A happy new year to all my constituents and may 2017 prove to be a rather quieter and more predictable one than 2016, in so many respects.
As we start the year, alas much more predictably, Brexit, terrorism and locally train disruption continue to dominate the news.
On the last of these strike action is still pending as, alas, there have been no developments over the break and on Sunday I will be taking part in a BBC Sussex audience event over what happens next.
The speculation over hard/soft/soggy/smooth (also dubbed Smexit) Brexit will continue until at least March when the Prime Minister has signalled that Article 50 will be triggered and the process of leaving the EU officially starts, whatever the imminent Supreme Court judgement comes up with.
All the bluster and threats will then convert to hard negotiations as the detail of exactly how we become the first sovereign nation to leave the EU takes place.
Whatever the positioning of certain high-level EU Commission (unelected) officials it will be the political leaders of Europe who will have the final say based on political considerations.
Ahead of German elections in October will Angela Merkel really want to campaign on the basis that German car exporters to their largest market in the UK will be faced with hefty tariffs because the EU wants to punish the UK for leaving? I think not.
With important elections also due this year in Holland in March, France in May, the Czech Republic in October and an Italian banking looming crisis anytime soon, there are a lot of potential upsets on the other side of the Channel which will influence events.
The relentless efforts of terrorists over Christmas in Turkey and Iraq remind us all to be vigilant and how well we are served by our intelligence and security services in the UK.
As the Prime Minister noted in her new year message, citing the words of our murdered colleague Jo Cox MP, there is far more that unites us than divides us and there is so much to be proud of in the UK.
Hopefully that will shine through more obviously in 2017.
One small example reminded me how proud we should be of our own Worthing Hospital despite all the challenges we face in the NHS locally and nationally.
Paying my usual Christmas visit to the maternity and other wards before Christmas Eve with the mayor I was struck by just how proud the staff are to be working in one of only ‘outstanding’ rated acute hospital trusts in England, now led by the NHS chief executive of the year Marianne Griffith.
The maternity department is one of just three such departments rated ‘outstanding’ in its own right.
Everywhere we went staff pointed out some of the innovations that are making all the difference including the ‘Improvement Huddle Boards’ on wards where staff can tell management directly what is working and what isn’t, and effect change.
Thank you to all the staff who work so hard there and thank you to my many constituents who work so hard on our behalf.
Let’s make sure we show how proud we are of them and our country in 2017.
• If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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