Tracey Crouch is Member of Parliament for Chatham and Aylesford.
Ever since I returned from maternity leave I have done everything I can to deliver the Brexit my constituents and the country at large voted for.
I have consistently voted in Parliament against anything that would take No Deal off the table; I’ve voted against an extension; I only voted for the Prime Minister’s deal because I thought it was the only way of leaving on 29th March.
Unfortunately that ship has now sailed, and we now have to be pragmatic about we deliver Brexit in this Parliament, given the risks of an early election.
But Brexit is not the only issue at stake in this leadership contest. We need a leader for the next decade, not just the three months between the winner being announced and the end of October when we’ve committed to leave.
That candidate is Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary. I’m backing him because he cares passionately about social justice, because I know he can bring our battered party back together, and crucially, because he gets stuff done.
I saw the proof of all three that when we worked together as ministers in DCMS, especially the work we did on tackling gambling addiction.
Led by me as a junior minister and Iain Duncan Smith from the backbenches, the campaign to slash the maximum stake on FOBTs to £2 was a rare example of a Tory team effort. It brought together colleagues from all wings of our party – from Jo Johnson to Jacob Rees-Mogg, and every shade of opinion in between.
But it was Matt who really got the policy over the line, powering through intense lobbying from the gambling industry and inertia from the Treasury, who were worried about the loss of tax revenue. Matt immediately got the importance of the issue and began reaching out to colleagues to work on a strategy.
Giving a good speech is one thing, but Matt puts in the hours and he knows how drive a policy through the government machine. Contrary to popular belief in our party, civil servants do actually want to get stuff done. Officials like working for Matt because they like energetic ministers who want to change things.
You can see it again in his current brief, where he’s helping to drive a tech revolution in the NHS, the world’s fifth biggest organisation and one that’s incredibly hard to change without provoking a storm of opposition. Yet somehow he’s managed it, and it’s a huge credit to Matt that he’s deprived Labour of their favourite NHS attack lines.
Now let’s tackle the Brexit issue head on.
Our next leader has got to be someone who can rise above all the controversy of the last few years and work with all sides to find a pragmatic solution on Brexit. To secure a future for our party they’ve got to be able appeal to younger voters who share our values but who overwhelmingly backed remain. Once Brexit is delivered it’s not going to matter which way the Prime Minister voted in 2016. What will matter is whether they’ve got the energy, ideas and enthusiasm to reboot our party and reconnect it with the country.
That person is Matt. He’s got a positive, optimistic vision for the future of the UK, like his ideas on ending low pay, supercharging the tech economy and strengthening the Union. He’s a fresh face who can wipe the slate clean on the May era and reach out beyond our comfort zone to attract new supporters to our party. Most importantly of all he’s got the right values. He loves people and he’s deeply committed to giving everyone the chance to make the most of their lives.
It’s why I have absolutely no hesitation at all in backing Matt Hancock for Prime Minister.