Herald Column: May 30

So not a lot to report from Parliament in the last week then – just a Prime Ministerial resignation and a cataclysmic result for the main parties in the European elections that nobody really wanted to take place. Neither events should really come as a surprise and I have been vociferous recently in saying that Theresa May’s position had sadly become untenable and we need new faces with a fresh approach to get us out o the interminable Brexit impasse.

We are currently in something of an ‘eerie calm’ as Parliament is not sitting this week and daily my colleagues throw their hats in the ring to be the new Prime Minister. As I write the tally has hit ten leadership contenders and thank you to those constituents who have suggested I add my name to the burgeoning list to avoid being the odd one out. Since I successfully backed William Hague when first elected back in 1997 I have managed to be on the losing side of every Conservative leadership contest since (and there have been a few) so I don’t think I will be in a hurry to attach my colours to a mast this time, even if anyone was interested in them given my track record!

Away from the turmoil of Westminster it was great to get back to Worthing on Thursday to join Masterchef champion and Worthing resident Kenny Tutt and his wonderful wife Lucy for the grand opening of his new restaurant Pitch in the centre of town. They have done a fantastic job on this state-of-the-art new venture that will also include a cookery school. I gather that it is booked up for months in advance and it was particularly good to see so many other Worthing ‘eatery’ businesses there to wish Kenny well as this will no doubt help further put Worthing on the map as a great place to come and enjoy fine dining and entertaining.

Last week I hosted in Parliament a very well attended panel event with representatives from the British Council and British Museum about the power of ‘soft diplomacy’ in promoting British interests around the world. Our museums, universities, design and widespread cultural institutions are amongst the best in the world and our expertise is in great demand whether it be putting back together shattered countries after civil strife or lifting developing countries out of poverty through building their skills. Post Brexit (when it at last comes) building on such relationships with countries beyond the EU will be even more important and we ignore this crucial area of diplomacy at our peril.

My latest constituency e-newsletter will be out later this week and on Saturday I will be joining a street surgery with East Worthing councillors on the promenade near the old Aquarena site.