Monday, 25 July 2016

Any assessment of Scottish education, or other key devolved public services show them getting worse under the SNP

Education used to be the marvel of Scotland. Not any more. A read of Tom Harris latest article is worthwhile: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/21/while-nicola-sturgeon-fiddles-scotland-burns-or-at-least-smoulde/
Eventually more and more of the Scottish people will ask the question - how good are the SNP actually at running things? The evidence is not very good. Health and police are two services that appear to have got worse under their administration.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Congrats to Haveli! Fourth in the Tiffin Cup Final



Last Tuesday, 12th July, I had the pleasure of attending the Tiffin Cup Final in the kitchens of House of Commons. The Cup celebrates the best South Asian food that this country has to offer, and I was delighted to be supporting one of our own fantastic restaurants, Haveli, in the process.
The food was judged by celebrity chef Ainsley Harriot among other independent assessors on a blind tasting, and I must say that I also sampled a fair amount of the food, purely to make it a fair test! Haveli chose to produce their Goan Prawn Curry, which is probably my favourite dish on the whole menu. The dish was a hit with the judges, and ensured that Haveli secured a very respectable fourth-placed finish.
Haveli is one of the North East’s culinary high-points, and I was very pleased to see them do so well. Just to make it to the final was enough, but to come 4th out of the whole country is staggering. We should all be very proud of them.
Visit Haveli when you have the chance - it really does have great food.  


Saturday, 23 July 2016

1 month on from EU Referendum + our new PM very much in charge

"Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a success of it" - so said our new Prime Minister on several occasions last week and I have no doubt she will. Her commitment to enacting the will of the British people is not in doubt. I wanted to remain, but the country has spoken, and we need to make this 2 1/2 year process of leaving happen - and do it in the best interests and outcome for Britain. 
Anyone who underestimates our new Prime Minister is unwise. She has rightly chosen a strong team of Leave campaigners to conduct the renegotiation and carve out our new role on the European and World stage. 
In addition, she has created her own government to address the issues she considers most important - the Union of the U.K., life chances, a better balanced economy and a more equal society. Our country is on a new journey, but we are being led by the right woman at the right time. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The new PM is already seen in the Commons as seriously impressive - the columnists + pollsters views are also interesting to read

The opinion polling done in the last week are clear that the country sees Mrs May as a serious politician for serious times.
1 in 3 labour voters - yes 33% of labour voters! - would vote for her rather than Mr Corbyn. This assessment from the left leaning Independent after recent polling:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-jeremy-corbyn-comres-poll-labour-tories-prime-minister-who-would-be-better-voters-a7141171.html
The same can be said of the columnists: this from todays Telegraph is worth a read: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/were-all-sitting-up-straighter-now-that-theresa-may-is-in-charge/

Monday, 18 July 2016

This is the Trident Motion I shall be voting in favour of tonight

NUCLEAR DETERRENT



That this House supports the Government’s assessment in the 2015 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review that the UK’s independent minimum credible nuclear deterrent, based on a Continuous at Sea Deterrence posture, will remain essential to the UK's security today as it has for over 60 years, and for as long as the global security situation demands, to deter the most extreme threats to the UK's national security and way of life and that of the UK's allies; supports the decision to take the necessary steps required to maintain the current posture by replacing the current Vanguard Class submarines with four Successor submarines; recognises the importance of this programme to the UK’s defence industrial base and in supporting thousands of highly skilled engineering jobs; notes that the Government will continue to provide annual reports to Parliament on the programme; recognises that the UK remains committed to reducing its overall nuclear weapon stockpile by the mid-2020s; and supports the Government’s commitment to continue work towards a safer and more stable world, pressing for key steps towards multilateral disarmament.

Westminster this week - big debates on higher education + Trident + PMQs with a new PM

Today we have a vote on the renewal of Trident. I shall be voting in favour. I have been persuaded that our nuclear deterrent has kept us safe for a long time and that we should not abrogate the responsibility for our defence to others. For a fuller debate tune in at around 3:30-10pm today. The BBC take on the issue is here:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36820416

The Labour Party are split 3 ways on trident - in favour, against and abstain. The snp oppose, as they do everything. Not sure where the liberals are on this.
Tomorrow we have the debate on the higher education bill, with further debates later in the week. The highlight of the week will be PMQs with the new Prime Minister, Wednesday at 12.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Theresa May sets out her stall as our new Prime Minister - her first speech

