The West Country Debate January: Strikes, the Brexit bonfire and 'Levelling Up'

Watch January's edition of the West Country Debate

We're a fair way into the first month of a new year but for the government, it's the same old problems dominating.

Rishi Sunak's plan to drive down inflation has him on a collision course with public sector unions with countless disputes over pay.

And then there's the government's plan for a 'Brexit bonfire': the scrapping of 4000 EU laws at the end of the year. Opposition MPs, and some Conservatives, are urging a rethink.

Not even the announcement of £140 million in 'Levelling Up' money for the West Country is free of controversy, as areas like Wiltshire and Gloucestershire won't get a penny.

In this month's edition of the West Country Debate, Conservative MP for North East Somerset and former Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg clashes with Exeter's Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, and Carla Denyer - Co-Leader of the Green Party and a Bristol councillor.


Of all the strikes to hit the country over the past couple of months, it's the announcement of walk-outs by teachers that could cause the biggest headache for families. The National Education Union - which has 450,000 members - will stage seven days of strikes in February and March.

Ben Bradshaw MP supports the teachers, saying public sector wages haven't kept pace with inflation, or with the private sector.


It's almost three years since the UK formally left the EU. And yet, EU laws haven't left us. Nearly 4000 are still in force in Britain. Under government proposals, they will all expire automatically after December unless they're specifically kept or replaced.

Opposition parties argue that December is too soon, and that vital protections could be lost.

Green Party Co-Leader Carla Denyer is worried the environment could be the biggest loser.

'Levelling Up'

Today the government has announced nearly £140 million for eight 'Levelling Up' projects across the West Country, out of a national total of £2.1 billion.

The government has been criticised for giving money to wealthy constituencies, and for a 'random' approach to spending allocations, but Jacob Rees-Mogg MP defended the policy.

A Comeback for Boris?

Meanwhile, there are rumours that former Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning to stage a dramatic political comeback as Prime Minister, perhaps as early as the May local elections this summer. But staunch Johnson supporter Jacob Rees-Mogg is sceptical.