Since I was elected in 2019 it is hard to think of a more extraordinary time to be a Member of Parliament. It has been a time of great change. My first vote was to Get Brexit Done and now, since the end of December 2020, we have finally fully left the European Union. Then in March last year, the pandemic hit. The action taken to protect lives and livelihoods with furlough and lockdown, together with unprecedented levels of investment in the NHS and the vaccine programme, has been exceptional and successful.
Yet while it has been a turbulent time in our national life, to say the least, I am so proud of how we have all come together to move our country ahead and support each other in our community. The way we put division behind us in order to chart our new national course. And how well businesses and workers have coped with the changes to remote and virtual working, online shopping, outside hospitality and much more besides.
The preparations at the border for transition have been impressive and have provided strength and resilience to our road network in the early months after leaving the European Union. However, a strong focus on this is still needed. The Jersey blockade just another in the long line of difficulties from the French that started in December last year when they made the unilateral decision to close the border, causing Christmas chaos. That’s why I have been calling for the A2 upgrade and improved traffic management measures in Parliament, as well as working closely with Dover District and Kent County Council colleagues on this.
The pandemic is without doubt one of the greatest challenges our country has faced. Yet we have been effective in taking action. Now the UK is set to enjoy record growth this year and we have been able to vaccinate our population at a rate that is the envy of many other countries.
Since 2019, 44 laws have been progressed, which tackled such important measures as Brexit and immigration. This week sees the new programme announced in the Queen’s Speech which will include measures on policing, courts, animal welfare and the environment.
Now as we move forward it is time to think more about the kind of Britain we want to build. For me that means ensuring that we invest in skills and education and that we have a focus on increasing jobs and money in communities like ours in Dover and Deal.
Looking to the immediate future, there is a job of work ahead to continue the remarkable progress on the vaccination programme, to catch up on treating other urgent health needs, to support friends and work colleagues as they take their steps to freedom from lockdown, and put the accelerator pedal firmly on growth.