Brexit Saga Ends -Breakup of UK Begins

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the beginning of the end of the Tory party because of its decade long austerity, divisions on class, extreme poverty, hungry children and the final nail in the coffin of the breakup of the United Kingdom, a Brexit Deal!

2020 will go down in history as the year the elected majority Conservative party and the political system at Westminster struck the final blow to democracy, decency, equality and social justice in this country. The Brexit saga continues as I write this column even though a deal has been reached by both sides. Boris’s oven baked deal last year had got burnt and was no longer edible, even to himself as he then chose to break International law by trying to push the Internal Market Bill through parliament. Analysts, journalists and economists are pouring over the finer details of the 1246 pages trade agreement. So, chaos will reign in her Majesty’s Kingdoms with England finally getting a deal, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are left feeling frustrated and bewildered by English attitudes towards the European Union and the cost to its young citizens that will be left feeling isolated and insecure with a United Europe.

Covid-19 has mutated into a new strain and Dover was shut due to France opting to protect its citizens and its Borders. 7-mile queues of trucks were common sight for a few days with drivers feeling frustrated and angry and the army had to be put on standby for any eventuality that may arise. Lucky for us France opened its Borders to allow freight and other essential trucks to move thereby reducing the traffic jam and backlog near Kent. We are in Lockdown once again and no end in sight to our situation changing soon in the new year. Unemployment has risen exponentially and the benefit system that the Tories and Lib-Dems coalition put in place since 2010 has been proven to be ineffective and driven many of its claimants to poverty, homelessness, suicides and Foodbanks! Benefit sanctions were imposed on nearly a quarter of a million residents last year from April 2019 until March 2020 according to research by the House of Commons Library. These include people seeking Universal Credit, Job Seekers Allowance and Employment Support Allowance. This was temporarily suspended at the beginning of Covid-19 but reinstated in July. Unemployment has reached record levels and we now know that sanctions only push people and families into financial hardship and foodbanks. Yes! The Furlough scheme was great and it kept certain people in their jobs but no pay rises and money for the self-employed, key workers and individuals on zero-hour contracts who are working on poverty wages.

Hoping that 2021 brings in positive change and social justice for all, especially key workers, some of whom who have lost their lives while making sure the economy and food supply chains stay open while we can feed our families and loved ones. We will never forget the ones who are benefiting from the misery of others, its time for change and Scotland finally becoming an Independent nation. Just like England, we need to take control over our borders, immigration and laws and make Scotland a Republic!

Stay safe and Good Luck to all in 2021!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 8th January 2021.

Conservatives Vote to Starve English Children

Having moved to Peebles in 2002, ‘Stooriefit’ Bosco Santimano gives us his own take on what he feels is the hot topic of the day. This week it’s the UK governments voting down of providing free school meals for pupils across England.

The Tories have gone and done it again! These bunch of self-serving crooks voted against a Labour motion to extend the provision of free school meals for children in England until Easter 2021. The most nauseating and disgusting thing about this vote last week was that five out of six Scottish Conservative and Unionist party MP’s voted against allowing fresh hot meals for pupils in England, while the Leader of the Scottish Tories, Douglas Ross conveniently abstained from voting due to his so called commitments in Scotland! Just imagine for a moment the Scottish Conservatives and Unionist party winning a majority in the Scottish parliament in next year’s Scottish election! Yes! It did send shivers down my spine, as these bunch of hypocrites including our very own MP David Mundell, who the public voted for as their MP again last year will have to fully shoulder the blame of poverty and inequality in the UK as a whole. It really beggars belief and I am lost for words and angry at how the Conservatives are getting away with murder, time and time again. David Mundell missed voting for the Internal Market Bill a couple of weeks ago too as he was visiting his constituents, a very calculated decision as he is now beginning to feel the heat generated by his party’s decision to lower food import standards in his beloved Union after Brexit.

