Despite the agony of a penalty shoot-out I know we are all so proud of our national team who made it to the final of a major championship for the first time since we won the World Cup in 1966. Throughout the tournament, we as a nation came together behind Gareth Southgate and his brilliant team. Although it was gutting we didn’t win, we played with determination and skill, and I am proud of the team for everything they achieved.
Football is special – it transcends national borders, languages, and traditions – it has brought enemies together; during the Christmas truce of 1914, and today people from every part of the world love and enjoy our national sport. The racist abuse that followed the final game goes against what football stands for in every way. I am deeply sorry to all those who have suffered directly and indirectly and fully condemn those who display such foul behaviour. Much of this abuse has been online, as these types of people hide behind anonymity on social media. It has never been more important that we get our Online Harms Bill through Parliament as it will put a statutory duty on companies to protect users and tackle this sort of abusive behaviour. A failure to do so would risk huge fines or even criminal action from regulator Ofcom.
In happier news, the Prime Minister has confirmed we are going ahead with Step 4 of the roadmap, which I know is hugely welcomed by many of our local businesses who are gearing up for the summer holidays.
One of our many popular destinations is Stansted Park, which I visited last week to open the Waterloo and Victoria Room at the House. It was fantastic to visit and experience the rich history of the family. A highlight of the new display is the swords of Major General Sir William Ponsonby, who led the charge of the Union Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo, which was a devastating affair for Napoleon’s armies. If history is not your thing then it’s still well worth a visit to see the beautiful grounds and gardens.
Another key draw is, of course, Goodwood, which recently held the Festival of Speed, as part of the Government's Events Research Programme pilot. All those who attended had proof of a negative Covid-19 test result or were double jabbed. I’ve been told the event was a huge success and I know being able to kick off the summer in motor-heaven is for many a local tradition – so it’s good to be getting one step closer to normal.