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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Is an obsessive Government ignoring bread and butter issues?

I have said it before on this blog, it has been said by professional commentators and now the public are saying it too (or at least that is what the polls say), the obsession of ministers with Brexit means that they are neglecting other challenges facing our country.

The Independent reports that the large majority of British people think the Government’s struggle for a Brexit deal has become so all-encompassing that other crucial challenges have been forgotten about.

The papers says that its exclusive survey by BMG Research showed some 60 per cent of people believe “important domestic issues” are being ignored by ministers as Brexit relentlessly diverts their attention, with problems faced by the NHS and the housing market consistently appearing in surveys of voter concerns:

The data is a stark warning for a party stung at the election by a public tired of austerity, angry about the housing crisis and worried about the state of the NHS.

In October, it emerged that the civil service will have to hire an extra 8,000 staff to deal specifically with Brexit, a sign of how its resources are being diverted towards the challenges of leaving the EU.
Nearly 3,000 new posts have already been created

to help face what will be the biggest administrative challenge they have faced for half a century. Brexit Secretary David Davis told Cabinet colleagues that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs will also have to recruit between 3,000 and 5,000 new members of staff next year.

If the new recruits earn an average of £50,000 each, the wage bill would top £400m. But that’s a drop in the ocean compared to the £35bn to £39bn the UK will have to pay the EU as part of its divorce settlement – a figure many expect to rise higher.

That also does not include the cost of new technology and extra infrastructure at borders that may be needed, which Chancellor Philip Hammond has suggested could divert funds from the NHS and education.

It is not just the Tories who need to heed these findings. My party, the Liberal Democrats also have to listen. We have quite rightly branded ourselves as an anti-Brexit party but Vince Cable and his spokespeople also have to be talking just as loudly about our solutions for the crisis that is affecting education, the health service and housing as well.
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