Last week I was grateful for all the kind comments I received locally after completing my time as Secretary of State for Scotland.
It was a huge privilege to serve as Scottish Secretary for more than three years.
The constitutional debate reached a rather critical point in that time and I am proud of the part I played in it as a member of the UK Government. I intend to continue to contribute – if from a different vantage point!
Delivering more powers for the Scottish Parliament through the Scotland Act and negotiating the Edinburgh Agreement to secure a legal, fair and decisive referendum were two particular highlights of my time in the coalition – but much of my effort was also spent on the economy and the other challenges facing people across Scotland.
Throughout my time in government I drew on great support from people across the Borders. I am hugely grateful for that support and was proud to draw attention to the region in the work that I did nationally and internationally.
We have much to be proud of and to shout loudly about – as a region we need to do more of that.
Among my top priorities as local MP will be continuing to encourage investment for job creation, campaigning for faster and more reliable broadband, and supporting our manufacturing and agriculture sectors
I could not have juggled my responsibilities as successfully as I did over the past three or so years without my friends in the Borders.
I recently launched a local initiative, as part of the Liberal Democrats’ “A Million Jobs” campaign, to boost the amount of apprenticeships in this region.
Apprenticeships are a really effective way of tackling youth unemployment. They are mutually beneficial to employers and employees. Not only do they help young people to develop the training, skills and experience they need to enter full-time paid employment, they also benefit businesses who gain real value from the skilled staff they have trained.
I believe that apprenticeships offer a great opportunity for businesses and young people.
They are not just for the traditional trades, but can be in anything from marketing to business administration. Apprenticeships help businesses reduce recruitment costs, lower staff turnover and improve productivity.
Over the next few months I will be working with local businesses and stakeholders to try and encourage more of them to take on apprentices.
I am looking forward to welcoming many of these businesses to an “Apprentice Showcase” in the near future.