Stephen Crabb is the first Tory leadership contender to formally declare his candidacy for the job, with a rousing speech about his working class Conservative values this morning. The Work and Pensions Secretary pitched himself as the candidate who not only understands the people who ‘are really struggling, who look at us all in Westminster and […] see nothing to believe’, but who also understands how to hold the Union together – both of which are rather big claims.
He used his now-famous (in Westminster, anyway) backstory as someone born in Scotland and brought up in Wales in a working class household to argue that he was uniquely placed to understand these challenges. He said:
‘So here’s why I am standing: because I look at those maps that flashed up on our screens last Friday morning showing the geographical split in our nation – the blue bits and the yellow bits – and I really worry about the future of our divided United Kingdom. ‘A United Kingdom without Scotland is not the United Kingdom; a Great Britain without Scotland is not Great Britain. And then of course there is the question of Northern Ireland.’
The three questions Crabb will have to answer as he gets his campaign going are as follows:
1. Can someone who campaigned enthusiastically for Remain really win the Tory leadership when the country has just voted for Brexit? The Preseli Pembrokeshire MP is in a far less advantageous position than Theresa May, who spent most of the referendum campaign hiding in a cupboard, and he tried to address that in his speech. He said:
‘If this leadership contest is defined by labels like “Remain” or “Leave” then we risk never getting past this. Every day that goes by when those labels are being used by colleagues to describe each other, the greater the wound in our party.