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 Sajid Javid’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?

Clearing up the mess Labour left behind was one of the most important jobs when we came into government. But with the public finances back under control we need to move on from the language of austerity.

To win the next election we need to show the country we’re thinking about the future. That means investing in our public services and infrastructure, cutting taxes for working people, taking action like fixing our broken housing market to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get on in life. All the while of course we have to keep our economy strong so we can afford to pay for it all – and we do that by making sure spending is under control, and debt as a proportion of GDP keeps coming down.

2. ”The UK should set a zero carbon target for 2050.” Do you agree and if so why?

Yes. That is the view of the independent Committee on Climate Change, and I’m happy to accept it.

Climate change threatens humanity in ways scarcely worth imagining and it’s only right we lead the charge to reduce emissions.

I’d use part of my proposed £100 billion UK Infrastructure Fund to help decarbonise and improve our energy and transport networks. I’d consign the disastrous Common Agricultural Policy to the dustbin, and genuinely support farmers – our environmental stewards – to restore nature and capture carbon. I’d work hand in glove with the private sector to roll out innovative technologies which we need to achieve net zero.

I resolutely support the net zero target. Yet without meaningful action, it’s little more than virtue signalling. That’s why as prime minister I would place tackling climate change at the heart of my government.

3. What would you do to strengthen the Union?

I’ve made clear that just as I wouldn’t countenance a second Brexit referendum, I’d also oppose a second Scottish independence referendum. Voters were clear in 2014 that they wanted to remain part of the United Kingdom.

The Union needs to be actively strengthened, not just defended. I’d have a dedicated campaign to promote our shared values and history, and a minister in every department responsible for ensuring all policies consider how they can strengthen the Union. It needs to be hard-wired into every decision. We are, after all, the Conservative and Unionist Party.

I’d like to see more funding in the hands of Scottish local authorities, rather than going through Holyrood. I’d also look at which institutions could move outside London, and what initiatives the home nations could be partnering on. Ruth proposed a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup last year – I think that’s a great idea!

4. From reader Penny_Change: Will you commit to cancelling HS2?

Successive governments have dodged difficult decisions when it comes to our national infrastructure. The HS2 project will deliver huge economic benefits across multiple regions and help rebalance our economy. Business groups have been vocal in their support for it.

Some have suggested we should be putting the money into improving existing rail connections instead, but I disagree – I think we can do both. In fact, I think the two go hand in hand. A key part of the proposals for Northern Powerhouse Rail, for example, is providing links between the new HS2 hubs and other cities across the North, so more people can benefit from faster journey times and greater rail capacity.

Too often, however, these major projects run way over budget and behind schedule. Every single project should be able to demonstrate value for money – apart from anything else, that’s the best way to get the public on board.

5. What is the right level of immigration for Britain?

As the son of immigrant parents who came here to work hard and contribute I know first-hand just how much immigration has brought to our country. Too often though, because free movement has meant we have only had limited influence over migration, we have fixated on ‘targets’.

What we need is control. That’s why, as Home Secretary, I set out a vision for a system which wasn’t based on arbitrary numbers. Instead it looked at what our economy needs: skilled workers that will drive up productivity, helping employers create more jobs, and support our public services.

We can only do this because we are leaving the EU, meaning we can insist that everyone who comes to this country has permission to do so.

Ultimately this will mean lower immigration. And the public can have absolute confidence that they are benefitting from immigration, not losing out because of it.

6. Is the internet a threat to be contained or an opportunity to be unleashed?

The internet has given us incredible access to information, given voices to the voiceless and kept people in touch. It’s a colossal opportunity to improve our lives and economy. But we cannot turn a blind eye to the darker side of the web.

When I first became Home Secretary, I visited the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command and was nauseated by what I heard from staff there. Predators around the world are abusing the internet to commit vile crimes against children on an incomprehensible scale. I’m haunted by the depravity that’s taking place online. Internet companies aren’t doing enough to protect children and vulnerable people.

That’s why I’ve published the Online Harms White Paper which will legally oblige tech firms to protect their users with a statutory duty of care. The internet can be a powerful tool for good, but companies need to step up to protect our children.

7. Do you agree that the NHS is an expression of British values?

I’d go further – I think the NHS has become an intrinsic part of our national identity. I know from my work as a constituency MP and in government the incredible work that is being done every single day by thousands of doctors, nurses and NHS staff across our country. I am proud to have been part of a government which has increased the NHS budget in real terms despite the unprecedented financial situation we inherited.

The fact the Chancellor was able to commit to more than £20 billion of extra NHS funding last year without increasing taxes on working people proves what we have always said – the only way to secure the long-term future of our NHS is if we have sound finances and a strong economy. A Conservative Party under my leadership would be resolute in its commitment to a properly funded NHS, free at the point of use.

8. Would you be prepared to take Britain out of the EU without a deal at the end of October if necessary?

It is vital for the sake of our democracy, and for the future of the Conservative Party, that we deliver on our promise to honour the referendum result.

