By the time you read this column you will know that Parliament did not support the legally binding changes to the EU Withdrawal Agreement that the PM secured from the EU. This is very disappointing as the PM achieved what Parliament asked of her
By the time you read this you will also know that I voted for the EU Withdrawal Agreement as amended by the PM and that I honoured the commitment that I made at the General Election, to leave the EU in an orderly way, transitioning into a new, close and special relationship with the EU. I voted against a ‘no deal’ Brexit.
I am continuing to work with colleagues of all political parties in the House of Commons to find a way forward, finding the common ground and honouring the commitments that I have made to my constituents. I understand the utter frustration with the current state of affairs that many people share with me and also the anxiety of the current uncertainty. As events are fast moving, I will keep my website regularly updated so you can see what I am doing to resolve the current impasse.
I am also working hard, playing my part in preparing the country for whatever happens at the end of the month. As the Minister with responsibility for the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), I am ensuring that important environment and human protection regulatory regimes are fully operable when we leave the EU.
Next week I am also travelling to Glasgow to the naming ceremony of a new vessel, H.M.S. Tamar. She is one of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels that was built in Scotland, part of a significant investment in U.K. shipbuilding, securing thousands of skilled jobs.
Building the Offshore Patrol Vessels filled a gap in orders after the completion of the second aircraft carrier and before the Type 26 frigates begin construction.
HMS Tamar and her sister ships will be used by the Royal Navy to undertake various tasks including border protection roles, anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement.
For some time I have been making the case for investment in new vessels to work alongside the U.K. Border Force to keep our waters safe and I am very much looking forward to welcoming H.M.S. Tamar into Falmouth.
I had the privilege of joining a Border Force Cutter in Falmouth and I discussed their important work with her crew. As a result of conflict, changes in the climate and modern slavery many people fall into the hands of serious and organised criminals who, along with smuggling illegal drugs and weapons, also smuggle people, this most wicked trade in human suffering. So, it is vitally important that we have increased the number of Royal Naval vessels that can patrol our waters, upholding the rule of law and protecting some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. HMS Tamar and her sister ships will also play an important role in protecting our fisheries too.
First published in the West Briton on 14/3/2019