AS Tatton prepares to head to the polls on December 12, the Guardian has interviewed all candidates in mid Cheshire.

Here, Conservative Party candidate for Tatton and incumbent MP Esther McVey explains why she believes she should be given a second term in office.

You’ve been MP for Tatton since July 2017 – how would you assess that time?

It has been an honour being the MP for Tatton. The first thing I said when I was voted in was that I would ensure we got extra support for school funding, it was the first thing I stood on, and I maintained it right the way through.

I stood as a leadership contender for the party and that was fundamentally because I wanted key things raised – funding for police, funding for education and for the north to be a key focus. Even though I didn’t think I would win, that is what I stood on, and that is how I managed to continue the battle for that extra funding for education – which we have now seen.

I also understood what HS2 would be doing to our surrounding area. I have worked very closely with residents to get them what they wanted – a full review of HS2, what it means to the country and to the area, and whether it is viable and worth it.

I have been pushing those better links for public transport, whether that is Northwich to Manchester or opening up the Beechings, and we have delivered accessibility for all at Handforth train station.

You were appointed Housing Minister earlier this year. Housing has boomed in Cheshire in recent years, but residents are concerned the infrastructure has not matched up to it…

 People understand that demand has outstripped supply for housing for many years – but how do you make sure that it fits into the communities that are already there?

This is a key change that will be coming forward in the legislation – a bigger pot for all infrastructure, with the notion that infrastructure comes first, a £10 billion pot enabling councils to bid for it for local areas. That is key, whether it’s for roads, schools, GPs.

The other key part to this is brownfield first. A million homes can be accommodated on brownfield land.

Some might say it is very expensive to do the remediation on that land, so Government has put in place significant funds to help with that – whether it is a grant or a loan – and that is what we need to enable.

Another thing I have looked at and we are delivering is zero-carbon homes – not only how they are built but on their energy efficiency, how well they are insulated.

The Government has put in support for a corridor – the northern construction corridor – where you will see businesses industrialising house production, right across Cheshire to Yorkshire, to create the homes we need for the future that are environmentally friendly.

They would be built to a very high standard, with 80 per cent fewer defects because they are doing them with computer accuracy in a factory, creating significant jobs because we have got to build 300,000 homes by the mid-2020s.

For me that works in every way – it is environmentally friendly, it is jobs and technology for the future, we are doing it in the north and it would be worth £40 billion as an industry to the economy each year.

The environment is a key concern for everyone, and we have seen with Plastic Free Wilmslow and Pickmere people in Tatton are keen to do their bit. The Conservatives want to be carbon neutral by 2050 – is that radical enough for the planet?

 We have led the way globally on what we are doing, we are the first industrialised country that has put in a limit of 2050, and what we have to do is make sure we can deliver that.

We have to work with local communities, businesses, individuals – so it is a stretching target, but also a realistic target.

One of the reasons I joined the Conservative Party – it is in the name – it is about conservation, it is about the countryside, it is about the environment. It is a proud leader on that.

Whether that is the work on banning microbeads that are damaging our oceans, or the work we are now doing to establish a blue belt to protect our oceans.

We introduced the plastic bag charge, there are now 15 billion fewer in use because of that, and since 2010 for electricity we have gone from six per cent from renewables to 37 per cent and increasing.

We are leading the way – but it’s not just about what we are doing, because we are a small country, but what we are going to do internationally. We have to work with countries like India, China, America to say ‘what are you doing?’.

If we get it right with technology, new businesses, new ways of doing things, I believe we could steal a march and lead the way globally as an industry.

You have been a strong voice against HS2 – is that a battle you would keep up if re-elected?

A lot of work has been done and a lot of money has been spent doing it. Whilst we acknowledge that, [we need to ask] is that money being spent in the right way? Is it achieving what people actually want it to achieve? So I was delighted when we got the Oakervee Review.

Boris Johnson is championing the north, he is looking at the midlands and other areas, but the full HS2 is being reviewed. – is it delivering what it sets out to deliver, and by the time it gets here in 2040, will it achieve what it set out to?

Working in Lostock Green and that area – with the salt mines there, will it even be possible or feasible to run a high-speed track over that land? Is it viable? 

The Mid Cheshire line is a concern for passengers in Knutsford and Northwich, who have been let down by the failed promise of two trains an hour. What should happen to Northern?

