The MP for North Shropshire, Owen Paterson, has delivered his Christmas message for 2020.

He said: "This year has been an incredibly difficult one for our family. Rose’s suicide in June has had a terrible impact on us all and I don’t think we have even begun to come to terms with her loss. The many thoughtful messages, letters and cards that were sent have been of immense comfort to us. We are all hugely grateful for them.

"In recent months I have been learning more about mental health and suicide prevention. I plan to become much more involved in this work from now on; if I can stop one single family going through the extreme anguish that we are, I will have done something worthwhile.

"It has been an extremely busy year for my office and despite Covid we continue to make progress on many local campaigns. It is great that serious studies are now underway on the Pant/Llanymynech bypass and I continue to raise the issue of dualling the A5 with the relevant agencies.

"Poor mobile phone and broadband provision continue to be a huge frustration and it remains a top priority to improve this for all my constituents. New campaigns under way this year are to re-establish a railway service between Oswestry and Gobowen and improve disabled access across Whitchurch station.

"Whilst the campaign to stop HS2 has been lost, I will ensure that mitigations are put in place to protect constituents in Woore.

"The pandemic means that many of us have been kept away from our friends and loved ones. Many thousands of people have lost their lives across the country and each of these deaths is a tragedy for those left behind. It is heartening to know that the vaccine is now being delivered across the country. Its approval by our world-leading medical regulator before any other country in the world was one of the benefits of moving out of lock-step with the European Union.

"We have begun to see other early benefits from being outside of the EU, such as 58 trade deals the Government has concluded with allies around the world. Many businesses especially in agriculture and manufacturing will see benefits of quicker access to new technology. Smarter government decision-making will also help businesses. Just as the vaccine will liberate us from Covid restrictions, Brexit will liberate British politics, people and businesses from diktats whose purpose was to centralise rather than make life better.

"In the meantime, we can all help our rural economy by buying local. Nearly everything on the Christmas dinner plate can be sourced from Shropshire. The support we give to local shops, farmers, food producers and hospitality venues will make all the difference as they plan their economic recovery after an extremely difficult year.

"As the pandemic continues into the new year, I am particularly conscious of the effects of isolation and its effects on mental health, particularly among elderly people. I urge everyone to do their best to connect with friends, family and neighbours – just picking up the phone might well make their day over the Christmas holidays.

"I wish all my constituents a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year."