LAST week, the Prime Minister triggered Article 50, formally notifying the European Council of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
This is the start of a lengthy period of negotiation, which will no doubt be highly challenging at times, the headlines often understating the complexity of what is being considered. I have been clear since the outcome of the referendum that the majority of the British people, and the Salisbury constituency, voted to leave and we must honour that decision.
However, this does not mean turning our backs on Europe and the strong personal and trading relationships that we enjoy with our neighbours. I believe we need to take a balanced approach to negotiation that seeks to find mutual benefits for our neighbours in Europe, whilst protecting our national interests. I will also be doing all I can to urge an early resolution to establishing the future status of EU nationals living in the UK, as well as reciprocal rights for constituents who have relatives living and working in EU states.
I have always maintained that we will continue to work closely in areas like security, ensuring we can continue to tackle cross border crime and terrorism. I am also clear that we should continue collaborating in science, education, research and technology, which is in all our interests to help both the UK and the EU prosper.
As the Commons rises for its Easter recess, I look forward to spending more time in the constituency over the next couple of weeks. On Tuesday, I attended the governor’s meeting at Wyvern College. This month marks the formation of the new Multi Academy Trust between Wyvern, St Edmund’s, Salisbury Sixth Form and Trafalgar which I hope will be a positive development for secondary education in the city. It will mean even stronger collaboration between these schools and some savings in non-teaching costs with new opportunities for the students there.
On Wednesday, I then met with the headteacher of Stonehenge School to discuss plans for its refurbishment and expansion. I am always pleased to support our schools as they seek to raise standards and improve their facilities, as I want every child in this constituency to have access to the best possible education.
The rest of the day was spent in meetings with constituents on a wide range of issues, from pubs to education policy, followed by the AGMs of Salisbury Women’s Refuge and the Chamber of Commerce. I returned to London on Thursday for an update on the A303 improvements and to meet the Chancellor.