Ranil Jayawardena MP—Opinion Piece January 2019

Happy New Year! I wish you a prosperous 2019. It is at this time that we always look ahead to what the future year will bring.

Here in Parliament, the next few months will bring busy times as we continue the Brexit debate. I was asked to write this article before Christmas and—as we saw with Theresa May’s decision to delay the vote—a week is a long time in politics, so much may have changed and you may be more up-to-date than this article!

I happen to agree, however, with the vast majority of constituents, both ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ voters, who urged me to vote against the ‘deal’ that Theresa May proposed in December. This ‘deal’ holds us back from reaping the benefits of Brexit, while relinquishing any benefits of the EU. I believe that Britain has an amazing opportunity to seize a new role in the world, as the beacon of free trade, but to do that we need to be more agile. In control of our own destiny, ready to adapt in a changing world, we can make sure that our best days lie ahead. I will do what I can to make it happen.

Another word on the future: it’s all about the future. I’m in politics for the next generation; if we want our children to have better lives tomorrow than we have today, we must reaffirm our commitment to economic growth. I owe it to my daughters’ generation to get Brexit right, not agree the first ‘deal’ that comes this way.

After Brexit, the railways and traveller encampments, one of the topics that matters most to local people—by the number of letters that I receive—is our environment; and protecting it for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. I don’t want our children to face a future that has lost the beauty of the world we see around us today.

I care passionately about conservation, from serving on the committee that passed the Bill to ban microbeads—those plastic particles that shot to infamy in ‘Blue Planet II’—to founding the All Party Parliamentary Group on Endangered Species. I’ve written here previously about endangered species but, in this column, I want to talk about trees.

In honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth, 50,000 native trees will soon be planted around the United Kingdom, forming the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy—part of an even larger pan-Commonwealth network of forest conservation projects.

North East Hampshire will be represented too and you now have the opportunity to vote for one of our local primary schools, one secondary school and one village green to each receive one of these special, symbolic saplings that will, I trust, stand strong into the future. You can have your say at ranil.uk/queenscanopy.

If you have views on this—or anything else for that matter—please do not hesitate to contact me or pop along to one of my ‘Tell Ranil’ sessions; details on my website as always!