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Westlake Legal Group > Sajid Javid MP

Andrew Smith: Invest in regeneration. How the next Conservative Government can deliver for the North.

Andrew Smith is a Conservative Councillor in Westminster and a consultant for Cicero Group. He writes in a personal capacity

The North is the key battleground in the general election. The path to delivering a Conservative majority runs through a ‘red wall’ of Leave supporting Labour seats, running from North Wales through the North West, Yorkshire and the North East.

As someone born and brought up in Bradford in Yorkshire who came to political consciousness during the years of Eric Pickles’ leadership of Bradford City Council, I know that that the Conservative message can have a strong appeal to towns and cities of the North.

Many of these areas have faced real economic hardship due to economic change. One of the reasons for the strong Leave vote in many of these seats was the sense that these areas had been left behind. Once proud industrial heartlands have suffered from the loss of skilled jobs.

Our Conservative approach needs to be focused on offering a different future for these areas. As well as the promise to deliver on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal, we need to show how our approach to the economy can help to support growth in the North.

Conservative support for rebalancing of the economy and revitalising areas which have suffered from industrial decline is showing signs of success. Just one example is Rotherham’s Advanced Manufacturing Park. Now home to world-beating research and production, from firms such as McLaren and Boeing.

In his speech to the CBI this week, the Prime Minister set out how he wants to build on that success. He set out a positive vision of how a future Conservative Government can deliver for the North, through investment in public services, and better connectivity through fast broadband and 5G.

Transport infrastructure, unlocking investment was at the heart of Boris Johnson’s success in London. Now as Prime Minister, he made it clear that he wants to deliver the kind of investment in regeneration that he delivered as Mayor of London across all areas of the country.

He spoke about Northern Powerhouse Rail, which promises to transform the economy of the North though highspeed rail connections between the economic centres of the region. Hopefully with a station for my home city of Bradford.

Investment in buses and local road improvements were also part of the offer. This is spot as buses are too often neglected in the national policy debate. Investment in better bus service would bring huge economic benefits, especially in areas outside of London.

One issue which Johnson didn’t mention but needs to be part of our offer to the North is HS2. As someone born and brought up in Yorkshire, I been a long-term supporter of the project. While the scheme might be unpopular in the Chilterns it has strong support amongst business and the public in the North and the Midlands. It is a shame that uncertainty about its future is likely to linger with the publication of the independent review of the scheme delayed until after the general election.

The message from the North has been clear: both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are important for the future of the region. It seems that the Prime Minister agrees, and hopefully a clear commitment to both these schemes will make it into the manifesto.

He was able to set out this optimistic vison of supporting growth across the UK through investment in public services and infrastructure thanks to Sajid Javid’s plan to boost to investment spending while balancing the books on current spending.

Johnson’s “categorical assurance” that Javid will remain as Chancellor if we win the election is also good news for voters in the North. The Chancellor is northern-born, with a clear personal commitment to delivering investment which will boost economic growth.

Using low interest rates to fund investment to unlock the potential of the Northern Powerhouse was at the heart of his policy platform during his run for the leadership and clearly will continue to be a priority for him in the Treasury. I hope that we will see more of the Chancellor during the campaign explaining how his sensible economic plans can help support investment to boost productivity, while at the same time maintaining the Conservative’s record of fiscal discipline.

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The campaign, week two. “Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead.”

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-11-15-at-07.53.35 The campaign, week two. “Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead.” ToryDiary Sajid Javid MP Polling Opinion Pollster Nigel Farage MEP Lord Ashcroft Labour Highlights General Election Dudley North Conservatives Claud Cockburn Canterbury Brexit Party Boris Johnson MP   As the end of week Two’s campaigning approaches, we repeat what we wrote at the end of Week One’s.  Which party has a good or a bad campaign, let alone a good or a bad week, doesn’t usually seem to make much difference to the result.

The Conservative Manifesto and campaigning calamity in 2017 is a striking exception to this rule, and in an election that follows a hung Parliament, and may itself produce one, small developments could admittedly make a big difference.

The largest one this week has undoubtedly been Nigel Farage’s decision to withdraw Brexit Party candidates from constituencies that the Tories won in 2017.  One take on it is that it won’t make much impact on the result, because that party will still contest Labour-held marginals, where it is likely to take more votes from the Conservatives.

That view may make plausible psephology, but it is very poor psychology.  By deploring the possibility of a hung Parliament, placing his faith in Boris Johnson’s latest commitment on transition, and standing down a mass of candidates, Farage has signalled that it is acceptable for pro-Brexit voters to support the Tories.

If that logic applies in “safe” Conservative constituencies, it also does so in marginal Labour ones – and for all his criticism of the Tories yesterday, the Brexit Party leader has not renounced his decision.  Its candidates in Canterbury and Dudley North, two prominent marginal seats, have taken the point and stood down.  Anyone following the election closely will have noticed.

Of course, it may be that campaign disaster lightning will strike the Tories twice; or that the polls are nowhere near what the election result will be, or that the distribution of the vote will be unfavourable to the Conservatives – who, as last time round, will pile up votes in seats they already hold.

All that said, Labour has not led in a single UK-wide poll since late July – when Boris Johnson was elected Tory leader.  (And it has been found ahead in only one survey since: on November 4 by YouGov in Wales by a single statistically insignificant point.)

