Banffshire Journal Column 24 December 2019

I would like to start this column by wishing all readers of the Banffshire Journal a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year when it comes.

I am sure that most people will be hoping for a break from politics over the festive period after the first winter general election since 1935.

Even those of us who are in parliament will be keen to take the chance to spend time with family and friends.

But first I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone who helped with my campaign for re-election as MP for Banff and Buchan.

For the 21,182 voters who put their faith in me to represent this beautiful constituency in Westminster, I will not let you down.

And to those who did not vote for me, my pledge is to work tirelessly for all constituents – no matter which party they supported.

I hope that we can now begin to put some of the division in this country behind us.

The last few years since the EU referendum in 2016 have been particularly fraught.

And here in Scotland, constitutional arguments have been raging since the 2014 referendum campaign.

With a majority Conservative government in Westminster, we can now break the parliamentary paralysis and get Brexit sorted.

An agreement on leaving the EU in January will allow a focus to return to domestic matters.

That means delivery of commitments made during the general election campaign to increase spending on hospitals, schools and policing.

Of course, responsibility for all three of those areas is devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

But with £3.1billion in extra funding heading north to Edinburgh thanks to Conservative policies – I hope that we will see that money passed on to invest in our NHS, improve education and tackle crime.

Despite all the focus on Brexit and independence, it was these bread and butter issues that were raised with me on the doorstep throughout the campaign.

Yes, people wanted to see Brexit dealt with, but voters also had concerns about broadband connectivity, transport infrastructure and the centralisation of local services.

I am determined to do all I can to address all these issues.

I am also looking forward to seeing manifesto commitments delivered.

That will mean a sector deal for the North Sea oil and gas industry, it will mean guaranteed funding for our farmers through the next parliament and a commitment to getting our fishermen out of the CFP by December 2020.

Workers will also benefit from the pledge to reduce the threshold for National Insurance contributions. That will save people about £100 – which will particularly help those on low incomes.

The National Living Wage will also rise to £10.50 by the end of this parliament.

During my first week back, I was delighted to see the latest jobs statistics showing that unemployment across the UK is now at its lowest level since 1975.

Both the employment rate and the number of people in work are both at record highs, while wages have risen ahead of prices for 21 months in a row.

I have no doubt that moving forward with Brexit will provide a boost to the economy by freeing up pent-up investment that was held back due to the uncertainty of the past few years.

It is time to get this country moving again.