WE are hopefully nearing the culmination of the first phase of Brexit negotiations, and I remain optimistic that we will soon be making the breakthrough to move on to talking about our future trade ties with the EU.

The past few months have certainly been challenging, and events on Monday showed once again the complexity of the negotiations, both domestically and with our European friends.

My inbox continues to buckle under the weight of Brexit-related emails from constituents. I’m certainly not complaining – it is only right that such an important issue has generated high levels of engagement from people right across South Wiltshire.

On the one hand, it is ironic that, at the same time, a large number of people feel that the government is not moving fast enough in delivering Brexit, while an equally large number of correspondents insist that the government should ignore the referendum result or have a second referendum in the hope of overturning the vote.

As I have said all along, I think the rhetoric from both sides of the debate has too often has become overheated. The country will need to come back together after we leave the EU.

Despite the often negative headlines, the government has been attempting to deliver the democratic decision of the electorate in the referendum. These negotiations will take time to get right and that should not be seen as evidence of a lack of commitment to delivering Brexit.

Away from Brexit, it has been a busy week for me personally, all culminating in a visit to Hull for today’s announcement of the next UK City of Culture. I will be making an appearance on national TV, unveiling the successful bid live on tonight’s One Show on BBC One.

Sadly, all this activity means I was unable to get back to Salisbury for the auspicious occasion of my illustrious predecessor, Robert Key, being made a Freeman of Salisbury. I am sorry to miss it but I hope that Rob, Sue and all their friends and family have a great evening.

It is a long overdue and richly deserved honour for a man who has done so much for Salisbury over so many years – not just as its MP but through his roles in the life of the cathedral, service as a school governor and active support for music in the area.