MP's column

When it comes to Brexit votes, Parliament and the ongoing saga, I’m not going to pretend that I can defend this fiasco. I believe in Great Britain and the British people. I believe in the people of West Cornwall and Scilly. And I believe it is my job to do the best I can. However, I am frustrated and disheartened because many influential politicians seem to have lost faith in Great Britain and the British public. We are arguing amongst ourselves, the Government seems to have lost focus and seems unable to stand firm on what it committed to. Colleagues are working to frustrate the will of the British public and that is why today is such a challenging time for the people that we represent. I still believe that we must honour the referendum result and must deliver Brexit. This isn’t about losing our relationship with the EU, it’s about defining a new relationship, a relationship of co-operation and trade with the EU and that’s why we need to get on with leaving. Then we need a new leader of the Conservative party. We need to work hard across the House of Commons and Lords and find out what future relationship we want, working with and listening to the British public. 

This week I secured a debate in Parliament on the effect of the 25 Year Environment Plan on our health. Following World Health Day on April 7th, it’s right to put aside time for an issue that presents both significant challenges and opportunities for Great Britain. I am greatly privileged as a West Cornwall MP. Colleagues show pity that I have to travel such a distance to Westminster. They forget that I represent one of the most beautiful natural environments in the UK, laying claim to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Marine Conservation Zones, National Nature Reserves, and Special Protected Areas. I can give testament to the fact that nature can bring clarity of thought, perspective and resolve.

We must not underestimate the value of nature or the risks that come with neglecting our natural environment. Evidence suggests that living in greener environments is associated with reduced mortality. There is strong and consistent evidence for mental health and wellbeing benefits - arising from exposure to natural environments. The Environment plan claims: ‘Spending time in the natural environment improves our mental health and feelings of wellbeing. It can reduce stress, fatigue, anxiety and depression. It can help boost immune systems, encourage physical activity and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as asthma. It can combat loneliness and bind communities together.’

The Government should be commended for the 25 Year Environment Plan. The plan sets out goals to create cleaner air and water, goals to support plants and animals to thrive and to provide a cleaner, greener country. This is the right course of action. Everyone deserves to live in a healthy, wildlife-rich natural world. And it is action that is needed.