It’s good to be reminded that this is a Government with a purpose and a mission. To bring to all British people the Conservative principles of fairness, opportunity, pride in our country and openness to the world.
My role in this crusade is to make sure it happens. To show people in all parts of the UK, whatever their background, that we will help them succeed.
We can’t do it for them, because no Government can do that, but we will continue to build a country that allows them to make the most of themselves. That’s the Conservative way. That’s the Conservative dream.
At the Cabinet Office I am kept on the right road by a fabulous team. My ever diligent ministers Chris Skidmore and Caroline Nokes, our hard-working Parliamentary Private Secretaries James Morris and Will Quince, our all-seeing Whip Stuart Andrew, and in the Lords the most decent man in British politics, George Young.
The mission laid out by Theresa on her first day in office continues to be our defining purpose.
And we have so much to show for our hard work in Government since 2010
Under this Conservative Government, there are more people in work than ever before, and the lowest unemployment for forty years. Be proud.
Under this Conservative Government, 1.8 million more children are in good or outstanding schools. Be proud.
Under this Conservative Government, we are meeting the NATO target for defence spending, ensuring our Armed Forces have what they need to keep us safe. Be proud.
And, under this Conservative Government, 67 million children around the world have been immunized against preventable disease. Be proud.
So let’s be clear that when the Labour Party tries to paint us as unfeeling and hard-hearted, they are Britain’s biggest purveyor of fake news. We are helping more people into work than ever, allowing more mental health trained professionals to treat patients than ever, seeing more children from disadvantaged backgrounds go to university than ever.
That’s modern compassionate Conservatism in action, and Labour’s Twitter trolls can go and stick that in their timeline.
That’s why, even though the general election did not go as we hoped, the Conservatives did win the most votes and the most seats.
We remain in government, so we now have the chance to show once more that Conservative values and policies can work for those parts of the country, and parts of the population, who turned away from us in June.
Because our values are at the heart of this party and this government.
Values of fairness, of opportunity for all. Values that say to everyone in this brilliant country that if you work hard you will be rewarded. Values that say we must leave no one behind.
Unlike the Left we don’t define people as a member of a class, a race, or a group.
Instead we see everyone as a human-being with limitless potential, and believe it is the job of Government to help them realise that potential.
These values set out our mission as Conservatives. It means giving support from birth – by investing in our NHS and maternity services, and making sure every child has access to the best possible education.
It means giving support to young people to get the training and skills necessary to get a good job and helping those young people onto the housing ladder.
It means supporting people as they get older by sorting out the problems in social care.
We’ve seen how Labour can talk a good game at election time, but how in power, they always let their ideology take them too far.
Labour always promises to spend more, with money that miraculously never comes from your taxes. On the economy, they will promise more for health, education, the police, welfare, aid, roads, rail, housing, Christmas presents, birthday presents, free cakes at tea-time, and unicorns on demand. The British people were nearly conned last June. But we won’t get fooled again.
Conservatives take a balanced approach so we deal with our debts while keeping our economy strong.
At the same time we need to handle the most pressing policy challenge for decades – securing a good Brexit deal.
As the Prime Minister said in Florence, while we are leaving the EU, we are not leaving Europe. The UK has always – and will always – stand with its friends and allies in defence of our shared values, our security, stability and our prosperity.
We don’t need to become Norway or Canada, great countries though they are. We are the UK, so we want a unique and ambitious economic partnership based on our commitment to free trade and high standards.
We are optimistic and we will succeed. But the best way for both us and the European Union to thrive is to fulfil the potential of the partnership the PM set out last week. This way we can deliver prosperity and opportunity for people in Europe and here at home.
And by here at home I mean the whole United Kingdom. All four nations. As someone born in South Wales and representing a seat in Kent, I find it completely natural to be proud to be Welsh and proud to be British.
So in Scotland the great Ruth Davidson continues her work of fighting back against the tide of separatism. In Northern Ireland James Brokenshire is working tirelessly to restore devolved Government. And this party – the Conservative and Unionist Party – will always be committed to upholding the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Every part of the United Kingdom is made better because it is part of the United Kingdom.
I have spent time in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast listening to people, not just politicians but businesses, universities, and charities, about the challenge of Brexit.
And can I say how impressed I have been by the job our Secretaries of State are doing in their respective nations.
Not just James but David Mundell in Scotland and Alun Cairns in Wales. They are all great champions for the UK.
Because Conservatives in all nations of the UK are also democrats. We respect the result of elections and referendums.
