Parliament entered its summer recess this week and it is a good point to look back at the last few months and also to the autumn session ahead. I am really pleased we ended the term with some good news on public sector pay deals, even if I understand the pressure that puts on some public service budgets. There is still a need to be cautious given the massive debt and borrowing inherited in 2010 but it’s great that we have been able to lift the cap and give many sectors including our teachers a well-deserved pay rise.
The first half of the year has been dominated by Brexit and I have no doubt the second half will be much the same. It is the most important legislation and Government work in modern times and in my view though we are making progress with the basic legislation there is still a lot of work to do in the negotiations themselves. Thanks to everyone who has written to me on the issue. I cannot agree with all points of view, indeed given the strength of feelings it would be impossible to do so, but I do read all of the letters and emails and I do respect people’s opinions.
It is right that people are listened to however they voted in the Referendum but the effect of the Government having to triangulate with no overall majority has produced a series of fudges which has delayed getting on with the detailed work of negotiating mutually beneficial future arrangements. There are reasons to be optimistic but we need to get on with it now.
In discussions with officials from other member states I have been struck by how positive and practical they are and keen to get on with addressing the issues. Business leaders in Europe are similarly forward looking and politicians from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore to name a few, have spoken of their enthusiasm for future possibilities to deepen relations with them. Border officials I have met with can see practical solutions to some of the challenges we face, including the Irish border and keeping existing just-in-time industrial supply chains functioning well.
The new Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, is a tough negotiator and I was pleased that he committed to withholding our financial settlement until certain conditions are met. My own view is that we need to scrap the Chequers plan and engage with straightforward free trade talks and I will be working alongside colleagues in Parliament to get things back on track.
I’m looking forward to some uninterrupted time in Somerset as well as seeing more of my family but the recess also provides an opportunity to think about some projects. One I am working on to progress through formal stages in the autumn is getting a proper industrial strategy in place for helicopter manufacture, so important to our economy in the South West but also strategically to the country as a whole.
My office is open throughout the summer so please do get in touch if I can be of any help. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01935314321. For those taking some time off, do have a relaxing and good time.