Since Theresa May announced her resignation, I have been considering not only who I want to become the next leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister, but what I want that individual to represent. Whilst Brexit remains the most pressing issue in British politics, I wanted to support a candidate who had an optimistic vision for the United Kingdom beyond our future relationship with the European Union.
Someone who embodies traditional conservative values of opportunity, liberty, and personal freedom. Someone who has an aggressive, bold and deliverable plan for the country. Someone who can appeal to anyone, regardless of their background and circumstances. Someone who can unite the country. That is why I have decided to support Dominic Raab.
Perhaps one of the key reasons I chose to support Raab is his ability to appeal to a broad range of voters. Indeed, an ongoing challenge for the Conservative Party has been its inability to attract younger voters. Despite research by the Economic and Social Research Council suggesting that young people strongly support a number of conservative values and policies, this support has failed to translate into votes.
In 2017, the Tories received just over 20% of the vote amongst 18-24 year olds, with many younger voters instead choosing to support Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. If the Conservative Party intends to live on beyond Brexit, they need to find a way to attract the support of young voters, by doing a better job of championing the benefits and opportunities that free-market capitalism presents.
Mr Raab has outlined a number of policies which emphasise his commitment to attract a range of voters. Notably, proposals to increase the number of degree apprenticeships and reintroduce young apprenticeships will open up more avenues for young people or individuals seeking a new career path, allowing them to pursue the career they want, and go as far as their talents will take them.
Throughout the May government, the youth demographic has often felt disconnected and ignored by the Conservative Party, and these pledges could appeal to voters who feel there are too few opportunities available, or who are put off by the albeit misconception with regards to student debt and university finance.
Furthermore, an even more pressing issue for a number of people across the country is the ongoing housing crisis. In December 2018, a government report into tackling the under-supply of housing in the UK estimated that between 240,000 and 340,000 new homes need to be built for the UK to fully deal with the issue. Raab’s pledge to release more public sector land and stop developers from landbanking will seek to address the UK's ongoing crisis, and provide more affordable housing for people from a variety of age ranges seeking to get on the housing ladder.
Beyond attracting young people, Mr Raab has also outlined plans that will significantly benefit the least well off in society. Cutting the basic rate of income tax by 5p, over a five year period, could save someone as much as £180 in the first year alone. This is a bold pledge but embodies everything that the party stands for, providing people with a long overdue boost to personal finances, and further emphasises the Conservative Party belief in personal economic freedom.
Raab has also pledged to help the most vulnerable in society by making our streets safer. In dealing with the persistent levels of knife crime in the UK, by increasing the ability for the police to use stop and search powers, Raab has demonstrated his commitment to deal with an issue that has seen too many innocent people taken too soon.
The most pressing issue for the next PM to tackle, however, remains that of our withdrawal from the EU. I have said that leaving the European Union with a strong negotiated agreement is better than leaving without a deal at all. Despite this, Raab has pledged to attempt to renegotiate the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, and he has a real chance of doing so.
Raab was the only Brexit Secretary who seriously unnerved Michel Barnier and the EU negotiating team, pushing them hard in areas where Theresa May was weak. The EU have admitted themselves they were uncomfortable around Raab, which makes the prospect of renegotiation likely. However, should an attempt to renegotiate the deal fail, Raab has committed to ramping up preparations for no deal, and has unequivocally stated that we will leave at the end of October, deal or no deal.
The Conservative Party has lacked something in recent years, especially under the May government. Little is achieved in politics without being ambitious and taking risks. For too long the Tories have tried to appeal to voters by pledging watered down left-wing policies. Raab is aggressive and is a true champion of the core conservative beliefs of liberty, opportunity, and personal freedom.
By truly championing these values and presenting a genuine alternative to the outdated socialist policies presented by Jeremy Corbyn, I believe Dominic Raab can unite the country and deliver for everyone, regardless of their class, colour, gender or background.