WORK AND Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb has set out his plan to heal a divided society as he launches his Tory leadership bid in Central London.
The 42-year-old Welsh MP is touting himself as the natural successor to David Cameron as a compassionate Conservative intent on continuing with his social reforms.
However with a strapline of “unity and opportunity”, Mr Crabb made much of his working class roots and his childhood on a council estate with a mother who claimed benefits.
While channelling much of Mr Cameron’s five year plan for enhanced social justice, he is clearly running on an anti-elite ticket.
He said: “It’s about continuing on a path of reform and delivering on our commitments to rebuild and rebalance our economy.
“To see a fairer distribution of wealth creation right across the country. It’s about our ability to speak to and speak for whole sections of society who feel that we have no understanding of the lives that they live.
“I came into politics to see people’s lives improve. To give more people a better chance to reach their full potential. A better job, a higher wage, a chance to own their own home, to take your family on holiday once a year.
“I believe in a society where it shouldn’t matter where you were born, it shouldn’t matter what kind of school you went to, which street you grew up in, what your mum and dad did for a living.”
He is the least well known among the candidates which are set to include Boris Johnson and Theresa May but believes he can steer the Tories through the country’s departure from the European Union, despite campaigning for Remain.
He ruled out a second EU referendum, will create an advisory council of the devolved nations to deal with Brexit and would not trigger Article 50 straight away.
A close economic relationship with Europe as possible also is key to Britain’s future prosperity, he said, a comment David Cameron made just an hour later when he addressed the House of Commons about yesterday’s European Council.
Reflecting on the EU referendum, he said: “I can’t ignore the fact is that the poorer the community or neighbourhood the more angry people felt about these issues and the more likely they were to vote leave.
“I think about this and I worry about our divided society and the breakdown in trust among people who are really struggling at this time, and they look at Westminster and they see nothing to believe in.”
Immigration is his “red line” and he said: “British people want control of immigration.”
The father-of-two has been in Parliament for 11 years as MP for Preseli Pembrokeshire and was promoted to Welsh Secretary and then Work and Pensions secretary earlier this year.
He funded himself through university by working on building sites.
He said: “I was brought up to understand that nothing is handed to you on a plate.
“On the rainy rugby fields of west Wales I learnt it’s not a question of waiting for a ball to pop up at the back of the scrum. If you want it, you’ve have to fight for it,” he said.
His vote against gay marriage is likely to come up time and again during his election campaign but he said that issue is now settled and he is fully supportive of a tolerant society.