolution to Brexit is another day in which confidence in British democracy ebbs away, the same applies to delays to the Green Paper on care which was due to have been published last autumn. The longer it is deferred, the greater the policy challenge as a result of an ageing society – and the harder it will be to reach a consensus on the funding of a long-term care policy.
And, while the continuing breakdown in relations between the Government, Parliament and MPs over Brexit is a source of ongoing concern, so, too, is the fact that the letter that North Yorkshire care campaigner Mike Padgham sent to all 650 MPs last November, and which was published in The Yorkshire Post, garnered less than 10 responses.
Two decades after the need for lasting reform was first highlighted, this inaction is just as damaging to the long-term good to the country as the stalemate over Brexit. And while it would be unfair to say that all MPs don’t care, they need to show that they understand, and recognise, the very real problems facing their constituents every week – and are able to do something about them before it is too late for all those in most need of help.