"Tomorrow's Leader, Today" - Sajid Javid launches bid to become Prime Minister for Brexit & Beyond
At a packed afternoon event in central London, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, Home Secretary and contender to be the next Prime Minister, delivered the below remarks.
The first time I felt like an outsider was when I was six years old.
My cousin told me that we needed to change our walking route to her school so that we could avoid the ‘bad kids’. The ones who supported the National Front.
That was the first time.
But it wasn’t the last time.
When I was at secondary school, the other kids told me about their summer holidays.
I’d only ever go to Rochdale on holiday. So I pretended to go abroad like them. And they couldn’t tell if I had a tan or not.
When I wanted to do the O levels and A levels that I needed…
… although I had a couple of inspiring teachers…
… I was told that kids like me should know their limits and they should stay in their lane.
When I was told that I could be the first in my family to go to university, and I went, I knew hardly any other students like me that were from state schools.
When I was a new graduate seeking my first job in the City, I met old-school bankers with their old-school ties.
Men who told me that my face didn’t fit…
… and that where I came from was far less important than where I could take them.
And when I wanted to marry the love of my life, who happened to be a white Christian…
… people in my wider family and community told me that I shouldn’t.
That I couldn’t.
That I must stick to my own.
Not to have kids who, in their words, would be called “half-caste”.
And when, after twenty years in business…
Where I was the go-to guy for managing multibillion dollar international deals….
When I wanted to give something back to my country and I looked at the only party I had ever supported…
There were those who told me no. It wasn’t for me. They even suggested that I should join the Labour party - because that’s what immigrants and their children do.
But you know what?
I refused to be labelled, to be put in a box, to be the person people said I should be.
So when I got racially abused by the toughest guy in school, rightly or wrongly, I punched him.
When I was told I couldn’t go to a better school because the council wouldn’t pay for my bus fare, I got on my bike and went anyway.
And when Labour tried to kibosh this launch of my leadership campaign. The leadership campaign they fear the most. They failed, and here we are.
Thank you all for waiting and persevering. I’m very grateful. I hope you’ve been looked after.
After university, I did get married to Laura, and we now have four amazing children – and we have a dog called Bailey, that you might have seen recently on Twitter
My kids aren’t half-caste. They aren’t half anything.
They don’t know the meaning of it.
They’re full British, and they are playing their role in modern Britain.
That’s just one of the many ways Britain has got better and better in my lifetime.
And these are just some of the barriers that I’ve broken through in my life.
So I’m used to people telling me what I can’t do.
I’ve always been more interested in what I can do.
Because I know what I can do.
And I’m optimistic and determined about what we can do, together, as a party…
…to break through the barriers that people say can’t be broken…
…to heal the divisions people say can’t be healed…
…and to make post-Brexit Britain the success that many naysayers say it never will be.
That is why I have put myself forward to be the next leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party – and the next Prime Minister of our country.
That I can stand here today and say those words is testament to the enduring strengths of our party and our country.
And it is thanks to those strengths that I believe I am uniquely qualified to lead our party and our country through the challenges that lie ahead.
I’ve got a credible, honest plan for delivering Brexit so we can leave by the end of October this year.
And I’ve got the background, the ideas, and the positive vision for the future that will help bring this country together - and keep Jeremy Corbyn far away from 10 Downing Street.
Because we have to recognise that making a success of Brexit is only the first step we need to take.
In some ways… you could say it’s the easy bit.
British voters are rightly very demanding of those who govern them.
Just delivering Brexit – doing what we promised that we would do – will not be enough to win a majority at the next election.
It might surprise some people here in Westminster, but most people in this country do not just talk about Brexit– and we need to show them that we get that.
And we have to show them that we understand normal life.
That we are tackling all the issues that matter.
And that the Conservatives have changed, and are changing.
I know we can do this because, in one part of the UK, we are already doing it.
For years we were behind in Scotland - we all heard Labour’s joke about the number of pandas north of the border.
Then the Scottish Conservatives threw out central casting and they elected somebody totally different.
Someone who made people look at our party again.
Ruth Davidson brought that change, and with her she brought huge gains.
Thanks to Ruth and her team we are winning again.
In fact, without them, this would be a contest for the Leader of the Opposition, not Prime Minister.
I’m so proud to have Ruth on Team Saj.
Because the change that she’s brought to Holyrood is the change I will bring to Westminster.
Now we’ve heard the pitch from the rest of the candidates.
I’ve listened to them all.
I respect them all.
I would be happy to work with them all.
And I really want to see Mark Harper referee that fight between a lion and a bear.
But I believe now more than ever that this moment, as we face challenges that are unlike any we have faced before, this calls for a new kind of leadership from a new kind of leader.
A leader who is not just for Christmas, or just for Brexit.
We can’t risk going with someone who feels like the short-term, comfort-zone choice.
We have been in power now for almost a decade.
At some point in the next three years we’re going to have to face our fourth general election and try to win a majority.
And that will be after only winning one general election majority in the last quarter of a century.
And that was only just.
A win that was achieved not by galvanising a narrow base…
… a base that, let’s be honest, is getting narrower all the time…
… but by building broad support right across the country.
We can rebuild that appeal.
We just need to show the public we have changed, and we deserve a second look.
We need tomorrow’s leader, today.
Not the same old insiders with the same old school ties, but a new generation with a new agenda.
And that means understanding that we cannot call ourselves a One Nation party if there are whole swathes of this country that don’t think we share their values and their needs…
…whether that’s millennials, especially young women.
