05/07/2016 10:48 BST | Updated 06/07/2017 06:12 BST

Why I'm Backing Stephen Crabb to Be the Next Prime Minister

To deliver what the British people have asked in the EU referendum, we need a new Prime Minister.

I have been elected as MP for Norwich North alongside David Cameron, as fellow modern Conservatives, and have served him in the government. I pay tribute to the contribution he has made to our country and our city. Nationally he has led us through a remarkable economic recovery, whilst locally he has shown his support for the Norwich for Jobs project, apprenticeships for young people at the new Aviation Academy, and investment to improve transport infrastructure around our city.

Stephen Crabb, running the largest government department with years of Cabinet experience, is the best person to be our next Prime Minister.

He has the skills, experience, ability and vision needed to bring the country back together again after the EU referendum result, which revealed deep divisions throughout Britain. Only Stephen can reach far out from Westminster, listen to people properly, and respond.

Only Stephen really has the background and fresh attitude to be able to bring people together from west Wales to Scotland to Northern Ireland and England, young and old, "Remain" and "Leave," struggling or better off.

A Welsh rugby player, brought up by a single mum in a council house, he is the true Heineken candidate in this contest: he can reach parts of our country that others simply can't. A safe pair of hands is not enough.

Stephen has set out his views and hopes for Britain in a range of newspapers and media.

Read in The Sun why he thinks he has something to contribute to our great country: Stephen Crabb: Most MPs get their political education at university - I got mine on a building site. He talks about the fact that 'too many politicians these days seem to go straight from Oxford to Westminster without setting foot in the real world', and that he thinks politics 'should be about working together to make a difference to working people's lives.'

In The Times, he makes clear that he will implement the wishes of the British people following the EU referendum result. In the Telegraph, Stephen has set out his pitch and has others showing why they back him, such as MPs who supported Brexit. The sooner we can come back together after the referendum, the better we can do for Britain. And The Spectator has praise for Stephen's talent and his teamwork with Sajid Javid.

Why have I backed Stephen from the start?

As a constituency MP I know his values work in practice because, just as we should all do in our constituencies, he cares most deeply of all about breaking down barriers to opportunity. I know I can put into practice in Norwich his national leadership in Cabinet in improving life chances.

As a proud and modern Conservative, I know he is the candidate that embodies why ours is the party of opportunity. Starting, like me, from a state school in a neglected part of the country, he shows how it's not about where you've come from, it's where you're going that counts.

As a campaigner for young people in politics, I see in Stephen, the youngest candidate, the ability to heal the referendum's generational division. He gets that 'young people will be looking for a new prime minister who understands their concerns and their sense of economic uncertainty.'

As a personal friend, I know Stephen's got what it takes. He's capable, smart and trustworthy with common sense and great humour. He can engage people in politics again - which is urgently needed now considering that another divide in the referendum campaign was between politicians and people.

As a colleague, I also know that sometimes MPs will differ on how they approach votes in Parliament. Stephen is a committed Christian; I'm an atheist. We voted different ways on equal marriage in 2013, each for robust reasons. But when I hear slurs on a good man, I won't let them pass. Stephen warmly supports the law as it now stands on equal marriage and does not believe, as some have outright lied about him, that homosexuality is a sickness. The Stephen I have respected for years is liberal and kind and can be a proud representative of tolerant, modern Britain.

Conservative MPs know we have a huge responsibility to pick the next Prime Minister. We will do our part in the coming weeks, and then two candidates will be voted on by party members up and down the land. By early September the new Prime Minister will be leading Britain in one of the most challenging times our country has ever seen.

I believe Stephen Crabb should be that Prime Minister and I'm proud to back him.

Chloe Smith is the Conservative MP for Norwich North

This blog first appeared on Chloe's personal site, and can be read here