It's not about me, it's about you - my maiden speech

Mr Deputy Speaker, thank you.

Firstly, I will take this opportunity to thank my predecessor, Sir Hugo Swire for his service to East Devon and this House.

Sir Hugo served the constituency and his country with distinction.

He held several influential roles in Government including Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I count Sir Hugo as a friend, as do many in East Devon, because his efforts helped many people I meet across the constituency every week.

This house is a broad church of opinion, skills and expertise – no matter which rosette was worn on a dark and cold night last December.

Party differences should be cast aside as every member of this house comes together to back Great Britain as we become a truly Global Britain.

And the Commonwealth Games is a superb opportunity to demonstrate the values we hold dear.

Freedom, democracy, tolerance and decency.

71 nations will come together in Birmingham to celebrate their vibrant cultures and community spirit with a fair bit of friendly competition.

As we spread our wings and embark on a new journey as an independent nation – we must always remember the rallying cry in 2016 from communities who felt left behind.

Many still do.

I am incredibly humbled to stand here as the Member of Parliament for East Devon.

My constituency boasts vast swathes of the Jurassic Coast, rolling countryside, Georgian seaside towns and beautiful villages – and you are never too far from an honesty box or farm shop.

I was born in Devon; my family have lived in the county for generations – with some hailing from Cornwall, but we don’t talk about that…

Devon has given me incredible opportunities during my career.

I was part of the launch team for Radio Plymouth – a truly independent radio station for my home city.

It’s still going strong 10 years later – and I was delighted to attend their birthday celebrations last month.

However, my career in journalism and politics took me away from my county, family and friends.

London and the South East continue to lure our home-grown talent, many of whom never return.

This must change.

But it’s only possible if Devon speaks up, with one voice.

Devon has largely backed my party for many years – and that loyalty must be rewarded. 

And I look forward to working with the government on repaying the people’s trust in us.

Throughout the election campaign, people on doorsteps across East Devon told me they wanted to Get Brexit Done.

We’re getting it done – but we must deliver more.

And whilst many people flock to Devon for our stunning coastline and countryside every year, its clear our transport network leaves a lot to be desired.

Never more so than now.

Until last week, Exeter Airport, based in my constituency, provided regular flights across the UK, Channel Islands and Europe.

The collapse of Flybe is devastating for Devon and my thoughts are with those looking for new jobs.

I went to Exeter Airport on Friday to speak to staff and offer my support.

I saw many brave faces that day.

I want them to know I will do everything I can to support the future of Exeter Airport.

Now is the time to invest in the South West.

Never again can our main railway line, connecting Devon to the rest of the country, be washed away.

So, we must – to coin a phrase – Get Dawlish Done.

That’s not all.

The A303 is a main artery route into the South West.

It’s the road which passes Stonehenge – and many of us are treated to that historic view for considerably longer than we anticipated.

It’s time we saw action – not just proposals and plans.

I would take great delight in getting access to the Governments PayPal account.

Alas, I fear the password may contain the words “Powerhouse” and “Northern”.

Nevertheless, I know the Prime Minister and his Cabinet fully understand the opportunities and challenges facing Devon.

“I’ll do it dreckly” is a phrase heard regularly in my home city of Plymouth.

It means we’ll get around to doing something at some point, maybe, in the future.

A janner’s mañ-yarna, if you will.

But we don’t have any time to waste – we must deliver for Devon, now.

Thank you.