Christmas and New Year message

A closely fought general election and a lively ongoing negotiation over the manner of Britain’s exit from the European Union has made this one of the most interesting years politically that I can remember. I personally voted for Brexit but fully support the government in seeking to maintain a close working relationship with the EU and maintaining access to the single market - even if this means making some further payments. Hopefully, the spirit of compromise will be reciprocated in Brussels and as I write the signs are that talks have become much more positive.

It was also a sad year with major terrorist attacks taking place in London and Manchester, leaving dozens dead. My thoughts and prayers are with the injured, the bereaved and those members of the emergency services who worked heroically to save lives. I was caught up in one of these attacks and possibly owe my life to the armed police officer who shot dead an Islamic terrorist feet away from where I stood before he could continue a killing spree.

Most of these atrocities have been initiated by Islamic extremists wanting to impose Sharia law on the UK. We must fight this and do more to ensure that those living in Britain maintain British values. At the same time, we should strongly reject those with Nazi-style views who have tried to exploit these outrages for their own ends. One week after the Westminster attack, British Muslims welcomed me and others onto Westminster Bridge to commemorate the innocent people who had died and to express their repugnance of these attacks. It meant an awful lot.

As 2017 draws to a close then, there is much that needs to be carefully considered if we are to ensure a more peaceful and politically stable year in 2018. To the extent that I can influence events, I shall try to ensure this. I would like to end by thanking residents of the Monmouth constituency for giving me the chance to represent them in Parliament once again, to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and assure you of my commitment to a peaceful and prosperous New Year.