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This has been a great week for an outstanding conservative politician who believes passionately in Brexit, free enterprise and low taxes.

He’s also committed to strong borders, tackling illegal immigration and facing down the woke culture warriors. Unfortunately, at least for us here in Britain, he’s American.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis this week stepped up his expected bid to become the next President of the United States.

Though he has yet to make a formal announcement, he is following the well-trodden path of publishing a book detailing his history, achievements and political philosophy — traditionally a prelude to launching a full-scale run for the White House.

The Courage To Be Free came out on Tuesday and immediately shot to the top of Amazon’s best-sellers list.

Florida governor Ron DeSantis this week stepped up his expected bid to become the next President of the United States

Florida governor Ron DeSantis this week stepped up his expected bid to become the next President of the United States

Certainly, I can¿t imagine DeSantis approving of Rishi Sunak¿s over-hyped ¿Windsor Framework¿, which still leaves Northern Ireland subject to some EU laws and the European Court as final arbiter

Certainly, I can’t imagine DeSantis approving of Rishi Sunak’s over-hyped ‘Windsor Framework’, which still leaves Northern Ireland subject to some EU laws and the European Court as final arbiter

In his home state, an official book-signing session was sold out weeks in advance.

DeSantis even took time out to share his views on Brexit. He was a ‘big supporter’ of the vote to leave the EU, but believes the aftermath has been mishandled, to put it mildly.

In an interview with The Times, he criticised the way in which the Government has failed to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by regaining Britain’s independence.

‘My impression, based on what we get here, is that the Conservative Party hasn’t been as aggressive at fulfilling that vision as they should have been and that maybe they get punished in the next election as a result of that.

‘I do think that, you know, there’s been some disappointment from what I can tell that it wasn’t done more aggressively.’

You and me both, guv. Along with millions of disillusioned voters who backed Leave.

Our political class has made a dog’s breakfast of Brexit so far, and not just the fanatical Remainers who moved heaven and earth to overturn the referendum result.

Even those nominally in favour of quitting the EU and ‘taking back control’ have done little to capitalise on our new freedoms.

Certainly, I can’t imagine DeSantis approving of Rishi Sunak’s over-hyped ‘Windsor Framework’, which still leaves Northern Ireland subject to some EU laws and the European Court as final arbiter.

They should have called it the ‘Barbara Windsor Framework’ — all front and no knickers.

DeSantis would never agree to foreign judges having jurisdiction over, say, the Florida Keys, or different laws being applied in Key West from those in Miami.

When a ‘liberal’ prosecutor in Tampa decided unilaterally he wouldn’t bring charges against people accused of a raft of crimes, DeSantis fired him on the spot.

He wasn’t going to allow Florida to go down the same drain as Left-wing states such as California and Illinois, where everything from shoplifting to drug-taking and vagrancy have effectively been decriminalised and crime and public disorder are through the roof.

One wonders what he’d make of the British police abandoning the streets and refusing to investigate thefts and burglaries, while concentrating on trendy ‘hate crimes’.

My guess is he’d be horrified at the scale of London’s stabbing epidemic, which the Met appear incapable of stemming.

In Florida, law enforcement is a big deal, with a highly visible public profile and routine patrols by a number of agencies from the local sheriff’s department to the state troopers.

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Years ago, I got talking to a deputy in a Florida bar, who told me: ‘There’s only two kinds of people on the streets of this town at midnight — us and folks who shouldn’t be there.’

Contrary to the lies on social media, regurgitated regularly by the likes of Left-wing public school poseur James O’Brien on LBC Radio, in a pathetic attempt to discredit me, I don’t ‘live’ in Florida. I live in North London.

But our family has had property there since the mid-1970s, when my father was transferred to the U.S. by his company.

Mum, Dad and my sister moved to the States permanently. I didn’t go with them, but I’ve been a frequent visitor for 50-odd years. So I’ve spent enough time in Florida to know what works and what doesn’t and contrast the way it’s run with how we do things in Britain.

And in recent years, the transformation and progress in the Sunshine State has been remarkable. Under DeSantis, who was first elected in 2018, Florida is now the fastest growing state in the Union, where most things seem to work pretty smoothly.

