Nadhim Zahawi is Minister for Children and Families and is the MP for Stratford-on-Avon.
We have reached a crucial phase in the Conservative leadership contest. A contest which will not only select a new leader of our Party, but a new Prime Minister.
We need a leader with the resolve to lead Britain out of the EU by the end of October and the vision to unite the country to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn and his motley crew of Marxist cronies never set foot in the halls of power.
This task should come naturally to the Conservative Party, which has long held the title of the only serious party of Government. But after nine years in power, that hard-won moniker is at risk of slipping. And if we fail to deliver on our promise to voters to leave the EU, we are toast.
In 2016, the country gave us a clear instruction to leave the EU. In 2017, we established a timeline to deliver Brexit by the end of March 2019. Yet three years on we have not broken the shackles of Europe.
A further extension may seem attractive to buy more time, but with the Brexit Party’s tanks parked on our lawn – and rapidly reloading after the European elections – we need to act fast. We can’t kid ourselves. Nigel Farage poses us a serious threat. But only if we fail to deliver on the mandate voters have given us. In reality, that makes the choice very simple: deliver Brexit by the 31st October, or hand the keys to No 10 to Corbyn.
Yet despite the vivid clarity of the solution to our current mess, this contest is still being portrayed as one requiring a final duel between a candidate committed to leaving the EU in October and one content to delay.
This is a false choice. If we are to deliver for our party membership whom are overwhelmingly in favour of a swift exit, as well as win back voters dabbling with the Brexit Party, we need two candidates who are committed to leaving the EU come what may.
In Dominic Raab we someone with the skill as well as the conviction to navigate the rocky road ahead. Someone who has the experience of negotiating with Brussels but also the courage to walk away without a deal.
But once we have delivered Brexit we need someone with the energy, the ideas and the vision to bring our party together to build a fairer Britain.
We need a leader who can step up to the plate, someone who can market what we’re selling, someone who the public can trust to deliver, and someone who will act in a way that signals to the voting public that we’re serious.
As we saw in last night’s debate, that person is clearly Raab. He’s serious about delivering Brexit, on time and as promised. He’s serious about making our country fairer, and he’s serious about the threat that Corbyn poses. He’s an outstandingly capable candidate in times that call for a leader who can stay the course, whatever comes their way.
He would be able to convince those who are flirting with the Brexit Party that our party is still the best place for their vote, and he’d be able to deliver on building a Government that deserves to win the next election. He’s the right choice, the trusted choice and the serious choice.