It would take the most ardently politically correct of puritans to see anything even slightly wrong with Kipling’s oft-quoted poem ‘If’. That did not stop a group of Manchester University students obliterating it and replacing it with some barely-coherent jumble last week. “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…..” A moral there for the last week or two in Parliament. Surely we can disagree on Brexit without resorting to name-calling, cheating, blows? Hundreds of people responded to my email last week opposing the Chequers Agreement. Around 80% supported my stance on it. It is amazing how many of the few ‘Remainer’ emails I received felt it necessary to threaten and abuse me and those who are calling for a clean departure from the EU,
There is so much more to life. In the last week, quite aside from any Brexit shenanigans, for example, I spoke at a Maritime Reception in Parliament, had breakfast with an Admiral to discuss cyber warfare, chaired the Offensive Weapons Bill Committee, spoke at the MOD to a group of 40 MPs who are just about to undergo 15 days of military training under my wing; briefed Box constituent, Lucy Fisher, who at the age of 30 has just been promoted to be the Times Defence Correspondent; spoke at a meeting of senior American generals; quizzed Ministers about the UK’s policy approach to the Arctic; had a conference call with the Governor of the Falklands; had an hour-long meeting with a senior constituent in need of help; spoke at a Ladies Luncheon Club at Bowood, a political supper club at Luckington, and receptions in Hullavington and Box; drove round Royal Wootton Bassett helping Judge ‘Bassett in Bloom’; and held busy surgeries both there and in Calne. All of that is alongside the normal routine of Parliamentary and constituency business (and a bit of private time too.)
The House has risen for the long Summer Recess now. It will enable us all to calm down, cool off and gather our thoughts for the Autumn which promises to be just as turbulent. The Brexit negotiations, and their handling over the last two years inspire a few “if only…” thoughts. They are pointless. We are where we are and we must now get it sorted. People are rightly concerned about what would happen ”If not?...” I hope that M Barnier may give some thought to that too.