Each year I ask a school in my constituency to run a competition between the pupils to paint a scene for my Christmas card.
This year pupils at St Mary’s Primary School in Pulborough picked up the baton and, from a very strong field of contenders, I chose nine-year-old Taylor Young’s ‘Bridge over the River Arun’.
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I send out 1,000 Christmas cards by post – I should stress at my personal expense, not on the public purse – and thousands more ‘e-cards’.
The House of Commons rises today but I will work throughout the festive period as experience tells me the emails will continue to come in – sometimes including on Christmas Day itself!
The House will return on Monday, January 7, and I plan to speak in the debate on Brexit which will resume that week. The following week we will hold the meaningful vote. I am sure that there will much discussion in the new year, when local views on both sides will continue to be expressed very strongly.
In the meantime, I expect many of us are looking forward to a period when we can be with our families, where the ‘B’ word isn’t mentioned, and where the only thought of Brussels will be in the context of sprouts.
This is a time when we should think of others who are less fortunate than us and for whom Christmas will be lonely or difficult, whether it is those without families to look after them or who are struggling, perhaps even without a roof over their heads. There are too many homeless people in our country, including locally, something we should not be allowing to happen today. And while we stuff ourselves with turkey and Christmas pudding, millions around the world are hungry.
Our all-consuming domestic debate on Europe, important though it is, has left too little time to consider global humanitarian crises such as the risk of famine in Yemen or the plight of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar or Somalia (a total of 13.5 million people).
Finally, back at home, a huge thank you to all those who will be working over the Christmas and new year period to look after others, especially in our emergency services. May I wish all my constituents a very happy Christmas, and a peaceful new year.
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