The weekend before the meaningful vote I was in West Wittering Village Hall holding an open meeting. The meeting was slightly different to my previous ones as it was dominated almost entirely by two subjects; the A27 and of course Brexit.
The first hour was spent on the A27, which was timely after receiving a disappointing letter from Highways England that explained their decision to reject the road improvement options put forward by the Build a Better A27 group and Systra. For the past 20 months, as your MP, I have been engaged with the community and both councils individually and through the Build a Better A27 community workshops. In total, I have had well over 30 meetings with Local Authorities and Government Ministers, and I have called on the Secretary of State publicly and privately for his support. I have been clear from the start that my role is not to input to a scheme design, but instead, fight for funding when the community come together around an option that is supported by Highways England and is agreed as viable and deliverable.
Moving forward I am hoping to secure a meeting with the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, and both councils which I requested on December 20. In the meantime, I will continue to work with both local councils and our next meeting is in diary for later this month.
For the second hour the bulk of questions concerned leaving the European Union. In the referendum Chichester was marginally leave; with 50.9 per cent voting leave and 49.1per cent remain. The village hall was similarly divided, but interestingly there was a variety of views on what to do next. A few wished to leave without a deal, and a couple wanted a second vote but the majority, like me, wanted to see a sensible, low risk Brexit that honoured the referendum result whilst protecting our economy and jobs.
This week brought the historic meaningful vote to Parliament where I supported the Prime Minister. Now that Parliament has rejected the current deal on the table we must redouble our efforts to find a solution that both honours the Referendum result but avoids the harmful effects of a No Deal exit from our current trading arrangements with the EU. Behind the scenes in Parliament, there are many occasions where MPs work on a cross-party basis and we will need to do a lot more of this in order to deliver a good outcome here for our country and break the current impasse.
:: My next pub tour is on March 15 at The Three Moles, Selham.