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We need a fresh start, says West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock as Tory leadership race begins

The race begins today to decide who will be the next Prime Minister - with West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock pledging to offer the 'fresh start' the country needs.

Candidates have until 5pm today to officially enter the contest to become Conservative Party leader and need the support of eight MPs to do so.

Eleven MPs have announced their intention to stand including West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock.

Matt Hancock (12071171)
Matt Hancock (12071171)

He launched his bid for Downing Street this morning and in a campaign video, he said: "For the last few years, we've been distracted and divided.

"We need a fresh start."

At a launch event this morning, he said: "I'm an optimist about the future. I'm excited about what it holds. I believe the world is getting better and I'm an optimist because I believe in people. I love people.

"Every single person has a contribution to make - everyone in society has something to give and it's the role of Government to unlock that potential and allow people to fly as high as their aspirations will allow them.

"If I'm your Prime Minister I will bring every ounce of energy and optimism to improve lives for all.

"My Brexit delivery plan is the only credible plan that can deliver Brexit by October 31 with the support both of the European Union and the House of Commons.

"We know no deal will not get through the House of Commons."

On technological change, he said: "Unless we harness this change for the benefit of people, the scale of it is going to be overwhelming.

"I refuse to be the leader offering simplistic solutions and populist answers to such profound change. Instead I offer an emotionally charged platform to improve lives that is rooted in objective fact.

"My mantra is move fast and make things happen.

"I'm not a very dogmatic person - really my ideology is a belief in people. I would rather bring people together than be divisive."

On the economy, he said: "When we can afford it I will reduce tax on working people so they can keep more pounds in their pockets.

"For the lowest paid, I will raise the national living wage to two thirds of median incomes which means over £10 an hour by the next General Election in 2022."

On why he is best suited for the top job, he said: "Some people say we need a Brexiteer. I think that's getting it completely the wrong way round. We need to deliver Brexit and as a party we need to win back the voters who voted for the Brexit Party because we haven't delivered it yet.

"But if we just become the Brexit Party then we're finished.

"We then need to turn to this gaping centre ground that there is in the heart of British politics.

"We need to win over people who voted Lib Dem, we need to win over people who have flirted with voting Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, people who share our values but don't yet know that the Conservative Party is the home of those values.

"We need to deliver Brexit and then we need to move forward and the best way to do that is with somebody who can turn the page from the bitter battles of the last three years.

"We need a leader not just for the next six weeks or six months but for the next six years and beyond.

"We don't need a Leaver, we don't need a Remainer, we need a leader for the future.

"We need to bring the country together - we need a fresh face."

"I know with every fibre of my being that our beloved country needs a leader not just for now but for the future and I am ready so let's move forward together."

When nominations close, Conservative MPs will vote for their preferred candidate to whittle them down in ballots on June 13, 18, 19 and 20 until two remain.

Candidates have to win the votes of at least 16 other MPs in the first ballot and 32 in the second.

Conservative Party members will choose between the final two from 22 June and the winner will be announced about four weeks later.

The other contenders are Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, Mark Harper, Esther McVey, Rory Stewart, Sam Gyimah and Andrea Leadsom.

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