Priorities for the new Government

Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his election as Leader of the Conservative Party, and commiserations to Jeremy Hunt who I was proud to support.  I hope that the whole Conservative Party will unite behind our new Prime Minister.

Clearly delivering Brexit will be a key priority.  I hope that we will be able to leave the EU with a deal, which is what I have consistently voted for.

However, the new Government will also have a number of domestic policy priorities which I think will be popular locally.

These include boosting funding for schools, something which I and my fellow West Sussex MPs have long been pressing for, tackling crime with a big increase in police numbers, and ensuring that full-fibre broadband reaches every household.

On Saturday a policy project which I co-chair, GovernUp, set out the ten key priorities for Whitehall reform which we believe the new Prime Minister should undertake.

These are not about Brexit or other particular policies, but how any modern government needs to equip itself to deliver successfully when it faces so many new pressures.

These include technological change, rising public demand for services and a challenging global economic outlook.

Our proposals include creating a powerful new Department of the Prime Minister, monitoring public spending more effectively by reforming or breaking up the Treasury, reforming the civil service to bring in more outside talent, and giving ministers more expert and business advice.

Some of our ideas are quite simple but would make a significant difference to the effectiveness of government, such as adopting a practice employed by Tony Blair and in Australia and Canada, where the Prime Minister writes a public letter to each Cabinet Minister to set out what is expected of them.

Other suggestions are more controversial, for instance that Ministers should receive training.  Currently they receive no formal training, peer-to-peer support, mentoring or appraisal.

Many assume positions of immense responsibility with little or no experience outside politics or of running large organisations.  Ministers and their advisers should have access to mentors, senior leadership training and the support of external experts.

Some say that shaking up Whitehall is a second order issue, coming after policy priorities such as Brexit.  In fact, the system of government itself must be effective if it is to deliver on big promises.  That is why reform should be a priority.