Since my last column in this paper we have had another set of elections, the Prime Minister has resigned and Somerset have won the One-Day Cup Final at Lords by six wickets. The last event may be unconnected but very well done indeed to Somerset Country Cricket Club for their brilliant win over Hampshire on Saturday.
On Friday I welcomed Business and Industry Minister to Yeovil for a visit to Leonardo’s site and a chance to talk about Industrial Strategy for the South West and for helicopters in particular. Since becoming an MP I have been working towards having a specific strategy in place for the helicopter industry and related supply chain in the same way that there is one for shipbuilding. It would support long term procurement decisions and encourage a more holistic view on MoD involvement. It goes without saying that the Minister was impressed with Leonardo as anyone who visits is. More than that though, he was really enthusiastic about the relationship with Government and longer term thinking and it was a series of useful discussions.
Since the results of the Euro elections there have been a wild array of interpretations. It seems rather typical of our membership that we all voted on Thursday and weren’t allowed to even start counting the votes until Sunday. What the figures do show is that here in South Somerset there is clearly still a large majority to leave the EU with the recently formed Brexit party securing 42.6% of the vote. By comparison, the strongly pro-Remain Lib Dems and Green Party had a combined increase of 10.7% over the previous Euro elections.
Clearly lessons must be learnt by the Government and by the two main political parties if they are to survive. It’s not about finding consensus in Parliament though; there has been far too much of MPs talking amongst themselves and making grandstanding speeches about ‘the will of the House’ and so on. Both the Conservative and Labour parties must start taking their manifesto commitments more seriously and delivering on them. Brexit is a complicated issue but there has been to much arrogance and hubris in Westminster after the electorate were perfectly clear in the 2016 Referendum. In 2017 both parties stood on a platform of delivering Brexit and they have not. The Prime Minister has resigned as a consequence of this and it is right to let a new team try a fresh approach to leaving on the best terms we can. To support this I will carry on working with colleagues on practical solutions to challenges such as the Irish border.