Monday, 01 July To London for a major speech by the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, setting out a ten-point plan for resolving Brexit. Whoever takes over as Prime Minister will face a very difficult challenge, so it is good to hear of detailed plans. Helpful meeting with representatives from BAE Sysyems workforce which is a major employer in Chelmsford. We discuss the Ministry of Defence upcoming requirements for new radar systems. Chelmsford based engineers have played a leading role in developing radar technology for the past 100 years, I want to see this strategic capability stay in the UK.
Lovely meeting with year six students from Kings Road Primary who are visiting Parliament.
In the House of Commons, I ask the Health Secretary to consider increasing the number of places for medical students to study to become doctors in Chelmsford, and for more support for student nurses. I join colleagues for a debate on international development spending, I’ve been impressed by examples of how our helping other countries also helps us at home, such as by addressing the spread of dangerous diseases like Ebola and TB and reducing migratory pressures. Steps 12,475
Tuesday, 02 July Uplifting start to the day with the annual Westminster Prayer Breakfast where I am joined by representatives of Chelmsford Christians Together. I have been asked to be on the panel for the lunchtime Politics Show on the BBC. They want to question the spending plans of the two Conservative leadership candidates. I explain that a key part of the Jeremy Hunt strategy is to reduce the tax rate for businesses. We know that when this happens businesses invest money, increase the number of jobs, grow their sales and actually end up paying more in taxes - which means more money for public services.
Back into the House of Commons to help Foreign Office ministers with an Urgent Question about the protests in Hong Kong, and for a debate on the Polish contribution to UK war effort in World War II. Working group meeting on making parliament more accessible. Then – exciting – the launch of the Conservative Environment Network Manifesto. This has been a massive piece of work over recent months. The manifesto covers a huge amount of different areas, from decarbonising our economy to protecting wildlife, reducing plastics pollution and helping each household to reduce their greenhouse gas contribution. I am very proud to speak at the launch.
In the evening I catch up with colleagues watching the Lionesses in the semi-finals of the football world cup. They have been a brilliant team, so sad when they narrowly miss out. Steps 10,843
Wednesday, 03 July I’m drawn in the ballot to ask a question about Northern Ireland – I know this sounds far from Chelmsford, but the questions are due to be answered just before Prime Minister’s Questions, so the chamber will be packed, and it is important to have English MPs taking part to demonstrate support for the union of the United Kingdom. I ask about promoting the tourism sector, especially as The Open golf tournament is soon to be held in Northern Ireland. PMQs is rather more upbeat than recently and is followed by a statement from the Prime Minister on her recent meetings in Japan with the G20 and with the EU discussing their “top jobs”. As someone who encourages more women to get involved in politics I am pleased that for the first time ever two women have been nominated for leading roles, both are highly experienced. Helpful meeting on electric vehicles and the need for battery manufacture in the UK and Europe. Dinner with MP colleagues and representatives from the German foreign office team, they are keen to help find ways to help deliver Brexit in a way that maintains a strong friendship with the UK. Steps 7,948
Thursday, 04 July Into the House of Commons to ask ministers about support for police and prosecution services about tacking knife crime. It’s so important to work together. Was planning a quiet afternoon of paperwork when I suddenly get a text message asking if I can go on Question Time this evening. I have never been asked to do this before - I immediately say “no” as it’s far too frightening to do at this late notice, but then I say yes as I realise I may never get asked again! Spend the day working at double quick time trying to get up to speed on every issue that is in the news and picking the brains of everyone I can find who has been on it before.
I am still trying to cram in facts on the train down to Chichester where the programme is being recorded. It is the most high-profile politics show in the UK and so is very high pressure. When it starts it seems to be over in no time at all. The programme is actually recorded an hour in advance of being screened. On the long drive back to Chelmsford some friends send messages to say well done but my Twitter account starts to flare up – harassment and name calling by anonymous Twitter accounts is loathsome. Steps 6,682
Friday, 05 July Helpful discussion on challenges people are having with disability assessments, followed by a very useful meeting with representatives from Essex Police, Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council to discuss policing priorities. It is extremely encouraging to hear the work that has been done to tackle and disrupt drugs gangs, the success of the new City Centre policing team and the projects to work with students in our schools to help prevent young people being sucked into crime.
I am very, very honoured to be asked to join the board of Anglia Ruskin University and attend my first board meeting. They are doing such excellent work in Chelmsford. They are now one of the top three universities offering degree apprenticeships in the country. We discuss plans for the new academic year and projects they are doing to support students, especially with mental health. Steps 4,334