I have consulted with constituents, Conservative members and Association Officers. There was wide range of views, with support for most of the candidates. The largest number of favourable responses was for Andrea Leadsom, and I have decided to use my vote to support her.
I have been impressed by the work she did in the Vote Leave campaign. When she first entered Parliament in 2010 she set about defining the problems with our current relationship with the EU, and established the many areas in need of reform. She brought together the Fresh Start Group of MPs, largely from the 2010 intake. They worked together well under her guidance to produce a range of documents on EU issues. I was always doubtful myself that reform was possible, but I understood what they were trying to do.
When she saw the direction of travel of the modern EU she worried about how feasible reform would be. The EU was clearly going in the direction of more central control and power when the UK wanted less. With the UK out of the Euro and out of Schengen it was becoming increasingly difficult to be within the wider decision making body.When she reviewed Mr Cameron’s lack of progress in getting any meaningful reform despite the threat of exit with a referendum she decided to campaign to leave. She showed herself to be someone who looks at the evidence and makes up her mind. Her choice was not a comfortable one for a rising Minister in a Remain government, but she took it nonetheless.
She has held senior business jobs before entering Parliament, and is now Minister of State at the Department of Energy. She has a fresh and determined mind, with the qualities necessary to get us out of the EU quickly and with the minimum of disruption.
I have been asked to write an article for the Telegraph on Monday morning which has not appeared in the paper and to be on the Victoria Derbyshire show to discuss the leadership.