I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new government, and I accepted. In David Cameron, I follow in the footsteps of a great, modern Prime Minister. Under David’s leadership, the Government stabilised the economy, reduced the budget deficit, and helped more people into work than ever before. But David’s true legacy is not about the economy, but about social justice. From the introduction of same sex marriage, to taking people on low wages out of income tax altogether, David Cameron has led a one nation government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead. Because not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. And that word unionist is very important to me.
It means we believe in the union, the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But it means something else that is just as important, it means we believe in a union not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens, every one of us, whoever we are and wherever we are from. That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others. If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working class boy, you’re less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you’re educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there’s not enough help to hand. If you’re young, you’ll find it harder than ever before to own your own home.
But the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices. If you’re from an ordinary working class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don’t always have job security. You have your own home but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school. If you’re one of those families, if you’re just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you’re working around the clock, I know you’re doing your best and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we’ll think not of the powerful, but you. When we pass new laws, we’ll listen not to the mighty, but to you. When it comes to taxes, we’ll prioritise not the wealthy, but you. When it comes to opportunity, we won’t entrench the advantages of the fortunate few, we will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.
We are living through an important moment in our country’s history. Following the referendum, we face a time of great national change. And I know because we’re Great Britain that we will rise to the challenge. As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world, and we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.
That will be the mission of the Government I lead. And together, we will build a better Britain.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Very proud to have served David Cameron - a superb Prime Minister

I entered parliament when David Cameron became PM. I was there in Committee Room 14 in the Commons days after the election in 2010 when we discussed the Coalition and whether to go into it with the liberals to help turn the country around from the boom and bust.
He is British to his fingertips, and is passionate about all the United Kingdom. He is a 1 Nation Conservative, proud of modernising the Conservative Party, leading it back into power in 2010 as the head of a coalition, after 13 years in the wilderness and winning an outright victory in the 2015 election, that many thought he would lose.
He is proud of restoring the country to economic stability after the 2008 crash and fighting for unpopular causes in the party, including gay marriage and international development.
He is a wonderful combination of a kind family man who is immensely decent, and the robust ruthless leader of a party he has successfully dragged into the 21st Century. He has addressed long term unemployment, apprenticeships, improvements in education, schooling and welfare very successfully. He is a great man and I have been proud to serve him.



Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Tiffin Cup final tonight in Westminster - pleased to be supportingHaveli Restaurant from Ponteland

Tonight is an event I've been looking forward to for a long time, as I'll be cheering on Pontelands very own Haveli Restaurant at the final of The Tiffin Cup. Chaired by Keith Vaz MP, the Tiffin Club celebrates the best South Asian food that England has to offer. This evening's final in the House of Commons will undoubtedly be a showcase of exceptional culinary talent. I was able to showcase the restaurant to Keith when he came to Northumberland in June and we are seen with the expert chef, whose success has helped to propel Haveli into the national final. 

As I hope many of you are aware, Haveli certainly deserves its place at this top table! Having been on a few occasions now, I can attest to the quality of the service and the food itself - mine's the Goan King Prawn Curry, in case you were wondering. The fact that Haveli has made it onto the hugely competitive shortlist is both a testament to the restaurant itself and also to Hexham as a constituency.

If you haven't been already, then I highly recommend The Haveli restaurant.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Pleased that we can move on from who does / doesn't have children + onto who is the best person to be PM


Following Andreas apology I want to move on and assess who is the best of these two candidates to be the PM. I support Theresa but will also be setting out some of the case for Andrea.
Theresa May’s case to be a PM comes down to three things:

 ·      First, our country needs strong, proven leadership - to steer us through this time of economic and political uncertainty, and to negotiate the best deal for Britain as we leave the EU. 

·      Second, we need to unite our country. 

·      Third, we need a bold, new, positive vision for the future of our country - a vision of a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.
This morning this is the BBC take on Theresa speech: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36760953

Westminster this coming week - debates on the Chilcot Report, Wales Bill and more

Wednesday and Thursday sees a 2 day debate on the Chilcot Report. Monday we debate day two of the Wales Bill, which gives greater devolution to Wales. I have a key prison reform conference on Wednesday. I have several constituents coming to Westminster and will be heading north late Wednesday night.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

No quotas, no discrimination, just merit. Conservative Party picks another female Prime Minister

