I am unashamedly a unionist. I believe that our United Kingdom, which has existed for over 300 years and spans politics, culture, language, currency, economics and so much more is the strongest grouping of nations anywhere in the world.
It is that collective strength which has shown itself to be so important during the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst the healthcare response has been led by each of the devolved nations, taking into account the local prevalence rates, the economic response has been led firmly by the UK Government and Rishi Sunak. Rafts of measures from the Job Retention Scheme to CBILS have been used by businesses across the country to get through this period, protecting millions of jobs and livelihoods. And it isn’t just coronavirus that demonstrates our collective strength either.
Take one look at our world-class armed forces and you see it personified. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen come from all four corners of the UK and proudly wear the Queen’s uniform with the union flag on their sleeve. This collective strength is something we don’t celebrate and shout about enough. But unfortunately, this means that it often gets drowned out by separatists. This is something that I and my colleagues are determined to change.
I have seen for myself in Parliament how at every opportunity there are those who want to talk our union down and claim it doesn’t work for them. Who will use every issue to highlight a grievance where the only solution is to separate, breaking up that 300 year old family.
This weekend the Conservative Union Research Group will be launched and I am proud to be one of the many MPs who have joined it. Its aim is simple – to ensure that there is a strong and consistent voice highlighting the benefits of what we have achieved, and will continue to achieve, together. And it will not be an issue that is only owned by those in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. Because we all have a shared interest in the future of our country.I know from speaking to people across Burnley and Padiham that we are a borough of proud unionists.
You hear it when you’re out and about. Breaking up our country would not just impact those who want to do it but each and every one of us. As a proud unionist, and your MP, my job is to be that voice in Parliament. And there are things we can do to keep our union strong. We need our schools to teach not only our collective history, but also the history of each part of the UK, from Adam Smith in Scotland who formed modern day economics through to the English Civil War which has defined our democracy. That way we understand and celebrate our backgrounds.
Together we have so much to be proud of and having stood on a manifesto promise to strengthen our Union, I will do whatever I can to highlight it.