Opinion: Liz Truss can unite party and deliver for the country

I didn’t want the Prime Minister to go, despite his departure becoming inevitable last week, writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 15th July 2022, 10:08 am
Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss

For all the self-inflicted mistakes, he got the big policy calls right. He also delivered for Peterborough.

Regardless, a leadership contest is now underway. At the moment of writing this column, there are eight nominated candidates. By the time you are reading these words, there will be six candidates or fewer.

Politics moves fast. It is worth pausing to note one thing, however – and this applies whatever your political views. Conservative MPs have nominated a field that is 50% female, 50% ethnic minority and 25% both.

Those nominations were on merit alone. No quotas or patronising HR criteria were required. I’m proud that my party is the embodiment of true diversity and opportunity, where your background simply doesn’t matter.

By contrast, the Labour Party obsesses about diversity but has only ever elected white men to be its leader. Appropriately, Labour types find themselves most sympathetic to the two white men in the Conservative race.

Once the eight candidates became clear, my preference was straightforward. Given we are more than halfway through this Parliament, I want a leader who is proven to deliver. Whose record shows they can face difficult choices and get results.

For me, Liz Truss is the obvious person with that record and experience. She has been in the Cabinet for the last eight years, serving across departments, including Justice, Defra and the Treasury.

It was Liz, as our Trade Secretary, who negotiated the UK’s first major trade deals, post Brexit. As our Foreign Secretary, she has stood up to Russia and got Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe released from Iran.

Asked by LBC’s Nick Ferrari if it was fair to say that women had vaginas, she answered point blank, “Women do have vaginas, Nick.” Sir Keir Starmer is still struggling with that question, many months later.

Although we are fortunate to have many able candidates, I think Liz is best placed to unite our party and deliver for our country. So I cast my first ballot for Liz Truss without hesitation. I hope she becomes our new Prime Minister, but that will depend on the votes of my colleagues.

It should also depend on the votes of ordinary Conservative Party members. I do think it’s important that party members get to vote between the final two.

Theresa May became Prime Minister by acclamation, when other candidates withdrew. It didn’t do her leadership any favours at all. We should avoid that mistake this time.

Inevitably, some people question why the choice of a new Prime Minister is a party matter, but it could hardly be otherwise. Parties pick their leaders and mine already has a clear majority in Parliament.

With plenty of the last Conservative manifesto still to implement, on behalf of the millions who voted for it, we don’t need a general election. We just need to get on with some governing.

The distractions of the last six months have made that difficult, at times. Not any more.