I VOTED for the government’s new tier system following the lockdown because now is absolutely not the time to loosen restrictions.

Three vaccines look close to approval and the UK has the ability to access doses of all of them with the British developed University of Oxford/AstraZeneca the cheapest and easiest to store.

It cannot make sense to stop what we are doing because it will cost lives across the Meon Valley, Hampshire and the UK, and potentially overwhelm the NHS. No-one wants these restrictions - we know they are doing so much harm to jobs and businesses but, at this point, I believe there is no alternative. It is a view shared by just about every other country in Europe battling the same problems. We remain in the grip of the pandemic with winter here and any widespread vaccination programme cannot be fully online until the spring. It is true Meon Valley has a low infection rate but in neighbouring Havant it is much higher and some of Havant’s borough is in the Meon Valley constituency. Portsmouth and East Hampshire are also high and my constituency is not isolated nor can it be. Many people work in Portsmouth, East Hampshire and Havant where they could pick up the virus and bring it back.

These are the reasons why I supported the tier system and Hampshire’s placing in tier 2. I want Meon Valley out of it and into tier 1 as soon as it is safe to do so. I support the restrictions being regularly reviewed and debated in parliament because they are an imposition we need not a moment longer than necessary.

I do receive letters from people who are vehemently opposed to these rules and I do understand their point of view in some cases but not overall. It is good the government has therefore now published an analysis, not just of the health implications of these restrictions, but also the economic and social issues too. We must have clarity and this will help the debate.

As I have mentioned, We stand at the cusp of a vaccine. It’s one last push over the coming months to keep infections and deaths down. I thank everyone for all they are doing.

It appears Brexit trade negotiations will go down to the wire like all Brexit negotiations seem to. It is reported two major sticking points remain - fishing and state aid.

I think it is ridiculous the EU has suggested that we can only have around 16% of our fishing stocks and the government is right to reject this.

Most people voted to come out of Europe to re-establish our sovereignty so we must be allowed to run our economy and make our own rules. I have been frustrated over reports the EU seemingly fails to recognise the UK is now an independent state and its negotiating stance is to keep us tied to it.

A deal is the best outcome, but not at any price. I have faith in our country and its ability to be a global trading nation. All evidence I see from innovative Meon Valley businesses tells me this is the case.

The world will not end with a no trade deal. We have much to offer the world in trade. Our laws and taxes have been attractive to businesses and will continue to be so after January.

Flick Drummond

Meon Valley MP