Nicky Morgan is Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, a former Education Secretary, and MP for Loughborough.
Later today, a group of Conservative MPs will be launching a declaration of One Nation Values. This week, as we approach the unexpected EU Parliament elections in which some of our members and supporters seem to be struggling to vote for our Party, seemed to us to be the right time to remind the political world that it is about much more than Brexit.
There is a long One Nation tradition in the Conservative Party. The name itself derived eventually from a book written by a Tory Prime Minister regarded by many as an outsider. And at a time when divisions in our country have never been more exposed, thanks in part to a referendum we called and still haven’t finally delivered on, the Conservative Party should be finding ways to renew the nation and address those divisions.
I am clear that if the Party decides to focus its appeal mainly towards Brexit Party supporters, our demise will be swift. It is a party that thrives on exploiting divisions and wants to pursue a hard No Deal Brexit deliberately, and with no regard for the damaging consequences for the United Kingdom, including to the very fabric of our Union.
Those who have always wanted a No Deal outcome to Brexit can at least say that is what they always preferred, and should be asked to explain what their version looks like and how they think they’d prepare for it. But there are those for whom a No Deal outcome is now a strategic leadership campaign choice. The One Nation caucus will be asking them to explain their decision to us, and how they’ve weighed up the risks involved to our nation.
But One Nation Conservatism isn’t just about Brexit and it isn’t just about what we don’t want. Politics should never be only about what we are against, but also what we are for. Much more powerfully, One Nation Conservatism is about what we want for our country, how we will tackle the challenges before us and how we would achieve positive change.
With George Freeman holding the pen, we have worked to agree an underlying set of values which will bind us together and underpin our policy suggestions.
We believe it is right to be patriotic, and at the same time reject any forms of narrow nationalism. And that Global Britain is not a label just for a trade policy, but also accepts a responsibility to lead on global issues. That includes being clear that climate change is an emergency, and responding with proper urgency.
We make a clear commitment to our public services, to ensuring that the market economy tackles unfair monopolies and argue that our economic policy must look at the financial health of the smallest grouping as well as the whole country.
The health of our democracy and of our political parties matters to all of us. And neither is in good health at the moment. And that isn’t good for our nation. The rise of other parties shouldn’t be ignored, but not should we be panicked into compromising on our core values.
Many readers of this column will be, like me, members of one of the greatest political parties in the world. We’ve survived by being pragmatic and not ideological. We know our duty is to safeguard our nation – our One Nation, not to exploit divisions for selfish ideological ends. And that decades-long approach is a good enough reason to vote Conservative on Thursday.