As 2016 draws to a close I have been looking back at an often tumultuous and surprising year in Westminster and indeed the world.
The first six months were taken up by the EU Referendum Campaign, with different arguments being put forward in an attempt to persuade the voting public. As regular readers will know, it was my preference to remain in the EU, however I didn’t feel it was appropriate to tell my constituents how to vote. This was a very personal decision for many, with some holding long-standing Eurosceptic views and others being very pro-EU. Ultimately, as we now know, in a shock result not predicted by the opinion polls, the voters narrowly decided to instruct the Government to begin the process of leaving the EU.
The immediate aftermath was even more surprising as the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, immediately resigned, triggering a leadership election, resulting in the election of the second female Prime Minister. Theresa May has the difficult job of leading the first EU nation to leave the Union.
For me it was a great honour to be promoted as a Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions. This has been a steep learning curve but, I hope, having listened to many of my constituents’ experiences, it has given me the opportunity to help make the welfare system work for those who need it.
Finally, the election of Donald Trump as the next President of the US was another poll-smashing political upset and his unique way of working is certainly going to cause diplomatic waves worldwide.
I cannot begin to predict what will happen over the next twelve months, so instead I will simply take this opportunity to wish my constituents a very Happy New Year.