Wetherby MP Alec Shelbrooke gives his thoughts behind the Conservative leadership contest and the outcome.
They say a week is a long time in politics and the last few weeks have certainty tested that saying to its limits. After a whirlwind two weeks the Conservative Party has a new leader and Great Britain has a new Prime Minister.
Government is a serious business. It need a strong and serious leader to get the best deal for Britain in Europe and across the world. This is why I believe Theresa May is the best person for that job.
By lunchtime on Friday, June 24, the day David Cameron resigned and triggered a leadership contest, I was in contact with colleagues urging Theresa May to run for the top job. Since then, as part of her campaign team, I’ve been working to convince fellow MPs to get behind Theresa and support her candidacy in both rounds of ballots among Conservative MPs.
Residents across Elmet and Rothwell need robust, proven leadership to steer us through this period of economic and political uncertainty. We also need a resilient leader to take on Germany’s Chancellor Merkel in negotiating the best possible terms as we deliver the result of the public referendum and leave the European Union.
Since 2010 I have used my time in the House of Commons to progress issues of social justice: reforming welfare, improving dementia services and advancing opportunities for young people based on their ability, not their background.
These values – true to the Conservative Party’s proud philosophical tradition of One Nation conservatism – are values on which Theresa has a proven record.
But she has also proven herself in Government. As the longest serving Home Secretary since Queen Victoria’s reign, Theresa dealt with some huge issues in a department that was once known for eating up Home Secretaries and spitting them out in disgrace.
After numerous failed attempts by several predecessors, Mrs May secured a deal with the Jordanian Government to ensure that radical hate preacher Abu Qatada was deported from the UK. She took on the Police Federation and set about tackling corruption in police forces. She stood up to the United States to stop the extradition of British citizen Gary McKinnon and she has dealt with the Hillsborough Inquiry, bringing a close to one of the most tragic domestic incidents of the last three decades.
Now more than ever the United Kingdom needs an experienced, safe pair of hands. Following the result of the EU Referendum the negotiations to extract ourselves from the European Union will be a full-time, heavily detailed job that will dominate the work of Government for the next two to three years. I believe it shows a real clarity of leadership that Theresa May has not only pledged to establish a completely new department of Government to oversee ‘Brexit’, but has done so promising that it will be led by somebody who campaigned to leave the EU.
This is an important step as it unites all those who campaigned to remain or leave the European Union and also allows the new Prime Minister to oversee exit negotiations whilst getting on with other important areas of government business.
Great Britain’s future remains one of equal opportunity. For the second time in our country’s history Number 10 will become home to a female Prime Minister. Unlike other parties, the Conservative Party has never indulged in positive discrimination by imposing all-women shortlists or female quotas. The Conservative Party has always selected its leaders, MPs, councillors and candidates on merit, which is why the outcome of the leadership contest resulted in two female candidates reaching the final. Both candidates were judged to be capable of leading our country during this momentous time in our history.
At Theresa May’s campaign launch we published the slogan: “A Country That Works for Everyone”. With Theresa May as Prime Minister this is what I will be helping the Government to deliver: a clear agenda to make sure that if you have talent and work ethic you can achieve your aspirations no matter what socio-economic background you come from.