Cllr. David Simmonds is Deputy Leader of London Borough of Hillingdon and Deputy Chairman of the Local Government Association.
With the Labour Party falling apart before our eyes and scrabbling around for a credible challenger to Jeremy Corbyn, we should be proud that the Conservative Party had no shortage of talented people putting themselves forward to lead our Party and our country. But I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that I am delighted our new Prime Minister is Theresa May.
Through my work at the Local Government Association, I have worked with her in her capacity as Home Secretary – for instance, co-ordinating the work by central and local government to provide refuge to people fleeing persecution in Syria. Through this work, I witnessed her command of her brief and her complex Government department, and saw how effectively she chaired cross-government meetings – and was grateful for her invitation to attend to represent the views of local authorities across the UK.
Her track record as Home Secretary – cutting crime to its lowest ever level while also saving taxpayers’ money, rooting out police corruption, speaking up for vulnerable people like the victims of abuse and those suffering mental health problems, keeping our country safe from the threat of terrorism, kicking out dangerous individuals like Abu Qatada and Abu Hamza, and tackling extremism in all its forms – would make her a formidable candidate to be Prime Minister at any time.
Now more than ever – following a divisive referendum and with a complex negotiation to conduct so we can leave the European Union on favourable terms – we are fortunate to have a leader who is ready to be Prime Minister on Day One.
I am also certain that she will prove an excellent Prime Minister from the point of view of the UK’s more than 400 local authorities. She began her political life as a Conservative Councillor, serving on the London Borough of Merton from 1986 to 1994, where her roles included Chairman of Education and Deputy Group Leader.
Throughout her time in the Shadow Cabinet, as our Party Chairman, and in Government over the last six years, the new Prime Minister’s commitment to Conservatives in local government has been unwavering. I have been impressed to see how much time she takes out from her duties as Home Secretary to support Conservative colleagues in local government – joining us on the campaign trail, and giving a passionate and well-received speech to the Conservative Councillors Association annual conference last year.
With her as our leader and Prime Minister, Conservative Councillors will play a vital role in our Party and the governance of our country. In government, she has shown herself to be a consistent proponent of devolving power down to local communities -with democratic oversight of policing and fire services, and more power for local authorities over licensing.
Her experience, her track record, and her dedication to getting on with the job mean she will prove to be the right choice to be our Prime Minister.