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John Glen Salisbury MP

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Weekly update from Salisbury MP John Glen

View from the Commons - 11th September 2019

11th September 2019

It was another late night in the House of Commons on Monday (September 9th) as opposition parties conspired for the second time in five days to block a general election.

Given that the election would have been held on 15 October, there was ample time – more than two weeks – to delay Brexit if a new government was so inclined.

It leaves the inescapable conclusion that the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats were expecting the electorate to return a new government that would have endorsed the Prime Minister’s approach to leave by the end of October, come what may.

It is very surprising that those opposed to Brexit, who have spent the past year campaigning for a general election or second referendum, suddenly got cold feet when presented with the opportunity to give the people a vote – not once but twice!

It certainly calls into question the idea that opposition to Brexit is primarily motivated by defending democracy.

There has been a rather strange spectacle in my inbox this week where I have received hundreds of emails aghast at the prorogation of Parliament (which in effect just adds a small number of days to the annual conference recess period) on the grounds of democracy.

Meanwhile, those hostile to Brexit have been more than content to watch Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson lead their parties to stop the British people getting a general election.

Not content with delaying Brexit and blocking a general election, Parliament also voted for the private mobile phone messages of government special advisors to be submitted to MPs for inspection – a gross invasion of privacy and in clear contravention of existing data protection and privacy laws.

I can only reiterate that I continue to give my full backing to the Prime Minister’s approach.

Despite media reports to the contrary, we are determined to deliver an agreement with the EU as we leave the bloc at the end of October. Equally, we are prepared to leave without one if the EU refuses to make any concessions. 

I know that the Prime Minister, along with many of us, is an admirer of Sir Winston Churchill. Sir Winston’s father, Lord Randolph Churchill, himself a national political figure in his own right, had a motto that he frequently used in his speeches – “Trust the People”.

It’s a simple but powerful reminder that puts its faith in democracy and the common sense of the British people. It is well worth keeping this principle front and centre in our national debate over the coming weeks.

Posted by John Glen at 9:36am

View from the Commons - 4th September 2019

4th September 2019

It is 11.00pm on Tuesday September 4th and I have just returned to my flat from the House of Commons keen to pen my weekly article on events so far in my first week back to Parliament.

I am absolutely shocked that a majority of Members of Parliament have voted to give time tomorrow to effectively tie the hands of the Prime Minister as he seeks to secure a better Brexit deal from the EU.

I voted Remain in 2016 but my side lost in what was a divisive and unedifying campaign.

Nevertheless, as a democrat, I have always believed duty bound to implement the outcome of the 2016 Referendum.

I voted for the previous deal on three occasions. I judged that “deal” to be imperfect but that it would provide the basis for an orderly exit from the institutional framework of the European Union as the majority had decided.

Ultimately, Parliament disagreed, Theresa May resigned and the new PM has sought to secure improvements to the deal in order to implement  the decision of the majority of my constituents and the country.

My judgement is that to do this he needs to maintain the prospect of a No Deal scenario.

If Parliament effectively forces him to seek yet another extension, then there is no reason for the EU to offer any improvements to that deal by 31 October.

We are in uncharted territory. In responding to the vote, the Prime Minister signalled his intention to call for a vote in Parliament, using the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, to seek a General Election.

Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson both indicated they are not ready for a General Election at this point, so at the time of writing it seems we are at an impasse.

The opposition parties believe they are faithfully honouring the interests of the electorate to avoid No Deal, whilst the vast majority of Conservative MPs believe they are seeking to enable the PM to maximise the chances of an improved deal.

I hope a way forward can be found. Whatever happens, I will continue to seek to respond to many constituents’ emails on this subject.

Thank you to those who maintain their courtesy at this highly charged time in our nation’s history.

Posted by John Glen at 9:30am

View from the Commons - 27th August 2019

28th August 2019

The welcome news that Salisbury has been shortlisted for the latest round of the Future High Streets Fund got the week off to a great start.

The groundwork for a strong bid is already done and I look forward to continuing to liaise with colleagues and make the case for Salisbury’s bid in Westminster.

Last week’s early shift shadowing Salisbury police officers was both an extremely enjoyable and informative experience.

While I was pleased to be following in the footsteps of my grandfather, who was a Salisbury police officer for many years before being transferred to the north of the county, I learned a great deal about the successes of - and obstacles to - modern policing.

In particular, I observed the careful planning which is undertaken on a daily basis in order to keep tabs on potential sources of criminal activity.

