Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July he has transformed the Brexit negotiations and delivered two things which many people said would be impossible. Firstly, to get the European Union to agree to re-open the withdrawal agreement to further negotiation, and then through that process to secure a new deal without the backstop provisions, which could have locked us into most of the EU’s customs and single market rules indefinitely. Then in October, the Government secured the agreement of the House of Commons to introduce the legislation to take us out of the EU under the terms of this new deal; again, this was the first time since the referendum that MPs have given their in-principle support to the withdrawal agreement. Boris Johnson and his team have done everything under their legal powers to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union by 31st October.
However, at key moments Parliament has sought to slow down and frustrate this process, not by rejecting the Government’s withdrawal agreement outright, but by slowing down its passage through Parliament and requiring via a change to the law that an extension to the negotiating process be achieved. The European Union has proposed that this be set for 31st January next year. It is wrong for Parliament to keep saying that in principle it supports Brexit, but then doing everything it can to frustrate and delay it. It is clear that the only way we can break this cycle is to hold a general election and give the people the chance to elect a new House of Commons, that will get Brexit done with no more delay. When that election comes, and I hope it is sooner rather than later, I will be standing for re-election as Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe committed to making sure that we deliver on Brexit at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Government has also announced a new policy to improve mobile phone coverage in rural communities. This will benefit people living in areas like the North Down and Elham Valley in particular. Mobile phones have become an essential life tool for people young and old. As well as making calls we organise our lives through mobile devices, whether or not we are at home or out and about. In the winter months in particular it’s important that people can make phone calls on road sides in rural areas in case of accidents or break down. The Government has set the target for 95% of the UK to receive high-quality 4G mobile signal coverage by 2025. To help achieve this the Government is proposing a deal with the UK Mobile Network Operators to provide additional coverage to 280,000 homes and businesses and along nearly 10,000 miles of roads. For the first time the four mobile operators, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have agreed that they will share masts in rural areas. They are also proposing an additional £530 million investment in new infrastructure, which the Government could support with an additional £500 million in public money. This is an excellent initiative which will deliver a greatly improved service for all mobile users to enjoy in rural areas.