June 20th, 2016

Monday 13 th June

Monday morning and I'm on the train to London for another week at Westminster.  On Mondays my regular column appears in The National Newspaper. 

Photo: The National
George Kerevan: It’s far from game, set and match as Brexit tactics draw Labour supporters

What are the real chances of a Brexit vote? There was a poll from the ORB organisation last Friday that put the Leave camp ahead by a whole 10 points. We can safely dismiss that as a rogue poll as it’s way out of line with previous ORB findings or other pollsters. However it did succeed in spooking the sterling exchange markets, with the pound falling one per cent on Friday, to a seven-week low of 1.43 against the US dollar.

Two polls that came out yesterday are more significant. A poll by the Opinium company put Remain on 44 per cent to 42 per cent for Leave, with 13 per cent undecided. This is an online poll; i.e. conducted over the internet, with a panel of respondents working through a set of options. Online polls have shown Leave and Remain neck and neck for some time. This latest is within the statistical margin of error, so it’s still a dead heat with everything to play for between now and June 23.

The same verdict comes from yesterday’s YouGov online poll, which has Leave on 43 and Remain on 42. That’s a reversal of the YouGov poll of the previous week, but we are well within margins of error so the real finding is still a draw. Yet it’s not as simple as that, folks.

You can read the full article here

Following the tribute paid to the victim of the Orlando attacks on Saturday 11th and the statement by the Secretary of State for Home Affairs, I sat in the House to support my colleagues during the debate on the Government's Policing and Crime Bill.  

Later that day I went to a parliamentary briefing on the Farnborough International Airshow which is set to showcase  world-leading UK innovation projects between Monday 11th and Sunday 17th July. I also went to the annual reception of the Federation of Small Businesses.

Tuesday 14th June

On Tuesday morning I went to a breakfast briefing  with General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, and eight other generals. We discussed the future of the army, which is turning from a counter-insurgency force back into a force able to deploy at divisional strength against a major threat. The army now has 600 new tanks on order and is buying new attack helicopters. Little of these developments have been discussed in the media.  

I then went to the Treasury Select Committee's weekly meeting during which questionned a panel of three experts on UK tax policy as well as the country's tax base.

You can watch the session here
In the afternoon, I had a meeting with some representatives from Transferwise, to discuss the hidden fees in international money transfer services provided by the big banks. When you change money at the airport, even when it says "no commission",  you are being over-charged. I am campaigning to end this practice.  

Later I went to 10 Downing Street to deliver hundreds of postcards from East Lothian Welcome Refugees to the Prime Minister.

Wednesday 15 June

Back in Scotland in time for the premiere of 'Tommy's Honour', the opening film of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. It is about the history of golfing in Scotland in the 19th century. Directed by Jason Connery with fine performances from Peter Mullan and Jack Lowden, it features stunning views of the North Berwick and Musselburgh golf courses. Go see.

Thursday 16 June

You can read my column in the East Lothian Courier below. Just scroll down on the right hand side of the heading.

Today began with a visit to ELCAP, the innovative care provider, in Prestonpans. ELCAP employs over 300 people to provide essential support services to people living in their own homes.

Director Danny Harvie and Chair Morag Alexander are proud of the award-winning model ELCAP has created, which requires only 17 managers to co-ordinate the work of 285 staff, and feel it could be rolled out elsewhere.
Then I was at the Scottish Parliament for a meeting with Humza Yousaf MSP, the new Transport Minister, to discuss the withdrawal of First Bus services from East Lothian. First Bus has been running down its fleet for years, and there are other bus companies who could do a better job. I asked the Minister to include reform of bus regulation in the forthcoming Transport Bill. He is well briefed on the situation in East Lothian and keen to find a solution.
On my way home I heard of the tragic death of Jo Cox MP. I was present at her swearing-in, in the first days of the new Parliament, last year. My thoughts go out to her family.

Friday 17 June

A day spent working on constituency matters.

Saturday 18 June

I was absolutely delighted to be invited to the Prestonpans Children's Gala this year. The pipe band played, the Gracious Lady, Margaret Kay, crowned Queen Emily, and I made a short speech before the Queen, her Escort and her Court, left for the parade. I told the children how lucky they are to live in such a historic town as Prestonpans, and to remember that they can be anything they want to be. Queen Emily kindly gave me a medal with my name on it.
Then on to the Chippendale International School of Furniture near Gifford for their Open Day and graduation ceremony. I was so impressed by the quality of the work being done there, under the inspirational leadership of Anselm Fraser.

Here I am in full flight, listening to Anselm in even fuller flight - and yes those are corks covering his kilt. After the ceremony we all went out to enjoy the evening sunshine and take photos against the beautiful East Lothian landscape. This is the class of 2016, and a shot of me with Anselm and the Student of the Year, Iana from St. Petersburg.
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