Speaking on this evening’s BBC South East news programme item, Mark Reckless MP called for France to take greater responsibility in shouldering the burden of non-EU migrants seeking a better life in Europe:
Category Archives: Referendum
Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, today joined local residents and campaigners at St James’ Church in Cooling to reveal the results of his No Estuary Airport ballot prior to making his submission to the Davies Aviation Commission. Over the past seven months, residents across the Rochester and Strood constituency have been asked for their opinion on whether or not they support the proposals to build a new hub airport in or around the Thames Estuary.
The response has been extraordinarily good. Just under 8,000 residents took the time to have their say on the plans, and the answer has been a resounding ‘NO’ to proposals put forward for a Thames Estuary airport including by Boris Johnson and Foster+Partners. 92.6% of residents across the constituency do not support the proposals, with just 7.3% in favour. In Strood Rural and Peninsula wards, which would be most impacted by a new airport, the figure was even higher with 94.4% of all respondents saying ‘NO’, with just 5.5% supporting the plans.
Across the rest of the constituency, excluding Peninsula and Strood Rural wards, 87.8% of local residents oppose the plans, with 12.1% in favour.
“These proposals are, economically, completely unjustified. It is going to cost, perhaps, up to £100bn, and much of that will be government-guaranteed money, while all of the other proposals will be, in the main, privately funded. I just don’t believe it’s a credible proposal which merits further investigation. That’s what I said to Sir Howard Davies when I met him a week or so ago, and this ballot shows the strength of feeling against the proposals here in Rochester and Strood.
The jobs argument has completely failed. It would devastate West London to close Heathrow which would be necessary. Even Boris himself has now been pushing Stansted because he realises he hasn’t been able to gather enough support for this flight of fancy, pie in the sky proposal. I hope now we can rule this out once and for all. I would like to thank everyone who has been helping me with my campaign to do just that. Thank you all very much.”
Mark Reckless also accepted for submission to the Davies Commission a 1,800+ strong petition against the Thames Estuary Airport on behalf of the Friends of North Kent Marshes (FoNKM).
“We’re asking the Davies Commission to rule out all thoughts of a Thames Estuary Airport at the earliest opportunity and we hope he will be doing that in December. We’ve collected loads and loads of signatures alongside our MP, Mark Reckless, and we’re hoping against hope that the Davies Commission will take notice of it.”
Mark was delighted to hand in the petition along with his own submission and the result of the constituency-wide ballot directly to Jillian Spindura at the office of the Davies Airport Commission who stated:
“Yours are the biggest and most comprehensive set of responses we have had opposing any airport proposal.”
It has been nearly 40 years since the British people last had their say on Europe. In that time, so much has changed. People feel that the EU is heading in a direction they never signed up to.
We need a better deal for Britain, including putting the key question to the British people through an In/Out referendum by the end of 2017 at the latest. Currently, only one of the main three political parties are supporting this: the Conservatives.
That’s why the party has launched a new campaign website, www.LetBritainDecide.com, which makes it simple for people to back the Bill, help build public pressure, give people a voice, and urge MPs from other parties to listen to their constituents.
Please visit www.LetBritainDecide.com if you would like to get involved.
Part two of a special BBC South East Today report which follows Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, to Bucharest on the Home Affairs Select Committee’s fact finding visit to Romania to assess the potential impact of open migration to the UK once EU restrictions on free movement are removed this coming January.
Today I am travelling to Romania to see what we can do to limit the flow of immigrants from Romania to the UK once EU restrictions on free movement are removed this coming January.
The Romanian Ambassador recently told us at the Home Affairs Select Committee that he expected 15-20 thousand Romanians to move to the UK annually once restrictions were removed. His Bulgarian counterpart estimated that the annual movement from Bulgaria would be 8-10 thousand. Others such as the respected think tank Migration Watch have estimated higher.
Along with Keith Vaz MP, our Chairman, and fellow Conservative James Clappison MP I will, over the next couple of days, be seeking to understand the extent of poverty and unemployment and other factors which might ‘push’ people to leave Romania, and see what can be done in the UK to discourage substantial immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.
The government is bringing in a new Immigration Bill which may help in some areas, although I wish some actions had been taken earlier – and suspect these were previously vetoed by the Liberal Democrats.
One key problem we have in the UK is the interaction between immigration and our welfare system. Unlike other EU countries, except Ireland and Denmark, we have a means tested rather than contributory system which pays over quite substantial tax credits to people with low and some middling incomes who have children. This may be quite a draw to Romanians and Bulgarians even when they want to work.
