VIEW FROM THE HOUSE
BY the time you read this, the process of electing a new leader of the Conservative Party will be well under way, following the Prime Minister’s decision to resign after the outcome of the vote on the European Referendum. It may have seemed like a precipitate decision, but the electorate made their views clear on June 23, with the majority wanting to leave the European Union. It was therefore inevitable that Mr Cameron would want to step aside, as he could not lead on a policy with which he does not consider to be in the national interest. He is however continuing to work with Cabinet colleagues and others to calm the global markets and stabilise our economy. We have reason, in my view, to be very grateful to him for the work he has done on reviving our economy over the last six years.
Probably no-one will ever wish to make a political prediction ever again after the few days at Westminster which followed on from the Prime Minister’s statement. But whoever becomes Prime Minister will need to give careful consideration to the political, economic and constitutional challenges that follow from the referendum result. In particular there is a need to focus on the process of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, by which the UK sets in train leaving the European Union.
Fresh eyes and a dispassionate examination of the necessary actions are needed. We should not close off any options as we go ahead. The Conservative Government received a mandate in May 2015 to continue to grow the economy and improve the quality of life of UK citizens. Reconciling this with pulling out of the EU is going to be very difficult. Any future PM will be judged on how successfully this can be done. We are a sovereign state, but in practical terms we cannot tear across the fabric of the past 40 years in one go, without problems and challenges.
I myself am supporting Theresa May, as I believe that she has the professionalism and common sense to take on this onerous burden. But whoever wins, I will work with them and with colleagues to try to meet the electorate’s aspirations.
Mr Grieve’s copy was filed before Andrea Leadsom decided not to contest the leadership, leaving Theresa May as the new Prime Minister