As I write on Sunday evening, I look forward to the week ahead that will see much progress in the Conservative Party Leadership contest. Tuesday and Thursday will see the second and third rounds of voting by Conservative MPs. Tuesday evening will also have the BBC TV debate that follows the Sunday evening Channel 4 debate.
Watching the Channel 4 debate has given me much cause for optimism for the future of our country. I was very impressed with all five candidates who took part. Some or all of them are very likely to play a major part in the next government and it is good to see them tested in this way.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that Rory Stewart is my top choice. Rory is the person who will do things differently, but in a way that helps to bring our country together. I suspect that Rory Stewart is the candidate most feared by Labour although that doesn’t mean he will become Conservative Leader. I remember at the time of the 2015 Labour leadership contest, my view as a Conservative that Chuka Umunna was the candidate I feared most. He was much better suited than all the others, especially Jeremy Corbyn. However, he withdrew from the contest and subsequently left Labour to form Change UK, before going independent and then joining the Liberal Democrats last week. The best leader that Labour could have is now never going to be, or indeed become Prime Minister.
I don’t see the same journey for Rory Stewart. It is possible that by the time you read this, he may have been eliminated from the contest, but I have a feeling that if this isn’t his time to be Conservative Leader, it will be next time. What pleases me most is how strong the field is for the Conservative leadership with all the candidates putting forward some good policies. Ultimately and regardless of whoever wins, it is right that this contest period is short because our focus as a party needs to be getting Brexit delivered and delivering for our country.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
19th June 2019