On 23rd June, every one of us will have the chance to decide for ourselves whether to cast our votes for or against Britain remaining in the European Union. It is a big decision and it is a tough one. Talking to people around here in the last few weeks, though, I know that people are getting really fed up with the bitterness and backbiting that has often disfigured the debate. People also tell me how frustrated they feel when both sides bombard them with what they claim are “facts” but which are so contradictory that they end up creating more fog than clarity.
Like you, I have one vote on June 23 and, like you, I’ll vote for what – as an individual – I think is right for the future of our country.
Throughout the summer, many people have written to me about the situation in Syria and the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis. Many have been about speculation that the UK Government is considering participating in military action in Syria. More recently, even more have focused on the huge refugee crisis which has been unfolding. Here I give some of my thoughts on both issues.
The scenes in Calais and its impact on the South East of England and on Cross channel travel this summer have not been isolated problems. They are a stark reminder of how issues stemming from thousands of miles away, if left unresolved can affect us. The heart-breaking scenes we have seen more recently across Europe and the Mediterranean have further underlined the scale of the human tragedies involved. I hope this response gives you some idea of how I think we should be facing up to those issues.
Sweden, a country with a population of under 10 million, has taken in almost 65,000 Syrian refugees, the UK has processed just 7,000. That’s fewer than Austria, Hungary, Denmark and the Netherlands. You can see an interactive map here.
It’s not only in politics that a week is a long time. Last week our TV screens were dominated by scenes long queues of stationary lorries stacked up along the M20; of holiday makers stuck in jams; of residents unable to get out of nearby Kent villages and of local businesses losing trade with customers unable to get to them and orders unable to get out. All of them victims of a perfect storm of an industrial dispute closing terminals in Calais and the migrant crisis coinciding with peak holiday travel and an economic recovery boosting cross-channel freight.
Today I am launching my final report on immigration: Northfield Talks Immigration
Many of you will recall the immigration survey and public meeting I held over winter. My report is a sum of the findings from the survey and key themes that were highlighted by local people during the Northfield Talks event.
Last Thursday (29 January) I welcomed constituents to a public discussion held at Northfield Baptist Church to talk about the early findings of my survey on immigration, and local peoples’ concerns on the issue.
In addition to the hundreds of people who participated in the survey, over fifty constituents braved the snowy weather to hear the findings and raise their concerns at the event. They deserve a very special thank you!