The promises that were made in their franchise bid have to be lived up to, because that’s how you get the bid – and we need to make sure we have at least two trains an hour for people commuting, back and forth.

We want to get people off the roads, so I would have a greater vision than that, and look at opening up and supporting all of the local rail lines.

You opposed Theresa May’s Brexit deal – what is it about Boris Johnson’s that you can support?

Fundamentally, Parliament voted back in January for what would have been the Graham Brady amendment, the removal of the backstop.

We could not have the backstop in there, it was in Theresa May’s deal and fundamentally kept us locked to the EU to a timeframe of their choosing.

And the other thing that was vital was that we were able to do our own free trade deals going forward, so when I resigned from cabinet last November those were my two things.

Theresa May’s deal did not resolve that, but Boris Johnson’s does, so I can say it is a better deal – it allows us to move forward.

What is also key is that we not only get the best deal we can, but to remain good friends with the EU. For them, we will be their biggest single exporting market, and we have got to live up to that long-standing friendship and move on in a positive way.

What would you say to businesses in Tatton that are concerned about Brexit?

When I speak to most businesses, they speak of the corrosive uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen that causes the most uncertainty, thinking it was going to happen in March – the strategies they put in place to enable that.

As it dragged on throughout the year – business deals that they have been unable to do, investment they have been unable to do – they have not been able to have a conclusion.

It does have to be done so we can move on with our lives. At the moment people cannot plan because we don’t know where we are going.

The second thing, that is key, is that democracy is precious. To not live up to the biggest ever democratic vote in our history would have significant and substantial long-term impacts in this country.

We have to deliver, because we are viewed as the mother of all parliaments, a leading light in democracy.

We are frequently brought in as an independent arbiter to other countries where the Government overrules the people and don’t listen to their vote – how could we ever do that again if we don’t listen to the vote of our people?

A&E performance has hit a record low recently, and in east Cheshire’s NHS services have been cut. Why should voters trust the Tories with the NHS?

The NHS has been in existence for 71 years – 44 of those have been under the Conservatives. So of course it is, and we continue to put money into the NHS.

We have to have a strong economy to be able to put that money into the public sector. We say, grow the economy, get more people in work, businesses doing better and then we can have the public sector we want.

So you will see a significant commitment, tens of billions of pounds to the NHS, saying we will have more nurses and doctors, putting the bursary back for more nurses.

Government is such that if you have done something and it had unintended consequences, then change it. George Osborne took away that bursary, and now you are going to see Boris put it back, because we do need to ensure we have more nurses.

Tatton has a diverse population, with areas of deprivation as well as areas of wealth. Food bank use has risen in recent years and the roll-out of Universal Credit has had an impact on poverty…

 The benefits system needed to change. That had full cross-party support. And when we came into office in 2010, the number of households where nobody had worked had doubled under Labour.

Unemployment had gone through the roof. So we had to bring in a new benefit that would help people get into work while also supporting the most vulnerable. Now we are getting 1,000 more people into work every day.

Universal Credit was rolled out very, very slowly. A lot of the issues you talk about were nothing to do with Universal Credit because it did not come in then, it has been gradually delivered.

But when there is a financial crash and the economy takes a nose-dive, there is no easy way out of it – people suffer, businesses suffer, the country suffers when you crash the economy.

That is why I am a Conservative. That is why I don’t vote Labour, because every time they leave office, they crash the economy and more people are unemployed than when they started.

But when I went in as secretary of state for work and pensions I put in an extra £4.5 billion to make sure that the roll-out was much better – whether that is for work allowance enhancements, severe disability premium.

And I helped with another £1 billion for personal independence payments, and the benefits freeze will be coming to an end next year. But we have to afford what we have got.

On food banks – in a way, the Government can only work so quickly to get benefit out, and it does work very quickly to get benefit out.

So the community came together to help people immediately in need – the church, the local people – and I guess that is a very positive thing about human nature. It saw there is a deficiency and it immediately went to help people.

Finally, you have a day off – no work or campaigning to do. How would you spend your ideal day in Cheshire?

My ideal day would end up at the cinema – whether that is the Curzon in Knutsford or the Rex in Wilmslow. It would be family, friends, food and film.

I would go out to one of our award-winning local pubs for a bite to eat – they are all great – and I would have prepared myself for the food by having a good walk in the open countryside. Then you can enjoy your calories without worrying about them, can’t you?

It would be a fabulous day locally – I love it round here.