James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

I’ve been your MP and Gazette Columnist  for 20 years, so maybe 1000 columns so far (perhaps another 1000 lie ahead of me). And in all that time I have never missed a week. So I am sorry that last week my comments on the terrorist outrage at the House of Commons never made it into print. I have to say that my colleagues, Michelle Donelan and Claire Perry did a very good job on my behalf! But if you want to see what I WOULD have said, have a look at my website, jamesgray.org, or even volunteer to receive my weekly email update by emailing me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It is quite right that we, in no way, allowed the terrorist attack on the Commons to divert us from our normal business. We were back in the Chamber at 9.30AM the following morning, and the PM cracked on on Wednesday with signing Article 50. So it is now clear. We will be leaving the EU on or by 29 March, 2019. The time for debate on the principle is now past, and we Brits must now all come together to argue for the best possible outcome for us all. People and businesses do of course have perfectly legitimate concerns - over the status of EU citizens here and vice versa; over trade within the EU, and trade with the rest of the world; over the effect which all of this will have on the Euro, on the EU itself; about defence and security; about Gibraltar, farming and fisheries. These are all perfectly legitimate concerns, on which we must now all work to allay.

My own view is clear, incidentally, on Gibraltar. It has been a British Protectorate since the Treaty of Utrecht in 1711, and it will remain so unless and until the people vote to leave. (The last time there was a referendum it was 99% in favour of remaining a UK Protectorate.) So it is frankly disgraceful of the Spanish, which have their own enclave inside Morocco around Ceute, to use our Article 50 Declaration as some kind of bargaining chip over Gibraltar. And it is pretty typical of the EU bureaucrats to let them do so. We must be clear and firm on this: Gibraltar will remain British now and in the future, and no amount of EU meddling will change that.

So Parliament has risen for Easter. For me it’s a few weeks in Wiltshire, catching my breath, clearing up the in-tray and the list of things to do, campaigning in the local Government elections and carrying out a spread of Constituency engagements. As the weather looks increasingly spring-like, I cannot remember looking forward more to a Parliamentary recess, after what has been an especially torrid Parliamentary term.