The Conservative Party won a historic election victory in 2015 with a manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on our membership of the EU and to respect the result.
Whatever side of the argument we were on (as many of you will know, I voted to remain), our party is working hard to address the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by our exit.
The Prime Minister’s strong speech last week set out a plan to negotiate a new and equal partnership between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. She also made clear the UK’s intentions on issues such as the single market and customs arrangements, as well as our belief that it is firmly in Britain’s national interest that the EU should succeed politically and economically after we have left. The Prime Minister’s plan has commanded broad support in the country and judging by the amount of emails I have received from constituents, within the Calder Valley too.
Now, following the judgment of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Government will shortly be introducing legislation to allow Article 50 to be triggered in order to start the formal process of withdrawal from the EU. The bill is not about whether or not the UK should leave the EU. It is about implementing that decision and getting on with the job.
The Government will work with colleagues in both Houses to ensure the bill is passed in good time for the Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 by the end of March this year. They have also committed to Parliament that they will be properly engaged throughout the process of exit.
I know many of you in the Calder Valley have strong views on issues that flow from Brexit. However, it’s important that MP’s come together to support the Prime Minister in legislating to allow her to trigger Article 50 and seek the best possible deal for the UK. That’s what most voters, however they voted in the referendum, now expect.
Over Christmas, I took a trip to Israel and the Palestinian Territories with the All Party Parliamentarian Group Against Anti-Semitism. The purpose of the trip was to give evidence to a select committee in the Israeli Parliament, as well as to discuss hate crime on both sides of the divide.
Israel and Palestine spoke to us about their concerns about the rise of hate crime in our British universities and is such an issue that both Palestinians and Israelis are starting to choose other countries’ universities over British ones. You could therefore imagine my horror last week when we saw that an investigation by Baroness Royall on behalf of the Labour Party into alleged anti-semitism by Labour members of Oxford University, was quietly dropped and no action taken. Even Baroness Royall was stunned and reported to the national press that ‘Labour does not take anti-semitism seriously’.
This type of divisive decision by the Labour Party is yet another example of why they are not a fit opposition, let alone fit to govern our country.