Old habits die hard, so as a former postie, I want you to know that I'll continue to deliver for the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Yesterday, I was incredibly proud to deliver my maiden speech in the Commons. In it, I vowed to work for all residents, regardless of how and if they voted.
I'd also like to thank colleagues who came to support me, and those who watched on TV.
Today, like everyday, I'm back out delivering for the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Read the transcript below:
Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me to deliver my maiden speech. Many words have been dedicated to this summer’s by-election campaigns and the subsequent result in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, so I hope you will allow me to add just a few more words based on my own experiences, rather than the conjecture offered by many commentators.
Let me begin with ULEZ—the ultra low emission zone—and its expansion across outer London. It will come as no surprise to anyone that this is not the first time I have mentioned those four letters in this Chamber. Even though the extended charge zone has now come into being, I stand here—no longer the local candidate, but the Member of Parliament—still determined to fight the Mayor of London’s money grab and reduce the burden placed on my residents and local businesses.
For me, however, the by-election was about much more than ULEZ and its unnecessary expansion. It was about a variety of local issues, such as securing a new hospital, keeping Uxbridge police station open, providing further support for childcare places, and protecting our green spaces for future generations. It was a by-election campaign fought on multiple local issues of substance. So, rather than dwelling on ULEZ, may I suggest that what also drove residents to the polls was the motivation to have an MP who understands the needs of the community, who appreciates the complexities of the community, and who is truly embedded in the community?
Since 2018, I have served as a local councillor for the London Borough of Hillingdon. Hillingdon Council is well respected, and in some cases even envied, for its consistent year in, year out performance in core services that residents expect, be they weekly waste collections, which are quite rare these days; refurbishing libraries, not closing them; and being one of the greenest boroughs in London, with 67 green flag awarded parks and open spaces. All of this and more is achieved through Hillingdon Council’s continual focus on sound financial management that puts residents first. I pay tribute to the leader of Hillingdon Council, Councillor Ian Edwards, and his executive cabinet, as well as Sir Ray Puddifoot — the former leader for over two decades—my fellow councillors, both past and present, and of course the officer team and frontline teams across all departments who deliver great services for their residents and my constituents.
During the by-election, Uxbridge and South Ruislip saw intense campaigning, with a media frenzy and a whopping 17 candidates, but being the centre of attention is not something new for my constituency. Uxbridge is home to the Battle of Britain Bunker—one of the most popular heritage destinations in my constituency for visitors near and far. The bunker played a key part in the allied defensive network across Britain during the second world war, and it was from that bunker that No. 11 Fighter Command was controlled. No. 11 Fighter Command, based in Uxbridge, played a crucial role in securing victory during the battle of Britain. Indeed, it was at the entrance to the bunker that Winston Churchill first uttered his famous words,
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
He repeated those profound words in this very Chamber four days later, on 20 August 1940.
A bunker mentality was right for that time, but now is not that time. This is a time not to hunker down and hide away, but to face the many complex challenges that face us here in the UK and across the globe. The Prime Minister, the Government and my party are quite rightly looking at the long term, and have outlined clear and decisive policies that are designed to tackle the challenges we face. They are not easy decisions, but decisions that build on the long-term horizon, rather than easy short-termism that has no foundation or substance. I was elected to stand up for the interests of my constituents. I was born and raised in the constituency that I now have the privilege of serving as an MP.
A number of years ago—probably a few more than I would care to admit—I was born at Hillingdon Hospital. The hospital holds a special place in my heart: my children were born there, and there have been plenty of visits and treatments for myself and my family over the years. I pay tribute to the entire team at Hillingdon Hospital, past and present, as they continue to demonstrate exceptional professionalism and dedication to the surrounding communities. Much has been said about the condition of our hospital, some of it rather harsh and sensationalist in the heat of by-election campaigning. With that in mind, I am incredibly proud of the work that has been completed as part of the delivery of a new hospital for Hillingdon. Thanks to the combined efforts of all involved, including the local NHS trust and Hillingdon Council, work has begun on delivering that new hospital.
I pay a specific tribute to my predecessor, Boris Johnson, for his tireless efforts in support of Hillingdon Hospital during his time as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. He campaigned continuously for the funding to be secured and for the project to become a reality. That was one of many local campaigns that Boris championed across the constituency, and I thank him for his dedication in supporting many businesses, charities and community groups. While developing a new hospital is a large and complex project, I look forward to working with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that we can deliver long-term positive health outcomes and a state-of-the-art new hospital for my constituents.
To be stood here among these historic and world-famous green Benches is a great honour. It is incredibly humbling to follow in the footsteps of John Randall, who back in 1997 also became MP for Uxbridge as a result of a by-election. I am incredibly thankful for his advice and support on my journey to becoming an MP, and I hope to achieve as much as he did when he represented Uxbridge and South Ruislip. To be the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip—the place where I was raised, where I have worked and where I live—representing friends, neighbours and strangers alike is a true honour. Immediately after the by-election, my work as an MP started: meeting some of the many faith and cultural groups that make Uxbridge and South Ruislip such a vibrant place to live, and visiting many local businesses that help keep residents in good, decent jobs and contribute to keeping our high streets bustling.
I thank the Hillingdon chamber of commerce for its engagement so early on. It is clear that we share the goal of supporting our businesses and keeping our community thriving, as well as encouraging other businesses to set their roots in our local economy. There are some fantastic businesses from small, home-based entrepreneurs and medium-sized exciting businesses such as Mills Ltd in Cowley, which is supporting gigabit infrastructure through the supply of essential tools and equipment, to a number of large national and international businesses such as Coca-Cola, Hertz and Brunel University, which all create employment opportunities for local people.
One of my priorities for Uxbridge and South Ruislip is to support business and promote our high streets. I am looking forward to taking this further through building on the work this Government have already done to protect businesses against the pressures of the cost of living. This includes a tax cut for 38,000 British pubs earlier this year through the Brexit pubs guarantee, and to ensure that our fantastic local pubs—like my local, the Middlesex Arms in South Ruislip—remain at the centre of the communities they have helped for many years. [Interruption.] A pint tonight, yes!
As I have already mentioned, much has been written about the by-election campaign. Even though local issues ultimately won over attempts to frame it with a national outlook, I want to take this opportunity to declare that I will be a Member of Parliament for all residents regardless of how or if they voted. I am incredibly proud of Uxbridge and South Ruislip and its civic pride from our active community-focused residents’ and volunteering groups to our dynamic, hard-working charities such as the Daniella Logun Foundation, which does amazing work to help children and their families with brain tumours and in raising awareness of childhood cancer.
As I have already said, we are a truly vibrant community, and through my priorities—they include a new Hillingdon hospital, securing even more police officers, protecting our green spaces, delivering improved special needs provision, supporting local businesses and improving our high streets—I stand here ready and determined to do all I can as a Member of Parliament to ensure that my community remains a great place to live, a great place to raise a family, a great place to work and a great place to grow to grow old in.
Mr Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, old habits die hard, so as a former postie, I will continue to deliver for the people of Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Thank you.
Watch here: https://bit.ly/47digME