- Labour MP issues challenge to South West Conservatives to draw red lines for Tory leadership contenders to win their support
- South West MPs hold the winning votes to decide who will be the next PM but are not presenting a unified front says Luke Pollard
- “Why aren’t they using their vote to stand up for the South West and demand that we get a fair deal” says Luke Pollard
Today Luke Pollard, MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport called on South West Tory MPs to use their vote in the leadership election to stand up for our region. In the far South West there are fifteen Conservative MPs, all of whom will have a say in who our next Prime Minister is. But so far they are backing different candidates and have failed to present a clear set of red lines contenders to be the next PM must agree to win their votes.
In recent months there have been moves to back the south west – a campaign Luke welcomes – but this is the first test of whether south west Tories will stand together in the best interests of the region and demand policy changes and funding uplifts. Luke Pollard has challenged them to use their decisive votes to stand up for the South West and demand that the region gets a fair deal under the next Prime Minister.
Luke Pollard said:
“The south west gets a poor deal from Government and the Tory leadership contest is our chance to win big concessions from the contenders but south west Tories are divided and failing to present a clear set of asks. Now is the time for South West Tory MPs to say that unless contenders promise to fund our schools fairly, invest in our trainline or protect defence jobs they won’t get the support of south west Tory MPs.
“Other regions are much better at presenting a united front. The Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse all get a better deal because their MPs stand together and speak up with clear asks but so far the south west Tories have failed to club together, and failed to present clear demands. But it is not too late, that is why I am issuing my own set of red lines and challenging Tory MPs to back them.
“We need to get a fairer share for our region and the Conservative Leadership contest offers the perfect opportunity to win big concessions in return for the votes of our local Tory MPs, but I worry they’re putting their electoral chances and personal politics ahead of the good of the region and selling their support too cheap.
“The South West is stuffed full of Tory MPs. They have the power to make a real difference to people in our region. That’s why I’ve challenged our region’s MPs to stand up for Plymouth and the South West when they elect their next Party Leader. I’ve set out 10 key asks for our region and call on them to back a candidate that will meet those challenges and urgently deliver for the South West.”
Tory Leadership Challenges for the South West.
- Education. Increase education spending in the South West to the national average removing the £300 per child disadvantage our kids currently experience.
- GP crisis. Recognise the crisis in primary care and reform the way GPs are funded and recruited so areas like Plymouth and the rural south west can attract more GPs into the profession and retain them in post. Introduce and fund a plan to cope with the crisis in mental health provision in Devon and Cornwall.
- Social care. Introduce a new system of social care on a cross-party basis that creates an affordable system of care for those in need, shares the burden fairly and ensures dignity of those receiving care and those providing care.
- Rail connectivity. Match Labour’s £2.5bn commitment to upgrade our railway over the next ten years in line with the Peninsular Rail Task Force’s recommendations to properly connect the far south west to rest of the country and end unfair transport spending in the south west.
- Tourism. Back Mayflower 400 with a package of legacy funding to maximise the benefits to the south west economy of this important cultural milestone and back the creation of the UK’s first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound.
- Agriculture. Lift the £30,000 minimum earning cap for migrants so that the south west can attract the workers it needs for agriculture to pick crops and flowers in our fields and to attract the workers we need in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
- Fishing. Back our fishers by redistributing quotas from big boats to the under 10m boats – backbone of the south west fleet. Ensure that at least half of all fish caught under a UK fishing licence has to be landed in UK ports to generate more shore-side jobs and commission a review of marine safety to keep our fishers safe at sea.
- Defence. Pledge to no more cuts to the Armed Forces in Plymouth and commit to funding a new base for the Royal Marines in Plymouth and continuing surface ship refits at Devonport. Commit to recycle the nation’s old nuclear submarines currently tied up alongside in Devonport and Rosyth creating jobs and dealing with our nuclear legacy.
- Climate Crisis. Overtly state there is a climate crisis and respond with a plan to decarbonise our transport and energy generation systems, bring forward the date for retiring dirty Diesel engines from our roads and railways, support new renewable energy schemes and urgently act to tackle plastic pollution by introducing a plastic bottle return scheme, banning single use plastics and instigating clean ups of our coastal beaches and waters.
- Reform our politics. Politics is broken. People in the south want a new approach to Brexit that involves the public but we also need a new way of working in Westminster. Reform Parliament, move polling day to the weekend, trial electronic voting, introduce votes at 16, address the playground atmosphere stirred up by Government whips and pledge to deliver a 50/50 Parliament by the next General Election.