UK Disabilities Minister Will Not Be Reappointed Until Brexit Is Resolved: the current situation and the implications of this so-called “small gap”. By Lottie Jackson
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live last week, the Tories vice-chairman James Cleverly revealed the government will not be reappointing the role of Disabilities Minister until the current Brexit impasse has been resolved. The previous Minister of State for Disabled People Sarah Newton resigned last month to vote against a no-deal withdrawal from the EU. But with no end point for Brexit on the horizon and a potential lengthy delay until we leave the EU, what impact will this have for the 13.9 million disabled people in the UK?
When confirming there would be no imminent reappointment Cleverly said, “There is a logic to say, until we have got through this very difficult and turbulent point in time, that a small gap – undesirable though that is – is better than what could be forcibly a series of reshuffles.” However, he insisted the government’s work on disability “does not stop” even though the position is remaining unfilled. If you consider that the disabled demographic makes up 20% of entire UK population, this is a huge number of individuals who are not being represented- regardless of their views towards Brexit, Leave or Remain.
Our departure from the EU could have severe implications for the UK’s disabled population- disability laws, health care and medical provision, charity funding, and economic security will all be affected by the outcome of Brexit.
We must ensure that the UK continues to develop its legislation in relation to improving the lives of disabled people. For example, an EU Accessibility Act is currently being negotiated which would create accessibility standards for manufactured goods, computers, and mobile phones. It is vital this becomes part of the EU legislation that is incorporated into UK law. But with no-one to advocate the needs of disabled individuals, there is a danger that the importance of such developments will be overlooked.
Aside from Brexit negotiations there are currently a number of serious issues that need resolving by the Department for Work and Pensions, such as the assessment framework for Employment and Support allowance and PIP which has been heavily criticised.
Disability charities have already denounced the delay to re-appoint someone to the Disabilities Minister role. MS Society director Genevieve Edwards, said: “The last decade has already seen eight different ministers responsible for disabled people. A delay of nearly two weeks – and counting – to appoint a replacement will hardly give reassurances that the Government is finally serious about tackling the challenges they face.”
Minister of State for Disabled People Sarah Newton resigned from her post to vote against a no-deal withdrawal from the EU. The Tory party has stated it will not fill the role until Brexit is has been resolved. With no definite end in sight for Brexit, we spoke to activists Mik Scarlet and Dan White about it means for the millions of disabled people in the UK.
Ministers have still not replaced Sarah Newton, despite her resigning from the post two weeks ago to block a no-deal Brexit.
But Tory vice-chairman James Cleverly admitted Theresa May would hold off on filling the role until after the current impasse over the UK's exit from the EU has been resolved.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the Tories vice-chairman James Cleverly revealed that the government would delay reappointing the role of Disabilities Minister until the current Brexit impasse had been resolved.
He said: “There is a logic to say, until we have got through this very difficult and turbulent point in time, that a small gap – undesirable though that is – is better than what could be forcibly a series of reshuffles.”
Asked if that meant there would be no imminent move to make an appointment, he responded: “That is a statement of fact.”
But Mr Cleverly insisted the government’s work on disability “does not stop” despite the post remaining unfilled after a fortnight.
“The Prime Minister and the Government are keen to get Brexit resolved soon so we know where we stand and, once that is done, I’m sure posts will be filled,” he added.
Earlier today, Labour MP Marsha De Cordova accused the Prime Minister of “ignoring disabled people” due to Brexit.
She added: “To date the Prime Minister has yet to appoint a new minister to this post, but given the strategic importance and the utter chaos within the Department for Work and Pensions there are currently seven reviews into disabled people being wrongly denied social security and an assessment framework for Employment and Support allowance and PIP in utter crisis.”