‘WE ARE ALL BREXITERS NOW’
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.”