Mercury Column – August 2017

The free movement of people is at the top of the political agenda both locally and nationally in two very different ways.

In Great Yarmouth, we’ve long recognised the need for a Third River Crossing and the limiting factor the existing bridges and road network has on the economic growth of the town and surrounding area. Whereas the River Yare provided the impetus for the town to grow in the Medieval Ages and trade successfully by sea, today the need to connect to the country’s wider trunk road network is vital. It’s good to see so many local residents, businesses and political leaders all agree that a third crossing will transform the town. Reducing journey times and traffic congestion, and encouraging more inward investment; giving the potential to create thousands of additional jobs are key factors in support of the proposal.

With the Government’s renewed emphasis on improving the country’s road network and investing a multi-billion fund to tackle local road congestion, I am optimistic that the £120million needed to give the Third River Crossing the green light will gain ministerial backing. Especially, as the project fits with the Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy, which aims to improve local infrastructure to boost our economy.

At a national and European-level, the free movement of people will cease when we leave the European Union in 2019. This free movement cannot, and will not, continue after our departure. It is a key principle of the Government’s Brexit strategy and will be supported by a new immigration system put in place from the Spring of 2019. As Immigration Minister, I am responsible for piloting this important piece of legislation through Parliament later this year. It will set out how the country will control the number of people coming into our country to live and work, whilst still attracting those who will benefit our country economically. It will underline the Government’s determination to bring immigration down to sustainable levels – a level we indicated in our election manifesto will be in the tens of thousands. From both the Referendum campaign, and this year’s General Election, I know that this is an important political issue for many constituents, and I look forward to giving further updates over the next two years.