Politico’s tracker finds the Conservatives ten points ahead.  Lord Ashcroft’s new dashboard finds a blue triple slam: Johnson beats Jeremy Corbyn as best Prime Minister; forced to choose between the two main parties, voters plump for the Tories; Johnson and Sajid Javid are more trusted on the economy than their Labour counterparts.

Punch those figures into Electoral Calculus’s calculator, and you will get a Conservative majority of 110.  Of course, that’s a very crude measure, which doesn’t take seat distribution into account.  And the polls may be wide of where we end up.  And lightning really could strike twice.

None the less, the likelihood is that all that polling is meaningful; that the Farage intervention has been net helpful to Johnson, and that everything else this week – the seperate-but-linked Scottish campaign, all policy announcements, flooding, and even Javid’s attack on Labour’s spending plans, let alone the relative trivia of candidate selections, stunts and gaffes, have made no difference to anything meaningful.

If so, it will suit Johnson to keep it that way through the manifesto launch, beyond into the leaders’ TV debates, and onward until polling day – with the exception of a Wobbly Wednesday or Tremulous Tuesday or Meltdown Monday in that last week, in order to downplay expections and thus frighten Tory voters into turning out.  The Prime Minister is a bracing campaigner but it is in his interest for this to be a snoozeathon campaign.

Claud Cockburn and his Time colleagues once ran a regular competition to get the dullest possible headline they could imagine into the paper.  (Journalists are fond of these subsersive practices.)  According to legend, Cockburn only ever won once – his entry being “Small Earthquake in Chile, Not many dead”.  There are not many electoral dead after this small earthquake of a campaigning week.

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Sunder Katwala: Childcare, not Kashmir. Neither Narendra Modi nor Imran Khan are candidates in this election.

Sunder Katwala is the Director of British Future.

Successive Conservative party leaders have seen the party’s historically distant relationship with British ethnic minorities as an existential challenge. The party has been only half as likely to win the vote of a non-white as a white British citizen. British Future’s research showed how that ethnic vote gap made the difference between a hung parliament and winning a majority in both 2010 and 2017.

This should be a question of values as well as votes. Any party that aspires to govern our country should want to pass a simple one nation test: that no citizen should feel any tension between supporting that party and their ethnic and faith background. All parties have got work to do for that aspiration to be realised.

The Labour Party’s ruptured relationships with the Jewish community will be a significant election issue. The broad majority of British Jews have lost confidence in Labour’s response to anti-semitism, so that the party which proudly pioneered anti-discrimination legislation in Britain finds itself the subject of an EHRC investigation into evidence compiled by Jewish party members about its failure to create a process or party culture to deal with anti-semitism effectively.

The Conservatives have made some progress with Indian voters, somewhat more slowly than the Conservatives had hoped, or than the socio-economic profile of Indian voters would suggest. So the Conservatives are clearly not the party of Enoch Powell anymore, but the focus on “historic baggage” has overlooked the extent to which the party has risked creating new baggage, as the Windrush scandal exemplified.

The Conservative Party has flat-lined or slipped back from a low base with both black British voters and British Muslims. There was little public debate in the party after Zac Goldsmith’s campaign for London Mayor in 2016. and the sluggish progress after Boris Johnson’s commitment to an inquiry into anti-Muslim prejudice in the party, secured by Sajid Javid during the party leadership contest, captures a reactive and reluctant approach to grasping this nettle.

There is an increasingly divergent pattern between different minority groups, but generalising about ethnic groups also over-simplifies if it does not recognise how cleavages of class, education and geography play out within minority groups too. Black British and Asian voters were also Remainers and Leavers . Those who work in the public sector, who lean left, and private sector, who lean right, may prioritise different issues too.

Johnson has said that he is proud to have appointed the most ethnically diverse Cabinet in British history: the party plans to give  Priti Patel, Sajid Javid and rising star Rishi Sunak a prominent role in the election. The Conservative 2019 campaign will seek to narrow the ethnic voting gap, but it may have become a second-order priority in the short-term. The central focus of the party’s Brexit realignment bid in 2019 is on Leave-voting towns held by Labour, that have an older and whiter demographic, rather echoing how the 2015 majority combined some progress with British Asian voters along with heavy gains in the south-west, among England’s least ethnically diverse regions.

There are towns, including Bedford, Keighley and Peterborough where the ethnic minority vote may play a significant role this time around. The gradual geographic spread of ethnic diversity means that ethnic minority voters are not just a large share of the vote in London marginals like Battersea and Kensington, but one part of the electoral jigsaw in suburban marginal seats too.

The Conservatives may be slower to increase their share of Indian voters if they can’t reverse the broader generation gap in British politics, so that young graduates and the under-30s are leaning left across most groups, as part of the polarisation by education and age of post-Brexit politics. Beyond the 2019 campaign, any sustainable majority strategy for the party depends on working how to bridge these generational and ethnic minority gap.

British elections often see noisy, self-promoting claims about the ability to deliver ethnic minority voters en bloc to swing seats from one party or another, with a noisy row over claims to represent the Indian vote in this election.

Foreign policy issues are, doubtless, somewhat more salient to diasporas than to other voters – but to nothing like the extent that media coverage suggests.  The evidence suggests that ethnic minority voters also prioritise domestic issues – the economy, jobs and the NHS – over foreign policy ones.  For most ethnic minority voters, the central questions are who should lead the country; Brexit; jobs, crime, the economy and the NHS.

