Having looked very locally last month, and celebrated the joys of an MPs year in the constituency, far away from what ails the world, I am afraid we must come back to earth this month to a fascinating year nationally and internationally. There will be ultimately no escape from some of its events, so we might as well be prepared.

If you were tired of the Referendum campaign, you will get no respite from Brexit. I sit on the Select Committee of the Commons, elected by colleagues to oversee the Department for Exiting the European Union, and scrutinise its policies. We are currently working on our first report, what the UK should be prioritising in its objectives for Brexit, and have met a number of times to interview representative bodies of business, trade unions and different sectors of the economy affected by

Read more: Bulletin Magazine Jan 2017

Towards the end of last year I had two excellent meetings with local communities – one with a Town Council, and the other with a self-assembled residents group, both of which wanted a word with me about planning.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and the constituency side of it as much as Westminster. But just occasionally the heart sinks in relation to planning matters, for your MP has no seat on the planning committees of either Central Beds or Bedford Borough. An evening in front of residents on planning is normally an invitation to a skittle alley, where you are a defenceless target in the face of some outrage about which you can do very little, but listen to the heartfelt concerns of a packed village hall. (Though I still love it.)

Read more: BedsLife January 2016 Planning for the best

A happy New Year to all in North East Bedfordshire!

After the significant political events of 2016, the Christmas break has given a chance for a pause and regroup, as we think through what lies ahead.

I think two things are particularly important. Firstly 2017 is bound to be a year of uncertainty, which will matter to all of us in practical ways. Some uncertainty stems from how Brexit will be handled, and the fact that we will not know the outcome this year or next. This must necessarily affect the economy and business, though not all equally. The lower value of our pound, for example, will help export businesses but make inflation higher and impact businesses importing.

Read more: New Year message from Alistair January 2017

As this is my last column of the year, although a bit early, may I take the opportunity to wish my constituents, and all readers, a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

How was it for you? 2016? For those of us in public life, and those interested in politics and the world around us, it has been pretty momentous. Unpredicted events such as Brexit and the election of soon to be President Trump have been a shock to a system built on different foundations to the ones we found when we looked under the floorboards this year. The tremors running through the house are unlikely to stop there, and urgent repair work is under way.

Read more: Burt on the Benches Dec 2016

When 2016 began, I do not think anyone thought it would be one for the history books. It seemed pretty routine. The UK had a settled government, the country would bumble along to decide narrowly to remain in the EU, and a fractious US election would end with Hillary Clinton overcoming the challenge of whoever the Republicans put up, after Donald Trump’s unpleasant campaign had finally derailed.

Read more: BedsLife Dec 2016 A year for the outsiders