Whilst postal votes will be landing on the doormats of Conservative Party members in the next few days, and all of those who are members, like me, have an important decision to make when putting our crosses on them, I am hugely conscious that the choice we are entrusted with affects our entire nation and will determine the future direction of our country for years to come.
Whilst I have made it my policy throughout this process not to get caught up debating the perceived downsides of other candidates, and consider there to be two first-class contenders in Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt in the final, with many others having been eliminated at earlier stages, I can confirm that I am supporting Boris Johnson in this leadership election, as are my two fellow North Northamptonshire colleagues, Peter Bone and Philip Hollobone. In fact, all seven Northamptonshire MPs are backing Boris in this election.
For me, this decision is based on two key factors and I wanted to share my reasoning.
First, I am committed to the fundamental principle that the United Kingdom must leave the European Union on time, and as planned, by the 31st October - there has simply been enough dither and delay, and understandably, the British people have had enough, and businesses need certainty. That is the message I hear week in, week out, on doorsteps across Corby & East Northamptonshire and in my meetings and constituency visits with business representatives, and in particular those specialising in manufacturing. They are crying out for leadership, this has gone on long enough and they want to end the cycle of uncertainty once and for all, and know exactly what they are dealing with. This is non-negotiable for me and that is why I am backing Boris to deliver a proper Brexit by the 31st October: no ifs, no buts.
Not only has he made a firm commitment to deliver on this, but he also has a realistic plan to achieve it - namely, we plan all out for every scenario. But there is a key difference in that his policy is to be much more specific about the end destination, in the form of pursuing an ambitious free trade agreement approach to our ‘exit’, rather than the woolly political declaration presented previously. The truth is, we made this process more difficult than it ever needed to be, and with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council having offered the “Canada+“ option in the recent past, I am confident a deal can be reached and our departure delivered. That process is also only aided by a serious willingness to walk away without an agreement - to get a good deal, you have to be deadly serious about being willing to walk away without one.
I also consider that Boris’ track-record as London Mayor - the greatest city on earth - proves he has what it takes to govern competently and get things done; as his impressive record in the capital on significantly reducing violent crime, cutting taxes, running a strong economy bringing new jobs and investment, and on protecting and enhancing the environment, amongst many others, proves. Interestingly, these are the key issues that we need to get back to talking about and what I, and the majority of voters want to see at the forefront of political debate in this country. But to get there we need to see Brexit delivered, and when we do, I am confident Boris has the ideas to bring about positive change in these areas. As London Mayor, Boris was also never afraid of bringing in the right expertise with a record of success, in the pursuit of getting things done for the benefit of voters. As Prime Minister, I am absolutely convinced he would deliver again for our entire country.
In essence, I am confident that Boris will deliver Brexit, unite the country and my party, and importantly, I would argue, win the next General Election, having delivered for the British people, with a promise of more, and a record to prove he’ll keep his word.