Over the past few months, as well as my work for fellow residents, I have been busy as a Minister dealing with the EU Withdrawal Bill as it is debated in the House of Commons.

I am working to ensure that we have a fully functioning legal system on the day we leave the EU.

The Bill is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament so the debates are intensive and detailed.

Last week, after months of negotiation, the UK and the EU announced that they had reached an agreement in principle across the three areas under consideration in the first phase of the EU negotiations. This is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.

The Government has been working hard to secure an EU deal that is in the interests of the whole of the UK and allows us to move on to the next stage of the negotiations.

The agreement we have reached in principle will secure a good deal for British taxpayers, which will be equivalent to less than four years of EU Membership. The rights of the three million EU citizens living here in the UK and the million British people living in the EU will also be enshrined in law as part of the agreement meaning that they will enjoy the same rights as they do now. Finally, there will be no hard border in Northern Ireland and the Belfast agreement will be upheld.

This week, the leaders of the other 27 EU states can approve an assessment by negotiators that the sides have made “sufficient progress” to move to the crucial next stages of the negotiation ahead of our withdrawal in 2019.

Here in Swindon, I have been enjoying some of the Christmas events taking place across the town.

On Friday, I was delighted to be asked to sing a carol at the Christmas Festival at St John’s Church in Park South. This wonderful local event brought the community together to enjoy a day of entertainment and fundraising. My thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make it possible.

On Sunday, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Wroughton Amateur Dramatic and Musical Society’s take on the traditional pantomime tale of Snow White and The Seven Dwarves at a snowy Ellendune Hall. I would like to congratulate the cast and all of those who worked behind the scenes to put on three performances that brought enjoyment to many local families.

As Christmas fast approaches, let us spare a thought for those who are alone and not so fortunate to be surrounded by their loved ones. A simple act like a phone call or a visit can make all of the difference.

I am pleased that we have Christmas Care here in Swindon, a local charity, which offers food and shelter to the homeless over Christmas. This year, the charity will operate from Buckhurst Park Community Centre in Walcot and will accommodate more than 60 visitors a day, who will be given food and hot drinks, as well as a change of clothing and new footwear. If you would like to donate to Christmas Cares, please visit https://www.christmascareswindon.org.uk/for further information.

Volunteers at Christ Church are also holding a Christmas Day lunch for local people spending Christmas Day alone and would like to spend Christmas Day with others. To reserve a space, or donate, please contact Chris Smith by emailing chris.smith@cccswindon.co.uk