Of course my preferred solution is to leave the EU as soon as possible and take back control of our own borders to decide ourselves whom we allow into our country.
Mark Reckless MP is considering extending his ‘No Estuary Airport’ campaign to the whole of the Rochester and Strood constituency following an overwhelming response from residents on the Hoo Peninsula.
Over 3,700 residents have so far returned their ballot out of around 10,000 that were initially sent out. The online petition on Mark’s website has also garnered significant outside support, ranging geographically from Rainham to Twickenham to Surrey.
Over 95% of those who have responded so far oppose the proposals for an airport in or around the Thames Estuary.
Mark will now be leading teams of volunteers going door to door with a petition across much of the Hoo Peninsula calling on households who have yet to return their ballot.
Speaking of the campaign success, Mark Reckless MP said:
“I have been overwhelmed by the response to my ‘No Estuary Airport’ ballot. Local councillors, activists and residents have been working their socks off to get the ballot paper to every household on the Hoo Peninsula and the interim result speaks for itself – with over 95% of Hoo Peninsula residents clearly saying that they oppose these pie in the sky proposals.
Estimates of the cost of building a new airport in the Thames Estuary range from £70-100 billion, which could add £50 to the cost of every plane ticket sold. The airlines don’t want it, residents in West London who would lose their jobs don’t want it, and now we can conclusively say that residents on the Hoo Peninsula, those who would be most impacted, don’t want it.
I am grateful to everyone who has given their time to deliver the ballots, and I would like to thank all of the residents who have responded to date. I am hopeful that we can now expand my No Estuary Airport campaign to the rest of the Rochester and Strood constituency. If anyone would like to make a donation to help me do so, please get in touch.”
Cllr Chris Buckwell, Chairman of St James Isle of Grain Parish Council, added:
‘The number of people who have completed and returned the voting forms about the airport consultation exceeds the number of people who went in person to vote in the Police & Crime Commissioner elections last November.
I think that’s a very significant achievement and all credit to Mark Reckless and all in the team who have helped. It has been a great exercise and the most responsive that I think has been had across the Medway towns, other than an ordinary election, for many, many years’
Cllr Chris Irvine, Medway Councillor for Peninsula Ward, said:
‘The response which we’ve received to Mark’s ‘No Estuary Airport’ campaign has been quite staggering, far exceeding the turnout in last Novembers PCC elections. I’d like to thank everybody who has helped with the campaign to date. It is vital that we keep saying it loud and clear – No Estuary Airport!’
Further to the previous video providing a behind the scenes look at Mark Reckless’s work in Westminster, follow Mark through a typical day in his constituency to find out more about the vital work which MPs undertake to serve their constituents and our country.
Conservative MP Mark Reckless speaks to DeHavilland about Parliament, politics, the Coalition, immigration and Europe.
Speaking in Portcullis House, Mr Reckless outlined what his achievements had been over the course of this Parliament.
Eurosceptic, and widely perceived to be on the right of his party, Mr Reckless singled out Prime Minister David Cameron’s commitment to an in-out referendum on EU membership.
He also highlighted the recently negotiated reduction in the EU Budget as another success, recalling his role in marshalling a major rebellion of Conservative MPs in October 2012 which inflicted the first serious Parliamentary defeat on the Coalition.
Closer to home, the election of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) was a source of immense pride for the Rochester and Strood MP, who oversaw the development of the policy during tenure as a member of the Policy Unit at Conservative Central Office.
However, Mr Reckless’ involvement with PCCs did not end there; he was a powerful advocate for the Policing Protocol Order during its passage through Parliament.
Reflecting on the impact of the Coalition Government, Mr Reckless felt that politics as a whole had “opened up” since the 2010 general election.
Elaborating, he said the introduction of elections to Select Committees and the Backbench Business Committee, as well as measures to strengthen the power of backbench MPs to hold the executive to account had been integral to improving Parliamentary scrutiny.
An avid blogger, Mr Reckless also extolled the virtues of the internet and social media in providing Members with a new forum for their views.
However, he was highly critical of power being focused within Whitehall, blaming the influence of “Sir Humphrey” and the Quad of senior Coalition Ministers.
Pressed on a Parliamentary reform he would most like to see, Mr Reckless said he would prefer to see the membership of the Committee of Selection elected from among all backbenchers, as opposed to just Whips.