People who care about climate change above all else.
People that feel locked out of the housing market.
People from minority backgrounds.
Or the disaffected working class voters who don’t think anyone really knows how they feel.
A lot of that is about having the right language, the right motivations…
… making people feel included and welcomed, not excluded and ignored.
I know what that feels like.
And from the tragedy of Grenfell, to the crisis of rough sleeping, to the scandal of Windrush…
…my experience in government has humbled me greatly.
I’ve also watched, with real concern, as increasingly profound divisions emerge in our society and our county.
Not just between Remain and Leave, but between regions and communities, rich and poor, rural and urban, young and old, black and white.
The temptation for some – and we’ve seen this around the world - will be to double-down on those divisions.
I reject that path.
We are at a crossroads – and we must stop our country going down the wrong direction.
To do that, we need to understand that we won’t deliver on the referendum result simply by leaving the European Union.
That the vote to leave wasn’t just a critique of the Brussels establishment. It was also a critique of the UK establishment.
Against a system that feels increasingly rigged.
And against a world where people feel our best days are behind us.
And it means understanding what we have done wrong as a party and as a government.
Because we have been too timid too often.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost our competence, and we’ve lost our confidence.
I don’t say this lightly, but as someone who’s anxious for us to do much more.
I passionately want to bring new energy and ambition to our party and our government.
I first took an interest in politics when I realised the power of government and the power it had to give people the opportunities they deserve.
And that will be the acid test for my policy agenda as Prime Minister
Are we going to keep people in their place, telling them what they should do?
Or are we going to be taking on the elites and the cartels –in the public and the private sector – and helping people with what they can do?
Because the problem with much of the Westminster elite, in all parties, is that they have always been the insiders, never had to fight like the rest of us to get their foot in the door.
Life dealt them a good hand, and they’ve played it well – and I can’t blame them for that.
But it wasn’t born to rule, or connections, that got me where I am today – it was hard work, public services, and family.
And it’s those three ideas that lie at the heart of my bold policy agenda.
A manifesto for change that will make our country fairer, stronger, and more united.
That will allow us to face the future with confidence and pride.
I want everyone in this country to know - I want them to feel - that if they have a go…
…they will have every opportunity to succeed.
That means world class public services.
And bringing people together as a stronger and more cohesive society.
Delivering on both of those things requires a strong economy to pay for it.
That means low taxes – backing business and rewarding everyone who works hard.
It means fiscal responsibility – keeping debt falling.
And it means we need to invest in growth.
That is why I have outlined plans for an ambitious new £100 billion National Infrastructure Fund.
Taking advantage of some of the lowest interest rates this country has had for centuries. Investing in projects that will create jobs and ensure the British economy is fit for the future.
This fund would be based outside London, with a core aim of rebalancing our economy.
Investing in all parts of the UK.
Because a more balanced economy is the key to a more prosperous, and united country.
Now I know that talking about growth can feel a bit removed from ordinary life.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s top advisers even wrote a book complaining that people are “obsessed” about talking about growth…
Well I’m not ashamed to say I am obsessive about growth.
Because it gives families the security of a regular income…
And the knowledge that our world-class public services will always be there for them.
For me, public services have never just been names of government departments.
They were my lifelines.
The teachers who made my career possible.
The police officers who kept us safe when the street I grew up on became a centre for drug dealers.
The NHS that cared for my father in his dying days.
These aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet – they are the beating heart of our country and they deserve a Prime Minister who truly believes in them.
The biggest engine of social progress is a strong education system.
Which is why I have laid out a long-term investment plan for education.
Ensuring that every child has the chance to get on in life…
…starting from well-funded colleges and schools…
... continuing with life-long learning.
So that as our economy changes we make sure no one feels left behind.
Of course none of that would mean anything without law and order on our streets, and a health service that is there for you when you need it.
And I’ve been clear we need to significantly increase resourcing for our police, providing enough for an additional 20,000 officers on the streets.
And we will continue to invest in our precious NHS - so that it can continue to deliver world-class care, free at the point of use, now and in the future.
Our public services are the foundations on which our society is built.
But as Conservatives we also recognise the vital role that is played by families and communities.
I was lucky. I am lucky. I have a strong, supportive family around me.
Where we can rely on each other for support, no matter what happens.
So we must ensure that Government is supporting families in everything that it does.
We need to build a stronger national family too – overcoming the sense of haves and have-nots and delivering that more balanced economy, so that no one feels left behind.
And we need to strengthen our family of nations that is our precious Union – something I would never do anything to undermine.
It’s almost two centuries since the idea of One Nation Conservatism was coined by Disraeli.
It’s not a coincidence that it took a bit of an ‘outsider’ to understand our strengths and weaknesses as a country and as a party.
We now have a chance to choose another outsider as Prime Minister.
And we have many opportunities to seize as a country, if we have the confidence to do so.
Our party and our country have a great past, a past of which we can be very proud.
But I am less interested in the history books than in the stories that are yet to be written.
I believe, in my heart, that if we can unite as a party and as a country, our best days do lie ahead.
I speak with feeling about our party because, for me, it was a choice.
And I speak with feeling about this country because, for my family, Britain was a choice.
They came here for freedom, for security, for opportunity and for prosperity.
It is because of these strengths that I have always been an optimist about Britain’s future.
I feel a responsibility as their son, and as a child of this country, to help secure for this generation…
…and for future generations…
all that it is that makes this country a beacon for the world.
Through Brexit, and beyond.