Contrary to the lies on social media, regurgitated regularly by the likes of Left-wing public school poseur James O¿Brien on LBC Radio, in a pathetic attempt to discredit me, I don¿t ¿live¿ in Florida. I live in North London

Contrary to the lies on social media, regurgitated regularly by the likes of Left-wing public school poseur James O’Brien on LBC Radio, in a pathetic attempt to discredit me, I don’t ‘live’ in Florida. I live in North London

You even get your dustbins emptied twice a week.

Last year alone, 400,000 people moved there. Once the incomers were predominantly retirees and ‘snowbirds’ seeking refuge from the frozen winters in the North. Today, they are fleeing crippling taxes and soaring crime in so-called ‘liberal’ states.

Young families are flocking to Florida in search of a better future. Americans are voting with their feet.

Under DeSantis, too, Florida is now rated as the most business-friendly state in America. A region which once largely relied on citrus farming and tourism is home to hi-tech start-ups, bio-engineering, aerospace, crypto-currency companies and financial conglomerates. In recent years, it has attracted more than $100 billion in inward investment. California’s loss is Florida’s gain.

There’s a reason for all this. Unlike the Democrat-dominated North-Eastern states and California, Florida has no state income tax. Corporate taxes are just 5.5 per cent. If you’re looking for an attractive place to relocate your company or your family, what’s not to like?

But it’s not just the booming economy. Many want to escape the culture wars, which are even more vicious in America than they are in Britain. DeSantis staked out his ground after winning a second term with a record Republican majority last November.

‘Florida is where woke goes to die,’ he declared to resounding cheers not just in his own state but across Middle America.

And he’s proven as good as his word, banning schools from teaching critical race theory and ‘gender identity’ and inviting drag queens to talk to children in kindergartens.

He’s prevented ‘trans women’ from competing in female sports in schools and colleges.

DeSantis came down hard on attempts to start Black Lives Matter protests in Florida, flooding the streets with riot cops at the first hint of trouble.

He passed an emergency bill protecting historical monuments from politically motivated vandals. If the mindless hooligans who pulled down Edward Colston’s memorial in Bristol, or attacked Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square, had tried it on in Florida, they’d have found themselves digging ditches on a chain gang in the Everglades.

DeSantis has also demonstrated that he’s unafraid to confront cynical woke corporations, who increasingly try to interfere in politics — just as they do in the UK — by pushing unpopular minority gesture-policies down their customers’ throats.

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When Disney attacked his stance on trans athletes and woke propaganda being taught in schools, he threatened to strip the management of its theme parks of all special tax and planning privileges granted when they broke ground at the Magic Kingdom in 1967. When Disney refused to back down, he did just that. The act removing Disney’s self-governing status was signed into law this week.

Despite Disney being a major employer and money-spinning tourist attraction, the move has been wildly popular.

It also demonstrates that DeSantis, who grew up in what we would call a respectable lower middle-class suburb, is not in hock to vested interests like so many other venal politicians.

Perhaps his most impressive achievement was in holding out against lockdown, and keeping schools and businesses open during the pandemic and resisting mask mandates. When I made it out to Florida in 2021, walking out of Miami international airport was like walking out of prison.

DeSantis came down hard on attempts to start Black Lives Matter protests in Florida, flooding the streets with riot cops at the first hint of trouble

DeSantis came down hard on attempts to start Black Lives Matter protests in Florida, flooding the streets with riot cops at the first hint of trouble

Had DeSantis been our Prime Minister, he’d have sacked the Two Ronnies of Doom on Day One, just as he says he would have fired America’s chief medical adviser and fanatical mask fetishist Dr Anthony Fauci ‘six ways from Sunday’.

Yet despite being attacked by the Left and the mainstream media, Florida’s Covid-19 mortality rate was just 13th out of the 50 U.S. states and it had the joint fifth highest growth in GDP.

Nor does DeSantis buy into the Greta Thunberg hysteria. Even though he is a committed environmentalist, and has passed strict laws to protect Florida’s landscape and wildlife, he thinks the war on fossil fuels is madness and rightly maintains technology is already hugely reducing air pollution. So no ULEZ in Orlando any time soon.

He’s done all this while building a mighty coalition encompassing Latinos, suburban soccer moms, cops, firefighters, retirees, business owners. Last November, he won 62 out of Florida’s 67 counties, including a spectacular victory in Miami-Dade, a traditional Democrat stronghold which Hillary Clinton won by 30 points in the 2016 Presidential contest. That’s an achievement to match and even surpass Boris winning over Labour’s Red Wall.

