James GRAY   Conservative MP for North Wiltshire

An MP’s actions and thoughts and votes in Parliament should always be firmly linked to constituency influences and events.

For example, I was glad to speak at the excellent ceremony to establish a twinning agreement between Box and Sorigny in the Loire Valley on Sunday morning. Person to person links and friendships and community to community are so much better than supranational organisations, most of which are fundamentally flawed. Civilisation and international peace depend on understanding and enjoying other people’s way of life and culture, without being asked to adopt them for ourselves.

I was pondering all of that when I chaired the huge Westminster Hall debate on the petition for a second EU Referendum on Monday afternoon. As Chair, I should have no view, but I was clear that I much preferred the Box/Sorigny links than the prospect of any continuing membership of the EU!

I went on from Box on Sunday to Bowood to take part in the 75th anniversary parade of the Wilts and Dorset Air Cadets. What a fine sight it was to see 400 cadets parading in front of Bowood House, a parade fortuitously interrupted by a passing Moth Biplane who circled overhead at just the right moment. What a fine bunch they are these young people accepting the discipline and skills offered by the three military cadets organisations. And what a great service their officers and trainers do.

On Wednesday I had a question to the Prime Minister and asked her to reconfirm our commitment to NATO as the cornerstone of our defences; and to decry Jeremy Corbyn who recently said that he did not accept the mutual defence principle which lies behind NATO membership.

There was something rather stirring about the way we sang La Marseillaise as the French flag fluttered over the Box Pavilion on Sunday with its stirring chorus “Aux armes, citoyens! Formez vos bataillons! Marchons! Marchons! Qu’un sang impur Abreuve nos sillons!”

Very French; perhaps a little too republican and revolutionary for my personal tastes. But how much better than the EU’s Ode to Joy. This was a celebration of the uniqueness of nations – of their differences. And of mutual understanding of each other. How much better that recognition of “Vive la Difference” than some kind of artificial enforcement of conformity.