This week, activists from the climate change group Extinction Rebellion began a fortnight of coordinated protests shutting down all the streets into Westminster. Over 20,000 people are expected to block bridges, disrupt public transport, and lock themselves to lorries. I know their concerns about the environment are shared by some in our constituency, with around 40 Lincolnshire environmental protesters travelling to London to take part, in addition to a number of protestors taking part in an event in Sleaford.

As a mother, a doctor, and the Member of Parliament for Sleaford and North Hykeham, I am committed to ensuring our children inherit a world that is cleaner, safer, and greener.

I respect their motivation and passion on this issue – but not their tactics intended to cause mass disruption.

Everyone has the right to peacefully protest; it is a proud British tradition and a vital part of our democracy. However, people do not have the right to break the law and disrupt the lives of others. Protesters do not have the right to cause misery for those going about their daily lives – disrupting individuals going to work, attending hospital appointments, or dropping their children off on the school run.

These individuals are neither responsible for nor have agency over the issue of climate change – yet the inconvenience they must suffer is seen as justifiable collateral damage by these protestors. The same logic applies to our emergency services, who suffered great difficulties on the road networks during similar protests in April. As a Consultant Paediatrician I know just how precious every minute is for an ambulance – and they should not have to navigate through open air yoga classes on Westminster Bridge when responding to a person in urgent need.

In shutting down all the streets into Westminster, one of their objectives is to shut down all the Government departments – the irony being that the hard work by ministers and civil servants across these departments has put the UK at the forefront of global efforts to fight climate change. We were the first country to introduce legally binding long-term emissions targets under the landmark Climate Change Act in 2008.

We’ve introduced a legally binding net zero target to end the UK’s contribution to global warming entirely by 2050. We’ve reduced greenhouse gases by a quarter since coming to office in 2010; increased renewable electricity generation six-fold since 2009; and reduced emissions faster than any other G20 country. Indeed, the last time emissions in the UK were this low was in 1888 when Queen Victoria was on the throne.

The Conservatives have always been strong advocates for the environment – in fact, Margaret Thatcher was the first leader of a major economy to recognise global warming as a threat. Since 2010 the government has cut single use plastic bags by 86 percent through the plastic bag charge; legislated to ban other harmful plastics such as microbeads, straws, stirrers, and cotton buds; ensured cleaner air for the next generation, through supporting local authorities with funding worth more than £260 million to tackle those road junctions with particularly bad levels of air pollution; and ensured 25% of UK waters are now Marine Protected Areas.

There is more to be done, of course, but these achievements show that rather than turning a blind eye towards environmental issues, we have been at the forefront of efforts to tackle them. I have been proud to play my part through my work on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs select committee; including scrutinising the Environment Bill, which will establish a world-leading environmental watchdog that will ensure parliament keeps the environment at the heart of decision making for decades to come.

It is a common refrain that all politics is local, and climate change is no exception. Reaching the ambitious goals we have set will require action at all levels of government. In our constituency of Sleaford and North Hykeham, we are lucky to be served by district and county councils that take their role in reducing emissions seriously. North Kesteven District Council has reduced its carbon footprint by an incredible 70%; while Lincolnshire County Council has reduced its carbon emissions by 24% since 2012. LCC was also one of the first authorities that took part in the Carbon Trust Local Authority Carbon Management programme in 2006. I am proud that Lincolnshire is committed to playing its part in tackling this issue.

I believe this government’s commitment to the environment is clear to see, and the mass disruption caused by these protests only serves to cause unnecessary misery and even alienate many potential supporters. Extinction Rebellion have the right to protest – but not the right to break the law.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

I am a consultant paediatrician in our NHS. I became an MP because I wanted to use my experience to deliver improvements in health, social care, and opportunity for children and their wider family. Our constituency, my home, is rural and I hoped to play a part in enabling rural communities to flourish.

Whilst I have worked to achieve both of these, whether in the chamber, on various committees, or in my constituency work, I have to agree with many of my constituents that the machinations in Parliament on Brexit have distracted attention from many of the government’s achievements.

We need to be honest with our members and voters, and admit that the Conservative Party is not just in trouble; it is in great danger. We could argue for hours about why this state of affairs has come about, but the essence of it is our failure to keep the promises we made on Brexit.

Why we failed and who is to blame has been, and will continue to be, debated ad nauseam; but to the voting public it doesn’t matter, because others promise to succeed where we failed.

The risk is not just to the Conservative Party, or even to Brexit, but to the country as a whole. If we fail to leave the EU, the country could sleepwalk into the very real dangers of a Corbyn government.

Most fundamentally, by not delivering Brexit we erode the very core of democracy: trust between the electorate and their elected representatives

But we have an opportunity, a chance, to restore confidence in our Party and in our democracy. That opportunity is to elect a new leader with the drive and vision to deliver Brexit in this Parliament.

