What do Daniel Finkelstein, William Hague, Peter Lilley and Norman Lamont have in common? It’s not just that they’re renowned Conservative thinkers who’ve come to speak to packed houses in Cheltenham in the past, including at the Literature Festival. They’re also joining five of the six Gloucestershire MPs to back Rishi Sunak to be the next Prime Minister.
So why do we think Rishi is best placed to take our country forward?
Aside from his essential attributes of intelligence and integrity, a key reason is the economy. Rishi understands that in order to build a great economic future and secure British jobs, it’s essential to get a grip of inflation.
That’s because pandemic-induced inflation, currently near 10% and forecast to go higher, weakens economies. It makes them less able to fund the services we rely on. Payments to service our £2.4trn national debt jumped from around £2bn to £18bn in June alone, leaving less for investment in national defence like GCHQ, or the NHS. It leaves us less able to afford future infrastructure such as the new £40m theatre wing at Cheltenham General, the new £30m High School Leckhampton, or the £3m Advanced Digital Academy at GlosCol.
It weakens the pound, making imports more expensive, and feeds industrial unrest as pay demands ratchet up, feeding a wage-price spiral. Meanwhile it puts upward pressure on interest rates, harming thousands of homeowners in Cheltenham with mortgages.
Rishi believes in low taxes, and will drive them down when it’s safe to do so. He will build a strong economy so he can invest further in our Armed Forces, our police and our schools. And with a war chest built up by sound finances, he will look after the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. He helped Cheltenham through Covid, providing £380m-plus to our town alone, and he stands ready to help again.
If you haven’t already, you can share your views about the contest on my website https://www.alexchalk.com/form/who-do-you-want-as-the-next-prim. I’ve already had a fantastic response, and I look forward to publishing the results in due course.
[Column first published in the Glos Echo]