Patrolling the city with officers, I came to understand better their need for more frontline resources and greater flexibility in their working conditions, allowing them to operate lawfully and appropriately, without fear of politically correct agendas undermining their effectiveness.

I was fortunate to participate in a visit to a suspect’s home, where an arrest was made and evidence collected.

I was left with a very clear sense of how extra national resources for policing could be successfully allocated in Salisbury and south Wiltshire.

I would like to thank PC Josh Bliss and his colleagues for their constructive and candid observations throughout the day.

As a patron of Community Transport South Wiltshire, it was a great pleasure to attend the launch of the new Amesbury Hoppa bus and also to be invited back to Greg’s Games – the annual Mencap sports day.

Over the years, I have frequently been moved by the determination and commitment and families and volunteers to put on such a wonderful event for a very special group of people in our community.

Our current mayor is a stalwart supporter of Mencap and it is easy to see why.

My thanks are also due to South Wilts Cricket Club for their hospitality at Saturday’s home match and my congratulations to those schools and individuals celebrating an excellent crop of A-level and GCSE results.

 

Posted by John Glen at 11:25am

View from the Commons - 21st August 2019

21st August 2019

On the whole, we are fortunate in Wiltshire to have a low crime rate, by comparison with other parts of the country.

Nevertheless, as the recent tragic death of a PC just up the road in Berkshire reminds us, the police take significant risks to keep us safe.

I welcome both the extra funding already being delivered through Police and Crime Commissioners and the promise of further major investment in policing.

Nevertheless, as with so many things, spending money is not the whole solution and I am particularly concerned about the distribution of police resources across rural areas, where some farmers and isolated communities feel constantly vulnerable.

Policing methods have had to change rapidly to keep pace with the profile of crime. Intelligence and technology play an ever more critical role in detecting and finding criminals and this brings both challenges and opportunities in crime fighting.

It will be a great pleasure this week to spend a day shadowing local officers and getting an insight into what they deal with on duty. I will be following in the footsteps of my great grandfather, who policed the streets of Salisbury either side of World War Two.

There has been enormous speculation around the likelihood of a no deal Brexit. My first preference – and that of the Prime Minister and many of the people who voted to leave – has always been for a negotiated deal and an orderly departure.

It is ironic that some of those now most vociferously concerned about the perception of a higher risk of no deal are those who most intractably opposed the deal in the first place.

I have been working in Westminster for part of the week on contingency plans for no deal to ensure we are prepared for all eventualities.

While leaks of documents that do not reflect current levels of preparedness do little to aid public understanding, one thing is for certain ­- this country cannot continue to leave this matter unresolved.

In the meantime, efforts to secure a deal have not been abandoned. On the contrary – considerable efforts in that regard are ongoing. However, it is difficult to negotiate effectively when the other side do not believe you are prepared to follow through.

Posted by John Glen at 10:12am

View from the Commons - 13th August 2019

13th August 2019

My plans for this week underwent a rather sudden and unexpected change.

I had extended an invitation to some old friends to come and stay with me in Salisbury followed by a few days helping my sister out by looking after my two young nephews – all interspersed with constituency engagements.

Instead, I have found myself in London on Treasury business for much of the week, including attending some key cabinet committee meetings.

I was particularly sorry to miss out on the annual Chamber of Commerce BBQ. Parliamentary sittings too rarely align with their pattern of weekday morning meetings but I remain a director and supporter.

An engaged and energetic Chamber has the power to be an asset to any city and, in Salisbury’s case, it is always good to hear about the Young Chamber under Dan Rhind-Tutt attracting new members and gathering ever more momentum.

I spent last Saturday out and about in the Chalke Valley visiting businesses and hand delivering the last batch of copies of my annual report.

Unsurprisingly, a few people wondered if I was getting ahead with my election literature and I had to disappoint them by admitting that I have no special insights into the future!

On the contrary, I produce an annual report every year, most of which are delivered by the Royal Mail. However, in those areas where postcode districts span two constituencies, it makes sense to deliver by hand.

As well as plenty of fresh air and exercise in one of the most attractive corners of the constituency, the weekend therefore offered a range of fascinating conversations on everything from business to social care as well as the inevitable Brexit.

I never cease to be amazed by the courtesy and hospitality people show me, however pressing their questions and concerns.

After church on Sunday, I had to head to London but I am guaranteed to be released from Treasury commitments in time to continue what has become a happy tradition – presenting the prizes at the Woodford Valley Garden Club show on Saturday.

Posted by John Glen at 7:22pm

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