As the upheaval in British politics continues following the Referendum vote, the attention has turned to the leadership of the two main political parties. The leadership of the Opposition and Jeremy Corbyn I will leave to others to comment, however the leadership of the Conservative Party and thus the Prime Minister is something that I am directly concerned and involved with.

The system that exists within the Conservative Party is that the MPs will vote on the nominated candidates and bring the field down to two. The final two will then be put to a vote of the whole membership of the Conservative Party. I am conscious that I am writing this prior to the first ballot as I need to meet the print deadlines for the newspaper. So as you are reading, the results of that ballot will be known. I feel it is important, however, to set out my views as I see them on the candidates presently standing.

It was widely expected that Boris Johnson would stand for the leadership, so it came as a shock to many - myself included - when he announced he would not be a candidate. That left 5 candidates; Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. I have been asked who I am going to support, and I said that I would wait until nominations closed and then speak to the candidates over a few issues that I would like assurances over, which I have done over the weekend.

I am very conscious that not only am I looking to vote for a new Leader of the Conservatives, but also a new Prime Minister, so I feel it is important that the candidate I back not only has the qualities needed for the job but also the experience. Normally when political parties change their leader it is when they are in opposition, which gives the new leader time to grow into the job. This is very different; the winner will have to be ready to hit the ground running. On that basis the obvious choice is Theresa May. She has been the Home Secretary for 6 years and has all the experience needed to step up to be Prime Minister.

People who voted for us to leave the European Union will think it strange that I am backing someone who was on the Remain side, however Theresa has the support of other prominent supporters of leave such as Chris Grayling. I have raised this personally with her and she has assured me that she is committed to executing the result of the referendum by setting up a Brexit department that will be headed up by someone who was a clear advocate of leaving.

The choice of a new leader and Prime Minister isn’t solely about leaving the EU though; there are many other issues to be dealt with both nationally, as well as challenges facing the High Peak. We discussed these at length, and I am now reassured that Theresa is the best person for the job, both for the country and for us here in the High Peak.

Last week was possibly the most momentous week in British politics that many of us have seen. The vote to leave the European Union came as a surprise to many people, as all the experts and opinion polls were forecasting a remain vote to prevail.

Here in High Peak, the vote closely mirrored the national one, with the majority of High Peak residents who voted on the 23rd voting for the country to leave the EU. Following the result, David Cameron said that he will step down as Prime Minister before October. This decision has disappointed me as - prior to the referendum - he always said that he would stay on, even if the country were to vote out. However, he has made his decision, and we should accept it.

There have been some calls for a second referendum, but I do not feel that this would be right. The 23rd June saw possibly the largest democratic exercise this country has ever seen, and to ignore the result would, I think, undermine our democracy. Those who did vote to leave would be rightly outraged should the result be ignored and a second referendum held on the basis that the result of the first was not what those who were on the opposite side wanted.

People have raised issues such as thresholds since last Thursday but these were things decided on prior to the referendum itself. It was conducted on a simple majority basis and there were few dissenting voices over this prior to the day.

I said clearly from the start what my views were, and I was also clear that I would not seek to impose my views on people in the High Peak, as I believed a referendum was for everyone to arrive at their own decision, rather than be lobbied by me to follow my lead. There were those who felt I should have campaigned to leave, and there were those who felt by stating my view I was trying to influence the thinking of others, but I always tried to be balanced when discussing the matter.

In a referendum it is the will of the people that prevails, and it is the role of elected politicians to deliver that will. I was also very clear from the start that whatever the result I would accept it without question, no matter what the result or the margin of victory. I intend to abide by that promise; the majority of votes cast last week were to leave the European Union, we should now accept that instruction and seek to enact it in the most orderly way we can.

Next Thursday (23rd June) will see only the third referendum ever held in this country. A previous one on membership of what was then known as The Common Market was held in 1975 and then one on our voting system was held in 2011.

As I have previously stated, I believe that we should leave the European Union and I have spoken to many people about this and the reasons why. This is a crucial vote for the country and it is important that people have their say. Many have been calling for this moment for several years, political parties of all colours have promised people a say in one form or another for too long, so whilst some people feel that the decision should be left to elected politicians, I disagree, we should all have the chance to vote and that’s what we will have on the 23rd.