I worked for Women2Win between 2013-2015 helping a large group of amazing female candidates as they sought to become an MP. In 2015 there were some amazing female candidates who then became an MP. Too many to name all but have a look at Suella Fernandez, Seema Kennedy, Victoria Atkins, Dr. Tania Matthias, Maria Caulfield, Lucy Frazer, all of whom I helped by way of mentoring and training. This is not an exhaustive list - it is just some of the women who Women2Win helped in the lead up to May 2015, and who I had particular contact with. All will have stellar careers. The key message from this blog is that there are future female MPs, councillors, and leaders out there who should contact Women2Win and who should embrace the challenge of contributing to Public Office.
Details of women2win found here: http://www.women2win.com
The selection of 2 women to go to the membership of the party, and to become a prime minister is a great thing. The question any female readers have to ask is why have I not applied? What can I do to serve? Is there someone I know who would be good? How can I mentor and assist someone?

Friday, 8 July 2016

Bringing Local Venues Back to Life - The Dyvels Inn &The County Hotel both provide a fresh start to the local pub / hotel scene


The North East, and our own constituency in particular, has always been blessed with great ales and fantastic pubs. That's why I was so pleased to re-launch two brilliant pubs recently, both of which have been through hard times not so long ago.

The Dyvels Inn in Corbridge was devastated by the floods of last winter, making business impossible. The renovations that Chris Baxter and his team had done only months before were wasted, as both features and decorations were ruined by the water. Thankfully, due to the enthusiasm of Chris, and with the help of the people at Punch Taverns, the pub is now ready for business again.

The pub boasts one of the nicest beer gardens in Northumberland, and is always a friendly and welcoming environment for everyone. Worth noting also is the County Hotel, which also re-launched recently. Once again supported by Punch Taverns, this fine establishment is back doing what it should be doing; selling beer and providing good food..

It was heartening to see both of these establishments finding their feet again, and I implore all of you to go and have a pint (or two) at both when you get the chance. These pubs are at the heart of their respective communities, so we should all do as much as we can to ensure that they continue to thrive.
The wider point is that both provide much needed beds for tourists, business visitors and for weddings and events. Tynedale needs this. But use them or lose them - its your community. I have had pints in both and the beer is good!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Today the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War is published and preliminary debates start in the Commons

The report is independent, massive in scope and content, and has taken years to produce. It will take a long time to read but the parliamentary debates start today and will continue with a fuller debate next Wednesday. For a contrary view about the background, which is not all Blair, Bush and generals have a read of the Telegraph piece here:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/is-tony-blair-responsible-for-all-iraqs-bloodshed-the-truth-is-m/

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

William Hague article on the brave new world where there are no leavers or remainers now

You don't pick and choose the bits of democracy you like or dislike. The reality is that the country voted and we must abide by that. We are not leave or remain anymore. We are all together going to make this new arrangement work:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/04/we-conservatives-are-all-leavers-now-we-must-unite-to-build-a-ne/

Monday, 4 July 2016

I am backing Theresa May for Prime Minister


So much has happened these past few weeks it is difficult to know where to begin. The key priority for my constituents now is ensuring economic stability, and getting the best deal for Britain. 

For me Theresa May stands head and shoulders above the others in being able to achieve that. Having worked first hand alongside Theresa I think she is the natural successor to lead our country through these difficult and uncertain times.

I worked for Theresa in the Home Office for nearly 3 years and I saw for myself, day in and day out, how hard she worked to keep our country safe and secure. No one gets up earlier. No one is a better master of her brief. Quite frankly, no one works harder. Everyday she has been working hard to keep our country safe.

Just look at her national security credentials - she has spent six years in charge at the Home Office running our police and security services and combating the threat from terror groups. Theresa clearly has the serious experience of high office to deliver the best deal in the EU negotiations. That kind of experience can not be underestimated.
Theresa also understands the challenges we face in the North East, having cut her political teeth fighting a Durham seat in the 1990's. She talked in her launch speech of understanding the concerns facing an ordinary, working-class family, setting out how life for many is much harder than many people in Westminster realise.
She talked about job security, the worry of rising mortgage rates, the cost of living and the quality of local schools. It was a speech about real issues, facing real people. Fundamentally she understands the issues that matter to the people of the North East.
Theresa understands that politics isn’t a game, it is serious, and has real consequences for people’s lives.
In truth, I thought long and hard about all of the candidates in the race, some of who are friends of mine, and are people I greatly admire. However I wanted to make a decision, not just on who I thought would be the best leader for the Conservative Party, but for the North East as a whole.

