This country can leave the EU and thrive – but only with a true Brexiteer at the helm
We cannot have another Remain-supporting PM acting as a born-again Leaver
Over the next week, Conservative Party members must ask themselves one key question: do we elect a leader who will continue to ignore the British people’s decision to leave the EU by dragging on with this Government’s failed strategy of kicking the can down the road? Or do we choose someone who is committed to delivering Brexit, come what may, by 31 October and who will raise our standing in the world?
The future of the Tory party is on the line because of this Government’s failure to get Brexit done. Unless we have fresh leadership with the conviction and determination to leave the EU, the party will continue its precipitous decline.
For three years, ministers who claimed they were pro-Brexit chose not to stand up for the 17.4 million people who voted Leave and failed to make a robust case for delivering on the referendum mandate. Our political class lacked confidence in our country and had no trust in the verdict given by the public. They sought the comfort of the EU making our laws and governing our destiny. No wonder the British people feel betrayed.
And this is why Jeremy Hunt, having voted to Remain, having supported a second referendum – and after calling a no-deal Brexit “political suicide” one day, only to tell the world Britain can “flourish and prosper” under a no deal the next – lacks the credibility to lead us out of the EU.
From supporting the Remain campaign to defending the Government’s dreadful Withdrawal Deal, members of the Conservative Party, along with the British public, can see straight through the new slogans and promises Mr Hunt is dreaming up. They are merely an attempt to deflect attention from his lack of belief in Brexit and complicity in failing to take Britain out of the EU.
After the debacle of “Brexit means Brexit” and “no deal is better than a bad deal”, it is time for a change. To deliver Brexit you must believe in it. And Boris Johnson not only believes in Brexit, he voted for it, he led the Leave campaign and has been campaigning passionately for us to implement the referendum result ever since.
The country desperately needs an inspirational figure to set it back on the right course. What Britain does not need is another Remain-supporting prime minister acting as a born-again Leaver who will waste yet more time fiddling with a deal that has been rejected three times by Parliament.
We won’t get the right deal for Britain if we are led by someone who changes approach according to the latest opinion poll or threats of sabotage from Parliament. Only someone with Boris’s conviction and determination can end the deadlock, reinvigorate our democracy and ensure that we can get on to the other vital issues that affect our constituents.
Boris will ditch this Government’s Withdrawal Agreement, immediately accelerate preparations for us to leave by 31 October and make an offer to the EU of a comprehensive free trade deal – something the EU offered us in March 2018, but which the Government dismissed. And while the terms of this deal are being negotiated, we can agree with the EU – who want this as much as we do – to have zero tariffs and a regulatory standstill.
Only a dynamic leader, utterly single-minded in his pursuit of honouring the verdict given to us by the people, and prepared to stand up to the shenanigans of Parliament, is a suitable candidate to become our next PM. And let’s be clear: the only reason Parliament has been able to exert itself is because this feeble Government found every excuse possible to allow them to extend Article 50. With a true Brexiteer at the helm, Parliament will have to start reflecting public opinion rather than flying in the face of it.
The Tory party is at is strongest when it is in tune with the hopes and aspirations of Britain’s hard-working, law-abiding majority, and when it governs through clear Conservative principles.
The choice for party members, therefore, is clear. Only Boris Johnson will get the best Brexit deal for Britain, defeat Jeremy Corbyn’s divisive shambles of an opposition, and govern the United Kingdom in the national interest. And only Boris will transform our country into the proud, outward-looking, self-governing nation we all want it to be.
Priti Patel is the Conservative MP for Witham