It’s brain-frazzling! New MPs find their feet

Lost and bewildered. It’s a bit like starting big school again for those voted in to represent our region at Westminster.

Shaun Bailey, left, who hails from Telford, with other MPs for the Black Country
Shaun Bailey, left, who hails from Telford, with other MPs for the Black Country

Fresh from the euphoria of winning their seat in the General Election, a group of wide-eyed and bewildered MPs could be seen wandering the corridors of power.

It has been a baptism of fire, with parliament recalled immediately after six weeks of non-stop campaigning, giving the newbies little time to get used to their new surroundings.

Most of them were in Westminster for a meeting on the Sunday after the election.

This was followed by a brain-frazzling induction process in the week before Christmas, which saw them assigned a member of staff, given a laptop, a backpack and a big rulebook before being formally unleashed on the parliamentary estate.

One of those gradually finding their feet is Shaun Bailey from Shropshire, who has been elected as MP across the county border in West Bromwich.

He is among 140 new parliamentarians, who have spent the weeks since the election getting used to their new role.

New MPs pose with the Prime Minister on their first day in Westminster. Their first week was spent trying to get themselves organised.

The first time the Mr Bailey entered the House of Commons was on his first day of work as an MP.

The 27-year-old, from Telford, describes his initial spell in the job as “manic”, having been thrust into the political maelstrom as soon as his victory celebrations had died down.

“The view was very much ... ‘you’ve won, well done, now get on with it!’,” he says. “It’s been an absolute whirlwind and the first couple of weeks are quite surreal. But you soon become absorbed in your work.”

Mr Bailey has recently moved into his London office in Portcullis House, having initially worked “out of a rucksack” in a variety of different common rooms in Westminster.

He is yet to make his maiden speech, and says getting used to the conventions of Parliament is no easy task.

Back to business for Boris Johnson as MPs take their seats for a new session

“Bowing when you leave the chamber ... not crossing the floor when someone else is speaking ... it’s all completely new and you learn as you go on,” he said.

“It is like nothing I have ever experienced but fortunately I’ve got time to learn.”

There is, of course, always the capacity to make a fool of yourself.

The raft of new rules and regulations has posed a few problems for many, including Walsall Mayor Marco Longhi, who won Dudley North for the Tories for the first time in history.

While attempting to raise a point during a topical questions session he was given short shrift by his fellow parliamentarians over a minor procedural error.

“The chamber just erupted,” Mr Longhi admitted. “I’d only been an MP for five minutes and it is a very steep learning curve.”

No stranger to Parliament

For some, the journey to Westminster was a familiar one.

New MP Craig Williams has gone from sitting across the table to Michel Barnier during negotiations on Brexit, to being part of the biggest Conservative majority since 1987. Mr Williams was elected to represent his home constituency of Montgomeryshire for the first time in December’s election.

But he is no stranger to Parliament, having served as MP for Cardiff North from 2015 to 2017.

Newbies – Clwyd South MP Simon Baynes and Montgomeryshire MP Craig Williams

His chance to represent his home came after his Montgomeryshire predecessor, Glyn Davies, took the decision to step down ahead of December’s election.

The parliamentary dynamics are vastly different to his first stint in Westminster.

The scale of Boris Johnson’s victory has provided a platform for the new government to carry out its manifesto, almost entirely unhindered by the opposition.

Mr Williams said: “It is a very different but there is a sense of intent.

“It is something the Prime Minister has been saying, after he stood up and spoke after the election result. He said how people had lent us their support – some for the first time ever – on the basis of delivering and providing, in areas of the country that hitherto felt they had not had investment.”

Finding time for lunch in one of Westminster’s many canteens. A meal is less than £10.

One area the government has been able to move is Brexit, with the wrangle over Britain’s exit from the EU now resolved, and set to come into effect tomorrow.

Mr Williams knows more about the process than most, having actually been part of a team put together by Steve Barclay, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, to negotiate Mr Johnson’s agreement with the EU.

He told how he had been delighted to see the agreement finally passed – and particularly at having been elected to parliament in time to add his vote to the deal going through.

He said: “I was sat at the negotiating table with the UK team opposite Michel Barnier and to be there when we voted it through was a great moment.”

He said that the atmosphere had also changed around Brexit in parliament, the country and abroad, with the focus very much on getting on with making the agreement work.

Proud

Mr Williams said he expected negotiations over the next stage to proceed well.

And he said a future agreement would be formulated in order to cater for the interests of all concerned.

He said: “I remember going around the EU 27, being in rooms with our secretary of state speaking to prime ministers, foreign secretaries, and it was very clear that once we legally leave, they move straight on to the next tranche of what our relationship looks like.”

Getting back to more local matters he said that he was incredibly proud to represent his home county.

He said: “It definitely means more. My whole family live in Montgomeryshire so I had better get on and deliver some of my promises or I will get a smack round the head off my mum and dad!”

Mr Williams, who lives in Llanfair Caereinion, said his focus is now on “infrastructure full stop”.

He said: “Digital, roads, broadband, access to the market for either goods agriculture or tourism. It all comes back to delivering that infrastructure.”

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