MP free of Cabinet restrictions is now ‘itching to take up’ where he left off

MP GREG Clark lost his job as Business Secretary when Boris Johnson last week reshuffled the Tory Cabinet.


 It’s the first time since 2010 that the Member of Parliament for Tunbridge Wells has not had a place in Government.

The Times invited him to share his thoughts on where he goes now…


“Every Member of Parliament serves at the sole discretion of their constituents, but of 650 MPs, around 25 at any one time serve at the invitation of the Prime Minister as a Member of the UK Cabinet as well.


For the last 5 years I have attended Cabinet and I would like to say thank you to my constituents for their wonderful support during that time, and my previous 4 years as a Minister of State.


These have been tumultuous years for our country – from the difficult years after the financial crisis, to the referendum on the EU and its aftermath, encompassing a coalition government with the Lib Dems, a Conservative-majority government, and effectively a Conservative minority government.


It is a tremendous honour and a privilege to be invited to serve your country at any time – ask any England cricketer or footballer of the great pride in being called up for the national team. 


And I believe that this responsibility is particularly significant during times when the nation hasn’t simply been coasting along easily but when times have been challenging.


On the biggest issue that faces us right now – how we leave the EU – I have argued consistently that we should leave the EU with a good deal that allows us to continue to trade easily with our neighbours, and that we should not accept a no deal Brexit. 


I won’t change my view for political convenience, but accept that it is perfectly right that that the new Prime Minister should be surrounded by people whose views reflect his own.


For all the stimulation and responsibility of being a minister, I have always found my local work for constituents to be the most rewarding.


This is I why I first stood for election.


Throughout my time as a minister I was determined to keep up my regular surgeries throughout the constituency, and I always look forward to each one – knowing that the mixture of policy matters and personal problems that people bring would not only be important to each individual but also almost always shed light on national policies, from Brexit to the benefits system.


Living in our area as I do means that constituents often stop me in the street, or the supermarket, or, I must confess, the pub – for a chat, and I welcome that too.


I am proud that whatever the nastiness that sometimes infects politics in other places, the Tunbridge Wells style when we meet in person is almost always friendly and respectful – a hugely positive reflection of our community.


Being on the frontbench does impose restrictions that I have been grateful to constituents for understanding.


For example, no minister can speak in a debate in Parliament on behalf of their constituents, or ask another minister a question, or instigate a debate.


Free of these restrictions I am itching to take up where I left off.


I was always an active speaker, and there are many constituency causes I will be giving voice to, from championing local business, improving mental health services, getting Cystic Fibrosis sufferers the treatment they deserve, and getting better broadband, to dualling the next stage of the A21, and continuing locally the environmental work towards net zero emissions that I began in office.


My Tunbridge Wells constituency is known for many things – its beauty, its history, its cultural life to name just three.  But we are perhaps most famous of all for having articulate, informed and outspoken residents.


I’m proud to be part of such a community and it is a privilege to work for everyone in it.”

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