Views of foreign policy may reinforce broader feelings of trust or mistrust about Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn, but neither Narendra Modi nor Imran Khan are on the ballot paper in a British general election and British voters from Indian and Pakistani backgrounds have mixed views of both leaders.  There will also be British Indian voters for whom crime, childcare or climate change are more pressing issues than Kashmir.

Temples, mosque and gurdwaras remain popular for colourful political photo opportunities. Younger British-born ethnic minority voters will expect to hear from national party leaders or their local candidates about why they deserve their vote – rather than listening to those who claim that their faith or ethnic background should determine their vote. The idea that those in the congregation want to be instructed on how to vote is an outdated form of minority politics that younger British-born voters often want to leave behind.

Efforts to play ‘good minority’ and ‘bad minority’ on either side of the party argument would be bad for social cohesion in Britain – and deserve to fail electorally too. As all parties seek to secure support from these growing sections of the electorate, they need to do so for the right reasons if they want to pass the one nation test.

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What Johnson said about an independent enquiry into Conservative anti-Muslim hatred

Cards on the table.  This site first called for an enquiry into anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice as long ago as 2010.  If any right-of-centre media outlet did so before then, we’re not aware of it.

Last year, we suggested that the Extremism Commissioner look at hatred and prejudice more widely in a single inquiry – including anti-Muslim hatred, of course.  It would need to be a major strand of such an investigation.  This is the broad route that the Government is going down.

Some say that there should be a stand-alone inquiry into anti-Muslim hatred focusing on the Conservative Party alone – perhaps commissioned independently by the Party itself.  They add that the main Tory leadership candidates, including Boris Johnson, committed to one during the contest.

For the record, the Conservative Party clearly has a problem with anti-Muslim hatred – though not remotely on the same scale as Labour’s anti-semitism one.  It is also worth looking at the tape to see what was actually said and by whom.  The forum was a BBC debate.  Viewers will find the relevant section at 1.23 minutes in.

  • Sajid Javid says: “You’re all good guys. Shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative Party into Islamophobia?”
  • Jeremy Hunt says “absolutely”, and emphasises his view by stretching out his arms and opening his hands in a gesture of agreement.
  • Michael Gove moves his head up and down very slightly.  It looks more like a movement of assent than not, but he says nothing.
  • Boris Johnson nods, then shakes his head sideways, then barks something.  It might be agreement – or one of those characteristic wordless Johnson expostulations.
  • Javid then says: “Rory, you agree?” to Rory Stewart.  Stewart nods.  Readers will remember that he didn’t fully engage with the debate.

It is true that none of the candidates dissented from Javid’s challenge.  That can certainly be read as assent.  But, contrary to some claims, we can’t see any evidence from the tape that Johnson explicitly committed himself to a Conservative-only investigation.

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Izzi Seccombe: The Party Conference has given our councillors reason to feel upbeat again

Cllr Izzi Seccombe is the Leader of Warwickshire County Council and the Leader of the Conservative Group of the Local Government Association.

Despite the political turmoil prior to conference, and concerns that it may in fact be cancelled, delegates, including many colleagues from local government, came together in Manchester to meet with Ministers, share best practice, and interact with all sections of the Party. It was a great opportunity for the Conservative family to celebrate our achievements and set out our vision for the future.

This year’s slogan was ‘Get Brexit Done: Invest in our NHS, schools and police,’ which clearly demonstrates the importance of having a strong domestic agenda beyond Brexit.

Among the many great speeches from Ministers, I was particularly pleased to hear, Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of Exchequer, emphasise the importance of infrastructure, and highlight the fact that public services are at the heart of Government’s agenda.

Among the policies that the Chancellor announced, which will positively impact on local government, are investment in our roads network, the creation of a national bus strategy, and £5 billion in funding to provide full-fibre broadband across the country (the latter being an issue that the LGA has strongly lobbied on for many years).

The conference had a really good vibe and upbeat mood, and the feedback that I have received from Conservative councillors has been very positive. There were lots of outstanding fringe events covering a wide range of policy issues that matter to local government, including devolution, housing, social care, homelessness, and domestic violence. I am grateful to my LGA Conservative Group colleagues who spoke at many of these events.

I was delighted to speak at a number of fringe meetings myself and also to take part in a Question and Answer session in the main auditorium titled ‘Forging Stronger Communities’ with Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands; Ben Houchen, Mayor of the Tees Valley; Javed Khan, CEO of Barnardo’s; and David Goodhart, Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit.

The Local Government Association (LGA) also hosted two events at the Conference: The LGA Debate, which was titled, Why is the Queen’s Speech important for local government?; and our ever popular evening drinks reception.

I was delighted that both events were so well attended with lots of Conservative councillors present.

As part of our #CouncilCan campaign, the LGA is asking the Government to use the forthcoming Queen’s Speech to give councils and local communities greater powers and freedoms. Our panel for the debate brought together a wide range of experts and a lively debate ensued with plenty of strong contributions from the audience.

