Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Haltwhistle walking festival 22/4-1/5:- great walks, really well organised - book now!

I really recommend the walks they organise - book now and enjoy our amazing scenery.

The World's Biggest Charity Pub Quiz this Sunday go along and support one of yours

On Sunday 5 March, six pubs in the Hexham constituency are participating in a nationwide event: the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz. This is in support of PubAid, which last year raised over £130,000 for over 600 charities, thanks to more than 30,000 quizzers taking part in over 1,000 pubs.

The following local pubs are participating although lots more may be. They can choose any charity to support on the night. The pubs below are all raising money for charities - some of have yet to decide which. 

The Angel of Corbridge

The Golden Lion, Allendale – raising money for: Great North Air Ambulance

The Black Bull Inn, Matfen – raising money for: Heel and Toe

The Fox and Hounds, Prudhoe

The Plough Inn, Eachwick

Three Tuns, Heddon-on-the-Wall
The duke of Wellington, newton 

I am hoping to be participating myself this year, subject to diaries. I hope that many of you will set aside some time on Sunday 5 March to go down to one of these fantastic local pubs and help to support this great cause.

Monday, 27 February 2017

According to the Spectator the PM is right - that ‘a state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation’

Interesting article by the Spectator on the third way that the PM is trying to navigate between the forces of nationalism, the benefits of capitalism and the impact of globalisation. It is an article worth a read. 
"Theresa May thinks that we have reached that moment with globalisation and 21st-century capitalism. At Davos last month, she quoted Burke again, reminding the gathered global elite that ‘a state without the means of some change is without the means of its own conservation’. She declared that this ‘great Conservative principle — change in order to conserve — is more important than ever in today’s complex geopolitical environment’.
It is more important than ever because of the growth of aggressive nationalism. If their concerns are not addressed, more and more Western voters will turn to aggressive nationalist leaders. Add to that an international system already having to deal with a revanchist Russia and a rising China and the global order starts to look unstable." 
Full article here

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Last week I conducted the official opening of the stunning Walwick Hall hotel

The hotel is amazing. Great to meet all the team. Lots of local jobs and this place adds something to the Northumberland offer, particularly in Tynedale and around Hadrians Wall. Well worth a visit. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Guardian are clear #Corbyn is the problem - why don't labour MPs in the north east agree?

Jeremy Corbyn is running out of excuses. Losing a seat that has been held by Labour in every election since 1935 certainly signifies a break from the old politics, but not the one that was advertised to Labour members. The Guardian view is unequivocal that Corbyn is a large part f the problem. Having been many times to Copeland I agree. But what is remarkable is the labour MPs. Most did not bother to go to Copeland. Those that did seem to have gone only once. And this was the view of Ian Lavern, my neighbour in Wansbeck 
This is his worst comment which is simply Untrue: 
"Jeremy Corbyn wasn't something that cropped up a lot on the doorstep when I was there"
Read these two articles and form your own view. This is lavery car crash:
And this is the view of the mainstream left wing paper the Guardian.
I know who is right. I - and others - spoke to a lot More voters than Ian lavery

Friday, 24 February 2017

Copeland has a star MP in #TrudyHarrison - utterly local, very effective and a genuinely nice person

Proud to have helped get Trudy elected. Full credit to all the team of volunteers. Looking forward to welcoming Trudy to Westminster next week.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Two Hexham community groups awarded funding from the Aviva Community Fund

It’s wonderful news that two groups in Hexham have been awarded funding from the Aviva Community Fund. Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness and Broomhaugh Church of England First School PTA have been successful in securing funding, which will make a huge difference to the lives of many in Hexham.
Jessica’s Sarcoma Awareness provides a beautiful respite lodge to be used free of charge by North East children and their families who are fighting cancer. It was set up by the amazing Jessica Robson, who at just 14 raised over £28,000 to provide gifts for children in hospital at Christmas, Easter and Birthdays. The amazing efforts which Jessica went to in order to make life better for so many children really are inspirational and I am thrilled that the Aviva Community Fund has chosen to support her charity so that her legacy can live on.

Broomhaugh Church of England First School PTA is going to use the funding to create a sensory garden around their newly built bird-watching shelter and provide the children with new birdfeeders and binoculars. This will provide a dedicated place for the children to go when they need to take some time out, sit quietly and mindfully or just to observe nature. It is wonderful to hear of schools going the extra mile for their pupils, this will benefit the entire community.

