June 18, 2019 4.02 pm This story is over 36 months old

Caroline Johnson: Why I’m backing Boris

“We need a leader who recognises the opportunities Brexit offers”

By Sleaford and North Hykeham MP

I am a consultant paediatrician in our NHS. I became an MP because I wanted to use my experience to deliver improvements in health, social care, and opportunity for children and their wider family. Our constituency, my home, is rural and I hoped to play a part in enabling rural communities to flourish.

Whilst I have worked to achieve both of these, whether in the chamber, on various committees, or in my constituency work, I have to agree with many of my constituents that the machinations in Parliament on Brexit have distracted attention from many of the government’s achievements.

We need to be honest with our members and voters, and admit that the Conservative Party is not just in trouble; it is in great danger. We could argue for hours about why this state of affairs has come about, but the essence of it is our failure to keep the promises we made on Brexit.

Why we failed and who is to blame has been, and will continue to be, debated ad nauseam; but to the voting public it doesn’t matter, because others promise to succeed where we failed.

The risk is not just to the Conservative Party, or even to Brexit, but to the country as a whole. If we fail to leave the EU, the country could sleepwalk into the very real dangers of a Corbyn government.

Most fundamentally, by not delivering Brexit we erode the very core of democracy: trust between the electorate and their elected representatives

But we have an opportunity, a chance, to restore confidence in our Party and in our democracy. That opportunity is to elect a new leader with the drive and vision to deliver Brexit in this Parliament.

I have consulted widely with my local party members, and within my constituency generally, and the feedback is clear

We need a leader who is ready to lead on day one. We have a plethora of talented people who have the qualities to lead us, but we don’t have time to test them. We must pick a leader with proven abilities to lead, to inspire, and to get things done.

We need a leader who is committed to Brexit. For far too long we have allowed a narrative of Brexit that is one of damage limitation, and this must change. This means we must choose a leader who, like me, was committed to Brexit before the referendum. Some contenders have expressed their Damascene conversions or their commitment to deliver because of their deeply-held belief in democracy but, however well motivated they are, there is a risk that the public may not have confidence in them.

We need a leader who recognises the opportunities Brexit offers and is determined to realise them. For nearly three years we have been bombarded with “project fear” and it is time for “project opportunity”. We need a leader who will develop this.

We need a leader who can communicate their vision, both of Brexit and the world beyond it. They must be able to make the case why the Conservatives are the only party that can successfully deliver Brexit but also how we will guarantee a safe and prosperous future for this country and all its citizens.

And finally, we need a leader who is brave and democratic. The people of this country voted clearly to leave the European Union. Unfortunately, we are a minority Government and there are some MPs who appear to me to feel they have some sort of Parliamentary divine right to overrule their voters. Our new leader must navigate the difficulties in Parliamentary arithmetic to deliver.

In short, before we can progress with an ambitious domestic agenda we need to deliver Brexit. To do this, we need a seasoned leader who is committed to delivering Brexit and who can overcome the challenges from doubters, inspire our electorate, and lead us out of the European Union.

In taking into account all these criteria, there is only one candidate who ticks all the boxes. Boris Johnson has executive experience as the Major of London; indisputable charisma; the belief in Brexit from the start; and the determination to make it a reality. This is why I will be giving him my support.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.