03 JAN 2017

Star Column - 28th December 2016

I hope all Star readers had a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and are looking forward to what 2017 brings. 2016 brought events that will define politics for years to come. An MP was murdered. The referendum on the EU was a close but decisive vote to leave. The Prime Minister resigned and we have a new PM in Theresa May. Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected Labour leader with an even bigger mandate, while Donald Trump won the US Presidency, while Hilary Clinton lived up to her politically unlucky reputation as she won the popular vote but not the electoral college.

The defining event of the year, Britain's decision to leave the European Union in June's referendum, will have ramifications for decades to come as we forge a new role for ourselves in the world after 43 years of EU membership. The turnout of 80% in Suffolk Coastal was one of the highest in the country and I hope that my efforts in contacting over 25,000 households to encourage them to use their vote during the campaign helped to contribute to this. The government is now getting on with the job of delivering the verdict of the British people and we will seek to build a relationship with the EU that reflects the kind of mature, co-operative relationship that close friends and allies enjoy.

The referendum result also led to the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party. David came to office in 2010 and put Britain back on a sound economic footing would have been enough to make his premiership a success I believe, but he was a great reforming Prime Minister too, notably in education and welfare where sweeping changes have been made to raise standards and make sure work always pays. He has much to be proud of during his 6 years in office and it was an honour to serve in his government.

The transition of power to Theresa May was swift and smooth and she has provided strong and principled leadership to our country in this uncertain time. Theresa has shown she has the determination and vision needed to get us the best possible deal from our upcoming negotiations with the EU and will work tirelessly to implement the manifesto which we were elected upon at the last general election. It was a great honour to be appointed a Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by the Prime Minister, covering the environment and rural life opportunities. It is such a broad portfolio that touches every part of our great country and we are working hard to make the most of the opportunities that leaving the European Union brings to reshape our environmental policy so we leave the environment in a better state than we found it.

There were moments of national joy – the Queen's 90th birthday, the tremendous success for Team GB at the Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro. To finish second in the medals table at both events is a monumental achievement of which the whole nation is rightly proud. In Defra we were particularly proud of Hollie Webb who scored the winning penalty stroke to clinch gold. I expect we will celebrate our sporting heroes in the New Years' honours list but as the Queen said in her Christmas, we can all do extraordinary things in our daily lives to make a difference to the lives of others. I would like to thank my team Phil, Hugo, Kirsty and Alex for all their help in helping constituents of Suffolk Coastal.

On that note, I would like to wish all Star readers a happy and prosperous New Year.

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E-mail: therese.coffey.mp@parliament.uk

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