I am immensely proud of the work which these organisations are doing to improve the lives of children in Northumberland and I am very grateful to Aviva Community Fund for supporting them.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Hexham Youth Initiative supported by People's Health Trust for the Fit for the Future project

I am thrilled to hear that the excellent People’s Health Trust has recently awarded a grant of almost £19,000 to the Hexham Youth Initiative for their Hexham East – Fit for the Future project.

This new two-year project aims to deliver sessional activities during term-time and school holidays for children and young people aged 8-16 years living in Hexham East, in order to build self-esteem and improve wellbeing. A Youth Leaders Group will design and organise the programme based on the requests of the young people. Day trips will also be organised in the school holidays for the young people and their families to socialise together and with others in the community. There will also be a steering group which will include at least six young people to oversee and further shape the project as it is being delivered.

This is clearly an excellent initiative which will have a positive impact on the lives of many young people and their families in Hexham. I thank the People’s Health Trust for all that they do to support communities in Northumberland, raising over £1.5 million to date for the region. This is only possible due to the public’s participation in The Health Lottery, so I also thank everyone who has played so far and encourage more to support this worthy cause.

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Independent is a left wing paper but it makes the case that #Copeland is a vote on Corbyn (and nuclear)

This is a good read and worth it - I have been repeatedly to Copeland and across west Cumbria Jeremy Corbyn is utterly toxic.

Westminster this coming week - plenty of debates from cultural property to Trump, and meetings galore

Westminster has over 10 debates this week, and I have multiple meetings with constituents, local businesses who are down in London, and will be returning home on Thursday. The Article 50 debate is in the house of lords this week.
The Westminster hall debate on whether we do or do not we allow President Trump to come to the uk (there are 2 separate petitions either way) is being heard today. It is not a question of whether you like him, or approve of his policies. America has elected him. I believe it is in this countries interests to have a meaningful relationship with America. We engage better with our allies by having dialogue with them, not by shutting them out.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Spectator fairly compares a Corbyn UK with Venezuela right now.

It's not a good prospect...

Hexham businessman shortlisted for Visit England's Tourism Superstar award

I am delighted that a constituent of mine, Kevin Robson, has been nominated for this year’s Tourism Superstar award, run by VisitEngland and supported by the Daily Mirror. The Tourism Superstar award, now in its fifth year, recognises and celebrates those in the tourism industry who go the extra mile to ensure tourists have an amazing and unforgettable visitor experience.

Kevin set up Wild Dog Outdoors in 2013 and is primarily a tour guide of Hadrian’s Wall, providing insightful and passionate tours on the Wall’s Roman and ancient history. He loves sharing tales of Northumberland’s place in Britain’s history and exploring the iconic sites within the county with visitors.  Anyone who goes on a tour with Kevin is treated to secret stories and anecdotes, usually the reserve of archaeologists and historians, which bring the locations to life. 

The public vote is now live on the Mirror’s website and will remain so until the end of March, with the winner to be announced during VisitEngland’s English Tourism Week (25 March-2 April).

I wish Kevin the very best of luck and throw my full support behind him, please spare a few moments of your time today to vote for him and show your appreciation for the work that he does to share our wonderful local history with others.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Employment figures show highest ever employment + youth unemployment lowest in 12 years

This weeks figures: #Employment 74.6% (highest ever), #Unemployment 4.8% (lowest in 11 years); #YouthUnemployment 12.6% (lowest in 12 years).
There remains ebbs and flows in the north east figures but the upward trend over the last 6 years is very positive. Much work to do but the direction of travel is clear.

Friday, 17 February 2017

On Fuel Poverty Awareness Day I am certain our energy booklet will save you money this winter!

Fuel Poverty is a real issue for residents across Tynedale. Increasing fuel prices are leaving homeowners feeling the pinch and residents are faced with a difficult choices. 

I have long been campaigning against fuel poverty. It was back in January 2011 that I first said families face the choice between ‘heating or eating’. For some time I have thought we should try and bring together all the key info, and the key local suppliers, in one available online and physical booklet.

