Nadhim Zahawi is Minister for Children and Families and is the MP for Stratford-on-Avon.
The results from the European elections make one thing abundantly clear – that voters will abandon and punish politicians who do not keep their promises. If the Conservatives want to win back voters who either voted for other parties, or did not vote at all last Thursday, then the first step is to hold up our hands and admit we have failed.
There’s no other way of looking at it. We’re now less than a month from the three-year anniversary of the vote to leave the European Union, and we’ve just had to drag ourselves off and cast a vote to send another load of MEPs back to Brussels.
All of us in Westminster must acknowledge our shares responsibility for this mess. We have been given more than enough time to deliver what the people wanted, and we’ve let them down.
That is why I believe that it is right for the Prime Minister to have taken the decision to step aside. I have always tried to make the case for this Government, to my colleagues and to the public, but it could not go on any longer. When we fail, we should take responsibility, and step aside for someone who might be able to succeed.
This is unquestionably a difficult time for our politics. The clock is ticking, and the people of our country are expectant. We need to make the right choice about who our next Prime Minister should be. Faced with this decision, I believe there are just three questions MPs, and ultimate Conservative party members, should be asking themselves.
First, which candidate has the right policy ideas to improve our country for all the people who live here; second, which candidate has the personal characteristics and requisite drive to deliver and, finally, who can win and deliver the continued Conservative Government we need. I have come to the view that it is Dominic Raab who passes these tests with flying colours.
Of course, as Minister for Children and Families, one area I focus on is social mobility. Every day I see the challenges that so many kids face, but I also see the improved outcomes that can be created by enhanced opportunities. This means I have kept my eye out for a candidate who can increase opportunity for those who need it most.
I believe that Dominic is the best placed person to deliver. He is someone who knows the power of opportunity from its impact on his own life. After all, his own father escaped the Nazis and came to Britain as a refugee, and then a grammar school place enabled Dominic to catapult himself into a stellar career – and who knows better how to fight for what is right than someone who worked at the Hague on bringing war criminals to justice?
As a fan of boxing, and an expert in karate, Dominic has a natural affinity with an underdog. He certainly has the mental strength and willingness to battle towards a victory. He’s a firm believer in capitalism, as the route to a stronger economy that can deliver a brighter future for our citizens, but he’s no friend of badly-behaved big businesses. He’s a man with the deep expertise on international law, meaning he’ll be an outstanding representative of our country on the world stage; both with the EU and with friends and foes further afield.
Most importantly, Dominic’s story is one which captures the true essence of British conservatism; work hard, seize opportunities that come your way and just watch where it takes you. He understands what our Government needs to do is make sure these opportunities come the way of every child from any background, not just those with access to a private education.
That’s why he can win; and that’s why I believe he should win.