The Committee makes appointments to general committees, including public bill committees, and is therefore highly influential at this stage of legislative scrutiny.
Turning to his work as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, DeHavilland inquired about the MP’s recent visit to Qatar, where he had praised the work of UK Border Agency (UKBA) staff in the Abu Dhabi operation.
However, Mr Reckless was unwilling to extend such praise to the UKBA back home, in light of the organisation’s recent failings.
Despite being complimentary of Committee Chair and Labour MP Keith Vaz, Mr Reckless did not hesitate to distinguish himself from Mr Vaz on the key issue of immigration.
Asked if he agreed with Mr Vaz and the Chairs of four other Select Committees that overseas students should be excluded from the target for the Government’s migration target, the Conservative MP said no.
Indeed, he held up the fall in net migration revealed in recent figures as a success, and dismissed a recent speech by Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper on the grounds that Labour had “no clear policy” on immigration.
A former City Economist, Mr Reckless has firm views on the financial services reform and Parliament’s role in delivering it.
In particular, he didn’t feel the work of Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards had enjoyed as high a profile as it should have done.
Moreover, he believes that the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and HBOS should have been allowed to fail in 2008.
Whilst insisting that he retained an “open mind” on the future of the UK’s aviation needs and Heathrow, the Conservative MP emphasised his pleasure that Gatwick Airport had begun to campaign for expansion.
He hinted towards a preference for the development of multiple hubs in the South East, and in particular of Gatwick and Stansted.
In particular, Mr Reckless championed the case for a Crossrail spur to Stansted Airport, pointing to his work on this issue with fellow Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith.
On the issue of energy, he confirmed that he would not be supporting the decarbonisation amendment to the Energy Bill brought forward by Conservative Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee Tim Yeo.
Asked to single out a single measure for the forthcoming Budget statement, Mr Reckless called for Whitehall department budgets to be subject to approval by the relevant departmental Select Committee.
Finally, questioned on the rhetoric of Home Secretary Theresa May, Mr Reckless pointed to a blog he had written in response to her recent ConservativeHome conference speech.
In the piece, he argues: “All we need do to rein in our domestic courts’ exorbitant rulings in this area is pass primary legislation to remove Article 8 as a grounds on which courts can prevent deportation of foreign prisoners sentenced to a year or more in prison.”
Mike Indian, Parliamentary Analyst
Mark Reckless, MP for Rochester and Strood, and George Crozer, Friends of North Kent Marshes, introduce Mark’s No Estuary Airport Campaign.
For more information and to sign the online petition – Click Here
Many of us remember the No Airport at Cliffe campaign and how the Hoo Peninsula came together ten years ago to defeat the then government’s ‘Cliffe’ airport plan. There is no similar proposal from the government this time. However, an independent commission has been set up, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, to look at aviation capacity in the South-East.
Various people have suggested building an airport in the Thames Estuary area. The Mayor of London initially proposed an artificial ‘Boris’ Island north of the Isle of Sheppey, while architects Foster + Partners have proposed building over the north-east of the Hoo Peninsula and reclaimed land beyond.
None of these proposals appear credible to me. Cost estimates range from £70 billion to over £100 billion, around £50 per plane ticket. It is not clear why anyone would want to pay for this, when it would be so much cheaper to expand existing airports. Does the Mayor of London want to close Heathrow and move its 75,000 directly employed staff and 40,000 ancillary staff to Medway, or keep it open, with British Airways and other airlines saying that they would then refuse to move.
The Davies Commission will look at all the arguments and produce an interim report in late 2013 and a final report in 2015. These will not bind government but I would ask you to sign our petition and contact the Davies Commission to expose the weakness of arguments for a Thames Estuary airport.
Even Boris has now said that his desired new hub airport could instead be at Stansted. If £5 billion were spent on a Crossrail spur from Stansted to Stratford this would link Stansted to the City in 25 minutes, the West End (or Ebbsfleet) in 35 minutes and Heathrow in less than an hour. Gatwick are also now pushing to have a second runway.
We should use this opportunity with the Davies Commission to rule out environmentally devastating proposals for a Thames Estuary Airport once and for all.
Mark Reckless MP and volunteers from across the community will be visiting households across the Hoo Peninsula asking residents to sign his Parliamentary petition against the airport. You can show your support for the No Estuary Airport campaign now by completing the online petition form – click here.