In my New Year message 12 months ago I pondered the possibility of the first female US president, and that the referendum outcome, either way, would make our future pathway in the world 'much clearer to navigate'.

Oh dear. Nostradamus would not be impressed. This year I choose to avoid prediction and simply enjoy each moment as it unfolds.

2016 brought the loss of many icons who's perennial presence had an indelible impact on my life and my generation. Bowie, Prince and George Michael were three from the world of music who's unexpected passing reminded me of the value each day brings.

We live in a great country and we have great prospects in a world where so many are less fortunate. And so my motto for 2017 is carpe diem!

I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.


Brexit: Clarity will defeat uncertainty - 20-01-17

It is now well over 6 months since the British people took the decision to leave the European Union. Setting aside the disgraceful campaigning on both sides, the referendum did settle a long-lingering blain and provided a clear and positive democratic mandate for our Government.

Theresa May now has an enormous task at hand in negotiating our exit and accordingly has spent the past 6 months laying the ground whilst, rightly, keeping our cards close to her chest. I for one will be doing everything I can to support the Government in making a success of this critical task and I hope colleagues and constituents will rally in this spirit. Negative bickering about leaving or remaining really must now cease.

Speaking as a former business owner and employer the other most negative aspect surrounding all of this has been uncertainty. It was therefore a huge relief this week to hear the Prime Minister set out a powerful and positive vision of how the Government aims to secure the best deal for Britain. She was bold and strategic and I rather liked her fighting talk.

Her twelve-point-plan suggests she has her ducks in a row and I welcomed the clarity she gave in finally confirming our, frankly inevitable, departure from the single market and that we will not remain a full member of the customs union.

Recognition of the need to prioritise smooth transition with the possibility of a phased implementation process will also be well received by commerce. This will be crucial to minimise the possibility of a so-called cliff-edge shock when we leave.

Furthermore, Mrs May was absolutely right to make clear that although we will be leaving the EU we are not leaving Europe. There is so much more to our relationship than trade and ongoing co-operation will be critical in the fight against crime and terrorism.

It's early days but the story so far is looking hopeful.

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Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.


MP's Barracks Campaign Begins

Helen Grant MP ramped up her campaign to prevent the closure of Invicta Park Barracks this week, as she chaired a meeting of MPs who share similar concerns about the proposed base closures in their respective constituencies.

A number of MPs attended the meeting in Parliament from right across the United Kingdom, from Inverness in the North East to Pembrokeshire in the South West and many places in between. They also came from a broad range of political parties to share their thoughts about the Government's Better Defence Estate Strategy.

The discussion centred on the MPs' fears about the impact that the proposed base closures will have on their communities and also on the ability of the army to recruit and retain the best service personnel. Helen raised with other members the particularly significant effect that this decision will have upon the serving Gurkhas and Maidstone's Nepalese population as a whole.

As a result of the meeting, Helen is stepping up her campaign to prevent the barracks from closing. The group of MPs are in the process of applying for a parliamentary debate on the matter to place on record their opposition to the decisions and to provide an opportunity to press the Minister further. Mrs Grant is also launching a petition to garner public support for the campaign.

Helen said: 'The meeting was a very welcome chance to compare notes with other MPs about their opposition to the proposed base closures across the United Kingdom. It is clear that I am not the only person with concerns about the Better Defence Estate Strategy and the impact that it will have on our local communities and on service personnel and their families. This decision is not fair on those who give so much to our country and deserve to be treated with a great deal more compassion and understanding. This rings particularly true for our Gurkhas to whom Maidstone has become their long term home and for whom the closure of the base would cause the greatest wrench. I look forward to continuing to work in partnership with this group of MPs to convince the MoD to reverse the decision to close Invicta Park Barracks.'


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With very best wishes

HELEN GRANT MP

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14 JAN 2017

Swimming success at historic club awards evening

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12 JAN 2017

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