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Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 26 January 2017


The last 7 days has given us a glimpse into the future. We have a protectionist and unpredictable leader of the free world in the White House and the UK government has turned its back on remaining in the EU single market.

I am pleased that our Prime Minister is the first world leader through the door to sit down with Donald Trump. Although some constituents have written to me saying we should turn our back on such a President, in fact the reverse is true. Now more than ever we need to emphasise the special relationship and draw as close as we can to the incoming President. The USA remains the only true superpower (China is on its way) and so we need to ensure that the worst moves that this Administration might make are constrained by good old Anglo-Saxon common sense. Theresa May might end up being the only world politician who can restrain him.

The negotiations between the UK and the EU will be as tough as can be imagined. I salute the PM for setting out our position so clearly last week. It would be hard to stay in the single market and accept the free movement of people (immigration) as this was why most people voted to leave. It is credible to put in place a new free trade deal between us and the EU that gives access to each other's markets without tariffs or non-tariff barriers, but which does not involve uncontrolled immigration from the continent into the UK. This is do-able. Nobody needs to lose face.

The phoney war over Brexit which started last June is drawing to a close. Parliament will shortly begin the debate over triggering Article 50 and negotiations with the EU will then begin in earnest. Parliament will have the final say on the ultimate deal. We know that no agreement can be reached before elections in France and Germany have been completed by October 2017, so don't expect any conclusion until spring 2018 at the earliest. In the meantime much energy is being invested in discussing potential trade deals with a host of other countries around the world and finding new ways of supporting British business abroad.

We are living through dramatic historic times. There may be new shocks and aftershocks as the international geo-political landscape changes shape. There is thunder in the air. My advice? Find something or someone solid and hold on tight. 

posted by Gary @ 09:38  



Thursday, 19 January 2017


I greatly welcome the announcement this week that all of the five secondary schools in this constituency (Hele, Plympton Academy, Ivybridge, Coombe Dean and Plymstock School), together with a number of local primary schools are consulting about whether to form a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) together. MATs are the way the government are encouraging schools to organise themselves so they can share resources together and produce an even better learning environment for every child at each school. Why re-invent the wheel? How much better to learn from one another.

Collaborative working is very much in the interests of each school. It would enable schools to share best practice, curriculum collaboration, extra-curriculum opportunities, staff development, finance and human resources, legal services and maintenance, to name but a few. The benefits are clear for all to see.

I very much hope that this MAT will come into being. It straddles the Devon/Plymouth border, as does my constituency, but reflects the reality on the ground of a real community of interest between Plympton, Plymstock and Ivybridge, which I refer to as the golden triangle.

The boundary between the city and Devon is highly artificial these days as so many people criss-cross it every day for work, school, leisure and shopping. 

When I was first elected we did not have mobile phones, the internet or e-mails. The world has moved on. We then had every state school run by the local education authority, which at its best worked well, but in far too many cases tended to stifle the creative and innovative leadership potential that many schools possessed.

The academy programme in the past 10 years has liberated schools to find a new level of excellence and developed entrepreneurial skills amongst a new generation of ambitious leadership teams.  Now it is time to go further. Clustering schools together – from the bottom up (it will be their choice) - in geographically appropriate MATs like the one proposed for South West Devon schools will take us to a new level of success. This can happen without obvious or expensive structural changes, the school will each carry on with their own ethos and character as now, but behind the scenes the benefits of collaboration would slowly emerge.

Children only get one chance at their education – so it is our responsibility to put in place the best possible structure of learning.

That is what this exciting new venture is all about.  I congratulate all of those involved.

posted by Gary @ 09:57  



Thursday, 12 January 2017


This week the House of Commons returned after the Christmas break. There is plenty going on.

On Monday I saw the Chancellor to brief him personally about the significance of our vital rail link, to prepare the ground so that when we finally thrash out the top priorities in the Peninsula Rail Task Force's 20 year plan, which we will do with the Department of Transport in the next few months, we might successfully secure any additional funding from the Exchequer.

Put yourself in the Chancellor's shoes for a moment. There is a long list of demands. The NHS clearly requires a cash injection beyond the extra £10 billion we are investing this Parliament which is In addition to the £120 billion already pumped in each year. The ambulance service wants more to reduce response times. We have to do better on mental health.
There is a looming crisis in elderly social care that will not be solved in the long term just by allowing councils to raise council tax. Schools are facing increasing pressures and several have made redundancies. Local authorities are gasping for more funding. The police say they have been cut too far. I met with retired naval chiefs last week and they are aghast at how thin our nation's defences have become.

A long list of demands. What about the resources available? We are still spending £70 billion more this year than we are getting in and this is after 6 years of dramatically reducing government spending and savings. We do not expect to reduce that annual deficit to zero in this Parliament. Government will spend about £750 billion this year.

Everyone has a different priority of course. For several constituents most funding problems would be solved at a stroke if only we scrapped the overseas aid budget. It has now risen to nearly 2% or our annual spending, meaning that we spend 98% on ourselves, but for some this is not enough. Even if we scrapped aid completely and sprinkled the savings around other government departments, the pressures on NHS, social care and public services would still remain. We have given a manifesto commitment to maintain our aid budget and we will.

Philip Hammond has already shown himself to be a very able Chancellor. This is good news for the UK.  He also fully understands the need to invest in our rail link and this is very good news for our region.

posted by Gary @ 08:15  



Thursday, 5 January 2017


2017, what will you bring us? It is likely that in the UK we will have a less turbulent year than in 2016. It will largely focus on Brexit, but we are unlikely to have a change of Prime Minister or the dramatic public vote that rocked our world last year. Article 50 will almost certainly be triggered by the end of March and negotiations will get underway. No real progress will be made until leadership elections in France and Germany are concluded by the autumn.

Over the water, we simply do not know whether Trump will be a catastrophe for the world and cause us to stumble towards conflict, or will turn out to be a smart President who moves us towards peace and prosperity.

A friend who worked for an international consultancy company would start every meeting with the words: "The consensus is X, but the consensus is always wrong…so what is really going to happen?"

Nobody knows and it is not worth fretting about the unknown and unknowable. One thing is for sure: we are living in extraordinary times and it will never be less than fascinating. 

At Westminster engaging in idle speculation about the future, about events that nobody can control, is a regular pastime. The infamous tea room is daily awash with political predictions and conjecture. It might be a lot of fun, but I have learned that it is completely pointless. Nobody knows.

One of the shock events of recent days was the resignation of a young and talented Labour MP who has decided to take a job in industry, triggering a by-election. I don't recall this happening before and we might see more of this if people do not see a way forward for their once great party. The shape of the British political landscape might well be changing.

There will be votes on the fringes of Brexit this year and I intend use my vote wisely in the national interest. In 2018 there is likely to be a blockbuster vote on Brexit and I will keep my powder largely dry until then.

In the meantime I will focus on things I can directly influence: vital constituency and regional issues: rail and transport infrastructure, connectivity including superfast broadband and 5G, investing in the right defences for our country, new housing for generation rent, tackling the growing crisis in health and social care. 

No predictions from me, except: it will be busy.

posted by Gary @ 09:16