Christmas and New Year message

Some of us have been lucky enough to have a few days off work over Christmas and the New Year and my thoughts are very much with those who continue to work as normal, particularly those in the emergency services, the NHS, the prison service and the caring professions who ensure that we are all safe and comfortable every day of the year.

It has been an lively year politically. Arguments between pro and anti Brexit supporters outside Parliament have sadly degenerated into abusive behaviour on both sides. At the time of peace and goodwill to all men and women it may be a moment for campaigners to reflect on something. Those who support Brexit, as I do, should remember that 48% of the country had concerns about leaving. Those campaigning against Brexit should remember that they were on the losing side of a referendum and that Brexiteers are not the “xenophobic, elderly, little Englanders” that we have sometimes been portrayed as.

I believe that a deal of some sort which keeps us within the orbit of the EU, and with full trading terms is probably a good compromise that all can live with. At a time of great division in the country perhaps it is just what is needed to bring us back together again.

I for one am extremely optimistic about 2019. We are the 5th biggest economy in the world, we have record numbers of people in work and government borrowing is falling.

By the end of March we will have left the EU. We will do so either through a compromise arrangement which will see us leave gradually over a period of several years, or we will strike out with a clean break. Either way this offers huge opportunities for us as a nation. 

Over the coming months there will be bitter rows in Parliament over Brexit. But in years to come I hope we will look back on this period as the beginning of a new and exciting history of our nation.