I thought I'd share an article I wrote for the Telegraph, which was published on 14th October 2019 following the Queen's Speech. You can see it online here or read it in full below:
My constituents tell me they want to get Brexit done so we can concentrate on other key priorities that affect their lives.
The Queen’s Speech showed us the great potential of post-Brexit Britain and the importance of getting Brexit done; not least because when we finally stop arguing about leaving, there are a million and one domestic priorities that need and deserve our attention.
The speech focused on the key issue to cross my desk as Mansfield’s Member of Parliament, which is law and order. I’ve always felt that if a Conservative Government can’t achieve law and order, it is a failure. That is why it’s so brilliant to see Boris and our new Home Secretary working to revive the reputation of the Conservatives as the party of the police, and the party that is tough on crime.
More officers on our streets, more powers to detain perpetrators of the worst crimes and to deport foreign criminals, more protections for the police and more support for victims. We’ll reduce violence in prisons, improve safety and invest in rehabilitation. That is an agenda to be proud of, and one that will hit home with members of the public.
Since I was elected in 2017, my life has been dominated by Brexit. I wanted to be elected because of a passion for education; to talk about schools and colleges, and improve policies for helping our children to fulfil their potential. I’ve been trying to do that through the Education Select Committee, but so much of it, as with other areas of domestic policy, has been silenced by the European issue. It’s been so refreshing and welcome to see these domestic priorities –policing, schools, our NHS – coming back to the fore under this Prime Minister, who is able to cut through the noise, and who refuses to be held back from progress on these issues.
Think of the possibilities if we can get Brexit done. We’ll legislate to take full advantage of life outside of the EU, on agriculture, trade, the environment, fisheries, immigration… We can go above and beyond Europe’s requirements, and we can legislate in our own interests and to support UK citizens first and foremost.
In a post-Brexit (and hopefully post-election) Parliament, we can begin to collaborate and work cross-party once again in a way that has been absolutely impossible under the shadow of Brexit. Issues like social care and children’s services need long term planning and bipartisan work if we’re to find solutions. They can’t be used as weapons in an election, or treated as collateral damage in a Brexit argument. The atmosphere simply has to change if we are to make progress. That means the Brexit fog must be lifted, and Parliament must begin afresh.
It’s right that Brexit has been the major discussion post-referendum, but it should have been dealt with by now. My constituency voted 71 per cent for Leave, but even Remain voters that I speak to say they just desperately want it to be over. I have heard more support for the Prime Minister in my traditionally Labour-voting, coalfield constituency than I could ever imagined, and for his commitment to just get the bloody thing done and move on. I’m yet to find anybody who wants to delay and prolong this confusion and uncertainty.
I hope that his domestic agenda, laid out in the Queen’s Speech, helps to grow that support even further for a vision of what Britain can be like after we’ve left the EU. As well as crime, social care and major regional infrastructure investment, we’ll see action on the environment and animal welfare, on fairer employment practices, giving people more security in their private pensions and other issues that genuinely will affect the day to day lives of the people I represent.
Delivering Brexit is vitally important, and I think that Jeremy Corbyn will regret his actions to delay and to block it when they come to be tested at the ballot box.
I’ve never experienced Parliament in "normal" times, whatever that means. Everything in the last two and a half years has been unprecedented and unpredictable. I’m looking forward to a time when we can focus on delivery, and can put the never-ending frustration of Brexit behind us.