BREXIT will dominate the headlines for the next month.

Having voted remain, I find myself constantly between a democratic rock and an economic hard place, which is why I have always stuck to delivering Brexit (as promised in my manifesto), while trying to secure a good economic deal(s).

I fully support the Prime Minister’s attempts to get a revised deal with Europe and welcome the commitments he has already made on securing EU citizen rights and giving the EU greater clarity over our concerns, while mapping a way forward. I do not want a “no deal” exit, and I’ve voted against it before.

However, I want to give the Prime Minister the best opportunity to secure a new deal and will not be bullied into trying to take down the government by opposition parties who voted down a deal with the EU three times.

We will have time to debate the new deal after the EU Council on 17th October, timing should also not be an issue as we previously organised a debate to prevent a “no deal” Brexit 24 hours after the last deal failed.

We do need to end the uncertainty and leave the EU, I won’t be able to please everyone, but I will try and be as transparent and clear as possible so you know why I am taking the steps I am.

A couple of weeks ago I convened the third meeting of the Universal Credit Action Group (UCAG), a group I established which brings together representatives from the DWP, local service providers and delivery partners as well as local council representatives to help identify and address any problems with Universal Credit.

I have campaigned vigorously on Universal Credit in Parliament, raising it sixteen times in the House of Commons, and since it was rolled out fully in Clackmannanshire in July 2017 I have actively sought to work with colleagues and stakeholders to identify any issues and address them, even when my efforts to reach out to other parties have not been reciprocated.

Some important points came out of this latest meeting, with ‘Help to Claim’, a service offered by the Citizens Advice Bureau to help those moving on to benefits and/or those moving to Universal Credit, receiving widespread support.

It has been encouraging to see a reduction in youth unemployment throughout Clackmannanshire since the introduction of Universal Credit.

This has undoubtedly been helped by initiatives such as the Alloa Job Centre’s schemes to help 18-24 year olds in to work, and I will work with CAB and DWP to help improve awareness of the ‘Help to Claim’ scheme.

Finally, I want to pay tribute to the outgoing Scottish Conservative and Unionist leader, Ruth Davidson.

Ruth has been a transformational leader of our party, leading us to the second largest party in Holyrood and overseeing the return of 13 new MPs to Westminster in the 2017 General Election.

No one should underestimate the impact she has had on Scotland and the United Kingdom as whole.

However, I know this won’t be her last act as a politician, and she will continue to serve her constituents as MSP.

As always, if you have any issues/concerns please contact me at my office on 38 Primrose Street, Alloa, by phone on 01259 764407, or by email –