Following on from the success of the Energy Booklet in the past four years, I am pleased to announce that a new and improved booklet is now out and online. I have organised for its delivery, at no cost to the taxpayer, to thousands of homes in the area, but I also wanted to provide details of it online.
I know many residents are concerned about energy costs and fuel, and hopefully this booklet will go some way to cut through the complexity, and provide some much needed simple answers. 

The main purpose of the guide is to help you make your home more energy efficient, and make you aware of what support is available. There is advice on how to get the best deal from your energy supplier and details about a range of schemes. Included is also information on financial assistance to which you may be entitled, as well as details of various organisations from the Citizens Advice Bureau to local Oil Buying Clubs whom you can contact. 

Finally, I have also provided information on the Tynedale Community Bank: a real alternative to the major multinationals. The TCB is a local bank, providing savings and loans for local people. 

I stress this booklet does not have all the answers, but I know it can help. Now is the time to start thinking about how you can stay warm and save money, this winter. You can download it here: https://view.publitas.com/p222-11112/energybooklet2016-17

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Huge support from business leaders for the 3 Local Authorities embracing devolution

The journal carries a report of last weeks key meeting of the local authorities. It is worth a read. After the meeting, the FSB’s regional development manager Simon Hanson tweeted: “It is abundantly clear there are two competing visions in the North East Combined Authority area: one that is ambitious and wants to look outwards, the other that isn’t.”
And the Chamber’s head of policy Jonathan Walker said: “In a time of huge political change, ‘wait and see’ is not acceptable position for our region to take. We must grab opportunities open to us.”
The meeting reflects growing frustration within the business community that the decision of the four councils south of the Tyne to pull out of the devolution deal scuppered a once-in-a-generation chance for the North East to take more control of its own affairs.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Very positive job news in Prudhoe as 2Pure creates new jobs - good to visit and meet the team

It’s great to hear that 2Pure will be moving their headquarters to Prudhoe, creating ten new jobs for the area in the process. It is wonderful to see our small business having such a positive impact on the local community.

I had the pleasure of visiting their factory in Prudhoe last month to see their new products, I was particularly impressed that they are all environmentally friendly and non-irritant. I wish all the team at 2Pure the very best for the future and hope that they continue to grow as they have done in the past few months.

The Courant has a detailed piece on 2Pure and my visit to meet the team there who are creating local jobs. I am fully behind the work they are doing and am doing all I can to help the company.

Monday, 13 February 2017

LifeSavers Project a huge step forward for financial education in tynedale

I am thrilled to announce that next month I will be taking part in the North-East launch of the LifeSavers fund.
Lifesavers aims to help children manage money wisely- and supports the whole family to learn about money together. Through practical experience of handling money at the savings club, classroom teaching, and resources for assemblies about money, LifeSavers really is a ‘whole school’ programme of financial education.
We want to see a generation of children grow up with financial resilience and the skills to deal with their money, whatever life throws at them. With evidence suggesting that children develop lifelong money habits at the age of seven, starting a savings habit early is an amazing way to improve their chances of success.
School savings clubs, powered by the local Tynedale Community Bank will set our children and young people in good stead for the years as they learn that a little bit of saving, regularly can soon build up and they can reach their goals.

Lifesavers also acknowledges that children learn from both home and school, so they also support schools to help parents and carers too around money and how to help their children learn
The programme is currently running in 120 schools across the UK, with funding available to offer it FREE to a limited number of schools in Tynedale and Northumberland.  LifeSavers works in partnership with Tynedale Community Bank, and delivered by Young Enterprise, the UK’s leading financial and enterprise education school charity.Find out more, and access online teaching resources here: http://www.lifesavers.co.uk/teachertraining/
Register your interest (with no commitment at this stage)here:  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Schoolsavingshttp://www.lifesavers.co.uk/teachertraining/

Saturday, 11 February 2017

I have no doubt that UK will soon resolve status of EU nationals in U.K., and U.K. Nationals in EU, but this requires pan European agreement

I very much wish to resolve the issue of the ongoing status of EU nationals. But at the same time this requires the agreement of the other 27 EU national states both as to the rights of their citizens and the rights of the UK nationals resident in mainland Europe. 

