How Tories will win back trust of working class people under my leadership – Esther McVey

THERE is no doubt the local and the European election results were a stark message to the Conservative Party. We have become detached from our voters, failed to deliver on Brexit and failed to listen.

Esther McVey is launching her campaign for the Tory leadership today. She resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary last November over Brexit.

Tonight in Bingley, I want to change that as I start the first of 10 big conversations around the country as part of Blue Collar Conservatism.

Along with other like-minded MPs, almost 100 of whom have already signed up, we will reach out to the public and try to rebuild trust and confidence, which has been lost.

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It is not just Conservative Party members or our traditional voters but those who have been let down by Labour and abandoned under Jeremy Corbyn.

Esther McVey, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, has become an advocate for Blue Collar Conservatism.

He has taken working-class people for granted and we need to show them the Conservative Party is on their side.

Through Blue Collar Conservatism, we will show that we share the values of ordinary working-class voters and understand their aspirations. It has been 30 years since we won a landslide majority and we need to come together and create a positive and inspiring message.

To do that we need to be prepared to listen and take ourselves out of our comfort zones and build a majority, so we can deliver for everyone in our country, transform the lives of people who need us most, as well as avoiding the catastrophe that would come with a Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell government.

This means shifting our priorities and resources to areas where they have the greatest benefit. I have made clear I want to see more money ploughed into education and policing immediately to provide first-class education for our children and to keep our streets safe.

By returning international aid to the levels we inherited from Labour in 2010, we can free up about £7bn. This would still mean we are spending high levels on our international commitments and I, like a lot of MPs, are proud of the work the UK does to support the world’s poorest.

We can do both – returning to 2010 levels would allow us to move £4bn into schools and £3bn to policing. It will cover the £2bn gap in core school funding, £1bn in Special Educational Needs and Disability provision and the remainder to sort areas such as FE funding. It will allow police forces to deliver the kind of service they so desperately want to, with community policing that everyone will benefit from.

Blue Collar Conservatism is about listening and getting people involved – we want to hear from communities about how we can be there for working people, what they want their future public services to look like or what policies matter most to them.

Whether that is safe streets and policing, the NHS, knowing your child can go to a good school, local transport or creating new jobs and opportunities for your family, we need a post-Brexit domestic agenda which delivers for everyone and continues our record of reducing unemployment and strengthening the economy.

Parliament has been in deadlock for months over Brexit and I have been clear we must honour the result of the referendum and leave on October 31. No government that I lead will ever seek an extension beyond that date.

It is time for the Conservative Party to wake up, listen to voters and embrace Brexit as a magnificent opportunity, not as a problem to be managed, mitigated or ultimately reversed. If the EU wants to come back and make a better offer, I will listen; otherwise we leave with no deal.

Remaining in the EU is a betrayal of democracy. I want to move the conversation on to focus on a post-Brexit Britain and maximise social mobility in Britain. Growing up in Liverpool in the 1980s under the Militant Labour regime, I saw the damage they did, and what will happen, if we – as a party – do not come together.

Politics for me is about enabling and empowering people, not keeping them reliant on the state or limiting their ambition or dreams. People who work hard should be rewarded, not held back. That is why I became a Conservative.

I set up Blue Collar Conservatism before I announced my intention to stand for leader of the Conservative Party as I believed it was absolutely vital not just for our party, but for the country. Now, more than ever, I believe a Conservative message underpinned by the principles of Blue Collar Conservatism can win the next general election.

Esther McVey is a Tory MP. The former Work and Pensions Secretary is the partner of Philip Davies, the Shipley MP.