Monday 8th July The week starts with news of leaked documents from the UK ambassador, Kim Darroch in Washington. This is worrying as the UK/US relationship is vital for global security. I can see that Foreign Office Ministers are going to get asked lots of questions by MPs, my job as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the ministers is to try to anticipate the questions and help brief the ministers with answers. It feels like it is going to be a busy week.
On the way to Westminster I visit the Anderson School near Epping. This school has been specially designed for students with severe autism. It was built and paid for by the Anderson Foundation, which was set up by one of Chelmsford’s largest employers. It is deeply inspiring. Some of the pupils I meet have never been able to cope with mainstream school. They come from all over Essex.
As expected, Ministers are called to the House of Commons to answer questions about our Washington ambassador. MPs are furious about the leak. An investigation has been set up to find the source.
In Parliament I meet Chelmsfordian, Hope Burchell, who is a finalist for a national award celebrating the achievements of families with disabled children. Hope has a rare disorder which affects her breathing. She has recently raised over £40,000 for travel incubators to help babies with breathing problems. What an inspiration!
In the evening I listen to Jeremy Hunt speaking to over 300 party members gathered in a London church. It’s surprising how many people have yet to vote on the leadership. Steps - 8552
Tuesday 9th July Into London to be interviewed by Victoria Derbyshire on the BBC about Government tax and spending plans. First time I have ever done a one on one interview on National TV.
In Westminster I join a helpful meeting with Macmillan Cancer. Before going into the Chamber for the debate on Northern Ireland and especially same sex marriages and abortion. These decisions should be made by the people of Northern Ireland, but the Assembly has not met for over two years. In the debate I tell colleagues of the work we did on a detailed Select Committee inquiry taking evidence from over 700 people from Northern Ireland. We heard very harrowing stories from mothers who are told late in their pregnancies that their baby has a fatal foetal abnormality and is not going to live. The Chief Medical Officer told us that the current law in Northern Ireland is putting these mums lives at risk It needs to change. After listening to speeches for many hours and getting reassurances that if the amendments are passed this does not affect existing abortion law in England I decide vote for the changes. We can’t continue to put mothers’ lives at risk.
Spend the evening with colleagues listening to the TV debate between Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, Hunt gives our US ambassador full support, but Johnson is less clear. Steps - 10416
Wednesday 10th July Fascinating Women and Equalities Select Committee, taking evidence from specialists on mental health of men and boys. Parliament shocked by news that US ambassador has resigned after irate tweets from Trump.
Ministers answer questions on tacking fraud in the benefit system. I want to make sure that new measures to tackle fraud will not stop people accessing benefits when they need them. Busy afternoon of paperwork. Evening at Tech UK’s Annual Dinner with the excellent Chelmsford based company Yoti. Steps - 6324
Thursday 11th July Peaceful start the day with morning prayers at Chelmsford Cathedral - always so beautiful – before planning to attend a train conference to get an update on plans for our Great Eastern Mainline. But Ministers are urgently called into the House of Commons to answer questions on the resignation of our US ambassador and I am summoned back to Westminster to help. My assistant goes to the rail conference and I brief two other MPs who are attending. They agree to raise key points for me. Few hours later minister has managed to resolve MPs questions and – Good News – the second railway station at Chelmsford is now considered a strategic priority for the whole Great Eastern Main Line. Steps - 7202
Friday 12th July Very good to have the police minister Nick Hurd in Chelmsford. He is discussing the Front Line Review which recommends more police officers and more support for them. We hear from police officers, PCSOs, specials and police staff, before joining officers on patrol in the city centre. The minister is very impressed by the work that our local police are doing on tackling drugs and drug related gangs.
Quarterly meeting with local NHS leaders. The Clinical Commissioning Group which is responsible for planning GP services in Mid Essex has just received a “Good” in its inspection report. Hospital leaders tell us they have now recruited another 300 nurses for Broomfield, Basildon and Southend. This is going to make a huge difference in our hospitals.
Over to KEGs to meet sixth form politics students who ask very thoughtful questions. Finish working week with another busy constituency surgery. BBC’s Newsnight want to interview me about the leadership race – and send a camera crew all the way to Chelmsford. Steps - 6883
Saturday 13th July Join the Leadership Hustings events in Hertfordshire and then Essex. It’s good to see many friends from all over Essex and East Anglia. There are still many party members undecided how to vote – so these Question and Answer Sessions are helpful. Both Candidates have had to think very deeply about their plans if they become Prime Minister, and these hustings meetings have been very detailed. It is very late when I am travelling home and pick up a message from the England Cricket Board, asking me if I can come to the Cricket World Cup Final to represent Essex. As a cricket fan I jump at the chance. Steps - 5067
Sunday 14th July Goodness, what an amazing day of cricket and what a privilege to be there. Well done England! Steps - 10335