The Nation is stunned this morning by the news that the PM has been moved into an Intensive Care Unit bed in St Thomas’s Hospital. We should be clear. ICU beds are in very short supply, and you don’t get one unless you are seriously ill. He has been given Oxygen, but so far as we know at this stage he is not on ventilation.

This is serious news on a whole variety of levels. It will be deeply unpleasant for Boris himself. It will of course be desperately worrying for his family. We think especially of Carrie who has had symptoms herself, and who is of course expecting their child. What a terrible time for them all.

It’s a worry for the Nation too. We know that he is but ‘First Amongst Equals’; but he is a powerful figurehead. It is he who takes the ultimate decisions and gives direction and energy to the government- both Ministers and civil servants. He is the strong man to whom the whole government looks. I am sure that Dominic Raab, Michael Gove, Rishi Sunak and the whole team will carry on doing a great job. And the Government has been split into four ‘cells’ exactly so that it can be guaranteed to continue no matter what happens to any individual. So I have absolutely no worries whatsoever that the Government of Britain will plough ahead fighting this terrible virus no matter what happens at the top of it. (And never forget that Churchill was critically ill for part of the Second World War.)

Boris has had a turbulent 12 months. This time last year he was a backbencher with his career behind him. Since then he went through the bruising leadership battle; won a magnificent victory in the General Election; carried out his promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ and established a strong and dynamic government pressing ahead with a wide variety of novel policies. To be struck down in this way is ironic after a most powerful and successful year. But perhaps the two are not unconnected. I know Boris very well. (Inter alia I was his first whip when elected in 2001). And I know of his massive personal energy and dynamism. He is a workaholic, and can well be argued to have sacrificed his own health in support of the Nation.

So no matter what your political opinions; no matter what your personal view of Boris Johnson, I know that you will join with me and the whole Nation in wishing him God speed to a full recovery to his robust best health.

Get well soon, Boris. We are all with you.

On the advice of officials I have decided to stop holding face-to-face advice surgeries to try to contain the spread of COVID-19. I will, however, still be very much available to assist with any constituency concerns or queries. Simply fill in the ‘Contact James’ form on this website, or send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  detailing the issue and I will deal with it in much the same way as during an advice surgery.

Please click on the following useful link for the most up to date guidance and advice from Wiltshire Council about COVID-19: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/public-health-coronavirus

On Wednesday morning, James Gray attended and took part in a self-defence class organised by the friends of Ellie Gould to highlight the benefits of these classes in schools. This is part of a wider effort to push for self-defence classes to be a mandatory part of physical education, so that young people can learn how to protect themselves. The group believe that instead of playing netball or football, pupils could partake in one or two basic self-defence classes a year, therefore developing their skills without taking up hours of lesson time.

A petition set up by Ellie’s friends, and supported by James, calling for self-defence classes in schools, has now been signed by more than 12,000 people.

Mr Gray said that:

“Just a basic understanding and knowledge of self-defence techniques could well be a life-saver. If Ellie Gould had had some of this training- about how to react to an aggressor, and potentially how to see him off for long enough to run away, she might still be here today.

I have already been in correspondence with Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, to see if we can get self-defence tuition as a normal part of the curriculum. And now, in response to Ellie Welling, Harriet Adams and Tilda Offen, I am going to seek to call a special debate on the matter as soon as Parliamentary time permits.”

James Gray has added his name to a joint letter from MPs in Wiltshire and Swindon, to The Rt Hon Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, to call for a review of the Police Funding Formula.

The letter raises the concerns of the MPs, who feel that the challenges of modern day policing in Wiltshire are not reflected in the Police Funding Formula. Wiltshire has the lowest number of officers per head of population of any force across the country, and therefore the MPs have stressed the need for adequate resources to enable Wiltshire Police to meet these demands.

Mr Gray said that:

“Police demand is changing and becoming increasingly complex. It is therefore extremely important that PCCs have the necessary funding to keep communities safe. I certainly welcome the fact that the Government has proposed a total settlement for the police of up to £15.2 billion in 2020-21, however we must ensure that this funding is fairly allocated and that Wiltshire Police receive the funding they need.

Our police forces do a wonderful job, but we need to ensure they are supported and that they can continue to provide a high level of service. I hope that the Home Office will listen to our concerns and review the funding formula.”

James Gray MP has welcomed the Government’s confirmation that Wiltshire will see its budget increased by 7% this year, as part of the Conservatives’ commitment to level up local services across the country.

Local authorities across the country will receive a share of £49.2 billion local government funding this year – a 4.4 per cent real terms increase and the largest year-on-year real terms increase in a decade. Funding for key public services in will be protected, with significant extra resources dedicated to areas where they are needed most. Thanks to the investment being made by the Conservatives, including Wiltshire will have an extra £25.2 million to spend this year.

Thanks to measures taken by the Conservatives, local authorities will be able to prevent excessive Council Tax rises – striking the right balance between the interests of council taxpayers and addressing pressures on services.

Mr Gray said that:

“Local authorities play a vital role in our communities, providing the crucial local services that people rely on every day. I work closely with Wiltshire Council and greatly appreciate the help and support they provide to my constituents on a daily basis.

“I am therefore extremely pleased to see that the Council was awarded an extra £25.2 million to spend this year funding this year; this is a truly significant increase and can make a great difference to our community. I am hopeful that this investment will help our local leaders make positive change in the area and meet the challenges North Wiltshire faces.”