Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his election as the new Prime Minister.
It’s no secret that he wasn’t my first choice, but he won the contest fair and square, and by a significant margin. He deserves to be given a chance, and it was striking that at the meeting of backbenchers there was a renewed buoyancy and optimism about the future.
I do hope that the new Prime Minister is treated more kindly than the last. Theresa May did not succeed in the central task she faced, but she was and remains a hugely decent public servant that has always sought to put the national interest first. And I was delighted that she took the historic step of agreeing to enact into law my Bill requiring the UK to be the first major economy to legally commit to achieving Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. That is a vital part of her legacy.
I have always wanted a Brexit deal. That’s why I backed Theresa May’s compromise, which local employers GE Aviation, Spirax Sarco and BAe Systems supported and which would have secured jobs in Gloucestershire. Disappointingly, it was voted down by an alliance of those who simply want to revoke Article 50 and pretend the referendum never happened, tungsten-hard no dealers, and those who want to create as much chaos as possible to get Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street.
As the great Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children in the Kindertransport – said, compromise is not a dirty word. Ultra-Remainers and ultra-Brexiteers must recognise that those who insist on absolute victory risk absolute defeat.
So if Boris can deliver some amendments to the political declaration agreed with the EU, I expect to vote for it. Delivering Brexit and leaving the EU in an orderly way which protects jobs, livelihoods and security in our country remains the territory upon which moderates must choose to fight.