The Case for the Centre Right by David Gauke et al
28 September 2023
In recent years, the once familiar landscape of British politics has fundamentally changed. The Conservative Party in particular has undergone a profound transformation. Centre-right values that steered British politics for decades – internationalism, respect for the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, belief in our institutions – were cast aside in the wake of the Brexit referendum to the detriment of UK prosperity, electoral trust and the long-term fortunes of the Conservative Party.
But this radical rightwards shift can and must be reversed. In this bold intervention, David Gauke and other leading figures on the centre right – including Michael Heseltine, Rory Stewart, Amber Rudd, Gavin Barwell and Daniel Finkelstein - explore how the Conservative Party morphed into a populist movement and why this approach is doomed to fail. Together they make the case for a return to the liberal centre right, arguing with passion and conviction that the values that once defined the best of British conservatism remain essential to both the Party and to the UK’s political future.
About the Author
David Gauke is a former Conservative MP and Cabinet Minister, serving as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Work & Pensions Secretary, and Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor. He lost the Conservative whip for opposing a no deal Brexit and fought the 2019 General Election as an independent. He is now a regular columnist for the New Statesman and ConservativeHome.
Rory Stewart is President of GiveDirectly and the Co-presenter with Alastair Campbell of The Rest Is Politics. He was an MP from 2010-9 serving as a Minister in DEFRA, DfiD, FCO and MoJ and finally as Development Secretary. Before entering politics, he served as a British diplomat, ran a charity in Afghanistan and had a chair at Harvard University. His books include the New York Times bestseller The Places in Between, which records his 21 month walk across Asia.
The book is comprised of ten chapters plus an introduction by the book’s editor, David Gauke. These are: The Realignment of British Politics by Andrew Cooper; Populism’s Price by Rory Stewart; Restoring the Rule of Law by Dominic Grieve; Fixing a Bad Brexit Deal by Gavin Barwell; A Renewed Agenda for Conservative Economics by Tim Pitt; Tackling the Health Crisis by Anne Milton; Winning the Global Race for Science and Technology by Sam Gyimah; The Future of Climate and Energy Policy by Amber Rudd; A pro-European and pro-Devolution Agenda by Michael Heseltine and What Divides the Centre Right from the Centre Left (and what doesn’t) by Daniel Finkelstein.
Michael Heseltine was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. During this time, he held various Cabinet positions including First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister under John Major. He has continued to work and publish on issues of growth, industrial strategy and devolution. A fierce campaigner for Remain, he became President of The European Movement in 2019. He is also founder and Chairman of the Haymarket Group, a privately owned media company.
Dominic Grieve is a barrister and King's Counsel and a visiting Professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. He was MP for Beaconsfield from 1997 to 2019, sitting as a Conservative before becoming an Independent, as a result of having the Whip withdrawn over his opposition to a No Deal Brexit. He was Attorney General for England and Wales from 2010-14, in the government of David Cameron and Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament from 2015-19.
Daniel Finkelstein OBE is a columnist for The Times newspaper, and the author of Everything in Moderation and a forthcoming family memoir Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad. He provided political advice to Prime Ministers John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May, and was director of policy for William Hague during his time as opposition leader. In 2013 he was appointed to the House of Lords.
Gavin Barwell had a long career in Conservative politics, serving as the party's Director of Campaigning, the MP for Croydon Central from 2010 to 2017, a Government minister and Downing Street Chief of Staff for the last two years of Theresa May's premiership. He has written about the latter experience in Chief of Staff: Notes from Downing Street. He is the co-founder of NorthStar, which advises global businesses on geopolitical risk.
Amber Rudd is a former politician who held cabinet roles under David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson. As Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, she led the UK delegation at the Paris Climate agreement in 2015. She left Parliament at the end of 2019 and pursues a career in the energy transition working in the private sector and on policy initiatives to influence government policy.
Andrew Cooper served as Director of Strategy to Prime Minister David Cameron during the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. He is founder of the polling consultancy Populus and advises businesses and campaigns on strategy. He was appointed to the House of Lords in 2014 as Lord Cooper of Windrush. He is a visiting lecturer at the London School of Economics.
Anne Milton is a former nurse who worked in the NHS for 25 years before being elected as a Conservative MP. She was a Minister for Public Health, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships and Government Deputy Chief Whip. She now chairs a Social Value Recruitment Board for PeoplePlus; is an associate for KPMG; Chairs the Purpose Health Coalition and is an advisor to PLMR. She continues to work for a number of organisations on skills and further education.
Sam Gyimah served as a Government Minister with responsibility for Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, and was Parliamentary Private Secretary to David Cameron. Elected to Parliament in 2010, he was the Conservative MP for East Surrey from 2010-19 and, for a brief period at the end of 2019, he was a Liberal Democrat MP. Sam started his career as an Investment Banker and continues to advise a number venture capital and private equity firms with a focus on geopolitics and financing the innovation economy. He is also a non-executive director of Goldman Sachs International.
Tim Pitt served as a special adviser at the Treasury to Chancellors Philip Hammond and Sajid Javid. Since leaving the Treasury in 2019, Tim has been a partner at Flint Global, the business consultancy, and written widely on economic and fiscal policy, including for the Telegraph and the Financial Times. He is also a Policy Fellow at the think tank Onward. Prior to going into politics, Tim was a corporate lawyer at the City firm Slaughter and May.