Brexit, burkas and bring back the death penalty: Philip Hollobone interview
Despite winning the past four elections and having a 10,000 strong majority, Kettering candidate Philip Hollbone says he would never be complacent about winning and treats the area as a marginal seat.
The ardent Brexiter and European Research Group member aims to knock on 10,000 doors across the Kettering borough in his ’lucky’ Union Flag jacket in his bid to win his fifth election battle.
Unsurprisingly he says Brexit is the topic everyone wants to talk about.
He said: “Brexit is the big issue. In Kettering 61 per cent voted to leave with a very high turn out of 76 per cent.
“People just want Brexit done. And even those who voted to remain, the vast majority respect the vote and just want us to get Brexit done.”
He blames the Labour Party rather than his own ruling Conservative Party for the Brexit debacle that has been playing out in Parliament for the past three years.
He said: “The main reason we are still in the EU is because there are 105 Labour MPs representing Brexit seats and only five of them backed the deal.”
The politician has been the town’s MP for 14 years and says that during that time that more people are in work locally and that education standards in the town have risen.
However, the hospital is now routinely running over capacity and is bursting at the seams.
Recently the Government pledged to commit £46m to a new urgent care centre for the site, which the MP had been campaigning for.
He says he is now committed to ensuring the hospital gets additional funding for further improvements and the local NHS provision is part of his election pledge. KGH has recently been included in a group of hospitals that have received multi-million pound seed funding to develop plans with funding due to come forward in 2025.
He said: “KGH chief executive Simon Weldon has got ambitious plans to rebuild part or all of the hospital. The big task of the next MP will be to secure Kettering’s place for that funding.”
And he says the Tories have pledged to spend an extra £394m a week on the NHS – more than the notorious £350m bus pledge.
Over the past decade Kettering’s high street has undoubtedly declined and the reason for this he puts down to nearby competition and shoppers’ digital habits.
He said: “The big challenge that Kettering faces is Rushden Lakes. Kettering town centre is going to have to respond. Kettering Council is doing its best, as we have got the new market place and the council has secured the Heritage Action Zone funding, which will be a £4m investment for the town.
“New shops are opening but it is a struggle and the biggest thing that has changed since I was first elected in 2005 is online shopping.”
The MP recognises there is an infrastructure challenge – latest official figures put the funding gap for North Northamptonshire at £307m – and says he has set up meetings between Kettering Council and the government to make sure the area’s voice is heard when it comes to future funding.
He says the new unitary for the north of the county will have a big role to play.
“There is going to be a fresh focus on North Northamptonshire which will be a good thing.”
Lining up against the long-standing Parliamentarian are Labour’s Claire Pavitt, Green candidate Jamie Wildman and independent Jim Hakewill.
He dismissed talk of former colleague and political boss Cllr Hakewill as a rival and instead said it is the Labour Party candidate who poses the biggest threat. He says the thought of Jeremy Corbyn getting into power ‘sends shivers down his spine’.
Mr Hollobone, who hails from Kent and has lived in the constituency for the past 20 years, has a number of strong opinions which have propelled him on to the pages of national newspapers.
He’s in favour of the death penalty for anyone who commits murder ‘because there are too many convicted murderers who have gone on to kill again’ and thinks burkahs and any face coverings should be banned as he says people should not be able to hide their faces in public.
If he was Prime Minister he would ensure that all criminals serve the full jail term. He thinks Chief Constable Nick Adderley is doing a good job but insists ‘we have got to get crime down’.
Mr Hollobone has never held a government position and says he has no desire for a ministerial role. Instead he says he wants to represent Kettering as a backbench MP. And if he wants to represent Kettering for the foreseeable future.
He said: “I love doing this job. I will continue to do it for as long as the people will allow.”
Voters can hear more about Mr Hollobone’s policies at a hustings being held at the R-Inn from 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday, November 26, at the R-Inn in Station Road, Desborough.