The last of our ten sets of questions for each of the main leadership contenders.

  • A fundamental requirement for a Party leader is that he can keep it united: for unless he can, it’s unlikely to achieve anything much.  You are backed by some of the best-known names on the Right of the Party – Ian Duncan-Smith, Bill Cash, Bernard Jenkin, John Redwood (plus, now, Boris Johnson).  If its leader, could you keep it united – and how would you go about dealing with its Centre and Left?
  • There’s some evidence that more Party members are getting to know and rate you.  What evidence is there that you can increase the Party’s electoral reach?
  • Of all the candidates, you are the most junior in terms of rank: all the others are or have been full Cabinet members.  Are you really ready to go head-to-head with Putin? With Obama? With Merkel?
  • You have said that you will trigger Article 50 as soon as you become Prime Minister, and that the negotiations will be in the hands of “a dedicated Cabinet colleague”.  This being so, do you have a full plan for the negotiation that you will thereby begin, an outline of the team of politicians who will oversee it, and of the team of civil servants who will support it?  If so, what details can you provide?
  • You said in launch speech yesterday that “we should spend more on early intervention” while earlier saying “I’ll continue to build on the good work that George Osborne has done in reducing the deficit”.  The two statements aren’t inconsistent, but they do point to a big question – namely, about the approach of candidates to the economy, tax and spending at a time of uncertainty.  What would a Leadsom economic strategy look like?
  • There’s no doubting your passion for early intervention, and no great mystery about your plan for it: after all, you set it out in detail recently on this site here.  It includes a big overhaul of children’s services; therapeutic support for mums, dads and babies; volunteer outreach programmes to engage with the most vulnerable and isolated families; relationship and couple counselling, and training for, and signposting to, qualified child-minders.  This sounds like a substantial spending commitment.  What’s the evidence base that suggests it would work?
  • You also said in that launch speech that “workers’ rights under my leadership will be protected and enhanced, as my friend Gisela Stuart MP and I made clear during the referendum debates”.  Would you appoint Stuart, and members of other parties, to work on Brexit in government?
  • If you are one of the two candidates put before Party members, would you make your opponent deputy leader?
  • Would you appoint George Osborne to your Cabinet and, if so, in what capacity?
  • These are hectic times, and post-Brexit business must command your attention.  But you are standing, strictly speaking, for the Party leadership.  So you will surely want to set out a view on the Party’s future.  What sort of Party Chairman would you appoint?  How do you propose to raise membership, if at all?  Do you want to make Party Conference more accessible to members, and if so how?  See some or all members of the Board directly elected?  What are your plans for candidate selection?

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