The Important Questions in the Race to Become Prime Minister

Andrea Leadsom
Andrea Leadsom
Countryside Alliance
Countryside Alliance

London, UK -( The next leader of the Conservative Party will be the next Prime Minister so the views of the candidates for the leadership election are obviously of great interest to all of us, especially the thousands of us who will have a vote in that election.

Given that as many as 20% of Alliance supporters may be members of the Conservative party there is a real chance to make a positive contribution.

For that reason the Countryside Alliance has been active in two areas. First our Chairman, Simon Hart wrote to all the original leadership candidates seeking their views on 10 issues of current importance to the rural community. You can read more about his letter in this Spectator blog. We have received the first response from Andrea Leadsom, which is available in full on our website, and which I will discuss further below. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, who is the other candidate in the final two, will respond next week.

The second action we have taken is to arrange a ‘Rural Hustings’ for the leadership candidates which will be held on the evening of Monday, July 18th in Westminster. A number of rural organisations will join with us and both Mrs Leadsom and Mrs May have confirmed their attendance. This will be a unique opportunity for Conservative members who support our organisations to ask their questions of the women competing to be our next Prime Minister. Attendance will require registration and full information about the event and how to register will be available on our website as soon as we have it.

Returning to Andrea Leadsom’s response it is good to see unequivocal commitments on broadband provision, rural funding and agricultural support. Although this is not specified her answer also seems to leave scope for changes to the framework to address the specific needs of the UK countryside within that level of agricultural support. It is also good to see clear commitments on protection of the environment and of people carrying out their business in the countryside. However, in relation to the vital issue of her support for an amendment to legislation currently in parliament which would allow individual police officers the power to remove face coverings, she is trapped. As a Minister she is obliged to support Government policy which is, inexplicably, opposed, whereas her answer reveals a real sympathy with the problem.

Something to clear up at the hustings I think. Mrs Leadsom also confirms that she has “no plans” to change legislation on wildlife management, the quarry list or firearms law, although she does not deal directly with how restrictions that might be introduced in the current review of the Firearms Directive would be handled in the period before the UK leaves the EU. On the totemic issue of the Hunting Act I am pleased to report that Mrs Leadsom supports hunting and is committed to the current Conservative manifesto commitment to get rid of the Hunting Act.

The contest to be the next Prime Minister will run through the summer and we understand that the Conservative Party will be running hustings events across the country. We will keep you updated throughout the process.

Tim Bonner
Chief Executive
Follow on Twitter @CA_TimB

About Countryside Alliance:

The Countryside Alliance is known for its work on wildlife and management, but its agenda is far broader than that incorporating food & farming, local businesses and services and the injustices of poor mobile phone signal and broadband in the countryside. We are anything but a single issue organisation and represent the interests of country people from all backgrounds and geographical locations. With around 100,000 members the Countryside Alliance promotes and protects rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground. Our vision is a future for the countryside which both preserves its traditional values and promotes a thriving rural community and economy; a countryside sustainably managed and sustainably enjoyed; a countryside where rural communities have equal access to the facilities and services enjoyed in urban communities; a countryside where people can pursue their businesses, activities and lives in a society that appreciates and understands their way of life.

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