Choosing the next leader of the Conservative Party is not a decision to be taken lightly. We are in Government. This individual will become the prime minister of the 5th biggest economy on the planet, the 4th biggest military budget. This next prime minister will take over a governing party at a time of parliamentary chaos, at a critical time in our country’s history and at a crucial junction of our nation’s economic plans.
I’ve looked hard at our candidates. I’ve judged them all against my own three tests of competence: the skill to run No10, the ability to communicate with the country, and their vision for the future.
It’s not an easy choice. We have outstanding candidates putting themselves forward. Boris probably has the best ability to engage with the public amongst all politicians in the western hemisphere – hosting a visit to Bewdley proved that to me. Sajid is a symbol of our party’s modern approach. Rory is one of the most thoughtful One Nation Tories I have met. Michael is a whirlwind of bright ideas and a passionate orator. Dom and Matt are the optimistic faces of the future generation. Mark is a master of strategy. I can’t envisage a government that fails to include all their talents.
But to lead our country through Brexit and to deliver a new vision for the future needs someone who can unite all those talents. We need someone who is both a pragmatist and a leader. We need someone who is inclusive and who seeks out the best opportunities using the best talent. We need someone with a proven track record of delivering a complex project. Someone who has run a huge department through difficult periods. Someone with the diplomatic skills to navigate tangled and confusing situations.
But that is not enough. I want to know that my next leader has a backstory that reflects the experiences of millions of people throughout this country. A hard worker who has set up his own business and made a success of it. Someone who knows what it is like to tackle the endless grind of VAT returns, deal making and lost weekends to hard work.
And for the future? Not only must our next leader know how to deliver word class public services, as well as One Nation opportunities for all, they must seize the opportunity the world presents. I want to see someone who can grasp trading opportunities with both developing and developed nations whilst still maintain a strong relationship with our nearest neighbours. I want someone who values the influence and respect Britain has secured over decades of upholding the international rules based system. I want to see our leader continue to make a strong case for our commitment to help those living through war, famine and struggling to make their way in fragile or failing states. And I want someone who recognises that ships flying the White Ensign, equipped with British equipment, and British service personnel, can - and should - deliver stability and security the world over.
For me, there is only one candidate that brings together all these skills and visions. That candidate is Jeremy Hunt.
Jeremy proved himself as an entrepreneur. In government, he delivered the fabulous Olympics in 2012. He was the longest serving health secretary. In his current role as Foreign Secretary he has shown a compassion for individuals and communities alike, facing off threats from oppressors. He has shown commitment to increasing the defence budget to meet those current and future global risks. And he has a plan for Brexit, and bringing together a divided parliament.
So, that is why I am proud to support Jeremy Hunt. I truly believe he has the unique set of skills across the widest spectrum to be able to reunite our country, provide that vision for the future, and get this country back on track as a truly global nation, the envy of the world.