Never a ‘typical’ day at Westminster

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I OFTEN give readers an account of my days in and around Horsham so I thought it was time to do the same for when I’m in Westminster.

The difficult thing is that there is no ‘typical’ day. Well-laid plans can be thrown out at short notice such as when a cabinet meeting was quickly arranged for Friday morning, before the Prime Minister’s emergency statement to the House on the UN resolution on Libya.

Similarly, the Budget has made this week slightly odd, with cabinet briefings and pre-Budget meetings dominating the diary.

It’s not just issues of national and international importance than can change my agenda at short notice. Last week’s devastating announcement on the proposals for Novartis’ Horsham site and the subsequent communication I received from Novartis, local people and local journalists, required some skilful juggling on behalf of my Cabinet Office diary secretary.

There are some things that are immovable and form the structure of a typical week – cabinet meetings, Prime Minister’s Questions and, once every few weeks, Cabinet Office Questions which are, of course, my responsibility.

Weekdays often start with a breakfast meeting and before lunch I’ll have back-to-back meetings with a huge variety of people but all to do with my responsibilities as Minister for the Cabinet Office. It could be union leaders, people involved in rolling out the Big Society or the National Citizen Service or, indeed, the census, which by now should have landed on everyone’s doormats!

Lunch, usually soup and a sandwich at my desk, during a meeting, might be followed by more meetings or maybe chairing a committee or the Cabinet Office Board.

I may make a speech at one of the many conferences I’m invited to as a minister and I also hold briefings for backbench colleagues on Cabinet Office business.

I regularly see members of my House of Commons’ team so that I can review constituency casework and sign correspondence.

In fact I welcome opportunities to fit as much constituency activity into my Westminster days and often speak to local journalists on the phone and meet local people at mass lobbies of Parliament or if they have taken part in a tour.

Days often wind down with an invitation to a Parliamentary reception – usually by a charity wishing to raise awareness of an issue or celebrate the work of their volunteers.

These are particularly special when they are events I have sponsored for a Horsham-based charity.

So, there is no ‘typical’ day but I hope that gives some idea of what’s often on my agenda in Westminster.


MP for Horsham