Here at Westminster foreign affairs seem to have been dominating the agenda. The big story Russia.
Vladimir Putin has been testing his boundaries of power to disrupt the established western way of life for too long. His adventures in Syria, Ukraine, Crimea and Georgia are accompanied by his information warfare attacks on media and political organisations throughout the world. All the while he is boosting his nuclear capabilities. His motive is clearly to destabilise wherever possible and his next target will more likely than not be Brexit, weakening collective resolve in European countries.
Theresa May is right to stand up to him; it is totally unacceptable that a military grade nerve agent was used on the streets of Britain putting our citizens at unacceptable risk. What was extraordinary was Jeremy Corbyn’s response; a party political broadcast came first, then complete prevarication about how the Government needed more proof before we condemn. At a time of national crisis, government needs unity, even from the opposition. His backbenchers were in despair.
On other foreign matters my local opponents were incensed by the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. To them I would say this; you cannot change anything unless you engage. On women’s rights the PM and the Prince agreed to explore ways how the UK can support Saudi Arabia to progress and intensify recent reforms. And in respect of Yemen, both were united on the importance of full and unfettered humanitarian and commercial access, including through the ports, and that a political solution was ultimately the only way to end the conflict and humanitarian suffering in Yemen. This visit also marked a substantial boost for UK prosperity as we prepare to leave the EU.
Meanwhile the domestic agenda continues. The draft National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was launched for consultation to deliver more homes. This is a major overhaul to planning rules, the first in six years, delivering around 80 reforms set out in the Housing White Paper. It provides a comprehensive approach for planners, developers and councils to build more homes, more quickly, in the places people want to live. Tough new Domestic Abuse Protection Orders were also introduced, which will help protect victims against further abuse by enabling courts to impose a range of conditions on abusers. We are also proposing the first ever-statutory definition of Domestic Abuse, recognising that abuse is not just physical, but can take many different forms – including psychological, physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse.