As my colleagues travel back to Westminster today, they will be conscious of the immense responsibility they carry, and it should weigh heavily on them.
Our duty as MPs is to determine what is in the national interest, and I have always believed that requires a strong Conservative Party. We are the oldest and most successful political party in the world. The party of Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher. At our best, we represent values of decency, personal responsibility and social justice. At the same time, we should be seen as hard-headed decision makers, guided by strong principles.
We may not have always been popular but we have been seen to be competent in acting in the national interest. Sadly, the public are increasingly concluding we are neither. As it stands, Sir Keir Starmer is on course to win a Blair-size majority at the next general election.
The long-term consequences of such a victory would be disastrous. We know that support for proportional representation, a lower voting age of sixteen, and changes to rules on political donations is deep-rooted within Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP. We would be left in the political wilderness for years under a series of coalition governments.
I firmly believe Rishi Sunak has more than what it takes to provide the leadership that we desperately need. But to succeed, he will also need a party where colleagues set aside their differences and look to the future. If we cannot do that, and unite behind Rishi, the party as we know it will be on the cusp of an extinction-level event.
Like many other colleagues, I made a different choice in the summer. As our prime minister, I sincerely wanted Liz Truss to succeed in her core mission. However, tax cuts and spending went much further than anyone had anticipated, and the financial institutions we should rely on were ignored. The faster that economic stability can now be restored, the more effectively we can refocus on the promise of our 2019 manifesto.
Doing so is not only a matter of policy but repaying the trust placed in us by millions of voters. The scale of the challenges facing the country are huge. But, as we saw during the pandemic, Rishi is adept at building a strong team, devising policy and communicating to the public. These qualities are required even more now, and given that Boris Johnson has pulled out, we should unite behind Rishi without delay.
As a party, we need to look in the mirror and consider our actions during the months ahead. We can either continue the infighting, prolong the political instability and risk undermining our past achievements. Or roll our sleeves up, unite to deliver for the British people and restore a strong Conservative Party that works in the national interest. The latter course of action will require sacrifice, compromise, and tough decisions — but nothing less will suffice.
Sajid Javid is Conservative MP for Bromsgrove and a former chancellor of the exchequer. You can read the article in The Times, here.