Ben Bradley Column: New PM must grasp this opportunity for change and use it wisely

How are you going to do things differently? That is the question that I will be asking the final two candidates in the Conservative leadership contest.

After Kemi Badenoch, my favourite candidate, went out of the race on Tuesday last week, my priorities have not changed.

The new Prime Minster must listen to the demands that are being called for. It’s time to look forward; for something new and different.

That is why I liked Kemi so much. She was a breath of fresh air and brave enough to say that huge changes are needed in the fundamentals of what government is for, and how we run things.

Coun Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council. Picture by Tracey Whitefoot.

She stood for change and strong conservative values.

The issues she’s raised, the ideas and the drive to renew must filter through to the final two candidates’ campaigns this summer.

We need to get the important things right for people, to focus rather than trying to do everything from Whitehall.

Government doesn’t always have the answers, and the sooner we level with people about that and have an honest conversation the better.

'The new Prime Minister must listen to the demands that are being called for. It’s time to look forward; for something new and different.'

When I look to choose between the two candidates that is what I am looking for. Do you get it? Are you brave enough to tackle this challenge?

It will be interesting over the coming weeks to see the plans that both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak put forward. They must steer away from the usual faces we see in cabinet and way that things are done.

I will also be looking for clear commitments to the Levelling-Up Bill and our major Levelling Up funds and commitments, including our deal for new powers and funds for the future.

It is essential to my constituency and other ‘left behind’ communities that a new Prime Minister doesn’t let this agenda, which I’ve fought hard for, fall by the wayside.

This is still my number one priority. In Mansfield we’ve got over £12m in Towns Fund money, a £20m Levelling Up fund bid, and progress on major infrastructure projects like the Maid Marian Line.

We’re also getting right to the point of major decisions about devolving powers and funds down to the East Midlands, which is worth absolutely billions to our region in infrastructure, improved skills and opportunities, and private sector investment in better paid jobs for the area.

Whoever wins needs to grasp this opportunity for change and use it.

They need to keep pushing the productive and positive projects that are happening and use them to move forward to a new phase that looks and feels different in Whitehall.

This could be an exciting chance for the country to continue to develop; to continue the good, to change and move on from the bad.

I’m looking forward to hearing both Rishi and Liz’s pitch this summer.