What a difference a few weeks and a General Election can make. It is a pleasure to be back in Parliament as Worcester’s MP and I am hugely grateful to the 25,856 people in Worcester, more than half of the electorate, who last year gave me their votes so that I can be here.

The election took place because Parliament was stalled, unable to move forward on crucial national priorities, and the public have sent a clear message about the need for the new one to deliver. The nice thing about the first couple of weeks of this new Parliament is that it has become clear that with a majority, we can do so.

Whilst there were of course a wide range of issues debated and discussed during the General Election, there can be no doubt that Brexit was a crucial one. People who voted to leave were deeply frustrated at the way in which the last Parliament delayed and disrupted progress. Many who voted remain, wanted to see a deal secured that would deliver on the outcome of the referendum, which they respected, but ensured it was done in an orderly way. By voting through the withdrawal agreement bill in a week, the new House of Commons has got further with this in a matter of days than its predecessor could in almost three years.

I was honoured to serve as a Minister in passing that legislation which protects the interests of EU citizens in the UK, and by extension of our own citizens in Europe, secures the transition period and delivers a deal which supports the peace process and the absence of a hard border in Northern Ireland. We will now leave the EU at the end of January with a deal in place and the risk of no deal – so often threatened during the course of the last Parliament – eliminated. Now Government can focus on the next stage of negotiations, securing a good trade deal for the whole of the UK and a new partnership on security, culture, scientific investment and many other areas where the UK and EU can help each other as independent friends in the future.

As a Northern Ireland Minister, I was delighted with the breakthrough deal that means that after a three-year gap, the power-sharing executive is now back in place and the elected representatives of all communities are now able to deliver on the aspirations of the people who elected them. It has taken too long but the progress of the last few weeks gives real hope and reflects how the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement has been protected.

It has been exciting to start the new year with meetings to discuss extra investment in Worcester through the Stronger Towns Fund and Future High Streets Fund, as well as meeting with the Heath Secretary to press for our hospital’s expansion needs to be met as part of the £33.9 billion investment going into the NHS.

I’m looking forward to supporting a Queen’s Speech which will deliver on these priorities as well as fairer school funding, more investment in transport, a clear pathway to carbon net zero and UK leadership on the environment along with a growing economy.