TIP O’NEILL, a former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was meant to have once said: “All politics is local.”

As someone who has been involved in politics for a while now, I can say that this is absolutely true.

People are concerned about their local communities – the services that they have, the schools their children attend, and the pride they have in the areas they live.

Even major events, when stripped to their constituent parts, are driven and influenced by local issues.

The job of an MP has many parts to it, and the House of Commons is full of members who represent vastly different parts of our country; urban, rural, north, south, ethnically diverse, coastal, inland, towns, cities, young, old, prosperous, struggling.

And the MPs themselves are equally as diverse. But the one thing that all MPs have in common is they are influenced by the people and the environment they have been elected to represent.

Whatever criticisms of our current political system, I think this direct link with a specific community is a very good thing.

But this doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t take an interest in other parts of the world – and this year there is going to be an important election in a country whose relationship with the UK is actually very important.

France is our closest continental neighbour (mainland Great Britain is actually closer to France than it is to Ireland). It has the second largest economy and population in the EU and is an incredibly important trading partner.

France is also a significant defensive ally – working closely with our military and in other strategic partnerships.

It is a country we are going to have to work very closely with to solve the issue of illegal crossings of the channel, as well as issues like fisheries. And, of course, France is also one of the favourite holiday destinations for British people!

So, what happens in France during the upcoming Presidential elections in April does matter greatly to us.

The election is already hotting up. Current President Emmanuel Macron, pictured, seems to think that a bit of Brit-bashing will serve him well, but this will only get him so far and I suspect it will abate somewhat when the elections are over.

Interestingly, the French electorate seem to have no interest in any of the centre-left candidates and the contest will likely take place between the candidates on the various parts of the French right.

Ultimately, though, the French electorate will have very similar concerns to the British people. They will want the best for their local areas and services they interact with. They too will be concerned about the cost of living, immigration and (yes!) the EU.

I hope for the best in the elections. I will certainly be following them closely – because whilst all politics might be local, we shouldn’t forget that local politics in other countries can have a huge effect on us also.