• New Prime Minister

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    15 July 2016

    Soon we will have a new Prime Minister. David Cameron’s announcement that he is to step down following the EU referendum means that the next Leader of the Conservative Party will automatically become our Prime Minister. This is not a unique situation – it last occurred when Tony Blair stepped down and Gordon Brown moved into Number 10. In fact there are 13 occasions since 1900 where a new Prime Minister has emerged other than as a result of a General Election. In Westminster we have whittled down the contenders to two; Theresa May the Home Secretary and Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom. The next stage is for the party membership in the country – 150,000 people – to decide who is to become leader. The fact that both candidates are women is a source of great pride for me – women have made considerable progress at Westminster although it is still the case that there are more men currently sitting as Members of Parliament than the total number of women who have ever been elected to Parliament. There is still a way to go on women’s representation in our legislature but a second female Prime Minister is another great milestone along the way. I came out as a very early supporter of Theresa May and backed her through the ballots at Westminster. For me there are several tests that must be met for anyone who seeks to serve in the highest office in the land – especially at a time of national turmoil and acute economic and political challenge. Theresa May comfortably meets them all. 1. The right experience? As Home Secretary Theresa has, for several years, held down one of the toughest jobs in government. She has succeeded where many would have failed not least in driving down crime with reducing resources, 2. Is she tough enough to go toe to toe with say President Putin? TM can be tough. She’s no-nonsense – I’ve observed her close up for years and I have no doubts about that, 3. Does she have integrity? For sure – she made no promises to potential backers in the parliamentary contest – she played no games – she’ll select any future team on merit. She shuns gossip and intrigue – she’s a serious lady, 4. How dedicated is she? TM is totally focused – few have worked as hard since Margaret Thatcher – often late into the night and with forensic attention to the detail. She commands respect from her officials and fellow MPs alike, 5. Can she unite a government? Yes, although this will be a challenge for any successor to David Cameron as the EU continues to exert its polarising influence on party and country. But Theresa secured a massive mandate from her fellow Conservative MPs of 199 votes to Andrea Leadsom’s 84. It is Theresa who has by far the greater chance of uniting us. And unity in these uncertain and difficult times is going to matter more than ever. I hope she prevails – by 9th September we will know.