With Parliament and schools both back in action this week, we’re all trying hard to maintain enthusiasm to stick to our plans – to start that new fitness regime, cut out the booze or finally pay off the credit card. But as 2017 begins, let’s not dwell too much on the sins of the past and instead make our New Year’s Resolutions ones focused on the future and how we can make a positive difference in the years ahead.
In politics, for those of us – like the TRG – who will be happy to put the big political arguments of 2016 behind us, that means picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and renewing our goals.
2017 has big tests ahead for our neighbours across Europe. The rising tide of populism needs robust and assertive challenge. Those of us who believe in free markets, internationalism and liberalism need to be much more powerful in not only defending our values but proactively speaking up and making our case on why globalisation and multiculturalism, far from undermining Western values and societies, positively enhances them. For the TRG, that means leading the charge to ensure the Conservative Party and our Government sustains the core values that kept us going year after year for over four decades.
In doing so, I want to answer directly those TRG members who have called for us to be the voice of protest-Remain within the Conservative family, promoting UK membership of the EU and holding the government to semi-Brexit, or even better no Brexit.
Of course, there is no escaping that the prism though which every political act is now viewed is inevitably Brexit. Understandably, many who fought passionately for us to remain members of the EU have struggled with the result of that referendum. But the result stands, and our Prime Minister and Government is committed to negotiating the best deal for Britain.
So the real choice we therefore now have is to choose how to make the most of this opportunity and to embrace change.
Over the last four decades the TRG has argued for an open, internationalist, free market economy rooted in compassionate social policy. For the next four decades we will continue to do so, ensuring post-Brexit Britain is a modern, compassionate, internationally engaged nation we can be proud of.
As we look ahead to 2017, the TRG will continue to be an independent influencer, promoting One Nation Conservative policies that deliver a modern, open, free market economy that works for everyone. We will continue to be a critical friend of the Conservative Government, offering support where it is warranted and counsel where it is not.
More specifically, we will consider how we can best deliver more affordable homes to rent and buy, so that everyone has a decent home to live in; we will examine the future of work and the challenges and opportunities of technology in the workplace; we will challenge how best we can deliver an education system that ensure everyone can achieve their potential in life; and when it comes to Europe, we will continue to be the voice speaking up for liberal internationalism within the party. We will speak up for close cooperation with the EU and our closest allies across Europe – recognising trade, and engagement on security and human rights are vital for this country’s future prosperity and well-being; but also for close cooperation with the USA, China, the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. We believe Britain is strongest when leading on the world stage, and in 2017 we must work with the world in which we live to achieve that.
So as the new year begins, the TRG will continue put our values into action to deliver a strong One Nation voice within the Conservative Party, as we have done every year since 1975.
We look forward to the year ahead and working with you to achieve those goals.