We were grateful that Robert Jenrik, our Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, came to our drinks reception. Following his recent appointment as Secretary of State this was an excellent opportunity for him to meet so many Conservative councillors in one room. In his speech, Jenrik thanked our councillors for their hard work on behalf of their local communities and recognised the crucial role that they play within the Conservative Party. Rishi Sunak, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (and former MHCLG Minister), and Andy Street were also were present and received a warm welcome from our guests.

I believe that if we can get Brexit done we will have the opportunity to fully focus on our domestic agenda, allowing us to build a county that works for everyone with a strong economy and world-class public services. With a general election possibly only a few weeks away I came away from the conference more motivated than ever for the fight that lies ahead.

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Strangely subdued

  • Two Conservative Party conferences have happened in Manchester this week.  The first has been the one you will have read about, preoccupied by claims about whether Boris Johnson bent the rules for an alleged lover when he was Mayor of London, and groped a journalist when he was Editor of the Spectator (which he denies).  The other is the one that has actually taken place.
  • Party members present aren’t much concerned with the attacks on the Prime Minister’s private life – which they recognise are part of the campaign to delegitimise him, force an extension and stop Brexit.
  • In our judgement, they are more concerned about how to reconcile a) the terms of the Benn Act and b) leaving the EU on time.  On the one hand, they are enthusiastic about Johnson, and applaud his sense of direction after the dither and delay of the May years.  On the other, those Commons defeats and that Supreme Court reversal over prorogation have left many of them apprehensive.
  • The Conference has also been hit by the Commons sitting during it.  This isn’t because Labour or anyone else has staged a Parliamentary ambush; but, rather, because MPs have been told by the whips to be either in the Commons or in Manchester.  The difficulty instrinsic to tracking which they are in at any one time has had the obvious result: some have bunked off home.
  • Johnson’s premiership might have been expected to bring an influx of fervent Brexiteers to the Conference.  There is no shortage of them, and the Prime Minister himself has been fangirled – as they say – when speaking at receptions.  But the temperature of the conference has been cool.  David Gauke, speaking at a ConservativeHome event yesterday, wasn’t heckled even once.
  • Talk of girls leads us to make a point.  The conference is much younger than it was – there was a time when the staple Conservative representative was an older woman – but seems to us to be disproportionately male.  There is a mass of young men in suits.
  • Most Cabinet Ministers were denied a set-piece platform speech.  Of those that got one, Sajid Javid had the biggest announcement of the week – the minimum wage hike – which further confirmed the Prime Minister’s strategic push towards the lower wage Midlands and North.  Jacob Rees-Mogg was a rococo Conference darling.  And Nick Gibb the only non-Cabinet member to get a real show of his own from the stage.
  • But today is Johnson’s big day.  He will be preceded by a show of Conservative women, in an attempt to redress a Party polling weakness: no Geoffrey Cox this year.  We wait to see how much his speech makes of his EU negotiating position as it unfolds.  The Government seems to be proposing a Northern Ireland halfway house – with the UK fully out of the Customs Union.  We will find out soon enough whether it will fly.

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Sajid Javid: We will make UK the first major economy in the world to end low pay. His speech today: full text

“Thank you for that welcome…

And can I welcome my mum.

You saw her in that video… … and she is here with us today for her first conference.

Twenty years ago, Mum thought it was a big deal when she watched the first Asians move into Coronation Street, here in Manchester.

Well, now she’s watched as the first Asians move into Downing Street.

Once again, we’re living above the shop… And I’m so happy to make her proud.

It might be my mum’s first Tory conference… but I’ve now been coming for thirty years.

Every year, we talk about what is at stake for our country.

But never in my lifetime has there been a political moment like this.

We will be remembered for how we respond.

And we will do our duty. Responsibly, firmly, and democratically.

That starts with getting Brexit done. We are leaving the European Union.

It’s not a matter of if – it’s a matter of days. 31 days – deal, or no deal.

We understand that preparing to leave without a deal is not only the responsible thing to do…… but also the best way of leaving with a deal.

In all my years negotiating multibillion pound international deals… I never once walked into a room without being able to walk away.

That’s why on my first day as Chancellor I gave a speech to the Treasury… about making No Deal preparations my top priority.

A few days later I doubled funding for it…taking our Brexit spending to a total of £4 billion this year.

And to give organisations and Devolved Administrations extra certainty for the year ahead, in the event of No Deal..…I have now agreed to guarantee all £4.3 billion of EU-directed funding that they would have been expecting.

That doesn’t mean that a No Deal would be without significant challenges.

I know that some businesses and households are concerned about what a No Deal outcome might mean for them.

I recognise that. And I understand that the uncertainty around Brexit is challenging.

But our step-change in preparations has made a Deal outcome more likely…and a No Deal outcome more manageable.

Every department now has the resources available to prepare for No Deal.

That means more Border Force staff…Better transport infrastructure at our ports…

More support for business readiness.

I’ve tasked the Treasury with preparing a comprehensive economic response to support the economy.

Working closely with the Bank of England…we’re ready to draw on the full armoury of economic policy if needed.

And the Bank has already revised its assessments because of the actions we’ve

taken. Deal or No Deal: We will be ready.

All that is important – but Brexit is not just something to manage or mitigate.

We understand this is ultimately a question of trust in democracy.

A strong economy can only be built on the foundation of a successful democracy.

And by definition, democracy isn’t just for when it suits you.

Like the Lib Dems – who called for a referendum for years. Then sort of changed their mind.

