I have been back in London this week as the House of Commons starts its summer session. It could not have been a more high profile time as President Trump was in town on a state visit and in a few weeks’ time we will have a new Prime Minister.
My time in Somerset last week included the memorial service for Paddy Ashdown at St John’s church. Lord Ashdown served his country with distinction in the Forces and later in public life, showing the same commitment and vigour in both. I didn't agree with all of his political views but I know that he loved Somerset and worked tirelessly for the area. He will be remembered here and across the country with fondness and a great deal of respect. I would like to thank his family, friends and colleagues for inviting me to the service.
This week I have had a busy few days in Westminster including a meeting with Highways England to talk about the A303 and A358 upgrade programme and a presentation by the British Ports Authority on Brexit issues. I am happy to report that the road works are on schedule except for a slight delay as plans for the A358 section as plans are reconsidered potentially to support a new business park near Taunton which could be home to some good local employers. The interim safety measures that I have been campaigning for on the Ilminster bypass should be installed in the next few months.
Each day the House of Commons starts with a Departmental questions session and on Tuesday of this week in Justice Questions I raised broadening the sort of legal aid available to people. Following a number of cases my team and I have dealt with locally I am concerned that more needs to be done to make sure our justice system supports the individual rather than corporations and I will continue to see what can be done to support this.
Donald Trump is certainly a divisive character and perhaps not some people’s idea of a Presidential figure. However, I think the hypocrisy of the some has been astonishing this week. Some who are being formally investigated for anti-Semitism by The Equality and Human Rights Commission point to the racism of Trump. Some who were happy to condone a ‘joke’ about lynching Esther McVey point to the misogyny of Trump. Following some opposition figures’ speeches about intolerance to the protest crowd, social media showed one middle aged man being pushed and screamed at before he was escorted to safety. As Vince Cable declares our special relationship to be over, I would encourage people to look beyond the man to the Office, the people of the US and our shared history, and a positive future relationship with our closest ally.