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Lascelles Speech
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the mid 19th Century, the Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli feared that the direction of the country risked Britain becoming divided, figuratively speaking, into two nations. Two factions, utterly divided, at loggerheads, and unable to understand each other's point of view. Does that sound familiar, ladies and gentleman? In Disraeli's time, that division was between the wealthy and the poor. His philosophy of One Nation Conservatism sought to bring the country together as one, using policies that heal the divide. Now, divided over Brexit, we need a new One Nation Conservatism to bring the country back together again in our time.

First, we must deal with the symptom of the division, the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit. To bring the country together, we must reach a consensus on how to conclude Brexit. And, to reach a consensus in the country, we must work to reach a consensus in Parliament.

Leaving without a deal is an utterly unacceptable option. We have the economic analyses; we know that a No Deal exit would be disastrous for the country, and would most direct its greatest harm at the poorest and at those who voted for Brexit. The idea that No Deal is any kind of solution to the ills of our nation would be laughable, were the situation not so serious.

So how do we resolve it? Well, there is a deal currently on the table. It is clear from the Meaningful Vote that Parliament will not approve that deal. Therefore, there are only two ways to clear this impasse: either we change the deal or we change the approval mechanism. To change the deal means changing the red lines under which the negotiations have taken place thus far. To change the red lines, Parliament must articulate what it is and is not willing to accept on behalf of the British people.

Under my leadership, the Government will facilitate Parliament in making its mind up. My Government will table an amendable motion, asking Parliament to approve the current deal, subject to its approval by the public in a referendum. MPs will then be able to debate and vote on amendments to the motion, to change that pathway to some other one.

Having made clear what it will not accept, this approach gives Parliament the opportunity to say what it will accept. If an MP has proposal, they will be able to make the case for it, but it must reach across party lines and Brexit factionalism, or else it will not be able to attract the Parliamentary votes needed for the amendment to be made.

If Parliament is unable or unwilling to find a consensus this way, then a release valve will be needed. That would be for the decision-making power to revert to those from whom Parliament derives it: the electorate. A referendum would set the current deal against the status quo, namely, continued membership of the European Union.

However, treating the symptom is never sufficient. However Brexit is resolved, by whichever method, following whichever plan, a solution to the underlying cause is required. The recurring theme of the those unhappy with the present situation in our country is a sense of dispossession; that the financial benefits of our successful economy are accruing elsewhere.

Many would point to policies of austerity, but I defend our period in office. In 2010, we were handed the reigns to an economy reeling from the recession, and weighed down by the largest deficit since that built by the Second World War. This Government has brought the deficit down to its pre-recession levels, employment is at record highs and inflation is on target.

Austerity was the right policy for its time. We are now in a different time. The challenge that faces the British economy now is not the deficit, but productivity. Low productivity is holding down wages and direct investment, which in turn limit economic growth. Furthermore, productivity is lowest where the Brexit vote was highest: the Midlands, the North East, Yorkshire; a driver of that sense of dispossession.

Solving the productivity challenge is not an overnight change, but requires us to start now. Under my leadership, economic policy would focus on improving productivity. Improving our infrastructure to make communication and logistics more effective, by delivering ultrafast broadband to all, by committing to HS2 and extracting the maximum benefit from it for the rail networks of the Midlands and the North, and by supporting green energy sources and decarbonising energy-intensive industries. Improving the incentive to work by lowering Income Tax, so people know that hard work pays more than before. And, improving the skills of all workers by investing in training throughout life, delivering work that is more engaging and fulfilling work workers, and more effective and efficient for employers, to the benefit of our whole economy.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a realistic but ambitious plan. A plan to rebalance our economy. A plan to solve the Brexit dilemma. A plan to heal the divisions, to restore Britain as one nation once again. My plan for the country. That is why I should be the next Leader of the Conservative Party and the next Prime Minister.
Robert Lascelles | One Nation Party
Parliamentary Candidate for Battersea
MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton (1997-2019)
Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor (2018-2019);  Work and Pensions Secretary (2017-2018);
Chief Secretary to the Treasury (2016-2017); Transport Secretary (2012-2016)

Former Rebel Alliance Conservative
Backbench Favourite, Campaign Organiser, Constituency Pariah

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