The recent results of the general election reflect the trust which the people of England have placed into the hands of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I too have been returned to Parliament to represent that people of the Gainsborough constituency. This is a great honour indeed, and I am proud to have served in this capacity since 1983, as well as humbled by the support and dedication of so many volunteers around our part of Lincolnshire.
Voters across England have made a very judicious choice when they exercised their democratic duty. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how parlous the state of the country’s finances were when we Conservatives returned to government in 2010.
The Labour treasury minister Liam Byrne’s letter to his successor noting simply “I am afraid there is no money left” was both brazen and honest.
Over the past five years, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has focussed his energies on returning the economy to a condition of stable prosperity for all the country to enjoy. This is why tax freezes and cuts have been geared towards ordinary working people and families. George Osborne’s policy of prioritising jobs has also paid off wonderfully for the country. It was remarkable to think that Yorkshire alone created more jobs than France, and that the United Kingdom created more jobs than the rest of the European Union put together.
These are no mere statistics: every single job is a life changed. It also means people claiming fewer benefits, saving all taxpayers money, and supplying to the individual the dignity of work as well as personal independence from the state.
Our Labour opponents merely wanted to increase dependency on the state because they know it too often creates reliable voters for them. We have pursued the different path of making reasonable economic decisions and creating a society of free people.
There is more work to be done still to ensure stable prosperity in the country, and George Osborne will be presenting his budget very shortly.
But we do have other aims and priorities we are pursuing. Plans are afoot to create a Bill of Rights to replace Labour’s Human Rights Act which took power away from our own courts and from our democratically elected parliament and put it in the hands of Strasbourg jurists. This should help assert that Britons are free to make the laws they see fit to pass, without outside interference. We also hope to enact boundary reform for our parliamentary constituencies. They currently have wildly uneven population totals, which undermines our democracy.
Perhaps most significantly, we will have legislation passed to allow for a referendum on this country’s membership of the European Union. The Prime Minister is preparing for negotiations on our relationship with the EU, which will then be put to the public for you to decide – every man’s vote counting just as much as the next. It is the people who will decide the future of Great Britain.
Sir Edward Leigh
MP for Gainsborough