Rebuttal to Labour attacks

Instead of focusing on the issues that matter to residents, such as the Labour administration shutting down swimming pools, hiking car parking charges and permits, and plans to introduce a congestion charge, Labour has delivered a leaflet to residents in Reading East attacking me personally on a number of topics.

I called for clean campaign pledge at the start of this election and it is no wonder why the Labour candidate refused to sign it.

In response to their attacks where they claim that "the Conservative candidate in Reading East":

 

1. Supports leaving the EU with no deal

I support Boris Johnson's great new deal. Every Conservative candidate in this election has personally pledged to vote for the deal. If elected and Conservatives win a majority, we will be leaving with that deal in January.

You can read about this in more detail at:  Why I back Boris's new Brexit deal

 

2. Believes dangerous climate change theory relies on shaky evidence

You can read about my mainstream, pro-science piece on climate change - including how I contributed to tackling climate change in China, here: Tackling Climate Change

 

3. Would obey Boris Johnson's every command

 

4. Lives in Banbury and works in Oxford

This is clear on my nomination papers and will appear on the ballot. I currently live in the constituency of Banbury - although 20 miles away from the town of Banbury itself. My wife, two young children and I moved there just over 12 months ago - as both my wife and I got jobs in Oxford after we returned to the UK from China and I left the Foreign Office in 2018.

Prior to this we lived in China as I was posted there with the Foreign Office. I was born at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and attended primary and secondary school in Woodley. Other than time spent living in China (6 years in total) the only time I have lived anywhere other than in the Reading area was when attending university at Leeds. For 26 of my 36 years I have lived in the Reading area.

I was selected as the Parliamentary Candidate in August 2019. My son was about to start Year 1 at primary school. It would have been wrong to force him and his sister out of school and nursery - which they had both recently settled into, and my wife out of her job, just as I was selected as the candidate in an ultra-marginal constituency. If I am successful at the election we will of course seek to move to the constituency.

 

5. Called for Reading "Gaol" to be sold off as soon as possible

On 24 September 2019 I tweeted:

"Reading prison should be sold as soon as possible to secure the best value for the taxpayer. That is why I have written to @RobertBuckland to ask the MOJ to accelerate the sale. Labour's position on this locally is completely disingenuous and hypocritical."

The Secretary of State for Justice Robert Buckland, called me in the final week of September to thank me for my lobbying on the issue and that the prison was to be listed for sale the following week.

The empty building costs up to £250,000 a year to maintain, and in the past three years alone, the Ministry of Justice has said it spent nearly £700,000 on security and another £200,000 on gas and electricity. Labour activists had previously complained at the money spent maintaining the empty building.

By getting the Secretary of State to accelerate the sale, I have saved the British taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds in maintaining the empty facility.

My view on the future of the prison is that it should be sold to achieve the best value for money for the taxpayer. It is no longer fit for purpose as a prison. 

Reading Borough Council has announced it is bidding for the prison, but has not revealed how it would pay for the purchase, the millions of pounds needed to renovate the ageing Victorian structure, or the millions of pounds needed to maintain and run the facility.

Local residents will be left to pick up the tab through Council Tax increases.