I respect the result of the Referendum that kept our voting system, unlike Vince Cable.
I respect the result of the Referendum that rejected Scottish separation—unlike Nicola Sturgeon.
I respect, though I campaigned the other way, the result of the Referendum on Brexit—unlike Keir Starmer.
I would have said unlike Jeremy Corbyn, but to be fair to Jeremy Corbyn, he is only in favour of staying in the EU on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays or when there is an R in the month.
Of course, Brexit is a huge challenge facing us in the next two years, but it must not and will not take all of our attention.
We must also make a positive difference in people’s daily lives.
As the election showed, we need to show how we can give young people a stake in our society. Free market economies and democratic societies are by a mile the best way to spread prosperity, power, and hope for young people.
We won that argument once, but it was thirty years ago. We need to win it again, today, tomorrow and for the next thirty years.
We need to start at home. We are now looking at too many young people who no longer expect to own a house in their lifetime.
This is bad for them, bad for the stability of our society, and profoundly unconservative. So we will get to work building more houses and opening up the housing market.
We will meet our 2015 commitment to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020 and will deliver half-a-million more by the end of 2022.
For those renting we will ban unfair tenant fees, encourage landlords to offer longer tenancies, and crack down on unfair practices in leasehold, such as escalating ground rents.
We remain the only party committed to home ownership for the many, and we will demonstrate that in the coming years.
We also need a distinctive Conservative message is in our cities.
We have already achieved a huge amount with the creation of genuine local power centres through the directly-elected Mayors. When I fought Ken Livingstone in Brent East 25 years ago one of my most active activists was a keen young man called Andy Street, so I am thrilled for him and all the other Tory Mayors around the country, in the West of England, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, and Tees Valley.
Then we have our City Deals. I was in Edinburgh during the summer signing the latest of these. This will provide funding for new jobs, housing and infrastructure, and it will see the first new music venue for over 100 years, in one of Scotland’s, one of Britain’s, great cultural centres.
Initiatives like City Mayors and City Deals combine two essential Conservative principles.
First, that decisions should be taken as locally as is practical.
Secondly, that it is only through individual flair and ideas and freedoms that the dynamism of a great city comes about.
All the central planning in the world does not create a London or Manchester or Edinburgh – creative places where millions of disparate individuals find their own niche, and create new communities.
Building on this to create a new City Conservatism is one of the challenges of this party and this government.
Another is to develop an Industrial Strategy that gives hope to young workers that jobs will be available to them in tomorrow’s labour market.
Our record on job creation remains one of the most impressive and enduring achievements of successive Conservative governments.
Unemployment is at its lowest level for more than forty years, there are more women at work than ever before, and young people are significantly less likely to be unemployed than in most European countries.
Never forget that every Labour Government in history has left unemployment higher when it left office than it was when it came in. From Ramsey Macdonald to Gordon Brown, there is an unbroken, unsullied record of failure to create jobs. The country, especially young workers, has always needed the Conservatives to sort out Labour’s mess and it still does.
Because when we say that we want to sort out problems with excessive boardroom pay or energy prices, we do that because we are pro-business, and pro-competition. Conservatives want to stop abuses in business. Labour just wants to abuse business and business people. We want to reform business not because we are anti-business but because we are pro-business.
But we can only make our arguments persuasively if we tackle the real problems we face as well.
The terrible events at Grenfell are a stark demonstration that there are communities in the UK who have been so let down over the years by state institutions they feel they have no voice and are not being heard.
We need to tackle injustice and discrimination in our country.
This is why the Prime Minister has ordered an audit of race disparity in our public services. Why she has committed to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. And why we aim to get a million more disabled people into work in the next ten years.
These are practical social policies that will demonstrate that Conservatives care, and Conservatives act.
This is why we are in Government today, and why we need to remain in Government.
Not just for the good but negative reason that the alternative is a front operation for the hard left. A Labour party with MPs that abuse Prince Harry for his service in Afghanistan, and that tolerates an under-current of anti-semitism. There was a time when we needed to be warned about sounding nasty. I tell you there is still a nasty party in Britain in 2017 and it’s called the Labour Party.
But the country really needs a continuing Conservative Government for the better and more positive reason that a reforming, modernising Conservatism is the best way to give hope to every generation.
Let’s be bold, let’s be united, and show that only a Conservative Government can tackle the injustices in our society with practical action
Only a Conservative Government can create a dynamic economy with a global outlook.
Only a Conservative Government can build a country that works for everyone.
That is our goal, that is our mission, and with your help, we will achieve success.