The Prime Minister has announced today that a Queen’s Speech will be introduced to Parliament on Monday 14th October. The current session of Parliament has lasted 340 days, in almost 400 years of tradition this is by far the longest session, and recently we MPs have not had much significant legislation to debate as a result.
The public expect us to deal with new challenges of government and so a new session is needed for the government to introduce key legislation on the NHS, to fight violent crime, invest in infrastructure and science and cut the cost of living.
We would under normal circumstances not be sitting during the “Conference Recess” and the decision today extends this Conference recess by just one week.
Clearly we need to address the question of leaving the European Union on the 31st October, and much progress has been made in the negotiations already. There will be ample time to debate and vote on the outcome of these negotiations in Parliament following the meeting of the EU Council on 17/18 October. I hope and expect that the Prime Minister will be able to get the EU to come to a sensible position and make changes to the backstop – the sticking point in the Withdrawal Agreement – so that a deal can then be ratified in Parliament.
My position on Brexit is consistent; I have always advocated and voted for leaving with a Brexit deal. That is why I voted for the Withdrawal Agreement three times. Of course the EU don’t want us to leave so that is why they are playing hardball and publicly saying they won’t concede anything. Anyone who has ever negotiated anything knows that you have to be prepared to walk away from the table. It is only when the other side knows you are serious that a deal can be done – this often comes at the last moment. I continue to believe that a deal, which is after all hugely in the interest of the other EU member states, will be negotiated and the Prime Minister has my full support for this task. However, if a deal can’t be agreed then we must leave on October 31st without a deal.
At the same time we must continue to prepare thoroughly and effectively for every eventuality if the EU won’t budge on the elements of the Withdrawal Agreement that are problematic. It is entirely reasonable to expect them now to change their stance to ensure an orderly exit which after all affects their citizens and businesses as much as it does ours. We in the UK don’t want a no deal outcome – and it would be wrong, and entirely their responsibility, in my view, if the EU brings us to that position through their intransigence.
Over the last weeks and months I’ve been busy speaking to businesses, farmers and my constituents across Redditch, to offer my support for the weeks ahead, and to highlight sources of advice for different issues and challenges. I do believe that with the full resources of Government focussed on Brexit preparations we will be able to finally get Brexit over the line and move on to the other challenges my constituents expect me to work on.
I was elected in 2017 with over 50% of the vote on a clear manifesto commitment to honour the democratic mandate given to me by the electorate, to deliver Brexit. It is now over 3 years since the referendum and we still haven’t left.
In order to protect trust in politics and our democracy, politicians must honour the votes that put them into Parliament. We must leave and move on to other pressing domestic matters that matter to people in Redditch, such as fighting for the Alex, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, properly equipping the police and criminal justice system, regenerating our town centre and other local centres, rolling out 5G across the rural part of the constituency and ensuring all our children get a great education.