|Brexit Bill passes into legislation
This week saw one of the most significant Parliamentary events for a generation take place, as both the House of Commons and the House of Lords voted to pass the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill. Now given Royal Assent by Her Majesty the Queen, this short law allows the Prime Minister to notify European bureaucrats in Brussels that the country is leaving the EU and to start the process of negotiating our exit.
That means that by the end of this month we will trigger Article 50, allowing the detailed work needed to unpick over forty years of European agreements, legislation and treaties, required to confirm our departure. It is expected that this process will take a further full two years, with an expected final deal in place by the autumn of 2018.
Scottish Referendum – now is not the time
So much for Alex Salmond’s often-repeated assurance that the last referendum on Scottish Independence, held in September 2014, was a “once in a lifetime referendum.” At the beginning of the week, Nicola Sturgeon lobbed an enormous political grenade over Hadrian’s Wall in an attempt to start a new war between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Her demands for a new independence referendum are unreasonable and risk damaging not just the United Kingdom as a whole, but Scotland itself.
The Prime Minister’s response was robust – “Now is not the time.” The United Kingdom is the most successful union of nations in the world with a deep shared history. All our energy should now be focussed on negotiating the best deal for Britain as we exit the European Union not diverted by the selfish political opportunism displayed by the Scottish National Party. Just talking about another referendum makes it more difficult to get the right deal.
Responding to issue campaigns
Every week hundreds of people contact me about a specific campaign they support, either to highlight an issue or to seek a change in Government policy. Many of these contacts come via campaign organisations like 38 Degrees or a charity. It can take a while to get a response put together for these campaigns, as the issues they highlight are often complicated, but I always endeavour to respond to every individual contact.
Where a campaign has resulted in a significant level of residents contacting me, I post my response on my website under the heading “National Issues”. By following that link you can see some of my most recent responses. Over the last month it includes what the government is doing to deal with the environmental problem caused by microbeads, future plans for the Green Investment Bank, how we are responding to the refugee crisis and unaccompanied child refugees, support for the elderly and a response to the latest Pumpwatch campaign.
Keeping our neighbourhoods safe
This week I met Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Lorne Green, along with the Chief Constable, Simon Bailey. We discussed their 2020 Police and Crime Plan, which includes an increase in visible policing in our communities, an emphasis on tackling crime in rural areas and the need to improve road safety, in particular by reducing traffic speed in built up areas. I was impressed that they are working to have more police officers in Norfolk. I raised various issues about policing in the Great Yarmouth area, many of them highlighted to me by residents. They also have fantastic plans for a huge refurbishment and enhancement of the town’s police station.
Out and about around the constituencyEven though it was a busy week in Westminster, with votes on triggering Article 50 and various debates on the Budget, I’ve spent time visiting different areas and organisations in the constituency: