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December 2015 Monthly Archives

HS2 update December 2015

December 10, 2015


Please read my latest HS2 Update December 2015

Department for International Development

December 7, 2015


Last week, I was delighted to be asked to join the ministerial team at the Department for International Development, which gives me to the opportunity to shape work that I believe to be both a moral imperative and firmly in the British national interest. The Secretary of State has asked me to oversee the significant programming that DFID does in sub-Saharan Africa to promote sustainable economic development and tackle the long-term drivers of poverty and instability.


I will also have Ministerial responsibility for DFID’s work on a range of other important matters: Climate and Environment; Research and Evidence; Emerging Policy, Innovation and Capability; the Global Funds; and Human Development issues (including education, health, water and sanitation, nutrition, and sexual and reproductive rights). It is an exciting time to join the Department and I look forward to the challenge, not least in ensuring that DFID is delivering results and achieving real value in its work.


December 4, 2015

syria debate

Committing our armed forces to military action is arguably the most serious decision we can take.

I did vote for British air strikes, against ISIL in Syria.

Like most people, I want to see an end to the terrible violence and migration that the tragedy of Syria has generated. After years of drift, I now see a peace process that has a chance.

However there is no political deal to be done with the evil that is ISIL. They are a clear and present threat to our national security that we have to confront ourselves: I do not see why we should leave it to others. The terrible scenes in Paris could easily have taken place in London  – and that security risk to us was already very high before the vote.

We have been at war with ISIL for some time. British airstrikes in Iraq have contributed to a containment of ISIL in that country. I see no logic in us attacking them in Iraq and not in Syria – where they are stronger.

Airstrikes will not destroy them but they can help contain and destabilize them. This is important while the peace process develops and the capacity of moderate, local ground troops opposed to ISIL is strengthened. This will take time – time in which we cannot allow ISIL to get stronger.

Airstrikes cannot be seen in isolation. They are part of a wider diplomatic; humanitarian and counterterrorism strategy. Of course, there are lots of uncertainties and risks. This is very complicated and will not end quickly.

But I am persuaded that it is time for us to step up and support our allies in taking the fight to ISIL in Syria.