‘WE ARE ALL BREX­ITERS NOW’

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE -

peo­ple of Glouces­ter, to “rein­vest so­cial rather than fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal”.

“The bulk of what we do is pretty un­sexy be­cause it’s help­ing con­stituents in dis­tress: Can my child get into a school? Is my grand­mother be­ing looked af­ter prop­erly? If my fa­ther falls down the stairs, will the hos­pi­tal look af­ter him prop­erly? Are the roads be­ing main­tained? Is it safe to walk in the park af­ter dark? Are there drug deal­ers next door?

“These are the very earthy, gran­u­lar, mod­ern ur­ban chal­lenges that are out there all the time. Any MP who for­gets to look af­ter con­stituents in dis­tress is com­pletely lost. You need to have the patience and con­science of a good so­cial worker.”

When not at­tend­ing his con­stituency, Gra­ham’s gov­ern­ment work is heav­ily fo­cused on Asia. He is the prime min­is­ter’s trade en­voy to the ASEAN Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity, the only par­lia­men­tar­ian who speaks flu­ent Man­darin and Can­tonese, and is chair­man of the All Party Par­lia­men­tary China Group.

“We have two very sim­ple tasks,” he says of the group. “The first is to be a plat­form for de­bate on all sub­jects of bi­lat­eral in­ter­est, which can range from an­i­mal rights to ren­minbi trad­ing in Lon­don, and the se­cond is to ed­u­cate and in­form par­lia­men­tar­i­ans about China, prin­ci­pally by rais­ing enough fund­ing from spon­sors to be able to fi­nance three trips a year to China.”

On av­er­age, the group takes 25 MPs a year to China and of­fers par­lia­men­tar­i­ans the chance to learn about the coun­try and meet Chi­nese of­fi­cials, busi­ness­peo­ple and char­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives. In con­junc­tion with the China Bri­tain Business Coun­cil, the group con­nects enterprises, with the goal of boost­ing ac­tiv­ity in trade and ser­vices, ac­tiv­ity that Gra­ham imag­ines may well in­crease when Bri­tain has the ul­ti­mate say over its bi­lat­eral poli­cies.

“China can play such a con­struc­tive part in the fu­ture world if it wants to. And we’ll al­ways be a key part of Europe, even from the side, so they should have no con­cerns about that, or Bri­tain’s in­ter­est in do­ing more in Asia and more with China. This part­ner­ship will only get big­ger and bet­ter.”

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