I have consulted widely with my local party members, and within my constituency generally, and the feedback is clear

We need a leader who is ready to lead on day one. We have a plethora of talented people who have the qualities to lead us, but we don’t have time to test them. We must pick a leader with proven abilities to lead, to inspire, and to get things done.

We need a leader who is committed to Brexit. For far too long we have allowed a narrative of Brexit that is one of damage limitation, and this must change. This means we must choose a leader who, like me, was committed to Brexit before the referendum. Some contenders have expressed their Damascene conversions or their commitment to deliver because of their deeply-held belief in democracy but, however well motivated they are, there is a risk that the public may not have confidence in them.

We need a leader who recognises the opportunities Brexit offers and is determined to realise them. For nearly three years we have been bombarded with “project fear” and it is time for “project opportunity”. We need a leader who will develop this.

We need a leader who can communicate their vision, both of Brexit and the world beyond it. They must be able to make the case why the Conservatives are the only party that can successfully deliver Brexit but also how we will guarantee a safe and prosperous future for this country and all its citizens.

And finally, we need a leader who is brave and democratic. The people of this country voted clearly to leave the European Union. Unfortunately, we are a minority Government and there are some MPs who appear to me to feel they have some sort of Parliamentary divine right to overrule their voters. Our new leader must navigate the difficulties in Parliamentary arithmetic to deliver.

In short, before we can progress with an ambitious domestic agenda we need to deliver Brexit. To do this, we need a seasoned leader who is committed to delivering Brexit and who can overcome the challenges from doubters, inspire our electorate, and lead us out of the European Union.

In taking into account all these criteria, there is only one candidate who ticks all the boxes. Boris Johnson has executive experience as the Major of London; indisputable charisma; the belief in Brexit from the start; and the determination to make it a reality. This is why I will be giving him my support.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

Amidst the twists and turns of the last few weeks in Westminster, the approach of the new year provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on the last twelve months.

This year has marked two incredibly important centenaries – the end of the First World War, and the beginning of women’s suffrage.

In a year where the hyperbole surrounding Brexit has reached new giddy heights, remembering these milestones reminds us that this country has overcome far greater challenges.

I have been fortunate enough to be involved in some of the commemorations for the centenary year of women winning the vote, the most poignant of which has to have been attending the official unveiling of the statue of the suffragist leader, Dame Millicent Fawcett. She becomes the first woman to have a statue in Parliament Square. Without the tireless determination of Dame Millicent and her associates, women would not have the vote – and I would not have been able to become an MP.

As we remember the sacrifice of the suffragettes, it is crucial we imbue a passion for politics in a new generation of young girls today. That is why I was delighted to run a girls debating competition at Sleaford and Kesteven High School this summer, to encourage the participation of girls in politics, public speaking and debate.

I was very impressed by the incredibly high standard across the board, and was delighted to welcome the winners to Parliament, to enjoy a tour of the building, watch PMQs from the gallery and then meet the Prime Minister herself.

In November we remembered the centenary of the Armistice. The sacrifices made by our servicemen and women, past and present, must never be forgotten. I have been happy to lend my support to efforts in Lincolnshire recognising the sacrifices of our very own Bomber Command.

Despite suffering the highest losses of any unit during the Second World War, they have struggled for recognition. After pushing for more funding for the International Bomber Command Centre, I was delighted to see them awarded over £600,000 from LIBOR funds in the Finance Bill for their ‘Recognition, Remembrance and Reconciliation’ project.

This project serves as a fitting tribute to a unit whose heroism placed a crucial, yet underappreciated, role in the war effort.

Lincolnshire continues to be the proud home of the Royal Air Force, and I have had the privilege this year of visiting many of our local RAF bases through my participation in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme this year, including RAF Cranwell, Digby and Scampton, other bases throughout the UK and those further afield such as RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falklands Islands and RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

There is a large military presence in my constituency and the neighbouring area, and I wanted to take part in the scheme to make sure I had the knowledge and skills to be able to represent military personnel and their families effectively. Through this experience I’ve gained a clearer understanding of how the armed forces operate and am far better placed to discuss policy which impacts on the armed forces, including in Lincolnshire. Having seen the professionalism and capabilities on show in bases across our county and indeed the world, I will continue to lobby hard for the RAF to have the resources to continue to be the best in the world.

The new year is sure to bring new trials and tribulations – but whatever challenges lie ahead, we need only look to our past to remind us of what this country is capable of. As the Prime Minister engages with our EU partners to get the assurances on the backstop members of parliament have asked for, I wish her the best in this endeavour and hope we arrive with a better deal in the New Year.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

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