On June 8th you will get your first ever say in the running of our country, and the purpose of this message is to set out reasons I hope I can get your first vote.

I still remember casting my first vote. Since then I have been a soldier and then managed a business here in West Berkshire. Being elected as Newbury’s MP is the greatest privilege. I was Environment Minister from 2010 to 2013 and as a back-
bencher I remain active on environmental matters. As a member of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee I have been closely involved in issues around terrorism.

For me the main reason to be an MP is to work hard for those I represent, and I have a strong track record of delivering on my commitments: better care for those with mental illness; working to end homelessness in West Berkshire; doing all I can to help our schools, our healthcare, improve our rail service and keep West Berks a high employment area.

My Government has a strong track record too. Since being elected in 2010, we have:

  • sorted out the economy by shrinking the gap between tax and government spending (the deficit), meaning that the country is living within its means and we will not be saddling your generation with our debts
  • kept the country growing strongly and reformed the tax and benefit system to make it fairer, and to make sure
    those with the biggest incomes pay most. The richest now pay more in taxes than at any time under the last Labour government, and we have taken more than 4 million of the lowest paid people out of tax altogether
  • reformed the way people pay for higher education to make sure it is sustainable and students get better value for money, and I am proud that both the number of students in higher education, and the proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university, are at their highest levels ever. We have also funded millions of apprenticeships and introduced a National Living Wage for the lowest paid
  • increased funding for our precious NHS to record levels. The NHS is busier now than at any point in its history and will receive £150 billion in funding this year – almost 20% of total government spending goes on the NHS
  • kept our international aid commitments at 0.7 % of GDP, helping the world’s poorest countries
  • raised the proportion of UK electricity generated from renewable sources from 7% in 2009 to 19% in 2015, and
    under our own (non-EU) Climate Change Act must cut carbon emissions in the UK by 80 per cent by 2050

But that is the past and you will rightly be thinking about the future. The big question (though not the only one) is of course the Brexit negotiations. Like many, I voted to Remain last June, but as a democrat I accept the Referendum result and will work to get the best deal for Britain. I am convinced that if we do it properly, with Theresa May as a strong and competent leader, we can achieve an exit that works in the national interest and allows us freedoms like the ability to set our own laws and control immigration. All this can be done without turning our back on our closest neighbours and allies. Voting for another party will not reverse Brexit but will lead to weaker government and leadership just when we need national strength.

If you’d like more information on where I stand then, please do email me at richard@richardbenyon.com or have a look at facebook.com/VoteBenyon. If you are not going to be around on Election Day, you can vote by post or ask someone to cast a proxy vote for you – go to gov.uk for application forms.

Key deadlines are May 22nd to register to vote – May 23rd for a postal vote – and May 31st for a proxy vote

Finally, while I’ll be delighted if you choose to vote for me next month, can I please just urge you to vote? 100 years ago, half of the people in our country (the female half) couldn’t vote, and it took huge efforts (plus the death of a suffragette) to get the right to vote extended to all of us.  This is your chance to speak up and have your voice heard so please do use it!

First time voters letter

First time voters letter