Conference gives clearer picture of PM

Prime Minister Theresa May makes her keynote address on the fourth day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture by Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May makes her keynote address on the fourth day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture by Joe Giddens/PA Wire

There has been such a sea-change in politics of late that it is often difficult to stop, step back and consider how much has changed over the past few months, and to look ahead at what is to come.

However, with the conference season and my constituency tour, I confess I have had precious little time for reflection.

With her two conference speeches in Birmingham, we have begun to form a clearer picture of what our new Prime Minister believes in, and what she wants for our country.

In conversations with folk in our villages and towns over the past few weeks, people have expressed cautious optimism about the future of our nation, and our new Prime Minister.

Many of them have asked me what she is like.

In truth, I am a new Member of Parliament and I do not know her too well.

However, I do know her to be a woman of her word and a passionate defender of issues that matter to her, the abolition of modern slavery being a key example.

With her two conference speeches in Birmingham, we have begun to form a clearer picture of what our new Prime Minister believes in, and what she wants for our country.

On Brexit, I have been impressed by Mrs May’s firm resolve to enact the will of the British people.

There will be no half-way measures, no second referendum, the people have voted for us to leave the European Union and that is what we will do, in a process to begin in the new year.

Crucially though, she is aware of the need to take the whole country with us.

We are no longer ‘leavers’ or ‘remainers’, split according to our view on the referendum.

We all have an equal stake in the success of this endeavour.

And many people are now seeing the vast and wonderful opportunities that are beginning to open up to us.

What I found most illuminating was the rest of our new Prime Minister’s speech – her vision of our country and how she will govern it.

I sat in the conference hall in Birmingham thinking, “this is my sort of politics”.

It is about government that gives people a hand up, not a hand out.

So many of the people I meet here in Northumberland, or elsewhere, are just about managing.

They’re getting on with their lives, quietly and without complaint, but sometimes it’s a struggle.

They are getting up early and working around the clock, but still they worry about being able to pay the bills and giving their children the best start they can.

They’re doing their best, but sometimes it feels like things work well for other people and not for them.

They’re just about managing, but they would like a little help.

They would like to know someone is listening; that someone is on their side.

These are the people Theresa May has said are her priority, and she is right.

On economic policy, she has said that she wants to bring in reforms that focus on increasing productivity so that more people can share in the country’s prosperity.

It will involve getting tough on irresponsible behaviour in big business to ensure the free market truly works for all.

And it is about actively shaping an industrial strategy that serves the interests of Britain and of ordinary, working people.

With little viable opposition at present, the Conservative Government has a duty and an obligation, more so now than ever, to deliver this change for ordinary people.

My own particular interest is in working to make the Armed Forces Covenant a reality for those ordinary people, our extraordinary armed forces personnel, veterans and the families who support them to do the toughest of jobs to keep us safe.

I will also continue to support and scrutinise the Government’s work to ensure everyone in our rural communities has access to decent broadband, which is so important for children’s education and for allowing local businesses to thrive and expand.

I think what we have seen so far shows that Theresa May is determined and able to provide strong, solid leadership.

She has the backing of me, my Parliamentary colleagues and our wider party – and I hope the country too.