Then said they’d respect the result. Then sort of didn’t. Then called for a second vote.

Then changed their mind again…and now want to somehow pretend the whole thing never happened.

Going back on our promises to the British people isn’t “liberal”. And it certainly isn’t democratic.

And then there’s the Labour Party. They’re so split down the middle… that even their leader and their Shadow Chancellor don’t agree on whether they support Brexit.

So they’ll hold another referendum with two options: perhaps, and maybe.

What a leader. A man for the many Brexit positions, not the few.

What they don’t seem to understand is that millions of people voted in good faith over three years ago.

The biggest democratic exercise in our country’s history.

And they always forget one group of those voters:

The millions who voted not to leave the EU…but now completely respect the result and want us to get Brexit done.

Yes, there are splits of opinion, and strong views on all sides.

I passionately believe that we need to heal the divisions in our society.

But the way to do that isn’t to carry on arguing about Brexit forever and ever.

It is to finally deliver on the original decision…and move the whole country forward.

People talk a lot about the risks of Brexit. Some understandable, some not.

But the truth is this: and it isn’t acknowledged as often as it should be…

The most reckless course of all would be to not deliver Brexit at all.

If we fail to deliver on the instruction of the British people…we are in danger of tearing the very fabric of our democracy.

A fabric that has been carefully woven together over centuries.

And if we do that, I fear we may not be able to stitch it up again.

If people are going to have faith in the ballot box… we absolutely have to follow through on that vote.

No more second-guessing. No best of three. One vote. One mandate.

One nation, moving forwards together.

As we get Brexit done and leave the EU…it’s the right time to ask ourselves some big questions:

Who are we as a country? How do we see ourselves in the years ahead?

How will we shape our economy for the future?

Last week we saw Labour’s answers to those questions.

Jeremy Corbyn sees this as an opportunity to bring in nationalisation, protectionism and state control.

Let’s be in no doubt about the biggest threat to the UK economy.

Whenever I speak to businesses and international investors… the number one concern they always raise is not the form of our exit from the EU.

The real “project” to be fearful about is the agenda of the Labour Party.

If they had their way, whole sectors of the economy would be renationalised.

People’s taxes would rise to the crippling levels of the past.

People’s jobs would be put at risk with sectoral pay bargaining.

The return of trade union militancy would once again hold the government to ransom…

wasting hundreds of billions of pounds…and hitting families and businesses around the country.

The British Chambers of Commerce said last week that Labour’s plans will:

“send an icy chill up the spines of business-owners and investors”.

And it’s no wonder.

We have a Shadow Chancellor who says businesses are “the real enemy”… and openly admits he wants to overthrow capitalism.

Given how much damage they’d do every single day they’re in office…

I’m glad they say they would only be working four days a week.

You know, when I arrived at the Treasury… I did have a letter on my desk waiting for me…

 but it didn’t say there was no money left.

That’s because we took the difficult decisions needed to get the deficit down by four-fifths.

We have now taken back control of our financial destiny… just as we take back control of our laws and borders.

It’s easy to forget how bad things were when we first came in.

Labour lost control of our public finances – as they always do. …

And this was when they still believed in the basics of capitalism.

Our country borrowed £150 billion in their last year in office…the highest level in our peacetime history.

And it fell to the Conservatives once again to wipe up Labour’s mess.

And I’d like to pay tribute to both my immediate predecessors…for their role in that.

We may disagree on our approach on Brexit…but as Conservatives we can be very proud of what they helped us to achieve.

Labour left behind a bankrupt Britain – and we’ve fixed it.

They don’t like to hear it.

But when the opposition stop hiding from that election… I promise you, it won’t be like last time.

We won’t shy away from talking about our hard-earned record on the economy.

And we won’t shy away from telling everyone…about the threat their divisive…backwards… bankrupt…immoral, incompetent, ideological experiments…will pose to everyone’s way of life.

They try to claim the only alternative is a race to the bottom.

Letting everyone fend for themselves.

That’s not our conservatism.

I’m not sure it’s anyone’s.

We are forging ahead with our positive, One Nation vision for our country’s future.

We believe in levelling up, skilling-up, and opening up.

Embracing talent from around the world.

And as we look towards a future outside the EU…I’m very optimistic we can build on our extraordinary economic strengths… and reshape the British economy to seize the opportunities that this new chapter has to offer.

We’ll be able to pursue a genuinely independent trade policy.

We’ll be able to replace inefficient EU programmes with better, home-grown


And from retail to green tech, we’ll have the opportunity to design smarter,

more flexible regulation.

To help us do that, I will launch a Brexit Red Tape Challenge…to help identify EU regulations that we can improve or remove.

Liberating our entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers….from the burden of over-bearing bureaucracy, wherever we see it.

Doing what a good pro-business government does.

After the decade of recovery from the last Labour government…we are now bringing in a decade of renewal.

With this government’s new leadership…we have the opportunity to hit fast-forward on that renewal.

It is an opportunity the Prime Minister and I are seizing.

We are not just neighbours, or even sometimes dog-sitters.

We are partners.

We share the same determination on Brexit…the same vision of One Nation conservatism…

and we both spend the same amount of time brushing our hair.

Our vision is based on the people’s priorities, and on Conservative principles.

Conservatives understand that a dynamic free market…is the only way to fund world-class public services.

