Writing exclusively for the Countryside Alliance's magazine, My Countryside, Rishi Sunak outlines his vision for rural Britain.
I am proud to represent the beautiful rural constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire. The village of Kirby Sigston, where I live, is on the edge of the North York Moors National Park with the Yorkshire Dales at the other end of my constituency.
It’s a beautiful part of the country and I love returning here after a busy week in Westminster. But the Dales and Moors are not just the stuff of paintings and postcards, they are living and working landscapes – home to families and businesses.
Since first being elected in 2015 I have worked hard to represent rural communities in my constituency and campaign on the issues that matter to local people – including faster broadband, safer roads, and better healthcare.
And I’m not afraid of publicly standing up for my constituents either. I’ll continue to protect our countryside from those who don’t understand the rural way of life. In short my mission has always been to do things “for” rural communities, not “to” them.
I know the cost of living is the number one priority for people at the moment. As Chancellor, I announced £37 billion to help families with their bills – including cutting fuel duty. I also took the decision to allow farmers to continue using red diesel as part of our reforms to rebated fuels.
Farming is part of the DNA of my constituency - from the Upper Dales to Great Ayton, from sheep to dairy to arable, through Auction Marts at Hawes, Leyburn and Northallerton. Food production and food security have never been so important and I will always back our farmers, to whom we owe so much. They - and our wider rural communities - are part of the solution to the environmental challenges we face, not the problem.
I know the importance of a thriving rural economy. Butchers, farm shops, pubs, hotels, and post offices are the lifeblood of North Yorkshire’s economy – as they are for rural communities across the country. I am a supporter of the Countryside Alliance Awards and was incredibly proud last year when my local, the Exelby Green Dragon Community pub, won the ‘highly commended pub’ title.
I was the first person to buy a share in the pub when it was set up as a not-for-profit company in 2018 and was delighted to see it recognised for its achievements. As Chancellor, I made sure our pubs were protected during the pandemic and helped get them back on their feet with a cut to beer duty and a reduction in VAT and business rates.
People in Yorkshire don’t hold back from telling you what they think. It’s clear from talking to people in our rural towns and villages that we need to restore trust in our politics and get on with tackling the issues that matter to them - be it the cost of living, support for businesses or access to healthcare. .
That’s why I’m standing to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and your Prime Minister. Our country faces huge challenges, the most serious for a generation. Someone has to grip this moment and make the right decisions. I will restore trust, rebuild the economy, reunite the country and win the next election - so that I can get on and deliver what really matters to you. The choices we make today will decide the future of our country for the next generation.”
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