Well, it has certainly been a busy and exciting couple of weeks! I am thrilled to be back in Parliament, doing what I love and representing the people of Meon Valley. Each week I will be posting an update here on my website, so people can read about what has been happening in Westminster. This time I am covering the last two weeks, as with everything that has been going on I simply have not had the time to write this until now.
Getting the office set up has been a little bit hectic, to be completely honest. First you need to wait until an office is available (as everyone is moving around after the election), then you have to order and wait for computer equipment, a printer, even paper and pens! Fortunately, I have had my predecessor, George Hollingbery’s, staff helping me get it all running.
For my part, I have been rushed off my feet by the hundred and one meetings and events that all seem to happen at the start of a new Parliament. The closest example I can think of is a university Freshers’ Fair, with dozens of charities, All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) and trade associations wanting to meet to set out what they do and see whether MPs might want to get involved. There are loads of interesting causes, but I will be focusing on areas directly affecting and concerning the constituents of Meon Valley, like broadband, the environment and animal welfare.
I am also interested in foreign policy and last week I made my Meon Valley maiden speech in this section of the Queen’s Speech debate. I spoke about the civil war in Yemen, where I was born, and the need for more discussion in Parliament of the humanitarian crisis there. I talked about the importance around the world of British power – hard and soft – and paid particular tribute to the Intelligence Services, who often do not get enough credit for the work they do. In the main, however, I spoke about the Meon Valley and its beautiful scenery, towns, villages and wonderful pubs. You can read my speech on Hansard here.
And speaking of pubs, I intend to spend my Sundays walking in the local countryside and enjoying lunch at many of them over the coming years. Perhaps I will see some of you there. I will also be setting up monthly ‘Meet your MP’ sessions in pubs on Friday nights and community centres on Saturday mornings, so look out for those on here.
On most Fridays I will be out in the constituency meeting constituents and local businesses. Last week I met with two fascinating businesses, Environmental Treatment Concepts Ltd (ETC) and Domo Tactical Communications. ETC have come up with an innovative, chemical-free way to break down limescale in pipes and Domo are doing some really interesting work around telecommunications interception. I am looking forward to meeting many more businesses and constituents over the next few years.
Finally, to go back briefly to Parliament, this week the Withdrawal Agreement Bill got Royal Assent, bringing an end to the uncertainty of the last few years. Next week we will leave the EU. While there are still more negotiations to go, I am excited that passing this milestone means we can get on with other priorities like improving healthcare and education. The Prime Minister has been very social with MPs, joining us for lunch and chatting in the tea room. It is great hearing his positive vision for the future and I am left feeling optimistic about what the next few years will bring.