Good news announced by the Chancellor at today’s press conference. I know this has been on the minds and a cause of anxiety for many of my constituents who are self-employed. I appreciate that sadly the various packages of support announced by Government don’t cover everyone but I am confident that today’s news will be a great source of help for many. Clearly at some point soon these support schemes will need to be phased out as we all get back to work but I think extending the scheme today was a sensible decision
Really positive visit to the Port of Ipswich this afternoon. Thanks to the amazing efforts of everyone who works at the Port they have actually had a rather busy couple of months. Massive amounts of timber has arrived at the Port due to significant demand and fertiliser has also been arriving in time for the Suffolk harvest. Over the past couple of months around 90 per cent of the key workers at the Port have still been coming into work to keep Britain trading, however clearly they have been working in a different kind of way as a result of the virus.
A significant number of my constituents work at Ports, whether at Felixstowe or Ipswich and I think they all deserve a massive metaphorical pat on the back for the work they have been carrying out over the past couple of months making sure that then when the time comes our local economy and agricultural sector can make positive strides.
My aim was to raise about £2,000 so I’m glad we ending up raising a little bit more than that. I would like to thank all of those who made a donation, I think it goes to show how many people value the work AGE UK SUFFOLK carry out.
As people will see I really went for it with the shaver. I didn’t do it by half measures. It feels more comfortable that the long out of control hair I had a few days ago but to be honest I’m not sure about the look and the DIY approach to hair cutting was just a one off, I look forward to be back at the hairdressers in the not too distant future.
AGE UK SUFFOLK is one of many local charities playing a pivotal role during the COVID-19 outbreak supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our community. At a time when the role that local charities have to play has never been more important there are a number of challenges that have made traditional fundraising activities difficult. We need charities such as AGE UK SUFFOLK more than ever and I would encourage people to supporting them in whatever way they can.
Comment from Jo Reeder, Head of Fundraising and Marketing, AGE UK SUFFOLK:
“We were delighted and slightly surprised when Mr Hunt’s office got in touch to say that he would like to support us in this great initiative. Mr Hunt has supported Age UK Suffolk from the outset of the coronavirus outbreak and is talking to older constituents, raising older people’s concerns in parliament and generally advocating the needs of older people at this difficult time. This incredible amount raised, will help us to continue our vital work in supporting people on a daily basis with shopping and welfare calls.”
People have made enormous sacrifices over recent weeks to make the lockdown work and beat Covid-19. This is a national effort to beat a virus which affects all of us and we must all play our part no matter what job we have or position we hold.
I therefore understand why people are angry that Dominic Cummings drove with his wife and son to his parents’ house in Durham. Personally it’s not something I would have done even if it was within the rules. I understand his reasoning for doing what he believed to be in the best interests of his loved ones and clearly that’s what motivated his decision to travel to Durham. However, this doesn’t change the fact that many of my constituents have also faced extremely challenging personal circumstances, some perhaps similar to Mr Cummings and yet they decided to “stay home”.
I have been contacted by constituents with many stories like this and behind each one is a human story and a unique set of circumstances. Sometimes there has been uncertainty around how some aspects of the guidance apply to individual cases and I’ve tried to help clarify where I can. But ultimately I’ve always said they must do what they believe to be in the best interest of them and their family while not endangering anyone else.
I watched the press conference today and the allegation that Mr Cummings made a second visit up to Durham was categorically denied and I believe that there is evidence to back up the fact that there was no second visit. It’s unfortunate that this aspect of the national media coverage like some other aspects has been misleading and inaccurate.
The press conference clarified some key points but some other questions do remain. I continue to have concerns regarding the trip to Barnard Castle, in particular why it was necessary to drive that far to test his eye sight and also the fact that he got out the other end.
Though I well understand much of the anger there is about there at the minute bearing in mind the sacrifices we have all been asked to make I do strongly oppose the behaviour of some who have sought to harass and intimidate Mr Cummings and his family. There is no room for it. This does seem to have been part of his calculation when he decided to travel to Durham.
I have been contacted by a large number of constituents on this matter and I want each of them to know that I have read each of their emails and considered their views carefully. Though some politically motivated individuals will have no doubt sought to use this whole episode to score political points this hasn’t been the case for the vast majority who have contacted me. They have legitimate concerns about what has gone on.
Though I believe his actions were motivated solely by the desire to protect his family, that he didn’t endanger the lives of others and that his situation was quite complex, I do believe he has made errors of judgement and frankly I do share much of the confusion and anger of many of my constituents.
I have and will continue to represent both the concerns of constituents and my own concerns to Government over the coming days.
I and many colleagues do have concerns that this is distracting from the central focus of Government right now which is to continue to tackle COVID-19 and set out a path to recovery. That needs to be the central task and all energy should be spent on this.
I do think it’s important that the Prime Minister reflects on the anger that this episode has caused and makes absolutely sure that we are able to move on from this ASAP to deal with the great challengers at hand for both my constituents and country more generally.
Letter to the Lord Chancellor regarding 10 individuals who have flouted and disrespected our justice system
I have now written to the Lord Chancellor about the 10 individuals who have flouted and disrespected our justice system by failing to appear in court in connection to the incident on Norwich Road last November. Warrants have now been issued for their arrest and I’ve asked the Lord Chancellor to put the full force of the Government behind bringing these people before our courts.
The individuals in question appear to be foreign nationals and there is a concern that some may have fled the country in an effort to avoid justice. Even if this has happened then they must still be brought back to answer the charges against them. Freedom of movement cannot mean that crimes can go unanswered for. This would send out completely the wrong message about our faith in the rule of law and would undermine our ability to deter further crimes from happening in the future if people get the impression justice can be avoided.
I’ve also called on the Lord Chancellor to ensure that when these 10 individuals are caught and do appear before our courts, they receive robust prison sentences for their behaviour which has shown a complete lack of respect for the rules we all live by.
I have also been in touch with Suffolk Constabulary today to stress that I will stand by them in doing what needs to be done to find these people and bring them to justice. I’ll keep providing updates on this issue moving forward.
In my column this week I’ve written about immigration and the inability of many, usually on the left, to have a sensible debate about it without resorting to insult and personal attacks. In my view the sensible view shared by many within the Town is that immigration has brought many benefits and the we should continue to welcome people from around the world who want to move here and make a positive contribution.
However, I do believe that uncontrolled immigration linked to EU freedom of movement rules has brought many challenges and that is why this week I voted to end it. I don’t care whether you come from: Spain, Australia, India, Mexico, Cameroon or Japan. If you want to move to our country integrate and make a positive contribution then you should be welcomed. However, as a country, I do believe we should have the ability to say “no” if we believe this is unlikely to be the case. As your MP I will continue to speak freely and I won’t be intimidated by local Labour Party members or even sections of the local media who are out of touch on the issue. If they think by twisting and distorting what I say and looking to shout me down I will go silent on these issues they have another thing coming.
I was glad to be able to join the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak. I raised a number of issues, support for pubs, the self-employed and sole directors of limited companies. However a key local issue I raised was in relation to many of the different businesses in Town who haven’t quite been eligible for a number of different schemes. Many of the floating restaurants and cruising companies who work out of the waterfront have so far been badly impacted and none of the various schemes have supported them.
Today the Chancellor made clear that the local authority discretionary grants fund has the flexibility to cover these businesses, there had been some uncertainty on this point. I’m very glad about this, they are very important to our local economy, heritage and tourist sector. More detail to follow but positive signs
Written a piece today for the Daily Telegraph about the concerns I have about the positions adopted by a number of teaching unions to the phased reopening of schools. I don’t deny that there are still questions to be answered and I do absolutely understand the concerns many parents have however the very antagonistic and inflexible positions adopted by a number of teaching unions do in my view risk the life chances of many vulnerable children and many from the most deprived backgrounds (understandably these unions are attracting growing cross Party criticism). Please have a read. I have outlined many of the facts that have presented to us on the Education Select Committee relating to the impact the school closures have had.
Yesterday I made a speech in the House of Commons on the Immigration Bill which will end freedom of movement and allow us to put in place a points-based immigration system instead. Needless to say the Bill has my full support. Ending uncontrolled mass immigration was one of the main reasons why so many people voted to leave the EU in 2016 and I was glad to speak up in support of this yesterday.
We know in Ipswich the immense contributions of many of the people who have come from overseas to make our town their home. And under the new points-based system we will be able to continue to welcome those who love our country and have so much to offer it. Crucially though immigration must have the public’s consent and we must be able to say no to people who may not wish to come here to integrate fully into our society.
It was disappointing to see that the Labour Party voted against the Bill last night, although this perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise given they are now led by Keir Starmer who pushed Labour into backing a second referendum last year and then set out his full support for bringing freedom of movement back after Brexit during the Labour leadership contest. Labour continues to show how out-of-touch it has become with millions of working-class people across the country who have legitimate concerns about mass immigration and voted for Brexit specifically because of them.
I also raised illegal immigration during my speech. While not part of this Bill, many constituents have written in about the unprecedented numbers of illegal migrants who have crossed the English Channel recently and this issue must also be tackled if we are to build up public confidence in our borders. More people who break our laws to come here must be deported to uphold the rule of law and deter others. And I’ve called on the Government to introduce tougher measures over the coming weeks.