This was the Prime Minister in the House of Commons last week on this point:

'My honourable friend obviously raises an issue that is of concern to all members across this house, and of concern to many individuals outside this house who want reassurance about their future; and, as I’ve said, I want to be able to give that and expect to be able to give that reassurance, but I do want to see the same reassurance for UK citizens living in the EU.

“What I can say to my honourable friend is that when I trigger Article 50, I intend to make it clear that I want this to be a priority for an early stage of the negotiations so we can address this issue and give reassurance to people concerned.”

For myself, I am confident that this matter will be resolved speedily and with equal rights on all parts. But there are genuine reasons for the delay. Most significantly this requires an agreement between 28 countries. 
As the BBC have made clear this is not a simple issue on several levels: 

The Home Secretary spelt out the complexity of the issue in terms of agreement as follows this week:
"European citizens already resident in the UK make a vital contribution both to our economy and our society, and a number of colleagues have spoken to me recently seeking assurances about their immigration status when we leave the EU.
There is absolutely no question of treating EU citizens with anything other than the utmost respect, recognising the contribution they make not just to our economy, but also working in crucial public services like the NHS. Without them we would be poorer and our public services weaker. That’s why we will be making securing their status, as well as that of British nationals in the EU, a priority as soon as we trigger Article 50 and the negotiations begin.
I know some colleagues are concerned about how long this might take to resolve, but the Government remains committed to providing reassurance to EU nationals here and UK nationals in the EU as a priority once Article 50 has been triggered. The hold-up is less an issue of principle than one of timing with a few EU countries insisting there can be 'no negotiation before notification', and therefore that nothing can be settled until Article 50 is triggered. "

The issue on child refugees is whether we take the majority from the Syrian camps or from France or Italy

I support the position of the Home Secretary as set out in her statement: "The Government take the welfare of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children extremely seriously. That is why we have pledged more than £2.3 billion in aid in response to the Syria conflict—our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis. The UK has contributed significantly to the hosting, supporting and protection of the most vulnerable children affected by the migration crisis. In the year ending September 2016, we granted asylum or another form of leave to more than 8,000 children. About 50% of the 4,400 individuals who have been resettled through the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme so far are children. Within Europe, in 2016, we transferred more than 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to the UK, including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s support for the Calais camp clearance. As Home Secretary, I am proud that the UK played such a key role in helping the French to close the camp safely and compassionately. The Government announced that, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016, we would transfer the specified number of 350 children who reasonably meet the intention and spirit behind the provision. That number includes more than 200 children who have already been transferred from France under section 67.
I must make it absolutely clear that the scheme is not closed. As required by the legislation, we consulted local authorities on their capacity to care for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children before arriving at the number. We are grateful for the way in which local authorities have stepped up to provide places for those arriving, and we will continue to work closely to address capacity needs. The Government have always been clear that we do not want to incentivise perilous journeys to Europe, particularly by the most vulnerable children. That is why children must have arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016 to be eligible under section 67 of the Immigration Act.  The section 67 obligation was accepted on the basis that the measure would not act as a pull factor for children to travel to Europe and that it would be based on local authority capacity. The Government have a clear strategy and we believe this is the right approach.
Here in the UK, we have launched the national transfer scheme and we have also significantly increased funding for local authorities caring for unaccompanied asylum- seeking children by between 20% and 28%.
The Government have taken significant steps to improve an already comprehensive approach and we
are providing protection to thousands of children in this year. I am proud of this Government’s active approach to helping and sheltering the most vulnerable, and that is a position that will continue.
The scheme has not closed, as reported by some. We were obliged by the Immigration Act to put a specific number on how many children we would take based on a consultation with local authorities about their capacity. This is the number that we have published and we will now be working in Greece, Italy and France to transfer further children under the amendment. We’re clear that behind these numbers are children and it’s vital that we get the balance right between enabling eligible children to come to the UK as quickly as possible and ensuring local authorities have capacity to host them and provide them with the support and care they will need.
We consulted extensively with local authorities over several months to reach this number, but if your local authority is contacting you suggesting they have extra capacity to take children then please encourage them to participate in the National Transfer Scheme. Each year we have around 3,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrive in Britain and currently a small number of councils are taking a disproportionate share of the burden in caring for these children.

I have been many times to help in the Copeland By Election and Channel 4 Michael Crick is confirming what I have seen / been told by voters - the Cumbrians do not like Corbyn


Friday, 10 February 2017

National Apprenticeship Week - what are you doing to support apprentices?