That is why I am supporting Theresa to become our next Prime Minister. 

I am backing Theresa because of her commitment to put the Government she will lead at the service of ordinary, working people and make Britain a country that works for everyone – regardless of who they are and regardless of where they’re from.

Theresa would make an excellent Prime Minister. She is the serious politician we need for these serious times.
Voting on the future Prime Minister will start Tuesday of this week. MPs will whittle down the list of candidates to two by the middle of next month. A ballot of the party’s 150,000 members will then follow, with a new leader named by September 2.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

If I was partisan Corbyn stays. This chart of the shadow ministerial team shows why he must go

This is the list of labour shadow ministers as of Thursday. There have been further resignations since. If I was partisan I would revel in a Labour Party utterly opposed to their leader, and a man who cannot lead. But the key point is that I as a government whip, and as an MP who wants to get stuff done openly acknowledge that the country needs a proper opposition, which acts as a critical friend of government policy and legislation, and works together for the common good. Hilary Benn is the obvious labour leader they should pick.

Westminster this coming week: hustings, votes, Chilcot Report, constituents in Westminster

A busy week ahead: the main parliamentary event is the publication and then assessment of the Chilcot Report into the Iraq War. This has been a long time coming: more details here -http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36251346
In other news there are hustings and then a vote on the future leader of the Conservative Party. I will be announcing my choice tomorrow morning, both in print, on the blog, and on BBC Radio Newcastle at 8.25.
I have constituents coming to Westminster this week both for the celebration of the Sill with Northumberland National Park, and some teachers from Hexham QEHS who are coming for the teachers institute reception. I am also meeting representatives of the Environment Agency, and regional business leaders in separate meetings.
There are clearly big issues happening this week but the day job goes on. We have multiple debates in the commons as well.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Policy North Northern Powerhouse conference today


Today is 100 years on from the Battle of the Somme - July 1st 2016 make sure you pause, reflect + say thank you to our forebears

My generation is lucky we have not to have had to fight a major conflict. The Somme saw the unprecedented loss of life of so many. It started today and saw tens of thousands of men die day by day. Pause a moment and reflect how lucky our generation has been not to have had to fight a major conflict.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Policy North Conference - This Friday 10-3.30 - with James Wharton, Northern Powerhouse Minister

In what has been a busy week for the country as a whole, we all need to think about the next steps we can take individually and collectively to make our futures as prosperous as possible.

Accordingly, there's still chance to secure your place at Friday's Policy North event in Newcastle. The day will question what is on the horizon for the Northern Powerhouse, and how local businesses can thrive.

Some of the North East's leading business figures will provide an engaging array of talks, panel discussions, and questions and answers. More so, James Wharton MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse, will be providing us with a keynote speech detailing how the area will adapt in these uncertain post-'Brexit' times.

I've attached the poster below - if you would like to know more about the work Policy North does as a Think Tank, then they can be found here - http://www.policynorth.com/

Equally, if you have any more questions, or would like to come along, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Why this MP has not decided who should be our next leader

Let me start with our Prime Minister David Cameron. In the febrile atmosphere of “The King is dead, long live the King” I do want to pause first, and write a few words about the man who I have been proud to serve for six years.

David is a great man and has been a great Prime Minister. I am genuinely very upset that he will not be our country’s leader going forward. His departure is only just beginning to sink in and I think many will come to miss his pragmatic leadership. No one in the House of Commons doubts that he is a decent man, who has done an almost impossible job incredibly well. He has practiced the fiscal robustness and social liberalism that I wholeheartedly endorse. Under his watch, we have recovered from a recession: we have more jobs, apprenticeships and new businesses than our competitors, and generally have slowly turned this country around. He has reformed welfare, schooling and apprenticeships, but also addressed social justice in so many ways: as he put it when he spoke in the Commons on Monday, he is very proud of-
“keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, increasing people's life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.”
In an abnormal world, he is a PM that remains very normal, and very human. He is a family man and has real empathy. I cannot tell you how many Labour MPs have made clear their individual sadness at his departure. Whatever your politics, in the House of Commons we all get behind our Prime Minister.
I serve in the government Whips Office and, until his departure, I continue to serve the PM; I will also get behind and support 110% whoever is our new Prime Minister. 
A decision has been made