For me, like so many others around the country…public services were my lifelines.

The teachers who made my career possible.

The police officers who kept us safe when the street I grew up on became a centre for drug dealers.

The NHS that cared for my dad in his final days.

These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet – they are the beating heart of our country.

That’s why public services are at the heart of this government’s agenda.

Earlier this month, I announced our spending plans for Britain’s first year outside the EU.

A New Economic Plan for a new era.

Thanks to the hard work of the British people…and our responsible economic management…

we are able to invest an extra £13.4 billion in our public services.

This Spending Round will make a real difference in people’s lives.

That includes recruiting 20,000 new police officers…restoring our rightful reputation as the party of law and order.

Increased funding for every school in the country…and a renaissance for further education.

Continuing our record investment in the NHS… and making a large down-payment on social care.

These are the people’s priorities.

These are our priorities.

And it’s our Conservative government that is delivering on them.

Brexit was a wake-up call that we need to be better connected… both across our country, and beyond our shores.

One of the things I remember most from my international career is the energy in the air you can feel in places like Southeast Asia.

The quick turnaround between vision to implementation – from new towns to new airports.

It echoes our industrial revolution of the Victorian era…which laid the foundations for over a century – from the railway network to the electric telegraph.

That’s the spirit we need to rekindle in Britain.

But the truth is, successive governments failed to invest enough for the long-term.

We’ve started to put that right, but we can do more – a lot more.

This government is going to build Britain’s future, and bring in a new infrastructure revolution.

Infrastructure is the foundation of everything. It’s the new road that connects local communities. The bus you need to get to school.

And the broadband that helps your small business trade around the world.

The full benefits of our infrastructure revolution may not be felt for some time.

But the work must start here and now.

So today I can announce the first wave of this revolution… the good kind of revolution.

Our roads are the arteries of our country.

We will soon launch the new Roads Investment Strategy…with £29 billion committed for strategic and local roads over the next five years.

And today we are getting the shovels out early on several important road projects…

 including upgrading the nearby M60 Simister Island… dualling the A66 Transpennine,

and starting work on the A428 between Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

Now buses….they haven’t been given the attention they deserve from politicians…but they are still the backbone of our public transport in most of the country.

Well, not only do you have a Chancellor with a well-known family connection to buses…

but a PM who likes to paint them!

At the Spending Round we allocated £220 million to buses alone.

This will form part of a National Bus Strategy next year.

Rolling out new ‘superbus’ networks…expanding our fleet of low emission buses…

and delivering better value for money for passengers.

And last but not least: connecting us to the modern, global digital economy with gigabit broadband.

We have rolled out superfast broadband but we have fallen behind many European countries

on the next generation of technology.

And as we catch-up I don’t want any part of our country to fall behind others.

So I can announce we are committing £5billion…to support full-fibre rollout to the hardest to reach 20% of the country.

All of these measures will level up areas of our country that feel left out.

There are three principles that will underpin our approach to them.

First, we will be smart and responsible in the way we invest for the long-term.

We can do this by taking advantage of incredibly low interest rates…and borrowing-to-build, not borrowing-to-waste like the Labour years.

Second, we will have a bias towards anything that brings our country together.

For a start that means protecting our United Kingdom.

And I’d like to pay tribute to Ruth Davidson…for all she did to prevent a socialist-separatist alliance from running – from ruining – our country.

Thank you Ruth.

Bringing our country together also means rebalancing our economy…

That’s why the first big policy decision of this government was to support the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail.

And we know it’s no good just decreeing from on high what local areas need.

Too many people already feel power is distant to them – be it in Brussels or


So I can announce today we will bring forward a White Paper on further devolution in England.

Giving more local areas more local powers… to drive investments in the infrastructure and services they know they need.

We already have four brilliant Conservative metro mayors…

Let’s get one in Manchester too!

And third, we will take a dynamic, market-driven approach to driving down our carbon emissions.

Not only are we the first large economy to commit to Net Zero by 2050.

Last week at the UN General Assembly… our Prime Minister committed to doubling Britain’s funding for global environmental and climate change programmes.

They are the approaches we will take in building Britain’s future.

And with so much at stake for our country right now… I’m impatient to get on with it.

We have achieved so much in just ten weeks.

And I’d like to thank our brilliant ministerial team in the Treasury…

Rishi Sunak, Jesse Norman, John Glen, Simon Clarke…

And our parliamentary team…Rachel Maclean, Lee Rowley and Mike Freer.

The final Conservative principle I want to talk about today is this.

We believe in a society where everyone knows that if they work hard, and play

by the rules… then they will have every opportunity to succeed.

They are our values.

It’s our mission to help people to get a job, get a home, get ahead.

But we do have to acknowledge that not everyone…in every part of the country… feels that they have all the opportunities they should have.

Not all parents feel that their children will have it better than they did.

We need to do more to level the playing field… between regions and generations…and give all young people the best start in life.

Last year I announced the Youth Endowment Fund…helping at-risk young people get off the conveyor belt to crime.

And I can announce today a new Youth Investment Fund.

This ambitious £500 million programme will roll out youth centres and services right across our country… helping millions more young people get on the conveyor belt to a better life

and career.

Of course, one of the biggest concerns for the next generation is being able to buy a home.

To claim their stake in our society.

We’re on track to increase housing supply to its highest level since 1970.