Earlier this year, Manchester United and England footballer Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign that allowed hungry children to have access to free meals during the summer holidays, drawing upon the own troubles that his mother went through when he was a child. A motion had been brought back to the Commons to have the same initiative extended for the upcoming October half-term break and the Christmas holidays in order to help families that have been hit hardest by the pandemic and were already struggling in the battle against poverty. However, the motion was defeated by the government’s majority with prime minister Boris Johnson, chancellor Rishi Sunak, health secretary Matt Hancock and former PM Theresa May amongst the 320 Tories who voted it down. Even Nigel Farage, who I have no respect for due to his role in breaking up the Union! Twitted that “If the government can subsidise Eat Out to Help Out, not being seen to give poor kids lunch in the school holidays looks mean and is wrong”. For once I agree with him no matter what his politics or ideology is, we cannot as a G7 nation, starve our children to death. It’s morally irreprehensible and cruel in this day and age.

Only five Conservatives rebelled against the Government to vote for feeding more than 1.4 million children during school breaks until Easter next year in England. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been barred for life from a pub in his constituency over his decision to vote against providing free meals to eligible school children during the half-term holidays.

Can I appeal to compassionate Peebleans to ban MP David Mundell for life from all café’s, restaurants and pubs in the area? Or are we still okay to be part of this shameful act to starve English children because it does not affect our children up here in Scotland? Fingers crossed and really hoping that the Tories have a change of heart!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 30th October 2020.

Post Brexit Food Standards!

Bosco Santimano – Founder/Executive Director 

This week Bosco Santimano founder and executive director of social enterprise You Can Cook, shares his thoughts on Post Brexit Food Standards!

In June this year I wrote about the ruling Conservative party voting to compromise high UK standards by pushing through the controversial Agriculture Bill in parliament by 51 votes! This bill moved to the Lords for a second reading and we all held our breaths hoping the unelected Peers will have some sense of Democracy and accountability and reject the Agriculture Bill in its current format. Well! The House of Lords did respond to the public outcry and backed Farmers Unions and other environmental bodies in the UK and voted to add amendments to the agriculture bill that were rejected in the first voting round in parliament. It was the second defeat for Boris Johnson’s government last week as the Lord’s also backed a move banning the use of pesticides near homes and public buildings or spaces including hospitals and schools. Trade secretary Liz Truss is not happy with the amendments proposed by the Peers and has suggested that they would ban developing countries from exporting their goods to the UK for not meeting exact farming regulations and would undermine trade deals currently being negotiated.  NFU President Minette Batters appealed to the general public to write to their MP’s to add the amendments and safeguard our high standards post Brexit with any trade deals around the world especially the United States of America who are pushing for a comprehensive trade deal which will also include the NHS!

For readers who may not be aware of what actually is chlorinated chicken – it’s when the chicken is washed in chlorine to get rid of the bacteria and other microbes that are normally found in dirty farms and slaughter houses. This practice is currently illegal in the UK and that’s what may be coming into this country once the government’s Agriculture Bill is passed in its current format and will open the UK to very low and substandard poor quality food imports. On top of this farmers are also concerned about meats produced using banned hormones and additives that are currently prohibited in the UK and also pork raised using sow stalls, which confine the animals in a tight space.

On top of this Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland will be forced to accept trade deals made by England that will undermine their respective policies and environmental standards that all devolved nations have worked so hard for in the last few decades. The Conservative government is working very hard to undermine decades of legislations to protect both farmers and citizens from inferior food and food production processes. Farmers will not be able to compete with cheap food imports if the producers and suppliers are not adhering to strict UK/European standards.

Please write to your MP David Mundell and all the Tory MP’s in Scotland who actually are voting to undermine Scottish food production and its already high standards. Can they make a public declaration that has legal implications for themselves that the Agriculture Bill will not lower high environmental standards post Brexit of any food imports? Because if broken they can be held accountable and face criminal prosecution for lying as an elected member of parliament? This is the only way to make sure that crooked and selfish politicians are being held accountable!

Published in The Peeblesshire News on Friday 16th October 2020.