Last week I was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to Mid-Cornwall.
As I have written previously, I was keen to get the Prime Minister to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity, so she could understand first hand some of the unique challenges we face at this end of the country and why it is essential for the Government to continue its unprecedented investment in the county and the south west region in general.
It is significant that the Prime Minister chose to come to Cornwall so early in her term and reaffirm the government’s commitment to our county. When I recently questioned her in Parliament, the Prime Minister specifically mentioned that her ‘economy that works for all’ includes Cornwall, and my time spent with her last week reinforced that commitment.
Last Tuesday the Prime Minister made the courageous, long-delayed decision to confirm that a third runway at Heathrow is the preferred option for airport capacity expansion in the South East.
This decision is not just about what is right for London but for the country as a whole. I have always believed that expanding Heathrow is the right move for the country and particularly for Cornwall. A route from Cornwall Airport Newquay to Heathrow would immeasurably improve Cornwall’s connections to not only London and the rest of the country, but also to the major international air hub that Heathrow is. Improving our connectivity for both people and goods is a key to future economic growth.
I was pleased to see the Prime Minister start her visit to the South West at Cornwall Airport Newquay. The Prime Minister said on Heathrow’s expansion that, ‘Not only will it allow the South West's exporters to reach new markets around the world and encourage new tourism investment, it will also bring the prospect of cheaper and more convenient holiday trips to all corners of the globe.’
This is a win-win situation to me. Cornwall Airport Newquay continues to grow, with another route opening only last week, and I look forward to continuing to work with its management and the Government to encourage its own expansion, as well as working towards the other positive improvements outlined above, in the future.
Of course a decision on airport expansion is not the only way in which we are looking to improve Cornwall’s connectivity. The Prime Minister has been vocal about putting the South West at the heart of the Government’s transport investment plans.
A major part of the Conservative 2015 manifesto was a commitment to transport improvements. In Cornwall this included improvements to the A30 and our railway network.
Of the £15bn government investment in the national road network, the dualling of the A30 is part of the largest single project. By 2018 the Government will also have provided the funding to replace the old Intercity trains on the Penzance-Paddington route with new rolling stock that will be quicker, more reliable and more comfortable than the current trains that are now 40 years old.
With Brexit talk still dominating the headlines I was also pleased to be part of a meeting at Cornwall Airport Newquay with the Prime Minister along with Cornwall Council and business leaders. I felt this was really positive and we presented a clear positive view to the Prime Minister of the massive potential Cornwall has post Brexit.