At a packed afternoon event in central London, Ruth Davidson MSP introduced Sajid Javid at the launch of his campaign to become leader of the Conservative & Unionist Party.
My name is Ruth Davidson. I’m a member of the Scottish Parliament, I'm the leader of the Scottish Conservatives and I'm a new mum that needs a pretty big reason right now to jump on a flight and spend extra hours away from my boy.
I wouldn’t do it for just anyone; but I’m here because I believe that Sajid Javid would make the best leader of our party, the best Prime Minister of our country and is the best placed man to take our nation forward.
Now I’m pretty lucky because I haven’t spent the last few months at the coal face in the Commons, living and breathing every Brexit amendment or indicative vote.
But I can tell you what it looks like from the outside. And it ain’t pretty.
And beyond parliament, we’re at a very pivotal moment for our country.
And it's a country divided.
And to break the impasse, and to heal those divides, to unify the country, and to change the way we look at ourselves and our future, we need a leader that is not afraid to be different.
And leadership is about many things:
It’s about vision, determination, and guts. It’s about judgement, communication and moral courage.
It's about setting a course and bringing the nation with you.
Fundamentally, it’s about character.
And Saj has it in spades.
Now, this is not a phrase that I've not used very often -
– but he’s the man for me!
Saj’s background, his ability, his experience and his policies can - and I believe will - bring our country together again around an optimistic vision for our future.
And it’s an optimism that is so often lacking.
But when it comes to Saj, how can you not be excited? From a packed Bristol bedroom to Home Secretary, and a leading candidate to be Prime Minister.
His is a story of Britain at its best, and I believe that he’s the best choice for Britain, too.
And you underestimate this man at your peril.
I was first pitched against him in a selection meeting in Bromsgrove nearly 10 years ago and he beat me and he beat all the other candidates hollow. And he deserved to.
And I have a competitive streak a mile wide and by rights I should have hated him for it. But I didn’t.
Because since then I’ve found myself continually impressed by his application, his energy, his brains, and his sheer bloody hard work…
And the qualities that he’s shown in every job that he’s done in politics. Across five government departments.
He has always pushed boundaries, always refused to accept limitations. Buzzing with ideas and enthusiasm and marked out by that restless energy that you get from an outsider.
But none of these qualities matter if people have stopped listening to what our party has to say.
We have to speak the language of modern Britain.
And, If we want people’s votes, we have to show that we share their values. Their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. They have to be able to look at the leader of our country and see something of themselves.
And as a party, we are struggling to speak to great swathes of the population – younger voters, ethnic minorities, urban professionals. The very parts of the country that are growing the fastest. The very people that are turned off by the same old Tories.
If the Conservatives are going to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street – and keep the Union together – we must build an electoral coalition.
We must reconnect with those people who have stopped listening to us, and we have got to reach a new audience too.
We need someone who speaks to their concerns, not because he’s read a brief or gone on a visit, but because he’s lived them.
Someone who is able to tell a story of our country – all of our country.
Someone who understands shared identities, who is able to bring the Home nations together. And give everyone, from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland greater reason to feel pride in our shared endeavour and our historic Union.
A Union that is, every day, under threat.
From populist leaders already in power, and those competing for it.
From those who seek to sow division and reap the rewards, putting political differences ahead of our shared values for their own ends.
I’ve seen the consequences of that short-term thinking in Scotland, where nationalism replaces patriotism. It’s ugly. It’s divisive. And it’s dangerous.
I love the United Kingdom. And I believe that we all have a shared ownership of it.
But it is not fixed in time. And the case must be made and remade for every age.
And I believe that Saj is the man to make it.
Our party is the Conservative and Unionist Party.
It is the party of opportunity. Of education. Of aspiration.
Of giving people a leg up and ensuring that they can have a fair go.
It is time to show that face to the British people.
And, as a party, we’ve always been well served by a Prime Minister who was raised above the shop….
Ladies and Gentleman, Sajid Javid.