I fought very hard to get the country to Remain in the EU, both in Hexham, and the wider the North. But the country decided differently, and by a decisive margin. I respect that decision and do not support a re-run. You cannot pick and choose your democratic decisions on the basis of whether you won or lost. But, as a result, we need to make momentous decisions in parliament about the way ahead for Great Britain’s future in the world.
The PM has put his approach to this dilemma in detail, as set out on my blog here:http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/yesterday-pm-came-to-parliament-and.html
I myself saw the issue of immigration as a key driver of why the campaign to Remain failed in the North East of England. And the PM addressed that on Monday, when he said:
"As I have said, I think that one of the most difficult decisions for a future Government will be how to balance access to the single market—the best we can get—with decisions about immigration. I do not know what exact answer can be found. The answer I found was welfare reform, which was bold and brave because it meant reducing welfare payments to newly arrived migrants. Those changes will now not go ahead, so that extra draw will continue for the next couple of years, but we have to find an answer to that problem. In a way, that is the puzzle we have now been set by the British people, which is, “We want access to the single market and we recognise the economic argument, but you’ve got to do better when it comes to immigration.”  
But the PM has set out his intention to go, so we must look to the future.
I stress that I have not decided who to support, but it is right that I set out my views in outline, along with the issues I will be raising in the next week or so. 

Selection procedure
Candidates must now put their names forward to Conservative MPs and they will be gradually whittled down over the next ten days to just two. The final decision then rests with Conservative Party members to choose a new leader by 9th September.
 

A strong field of experienced candidates
At this point we do not know who are going to be official candidates, but my understanding is that the following are likely to put their names into the ring when nominations close this Thursday; in alphabetical order:
John Baron, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, Jeremy Hunt, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Nicky Morgan. There may yet be others, but not that I am aware of.
All the candidates I know well, some of who I have worked with closely.
At this point I think it is fair to say the main contenders are Theresa May, Stephen Crabb and Boris Johnson. I think it is a very positive reflection on our party that we have such strong candidates.
Theresa May is the longest serving Home Secretary in 100 years. I worked for her as a PPS in the Home Office from 2012-2015. She has done a very tough job as Home Secretary very well. No one works harder, and no one is more dedicated. She is, unquestionably, a serious politician. When I became seriously ill in 2011 she was unbelievably kind to me, and she was a delight to work for, albeit a hard taskmaster. In addition, I worked with her at length as Chairman of Women2Win from 2013-2015, an organisation that Theresa can be proud to have founded.

Stephen Crabb is the recently appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; having arrived into parliament in 2005. Stephen was formerly the Secretary of State for Wales. I have also worked with him, as the DWP whip these last few months. He is clearly very able, and is a thoughtful, intelligent man. He also talks a language, and has a background and empathy, that both really matter right now, and will need to be addressed over the long years ahead.

Boris Johnson is the former two-time Mayor of London. He returned to parliament in May 2015. As Mayor, he was a real moderniser and did a good job running one of the most important and complex capital cities in the world. I campaigned with him extensively on support for the Living Wage from 2012-2015, and there is no doubt that our efforts eventually saw a change in government policy.  He clearly has an ability to connect with voters in a way few other politicians can.
 

The big issues ahead
Whoever is our next Prime Minister, they have a number of fundamental challenges to tackle:
  • They have to articulate what Brexit looks like?  Crucially, they are going to have to spell out their approach to the single market and future immigration control. Does this mean qualified or full access to the single market? This is the key issue identified by Lord William Hague in his recent article this week: what is the relationship with Europe we are now aiming for?
As William puts it: “It will be difficult to cut any new advantageous deal with the EU, but if we don’t know what we want it will be totally impossible. Are we open to joining the European Economic Area, along with Norway and Iceland, which would mean ditching the commitment to control immigration – or are we putting migration controls first, and taking the economic consequences of that? The time for avoiding this question is over.”
  • They are going to have to bring our country together given that the voting majority voted out, but there are 48 per cent who voted remain. 
     
  • And finally, notwithstanding the pre-existing Conservative Party manifesto, what are going to be their wider priorities for the country moving forward?

As I said at the beginning, I must stress that I have not decided who I will support, and I will be seeking answers to these questions from all candidates. It will then be for members to decide on who is the right man or woman, to lead the Conservative Party as the next Prime Minister.

