I first met Liz Truss properly was when she visited Somerset when I was a candidate in 2014. We visited Perry’s cider and a dairy farm to experience first-hand the fantastic produce we have to offer in our part of the world. Liz has always been passionate about the opportunities for food and farming in our country and I am sure that if elected, by the time you will be reading this, to go forward to the final run-off to be next leader of the Conservative party she will continue that passion for making the most of our brilliant sector.
Whatever one’s point of view of Boris Johnson we need to acknowledge that he was successful in extremely difficult circumstances in taking us out of the EU. He should also be thanked for his attention to the importance of developing vaccines against Covid rapidly and for the rollout across the United Kingdom which everybody got behind from local NHS to local councils and volunteers.
Liz's work in Trade and leadership in standing up to Russia’s dreadful behaviour in Eastern Europe and her recognition of the risks of China thinking that its designs on Taiwan might not be met with an adequate response have been things I have worked with Liz on. I am very much looking forward to speaking to members in the constituency this weekend to set out my thinking about the candidates and to answer questions and I will remain available to do that throughout the summer holidays. I am of course also interested to hear from all constituents on these and other matters that are of interest.
Rest assured that through this process I have once again highlighted and made the case for the opportunities for investment, skills, development and local job opportunities that the MOD purchasing Leonardo’s AW149 would present and especially the prospect that would entail of serious follow-on export business that would be translated into manufacturing here in the Southwest and in Yeovil. Reform of the defence procurement process itself is something that I have been keen to champion with Liz and the other candidates as it needs to be faster and better at getting the equipment forces need at the best price and with the best recognition of how crucial our sovereign capabilities in defence manufacturing are. Liz is the candidate who has made a clear commitment to increasing our spending on defence to 3% of GDP by the end of the decade.
Over the next few months if she is on the ballot I would hope that people up and down the country start to get to know the person that I know Liz to be; someone who listens and thinks, someone with a mischievous sense of humour – someone who can connect in a very human way with people throughout the land.
As we come to the end of the Parliamentary session I look forward very much to be able to spend more time in Somerset and I hope to see many people through the holidays. It was pretty hot in Westminster this week and I would certainly prefer to spend time in this weather in our glorious countryside under an umbrella at Perry‘s or any of the brilliant places we have to offer.