My Week 14/07/2016

This week I saw a remarkable performance of Richard III at the Almeida Theatre with a stellar cast, including Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes.

While Richard's reputation has been somewhat rehabilitated since his remains were found under a car park in Leicester, Shakespeare’s character is uncompromisingly a bloody villain who meets a bloody end.

As I watched it occurred to me that the last few weeks in politics have resembled a Shakespearean tragedy, at the end of which multiple bodies of the principals litter the stage while one heroic figure remains, foretelling the dawn of a new age.

The Conservative Party has elected a new leader, the country has a new Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition fights on with almost no support from his own Members of Parliament.

David Cameron’s final question time in the House of Commons was a reminder of how he dominated the chamber and deployed humour to such devastating effect.

While his tenure will inevitably be associated with losing the EU referendum, I believe he should also be remembered for his economic and social record.

Inheriting a very difficult situation in 2010, under his leadership the deficit was reduced by two thirds, and 2.5 million jobs were created, yet key public services like schools and the NHS were protected.

I also believe that prioritising aid for some of the poorest countries in the world is a record of which we should be proud.  I was reminded of this on Tuesday when I hosted an event in Parliament for the Global Fund to combat AIDS, malaria and TB which has saved 16 million lives since its launch, in no small part thanks to the UK's support.

I am also proud of the leadership which David Cameron showed when he introduced equal marriage, a reform which has brought great happiness to 30,000 gay couples.

Now Theresa May takes over having been backed by the overwhelming majority of Conservative MPs (including me).  Crucially, her leadership bid was supported by MPs who had been for and against Brexit, a decision of the British people which she has committed to implement.

I hope that, just as Theresa has been able to bring together the Conservative Party, so she will be able to unite the country.

In the words of the victorious Richmond at the end of Richard III: "We will unite the white rose and the red: smile heaven upon this fair conjunction".

Nick Herbert