Boris Johnson's Chief of Staff Steve Barclay has issued a rallying message for Conservative MPs to stick with the prime minister in Monday's confidence vote, in which he stressed that the government is delivering in the face of massive and unexpected challenges.
"We have lost half of this parliament to Covid. That is not the fault of the prime minister or of Conservative MPs – and our constituents understand that. But it will be our fault entirely if we choose to waste the remaining half of the parliament on distractions over leadership.
The country faces many pressing challenges right now – so we must focus on what matters to the livelihoods of constituents rather than the obsessions of those on social media. My colleagues understand from their constituency work and surgeries just how much the cost of living situation is impacting hardworking people. Pressure on energy bills and food prices is causing real stress and anxiety across the country – and this will continue into the winter.
It is crucial that we show people we are delivering on the change they voted for in 2019.
If we continually divert our direction as a Conservative Party – and by extension the government and the country – into a protracted leadership debate, we will be sending out the opposite message.
Our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has shown in his leadership on Ukraine, in getting Brexit done, in protecting jobs from the pandemic and resisting the repeated calls for a lockdown in the summer, that he is the right person to make the bold calls needed to respond to the economic challenge we now face. He is dedicated to unlocking talent across the UK and levelling up, and to delivering on our promises to the people who elected us. That is at the heart of the cabinet’s agenda.
[Chancellor] Rishi Sunak is fast-tracking reforms to enable our pension funds and insurance firms to unlock billions in capital for investment in places that have felt ignored in the past. These are the big-ticket changes Brexit offers to communities like my own, who voted strongly to leave.
Priti Patel is ahead of our target to recruit 20,000 police offices to make our streets safer, and Sajid Javid is rolling out community diagnostic centres around the country to help clear the Covid backlogs.
Grant Shapps has set out reforms to help rail commuters who have to pay higher fares due to out-of-date trade union working practices. Jacob Rees-Mogg is reducing the size of Whitehall, ensuring we deliver more efficiently for everyone.
In all this, we are saying to people: we will support you. To get the skills you need. To get the investment your area needs. To ensure your local streets are safer and your health is supported.
And later this week, the prime minister will set out plans to expand home ownership to Generation Rent – building on our core Conservative belief that people aspire to own their own homes.
He and I are instinctive tax cutters: we know the tax burden as a result of Covid is high and we know this would be the most benefit to the majority of our constituents. Money left in people’s pockets helps them plan and grows the economy.
The parliamentary majority we hold is incredibly rare. To waste time now on continued internal factionalisaton would be indefensible to many of our party members – given how hard they worked to secure that majority.
I first stood for parliament in 1997, when John Major had been hamstrung with a single figure majority. We then endured 13 years of [Tony] Blair and [Gordon] Brown with no majority, before the frustrating constraints of coalition. We must not squander the enormous opportunity we have with our majority now – to make real Conservative change and deliver across the country.
The Queen’s Speech set out the government’s top priorities for the year ahead: growing the economy to address the cost of living, making our streets safer, funding the NHS to clear Covid backlogs, and providing the leadership needed in challenging times.
The problems we face aren’t easy to solve. Democracies around the world are all currently facing similar challenges. But under Boris Johnson’s leadership, our plan for jobs shows how we are navigated through these global challenges. To disrupt that progress now would be inexcusable to many who lent their vote to us for the first time at the last general election, and who want to see our prime minister deliver the changes promised for their communities."
Steve Barclay, the Downing St chief of staff, wrote a longer version of this argument on Conservative Home on Monday