Kemi Badenoch

Why I should become prime minister

'I'm an engineer, a systems thinker, a problem solver'

This is an edited transcript of Kemi Badenoch’s speech announcing her candidacy for the Conservative party leadership.

It’s time to tell the truth. For too long, politicians have been telling us that we can have it all: have your cake and eat it. And I’m here to tell you that is not true. It never has been. There are always tough choices in life and in politics. No free lunches, no tax cuts without limits on government spending, and a stronger defence without a slimmer state. Governing involves trade-offs, and we need to start being honest about that. 

Unlike others, I’m not going to promise you things without a plan to deliver them. People are sick of that. They’re crying out for honesty. Today, I want to be honest about our economic challenge. The scale of the challenge we face means we can’t run away from the truth. Inflation has made the cost-of-living crisis acute, but the problems go back way further. We’ve had a poor decade for living standards. We have overburdened our economy. There’s too much unproductive public spending, consuming taxpayers’ hard-earned money. And there are too many well-meaning regulations slowing growth and clogging up the arteries of the economy. Too many policies like net-zero targets set up with no thought to the effects on industries in the poorer parts of this country. And the consequence is simply to displace the emissions of other countries. Unilateral economic disarmament. That is why we need change.

I will not enter into a tax-bidding war

And that is why I’m running to be leader. The Prime Minister should tell the truth, because the truth will set us free. The problems run deep. And I’m in no doubts about the scale of the challenge any new prime minister will have to deal with. The underlying economic problems we face have been exacerbated by Covid and by war.

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