2018 is now upon us and it has given me pause to remember that last year was surely one of the most eventful in my living memory.
In the wider political world, there was the election of President Donald Trump in the United States of America, and the challenge of simply keeping up with the tide of events taking place across the planet.
Here in the UK, there was a general election and work began in rolling out the British people’s command to deliver Brexit.
For those of us in the House of Commons, the continuing febrile atmosphere and challenges caused by aggression has ensured we remember and try to follow our late and much missed colleague Jo Cox’s wisdom – that we have much in common and that there is far more that unites us than divides us.
We should always keep this at the forefront of our minds as we approach the big issues that face our country this year and beyond.
The Houses of Parliament return for business next week and there is plenty of important business on the agenda.
Before Christmas there had been a great deal of debate and deliberation on the EU Withdrawal Bill, but we are making good progress as we approach the trade negotiations stage of the Brexit discussions.
Despite some doomsday predictions about the state of the negotiations, the Prime Minister has guided discussions so that we can now discuss what our future special relationship with the EU will look like.
This gives us a huge opportunity to re-forge and refresh our partnership with the European Union, and allow us to build new partnerships with nations across the globe.
This will be a very important year for our nation and Northumberland.
I look forward to working with the Government to make sure we seize the opportunities that present themselves, ensuring Northumberland’s needs – from agriculture to technology – are at the heart of discussions.
We have worked hard on increasing broadband provision for North Northumberland in recent years and 2017 saw a big leap forward with the roll-out of more superfast broadband to our villages.
I was thrilled that all our campaigning for the Universal Service Obligation has been successful. It is great news for our communities that the Government has confirmed there will be a legal right for superfast broadband, which makes broadband the official fourth utility.
This guarantees a level of service such as we receive with water and electricity, and this is nothing less than people in North Northumberland deserve.
This doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to do, but the Minister assured me in the House of Commons late last year that we will be continuing to drive that fibre to every corner of the constituency in 2018.
We are making good progress on real tangible benefits for our communities and I am sure this year will be a good one for Northumberland.
We are moving ahead with a Borderlands devolution deal, the A1 dualling is making real technical progress, and we are planning a Northumberland Day in Parliament, which will showcase the very best of what our beautiful county has to offer.
It continues to be the greatest privilege to represent North Northumberland in Parliament to ensure that our northernmost English county’s needs, passions, values and aspirations are heard and supported.
As ever, if you have any issues or problems, my team is always there to help and please do get in touch if you need us.
I hope that everyone had a restful and joyous Christmas break and is prepared for what the New Year has to offer.