Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 22nd December 2018
Welcome to my latest newsletter, the final edition before Christmas and the final one for 2018 too. Thank you for subscribing. Please forward this to anyone you think might be interested, and point them towards my website where they can sign up to receive it directly. Please get in touch if I can assist in any way; all my contact details are below.
The temptation is to write at length about Brexit – again. However, as important an issue as it is, it’s time for a break. If you still haven’t had your fill, you can read about my views on the website or in the special edition of the newsletter from two weeks ago.
Just one update. The current situation is that the Prime Minister is continuing to seek assurances from the European Union about certain aspects of the draft Brexit deal, particularly the so-called ‘backstop’. The House of Commons will be debating and voting on the matter in January.
While we must wait to see the exact shape of that final deal, I am supportive of the government’s ambition to agree a settlement which delivers an orderly Brexit.
I want to be clear that I support the Prime Minister and I voted for her in the recent confidence motion. I think the Prime Minister is proving remarkably resilient and determined in the current Brexit negotiations. Many people in North Devon have shared that view with me, whether they be Leave or Remain supporters, Conservative voters or not.
The confidence vote was an unnecessary distraction and I regret that a relatively small number of colleagues forced it to happen. I am glad we are a democratic party which allows these processes to take place, but it was entirely misguided to bring it forward at that point.
Whatever your view on Brexit, changing the Prime Minister now would make no change to the arithmetic in the House of Commons which is proving such a challenge in finalising a deal. I also think such a change risks considerably weakening the UK’s position as we enter the final negotiations.
The Prime Minister continues to have my full confidence. I believe she deserves support at this time for working so hard in the national interest, and many people, whatever their political views, have told me they share this belief.
As the photo shows, on Tuesday I met the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and personally delivered a letter calling on him to reverse the decision to close Royal Marines Base Chivenor. You can see a copy of the letter on my website here: https://www.peterheatonjones.org.uk/sites/www.peterheatonjones.org.uk/files/2018-12/Chivenor%20Letter.pdf
In the two years since the original closure announcement, I've raised the matter in the Commons on many occasions and held numerous meetings with ministers. I also invited the former Defence Secretary to Chivenor and convened a round table with local councils, business groups and community representatives. Following that visit we were told that the closure 'was not a done deal', but we've heard very little since. After two years, the uncertainty and rumours have to stop.
I told the Defence Secretary that he should announce he's reversing the decision and even consider expanding the base, and I put him on notice that the community would not give up on our campaign.
In response, Gavin Williamson said he would arrange a further meeting as soon as possible in the new year.
On Monday in the House of Commons I raised the issue of school funding. I wanted to highlight again to the government that more needs to be done to ensure Devon gets its fair share.
You can see my question and the minister’s answer here:
Last week I used a question to the Chancellor to promote North Devon’s major shopping town, Barnstaple, and particularly our small independent retailers. You can see the exchange here:
Please note these links may not work on all devices.
Merry Christmas and thank you.
As this is the final column before Christmas, and the last of the year, it’s an opportunity for a bit of reflection. Let’s take a break from all the noise and division, if only for a few days.
It’s been a busy year for everyone and so it’s always nice when people take the time to say ‘thank you’. It’s particularly appreciated, not only by me personally, but for my hardworking team as well.
I will end with a thank you of my own – thank you to everyone who is working over the holiday period. Whether in the public and emergency services, in retail and hospitality, or in the voluntary sector, we appreciate your work.
All that remains is to wish everyone a happy and peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2019.
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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Mail: 1st Floor Office Suite, Church House, Church Lane
Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
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