Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Newspaper column 29 June 2016 - Brexit fallout

There is no doubt that the result of the EU Referendum last Thursday was a surprise to many people. But the fact is it was a legitimate democratic decision made by the British people. The country voted to leave the EU by a majority of over 1.2million votes and every region of the country with the exception of only London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to leave.

Whilst I am pleased with the outcome, I do understand the strong feelings those who wanted the UK to remain in the EU feel. We need to accept this decision and now work together for our future outside the EU. Calls for a 2nd referendum are, in my view, undemocratic and unworkable.
I have been contacted by many people asking about the affect this decision will have on our country and on us as individuals. Let’s be clear this result is neither the end of the world nor is it the answer to all our problems. But what it does do is give us as a nation the opportunity to once again run our own affairs. We can now recover control of things such as VAT, our borders, our fishing waters and the regulations on our farmers.  

The fact is virtually nothing has changed since last Wednesday. We have not yet left the EU and there will be a lengthy process of negotiation before we leave that is likely to take at least two years. I would urge that we do not jump to conclusions about what life outside the EU will like – especially negative ones. Let us wait and see what the negotiations will bring and precisely what future trade deals and agreements will be made before passing judgement.

One of the greatest dangers we face is that we talk down our country’s prospects. There is a very real danger that we create a self-fulfilling prophesy by saying all will be doom and gloom. I believe in our nation’s ability to stand up for ourselves. We are a great country with a strong economy and a significant player on the world stage. There is no reason we cannot be successful and prosper outside the EU. We should be proud and confident of our country’s future. 

I was very pleased that a majority of voters in Cornwall voted to leave the EU. By a margin of 12%, significantly bigger than the national average, Cornwall demonstrated its desire for change. Legitimate questions have been asked about the impact of this on Cornwall and especially with regards to EU funding for our economy. Once again it is far too soon to answer those questions. But I can assure everyone that, along with my fellow Cornish MPs, I will be working tirelessly to ensure Cornwall continues to get the investment and support we need and deserve.

There will undoubtedly be some bumps in the road ahead. The Conservative Party needs to elect a new leader and Prime Minister as well make decisions about when to begin the process of leaving the EU. But I want to assure everyone that through all this I will continue to work for the people of this constituency and represent you in Parliament. My team and I are here to serve you and are available to help in any way we can. You can contact me my email or phone 01726 829379.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

St Austell Voice EU Referendum Special - 22 June 2016

Tomorrow we all have the chance to cast our vote for the most important decision our country has faced in generations, as we decide whether the United Kingdom should remain as part of the European Union.

I have always been clear about my euro-scepticism. For some time I have not believed the EU was working for the UK. Following, what to me, was essentially a failed negotiation, by the Prime Minister earlier this year, I decided I would be voting to leave the EU in this referendum. There are many reasons why I believe this is the case. For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on the three I believe are the most important, sovereignty, our country’s finances and the uncertainty of remaining.

Firstly, sovereignty. To me the issue of sovereignty is key. A vote to leave the EU will set in motion a return to the UK of decision-making powers that have increasingly been removed from us by ever-expanding EU bureaucracy.

Many of you will have voted in the original referendum to join the then-European Economic Community in 1975. That referendum did not include the ever closer union of EU member states. Since then, more and more laws that historically and rightly were the responsibility of UK Parliament are instead being made by faceless, unaccountable and unelected officials in Brussels. I know many of you are upset by this as it was not part of the original deal. Now is your chance to vote again. A vote to leave would see a return to the UK being able to operate on our own terms as a trading nation, free to negotiate and regulate our own trade deals. Businesses would be free of the crushing weight of EU red tape, we would be able to have total control over our own borders, and we would regain control over our 200-mile fishing waters. Brexit would mean that all of these decisions would be returned to the responsibility of British MPs who are accountable to you, the British public and you alone.

Secondly, the economic argument for leaving could not be clearer. As a net contributor to the EU our membership costs us in excess of £10billion every year. And as our economy continues to grow faster than most other EU nations this figure is likely to increase further.
One of the arguments put forward for us voting to remain in the EU is the amount of economy development support that Cornwall receives. However, as I said in Parliament last week, over the past 10 years or so Cornwall has received around £600 million in money from the EU. But we need to remember that that is not EU money. The EU does not actually have any money—there is no magic EU money tree. It is our money, which we give to the EU. It converts it into euros, then converts that into sterling to give back to us, except that it gives it back with a whole load of strings, bureaucracy and red tape attached about how we can spend it.
I get quite wound up when I see that wonderful blue plaque saying, “Funded by the European Union”. Every time I see one, I think, “No, that was funded by British taxpayers’ money that you have recycled and given back to us AND then told us how to spend.”
The fact is, this is not working. The money was meant to create 10,000 new jobs in Cornwall. In fact, in the past 10 years or so, it has created around a third of that number. That Cornwall has now qualified for a third round of EU funding demonstrates that the funding is failing. It is not lifting the Cornish economy as intended. It is not raising wages or the standard of living in the way it was designed to.
There is a very simple reason for that failure. We are not able to spend the aid on what we need to in Cornwall. How we should spend it is dictated, Big Brother fashion, by the EU. The requirements are designed for a Europe-wide programme that does not fit the Cornish economy.
A vote to leave will give our country back control over where we can target our financial resources. Along with the other Cornish MPs I am confident that we will be able to continue to argue the case for Cornwall to get its share of the additional money freed up for spending from central government should we leave the EU. I will certainly do all I can to make sure this happens.
Finally, there is the uncertainty of remaining in the EU. The Remain Campaign has argued that leaving would be a bad idea due to the uncertainty of what awaits us on the outside of the EU. I believe that staying in what is a demonstrably failing group of nations exposes us to far worse possibilities. Vast amounts of our money has been pumped into propping up and bailing out EU member countries such as Greece, who never should have been allowed to join the Euro zone and these cash injections are only a temporary fix. Things are not going to get better and we will only waste more money in trying to postpone the inevitable.