But I know from my time as Housing Secretary that we need to do so much

more…and the accelerated planning proposals Robert has announced today are just

the start.

Getting ahead.

Getting a home.

The best way to achieve both those things is getting a good job.

On our watch… 1,000 extra people have gone into work every day since 2010.

And this applies to all corners of our country…with most of the new jobs being created outside London and the South East.

150,000 more people are in employment in Greater Manchester alone…whenever I meet my counterparts in Europe, they ask me how we are doing it.

Real wages and household incomes are rising…putting more money in people’s pockets.

And with full employment and strong public finances…we are now in a position to see what more we can do to help workers… and reduce the cost of living.

In 2016, we introduced the National Living Wage…Giving Britain’s workers the biggest pay rise in two decades.

In April, we increased the rate again…making 1.8 million workers better off…

Putting the number of low paid workers at its lowest level in four decades.

Today, I’m delighted to announce that we will take this much further.

Over the next five years, we will make the UK the first [major economy in the world] to end low pay altogether.

To do that, I am setting a new target for the National Living Wage:

Raising it to match two-thirds of median earnings.

That means, on current forecasts, this ambitious plan will bring the National Living Wage up to £10.50.

Giving four million people a well-earned pay rise.

And to help the next generation of go-getters to get ahead…we will reward the hard work of all millennials too…

By bringing down the age threshold for the National Living Wage…to cover all workers over the age of 21.

The hard work of the British people really is paying off.

It’s clear it’s the Conservatives who are the real party of labour.

We are the workers party.

Delivering Brexit.

Boosting public services.

Backing enterprise and hard work.

And bringing our country together by levelling up across the nation

and across generations.

That’s the direction we are setting for our country.

That’s what will be on offer at the next election:

A decade of renewal, or a decade of reversal.

We in this room are today’s representatives of the most successful party in the

Western world.

An institution that has helped to build Britain for over two centuries.

And now in 2019, we have a duty to see the country through the challenges ahead.

We are the only party that can get Brexit done.

We are the only party that can call ourselves democrats.

And we are the only party that will truly deliver for workers.

We are the Conservative & Unionist Party – and we will unite this country.

We are a responsible, One Nation party that focuses on what we have in common, not what divides us.

We believe in building on the best of the past.

Not just putting up with modern Britain, but embracing it.

Saying loud and clear that we love our country.

We are a welcoming, tolerant and fair society.

The most successful multiracial democracy in the world.

We are an open, global, trading nation.

One of the most prosperous in the world.

And we are a compassionate, caring, country.

Not just for those close to home, but also for some of the poorest in the world.

That’s who we are.

That’s what this party stands for.

And that’s what we are delivering for our country.”

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WATCH: Javid promises to raise National Living Wage to £10.50

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Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table

Westlake Legal Group Cabinet-League-Table-Sep-19-1024x956 Javid keeps the gold but Johnson and Rees-Mogg fail to medal in our Cabinet League Table ToryDiary Thérèse Coffey MP Theresa Villiers MP Steve Barclay MP Sajid Javid MP Robert Jenrick MP Robert Buckland MP Rishi Sunak MP Priti Patel MP Paul Davies AM Oliver Dowden MP Nicky Morgan MP Natalie Evans (Baroness) Michael Gove MP Matthew Hancock MP Mark Spencer MP Liz Truss MP Kwasi Kwarteng MP Julian Smith MP James Cleverly MP Jake Berry MP Jacob Rees-Mogg MP Grant Shapps MP Geoffrey Cox MP Gavin Williamson MP Esther McVey MP Elizabeth Truss MP Dominic Raab MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Brandon Lewis MP Boris Johnson MP Ben Wallace MP Andrea Leadsom MP Alun Cairns MP Alok Sharma MP Alister Jack MP

Another month in and once again the Johnson Ministry appears to be holding fairly steady in the affections of grassroots activists.

There has been a slight downward drift, illustrated by the top scores no longer breaking the plus-80 barrier, but there are no ministers with negative scores and compared to the tail end of Theresa May’s time in office these are healthy scores.

Yet is it the calm before the storm? We are now only a month away from the October 31 Brexit deadline, which the Prime Minister insists he’s going to meet but nobody can really see how he can. Our next survey will be conducted as he runs into that tempest – it will be interesting to see what affect it has.

A few details:

  • Javid gold again… The Chancellor has seen his score slip a little but, as that is in line with the overall trend, he remains the most popular member of the Government amongst party members for the third month in a row.
  • …as Johnson slips… Last month the Prime Minister was ranked second by our panellists and just a couple of points shy of Javid. This month he slips to sixth after losing more than 12 points. Is this simply a response to various stories this month, or a foretaste of a backlash next month?
  • …and Rees-Mogg stumbles. It’s been an even worse month for the Leader of the House, who has fallen from a bronze-medal position last month to 11th place now after a fall of almost 15 points.
  • …but Brexiteers benefit. The beneficiaries of the above moves are principally Michael Gove, Geoffrey Cox, Dominic Raab, and Stephen Barclay. It is not until Liz Truss, in tenth position, that we find a Remainer.
  • Two departures. It’s goodbye to Amber Rudd and Jo Johnson, who both resigned from the Cabinet this month, and hello to Thérèse Coffey, who takes over from Rudd at Work & Pensions. Johnson’s successor, Chris Skidmore, is not attending Cabinet.
  • Wallace rebounds. Last month we asked what might have caused the Defence Secretary to suddenly slump to near the bottom of the table. Whatever it was, it’s passed – he’s now just below Rees-Mogg after gaining 20 points.