Back in November I wrote here that DeSantis is the kind of proper Conservative we are so sadly lacking in Britain right now. Just imagine if the Tories had found the similar courage to embrace the opportunities opened up by Brexit, instead of descending into a self-obsessed, self-destructive orgy of infighting.

We’d have been out of the EU within two years, with Northern Ireland still a fully integral part of the United Kingdom.

DeSantis would have gone hard-line ‘No Deal’ in the face of Brussels obstructionism.

OK, so on the economic front Covid changed everything. But if our Government had followed Florida’s example, the impact would have been kept to a minimum. As we are now discovering thanks to the Matt Hancock WhatsApp dump, many if not most of the restrictions imposed were either unnecessary or of dubious value at best. Yet our politicians crashed the economy out of fear.

Now Chancellor Jeremy Hunt looks like compounding that foolishness by raising, not cutting, taxes. Compare and contrast his plans to raise corporation tax to 25 per cent with the 5.5 per cent in Florida, where business is booming. If Hunt cut it even to 15 per cent — as he promised during his abortive leadership bid — overseas companies would beat a path to our door and domestic investment would sky-rocket.

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If he cut income tax, genuine economic migrants would be heading to Britain in droves, the brightest and best from all over the world — not just the chancers crossing the Channel in pursuit of a guaranteed free lunch for life.

When a bunch of illegal immigrants turned up in Florida, DeSantis put them on the first plane out to liberal Martha’s Vineyard. Job done.

Now Chancellor Jeremy Hunt looks like compounding that foolishness by raising, not cutting, taxes. Compare and contrast his plans to raise corporation tax to 25 per cent with the 5.5 per cent in Florida, where business is booming

Now Chancellor Jeremy Hunt looks like compounding that foolishness by raising, not cutting, taxes. Compare and contrast his plans to raise corporation tax to 25 per cent with the 5.5 per cent in Florida, where business is booming

And just imagine how popular it would be if the Tories summoned up the backbone to take wokery by the throat and choke it to death. If DeSantis was in Downing Street, we’d have none of this insane pursuit of Net Zero, either. Sadly, we seem to have no one of his calibre in British politics these days.

Will he run for the White House? He’s certainly laid the groundwork and is in no hurry to declare his hand. Trump is ahead in the polls, but he’s a busted flush, a grotesque Norma Desmond figure, who nevertheless still commands support among his devotees.

Even die-hard Republican friends of mine, who voted for Trump last time, are desperately hoping he’ll go quietly and give DeSantis a free run.

But don’t expect The Donald to back down graciously. And there’s always the danger that even if DeSantis wins the Republican nomination, Trump’s monstrous ego persuades him to run as a third-party candidate, splitting the conservative vote and letting in another Democrat — who could yet be Creepy Joe Biden crawling from his crypt again.

Trump’s running scared and is already hurling a string of pathetic insults at DeSantis.

So is the Leftist mainstream media, who can spot a Right-wing winner when they see one and are slandering him as more extreme than Trump.

They needn’t bother. It’ll be water off a duck’s back to DeSantis, who doesn’t spend every day living in mortal terror of the next confected Twitter storm or caustic editorial, like so many of our own cowardly political class. He’s made of the Right Stuff.

After graduating from Yale and Harvard, he joined the Navy, worked as a lawyer at Guantanamo Bay and served as legal adviser to an elite SEAL team which took out Osama bin Laden.

In many ways, he’s the obvious candidate. No whiff of scandal, a distinguished record of military service, a picture postcard All-American family which could have come from a 21st century Rockwell painting, were there such a thing. And, more importantly, an impeccable record of governance in Florida.

Trump ran on the slogan Make America Great Again. Intriguingly, the last chapter of DeSantis’s book is called Make America Florida. The Tories would do well to read it.

DeSantis is living proof that when conservatives govern as conviction conservatives, committed to freedom, light regulation, low taxes, strong borders and proper policing, and don’t crumble in the face of militant wokery and mad environmentalism being imposed by a noisy minority of headbangers, voters lap it up.

If our Conservative Party tried playing a few tunes from the DeSantis songbook, they might just find themselves back in the game. You never know, we might even Get Brexit Done properly. 

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