Gazette & Herald Column: It's been a deeply serious and high stakes week

It’s been a deeply serious and high stakes week all round.  We have a key NATO Summit with major potential repercussions for the future of Western defence, as well as the first official visit from President Trump, where we have to balance building a strong trading relationship with the world’s biggest economy, while calling out some of the acts we disagree with like the separation of families at borders.  


Locally, we are all shocked by the latest major incident in the Novichok poisoning atrocity, with the death of a British citizen on British soil from the same nerve agent used against the Skripals.  No matter how benign the atmosphere of the World Cup, this serves as a reminder that Mr. Putin’s regime is one which believes in state sponsored terrorism.  This issue was raised at a COBRA meeting, and I join the Prime Minister in commending our local police, emergency service workers and the staff at Salisbury District Hospital for all of their efforts and professionalism.  I would also like to reassure local people and visitors that there is a low risk to the public, Salisbury remains fully open for business and Wiltshire is the most wonderful part of the UK to visit this summer. 


Of course, the other event was the Chequers meeting on Friday, where I joined the Cabinet in coming together to agree on an ambitious and comprehensive proposal to put to EU leaders on our desired future economic relationship with the world’s biggest single trading market.  What we agreed will deliver on the results of the Referendum – no ifs, no buts.  We will take control of our borders and end free movement.  We will take control of our fishing waters and agricultural policy.  We will stop sending vast sums of money to Brussels.  We will exit the Single Market for goods and services and the customs union.  We will be able to sign trade deals with the rest of the world.  And the European Court will no longer be able to impose laws on us.  But, by proposing a special trading area for goods (but not services) between the EU and the UK, and an agreement to work together going forward on common standards, we won’t create trading mayhem for businesses large and small, and we avoid selling out our UK citizens in Northern Ireland.  In short, if we can get this plan agreed, we deliver what so many said they voted for back in 1973 – a good trading relationship with the EU, and deliver what so many voted for in 2016, taking back control of our money, borders and laws.