THE race for leadership of the Conservative Party is now well under way, although it does not formally begin until Theresa May resigns as leader on Friday.

I am acutely conscious of the fact that, although we are technically electing the party’s leader, both Conservative MPs and party members have a weightier responsibility as we are also effectively deciding who will be the next Prime Minister.

As I set out on these pages last week, I have thrown my support behind the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

As a close friend for 23 years, I know from direct personal experience that he has what it takes to provide the leadership that our country needs at this challenging moment in our history.

Despite growing up in a household without wealth or elite social connections, Sajid enjoyed a stellar career in business before proving to be an impressive colleague in Parliament and government minister in a number of Whitehall departments.

The Home Secretary understands that Brexit must be delivered. The electorate voted to leave the European Union and the entire political class on all sides agreed that the result would be implemented.

Sajid also understands that no deal is preferable to no Brexit. Facing the reality of a new Prime Minister in Downing Street determined to renegotiate the Northern Ireland backstop, it is perfectly possible that EU leaders will return to the negotiating table – despite their current insistence that they will not. Mixed messages are coming from our EU neighbours as they realise UK leaving without a deal has negative consequences for their economies.

Closer to home, on Friday, I am delighted to have been invited to Winterslow Primary School to help the pupils with their topic work on government and democracy.

I am also meeting another delegation of constituents to talk about climate change – the third in as many months. Organised lobbying continues apace – and I know that many Salisbury people are heading to London for another event later this month.

I will continue to do my best to make myself available as much as possible to assure people that the government recognises the threat of climate change and is committed to taking the necessary ongoing action.

However, there is no one-stop solution. Personal behaviour plays its part and international diplomacy is vital – something that, as I write, is firmly on the agenda.