My preference has always been, and remains, to leave the EU with a deal, and I have set out how I would seek to find a solution which can command a majority in parliament before 31st October.

However, if it becomes clear that the choice is between No Deal and no Brexit at all, for me there is no question: we must leave the EU.

I would ramp up preparations for a No Deal scenario immediately on entering Number 10 to ensure we are as ready as possible for that eventuality. I wouldn’t seek to kick the can down the road yet again. I am convinced that whatever happens, we can and will be a prosperous and successful nation outside the EU.

9. Please complete the following sentence in no more than 30 words: “Conservatism is…”

Conservatism is how I got to where I am. It provides two essential things in life: a strong foundation of values and society, and a springboard of freedom and opportunities.

10. From reader Graham, in Bristol: Why should I rejoin the Conservatives [under your leadership] from The Brexit Party?

I completely understand why many of our supporters – and yes, many activists – voted for the Brexit Party at the EU elections. Those elections should never have happened. People were asked to vote for elected roles we had promised would no longer exist, representing an organisation we promised we would no longer be part of. It was like rating an Amazon delivery that hadn’t even arrived yet. So voting Brexit Party was the equivalent of saying “I want what I ordered already!”.

Our challenge is to make sure we deliver the goods by October 31st, and make progress on the next crucial stage of negotiations by the next election. I have strong experience, a strong plan, and a strong belief in making that happen. Just as importantly for our country, I’ll also bring forward a bold policy agenda to address Brexit voters’ wider concerns and keep Corbyn out of power.

11. Pick one: No Brexit, a 2019 general election, or a second referendum this year.

Call this a politician’s answer if you like – but we won’t fix Brexit if we pretend it comes down to false choices.

I’ve been clear that I wouldn’t accept any of these outcomes. All three would be a betrayal of our democracy risking permanent damage in public trust in our political system.

To avoid them we need to be straight about what the choices are. Because whoever wins this contest will face the same realities and parliamentary arithmetic Theresa May has. We need a realistic, and credible plan that faces up to these.

I’ve set out mine – which at its the core involves working closely with the Irish and paying their costs to develop border arrangements allowing us to amend the backstop. It’s the only thing which has got through parliament. And I want to use this contest to unite our party behind it.

12. Should the Party Chairman be elected?

There are a whole host of ways in which we could and should bring the parliamentary party and the voluntary party closer together. Party Conference needs to be more tailored around members and their elected representatives, the Conservative Policy Forum needs a stronger role in shaping policy and ministers, including the Prime Minister, must be more accessible to our grassroots through regular dialogue.

Specifically on the point about electing a Party Chairman, I would be in favour but want to listen to what all members want and how they think it should be implemented, though I would like to return to having co-Chairs, given the scale of the challenge that lies ahead of us. One of these Chairs should be chosen by our members, helping ensure their views are central to future decision-making. I also want to see better representation of our members at all levels of the Party.

13. From reader LieBertArian: What will you do to root out Islamophobia in the Tory party?

It’s right that action is taken against any members who express anti-Muslim views. However, unlike the shocking antisemitism crisis in the once-great Labour Party, which I led the charge on both as Communities Secretary and Home Secretary, I have never seen evidence that our party leadership has been complicit in any of this.

But we absolutely have to do more to show we care about Muslims’ concerns, and to choose our words carefully. The more uncomfortable truth is that this reflects a much bigger problem in wider society than most people in Westminster acknowledge – as I know from first-hand experience.

In dealing with this we must also be careful not to create new problems. I’m very concerned about the proposed APPG definition of Islamophobia. It is not far in principle from the blasphemy laws we see in certain countries, and could set a very concerning precedent on freedom of speech.

14. From reader hertscommuter: What is the naughtiest thing you have ever done?

When I was a little boy there was a kid in my class who kept picking on me and calling me a ‘P***’. One day I had just had enough so I punched him square in the chops. Yes, it was satisfying but I’d be really cross with my children if they lost control of themselves and resorted to violence in the face of racism like I did. We crossed paths again years later in a lift in a shopping centre – he was contrite and we shook hands. In my old age I’ve developed a better ability to rise above digs about the colour of my skin…!

15. We’ve just had a leader who voted Remain but said she understood and would deliver Brexit. Is it realistic to expect party members to risk another Remainer as leader?

Every candidate in this campaign is rightly being drilled on their Brexit position. I outlined mine in detail in a Daily Mail article (here), was grilled on it by Andrew Marr, answered questions at the One Nation hustings and explained it to Christopher Hope for his Brexit podcast. And I know I’ll continue to be questioned about it in the coming weeks!

The contest in 2016 was very different. It was over before it really began and candidates weren’t questioned on their Brexit vision, other than to commit to implementing the referendum result. This time, both MPs and Party members will know exactly where each candidate stands.

Years have passed since the referendum. Candidates should be judged less on how they voted then, and more on what their plan is now. I have a detailed plan to deliver Brexit. I hope members give me the opportunity to make it happen.

>To read the answers of the other candidates, click here.