ConservativeHome put 15 questions – some from the editorial team and some from ConservativeHome readers, submitted in our recent appeal – to each candidate for the Party leadership. The first 14 questions were put to every hopeful, and the final one varied for each candidate.
Here are Dominic Raab’s answers to ConservativeHome’s 15 questions:
1. Theresa May suggested there should be “an end to austerity”. Was she right or wrong – and why in either case?
We always need to be responsible custodians with the public finances, but the difficult decisions we’ve taken have left us with some headroom. We can use that – along with further savings from Whitehall – to put money back into people’s pockets and target extra investment in our public services.
I want to give workers a fairer deal, so if I became Prime Minister my first tax-cutting priority would be to give those on low and middle-incomes a pay rise, by cutting their National Insurance and the basic rate of income tax. My first priority in terms of additional investment would be schools.
2. ”The UK should set a zero carbon target for 2050.” Do you agree and if so why?
We’ve provided global leadership in combating climate change and we are reducing emissions faster than any other G20 country. We need to maintain that ambition – including stretching targets such as zero emissions by 2050. Unlike the Luddites in the Labour party, there is a Conservative answer to this challenge. We need to bring together our world-beating scientists and world-beating businesses to drive and incentivise the innovation and technological advances that enable us forge an energy policy that makes environmental and economic sense.
3. What would you do to strengthen the Union?
Our Union is precious and we must do everything we can to strengthen it. We need to end the ‘devolve and forget’ attitude from Whitehall. We should be loud and proud every time the UK Government adds value for the people of Scotland, in Scotland. There should be stronger UK Government presence on the ground, for example when we delivered City and Growth Deals – and we should fly the Union Jack alongside the Saltire. As a government, we need to get better at identifying – in every department – where and how we are adding value in Scotland, and championing the difference we’re making north of the border.
4. From reader Penny_Change: Will you commit to cancelling HS2?
I would review the cost effectiveness of HS2 as part of the Spending Review, with a view to: reducing the costs of the project over the longer term; maximising the value for money in terms of the productivity gains; focusing on increasing the capacity of the link between London, Birmingham and Northern destinations; and re-focusing on the scope to promote East-West connectivity in the North.
5. What is the right level of immigration for Britain?
With a Czech father and a Brazilian wife, no-one appreciates the benefits of immigration more than me. The UK benefits economically and socially from immigration. But, uncontrolled immigration also creates pressures and carries costs. Brexit gives us an opportunity to restore public trust in our immigration system. That means reducing net immigration to levels that are sustainable, ensuring those who arrive here can be self-sufficient, and barring entry to those who threaten us (or deporting them if they commit serious criminal offences). I will be setting out the details of my immigration plan shortly, including better means of enabling stronger democratic oversight and accountability over the level of immigration.
6. Is the internet a threat to be contained or an opportunity to be unleashed?
It is a huge opportunity to be seized. We should build on our thriving tech sector to put Britain at the forefront of the digital economy. This is something we’re really good at as a country – and we can do even better after Brexit.
At the same time, we must have the checks in place to safeguard personal data, and protect ourselves from terrorists and the criminals who try to exploit the internet to do us harm.
7. Do you agree that the NHS is an expression of British values?
The NHS is one of our greatest institutions. It is vital we protect it for future generations. That is why I am committed to the extra £20.5 billion per year the Government has pledged for the NHS by 2023/24, along with the reforms in the NHS Long Term Plan, so it can better serve patients in the future.
8. Would you be prepared to take Britain out of the EU without a deal at the end of October if necessary?
Yes. We must keep our promises on Brexit.
We should revert with a final offer to overhaul the backstop, as approved by Parliament in the form of the Malthouse compromise and make clear that the end destination for our future relationship must be a Free Trade Agreement.
This is constructive and reasonable. It would be a final attempt to bridge the gap with the EU and would allow us to take back control of our laws, money and borders and forge an independent free trade policy.
Leaving on WTO terms is not the preferred outcome, but it is better than leaving with a flawed deal. If the EU refuse to move, we must leave by the end of October. The alternative – of more uncertainty – would be far worse. Those who suggest delaying Brexit, or want to take a WTO departure off the table, only weaken our negotiating position.
9. Please complete the following sentence in no more than 30 words: “Conservatism is…”
Conservatism is the power of free enterprise to create jobs and raise people’s quality of life, allied to the hope of an opportunity society that gives everyone their shot in life.
10. From reader Graham, in Bristol: Why should I rejoin the Conservatives [under your leadership] from The Brexit Party?
Because I am the best placed candidate to deliver Brexit. Once freed from Brexit and the EU, I have set out an optimistic vision for the future – for how we can deliver a fairer economy here, and a fairer society here. That way, we can take the our country forward, and beat Jeremy Corbyn at the next election.
11. Pick one: No Brexit, a 2019 general election, or a second referendum this year.
No, thank you. We must keep our promises on Brexit – and leave by the end of October at the latest.
12. Should the Party Chairman be elected?
I want to make the Conservative Party a more democratic party and give our members a stronger voice. I would make changes so that our members can elect the Chairman of the Party Board. That would make sure the voluntary party has more oversight over CCHQ, and more influence in our direction as a party.
13. From reader LieBertArian: What will you do to root out Islamophobia in the Tory party?
There’s no place for racism or Islamophobia in our party or our society. We mustn’t let our guard down on this, because the Labour party has shown in relation to anti-semitism what happens if you do.
So we need to be swiftly investigating all accusations of racism or islamophobia, and take decisive and robust action where accusations are proved to be true. I would review how the complaints system operates within the Conservative Party, to make sure it’s firm but fair. If we need to reinforce our complaints process, to ensure we can handle accusations more quickly, I wouldn’t hesitate to do that.
14. From reader hertscommuter: What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not confessing to that!
15. If you were out-manoeuvred by Theresa May in your time as Brexit Secretary, will you be able to stand up to Vladimir Putin?
As the recent BBC documentary showed, I’m the UK negotiator the EU complained pushed them too hard, and told them things no-one else had dared to.
I was also the first MP to propose a UK Magnitsky law, on a cross-party basis with David Miliband. That legislation would prevent the Kremlin agents and Russian mafia who murdered the dissident Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky for exposing the biggest tax fraud in Russian history, from entering the UK, or laundering their blood money through UK banks. If I became Prime Minister, I would want to pass that law.
>To read the answers of the other candidates, click here.