Questions have been asked about information and getting a balanced view on the consequences of the decision. I very much regret a lot of the rhetoric being used by senior political figures – on both sides of the argument. The campaign has, in my opinion, been marred with a sense of both sides trying to outdo each other with tales of doom should the result go the way of the opposing view. In response to discussions I have had with many constituents, I have placed a dedicated page on my website which also includes a link to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on the subject. The Members of the committee at the time were split between remain and leave and as all the members were happy with the report I think it can be accepted as a balanced account weighing up both sides of the argument.

I read now that many of the other Member States are urging Britain to remain in the EU but I return to my original comments on this that their intransigence when the Prime Minister was seeking a new deal has been a key factor in this. If they had been more prepared to give concessions then the arguments to stay would have been more powerful, but their refusal when faced with a possible ‘Brexit’ demonstrated to me that we can never effect necessary change in the EU project. For them to now be calling for Britain to remain smacks to me of too little too late. Whether they didn’t believe the Prime Minister or not I don’t know, but I’m afraid they should have thought about that at the time.

During any week in Westminster there are always numerous receptions and events on behalf of a range of organisations, interest groups and charities. These are an opportunity for these groups to speak one-to-one with MPs about their work or a specific issue.

In common with all MPs, I receive many such invitations and I try to attend those that have a relevance to the High Peak. Also on occasions there will be someone from the High Peak at the reception and in those cases I always do everything I can to attend. If a constituent has taken the time and trouble to travel to London then it is only right that I meet with them to hear their story or listen to their point of view on a particular issue.

Last week there was such a reception on behalf of Guide Dogs Access All Areas. The purpose was to raise the awareness of the fact that, despite the Equality Act of 2010 stating that people cannot discriminate against guide dog owners, there is still examples of people with guide dogs being refused access to places with their dogs.

I met a constituent at the event who told me some of his experiences in restaurants, shops and also in taxis. It is very difficult to imagine life without sight and a guide dog is invaluable, so to be discriminated against because of the dog is not only wrong but a very distressing experience, and I was very sorry to hear that some of these experiences have happened locally.

I have agreed to undertake a blindfolded walk to try and gain a better understanding of how it feels to be in this situation, but in the meantime I think it is important for all of us to remember that it is against the law to discriminate against guide dogs, and it is also not permitted to try and charge extra for a guide dog – something else that is more common than I imagined.

The guide dog users I met at the event were all determined and resolute not to let their condition be a barrier to their lives, but it is up to those of us more fortunate to give full and equal access to guide dogs to allow them to do just that.

The BBC is a great British institution which is held in high esteem by many people, and consequently the renewal of the BBC Charter has caused much interest and speculation over the preceding months.

The White paper on the future of the BBC was published last week, but prior to this there was a thorough period of consultation, two independent reviews, a public opinion study and several round table meetings between Ministers and industry representatives. There was also a public consultation which brought thousands of representations from the public. At the time there was concern that because many of these were ‘template’ responses which came via a campaigning organisation that they would not be counted, but these fears were unfounded as they were all logged as responses for consideration.

There were various rumours circulating before last week’s announcement over what the contents would be, but many of these have been proved to be false as the contents of the White Paper have been broadly welcomed by people across the industry.

There are those who feel it could have gone further and those who don’t, but it appears a well-judged and thought-out document. The media world is changing very rapidly as advances in technology make different ways of accessing BBC content more and more available. This has created a loophole whereby people can watch BBC content on catch-up without a TV Licence, and this is one of many things the White Paper addresses by closing this loophole.

There are changes to the way the BBC is to be governed, replacing the BBC Trust with a new unitary board. To avoid accusations of this board being a Government-appointed body - which in turn could lead to accusations of too much Government control of the BBC - at least half of the Board members will be appointed by the BBC.

The licence fee will rise in line with inflation to 2021-22 and there will be pilots of a more flexible payment system to help those on low incomes. The BBC receives £3.7 billion pounds from the licence fee and it is essential to ensure that such a huge amount of money is spent wisely, so to ensure that this is the case the National Audit Office will become the BBC’s financial auditor and all those working for the BBC receiving remuneration packages of over £450,000 per year will see that made public.

There are lots of technical details within the White Paper, but in essence it creates the right framework to strengthen the BBC to enable it to thrive and deliver the best possible service for licence payers in the years ahead.

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