Robert Buckland is a Minister of State at the Justice Department, and is MP for South Swindon. Justin Tomlinson is a Minister of State at the Department of Work and Pensions, and is MP for North Swindon.
They say that politics can’t get weirder, but events since 2016 have proved almost impossible to navigate. Seasoned commentators and hardened politicians have struggled even to keep abreast of the rapidly-unfolding chain of events. The issue of Europe has claimed the scalp of yet another Prime Minister.
The task is now on to choose the best person to lead our country and our party through these unprecedented circumstances, delivering Brexit so that people can once again begin to see the excitement and progress the Conservative Party can deliver. We believe that person is Boris Johnson.
We are both MPs who won our seats after years of hard work and grassroots campaigning.
This included building a strong council base and a track record of local action. Crucially, we spend a great deal of our time in our communities, bursting the Westminster bubble. Swindon Conservatives have worked relentlessly to earn support and the results speak for themselves.
Swindon is a growing town that has reinvented itself over the generations. Today, we are facing a new challenge as some of our motor manufacturing industry plans to withdraw from our town, with a loss of thousands of jobs and the need to replace them with high skilled, high wage employment.
The values of our town are true and solid. As a growing and diverse community, we welcome people from all over the country and indeed the world who want to make a contribution to our business, professional, civic and cultural life. We are proud that Swindon continues to represent the best of Britain, with strong community ties and an ethic of hard work and mutual respect for each other. We don’t pretend to be what we are not, but what we are is special. Swindon is a wealth generator, not just for the region, but for the nation.
It is a barometer town in two key ways. In 2008, we were the economic barometer that bore the brunt of Labour’s great recession, as hundreds of private sector jobs were lost and our community took a big hit. Since those dark days, we have bounced back, with over 11,000 jobs created since 2010. Since the 1980s, we have also been a key political barometer for the nation, returning Conservative MPs until 1997 and Labour MPs until 2010. In the last few elections, Swindon has been amongst the first seats to declare, giving an instant indication as to national trends. As goes Swindon, so goes the nation.
When we both started our work in Swindon, it was a Labour town, with two Labour MPs with solid majorities and a council that had recently been Labour since the days of Clem Attlee. With hard work and relentless campaigning, we continue to confound the pundits and this year delivered an increased Conservative majority on the council.
We are MPs who supported Remain and Leave respectively, but who continue to work closely together to carry out the referendum result. As Ministers of State, we are striving every day to improve the working of our vital public services. We are looking for a Prime Minister who will seek to reach agreement with the EU, who will be realistic and honest in that process and who will be able to unite the nation behind any deal that is done.
At a time when we face this unprecedented peacetime challenge, and the party system is coming under strain as never before, the situation calls for charismatic, uplifting and positive leadership. We believe that now is the time for Boris Johnson. In the aftermath of the EU referendum in 2016, we both felt then that he was the best choice as Prime Minister. That option did not come to pass, but now it can happen.
Why Boris Johnson? He recognises that the greatest threat our country faces is a hard left, extremist Corbyn-led Government that will destroy the means by which we raise the revenue to support our valued public services and that will lead our nation into economic collapse, supported by the SNP, risking the destruction of everything that we in Swindon have been working for.
As Mayor of London, he won and governed with a strong team, delivering more housing, better transport, lower knife crime and green initiatives. His re-election in 2012 proved that he has the necessary staying power. Having both served as local councillors ourselves, we know and value his work in City Hall.
Having campaigned with him, we have seen at close quarters his ability to speak warmly and directly to the public and to reach people to whom politics is remote and often irrelevant. At a time when we seem to be hearing more from the extremes of politics than ever before, Boris Johnson will provide the antidote to this. Our politics needs a reboot.
Let’s do this with Boris.