The Parliamentary recess has begun. Six weeks without the gathering of the tribes at Westminster – how will the countrycope? After an exhausting and emotionally gruelling few months, most MPs are desperate to have a few weeks living at a gentler pace. I am so glad that for me that means staying in Devon throughout August. What’s not to love!
There is never enough thinking time during the term, so the summer is a valuable resource to recharge batteries and regain a sense of perspective.
What would my end-of-term report look like? We have a weakened government thanks to the unexpected losses in the recent election, but with the support of the DUP, we can continue to govern for several years. We have to honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and leave the EU in spring 2019. I have no doubt that there will be extensive transitional arrangements, reflecting the complexity of what we are doing. I do not support a second referendum, but if the deal brought back from Brussels is not (in my judgement) in the national interest I reserve the right to vote against it. There is much water to flow under this bridge yet.
Despite the constant media stories, we will not have an imminent leadership election, nor an early general election. We have to knuckle down now and govern in the national interest. I believe the PM can recover much of her lost authority and confidence (she still performs well in the Commons), but do not see her leading the party into a future general election. That means that (probably post Brexit) we will have a leadership change and the new boss will decide when to go to the country for a fresh mandate. It would be good if next time we have a manifesto full of hope and promise rather than beating most of our supporters with s stick.
The next two years will be full of technical legislation as we debate the EU repeal bill, as the Brexit negotiations trundle along, accompanied by many leaks, briefings and counter-briefings. I still believe we can get a good deal.
In the meantime I intend to variously: sit under a tree, enjoy the beauty of God’s Creation, think deep and profound thoughts, do some preaching, potter around the constituency, spend time with the grandchildren, support Jan in her bid for equine global domination and prepare myself for two very demanding years ahead.