Eastleigh’s MP Mims Davies insists outsider Sajid Javid can still win the Conservative leadership race – despite finishing fifth in the first ballot of members.
Sports Minister Davies’ current portfolio of ministerial responsibilities includes gambling and horse racing but this hasn’t stopped her from backing Javid – currently rated as a 33/1 long shot after polling just 23 first round votes.
Despite the current lack of form and support from punters, a new survey carried out by YouGov shows many Conservative party members not only regard the Home Secretary as the best choice to challenge the bookies hot favourite Boris Johnson but also as the candidate most likely to appeal to BAME and younger voters in a General Election.
Mims Davies who is one of 19 Conservative MPs publicly backing Javid agrees:
Speaking to Eastleigh News during a visit to Eastleigh’s new football hub on Stoneham Lane, Davies said:
“Sajid does have the ability to connect with what people care about. My direct experience of working with him, particularly as Communities Secretary, is that he has a reach, a recognisable reach across different communities and backgrounds. People wanted to talk to him and engage with him.”
Davies sees Johnson as the candidate to beat, but said that at least with Javid, #TeamSaj wouldn’t have to spend time “explaining gaffes or struggles or problems.”
Eastleigh News suggested that critics have portrayed Javid as someone who flapped in a crisis and is consequently prone to ‘knee-jerk’ reactions, as for example in the Shamina Begum case, when as Home Secretary, Javid moved quickly to strip the ISIS bride of her British Nationality only to find himself accused of acting illegally, but Davies insisted that he was putting the nation’s security foremost.
“When tough decisions come and serious issues need to be addressed, [Javid] is prepared to take what looks like an unpopular or inappropriate decision to put the country and our safety first.”
In another pointed reference to Boris Johnson – who has been accused of running shy of televised debates – Davies said she thought “we should be able to test everyone on the policies and the issues” but she also acknowledged that Johnson could well emerge as the winner – he which case she would be prepared to work with him for the sake of unity and to deliver Brexit.
“Ultimately if Boris is in Number 10 then we as Conservatives will all get behind the Leader – and it’s about time we did so – to deliver on that vote taken three years ago.
“I’ve told Boris and all the leadership candidates that I’ll be there to work with them, front or back-bench, whatever happens.”
The MP said that with Boris Johnson in the final two, Sajid Javid would be the best candidate to offer the party membership “a real choice”:
“I would like us to take the opportunity as a party to look to somebody progressive who is interested in councils and public services and law and order; but also someone who has come from a very humble background has made his way in the world and wants to give back to his community and this country – and I think there is something admirable in that.
“We are looking for true inspirational leadership and for me this Sajid Javid.”
Another local Conservative government minister – the MP for Romsey Caroline Nokes – is also publicly supporting Sajid Javid while Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine has come out in favour of Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The next round of voting in the leadership contest takes place on June 18.