‘These are extraordinary times’

LEAFGATE: Steve Hooker, Jamie Burles, James Cartlidge MP and John Curley at Sudbury train station. ANL-160713-121612001
LEAFGATE: Steve Hooker, Jamie Burles, James Cartlidge MP and John Curley at Sudbury train station. ANL-160713-121612001
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What a month it’s been: we voted to leave the EU; David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister; my party held a leadership contest (all the while, extraordinarily, Labour were holding one in parallel); we have chosen our second female Prime Minister; and completed a substantial government reshuffle.

And last week we debated whether to renew our nuclear weapons system, with its unique capacity for annihilation. Truly interesting times.

As it happens, I spoke in favour of renewing Trident because we face a paradox that the weapon is truly horrific, but its absolute guarantee of mass destruction has kept us free from the horror of a third world war that I believe would have been inevitable in the absence of such a deterrent.

We should never take that situation for granted, even if another world war seems so unlikely now – but that was the case in 1918, and at the moment we cannot predict a week ahead in politics, let alone 30 years’ hence in global affairs.

Although I was disappointed about the result of the EU referendum, I am delighted that we now have a strong leader and a stable government who are well placed to negotiate the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU and to carve out our new position in the world.

I supported Theresa May’s leadership bid from the very outset of her campaign and have every faith that she will be an excellent Prime Minister.

Away from Westminster, I recently held a ‘leafgate’ summit in Sudbury with senior representatives from the rail companies. We discussed how leaf fall caused the Gainsborough line (from Sudbury to Marks Tey) to shut down for 13 days last autumn. I heard about the unique circumstances that had led to the build-up of leaf mulch on local branch lines, and Abellio and Network Rail outlined their plans to ensure that the same thing does not occur again this year.

It’s fair to say I will be holding both parties to account for their commitment to avoid another service collapse.

There have been positive developments in my campaign for better mobile signal in the constituency, with pre-application conversations about new masts happening in Boxford and Glemsford, whilst Vodafone recently launched 4G mobile in Sudbury.

This really matters because I recently visited the brand new Government-funded mobile mast in Hitcham, and whilst the new service is not yet up to full speed I am already getting really positive feedback about the impact it is having.

Yes, these have been extraordinary times. Yet for all the high profile Cabinet comings and goings, a household moving from being in a ‘not spot’ to getting decent coverage on their mobile phone actually matters more in the real world.