Chris Heaton-Harris is a former Minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, and is MP for Daventry.
With the future of Brexit hanging in the balance and, with 11 of my colleagues jostle for position to become the next leader of our great Conservative Party and therefore Prime Minister, it is absolutely vital that, as MPs and then as party members, we make the right choice.
As the party of government in 2015, and in line with our clear manifesto commitment, we honoured our pledge to legislate for a public vote on the future of our relationship with Europe. In 2016, the country voted by an overwhelming majority to leave, and the Conservatives promised to uphold the result and deliver on the mandate given to Parliament. And today, in 2019, we have seen the impact of our failure to do so: the loss of many outstanding local councillors across the country in the recent elections, and the very real threat of the Brexit Party splitting the vote and allowing a Marxist-Corbyn government in through the back door.
The clock is ticking and, if we are to have any hope of restoring the electorate’s faith in the Party, we must leave the EU on the October 31st, come what may. For me, that means that the next leader of the Conservatives has to be somebody absolutely committed to delivering Brexit, with optimism and confidence, and it has to be somebody with a workable plan.
Whilst I have the greatest respect for all of my colleagues who are striving to be our next leader, there is only one person standing who I know who fits the bill, and that person is Andrea Leadsom.
Andrea is exactly the sort of decisive and compassionate leader we need to take our country forward, and to deliver on the result of the referendum. I’ve known Andrea for over a decade, I know what a fantastic local MP she is, and how dedicated she has been in her approach to all of her ministerial roles to date.
We’re constituency neighbours – in South Northamptonshire and Daventry – and have worked together on many cross-boundary issues since we both joined Parliament in 2010. Most recently, I’ve seen how she has brought her determination to bear in standing up for our constituents who are implacably opposed to the development of enormous rail freight terminals on greenbelt land. And of course she led the fight for local residents in doing everything she could to oppose HS2 back when it was first proposed, and she continues to raise concerns at every opportunity about the spiralling costs of this project.
As Leader of the House, Andrea brought about real change in the institutions of our democracy, and was a real champion for those who had grave concerns about the way Parliament works. Working across all parties and both Houses, she pushed through the new Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme which will go a long way to changing the culture here for the better.
She brought in proxy voting to give MPs who are new parents the chance to spend time with their baby whilst still representing their constituents. She introduced the Restoration and Renewal Bill, which will protect the Palace of Westminster, a UNESCO world-heritage site, for future generations.
And there is nobody else running who understands the EU quite as much as Andrea does. Along with our colleague George Eustice, Andrea and I founded the Fresh Start Project in 2011 which looked in detail at every aspect of our relationship with the EU and proposed fundamental reform. When it became clear that the EU was unwilling and unable to reform in any meaningful way, Andrea became one of the most passionate and determined advocates for Leave – and we can all remember her excellent performances on those debate stages during the 2016 referendum in support of our bright future as an independent globally-focused nation.
This is why Andrea is the candidate I trust to get us out of the EU by the October 31st. Her clear three-step Managed Exit strategy is the only feasible plan on the table. You may have heard her discussing this on Marr last weekend, or read about it in the papers, and you can get much more detail on her campaign website:
I agree with Andrea when she says that our future outside of the EU is incredibly bright, but we can only realise this if our next leader and our next Prime Minister is someone like her who absolutely believes in leaving the EU and in honouring the result of the referendum.
This is why I’m supporting Andrea, and why I hope you will too.