The Reporting Back from Westminster Column with Sir Greg Knight MP: Better days are ahead of us
I wish everyone a merry Christmas, which I hope is also a happy, peaceful and healthy one. In the UK we are all used to seeing dark clouds in the sky, particularly at this time of the year, but during the past few weeks the clouds above us all have been ominous.
With the Coronavirus pandemic, all too often, it seems, we take two steps forward and then one step back.
Earlier this year, having left the grim restrictions of lockdown and enjoyed a relatively normal summer, the threat of the Omicron variant has now arisen leaving us facing an uncertain winter.
Therefore, I urge everyone to keep safe this Christmas.
We all want to enjoy the festive period, but we should think twice before putting ourselves, and others, in unnecessary danger.
However, we are all in a much better position than last year.
Thanks to the success of our UK vaccine programme, this Christmas over 51 million people have received a first dose of a Covid vaccination and a whopping total of 121 million doses have been given but, such is success of our daily roll-out of UK vaccine jabs, by the time you read this, these figures will be surpassed and well out of date.
Thanks are due to our NHS staff and volunteers who have contributed their time and effort to vaccinating millions of people in the UK, and I would like to thank everyone who was and is involved in this national campaign.
So, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself against any new variant of Coronavirus is to get vaccinated and I encourage everyone to also get a booster jab, as I have done.
Difficulties remain, particularly in the area of international travel. Many countries have imposed onerous restrictions, tests, and quarantine as a condition of entry.
Holidaying abroad is still fraught with uncertainty and this has affected thousands of holidaymakers.
The best way to avoid these travel restrictions is, of course, to book a 2022 holiday in the UK.
Bridlington, and the wider East Riding, is a superb place to have a staycation.
We cannot guarantee the perfect weather of the Mediterranean, but East Yorkshire can offer a traditional British holiday, free from the risk of being stranded overseas.
On the economic front, there is some reason for optimism. The pandemic and our new relationship with the EU have adversely affected many sectors and some local businesses had a difficult 2021.
But thanks to the work of the Department for International Trade, we have now signed agreements with 68 countries, and new trade agreements with many more, including important large economies.
These trade agreements will provide new markets for British businesses, and should enable us, as a nation, to have a more prosperous 2022.
This festive season is not going to be the best, but if we are all careful it should still be enjoyable and the forerunner of many better ones to come.