Pleased to hear the BBC licence fee is being frozen for the next 2 years. The plans to scrap the £159 licence fee in 2027 reflect the views of many of my constituents. Polls have shown that most people support abolishing these licence fees, and I share this opinion.
This is something I have been clear about my view on for a while. The East Anglian Daily Times poll shows 70% of respondents agree the fee should go.
I would firstly like apologise for not commenting sooner on the events of the past week. The developments have been very significant and have come very thick and fast and I’ve been reflecting on everything and reading the many emails I’ve been receiving and continue to receive from constituents. Over Friday and Saturday, I was also able to talk to a large number of constituents face to face about all these matters.
Sometimes I think it’s best not to rush into an instant response on issues of such significance. I know this is difficult in our 24/7 social media age but sometimes I think its for the best.
With regard to the ongoing revelations to do with the culture in Downing Street throughout the pandemic I must say that I’ve been appalled. It seems that at times Number 10 seemed to better represent a frat house than the centre of Government. The fact that a big bash was organised the night before Prince Phillip’s funeral fills me with disgust. This is not an isolated example of modest rule breaking. It’s clear to me that whatever happens there needs to be almost a total clear out of Number 10 and all of those who were in anyway connected with what appear to be clear rule breaking events need to properly held to account.
Some constituents have asked me in emails whether I attended any of these parties. The answer is NO. I’ve found out about these party revelations in the same way you all have. Via the media.
The Prime Minister was right to apologise in Parliament last Wednesday. Clearly the fact that he attended the May 2020 event however briefly was a significant error of judgement. I understand that the Prime Minister didn’t receive an invitation to what was clearly a social event, but it should have been instantly clear to him that not only should he be nowhere near such an event but that he should have broken it up immediately and ensured that all those responsible were disciplined.
I’m finding it difficult to reconcile the comments the Prime Minister made in the House of Commons Chamber on Wednesday about the party revelations compared with what he had previously said in the Chamber about the party revelations. This is a significant cause of concern to me like it will be to many of my constituents.
Yes, the Government has got much right recently particularly on COVID management where I feel the Prime Minister has been vindicated by his decision to not introduce further restrictions. I also credit the Prime Minister with delivering Brexit but standards in public life matter as does public trust in our Prime Minister and Government.
I’m acutely conscious of all the sacrifices my constituents have made throughout the pandemic and how painful this has been for many. I would argue that the onus is on those who make the rules to follow them to an even greater extent than the average citizen. I experienced the anger that is provoked when this is not the case over the Barnard Castle incident and have again over this week’s developments.
As many of you will be aware Sue Gray the civil servant is currently carrying out an independent investigation into all what went out and should be publishing her findings next week. I know enough now about what happened to be very angry but in the grand scheme of things waiting few days to read the full report that will follow the investigation isn’t a long time and I’m prepared to do that.
My wish is for the Government to be fully focused on the issues that matter the most to the country and my constituents. Moving on from COVID, getting the economy firing on all cylinders, dealing with the NHS backlog, cost of living, immigration, law and order etc. To say that all events of the past few weeks has been an unwelcome distraction would be an understatement.
I will comment further in due course and everyone who has emailed me will be getting a response which closely resembles this statement (for obvious reasons).
Closing Date Friday 17th December