Last Updated: 05 April 2019
Created: 05 April 2019
After the past few weeks in Westminster, I thought there was very little left that could surprise me. It turns out I was wrong.
I certainly didn’t expect my ministerial team to tell me on Wednesday that my next meeting was being re-arranged as I was urgently needed in the House of Commons to help answer Welsh questions. This was so that Welsh MPs were able to ask specific questions about DWP issues.
I had about half an hours’ notice to prepare before I was thrust onto the front bench. Even more daunting was the fact that Welsh Questions take place just before Prime Minister’s Questions so the chamber was getting very busy, making it much harder to hear the questions!
After the rush of Welsh Questions, the House of Commons soon turned its attention back to Brexit as Opposition MPs (supported by a small number of remain Conservative MPs) decided to a force a Bill through the House of Commons to delay Brexit.
Usually when we pass legislation, the four main stages are debated on different days – sometimes taking weeks. MPs forced this Bill through the House of Commons with just 3 hours of debate, and plan to only give the House of Lords one day to consider it.
There is a real danger that this legislation, brought forward by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, could tie the Government’s hands.
We have now reached a point, where once again Brexit could be delayed because some MPs refuse to compromise.
The Prime Minister now has literally no other option than to reach out to the opposition to see if we can find a compromise that ensures we actually deliver Brexit.
It should not have had to come to this, and it is certainly not my preferred option. But the Prime Minister is rightly acting in the national interest; working tirelessly to deliver on the referendum result.
Finally I attended the 2nd Honda Task Force on Thursday alongside Honda, Department of Business, Energy & Innovation, Robert Buckland MP, Swindon & Wiltshire Councils, Local Enterprise Partnership, Unions and Business & supply chain representatives.
There is a real commitment to continue working constructively together as we rightly first focus efforts to push Honda to reconsider their decision as part of their 45 day consultation and then if (and an emphasis on only if) Honda do not change their mind, a co-ordinated approach to attract new alternative investment for our town.
The challenge remains great, but we are a growing town which continues to attract new investment and businesses, delivering over 11,000 new jobs since 2010.
Honda have an excellent, highly skilled and experienced workforce, on a prime employment site. We all hope that whilst Honda have to weather their significant fall in global sales, they will realise the long-term benefit of remaining in Swindon.