Portsmouth and Gosport MPs in fallout over work to improve railway service

POLITICS in Britain has been dogged by Brexit for more than three years after the referendum saw people vote to leave the European Union.

Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd October 2019, 9:27 am
Stephen Morgan MP. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (060619-20)

But now two MPs have chosen a new political battleground as they exchange a war of words over who is doing the most to improve the area’s railways.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said she was ‘surprised’ Labour MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, did not go to a House of Commons debate on the performance of South Western Railway on Tuesday evening.

It comes as Labour supported the recall of parliament following a Supreme Court ruling that the suspension of the commons was unlawful.

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Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage. Picture: Steve Reid

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Ms Dinenage, whose constituency is infamous for not having a railway station, was in the chamber despite the Conservative Party Conference going on in Manchester – which she says she couldn’t attend due to ministerial commitments.

But Mr Morgan’s team has hit back at Ms Dinenage, accusing her of refusing to engage with the all party parliamentary group for the Wessex Railway Route, of which the Labour MP is joint vice-chairman alongside Havant MP Alan Mak.

The debate, proposed by Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes, was put forward to discuss the ‘substandard’ train service provided by South Western Railway.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘I went to this debate because it affects my constituents in Gosport, but the fact that Stephen Morgan didn’t turn up surprised me.

‘It affects MPs across the south of England so Mr Morgan should have come along.

‘His party insisted on parliament sitting this week, so you would think that he would come and represent his constituents on an issue as important as that.’

Mr Morgan did not comment. But after he was approached by The News via his office it issued a statement.

The statement said: ‘(Mr Morgan) had another pressing parliamentary diary commitment at this time which his constituents asked him to prioritise

‘(Mr Morgan) is acting to improve reliability and affordability of train services meeting with commuters, rail operators and regulators regularly.

‘Ms Dinenage’s time would be better spent working with MPs of all parties to improve regional rail services and bothering to do some work with the cross-party group (Mr Morgan) is taking leadership on as vice-chairman.

‘Sadly, for Gosport and our region, she has continually failed to attend and engage with the task group taking important action for commuters.’

It added: ‘Ms Dinenage is reminded that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’

The Gosport MP responded by saying she didn’t want to get into a ‘slanging match’ with her Labour counterpart.

She said: ‘Local train services are something I’ve been campaigning on for years, I’m always happy to work with colleagues from all parties on issues that affect my constituents.’