Over the Jubilee weekend, I have been able to speak to many constituents from all political persuasions and have valued both their feedback and that of those who have written to me. It seems that many of my colleagues took the opportunity of the Jubilee celebrations to take stock of the position of the Prime Minister, leading to sufficient letters being submitted to Sir Graham Brady to trigger this week’s confidence vote.
I am relieved that the confidence vote is now out of the way. It was a secret ballot and that is for a very good reason: to allow views to be expressed but then for the party to accept the democratic outcome and to come back together. I hope that this is now what happens.
But, and this is a big But, the Prime Minister needs to recognise that, for many people, a very significant amount of trust has been lost. The vote of 148 Conservative MPs is a very strong message to the Prime Minister and he needs to reflect on this long and hard. It is not the case that this can be shrugged off, since these MPs are reflecting the views of many of their constituents as they see it. Trust has been lost, but it is possible to re-build it, and that is what the Prime Minister must do over the coming months if he is to earn the right to be heard at the next election. I was asked about this by Chris Goreham on BBC Radio Norfolk and you may find the link interesting: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0c7gsc9 (2:08:10 - 2:15:40)
In my view, the way for the Prime Minister to rebuild trust is to focus relentlessly on delivering the promises made in our manifesto, proving on issue after issue that he can be trusted to deliver what he promises. Conspicuously competent government focussing on the serious challenges that we all face: the battle against global inflation, the war in Ukraine, economic growth, energy security, international migration, the NHS backlog, access to GPs and dentistry, particularly here in Norfolk, and much more. I recognise that, for some, this will not be enough.