To all who are interested and have responded:
This note is written as I depart for Sidi Bouzid, the seat of the “Jasmine Revolution” to scrutinise the elections in Tunisia.
I gave an undertaking some months ago that I would travel to Tunisia at this time – in my capacity as Chairman of the All Party Group on Tunisia – to observe the elections that are due to take place over the next few days.
I had expected – and was told at the 1922 Committee this evening – that the Referendum vote would be held next Thursday, by which time I would have been safely back in the United Kingdom.
Contrary to the views of the conspiracy theorists the debate has, I understand, (22.00 Wednesday 19th October) now been brought forward to Monday so that the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister, both due in Australia on Thursday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference with Her Majesty the Queen, can attend.
I regard the change as entirely proper but it does mean that I, myself, will be unable to participate in, or vote at the end of, the debate. That is a considerable disappointment to me on behalf of those who rely upon me to represent their concerns but I hope and expect that you will understand that I have, at this late stage, no choice. I shall, of course, continue to make my views known as this debate develops and reaches a natural conclusion (Monday will only be the first round in the process whatever the outcome) and I am deeply grateful to all of those, of whatever persuasion, who have responded to my enquiries.
With my best wishes,
Roger Gale, MP
19 October, 2011.