In 2018 unemployment has hit record lows, employment record highs, and it was announced that the NHS would receive the largest single injection of funds in the service’s history.
But of course above all that it is Brexit that has dominated almost every headline. Knock on doors across Boston and Skegness and it is increasingly the case that Brexit is squeezing out even the conversations about roads and GP surgeries that usually dominate.
The challenge of Brexit is also the opportunity; I know that people voted for it locally in such numbers in part because they were optimistic about Britain’s future. The prospect of a country with its own trade policy, buying and selling globally, controlling its borders and sending less money to Brussels is one that people sought to embrace. It’s one I’m totally committed to delivering. Nobody I met in the course of the referendum believed it would be an effortless process, but the clear view was that Britain would more than profit from making the change.
Parliament’s role in that should be to come together in the national interest and make sure that Britain leaves the EU smoothly and without unnecessary disruption. The Prime Minister has worked tirelessly throughout the year to deliver a deal that will take us out of the EU while also protecting jobs and growth. It is not yet perfect, and when it comes back to Parliament it must satisfy the legitimate concerns of many of my colleagues if it is to receive the support of my fellow MPs.
If it does not, however, there is a real chance that the UK leaves the EU with an unnecessarily damaging no deal Brexit – or that we do not leave at all. I hope my colleagues in Parliament reflect seriously on the idea that undermining democracy is a very serious possibility if we were to find ourselves delaying or withdrawing Article 50, or even having a second referendum.
So the stakes for 2019 could not be higher – not just because MPs have to make sure Brexit happens and happens properly. Only by achieving that will the Government be able to devote the proper focus to the domestic agenda, be that the NHS, the police or the roads.
Those are the issues that will make a real difference to constituents in a far quicker timeframe than leaving the EU – all of them are vital, and MPs must seize the day to make sure we deliver on the opportunities at hand.