"I strongly called for unity in the Conservative Party in a leading article recently. Rishi Sunak wants unity, as does everyone else in the Conservative Party. The events of the last few weeks have demonstrated great disunity.
I made it absolutely crystal clear in meetings at Westminster and on a Zoom call in the constituency over the last few days that I believed it was essential for the Party Membership to be given the right to vote on a new Leader, which I voted for to the very end of the procedural cycle. However, Boris Johnson and Penny Mordaunt both withdrew from the leadership contest. Therefore, under the rules of the Conservative Party, this led to there being only one candidate, Rishi Sunak, and therefore he became Prime Minister when the King invited him to form a Government. This is the constitutional rule in the United Kingdom.
In these circumstances, I therefore call on all Members of the Conservative Party to unite together for the sake of our country and for the Conservative Party.
We have a manifesto from the General Election of 2019, in which we won a massive majority on the basis of that manifesto, in which the British people voted overwhelmingly for the Conservative Party to govern the country, and we will continue to do so. Last week, a major vote was won by a majority of 96, and yesterday the Second Reading of the Revocation of Retained EU Law Bill was passed by a very substantial majority, which proves my point. As I said in my speech on this Bill yesterday (LINK SPEECH?), this Bill reaffirms the Sovereignty of the United Kingdom, and therefore, our democracy, and the result of the General Election of 2019, which endorsed the vote of the electorate in the 2016 Referendum and Brexit.
I was glad to hear Rishi Sunak speak yesterday, reaffirming his commitment to the 2019 manifesto, stating: “The mandate my party earned in 2019 is not the sole property of any one individual, it is a mandate that belongs to and unites all of us. The heart of that mandate is our manifesto. I will deliver on its promise”. As one of those promises, he also said he was committed to: “Levelling up and building an economy that embraces the opportunities of Brexit, where businesses invest, innovate, and create jobs”. This Revocation of Retained EU Law Bill is embedded in that promise, and we must also deal effectively with illegal immigration.
In the national interest and the interest of the Conservative Party, we can and will find stability, despite the turmoil of the last few weeks.
As I also said yesterday in my speech in the Chamber, the consequences of Covid and the illegal invasion of Ukraine and the undermining of the energy markets all over Europe have created massive instability in every country in the continent of Europe, with consequent impact for them as well on cost of living and inflation. This was not the fault of the Government itself, but are external factors continuing to cause massive disruption.
Of course, we have to do everything to stabilise our economy and ensure that we run the economy on sound principles. The Director General of the CBI, Tony Danker, stated on the Today programme yesterday that the Government: “Do have at their disposal levers that can support this growth push that we will need”, and that: “The growth imperative is bigger than before”. It is essential we deploy these levers of power, including different kinds of regulation, which he specifically mentioned (as the Revocation of Retained EU Law Bill will provide), in order to achieve this growth and realise our potential, as I argued in my speech, improving our competitiveness and capacity for investment.
So, let us unite."