The Commonwealth Games are over. After a sporting spectacle that has shown the very best of the West Midlands to a global audience, we have passed on the baton to Victoria in Australia.
Now, the Conservative party is about to pass on the baton of leadership, selecting a new Prime Minister and the person who will lead us into the next General Election. Liz Truss is the favourite to win that race, and I am backing her.
I want to use this column to explain how I believe Truss will deliver for the West Midlands as Prime Minister – and why she can be a winner for the Conservatives at the ballot box.
Let’s be clear: the two are inextricably linked. The Midlands is at the heart of the ‘red wall’. In our region, 43 out of 59 local MPs are Conservatives. That means that delivering better outcomes for our citizens is not only mission critical for me in deciding who I think should be our next Prime Minister, but also to success in the next General Election.
Why? Sitting at the centre of the country, the West Midlands – with its long history of invention, its manufacturing and export prowess, and its diverse, innovative population – is the engine room of the nation. When we flourish economically, so does UK Plc. When we lag behind, the nation suffers.
So, when deciding which of the two Conservative leadership candidates to support, my overriding question was ‘who will deliver better outcomes for citizens of the West Midlands?’ I drew four conclusions.
First, we need a Prime Minister who will create more high-quality, well-paid jobs across the country, and inject dynamism into the economy. Truss’s proposal of a Plan for Growth, concentrating on new high tech sectors, can do this.
Here, in the Midlands, the Government must actively back our advanced manufacturing industries – such as electric vehicle production. This is already a real success story, but we need the levers the public sector has – from improving infrastructure and skills to targeted tax breaks – to attract more private investment, including the much-heralded battery Gigafactory in Coventry. This is how we will create higher-paid jobs across our region and super-charge the nation’s engine room.
Second, we need a Prime Minister fully committed to “Levelling Up”. For decades, people here have not shared equally in the success of the UK. While strides are definitely now being made, expectations are understandably high that we will continue to make good on our promises.
The new Conservative leader must double down on policy commitments including accelerating devolution to English regions. I believe Truss is committed to this, and will follow through on the promised Trailblazer Devolution Deal to be negotiated with the West Midlands Combined Authority. This deal will show the new Government remains serious about Levelling Up, and enable us to use our new cash and powers to make a tangible difference to people’s lives. Freeing us from Treasury red tape, to spend our cash how we like, will show Levelling Up in action.
Third, I believe Truss is willing to do what it takes to seize the opportunities offered by Net Zero. Under her leadership we will see decisive action to reduce the UK’s dependence on fossil fuels – critical if we are to help those on low incomes cut their energy bills. The Government will double down on helping businesses to decarbonise, cutting their costs, just as we’ve piloted in the Black Country. And we will see new investment in public transport schemes – like building the Midlands Rail Hub, which will ease congestion, help people save money, time, and reduce their carbon footprint.
Finally, we need a PM whose leadership will be driven by values, and who will uphold our nation’s stature on the international stage. As she has shown when facing down Vladimir Putin, Truss is not afraid to stand up for our values. As Prime Minister I believe she will continue in that vein, ensure standards in public life, and battle for the values that have made Britain a modern, inclusive society.
Those are the reasons I think Truss can deliver for the UK and the West Midlands, but why do I believe she can deliver at the ballot box too?
Truss showed loyalty to the Prime Minister and laid out her stall for leadership after he had resigned. As a result, she is more able to draw a line under the past and, as a new leader, people will judge her on her merits.
She has an optimistic vision that can resonate with the electorate. She has the grip necessary to get our Government firing on all cylinders, to deliver tangible results that will impress voters.
Most crucially, she has the ability to connect with people. By appointing a cabinet of talents, she can unite our party and inspire the grassroots. By demonstrating her commitment to strong values in Government, and to improving our nation, she can reach out to resonate with the regions. That will be critical to success at the ballot box.
The Commonwealth Games were a confident, energetic triumph that celebrated both unity and diversity, illustrating the tangible results of investment while promoting our values to a global audience. In a way, they were an exemplar of what the UK can be.
Fittingly, this weekend I was able to welcome Truss to the Games – and what better place to think of her commitment to the regions, as it was her who signed the letter confirming Government funding for Birmingham to host!
She recognises the potential of the regions. I believe she is now committed to building on what we have already achieved here, delivering for the West Midlands, the Conservative party and the nation.
The post Andy Street: Truss will deliver for the West Midlands. That is why she has my backing. appeared first on Conservative Home.