Robert's Weekly Column - 5th February 2020

Whatever your views about Brexit, it was undeniable that last Friday was an historic event. The exit of the UK from the EU is an end to over three years of deadlock, dither and delay. The crisis in our democracy is resolved, allowing us to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism.

The Prime Minister set out a clear negotiating position on Monday, meaning that we will not be adopting the position where we make increasingly plaintive requests of the EU which are unaccompanied by a clear bargaining position. The negotiations will be tough, but we have many shared goals that must and will be achieved in readiness for 2021. Meanwhile, we will open trade talks with other countries such as Japan and the USA. Our agenda is bold, but we are at our best when we are ambitious.

On Monday, I gave a statement in the House of Commons following the senseless and horrific terror attack in Streatham on Sunday.

Two members of the public were brutally stabbed as they went about their business on the busy High Road in Streatham and another was injured as our brave police stepped in before even more harm could be done.

As I said in the statement, our thoughts and prayers should be with the victims, their families and with all of those affected by this appalling attack. I also paid tribute to our outstanding emergency services who once again ran towards untold danger to protect the public: the police who shot the offender to save others and the ambulance staff who fearlessly tended the wounded despite the risk to their own lives.

Sunday’s appalling incident makes the case plainly for immediate action. We cannot have the situation, as we saw tragically in this case, where an offender – a known risk to innocent members of the public – is released early by automatic process of law, without any oversight by the Parole Board.

Protecting the public is the number one priority for this government. As Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, I will be introducing emergency legislation to ensure an end to terrorist offenders getting released automatically, having served half of their sentence with no check or review.  

The earliest point at which these offenders will now be considered for release will be once they have served two-thirds of their sentence and, crucially, we will introduce a requirement that no terrorist offender will be released before the end of the full custodial term unless the Parole Board agrees. We will also ensure that the functions of the Parole Board are strengthened to deal even more effectively with the specific risk that terrorists pose to public safety.

On Thursday, I had the pleasure of welcoming Macauli, Adiyath and Tilly along with their teachers Miss Bees and Mrs Swatridge from Lainsmead Primary School to Parliament for a tour. The group were up in London for the Children’s Lobby Event in Number 10 with the Prime Minister who took part in a question and answer session.  

Lainsmead Primary School were invited to take part in the event as it is part of the Primary Futures Programme, which aims to connect primary schools with people from the world of work in order to raise aspirations and broaden the horizons of children in Swindon schools. It was a wonderful day and an experience they will never forget.