Hello and welcome back to my weekly View from the House for Tamworth Informed. The summer recess has been incredibly busy, with a lot of changes. I signed off my last View from the House saying there would be lots of news to report, I do not think I am wrong!
Over the Summer months we saw Boris Johnson introduce his new ministerial team, I am deeply honoured to have been appointed the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. These last months have been incredibly busy and as part of my role I represent the Foreign office at the daily Brexit preparation meetings headed up by Michael Gove. The Prime Minister, the Government and I are all committed to be leaving the European Union on October 31st – no ifs no buts. We want to leave with a deal, but if we cannot get a good one, we will leave without.
Also, over the summer I ran my ‘Defib-A-Day’ campaign that saw myself and Tamworth Have a Heart team up and highlight all the defibs we have across Tamworth and our villages. Thank you to all of you that got involved with your stories and experiences. It was fantastic to see the Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation endorse our campaign! If you want to know where your local defib is, or you want to install one then please do look up ‘Tamworth Have a Heart’ online.
As we returned to Parliament at the start of the week, we received the news that Tamworth High Street has won its bid for up to £25 million to reinvigorate our high street. The ambitious plans from Cllrs Danny Cook and the Conservative team at the Council have clearly impressed the reviewing team. They now have received £150,000 to further develop their plans for the next stage of funding. This new Government fund aims to transform its centre into the beating heart of the community by improving the leisure, residential and retail offer with a more accessible and improved physical environment.
This Tuesday was the first time ever that I had the chance to speak at the Government despatch box and it was initially a nerve-wracking experience! As the Minister for Europe and the Americas, I answered questions from MPs on the devastating rainforest fires in the Amazon rainforest as well as reaffirming Britain’s commitments to Gibraltar.
The Prime Minister is working flat out to get us out of the European Union by October 31st and I fully support him in that endeavour. Sadly, a coalition of MPs, led by Jeremy Corbyn seem set on cutting the legs from beneath our negotiating position. They voted on Tuesday, in a majority, to take control of the business in the Commons so they can pass a bill that would stop us leaving on a No Deal Brexit. They got their way on the Wednesday, helped by John Bercow the most biased Speaker in modern history, and succeeded in halting a No Deal Brexit. On the evening the Prime Minister called for a General Election, but it didn’t achieve the 2/3rds required to trigger the early election.
There was some good news however this week as Tamworth received the gold award for the TENTH year running in the Small City category of the Heart of England in Bloom competition. Walking around Tamworth we had some absolutely beautiful displays in Castle Grounds and at the traffic island up on Moor Street. The theme this year incorporated more than just flowers, it was filled with charity and community events such as the dementia forget-me-nots and the ‘Big Sow’ initiative in Castle grounds. A fantastic effort by all who got stuck in and involved, you should all be very proud of yourselves.
After finishing Friday Brexit meetings in London, I jumped on the train back up to Tamworth and spent my evening with the Staffs Search & Rescue team, along with two other Staffordshire MPs - Amanda Milling and Jeremy Lefroy. We saw first hand how the dogs are trained in searching for missing people out in the countryside – Jeremy was the willing volunteer to be found! They do a fantastic job and I have met them on a number of occasions to help them find pathways of funding to keep the good work continuing.
I want to end my View from the House with some words the calls for an early General Election and the Brexit status. I have been clear; my preferred option is for Boris Johnson to get a new and better deal with the EU. But if our European neighbours refuse to negotiate then we must be prepared to leave without a deal on October 31st.
Tamworth Informed recently ran a poll at the end of last month that saw 1.4k of you vote in it, with a clear majority in support for Boris’ plans. The true test of your feeling is for the people to be given a chance to choose their MPs again and with this in mind I will again vote to trigger a General Election when the vote comes to the Commons on Monday.