It feels very strange to be writing my latest MPs column after another month in lockdown, which couldn’t be further from the normal life of being an MP – which involves a lot of time spent on trains, out in the community in Warrington North and of course meetings and debates in Westminster.
We are all, however, having to adjust to the ‘new normal’ as we try to get through this crisis.
I have been so impressed by all the hard work taking place by local businesses to adapt to the social distancing landscape, and we have lots of examples of good practice from businesses doing the right thing by furloughed employees in ensuring they are on full pay from some of our smallest like 3 Pugs Gin to some of our largest like Plastic Omnium.
I continue to urge all employers who can to follow their lead, particularly following the announcement the furlough scheme will be extended at its current level which provides much-needed support.
Parliament too is adapting to the new normal.
My constituency office in Orford remains closed for now, but my team are still working from home helping me to deal with hundreds of questions and pieces of casework related to Covid-19 on top of our usual caseload.
My surgeries now take place over telephone and Zoom, and most of my normal Parliamentary work can be done virtually – from meetings and select committees over Microsoft Teams, taking part in debates and questions in the virtual chamber over Zoom and electronic voting now up and running!
I have been delighted this month to have been appointed to the shadow international trade team as a PPS, and to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, which will both help me in supporting and championing Warrington North businesses as we come out of this crisis and as we adjust to the post-Brexit trading landscape.
Following Boris Johnson’s latest address to the nation, which set out the first easements we have seen to the lockdown rules, I have now been able to return home to Warrington which comes as a huge relief.