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John Howell MP Writes - September 2016

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A look back at recent key issues in Westminster and the Constituency

I write this on the day that we are set to have a new Prime Minister. It is said that a week is a long time in politics. In the last few weeks it seems that just an hour is a long time in politics. Certainly since my last newsletter has happened.

Since the result of the EU Referendum, my inbox has been inundated with emails mostly expressing concern at the outcome of the Referendum. I too was disappointed at the outcome and, given that in South Oxfordshire the vote was strongly in favour of remaining in the EU, I am not surprised by the concern expressed in the many emails. However it was a democratic vote with a high turnout and although people want to argue percentages the decision has been made and a majority voted to leave. I have every sympathy with those who point out the inadequacies of the campaign, but one could argue this with any campaign. I fear that, as mass media control the sound bites that we get, it will become even harder to get complex messages across. I find this even in this constituency. None the less, the decision has been made and we did agree in advance to abide by the decision. As far as I can tell there is no question of overturning the decision. The key task now is to negotiate the best deal for Britain that we can and I am confident that with Theresa May as our Prime Minister we will be able to do that.

I have been asked many questions about invoking Article 50 – the trigger that starts the countdown to us leaving the EU. Unravelling ourselves from the EU is a complex task and however long it takes to negotiate the initial deal which will formally mark our leaving of the EU, it will take much longer for us to disentangle our laws and rules from the EU. This is because much has been enshrined in our own legislation and amendments will have to go through due parliamentary process. Theresa May has made it clear that she will want to take things in a steady manner seeking the best deal for us rather than rushing to cut the ties. Personally I take some comfort from this. 

I know that some people are worried about our economic security and rightly so. This is one reason why I am particularly pleased that the Conservative Party leadership campaign did not drag on. The markets reacted well to the election of Theresa May as Party Leader, and hence Prime Minister, and to the news that she does not intend to seek an early General Election.

I note the calls for a General Election but given the fragile situation in the country following the referendum outcome and the instability of the markets, I am concerned that a General Election will simply make matters worse. We need a stable period to see us through the next few years. We did not have an election when Jim Callaghan took over form Harold Wilson or when Gordon Brown took over from Tony Blair.

When we have a General Election, we elect the Party that we believe has set out the best plan for the country in their Manifesto and not the Prime Minister. We had an election only last year. We must also remember that in 2011 the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was passed. This created a five year period between general elections and set out that general elections are scheduled to take place on the first Thursday in May in every fifth year. The next election is scheduled to take place on 7 May 2020. The Act removed the prerogative power of the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister, to dissolve Parliament and trigger a general election. Whilst there are specific conditions under which an election could be called as it stands I am not convinced that these conditions would be fulfilled in the current circumstances.

There will always be different opinions on various issues. We are in uncertain times and my hope is that we can get some stability into the country, into our economy and certainly into community relations. I am appalled at some of the racism that has arisen over the last few months and indeed the security issues that have arisen from excessive violence used over differences of views. We are entering a new phase in the history of our country and I hope that we can move forward together and grow from strength to strength.

If you would like to know more about my work you may like to be on the circulation list for my regular e-newsletter and special briefings sent on an occasional basis on specific issues. To be added to the list please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information about my work both in Westminster and in the constituency please do visit my website which is regularly updated. The address is www.johnhowellmp.com. You can also follow me on twitter @johnhowellmp or on Facebook www.facebook.com/john.howellmp