THE PAST ten days have been a period for not just mourning Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth but also one of national reflection.
Indeed, during this time, I chose not to use social media other than to echo thoughts on the impact of the Queen’s passing.
A week ago on Saturday I gave a tribute to Her Late Majesty with a speech in the House of Commons.
On the Sunday I was able to attend two church services at St Mary’s, Warwick, and All Saints Parish Church, Leamington, as well as the Proclamation.
Then on Monday, I bore witness to the moving speech by His Majesty King Charles III in Westminster Hall, a rare occasion when both Houses – the Lords and Commons – are jointly invited to an address. The last such occasion was for President Obama and before that for Nelson Mandela.
I was also able to pay my respects to the Queen as she lay in state in Westminster Hall.
Elsewhere, I also wrote messages in the books of condolence in Leamington’s Pump Rooms and in Westminster.
So many people have wanted to share with me their feeling of loss and I was struck by the sentiment and the sincerity of the messages with flowers that many constituents had left to Her Late Majesty.
Among those was the oft repeated thought that it was her reassurance and constancy providing us with direction in times of uncertainty that will be missed.
She was our constant in a changing world.
I get the sense that she meant more to people than many knew themselves.
During this period however, there has been the harsh reality of the cost of living crisis effecting ordinary lives.
Here in the constituency, independent pubs and breweries, cafes and restaurants as well as more general businesses are seeing their energy prices more than triple in some cases.
Some are just weeks away from collapse. We’ve already lost several treasured pubs during the pandemic, and we don’t want to lose any more.
Reports suggest that support from government will not come until November. But we cannot wait.
I’ve twice written to the new Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and once to the new Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg demanding an immediate plan to support small businesses.
I’ve included anonymous comments from business owners in our towns to exemplify the desperate situation so many are facing.
A pub owner told me: “The thought of telling the team after all the sacrifice we have made and the money we have put in that the journey is over, and they are jobless due to this is going to keep me awake for a long time.”
Another owner of an automotive firm said: “I’ve never been one to join a march or protest, in the belief that we vote for a government, so they should govern; but the country is on the verge of disaster and action is needed now.”
If action is not taken soon, these businesses could be gone.