Simon Reevell's Notes From Westminster

You may have read last week that I have been adopted as the Conservative candidate for the next general election.

All sitting MPs are required to seek re-selection if they wish to stand again and I was really pleased to be chosen by my party.

Before getting to the House of Commons, many of my colleagues had applied for a variety of parliamentary seats: I have only ever applied for this one and I am delighted to be in the fight for 2015.

Since the announcement, a number of people have come forward and asked how they can help between now and the election. All of them are people who have not been involved in politics before and who want to help me win. If you would like to join them, just drop me an email or give me a ring.

In Parliament, the issues of Europe and gay marriage have dominated the last two weeks. It became obvious on Monday that Labour leader Ed Miliband would ensure that the Same Sex Marriage Bill would get through by ordering his MPs to vote with the LibDems and those Conservatives who support it.

My concern has always been the risk of religious orders being compelled to conduct gay marriages despite the conscience of the individual priest.

I have also been impressed by the calm and cogent manner in which some faith schools in this constituency have explained the difficulties they would have if there were the possibility of being penalised for failing to promote same sex marriage.

Important concessions have been won on these points and although my concerns remain, I do think that the bill is in the most robust form it could be.

I now wait to see what the House of Lords will propose.

Although there have been disagreements between Conservative MPs over the question of gay marriage, there is – contrary to some media reports – near unanimity over Europe. If there is a Conservative victory in 2015, there will be an ‘in/out’ referendum on our EU membership in 2017.

There is no dispute about this and it is not something that any other political party can or will deliver.

In the past I have voted against the government over the EU. When I first did so in the autumn of 2010, there were just 36 Conservative MPs with me. It was not a ‘free vote’ and I had a fall-out with the party whips.

I didn’t mind because I have always believed that constituency and country must come before party.

That always used to be the way for most MPs until years of career politicians changed the approach of some of them. But last week my views became mainstream policy and I am pleased to have won that argument.

People are entitled to vote ‘in’ or ‘out’ but people must be given a vote. The appetitive for a referendum is clear and there is no justification for denying people a choice.

Why 2017? Because at the moment no-one knows what is going to become of the EU. It may just turn into the euro zone. It may move back to being a trading organisation. By 2017, we will know and so the choice will be clear. Do call into the street stalls in Dewsbury and Mirfield on Saturday morning and let me know what you think.

Very best wishes,

Simon

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