IT’S BEEN a busy few weeks back after the Christmas break. Brexit is done and we are now in the transition phase with the Government working hard to achieve free trade deals around the world, including one with the European Union. Having spoken recently to ambassadors and trade envoys from different countries, everyone is very positive about getting deals in place soon.

Monday 27th January marked Holocaust Memorial Day and I represented constituents at a very moving ceremony in London and signed the memorial book. We saw films of the concentration camps and heard from Holocaust survivors and people from more recent atrocities. It seems extraordinary in our 24/7 media world the murder of six million people, including children, occurred without other countries realising the true extent of the atrocity. It was a reminder that we do need to go to the aid of persecuted people around the world. This was highlighted to me when I attended the launch of Open Doors’ World Watch List report in Westminster. It found that in 2020, 260 million Christians live in the list’s top 50 countries where they are at risk of high, very high or extreme levels of persecution. This is up from 245 million in 2019.

The Agricultural Bill is now going through Parliament and I have been talking to local farmers about their views. It is being well received by those concerned about the environment and I will be looking to make sure that we can improve biodiversity with wildlife and native trees. It will be followed by the Environment Bill, which will be a good start, post-Brexit, as we lead the world towards a zero-carbon economy and improve our air, water and soil quality.

I also had a meeting with BT as I’m concerned about the poor mobile coverage and equally poor broadband. You won’t be surprised that Meon Valley is below average for 4G coverage and well below for full fibre broadband. This is having an impact on businesses and homes and I will continue to work on this. Watch this space for further updates.

Lastly, I talked with the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week in a pre-budget meeting and mentioned that the South East economy is not growing as it should and that we need to make sure our infrastructure is in place to help with this. I particularly mentioned Junction 10 on the M27, which is crucial for the new development at Welborne where I am hoping a good number of affordable homes will be built. I met with the developers and was pleased to see their designs for a garden village built with local brick and flint and set in a nice landscape. Houses are very expensive for our young people and we need to provide more so that we can keep our children and grandchildren living and working close by.