Time flies. Already two months have passed since the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, which came at the end of one of the most volatile years in British political history.
The country is now finally moving forward – and we are working hard to deliver on key promises made during the election, key promises that are so important to the prosperous country of shared opportunity that we want to build. A real pop, bang and fizz exists within the walls of the Commons at the moment – an urgency to deliver. And things are moving fast.
Firstly, we got Brexit done. The Brexit deal was passed and we left the European Union on January 31. Much work remains to ensure we make the most of the opportunities ahead, but we have taken the important first step, reclaiming our independent place in the world.
Another promise was to deliver better broadband – so every home and business is full fibre and gigabit-capable by 2025. It was an ambitious pledge, because the country has lagged behind for so long. Yet it is crucial to that Brexit Britain we want to build. And Openreach has already unveiled plans for a rollout to 227 markets towns and villages across the country. In our area it means Deal, Kingsdown, Ripple, Ringwould and Eastry will soon get full-fibre broadband. I know that some areas continue to endure slow speeds – places like Hougham, Alkham, Tilmanstone, Denton and more – and I recently met with Openreach’s Chief Engineer to ask him in person to take a closer look at them.
Promises of public sector investment are also being delivered. As a country we worked hard to sort out the public finances. There is now room to invest in the vital public services on which we all rely.
The NHS Funding Bill has passed through the Commons, committing the largest settlement in NHS history in law, with funding raised in real terms by more than £20 billion a year. I recently teamed up with fellow MPs from East Kent to press the Department for Health for our fair share, specifically a £360 million injection at our major hospitals. It would be on top of our area’s first medical school – a £30 million facility that starts taking students later this year.
Education spending has been enshrined too. Legislation was passed to guarantee at least £5,000 per pupil at secondary schools next year, and at least £3,750 per pupil at primary schools.
Because the future of our country is about so much more than getting Brexit done. It’s about better healthcare, safer streets, improving life chances, proper investment in the right areas, and a relentless focus on the kind of Britain we can build in the decades to come.
I’m pleased to report that work is already well underway. And I am putting my shoulder to the wheel to ensure that our community is well placed for the opportunities that lie ahead.