As those constituents who got in touch to ask for my thoughts will already know, I initially backed Michael Gove in the Conservative Party leadership race.
I have known Michael for over 30 years and know him to be a man of integrity, principle and unfettered commitment to social reforms. As a founder of the Oswin Trust, a North East-based prison rehabilitation charity, I am particularly supportive of his approach to prison reform and rehabilitation and his wider belief in improving life chances, which chimes so well with my own beliefs and motivation for entering politics.
Brexit is only the beginning. We need someone capable of running the country alongside the negotiations, and continuing to push forward the manifesto commitments I and every other Conservative MP was elected on.
Not enough of my colleagues chose to lend Michael their support and the two remaining contenders were Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. After deep consideration, I decided to support Theresa May.
The most important issue facing the nation at the moment is ‘Brexit’, the process by which the UK’s decision to leave the European Union is enacted. I have spent the last six months campaigning as a core member of the Vote Leave team and am thrilled that the British people voted by a firm majority for our country to leave the EU.
I was pleased that my colleagues in the leadership contest, whichever side they campaigned on, were fully committed to negotiating our departure from the EU and building new trading relationships with the rest of the world.
This will not be a short nor an easy process, and to try to pretend otherwise is irresponsible. We have over 40 years of legislation and regulation from which to extricate ourselves, and replicate should we choose to, and an exit deal to negotiate that is favourable to the UK and all her citizens. This is incredibly important so it’s great that we are all Brexiters now.
Brexit is only the beginning. We need someone capable of running the country alongside the negotiations, and continuing to push forward the manifesto commitments I and every other Conservative MP was elected on. I believed Theresa was best placed to do this as the woman with the greatest experience of Government, a strong principled and determined personality, and the intellect to steer us through this important challenge, and to compile the most talented team to lead the negotiations. That is why Theresa had my support and that of my fellow Vote Leave campaigners Priti Patel, James Cleverly, Chris Grayling and many more.
Already our new Prime Minister has made her priorities clear by her appointments – new departments for Brexit and Trade and a beefed-up Business department. I am particularly pleased with the appointment of Justine Greening as Education Secretary. I know Justine has a real passion for ensuring the best possible start in life for all children and is a supporter of the life chances agenda to which I subscribe.
Andrea Leadsom, who gracefully bowed out of the contest, takes on the Environment brief. Her role will be crucial in building a bespoke system for our farmers to ensure that funds which we presently channel via the EU in a system to suit the needs of European farmers is built with their priorities in mind.
My old friend Chris Grayling becomes Transport Secretary. He will be hearing a lot more from me as I acquaint him with the progress of the dualling of the A1 in Northumberland, and the need for additional funds to improve safety at Mousen Bends.
Other appointments are yet to be announced, but the one I am most keen to know is the Minister responsible for bringing in the Digital Economy Bill. This Bill will be my priority in Parliament in the autumn as I seek to ensure that our rural communities are properly catered for in the digital revolution.
Poor broadband speed and connections is the single biggest issue that comes across my desk. Over the summer my team will begin mapping out a true picture of the service across my constituency. You can help by sending me your postcode and a reading of your broadband speed. The data will be crucial in demonstrating to Ofcom that the service is not as complete as it believes it to be.