It’s wonderful to see National Apprenticeship Week enter its 10th Anniversary next month, running between 6 and 10 March. The week is coordinated by the National Apprenticeship service and is designed to celebrate the positive impact that apprenticeships have on businesses, individuals, and the wider economy.
The 10th National Apprenticeship Week will bring together employers and apprentices from across England to celebrate the successes of apprenticeships over the last decade and seek to encourage more people to choose apprenticeships as a fast-track to a great career. This is a great way to build momentum towards the ambition of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.
The theme for this week is ‘Ladder of Opportunity’ – an apprenticeship is a ladder of opportunity to gain higher skills and career progression. I am looking forward to getting involved in events around Northumberland during Apprenticeship week and throwing my full support behind this excellent initiative.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Great British Spring Clean Is Coming To Tynedale, 3-5 March

Last week I attended the Parliamentary launch of The Great British Spring Clean. The campaign is calling on schools, businesses and community groups to get outdoors, get active and help clear up our local communities.

The Great British Spring Clean follows on from last year’s very successful Clean for The Queen campaign and brings together many of the anti-litter organisations in the UK. Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and LIDL are just a few of the companies also supporting the initiative.

Community groups including parish councils, residents’ associations, Girl guides and brownies and Scout and Cub troops are encouraged to organise their own litter pick or event in the coming weeks or over the campaign’s big clean weekend over 3-5 March.
I wanted to help with The Great British Spring Clean as it is really important to encourage people to go out and clean up their communities. The initiative also provides a useful opportunity to raise awareness of the problems litter causes.
I am really keen that people in Tynedale get behind this campaign. It does not take much, and the impact is tremendous. I will be out litter picking, over the 3-5 March weekend, and hope to see as many people there as possible.

You can find more information of how you can get involved: http://www.greatbritishspringclean.org.uk/home/2684

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

This is the Bill that the House of Commons has debated for 5 days - it passed the Commons committee stage tonight

Sunday Politics on IPlayer: Trump, Brexit, Copeland by-election, Darlington NHS+ Sunderland City of Culture

President Trump is clearly a polarising person; you do not have to like him, but you have to work with him. He is the democratically elected president of the United States, and it is clearly in our national interest to maintain a strong and positive relationship with the USA, both before and after Brexit.

The Article 50 vote was a resounding confirmation of the democratic will of the British people. I make no secret about campaigning strongly for the UK to remain in the European Union, but accept fully the result of the referendum. You do not get to pick and choose which bits of democracy you agree with. The government has rightly set-out a detailed 77 page White Paper on our position and aims in the Brexit negotiations, that will rightly be debated in Parliament. We are leaving the EU, and there is much cause for optimism and positivity, as we do so. 

Anyone that has not done so already, I strongly encourage to come out and meet our outstanding candidate Trudy Harrison, who is standing as the Conservative candidate in the Copeland by-election. She is absolutely clear that Sellafield is vital to local jobs and livelihoods, and only a Conservative government and local MP can ensure that nuclear remains a key part of our national energy mix. Having been to Copeland eight times already, I can say with a good deal of certainty that the reaction on the doorstep to Jeremy Corbyn's North London anti-nuclear credentials is extremely poor. Rightly, local residents want to see the survival of and investment in our national nuclear energy, and see that with a Conservative MP, Sellafield will continue to be a vital part of our national energy infrastructure. The NHS is getting more funds, and is undergoing real, transformational localisation of services. Local residents, doctors, and clinical experts are informing the decision on the ground that matter to local people; about service distribution and the right plan for local NHS provision moving forward. On the issue of Sunderland I am 100% behind the city of culture campaign

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

World Internet Safety Day - Tuesday 7 February

This Tuesday is World Internet Safety Day, which aims to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people. Social media in particular has become part of our day to day lives and I think it is crucial that we ensure young people are given the skills that they need to get a positive experience from this resource.
To highlight this, police officers will be visiting schools around Northumberland and hosting community drop-in events to give advice to both children and parents on how to stay safe online.
I am proud to support this initiative, and urge internet users of all ages to take full advantage of this opportunity. Internet safety is an issue which affects all of us.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Heathrow Airport progress for a third runway is very good news

The Government is publishing proposals for a third runway at Heathrow Airport, helping prepare Britain for leaving the EU.
This will be one of the UK’s most important infrastructure projects, helping to build a Global Britain that is ready to grasp the opportunities of Brexit and to forge a new role in the world.

