It’s been a week of sombre reflection and moving pageantry as we paid our respects and laid to rest our late Queen Elizabeth II.
This week Parliament continues with dealing with the pressing concerns facing the country and the world. On Wednesday, Parliament convened for the taking of oaths of loyalty to King Charles III. On Thursday, to discuss the position in Ukraine, before the fiscal event (mini budget) on Friday to bring in help with energy bills. I am so proud of our community in its response to supporting Ukrainian refugees. As the war rages in their country, Ukrainians are unable to return home yet. My sincere thanks to all host families who have provided and continue to provide housing and support. However long this dreadful war continues, and in spite of its impact on our food and energy prices, it is vital that we remain resolute in the face of Russia’s aggression and continue to support Ukraine.
A new Prime Minister brings a new Government and set of ministers. As your Member of Parliament, a new Government provides an opportunity to continue to press for the priorities for our area. Those priorities include help with the cost of living, plans for jobs and growth, better healthcare (including GPs and dentists) and stronger borders, local infrastructure and roads.
As the country mourned the passing of our beloved Queen, the number of people entering the UK via small boats continued unabated. There have now been more people entering via the illegal Channel crossings route this year than the whole of last year. The numbers of arrivals are deeply concerning. It’s vital to see the small boats crisis brought to an end as the seas will become colder and rougher as we head into Autumn and Winter. Action is needed now to avoid further tragic loss of life in the English Channel. In the last few days, another small boat got into difficulty, with a person needing to be resuscitated at sea. It was only last November that 27 lives were lost in a single day, the worst such tragic event to date.
We know that people smugglers have no regard for the lives and safety of those whose money they take. It is vital that they are not allowed to ply their trade with abandon, even extending their criminal activities to safe countries in the European continent like Albania who are members of NATO.
Last November, I called for extra support for the French side beach operations to stop boats getting in the water. Albanian police are now in Dover and supporting the response here. Whether it’s British or other European parties, I do hope that France will accept help, so that more can be done to prevent loss of life this Autumn and Winter in our stormy seas.