William Hague sets out the tests a future PM must address - well worth a read

A new prime minister will need to have a clear plan the day he or she is elected, and a decisive mandate for it from their party. The moment they arrive in the Cabinet Room, foreign leaders, major investors and most of the British people will want to know exactly what they are planning to do. The Conservative conference will be imminent. There will be no time to muddle through. This means each candidate should be expected to set out how he or she will deal with four dimensions of the immense questions facing the United Kingdom.
The first is to answer the question the Leave campaign most conspicuously refused to address: what is the relationship with Europe we are now aiming for? It will be difficult to cut any new advantageous deal with the EU, but if we don’t know what we want it will be totally impossible. Are we open to joining the European Economic Area, along with Norway and Iceland, which would mean ditching the commitment to control immigration – or are we putting migration controls first and taking the economic consequences of that? The time for avoiding this question is over.
The second is the related challenge of giving businesses confidence to invest in the UK, or to think again about relocating their operations abroad. Many of us argued that the disadvantages of leaving would outweigh the advantages, but now the decision is made, the worst of all worlds would be to suffer those disadvantages without exploiting all possible advantages. The candidates need to say how they would use “taking back control” to make Britain a good long-term bet. Show how taxes on enterprise can be cut steadily for a decade, pensions and saving simplified, and EU regulations abandoned where they are too burdensome or counter-productive. With the City in a quandary as to what to do, consider adopting US-style financial regulation instead of the EU model.

Whichever side of the referendum the new PM was on, they need a lot of the people who voted Remain to be excited and inspired by the programme of a government that is now committed to Leave. A serious but radical economic programme should be at the heart of that.
The third dimension is scarcely less vital: having a plan for keeping the United Kingdom together. The immediate tactics of the Scottish nationalists, aimed at exacerbating divisions between London and Edinburgh, were foreshadowed in what I wrote last week. Those who led the Leave campaign showed an inexcusable complacency about the future integrity of the UK itself, ignoring all concerns about Scottish independence, the delicate position of Northern Ireland, and the exposed position of Gibraltar. The new prime minister must be someone who has shown they have a fighting chance of saving a Union that is now in critical danger.
The final dimension is a more partisan requirement, but still vital for all of us who want to see the gains this country has made in recent years safeguarded for the future. The next Tory leader has to be able to keep the Labour Party pushed to the fringes of politics, with a style of Conservatism that combines economic credibility with a modern social liberalism to dominate the centre ground of political debate.
The full article is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/27/the-four-questions-every-wannabe-prime-minister-must-answer/

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Yesterday the PM came to parliament and answered Questions on the EU Ref result + the way ahead - worth a read

The full debate is here:
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-06-27/debates/1606275000001/OutcomeOfTheEUReferendum


Some of the key responses by the PM are here:
"Let me set out for the House what this vote means, the steps we are taking immediately to stabilise the UK economy, the preparatory work for the negotiation to leave the EU, our plans for fully engaging the devolved Administrations, and the next steps at tomorrow's European Council.

The British people have voted to leave the European Union. It was not the result that I wanted, or the outcome that I believe is best for the country I love, but there can be no doubt about the result. Of course, I do not take back what I said about the risks. It is going to be difficult. We have already seen that there are going to be adjustments within our economy, complex constitutional issues, and a challenging new negotiation to undertake with Europe. However, I am clear—and the Cabinet agreed this morning—that the decision must be accepted, and the process of implementing the decision in the best possible way must now begin.

At the same time, we have a fundamental responsibility to bring our country together. In the past few days, we have seen despicable graffiti daubed on a Polish community centre, and verbal abuse hurled against individuals because they are members of ethnic minorities. Let us remember that these people have come here and made a wonderful contribution to our country. We will not stand for hate crime or attacks of this kind. They must be stamped out.

We can reassure European citizens living here, and Brits living in European countries, that there will be no immediate changes in their circumstances; nor will there be any initial change in the way our people can travel, the way our goods can move, or the way our services can be sold. The deal we negotiated at the European Council in February will now be discarded and a new negotiation to leave the EU will begin under a new Prime Minister.

Turning to our economy, it is clear that markets are volatile and that some companies are considering their investments; we know that this is going to be far from plain sailing. However, we should take confidence from the fact that Britain is ready to confront what the future holds for us from a position of strength. As a result of our long-term plan, we have today one of the strongest major advanced economies in the world, and we are well placed to face the challenges ahead. We have low, stable inflation. The employment rate remains the highest it has ever been. The budget deficit is down from 11% of national income and forecast to be below 3% this year. The financial system is also substantially more resilient than it was six years ago, with capital requirements for the largest banks now 10 times higher than before the banking crisis.