Aviation expansion will boost our economy and jobs and promote the UK on the world stage. Last thursdays National Policy Statement will allow the public to have their say on the plans.

This consultation is a significant step in our plan to build a global, outward looking Britain, and an economy that works for everyone here at home.
It is a massive boost to the region as a whole: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/heathrow-expansion-allow-new-flights-12545838

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Busy week in Westminster as days 3-5 of the Article 50 debate dominate

Presently on the late train south to London with a packed week ahead dominated by multiple debates on Article 50. The 130 word bill was debated for 2 extended days last week, leading to a vote by 498-114 in favour. The BBC have reported the result here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38833883
It is fair to say that there were some differing views - a fifth /  quarter of the liberal and labour MPs did not support the referendum result, whilst only Ken clarke voted with the labour and liberal opponents.
For my part I have made my position clear these last 6 months notably last week:

The key passage from my argument has always been a respect for democracy:
"The European referendum was a divisive process for the nation. It divided houses, let alone political parties. But the result was clear. A 4% win in a 2 horse race is a big win. But my view would not change if either side had won by a narrower margin. I respect the democratic process and I respect the result.
If I had lost the general election by a slim margin I would have reached across to my opponents, shaken their hand, wished them well with a difficult job, kissed my good lady, and definitely have gone to the pub. A quantity of beer would clearly have followed (preferably Northumbrian Ale - I definitely support my local brewers).
It is well known in the north east that I campaigned for Remain in the referendum; but I fully accept the result. In order to trigger the process the Prime Minister has to notify formally the EU that the process must commence using Article 50. Parliament has already voted on this once since June 23 2016 and I believe that the Prime Minister is quite right to make it very clear that she will respect the June 23 result.
But the opposition parties are taking a different line. The liberals seem to have forgotten the democrat  part of their name - and clearly therefore a liberal democrat does not respect democracy. I listen to their argument which goes "the people have voted but the people were wrong, and should be ignored."

I will be writing in detail to all locals who have written in to me by email or letter when this process is finished for now on Wednesday night. All emails and letters are read and considered. 
But this is democracy. There were many good speeches last week in the debate but I was particularly struck by the speech of  my friend and colleague Robert Jenrick
The salient parts of his speech are here:
After the storms of the referendum and its immediate aftermath, the country was understandably divided into leave and remain. It seems to me, having listened to 10 hours of this debate, that two new groups have emerged and become the real divide in Parliament. The first, and by far the larger, group consists of those who accept the mandate of the referendum and who want to implement it in full. As many have said tonight, that includes leaving the single market, the customs union and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. However they voted in the referendum, they are primarily focused on how we can make a success of the life to come.
The second group consists of those who are not yet able to accept the mandate of the referendum, or who do so in word only and seek to diminish it in reality. They look back in anger, remorse and regret, and they are unable psychologically or intellectually to reorientate themselves to the new world and to ask the real question that is before us today: what comes next? In a free society, there is no obligation on anyone to change their views to conform with the majority but, as my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin said so eloquently, there is an obligation on all of us to act in the national interest. The path of the second group is not in the national interest.
I do not believe that the people of Newark sent me to Westminster at a time of such historic importance to point fingers—to say, “What about the £350 million for the NHS?” or, “What about the recession that you threatened, which never happened?” They want us to come together. They want us to recognise our moral obligation to make our exit from the European Union succeed. The task of every Member of this House must be to build up the positives of leaving the European Union and to mitigate the negatives. That is the test we must all apply in our lives. Voting against the Bill, or amending it to bind the hands of the Prime Minister in our negotiations, fails that test.
Change can be hard, and even more so if it is a course that we did not want to embark on. But we in this place have a special responsibility to give people the confidence and the courage to live with that change and make a success of it. We do that by accepting the mandate and setting out to find a vision of the future that works for everyone. We have to see this as what an economist—I know that some hon Members do not like economists—would call a non-zero-sum game. A zero-sum game is one in which one side wins at the expense of the other: leave won, and remain lost. A non-zero-sum game is one in which we try to find a way for everyone to win.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

On the Sunday Politics tomorrow on President Trump, Brexit, the Darlington NHS, and the Copeland by election. 11:30 in the north. My thoughts on Trump and his policies set out below.

