Herald Column: June 13

So, the Conservative Party leadership race finally kicked off formally this week, although to many it seems to have been going on for months already! There were ten runners at the off and from this Thursday and into next week it will be for Conservative MPs to whittle the pack down to 2 candidates who will then be voted on by all current Party members. A new Prime Minister will be in place by the week beginning July 22nd and will need to hit the ground running if they are to get on with the job of urgently formulating a new approach to Brexit.

I will be holding a meeting with local Conservative members this weekend to take soundings about who they would like to see in Number 10, but last Saturday Channel 4 News came along to film the Broadwater Conservative Branch Quiz and Fish & Chip Night to test the water. And there were quite mixed views as you will have seen if you caught the news item on Monday.

I am sure everyone was moved by the scenes from the D Day Commemorations in Portsmouth and Normandy last week. As I was first up in Prime Minister’s Question Time last Wednesday I used the opportunity to pay tribute to the veterans and the 150,000 British, American, Canadian and other Allied troops who led to charge against the Nazis to liberate Europe. I contrasted their sacrifice with the minority of protesters filmed disgracefully shouting Nazi Scum into the faces of American tourists and others welcoming the visit of President Trump, however much many of us may take issue with his views. Their sacrifice in 1944 gave us the freedom to demonstrate lawfully and to speak freely in the 21st Century. This abuse by hate crazed protesters demeans that memory and undermines the rights they won for us.

Thank you to all of those who posted their comments in support and condemned the behaviour of those protesters on my Facebook page.

I was delighted on Friday to attend the AGM and 98th birthday of the sight loss charity 4Sight whose 300 volunteers do such a fantastic job of providing support for many of the 30,000 residents of West Sussex who experience sight loss. I was particularly pleased to see a special award for distinguished service presented to Pat Marshall who has been such a stalwart of the charity in Shoreham for longer than I have been MP.

On Saturday it is one of my favourite events of the year when I will for the 11th year running be compering the brilliant Worthing Children’s Parade. Some 20 local schools will process around the town with the theme of David Walliams’ children’s books ending up in Steyne Gardens some time after 11am. In the evening my wife and I will be joining the Guild Care Walk for Worthing in the evening so I hope to see a lot of you there.