Edward Argar is the Member of Parliament for Charnwood.
MPs and Party members have a profoundly important decision to make in the coming weeks. We all know we do so against a challenging national and international political backdrop.
Delivering Brexit must be the necessary first step to winning the next election. I have always been clear that, however anyone voted as an individual in the 2016 referendum, the result must be accepted, respected, and delivered on, with the UK leaving the EU.
So we need a leader clear in their determination to do this, someone who knows how to approach negotiations, and who has realistic plans to get it done by October 31.
But delivering Brexit is only the vital first step to winning the next election. We must have a leader who can also set out a clear, positive vision, and an imaginative domestic agenda for the future which seeks to unite our country. Someone who embodies the Conservative dream and who can reach out to individuals and communities across our country who may never have voted Conservative, or who have stopped doing so.
We need someone who represents, and will deliver, change, but, in the best traditions of our Party, change that works with the customs, traditions, values, and grain of our country.
The alternative is unthinkable. A Jeremy Corbyn-led government risks higher unemployment, higher taxes, higher debt, higher costs to business, nationalisations, and no real interest in delivering on the result of the 2016 referendum or making Brexit work for Britain. We have a duty to our country to stop that happening, and to elect a leader who will stop that happening.
The good news for our Party and country is that there is such a strong field of talented and passionate colleagues putting themselves forward. There are many that I have worked with closely both in Parliament and before: Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Kit Malthouse, Jeremy Hunt – all these, and all those standing, bring great ability to the table.
But for me that change candidate, the person who embodies that positive vision, our values, and that ability to reach out across the country, is the man who I had the pleasure of getting to know, and work with closely ,when he became Home Secretary and I served as his PPS: Sajid Javid.
Sajid has an inspiring story of how he got ahead in life and what our country means for him – he is the embodiment of the Conservative values of aspiration and hard work, and of modern British identity.
The reason many voters never consider voting for us is because they don’t believe we understand their needs or share their values. That’s why Sajid’s working-class background, with a family who relied heavily on public services, will be such an asset in the next election. The drive that took him to university, and into a highly successful business career, is also exactly the kind of spirit and skill we need as a country to fully seize our post-Brexit opportunities.
Sajid is someone with extensive experience in both the private sector and in Government, having held four different Cabinet roles. This is the sort of man who could do the job of being our Prime Minister from day one.
When you work as closely with someone as I did with Sajid you get to know them, their story, their abilities, and what drives them. He has huge reserves of energy, a natural instinct for bold and creative solutions, and an ability to work well with colleagues as a team to get things done. He has brought to the Home Office a real focus on listening to concerns and delivering results.
More recently, his pledge to reinforce our party’s traditional reputation on law and order by recruiting 20,000 police officer is extremely welcome news, not just for my constituency but across the country.
He is also best-placed to ensure the Conservative Party can continue to be in future the broad church that has been the key to our success. We cannot afford to fall behind further with young people and ethnic minority demographics. We must be the party for the whole of our nation.
To do that, we need to make people look again at our Party while still in government. In these increasingly polarised times, Sajid is consistently the leading Conservative with the best net poll ratings among the public – uniquely with positive ratings with both Leave and Remain voters.
I believe we will, and indeed we must, win the next election. I believe that our country, with its great past and its great present, can and will have an even greater future.
But to do that we must seize the opportunities that future holds – the opportunities of Brexit, but also the opportunities for our economy, our public services, the energy and aspiration of our country. I believe the person who is best placed to do that is Sajid Javid, and am proud to be backing him.