The EU and infrastructure in the South West

When you stand for election as an MP, much as you might hope, it is not known what government might be formed and what that might mean for getting things done and how much a government might rely on your vote, if you win.

With a technical majority of 12 being the result of election night, the Conservative government does need the support of the many newly elected Conservative South West MPs such as myself.

The new intake of Conservative MPs nationwide last week signed a letter of intent to conduct respectful campaigns around whether to be an independent Britain once more, or remain part of the centralising EU project. We also committed to keep working together for economic stability, reform of welfare and national security, whichever side of the argument comes out ahead.

Many new Conservative South West MPs have also been part of a group trying to get the best for the west. By taking a collective position over the last few weeks we made sure that rural areas were not unfairly treated relative to urban counterparts in the final local government finance settlement (with over £5 million more obtained for councils in the Yeovil constituency), and have obtained the government's commitment to reform the needs assessment that has unfairly advantaged urban areas over rural for many years, with further positive adjustments to come through local business rates retention. This adds to the commitment we obtained from the the Government last year to even up the unfairness in rural school funding.

We have also spoken with one voice when it comes to making sure we get the right investment in our railway infrastructure, whether that is for resilience and faster more frequent trains on the Waterloo to Exeter line, including a proper study for double tracking the line from Yeovil to Salisbury and options on the Bristol to Weymouth line, via Yeovil, or for more resilience and speeds into North Devon, on the Great Western line, and down into the South West peninsula.

We are also working together at the moment, as a group of Somerset MPs, on healthcare & farming issues and proposals for devolution, and we will always try to keep the focus on what the real benefits are for people in our area.

Somerset is lucky to be the gateway to the South West peninsula, and that means that many things which are good for us are also good for people in Devon and beyond. Investment in road infrastructure is a classic example, with the dualling of the A303 that is being undertaken and the economic projects that it will enable benefiting people's journey times and the wider economy throughout the South West.

The South West MPs are a diverse group, and that makes for a great mix of opinions, experience and connections. There are, by trade, soldiers, farmers, solicitors, journalists, business people, postmen, retailers, educationalists, people with local government or ministerial experience, and members of the Government too. 

Whatever people might say of us, I hope they can see that we are not by nature prone to "group think" that can come from all having the same sort of background. That said, we are all determined to keep coming together as a group to get things done for people in the South West, whose security, opportunity and ambition will remain our top priorities.