MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

THIS week Parliament has been preparing for the funeral of one of the greatest leaders this country has ever known.

It has been an emotional week, not just for those involved with the Conservative Party but for many MPs and people across the political divide who have been extremely generous in the tributes they have paid to Margaret Thatcher.

I felt privileged last week to be able to give my own personal acknowledgment in the House of Commons to the role the former PM had played in my life.

My mother was widowed at an early age and, with the help of my grandparents, was forced to raise me on her own. She was originally a Labour voter who worked in a factory and was a trade union member.

A good education and stability were important to my mum and balancing working shifts and child care was always a huge challenge.

The assisted places scheme introduced by Margaret Thatcher, and abolished in 1997, was an immense help in my life. People from my background in Scotland did not generally go to private school, or university. The scheme gave me and others that opportunity and I feel was integral to where I have ended up today.

While private education is not necessarily the best option for everyone, my mother was won over by Margaret Thatcher’s policy which gave me those opportunities.

On Tuesday I was invited to attend an intimate service in the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft in the Houses of Parliament with family and senior MPs which I found to be a most fitting tribute to Lady Thatcher before the pomp and ceremony of the funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral, which I was also honoured to be part of.

It was a special moment for me to be able to go and pay my respects in such a manner, which so few were able to do and in my own small way hope I was able to represent those in Fylde who had contacted my office to pass on their best wishes.

It was also a pleasure to see so many people take to the streets to pay their own tribute to Lady Thatcher as the funeral cortege made its way through the streets of central London, the capital of a nation on which she left her own indelible mark.

There are only certain moments where the country stops to honour one of its own in such a manner and I felt it was a fitting and respectful moment which was thoroughly deserved.

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