10 August 2022

We need a bold leader who can unite the party – that’s why I’m backing Liz Truss


At a time of global challenges from war to rising energy prices the Conservative Party faces a choice: do we seek to continue with business as usual, knowing that this approach has led us to where we are now, or are we prepared to face the future, and to recognise that we, along with the country, must embrace change and innovation if we are to succeed?

For this leadership contest, I have prioritised the candidates’ position on the importance of tackling climate change. I was delighted that both remaining candidates backed the Conservative Environment Pledge, committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Delivering on reducing our emissions isn’t just good for the environment- it’s leading a green industrial revolution across Red Wall constituencies in the UK,

Net zero isn’t about making this country poorer or colder – it’s about delivering a new economy based on innovation, positive thinking and believing that the future can be better than the past. After all, it has been a cost of gas crisis that has caused rising energy prices. Backing renewables and clean energy such as nuclear is the only way we can deliver on our future energy security and reduce our dependence on foreign petrostates.

Above all, to deliver success on tackling climate change, we need a leader with a positive mindset and a willingness to embrace reform with a vision of the future. Margaret Thatcher herself recognised the need to be bold with action against climate change in the 1980s when she signed the Montreal Protocol. We need a leader with that similar mindset and vision now.

The status quo cannot be an option. Initially I had backed Rishi Sunak during the MP stage of the contest. Yet over the past few weeks, I have grown increasingly concerned that we need a bolder, more positive approach to the UK’s future. Above all, we need a leader who will unite the party, and not continue to seek to divide. Liz Truss has demonstrated that she has the leadership and personal ability to unite the party across all wings. We cannot afford to be seen as a divided party, and for me I now believe that Liz is the best person to unite the party and the country to meet the challenges we face head on.

Liz also has based her campaign not on fear, but on a relentless focus on the future: she knows Britain must continue to stand tall on the world stage, including in its leadership on the environment. She played her part in driving forward COP26, the biggest international summit we have ever hosted. She is resolute in building on its historic success by achieving net zero emissions by 2050. And she has committed to sending a prime ministerial delegation to COP15 – the UN biodiversity conference which is seeking to achieve a ‘Paris Moment’ for nature at Montreal in December.

As Foreign Secretary, Liz also joined forces with our partners to finance honest, clean and reliable infrastructure such as roads and ports. She harnessed investment as Trade Secretary to power the green industrial revolution across every region and nation. On her watch, billions of pounds have been invested in the industries of the future, from ScottishPower’s offshore wind farms in East Anglia to Nissan’s plans to make cutting-edge electric cars in Sunderland.

Liz was ahead of the pack as Environment Secretary, being the first to pledge to plant a million more trees across the UK. She also created the UK’s largest national park, protecting the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District for generations to come.

This is the right kind of leadership we need: focused on the future, clear in vision and resolute in delivery.

We can only turn things around by uniting behind Liz and cracking on with our Conservative agenda. Division will only play into the hands of our opponents, and the electorate do not forgive those who decide to play politics rather than focus on their core priorities, such as reducing their energy bills by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

I know some of my colleagues are in two minds about the choice in this contest.

To them, I say it is never too late to make the right decision and join me in backing positivity over pessimism and decisiveness over doomerism. And when it comes to delivering on priorities such as net zero and climate change, we can be the party of the future under Liz Truss.

Together, we can rise to the moment by showing the British people our determination to deliver has never been greater. That is how we can forge ahead to a freer, safer and greener future for us all.

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Chris Skidmore is MP for Kingswood and Chair of the Net Zero Support Group.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.