The following article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 5 April 2017.
Easter recess has come and gone since my last piece for the Weekly News. MPs routinely protest that recess is not a holiday – and indeed it is not – but this recess gave significantly less opportunity for relaxation than most. It was, indeed, extraordinarily busy.
The Article 50 notice of Britain’s intention to withdraw from the European Union was served on the President of the European Council on 29 March, immediately before the recess began. That piece of process heralded a round of European visits from a number of British ministers, myself included.
The European Parliament has a significant role to play in the process of withdrawal. It has an effective veto on the final agreement that is concluded between the Commission and the British Government. It is therefore important to engage with MEPs in order to ascertain their views on the likely course of the negotiations. I accordingly spent two days at the Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, speaking to senior Members from a range of European countries.
The following week saw me visiting The Hague, the seat of the Netherlands Government. There, I met several Dutch ministers and was particularly pleased to have a brush-by with the foreign minister, a colleague who sits with me on the EU’s General Affairs Council. I also spoke at an evening event organised by the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce, where I met a number of senior businesspeople with a particular interest in the outcome of the withdrawal negotiations.
After all this activity, it was a particular pleasure to return home, and continue the routine life of an MP, seeing constituents at my surgeries, and attending community events, including an excellent charity concert at Rhos on Sea in support of the mayor’s charity, featuring the Colwyn male voice choir.
After church services on Good Friday and Easter Day, it was back to London on Easter Monday, where there will be a lot of activity before Parliament is prorogued prior to the Queen’s speech – likely to include provision for the Great Repeal Bill, an important feature of the next Parliamentary session and the next legislative step in the Brexit process.