Amjad Bashir: Theresa May has will and drive to bring opportunity for all

Theresa May arrives to deliver her speech at Manchester Central during the Conservative Party conference last year. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire).
Theresa May arrives to deliver her speech at Manchester Central during the Conservative Party conference last year. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire).
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If anyone thought on Monday that Theresa May was the wrong choice for Prime Minister, I hope they see what she is made of now.

In a few short hours she has shown herself to be a compassionate voice for fairness and opportunity, as well as a cool, unflinching and incisive team leader.

Her key Cabinet appointments show that she has the will to change the look and sound of our party and its leadership from the centre outwards.

At the same time she has shown she means business over our negotiations for leaving the EU.

Theresa’s selection as PM reminded me of an episode during my business life. We were competing against other catering firms to put our food on one of the leading supermarket’s shelves.

After a long process, and after other contenders had fallen by the wayside, we won that contract.

We did so not because of flashy presentations, extravagant promises or impassioned speeches. We won because of our reputation and expertise.

We were consistent in what we delivered and had a record of success that competitors simply could not match.

Our country, with the inevitable uncertainties after the Brexit vote, needed a leader with exactly those traits – a proven track record, who is astute, and someone to be taken seriously on the big stage.

I originally backed Theresa May because her credentials as a parliamentarian showed her to be just that.

At a time when we face an increased risk of terror, she has led the way in delivering a host of new safeguards, and has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our country’s security services to keep our people safe.

After nearly a decade of wrangling, she got on a plane, went to Jordan, led negotiations, and successfully deported Abu Qatada, blocking him from ever being able to re-enter the UK again.

When confronted with a vested interest in the Police Federation, she faced them head on. Her speech at their 2014 conference was credited as one of the bravest, most astonishing political speeches for years.

As one who campaigned with all my effort for a Leave vote in the referendum, I understand that some Brexiteers would feel anxious about someone from the Remain camp leading the UK’s negotiations. Her astute choice of Ministers to execute the task should have put those qualms to rest.

After speaking to her ahead of her elevation I am extremely confident that she has both the ability and the determination to secure the best possible Brexit deal for Britain.

It is vitally important that we have someone at the helm who can unite both the party and the country. Someone who is pragmatic, calm, thoughtful and can win through negotiation, not confrontation.

As someone who was raised in a two-up-two-down terrace on the backstreets of Bradford, it is refreshing to see someone with Theresa’s background now leading our country.

In powering her way to the top job in Britain, her launchpad was a state-primary and grammar-school education.

She is a champion of selective education, which can so often give opportunity to the brightest brains from the poorest backgrounds.

I have said before that the process of bringing the Conservative party back together post-referendum must also involve deciding what kind of party we want to be.

It is crucial that we show ourselves to be a party where all are welcomed and all are valued, vital that we set out to deserve the trust of voters in some of our less-advantaged areas and hard to reach communities.

That does not mean trying to fix poverty with public cash alone, as Socialists would have you believe. It means fighting for fairness and opportunity and giving all people – whatever their background – the right conditions, help and encouragement they need to prosper.

I believe Theresa May has chosen Patrick McLoughlin, a miner’s son, as party chairman specifically to lead that process. She has made it abundantly clear by word and deed that she wishes to present a strong, positive vision for Britain.

A global Britain that will forge a new path in the world following the referendum result, deliver strong, 
proven leadership, and deliver a Britain that doesn’t just work for the privileged few, but for works for every single one of us.

I am confident Theresa will do an outstanding job of leading our nation. I encourage all of Yorkshire’s Conservatives, indeed everyone in this proud region, to rally around her and show her your support.

Amjad Bashir is a Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber