John Baron MP, looks back at Boris' stonking victory and looks forward to playing his part in the new and improved parliament.

Following on from my last column, the Prime Minister's continues to confound his critics who, once again, should be consuming large helpings of humble pie. After conducting his successful 'sham negotiations', leading to his re-opening of the Withdrawal Agreement that received wisdom maintained could never be re-opened, the Prime Minister has followed this up with the largest Conservative majority since the heady days of Margret Thatcher.

In Labour's Leave-voting heartlands, both in the North of England and Wales, seat after seat turned blue at last week's election ? some having never returned a Conservative, many not for decades. These voters responded to the Prime Minister's admirable clarity of campaign message, which left Jeremy Corbyn horrifically ? even comically, as Tony Blair put it ? exposed with his 'neutral stance' on the single biggest issue of our times.

This 'neutral stance' on Brexit, intended to ride the horses of both northern leavers as well as metropolitan Remainers (with predictable results), was one of many reasons why Labour plumed such depths at this election. Jeremy Corbyn himself was a significant hindrance ? his ideological inflexibility, weak leadership and concerning associations over many decades telling further against him on the doorstep this time round.

More broadly, Labour's scattergun manifesto, containing backwards-looking policies of high taxation, mass nationalisation, partial confiscation of company ownership and endless promises of 'free' services, cut little ice on the doorstep. For the sake of our country, I hope the Labour Party chooses a moderate and able leader to succeed Corbyn, as it is never to the overall benefit of the country to have an ill-functioning Opposition. This we have not had since Corbyn's election in 2015, and there have been times when this has told.

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The Liberal Democrats had a similarly bad reception from voters, not helped by their new leader sticking for much of the campaign to the absurd claim that she was well-placed to become the next Prime Minister. This did much to undermine the Liberal Democrats' self-appointed reputation for moderation, especially when coupled with an extreme position of revoking Article 50 without even holding a second referendum.

However, as I thank the voters of Basildon & Billericay for returning me to Parliament with a much-increased majority, I do also feel a pang of sadness for those opposition MPs with whom I have made friendships and worked productively over the years. They were good servants of their constituents and contributed a great deal especially to our joint efforts on All-Party Parliamentary Groups.

It is clear that, despite the failure of the 'once in a generation' referendum in 2014, the question of Scottish independence will be a constant presence in this Parliament. As the Prime Minister set out in his early remarks during the re-election of the Speaker, all non-SNP MPs must speak up for and preserve the Union with Scotland, politely but firmly.

The reports that a Department for the Union may be created should be welcomed. All too often the SNP have a clear run with their separatist agenda, in which all grievances are laid at the door of the 'English Parliament' (as the Shadow Chancellor unwisely referred to Westminster earlier this year). This should be quietly but firmly repudiated.

The Queen's Speech contained a welter of legislation, an implicit recognition of the Parliamentary deadlock since the last General Election now shattered by last week's result. In addition to the necessary Brexit law, many other laudable measures are coming down the tracks ? I am particularly looking forward to supporting legislation to support Army veterans from vexatious litigation. Our robust One Nation agenda is also very much welcomed. There will be much activity in the New Year, and I look forward to playing my full part.

 

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