The current migration crisis continues to be a major issue across the EU. One option being considered by the powers that be in Europe is a new "corrective fairness mechanism" to relocate asylum seekers from frontline states to other EU countries, something which could also have serious ramifications for our already stretched public services and housing stock.

I would much rather see us take the positive, forward-looking and very British step of leaving the EU while maintaining close links with European countries, as well as reinforcing and reclaiming our international status, particularly in this age where technology advances make operating on a truly global scale so easy. As Churchill said, “We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed. If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”

The final point I would make is that the ‘status quo’ is not an option. We will either vote to leave the EU tomorrow and be able to take control of our own affairs, or we will vote to remain. A vote to remain is not a vote to carry on as things currently are. The EU has not reformed and has shown no willingness to do so. They remain committed to further integration and expansion – as we know Turkey is waiting in the wings to join. If we remain we will be locked into an increasingly uncertain future within EU and tied to the other 27 states economically and politically.
In the end though, the outcome of the referendum is rightly in the hands of the public and not just the politicians. Your vote is just as important as mine here. I will be voting for the UK to leave the EU tomorrow, and regardless of the outcome will continue to serve you, the people of St Austell and Newquay and ensure that we get the best deal possible whether as part of the EU or not.

Newspaper column 22 June 2016 - Jo Cox MP

I was travelling home from Westminster last Thursday when I heard the news that one of my fellow 2015 intake of new MPs had been stabbed and shot whilst leaving the venue of her MP’s Advice Surgery. It was a few hours later I learnt that Jo Cox MP for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire had lost her fight for life and had died.

I didn’t know Jo well. As part of the 2015 intake I only had a couple of very brief conversations with her but it was clear that she was both a very warm and caring person as well as a very passionate and effective campaigning MP.

Like many of my colleagues I was in total shock at the news. Whatever your politics, views on the Referendum or any other issues, an event like this makes us all sit up and take stock. It brings into perspective what is really important in life.

But most of all she was a mother and wife and it is difficult to comprehend just what her husband must be going through as he comes to terms with caring for their two small children without Jo by his side.

Rightly, all campaigning on the EU Referendum by both sides was stopped and Parliament was recalled for Monday in order that we could pay tribute to our Parliamentary colleague.
Jo Cox was murdered carrying out one of the most basic and fundamental parts of being an MP. Holding regular surgeries is something virtually all MPs do. It is part of an MP’s job to be accessible and in touch with the people we represent. It can be one of the most mundane yet equally most fulfilling parts of the job as you listen to your constituents concerns and seek to provide advice or assistance to resolve their issues.

It is probably worth remembering that just like Jo Cox, every MP is a regular person. We all have families, are husbands, wives and partners, are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Although we may have differing views on how to achieve it, all MPs have put themselves forward for election because they believe in a better world they want to bring about. As part of the democratic process it is right we accept a degree of public scrutiny and challenge, however it cannot be acceptable that MPs are subjected to the level of personal attacks and abuse many now regularly receive, simply because someone disagrees with our stance on an issue, let alone being so brutally attacked whilst doing our job.

I believe it is essential that MPs continue to be open and accessible to the people we represent, regardless of any political stance. It would be a very sad day if we retreated behind a cloak of security, due to the fear of what could happen, that made it harder for people to meet us and discuss matters face to face.

I have to be clear that as far as I am concerned it will be business as usual. Whilst all MPs have received advice to do all we can to ensure our personal security, meeting constituents during my constituency advice surgeries, will continue as before.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:


Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Newspaper column 8 June 2016 - Our right to have decent broadband!

Having access to good quality broadband has become an essential part of modern life. According to the Office for National Statistics, the internet was accessed every day, or almost every day by 78% of adults, that’s more than 39 million people, in Great Britain last year.

Whether it’s used for online banking, shopping, filling out your tax return or staying in touch with family and friends - online connectivity now dominates modern life.