The markets may not have been expecting the referendum result but, as the Chancellor set out this morning, the Treasury, the Bank of England and our other financial authorities have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans. As the Governor of the Bank of England said on Friday, the Bank’s stress tests have shown that UK institutions have enough capital and liquidity reserves to withstand a scenario more severe than the one the country currently faces; and the Bank can make available £250 billion of additional funds if it needs to support banks and markets. In the coming days, the Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority will continue to be in very close contact. They have contingency plans in place to maintain financial stability and they will not hesitate to take further measures if required.

Turning to preparations for negotiating our exit from the EU, the Cabinet met this morning and agreed the creation of a new EU unit in Whitehall. This will bring together officials and policy expertise from across the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the Foreign Office and the Business Department. Clearly this will be most complex and most important task that the British civil service has undertaken in decades, so the new unit will sit at the heart of government and be led and staffed by the best and brightest from across our civil service. It will report to the whole Cabinet on delivering the outcome of the referendum, advising on transitional issues and objectively exploring options for our future relationship with Europe and the rest of the world from outside the EU. It will also be responsible for ensuring that the new Prime Minister has the best possible advice from the moment of their arrival.

I know that colleagues on all sides of the House will want to contribute to how we prepare and execute the new negotiation to leave the EU, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset (Mr Letwin), will listen to all views and representations and make sure that they are fully put into this exercise. He will be playing no part in the leadership election.

Turning to the devolved Administrations, we must ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced, so as we prepare for a new negotiation with the European Union we will fully involve the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments. We will also consult Gibraltar, the Crown dependencies and overseas territories, and all regional centres of power including the London Assembly. I have spoken to the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, as well as the First and Deputy First Ministers in Northern Ireland and the Taoiseach, and our officials will be working intensively together over the coming weeks to bring our devolved Administrations into the process for determining the decisions that need to be taken. While all the key decisions will have to wait for the arrival of the new Prime Minister, there is a lot of work that can be started now. For instance, the British and Irish Governments begin meeting this week to work through the challenges relating to the common border area.

Tomorrow I will attend the European Council. In the last few days I have spoken to Chancellor Merkel, President Hollande and a number of other European leaders. We have discussed the need to prepare for the negotiations and in particular the fact that the British Government will not be triggering article 50 at this stage. Before we do that, we need to determine the kind of relationship we want with the EU, and that is rightly something for the next Prime Minister and their Cabinet to decide. I have also made this point to the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission, and I will make it clear again at the European Council tomorrow. This is our sovereign decision and it will be for Britain, and Britain alone, to take.

Tomorrow will also provide an opportunity to make the point that although Britain is leaving the European Union, we must not turn our back on Europe or on the rest of the world. The nature of the relationship we secure with the EU will be determined by the next Government, but I think everyone is agreed that we will want the strongest possible economic links with our European neighbours, as well as with our close friends in North America and the Commonwealth and with important partners such as India and China. I am also sure that whatever the precise nature of our future relationship, we will want to continue with a great deal of our extensive security co-operation and to do all we can to influence decisions that will affect the prosperity and safety of our people here at home.

This negotiation will require strong, determined, and committed leadership. As I have said, I think the country requires a new Prime Minister and Cabinet to take it in this direction. This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I am absolutely convinced that it is in the national interest. Although leaving the EU was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths as a country. As we proceed with implementing this decision and facing the challenges that it will undoubtedly bring, I believe we should hold fast to a vision of Britain that wants to be respected abroad, tolerant at home, engaged in the world and working with our international partners to advance the prosperity and security of our nation for generations to come. I have fought for these things every day of my political life and I will always do so.
He later added:


"As I have said, I think that one of the most difficult decisions for a future Government will be how to balance access to the single market—the best we can get—with decisions about immigration. I do not know what exact answer can be found. The answer I found was welfare reform, which was bold and brave because it meant reducing welfare payments to newly arrived migrants. Those changes will now not go ahead, so that extra draw will continue for the next couple of years, but we have to find an answer to that problem. In a way, that is the puzzle we have now been set by the British people, which is, “We want access to the single market and we recognise the economic argument, but you’ve got to do better when it comes to immigration.”

