Walsall Advertiser column: 28th December 2017

It was wonderfully festive and busy during the last few weeks of 2017 in both Walsall North and Westminster. I found myself rushing around Parliament from Christmas events to voting on the very important EU Withdrawal Bill which has now passed the next Parliamentary stage. I was pleased to hear the Government are continuing to prepare for a 'no deal' Brexit as it is important that we are ready as a country for all outcomes. I also took the opportunity to ask the Brexit Minister, Steve Baker “Whether his Department is preparing contingency plans for use across Government in the event of there being no deal on the UK leaving the EU” to which he replied, “We continue to focus on getting a good outcome that works for the UK and for those in the EU. As we move to the next phase of talks, we do so with a renewed sense of optimism about the deal that can be achieved.” I will keep fighting for the Brexit people in Bloxwich, Willenhall and Walsall North voted for.

It was also great to recently visit Caffè Belrai in Bloxwich, where the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, popped over the county boundary from South Staffordshire to meet customers, have a coffee and share a piece of cake with me. He’s the third minister to visit Walsall North since the election and I’ll keep putting our constituency on the map in Westminster.

I’m also pleased to report that Willenhall E-ACT Academy is making progress in improving, according to a recent OFSTED inspection. The change in the direction of travel is important so well done to pupils, staff and parents on your hard work. I am glad that following my intervention with the National Schools Commissioner the leadership of the school has taken matters seriously and recruited an effective team to oversee improvements for students who attend the school. There is, however, still much more to do, and I will continue to hold the Commissioners to account to ensure this progress continues. There is still a long road ahead.

And finally, I was proud to present the winner of my Christmas card competition with their well-deserved award. It was wonderful to meet Kai Westwood at Rivers Primary Academy, as well as his parents and the other pupils who entered the competition. Kai’s Christmas card is now on display in Number 10! It was a perfect way to round off my first six months as the new MP for Walsall North and thanks to all the teachers and pupils for such a lovely visit. Congratulations again Kai!

I hope that everyone is having a lovely time with their families over the Christmas break and I want to send you my best wishes for 2018!