As the upheaval in British politics continues following the Referendum vote, the attention has turned to the leadership of the two main political parties. The leadership of the Opposition and Jeremy Corbyn I will leave to others to comment, however the leadership of the Conservative Party and thus the Prime Minister is something that I am directly concerned and involved with.
The system that exists within the Conservative Party is that the MPs will vote on the nominated candidates and bring the field down to two. The final two will then be put to a vote of the whole membership of the Conservative Party. I am conscious that I am writing this prior to the first ballot as I need to meet the print deadlines for the newspaper. So as you are reading, the results of that ballot will be known. I feel it is important, however, to set out my views as I see them on the candidates presently standing.
It was widely expected that Boris Johnson would stand for the leadership, so it came as a shock to many - myself included - when he announced he would not be a candidate. That left 5 candidates; Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa May. I have been asked who I am going to support, and I said that I would wait until nominations closed and then speak to the candidates over a few issues that I would like assurances over, which I have done over the weekend.
I am very conscious that not only am I looking to vote for a new Leader of the Conservatives, but also a new Prime Minister, so I feel it is important that the candidate I back not only has the qualities needed for the job but also the experience. Normally when political parties change their leader it is when they are in opposition, which gives the new leader time to grow into the job. This is very different; the winner will have to be ready to hit the ground running. On that basis the obvious choice is Theresa May. She has been the Home Secretary for 6 years and has all the experience needed to step up to be Prime Minister.
People who voted for us to leave the European Union will think it strange that I am backing someone who was on the Remain side, however Theresa has the support of other prominent supporters of leave such as Chris Grayling. I have raised this personally with her and she has assured me that she is committed to executing the result of the referendum by setting up a Brexit department that will be headed up by someone who was a clear advocate of leaving.
The choice of a new leader and Prime Minister isn’t solely about leaving the EU though; there are many other issues to be dealt with both nationally, as well as challenges facing the High Peak. We discussed these at length, and I am now reassured that Theresa is the best person for the job, both for the country and for us here in the High Peak.