Cheryl Gillan – 2016 Speech in Tribute to Jo Cox

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Below is the text of the speech made by Cheryl Gillan in the House of Commons on 20 June 2016.

Jo Cox was a politician who spanned continents and political parties. Among other causes, she campaigned alongside many of us on behalf of people with autism. With her death, we have lost a powerful advocate.

When I came into this House in 1992, I sat alongside the first woman MP for Batley and Spen, Elizabeth Peacock. She held her surgeries for 14 years in the Birstall library, and she exchanged letters with Jo when Jo was still at school. Like all of us, she has been shocked to the core by this tragedy. She asked me to say that the attack on Jo was an attack on our democracy and on the very basis of our Government and political system. She will mourn the loss of an outstanding friend in politics.

Jo’s family will mourn her as irreplaceable. We will mourn a woman of talent and humanity, a rising star and a bright light, whose voice may now be extinguished but whose spirit, which epitomises our democracy, will not be forgotten. It will inspire not only her children but many generations of politicians still to come

Cheryl Gillan – 2016 Speech to Commons on Queen’s 90th Birthday

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Below is the text of the speech made by Cheryl Gillan in the House of Commons on 21 April 2016.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for calling me, on what I think is a momentous day, to celebrate the birthday of our longest-serving monarch. I have to say that it is also today that I celebrate my birthday, although I am a little younger than Her Majesty. I feel that a Beatles song would be most appropriate if I find it among my birthday presents.

I have always been tremendously proud to share the date of my birth with our monarch. When I was very little, in Cardiff, my father always used to kid me that the 24-gun salute in Sophia Gardens was, in fact, for me, but I found out fairly soon that it was for a much more important lady.

Like many who are here today, I am a modern Elizabethan. We have never known any other monarch, and we are staunchly proud to live in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. She is truly a beacon and an exemplar of dedication to the people of the United Kingdom, and an exemplar of devotion to duty. She is also a wonderful role model for women not just in this country but around the world, particularly as women try to take their place in public life and to have a voice in the Governments of their countries.

In this House and in Parliament, we know about public service, but none of us will ever equal what our Queen does as a matter of course in caring for all the people of this kingdom and across the globe, in the countries of the Commonwealth. The Queen’s achievement in drawing all those countries together for their mutual support and benefit is truly magnificent. It is a notable achievement in this day and age, and one that is a testament to her gentle guardianship and powerful advocacy.

The poet John Milton lived for a while in Chalfont St Giles, in my constituency, and his cottage is still there, preserved as a monument to his work. He was a parliamentarian and a person who argued against the restoration of the monarchy—a servant of the then Commonwealth—but I would like to think that had John Milton known our monarch, he would have altered his view. As it is, I turn to the words that he wrote about Shakespeare, whose 400th anniversary we celebrate in two days’ time. He wrote that the poet and playwright needed no monument, because

“Thou in our wonder and astonishment

Hast built thyself a live-long monument.”

Throughout the ceaseless work of a long life, with the welfare of her people always at the heart and centre of her being, Her Majesty the Queen has created such a monument.

This place is often described as “the mother of Parliaments”, but Her Majesty is truly the mother of our parliamentary democracy, and easily commands our love and respect. Long may the Queen rule over us, and, your Majesty, a very happy birthday too.

Cheryl Gillan – 2015 Speech on Syrian Air Strikes

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Below is the text of the speech made by Cheryl Gillan in the House of Commons on 2 December 2015.

A dangerous and deadly cult is operating within this country, within Europe, and on Europe’s doorstep, and today we will decide whether we duck our responsibilities and do nothing, or whether we extend our military operations and widen our attack on the territories that that cult has taken over. To widen our airstrikes to include Daesh-held areas in Syria is only a small extension of current military activity, and I honestly do not think that this House has ever seen a Prime Minister set out so clearly the detailed options before us today, and his reasons for asking us to support the motion.

In my view, to vote for this motion is to respond positively to the requests of our closest allies in France and the USA. It will add value to current military operations by providing the precision bombing capability and reconnaissance needed to degrade Daesh’s capabilities and remove its leadership, thereby reducing the direct threat to our citizens. That threat is real, present and extreme, and goes from beheading aid workers, to slaughtering holidaymakers on a Tunisian beach, not to mention the seven foiled terrorist attacks from which the brave men and women of our intelligence services and operations have saved us.

Anyone saying that a positive vote tonight will increase the danger here in the UK needs to wake up and realise that the threat is already here, and controlled by Daesh leaders, mostly in Syria. If we add to the forces trying to eliminate that Daesh leadership, we will increase the odds of removing those who orchestrate violence, terrorism and wholesale murder.

I could not support the Government today if I thought that airstrikes would form our strategy on Syria and Daesh in its entirety. However, with the Vienna process and a reasonable estimate of the ground forces that should be available to back up more efficient air activity, I believe that focused diplomacy and military action will complement each other in moving us forward to what we all want, which is a negotiated and peaceful settlement in Syria. Although I admit it is likely that airstrikes will not be enough to eliminate the threat of Daesh, it is important to recognise the role that they can play at this exact time.

Like many hon. Members, I have received representations from my constituents in Chesham and Amersham on both sides of the argument, but after that attack in Paris and the wholesale slaughter of many young people, it has resonated even more with the general public that Daesh is a dangerous force that must be defeated at its roots. As it stands, I think that the best course of action is for Britain to increase its commitment to this complex, difficult and continuing conflict, and thereby increase the odds of improving the safety of our country and of the British people wherever they are in the world.

The Prime Minister knows that we must constantly revise our plan for post-conflict Syria and the whole region, and if we want to see peace in our time, we will need to address that. Tonight I will be putting our security into the hands of our armed services, and I will support the motion.