PEOPLE have been asking me on the doorsteps of Darlington and through social media for many weeks now how I plan to vote in the leadership election. For most party members it is a private matter but as a potential MP, I understand why people want to know how I will vote. I have until this week been genuinely undecided, and I’ve approached it, as I approach most things, with an open objective mind.
People who I’ve asked on the doorsteps tell me it “doesn’t matter to me along as you get Brexit sorted”, although there are clearly some Boris fans across the town. Here in Darlington we have a lost trust in politics. Labour locally was out of touch and paid the price in the local elections, while the current MP says one thing in Darlington and does the opposite in Westminster. I’ve now listened to the debates, attended the hustings, and perhaps most importantly for me heard answers to key issues of local importance such as North Powerhouse rail, and the proposed freeport. Both Jeremy and Boris are pragmatic, one nation conservatives, a political place I feel most comfortable with. Both believe in the free market, supporting business, encouraging opportunity, investing in our NHS, police, and armed forces and seeing improvements in education – it still shocks me to learn that so many of our primary children leave school lacking basic literacy. So I’d happy with either as leader – but I still needed to make up my mind.
We face unique times. The party I have been a member of since I was 16 faces huge challenges to restore its fortunes. We need a great campaigner who has a magic touch and can engage with the people on the doorsteps in a positive, enthusiastic way. We need a leader who can ignite optimism and provide hope – for me as the party’s flag bearer here in Darlington, and for our country as we move into a post-EU era. So I attended the York hustings on Thursday evening and came to a decision.
I’m backing Boris.
He is a born campaigner, and has an unquantifiable quality that is simply infectious to campaign alongside. He has thrown his weight behind our mayor’s plan for a freeport – giving it unqualified support – and that key factor for me has been the clincher. Whatever is good for Darlington and the wider Tees Valley gets my support. I believe that Boris can provide that hope, optimism and enthusiasm for our party and for our country. He believes, as I do, that we can have a bright future and our better days always lie ahead of us.
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