George HW Bush once said of America: “We are a nation of communities … a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.” That is how I see our United Kingdom: a beacon of hope to the millions of oppressed peoples in the world; our citizens free to think, challenge, explore, dream, create and build.
As we prepare to leave the EU, the people of this country should be more confident, positive and inspired about the future and what they and this country can achieve than ever before.
But such is the level of cynicism and negativity abroad at the moment that it’s easy to see why so many of our fellow citizens lack confidence in what we can do and are losing faith in the political process.
And the roots of this national malaise are plain for anyone to see. Our news cycles are packed with depressing news of failure, incompetence and negativity. It pervades everything.
This country has always been sceptical of its political class – as it should be. Not for us the elected monarchy of the chosen few of France, or the idolisation (at least until recently) of American leaders. No, keeping politicians down to earth, questioning every move and motive, and constant reminders that they serve at the will of the people have been healthy for our country and our democracy.
But the depressing tone of our political debate is new and only adds to the general downbeat mood of our national debate.
And the reason this matters? Because this depressing tone is seeping into every area of our national life and is leading to something that is much more damaging: a lack of belief in our ability as a nation.
In October 2017, Theresa May spoke about renewing the “British dream”.
The need for us to believe in this dream – to believe that tomorrow is better than today, that our children will have better lives than we had, and that if you set your mind to something and work, there is nothing that you can’t achieve – is greater than ever before.
Because the alternative is a downbeat, depressing and dangerous left-wing narrative. It’s clear for all to see that the leader of the opposition has a complete lack of belief in the success that can be achieved when someone is set free to achieve their potential. He represents a lack of hope for our future.
And so our task is to find a leader to challenge this narrative and present a vision for our future, with policies that speak to the next generation. Our party must be one that people can look to and vote for with enthusiasm about tomorrow – a party that makes the British dream a reality.
I think that leader is Matt Hancock.
I worked with Matt as one of his PPSs in the department for culture, media and sport. I was struck by the dynamism, enthusiasm and genuine interest he took in every aspect of the job and department. He has taken the same drive and determination to reform, improve and modernise the department for health and social care.
His love of this country and his belief in its future is one I share. His ability to inspire loyalty in those around him is remarkable and his tireless work ethic, demonstrated in the long days and nights we spent working on passing the data protection bill is one that well suits him to the demands of life in the top job.
I believe that Matt can make the Conservatives the party of the next generation, by keeping taxes low, growing wages, supporting aspiration, cutting regulation, encouraging business, revolutionising education, and believing in what we can achieve on the global stage.
I look forward to supporting him for the leadership of our party and our country. And I look forward to working with him as we move forward together – proud of our past, confident about our future, and determined to make that British dream a reality.