It’s now just over a year since I was elected as the Member of Parliament for Dover and Deal, and what a momentous, and extraordinary, year it has been. My first vote was to deliver Brexit. We duly left the EU and transition will end, one way or the other, in just a few days’ time. As we enter the final period, attention has been drawn to Kent, and Dover in particular. Home to the busiest and most successful port of its type, with a vibrant local community and economy, transition planning and preparation for the next stage of our relationship with Europe has taken centre stage.
Leaving the EU has dominated our national life for the last few years so I expected that the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU would dominate the political and parliamentary landscape throughout 2020. However, as we all know so well, that was not to be. During the first few weeks of 2020 the coronavirus spread from its epicentre, at Wuhan in China, across the globe. By March it had taken a firm hold in the UK and we entered the first national lockdown.
We have become used to controlling diseases, with our first class NHS looking after us. It has been nearly a century since we had such a serious pandemic, the Spanish Flu after World War One. So it was a real shock to us all to see a pandemic take hold to which there was no cure. A pandemic that has now killed over 60,000 of our fellow-countrymen.
The months of lockdown have taken a real toll on lives, livelihoods and mental health. It has been a tough time for us all. Right now we are riding a very serious second wave here in Dover, Deal our coastal and rural villages. From factories to care homes, in schools and within homes, the virus has once again swept through our community, sadly taking many lives in its wake. Businesses, particularly the pubs, restaurants, hotels and holiday cottages, which had worked so hard to become covid-secure, have been hard hit by the continued restrictions as we battle to reverse the hold of the virus on our area.
Over these last months, time and again it has impressed me greatly how we have all come together to beat the virus in our area. Everyone has rallied round and helped out the needy and the vulnerable. Nationally, vaccines have been developed in record time. Yet it will still be some months before these are fully rolled out, so we need to keep safe and continue to be strong for a little longer.
It is been a momentous year to be elected to serve as your representative but a great honour to serve a community of such strength and resilience.