Lance Dyer, MK Truro City councillor, has received an extraordinary reply from Truro MP Sarah Newton when asked about her stance on Devonwall.
She gives the party line on reasons for supporting the cross boundary seat but then she lays into “Cornish Nationalists” who along with the Welsh and Scottish are apparently determined to break up the Union..”Cornish nationalists take every opportunity to pick fights with what they call ‘Westminster politicians’ and stir up grievances” she moans.
She “agrees that the Duchy has a unique place in the UK” but asserts “it’s currently part of England and in turn the union”.
There’s a phrase that historians will pick up on when she makes reference to Bishop Tim that “this proves how the border between Devon and Cornwall has changed over time”.
It seems for the Tory MP for Truro & Falmouth it’s OK to quote history when it suits her argument but dismiss it as irrelevant when it doesn’t.
“I am very proud of my deep Cornish roots and am proud that along with my fellow Cornish MPs we have delivered significant investment into Cornwall, including the Cornish language, heritage and culture over that last few years”
Sarah Newton MP Dec 2016
Post-truth politics is nothing new to the people of Cornwall who have been spun these yarns for years.
This does though highlight the need for the moderate Cornish voice to assert itself to make Ms Newton’s calculated spin irrelevant. It’s her opinion, in the old voice of ageing ‘establishment Cornwall’ that you can’t assert a Cornish identity without being seen as an extremist! This is not the majority view of the voices in the new modern Cornwall who are confident in the shoes of their identity and culture, and don’t understand when Cornish MPs like Sarah Newton sell Cornwall down the river, washed down with some sugary pap that in her old style politics we are supposed to swallow like good little children.
Mr Dyer messaged:
“See reply from Sarah Newton MP in response to my letter about Devonwall. I asked why she did not take the opportunity to denounce Devonwall at a HoC debate a couple of weeks ago”
“For what use she is to Cornwall why does she not move away and represent, say, Sussex?!”
Sarah Newton’s reply is published below with some of the boring bits taken out. The first half refers to the specific piece of legislation regarding Devonwall, then she makes her attack on Cornish Nationalism:
Thank you for your email regarding the Private Members’ Bill introduced by Pat Glass MP.
The Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill, having passed its second reading, will enter the House of Commons Committee Stage. However, it will still need to complete its passage through the Commons and Lords if it to become law.
In 2011 The Parliamentary Election and Constituencies Bill was debated and voted upon. It sought to enable the next general election to be fought under the Alternative Vote system, provided the change was endorsed in a referendum on 5 May 2011 and boundary changes made to reduce the size of the House of Commons to 600. New rules for the redistribution of seats were designed to give primacy to numerical equality in constituencies and regular redistributions would take place every five years.
Understanding that one of the implications of this Bill would be the possibility of an MP representing Cornwall and part of Devon, all Cornwall’s MPs made the case for Cornwall be treated as a special case. We moved an amendment to the legislation but sadly were defeated. Unfortunately, we simply didn’t have enough support in Parliament.
Subsequently, the legislation went through both Houses of Parliament and the Bill became an Act of Parliament. The Boundary Commission are currently implementing the Act. That is a public consultation on the proposed boundaries. If you have yet to do so, I recommend that you make your views known during the consultation.
After the Commission’s report in 2018, the Secretary of State must lay their reports before Parliament. The Secretary of State must then lay before Parliament a draft Order in Council to give effect to the proposed boundary changes. This Order requires the approval of both Houses of Parliament. This order is not amendable.
We are very fortunate to live in a democracy where there are a politicians promoting a wide range of views. Cornish nationalists take every opportunity to pick fights with what they call ‘Westminster politicians’ and stir up grievances. The Scottish and Welsh nationalists adopt a similar strategy, trying to undermine politicians like myself who are not only very proud of our deep Cornish roots but also support the Union.
From what I understand, the basic assertion of the Cornish nationalists is that Cornwall is a separate nation like Wales and Scotland and should be treated as such. While I agree that the Duchy has a unique status within the United Kingdom, I accept that Cornwall is currently part of England and in turn the Union.
I think being part of the Union matters for Cornwall. It matters for the economic stability and jobs that our partnership brings. It matters for the defence and security of our country. It matters because of the common bonds we share right across this United Kingdom. And it matters perhaps even more so now that we are leaving the European Union. I don’t agree with the Scottish, Welsh or Cornish nationalists that want each nation to become independent and break up the Union. I think it is important to build bridges, focussing on what unites us rather than what divides us.
Your letter seems to include the assertion that by having one MP represent Cornwall and part of Devon, that Cornwall is in some way diminished or weakened. I don’t accept this assertion. Cornwall remains Cornwall. It’s worth noting that Cornwall’s bishop Tim, a member of the House of Lords, represents Cornwall and some parishes in Devon. This recognises the fact that the border between Cornwall & Devon has moved over time.
It is also worth noting that one Cornish MP, Derek Thomas represents not only Cornwall but also the Isles of Scilly. As you know the Isles of Scilly are not part of Cornwall. This proves to me that it is possible for one MP to represent two distinct areas.
Also, I expect that when the next boundary review is undertaken, the population of Cornwall will have grown and we should have enough people eligible to vote, if all those eligible to vote actually register, to prevent the current situation.
I am very proud of my deep Cornish roots and am proud that along with my fellow Cornish MPs we have delivered significant investment into Cornwall, including the Cornish language, heritage and culture over that last few years. I am confident that we will continue to see investments in years to come too.
Cornwall Council is the first non city council to have signed a devolution deal with the Government that is enabling many more decisions to be made in Cornwall rather than Westminster. I am a keen supporter of this devolution, although I am very disappointed with the leadership of Cornwall Council’s attitude to most parish councils and hope that following elections in May 2017, the new Cornwall Council will deliver a ‘double devolution’ to people and communities in Cornwall.
As you will be aware, building on the foundations laid when John Major was Prime Minister, the last Prime Minister helped enable the Council of Europe recognition of Cornish Minority Status. This special status has of course been taken into consideration by the Boundary Commission.
While I appreciate that you will find this letter disappointing, I firmly believe that being your elected representative is about doing the right thing, even if it is not popular.
Thank you once more for taking the time to write. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you feel that I can be of further assistance to you in the future.
Mrs Sarah Newton MP