Monday, 27 June 2016

Back in Westminster - time to stabilise the ship. No 2nd EURef - government goes on

The chancellor has made a positive statement about the future this morning; like him I campaigned for us to remain, but the British people have spoken, and there was a decisive decision on Thursday. We will not be having a second referendum - you cannot pick and choose the bits of democracy you like or dislike. My fundamental job going forward is to ensure this change is managed well, that we bring the country together and make sure that Britain thrives going forward. That will mean working as a team, working with people who took a differing view to me on the EU referendum and being a public servant, and a representative for all the community I represent. In reality, nothing changes to my approach but clearly the issues that need to be addressed have certainly got more complex.
The BBC report is here
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36637732
On the process of the UK's departure from the EU, the chancellor said: "Only the UK can trigger Article 50. And in my judgement, we should only do that when there is a clear view about what new arrangements we are seeking with our European neighbours. 
"In the meantime, during the negotiations that will follow, there will be no change to people's rights to travel and work and to the way our goods and services are traded or to the way our economy and financial system is regulated."

It was also good to see and read Boris being very positive and pro European this morning:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/26/i-cannot-stress-too-much-that-britain-is-part-of-europe--and-alw/

In other news the Labour Party is in meltdown. This is a bizarre world when 12 shadow cabinet members resign and a labour MP called Lady Nugee is their shadow foreign secretary.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Onwards and upwards - time to make the fresh start work

The people have spoken and we must accept the result. I wanted to remain in the EU, and campaigned hard locally, regionally and nationally on the issue, but fully accept the result. My job is to work day and night to make sure the country comes together, that the government gets on with the business of running the country, and we sort out the business of the renegotiation with the EU. This is going to take many years.
Locally, my job goes on and I have had a full Friday and Saturday of surgeries, attending the armed forces day, meeting with Wecan in Hexham, and attending the rural business conference at kirkley hall. Last night I went to a Conservative party event where the local members were coming together, sad for the loss of David Cameron as our Prime Minister, but ready to come together and make a fresh start. I will blog more on my time working for the PM in the fullness of time.

Tonight I head back to London for the start of the new week in Westminster, where the Westminster day job goes on. Again, I will blog more on next week in the next 24 hours but we have a full week in parliament.
Today I am in Prudhoe and Wylam knocking on doors with my friend Stuart Andrew MP. A week ago I wrote this article on today's events for conservative home:
http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2016/06/guy-opperman-and-stuart-andrew-we-part-company-on-this-referendum-but-next-weekend-as-conservatives-we-will-unite-to-campaign.html

Friday, 24 June 2016

Statement by the Prime Minister in full

"The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise, perhaps the biggest in our history.

Over 33 million people from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, have all had their say.

We should be proud of the fact that in these islands, we trust the people with these big decisions.

We not only have a parliamentary democracy but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done. 

The British people have voted to leave the European Union and there will must be respected.

I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.

And let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign for the spirited and passionate case that they made.

The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.

It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision so there can be no doubt about the result. 

Across the world, people have been watching the choice that Britain has made.

I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong and I would also reassure Brits living in European countries and European citizens living here that they will be no immediate changes in your circumstances.

There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.

We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union.

This will need to involve a full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our UK are protected and advanced. 

But above all, this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.

I am very proud and honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for six years.

I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people's life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.

But above all restoring Britain's economic strength.

And I’m grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen.

I’ve also always believed that we have to confront big decisions, not duck them.

That is why we delivered the first Coalition Government in 70 years, to bring our economy back from the brink.

It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland and it’s why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain's position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership and have carried those things out.

I fought this campaign in the only way I know how, which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel, head, heart and soul.

I held nothing back.

I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union.

And I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone.

Not the future of any single politician, including myself.

But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path.

And as such I think the country requires a fresh leadership, to take it in this direction.

I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination. 

This is not a decision I have taken lightly.

But I do believe it's in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.

There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative Party conference in October. 

Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post is Prime Minister, with my Cabinet, for the next three months.

The Cabinet will meet on Monday, the governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets. 

We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen's speech.

I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning and advised of the steps I am taking.

Negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.

I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people had taken and my own decision.

The British people have made a choice.

That not only needs to be respected, but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.

Britain is a special country.

We have so many great advantages.

A parliamentary democracy where we resolve issues about our future through peaceful debate.

A great trading nation with our science and arts, our engineering and creativity, respected the world over.

And while we are not perfect I do believe we can be a model of a multiracial, multi-faith democracy where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows. 

Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I’m the first to praise our incredible strengths.

I said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union and indeed that we could find a way.

Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way.

And I will do everything I can to help.

I love this country, and I feel honoured to have served it.

And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.

Thank you very much."