Cornwall’s under fire Tory MPs took their gloves off and hit back yesterday over recent criticism of their behaviour and opinions that have sparked anger in their communities and led to fierce criticism in the press and on social media.
Derek Thomas has retaliated to a Cornishman editorial that criticised his absence at the Devonwall debate – held in the morning of Fri 18th Nov, the same day as when Sheryll Murray caused outrage by filibustering a disability bill AND voting in favour of Devonwall.
Disability Rights campaigners who were so outraged by her behaviour that they staged a spontaneous demo outside her office last Tuesday.
So yesterday Sheryll met with the minister concerned to tell everyone by delaying the bill she had actually done everyone a favour. Sheryll’s press statement was entitled
“Meeting to ensure disabled people do not face discrimination”
It continued: “Local MP Sheryll Murray has met with Minister Andrew Jones MP following hearing of the plight of some disabled people who found it difficult getting taxis and Private Hire Vehicle’s”
“Three MPs spoke in a debate on Friday 18th November on this topic during a debate when Labour MP Andrew Gwynne brought forward a Private Members Bill. With less than an hour scheduled there was not enough time to debate the bill and Sheryll, Tom Pursglove and the Bills proposer Andrew Gwynne met the Minister to ensure that action was taken on this important issue”.
Sheryll welcomed the measures by saying, “I am pleased that the Minister has a plan to get the well meaning principles behind Andrew Gwynne’s bill into legislation. I will be monitoring what the Minister does following the consultation and am determined to take action if it falls short on results. I have championed a similar issue before in 2012 when issues were raised by a constituent regarding a hearing dog. Having worked in the NHS for over 20 years I know how important and hard working these fantastic dogs are”
She finished the statement by saying:
“Discrimination against the disabled is illegal and I will not tolerate it wherever it does.”
Derek Thomas & Devonwall
Derek Thomas has also lashed back at critics who accused him of hypocrisy and dereliction of duty when he chose to stay away from the Commons on what’s now becoming an infamous Friday in Cornish political circles!
The St Ives MP chose to react to a strong editorial in the latest edition of The Cornishman that slams the Cornish MPs for their performances over Devonwall:
The official voice of the paper said “It beggars belief that of the six MPs…only Steve Double, Sheryl Murray and Sarah Newton bothered to attend when the thorny issue of a cross-Tamar constituency was up for debate
Our Conservative MPs promised in the wake of their stunning election victory in 2015 that they would provide an even stronger voice for Cornwall in Parliament for the things that mattered to Cornwall. Devonwall matters and, with the exception of Steve Double their collective failure to represent the interests of Cornwall it’s history and it’s unique challenges must not be ignored”
Mr Thomas has hit back strongly at the editorial. In a statement yesterday he said:
“The bill and debate in Parliament that Friday .. is referring to a Private Members Bill that makes no reference to Cornwall. The bill opposes the Government plan to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and to reshape constituencies to make them all of a similar population size”
However as highlighted by Andrew George in the days before the debate, it was a golden opportunity to make the case for Cornwall. Mr George challenged all of Cornwall’s MPs to prove that they oppose a cross border constituency – as they profess to – and attend the Commons. In the end only Steve Double stood up to be counted.
Derek’ defence went on
“The judgment I have made is that on Fridays my job is to be out and about in the constituency identifying the issues that matter most to the majority of my constituents and raise those issues with Government Ministers. On the Friday in question (18th November) my constituency commitments were as follows ….. (he lists 7 apps from 10am to 8pm)…
He then goes on to say :
“The greatest privilege of this job is listening to people’s concerns and difficulties and working hard to find a solution. I hear the concern people have about perceived threats to Cornish identity, and Scott Mann MP and I have worked together to identify some areas where the Cornish identity can be strengthened and celebrated and are proposing these to the Ministers concerned.
Please accept my apologies for choosing to work in West Cornwall on Fridays and Saturdays”
Scott Mann, the MP who represents North Cornwall, remains silent on the issue despite several requests from CornishStuff (and more importantly, his constituents) for a statement on Devonwall.
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