National headlines would tell you that local elections were a disaster for both main parties – locally, of course, it’s clear that it’s a different story. Independents fared well, but in the end Conservatives retained control of both Boston and East Lindsey district councils. Last time these polls were held in Boston, on the same day as my first election, Conservatives won 14 of 30 seats and last week it was 16. These are surprising results for a government that has been in power for nine years, but we live in surprising times.
Brexit, of course, cost anyone connected with Westminster support and benefitted everyone who wasn’t. Voters cast a plague on all MPs’ houses and given the failure to so far leave the EU, quite right too.
When I was out on the doorstep, and talking to newly elected and re-elected councillors, there was one clear message: Brexit must be delivered not just for the sake of democracy, but also so that we can all move on to discuss the urgently pressing issues that face all of us in our daily lives. That might mean the vital reforms to our local NHS, or it might mean the need to plan flood defences today that will last for many decades. But with Brexit sucking up huge amounts of legislative oxygen, that’s simply not possible in the way that it should be. More than £20bn is going into the NHS thanks to a successful economy – that’s what I’d far rather be focusing on.
My personal commitment to delivering Brexit is absolutely total – I know that politicians have to respect the result of the biggest democratic vote in our country’s recent history, and even if compromises are the price of ultimately getting out then all sides should be prepared to make them. The alternatives are either an unnecessarily painful no-deal Brexit or Parliament voting to revoke Article 50. That latter must not happen.
In the meantime, sadly, excellent, dedicated and long-serving councillors have lost their seats thanks to Westminster. I’d like to thank all those, of whatever party or none, who have put themselves forward recently or in the past, for the thankless privilege of being a councillor. In many ways councils make a far greater impact on day-to-day life than Parliament does, but nobody runs for local office expecting money or prestige. These are people who care passionately about their communities and want to see them thrive.
Conservative councillors once again find themselves entrusted with running both Boston and East Lindsey, as voters chose experience and a record of decent services in deeply challenging financial circumstances. I’d like to thank all those members of the public who took that decision, and in particular all those councillors whose service was declined because of the faults of Westminster. Voters deserve Brexit – it must be delivered, for the sake of both competent local government and our democracy as a whole. I will continue to do all I can to secure it as quickly as possible.