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Robert Halfon: The Thomas Cook bosses should pay for their greed

Robert Halfon is MP for Harlow, Chair of the Education Select Committee and President of Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists.

The greatest democratic exercise of all…a general election

Whatever one’s view about the Supreme Court’s decision, it is worth noting that twice in the past three weeks, the Prime Minister has called a parliamentary vote for a general election – the greatest democratic exercise of all – and which could resolve these issues once and for all.

I have voted for a general election twice in the past month, as I wish to hold myself to account to the people of Harlow.  Both of these votes have been opposed in Parliament by Labour and the other opposition parties. Do they believe in democracy or not?

Thomas Crook

It seems extraordinary that, yet again, a long-standing, British company, founded 178 years ago, has crashed and burned because of the ineptitude and greed of the management. Figures published show that the senior directors carved up £47 million for their bonuses and wages over the past twelve years, all the while, the company’s assets were going from bad to worse.

Not only have hundreds of thousands of British holiday-makers had their holidays and lives ruined and disrupted, but spare a thought for the 21,000 Thomas Cook employees who, through no fault of their own, are suddenly out of their jobs.

Whilst the senior management will no doubt go back to their millionaire lifestyles, the ordinary employee will be at home without a salary and a risk to their pension.

This is all grist to the Corbyn, anti-capitalist mill. Conservatives must have an answer to the failure of incompetent management and corporate greed – especially when taxpayers’ money is involved. How about, rather than just the hard-pressed taxpayer having to pay for all the compensation, flights and insurance for Thomas Cook customers, why shouldn’t the company directors open their fat wallets and give some of their money back to the taxpayer?

It’s time that we looked at corporate laws and make sure that those responsible for the mess, are also responsible for clearing it up

We have an opportunity; let’s seize it

As Tom Watson has put it, this year’s Labour Party Conference has been like “a drive-by shooting”. Their civil war is out in the open for all to see. As happens with every hardline revolution, the revolutionaries eventually turn on each other, and “the revolution devours its own children”.

If this civil strife was not bad enough, the Opposition leadership has proposed a range of policies calculated to appeal to the few, rather than the many. Abolishing Ofsted, the four-day week – alongside billions of pounds of unfunded promises to be spent on anything and everything.

So, as Conservatives – even with the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the prorogation of Parliament – we have a real chance here to unify as a Party.

The truth is that around 80 to 90 percent of the Party are united behind the Brexit position and almost 100 percent of the Party is united behind policies to spend more on education, health and policing. We have a choice; either we can argue about leaving the EU, or we can set out policies on public services and social justice that really capture the public’s imagination.

Don’t be fooled by the polling data – complacency is the enemy

Despite our rise in the polls, many of the Corbyn messages on austerity still resonate. People are struggling with the cost of living. Nearly a million people are living in overcrowded accommodation. One in four have less than £95 in savings.

Complacency is the enemy.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been wonderful to see the rise of the Conservatives in the polls and Labour’s decline. At the time of writing, the latest YouGov polling data states that we are 11 points ahead of Labour.

But we’ve been here before. If we think back to the 2017 election, we had a confident lead in the run-up – at times, 20-points ahead of Labour – and we all know what happened then.

It’s also worth remembering that only until recently Labour were ahead of us in some polls. The Brexit Party remains strong, and could potentially take millions of Conservative votes. Meanwhile, Labour Party is significantly close in many target/marginal seats.

The worst thing that could happen is if we, Conservatives, think this election will be a walk in the park. It’s true that, if we get Brexit sorted on October 31st, things could be a lot better, but it will still be probably one of the toughest elections to fight.

Conservatism must also find an attack-line against Corbyn which isn’t about him being a “Marxist” – as I have written about before on ConservativeHome. Tories have to look for a narrative that provides a meaningful way to explain to ordinary folk the damage that a Corbyn-Government would do to both our economy and our public services.

Williamson: A real vocational education reformer

Could Gavin Williamson be one of the real reforming Education Secretaries and transform vocation and skills? Alongside Sajid Javid, he is one of the very few cabinet ministers to have gone to an FE college and has a real passion and understanding for skills and apprenticeships.

Whilst some have criticised the fact that there is no longer a dedicated Skills Minister, I see it quite differently; skills and apprenticeships will now receive significant attention, playing a major role in the Education Secretary’s brief and having a significant voice in the Cabinet, for the first time.

It was good to see that in his address to the Universities UK Conference two weeks ago, Williamson spoke so passionately and set out a vision for skills in our country. He encouraged “collaboration” between higher education institutions, schools and colleges to “drive this country forward” in terms of skills, and recognised that we must “boost further education and its links with industry and business”.

Furthermore, Boris Johnson has announced an extra £400 million for 16-19 education which should make a significant difference. It certainly helps that both the Chancellor and Education Secretary are passionate about FE and will ensure that the sector is well looked after.

Williamson seems to understand vocational education and the need to build up its prestige, in a way that many in top Government positions often don’t. I’m hopeful that we could see, under his stewardship, a very exciting future for apprenticeships and skills in our country.

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