Transport secretary Grant Shapps has launched a Conservative Party leadership bid saying he will end “tactical government by an often distracted centre”.
Mr Shapps, who has a wealth of frontbench experience, said his main aim was to rebuild the economy and tackle the country’s cost of living crisis.
He ruled out a general election and said he would produce an emergency budget, instructing his chancellor to cut personal tax for the most vulnerable and giving state support to firms with high levels of energy consumption, as reported by The Sunday Times.
The 53-year-old, who is the MP for Welwyn Hatfield, also fired a broadside at his political rivals, and suggested he has always been loyal to Boris Johnson.
He said: “I have not spent the last few turbulent years plotting or briefing against the prime minister. I have not been mobilising a leadership campaign behind his back. I tell you this: for all his flaws – and who is not flawed? – I like Boris Johnson. I have never, for a moment, doubted his love of this country.”
Mr Shapps has been a keen supporter of the prime minister and even helped him win the leadership contest in 2019.
He added: “It is easy to criticise Boris after keeping one’s head down for years while being happy to benefit from his patronage. I am glad that I did not do that.
“Even as the skies darkened over his premiership, often because of errors committed by him, I hoped he could pull it back. Because in losing him, we would lose a man who makes a unique connection with people.”
Despite his support for Mr Johnson, the transport secretary signalled that if he won the leadership contest it would be a return to more traditional Tory values around lower taxation and smaller state.
He said: “I do think we have lost sight of what we should be about as a Conservative government. We should trust people and allow them to spend their money as they wish.
“We must map a clear path to lower taxes, not just expressing good intentions. Covid witnessed a necessary and extraordinary expansion of state spending and a quite unprecedented level of state interference in people’s private lives. As Conservatives, we should tolerate the unnecessary continuation of neither.”