On the issue of President Trump the PM has made the governments view very clear last week at Prime Ministers Questions:
"I have made it very clear that we believe that this policy is divisive and wrong, and that it is not a policy that we would introduce. I have also made it very clear when asked about this that this Government have a very different approach to these issues. On refugees, this Government have a proud record of the support that we have given to them, and long may it continue."
She added on Wednesday that 
"On the policy that President Trump has introduced, this Government are clear that it is wrong. We would not do it. In six years as Home Secretary, I never introduced such a policy. We believe it is divisive and wrong. If the right hon. Gentleman is asking me whether I had advance notice of the ban on refugees, the answer is no. If he is asking me if I had advance notice that the Executive order could affect British citizens, the answer is no. If he is asking if I had advance notice of the travel restrictions, the answer is, we all did, because President Trump said in his election campaign that he was going to do this. The question is how you respond. The job of Government is not to chase the headlines; the job of Government is not to take to the streets in protest; the job of Government is to protect the interests of British citizens, and that is exactly what we did."

For my part, I do not believe that it is in the UK interests to block out or ignore the new President. We do not influence him if we do not engage. We may not like his policies but he was elected by the USA in a democratic election. We have to work with him, both in our national interest, and as part of organisations like NATO, as we have to work with countries and other leaders. 

Today is World Cancer Day: Let's get together to help fight this awful disease

Today is World Cancer Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness about a disease that touches us all, and the work we can do to fight it. 

I attended an event in Parliament this week to show support for this extremely important cause. I met with representatives from seven of the UK’s leading charities who have joined forces to unite the nation and help people affected by cancer.

Cancer Research UK, Breast Cancer Care, Breast Cancer Now, CLIC Sargent, Anthony Nolan, Bowel Cancer UK and Marie Curie are calling on people across the country to support the good charities. 
By joining forces, the charities will make a bigger impact in transforming the lives of millions who are affected by cancer.

The Unity Bands are made of two parts, knotted together, to symbolise the power of what can be achieved when people join forces. The bands themselves are available from each charity on their websites, shops and other retail outlets for a suggested donation of £2. All money raised from the Unity Bands will go towards the charities individual work. You can find the bands here: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/world-cancer-day/unity-bands

One in two people born in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. I had a brain tumour so I know this disease. Whatever your motivation – to remember a loved one, celebrate people who have overcome the disease, or to rally in support of those going through treatment - World Cancer Day is a chance to get involved and transform the lives of millions of people who are affected by cancer.

Positive steps taken to increase the number of women in politics

The release of postcards encouraging women to sign up for a role in Parliament - or as a councillor - is a positive step forward in getting more women in Parliament and more women involved in politics.

It is a huge pleasure of mine to support the ‘Women2Win’ campaign, and I am very proud of their achievements so far; these postcards promote the parliament project. If you are interested you can also google women 2 win and get involved. Their website is here: https://www.women2win.com/
The postcards allow anyone to recommend a woman to a role in politics, with the options of Councillor, MSP, MP. There are also instructions on how to proceed, asking women to sign up to ‘The Parliament Project’.

The postcards are a simple and effective way to encourage women to get involved in parliamentary politics.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

On #TimetoTalk day have a conversation and address the future for mental health in our NHS

In early January, the government set out its plan for tackling mental health issues. On mental health this government has 1,400 more people accessing mental health services every day in comparison to 2010, with plans for 1 million more people with mental health conditions to access services by 2020. We have acknowledged the recommendations of Independent Taskforce on Mental Health which will consequently see mental health spending increase by £1 billion annually by 2020. We need to go further and there are detailed plans. In schools; every secondary school to train someone in mental health first aid. In the workplace; a new partnership with employers to support mental health. The government will also continue to invest £15 million in places of safety for those in crisis following the successful start to the programme in the last parliament; expansion of digital mental health provision and an updated comprehensive suicide prevention strategy. These policies are a great step forward in tackling mental health issues.
But most of all on time to talk day, have a conversation about mental health. It could change someone's life. 

Government published the White Paper on our exit and our new partnership with the EU