It forms communities, aids research and study and has revolutionised both the way people live their lives and the way business operates. Because of this, almost all sectors have seen massive growth thanks to the internet, and to ensure continued progress, having a decent broadband connection is part of that.

But there are still people being left behind and in this fast paced technological age where more and more things are becoming digital, this is simply not good enough.

This is why it is hugely welcome that the Government included a Universal Service Obligation for broadband in the recent Queen’s Speech. This will mean providers have to deliver at least a 10mb connection for all residential homes.

This will be hugely welcome here in Cornwall where, although we have good general coverage of broadband, we do still have a significant number of ‘not spots’ in hard to reach rural areas.

I have met with many constituents who are still having major issues in accessing a good broadband connection and currently have no end in sight in their battle to secure one. It is also worth remembering that we also have a significant number of properties who fall far below the 10mb standard.

However, not only is the internet an essential part of domestic life, it is vital to the growth and success of businesses. It can be the passport to prosperity and we need to seize that opportunity.
Online shopping is a massive part of this and further figures from the ONS show that the value of online sales increased by 9.3% in April of this year, compared to that of last. The average weekly spend online in April 2016 was £886.6 million – an increase of 9.3% compared to the same period last year.

These figures clearly demonstrate how important good quality broadband connection is to those who trade online. Equally, it is just as important to those who rely on it to connect themselves to wider markets or their customers and clients. And often like the case in Cornwall, bridge the gap between rural areas and cities like London.

So it is because of this that I am pressing the Government to confirm that this a Universal Service Obligation measure which will not only cover residential areas but will also be extended to business properties.

This will be essential for the future of the Cornish economy and the growth we need to see to address the very real issue of our low wage economy. Too many of our businesses are located in the hard to reach areas, the areas that need that connectivity the most.

For example, the world-renowned Lost Gardens of Heligan are currently unable to get any sort of broadband connection. Cornwall Airport Newquay, despite being part of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone do not have a broadband connection. These are just two examples and there are many more. It is simply not good enough that in this day and age, these situations still exist.

Therefore, I am calling for this Universal Service to be extended to all properties including businesses and I am working to strongly urge the Government to give this their full consideration and take action now before we are left behind.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and work hard to make a real difference to the lives of everyone needing support. If there is an issue you would like my assistance on then please contact me on either 01726 829379 or Additionally, I hold regular, appointment only, advice surgeries across the constituency. Dates of these can be found at:

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Newspaper column 1 June 2016 - Protecting our waves

Our constituency has two beautiful coasts, and some of the best beaches in the country. Many people make their living, either directly or indirectly, from the sea and many of us enjoy the coast in a number of recreational ways. And of course the surfing community is one of the fastest growing parts of our local life and economy.

Therefore, I was delighted, soon after my election just over a year ago, to be elected as the chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group “Protect our Waves”.  The Protect Our Waves APPG was launched in October 2014 and looks to give a voice to the surfing community and other sea users to address the most urgent environmental issues highlighted by the Protect Our Waves petition, namely marine litter, recreational bathing water quality and coastal development.

Last week in Westminster I chaired the group’s latest meeting which focused on water quality and the impact of combined sewer overflows (CSOs).  Approximately 70% of the UK’s sewers are combined, meaning they take sewage and grey water from homes and businesses as well as rainwater runoff from hard surfaces such as roads and roofs. This is a major issue here in Cornwall when during periods of heavy rain these combined sewers regularly reach maximum capacity and water companies are forced to discharge a mixture of untreated sewage and stormwater directly into the sea. 

During the meeting we heard first-hand from Cornish charity Surfers Against Sewage, experts representing the scientific community, the shellfish industry, the water sports sector and from a young water user who recently fell seriously ill after bathing in contaminated water.  Each presenter gave a compelling account of the need for tighter regulations governing combined sewer overflows.

I am pleased that after hearing this evidence, the Protect Our Waves APPG decided to support Surfers Against Sewage and the Sewage Free Seas call for strict legal limits of a maximum of 3 spills from sewage systems into bathing water per bathing season and no more than 10 annually impacting any single  body of bathing water. We will be writing to the Environment Agency, urging them to take action.

The account given by a thirteen-year-old surfer from Perranporth was particularly powerful.  She described the severe sickness that she experienced as a result of surfing in the sea shortly after a CSO.   Sewage is a local issue; the sewage that is discharged into the sea around Cornwall, comes from Cornish sewers. 

So we all have a part to play to protect our waves. As the holiday season gets into full swing this half term, I urge you to consider the “Think before you flush” campaign.  In 2014 Sewage Related Debris was thought to be responsible for 253,000 blockages in the UK’s sewer system leading to clean up costs in excess of £80 million.  Your actions can help to protect the sewerage infrastructure, sewage system capacity and the marine environment from sewage & plastic pollution.

As always, my team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.  If there is any issue that we can help you with then please contact us on either 01726 829379 or on