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 Matt Hancock’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?
She is right. The challenge for the Conservatives in 2010 was to bring Labour’s deficit under control and get debt falling. The challenge of the 2020s is to win the case for capitalism by making sure people get the benefits of the strong economy.
So we must use strong public finances to increase living standards and improve public services, while keeping debt falling as the anchor of our economic credibility.
To raise living standards, I will increase the National Living Wage to over £10 an hour by the next election, giving a cash boost of over £3,500 to someone working full-time on the living wage. And I will back business to create better-paid jobs by cutting taxes on investment and high street small firms’ business rates.
I would also deliver a long term education plan with more funding for our schools. Better schools mean better jobs and better futures for our children.
That way we can win the argument for free enterprise to show people that capitalism can put pounds in their pockets and improve our public services. That’s how we stop Corbyn.
2. ”The UK should set a zero carbon target for 2050.” Do you agree and if so why?
Yes, I completely agree. We must set this target. I don’t accept the economic forecasts – you cannot put a price on the conservation of our planet for future generations. Passing on our world to the next generation in a better state than we find it is a deeply Conservative value that we should embrace.
We have done so much in reducing carbon emissions already under this government, and we need to do more to demonstrate our achievements in this area.
The UK has the opportunity to develop new technologies – creating the new, better-paid jobs of the future – that will ensure we produce zero carbon by 2050. I am determined that we seize it.
3. What would you do to strengthen the Union?
I believe safeguarding the Union is central to the Prime Minister’s job description.
The Brexit Delivery Plan that I have published will deliver the vote to leave in a way that strengthens our Union. We cannot break the Union on the back of Brexit. I am against a second referendum on the EU because it risks a second referendum on Scottish independence, putting our Union at risk.
After Brexit, I will enact Ruth Davidson’s idea to put a Union Delivery Unit in Number 10 to ensure that every government department is doing all it can to keep our United Kingdom together.
4. From reader Penny_Change: Will you commit to cancelling HS2?
Hi Penny. As a northerner born and bred in Chester, I believe HS2 is a vital project that will increase our rail capacity and provide better links between the North and South of England. I know that many people are not happy about this project. But if we do not deliver on this commitment, it would also send a terrible message to the North that the Conservative Party does not care about its future.
Countries that invest in infrastructure succeed so we need to invest more in transport, East and West, as well as, not instead of HS2.
5. What is the right level of immigration for Britain?
We need to control immigration so we can choose as a country who should come. We need a system with grip, that allows short-term visitors and provides business with the high-skilled workers they need. And we need a greater distinction between people who come temporarily and those granted British citizenship.
We should choose. So for example, as Health Secretary, I know how important it is to attract medics from other nations keep our NHS running. That is why I have proposed that we put in place free movement of medics from around the world to our country. As long as doctors and nurses are properly qualified, speak English and have a job offer, they should be allowed to live and work here.
6. Is the internet a threat to be contained or an opportunity to be unleashed?
Both. Of course there are risks – from the threat of cyber attacks to our banks, to our children seeing harmful content online. That’s why in government I set up the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre and challenged the social media companies to remove content leading to young people self-harming.
But there are huge opportunities. Take the NHS. The internet and technology can transform our health service by improving prevention, saving lives. It can mean we can deliver services digitally, meaning more people getting better access to healthcare. And if we get the policy on education and skills, the technological revolution can create better-paid jobs for working people.
Ultimately, it must be for society to decide how we use this technology – and to balance the freedom and risk online, just as we do offline.
7. Do you agree that the NHS is an expression of British values?
It’s fair – it means equal access to all regardless of ability to pay.
It’s patriotic – because it’s a national service with people drawn from all walks of British life
It’s open – working with the brightest and best from around the world.
Our NHS represents the best of British and is a true expression of our values.
8. Would you be prepared to take Britain out of the EU without a deal at the end of October if necessary?
I have a plan that will enable us to leave on 31st October with a deal. That’s what I want to do. And I think my Brexit Delivery Plan is the only credible plan that will deliver Brexit with a deal by 31st October. I believe it is negotiable with the EU and can command a majority in the House of Commons.
But we do need to get real. Parliament will block a No Deal Brexit, as it did in March.
So the choice now is this: leave with a deal or have a general election, risking Corbyn by Christmas, a second referendum and no Brexit at all. Once we leave the EU, we can move forward to all the other issues people care about, like the economy and public services.
9. Please complete the following sentence in no more than 30 words: “Conservatism is…”
…about creating opportunity for every individual, whatever their background, by backing their inherent potential and protecting their freedom to succeed so everyone can lead better and more fulfilling lives.
10. From reader Graham, in Bristol: Why should I rejoin the Conservatives [under your leadership] from The Brexit Party?
Hi Graham. As Prime Minister I will both deliver Brexit and deliver a majority at the next election to keep Jeremy Corbyn and his dangerous policies out of Downing Street.
I can deliver Brexit – I am the only candidate who has put forward a credible Brexit Plan so we can get on with leaving the EU by 31st October. I am also the candidate who can make the most of the opportunities from Brexit – making the UK the most attractive place in the world to invest and develop the new technologies of the future that will create better-paid jobs – because I am the person in this contest who best gets the technological changes that are changing the world.
I am also the fresh face that’s needed to appeal to the younger working people who are tempted by Corbyn and who are key to stopping him.
11. Pick one: No Brexit, a 2019 general election, or a second referendum this year.
None of the above. I have the only credible plan to leave the EU with a deal by 31st October.
12. Should the Party Chairman be elected?
I am open to this idea. It could be a great way to ensure party members genuinely feel they can make a contribution to how our party is run. One option is to have a party chairman elected every year to reflect the broad church of our party.
13. From reader LieBertArian: What will you do to root out Islamophobia in the Tory party?
I will take a zero tolerance approach to Islamophobia. While the issues that have come to light are nothing like the appalling and systemic levels of anti-semitism that Jeremy Corbyn has brought into the Labour Party, we still have work to do.
If I’m elected leader, I would take an immediate look at CCHQ’s processes for ensuring any Islamophobia is rooted out and dealt with properly. It has no place in our party, or any party that aims to govern in the interests in the whole country.
14. From reader hertscommuter: What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?
Aha! The most dangerous question in this contest! I was my university radio’s sports commentator. I was meant to be commentating on an England-Australia rugby match at Twickenham from the press box. I ended up not being able to get there on time. So I went to a pub, watched the opening, and then called in from a phonebox opposite, pretending to commentate on the opening saying, “the atmosphere here at Twickenham is electric”. Nobody realised. That’s the naughtiest thing about me that I’m prepared to tell!
15. Has George Osborne given you any advice on your leadership bid? Would he be welcome to join a Hancock government?
George hasn’t been advising my campaign, and I certainly haven’t spoken to him about any role in government.
Of course I am incredibly proud to have worked for both him and David Cameron – they helped kick out Labour and get us back into power so we could start delivering for our great country.
>To read the answers of the other candidates, click here.