Caroline Flint

Standing up for Don Valley.

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Following the Secretary of State’s announcement that the East Coast Main Line is to be brought back under public control after Virgin Trains and Stagecoach could not meet the necessary payments, Caroline Flint has demanded that the firms who failed to meet their contract should be barred from bidding for the new franchise in future.

The MP asked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling whether there should be consequences for the companies involved after they clearly undercut competitors to win the East Coast Main Line franchise in 2015.

When challenged, Mr Grayling refused to rule out handing over a future contract to Virgin and Stagecoach.

Said Caroline: “There is no way that Virgin Trains or Stagecoach, the partners in this failure, should be allowed to make the same mistakes again.  They won a bid at the expense of their rivals to win a contract they could not fulfil.  This was not “one mistake” as the Secretary of State said, this was a catastrophic failure. 

“I travel this line every week and both at the station, and on the trains, the staff have always been more than friendly and helpful, regardless of their employer.

“I will continue to fight for the best service for Doncaster’s hardworking commuters and rail passengers, and will keep a very close eye on developments as they unfold.”

Stagecoach and Virgin Trains took over the franchise in 2015.  Three years into an eight year franchise, they have handed the franchise back to the Government.  This is the third occasion firms have failed to fulfil their contract in twelve years.

In 2005, GNER signed a £1.35bn, 10-year deal in what was then the biggest contract in European railway history. One year later it was stripped of the route.  In August 2007, National Express agreed a £1.4bn deal, but then handed it back to the government in 2009.  ECML was then government-run until Stagecoach and Virgin's £3.3bn bid in 2015.

Click here to see Caroline asking the question in Parliament.

Virgin and Stagecoach should be barred from new franchise - Flint

Following the Secretary of State’s announcement that the East Coast Main Line is to be brought back under public control after Virgin Trains and Stagecoach could not meet the necessary...

Leaving the EU is a complicated business. Hundreds of laws and agreements; and numerous pan-European bodies the UK is involved in. A lot to sort out.

Some Brexiteers would prefer no compromise with the EU, leaving with no deal.

I believe that option would cause chaos for business and for Britons with families or property in Europe.

The UK needs a deal. It won't be perfect. Theresa May could have sought a cross-party approach from the beginning. She didn't. And Cabinet divisions briefed out to the media don't help our negotiating position either.

This week, the House of Lords made things worse by amending the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to give Parliament a new option over the final deal. In addition to voting to accept, or to reject and leave with no deal, the Lords added the option to vote the deal down and keep the UK in the EU.

If I was Michel Barnier, the temptation to offer the worst possible terms in the hope that Parliament votes to reject it and stay in would be hard to resist. Hardly helpful to the UK achieving the best deal.

This is about our national interest. Do we want a good deal to pave the way for an orderly Brexit; free of cliff edges and crises? Or do we want to create the conditions to undermine Brexit and do so by weakening the UK's negotiating stance?

The Lords went further, adding an instruction that "Her Majesty's Government must follow any direction in relation to the negotiations" - the first time Parliament has ever sought to mandate a UK Government over treaty negotiations.

The Lords would empower Parliament to issue the Prime Minister with a shopping list of demands to take back to Europe. How feeble would that make the UK look? Next week, the Lords considers amendments to allow exit day - March 29 2019 - to be postponed.

All becomes clear. If Brexit cannot be defeated today, postpone Brexit by a year, maybe two, until, perhaps, an opportunity arises to overturn Brexit altogether.

Extending Brexit day by three months or longer would leave the UK facing elections to the European Parliament in May 2019; electing new MEPs months after we should have left.

Parliament should reject this game playing, and accept the country's decision. We are leaving.

I campaigned for Remain in the 2016 EU referendum. We lost. The country would probably have made the same decision had the referendum been held at any time in the previous decade.

There are some Remain voters so passionate that they want to fight, fight and fight again. But that is not most people. Most feel we should get on with it. So, it would appear, does business: the PSA group building new cars in Luton; Nissan in Sunderland; bank HQs staying in the City. Business investment grew in the year after the referendum, planning for UK post-Brexit. So should MPs.

In their hearts, the "stop Brexit" campaigners know the decision is made. Nevertheless, the campaign for "a People's vote" (a second referendum) is under way. I've had MPs in Remain-voting seats saying that this risks raising expectations, only for further disappointment.

And if there were a second referendum, why not a third? Endless uncertainty cannot be an option.

Two thirds of Labour MPs represent Leave-voting areas. Much is made of Leave areas losing out from Brexit. But the North, the coalfields, have lost out for many years, while bigger cities and the South East have prospered.

If Labour fails to stand by the 2016 vote, we risk alienating many traditional Labour voters. We should all heed the warning from Thursday's local elections.

In Sunderland, Amber Valley, Nuneaton, Derby, Dudley and Redditch, opinion moved to the Conservatives.

If Labour stood strongly behind the decision to leave the EU, we could champion the need for new policies to improve skills; build new infrastructure; ensure regional development; have effectively managed migration and a close relationship with Europe. In short, showing that Labour has a plan for the whole country; the very policies needed to restore faith among voters.

The Lords may play parliamentary games over Brexit; the Commons should not emulate them. The Brexit games have to stop.

Caroline Flint is the Labour MP for Don Valley and a former Europe Minister

 

*Article first published in the Sunday Telegraph on 6th May 2018

'I voted Remain, but it's time to stop the games and get the best deal for Britain'

Leaving the EU is a complicated business. Hundreds of laws and agreements; and numerous pan-European bodies the UK is involved in. A lot to sort out. Some Brexiteers would prefer...

Caroline Flint joined Mayor Ros Jones and Civic Mayor George Derx and guests to celebrate a retrospective exhibition of paintings prints and drawings by Tickhill artist Janet Buckle, held at the Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery.

Said Caroline “I am so pleased I was able to join the launch of this major exhibition, by a longstanding local artist.  I first came across Janet’s work when I saw her paintings of coalmining landscapes.

“Janet observed that coal mines and their slag heaps are not just grey and lifeless, but that they were constantly changing.  I love her everyday views.  Her work reveals her surroundings from the view from the back door to walking through lush woodland.”

JB_Rossington_colliery_framed.jpgJanet Buckle has lived in the borough for over forty years. Her subjects vary from vibrant flower studies to still lives and landscapes, and she has also made a large series of paintings drawings and prints of the coal mining landscape around Doncaster.

The creation of a picture, Janet says, seems to go in three stages:

“The first stage, when the initial idea is created and the canvas covered is good, and I feel enthusiastic about the picture and can see its possibilities.

"The second stage is the hard one, when I can get bogged down with self-doubt and almost lose sight of the original idea. At this stage the picture seems doomed, but if I can push through this and reach the third stage, when everything comes together, then the picture can be completed“

This exhibition brings together Janet's work spanning fifty years, and includes pictures from public and private collections.

 The Exhibition runs until 1 July at Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery, Chequer Road Doncaster DN1 2AE

 PHOTO TOP: Janet Buckle and Caroline Flint.

 PHOTO BELOW: Painting of Rossington Colliery.

Caroline Flint supports local artist

Caroline Flint joined Mayor Ros Jones and Civic Mayor George Derx and guests to celebrate a retrospective exhibition of paintings prints and drawings by Tickhill artist Janet Buckle, held at...


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