Former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi says Conservatives jettisoned the “most consequential leader since Margaret Thatcher.”

Mr Zahawi, has expressed regret over the Conservatives Party’s decision to remove Boris Johnson from leadership, labelling him as the “most consequential leader since Thatcher.”

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Former Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi visiting a school in Bristol in 2022. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.

Reflecting on his first newspaper interview since leaving the Cabinet, Mr Zahawi disclosed his candid conversation with Boris, urging him to leave on his own terms rather than being ousted.

Their pivotal meeting occurred on the evening of July 6, 2022, following a string of 60 resignations spurred on by the likes of Kemi Badenoch in protest of Johnson’s handling of the Chris Pincher scandal.

WhatsApp messages revealed Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch played a significant role in the coup which removed Boris Johnson.

The subsequent day, Mr Johnson announced his resignation, remarking: “When the herd moves, it moves.”

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Zahawi lamented the party’s lack of nerve, suggesting that a different decision might have been made had colleagues recognised that Twitter did not represent the sentiments of the wider population.

Asked whether the Conservatives would be in a better place had Boris Johnson survived, Nadhim Zahawi said:

“I don’t know that. I wish we had held our nerve, yes.

“I genuinely felt that the combination of activists against Boris and our opponents were in many ways enjoying the parliamentary party getting so spooked. I think if people had just taken a breath, stepped back and audited the achievements.

“If you go back … how many prime ministers have had to deal with Brexit, a global pandemic and then obviously economic recovery beyond that: to cap it all, war on our continent, where he led the world.”

Mr Zahawi continued:

 “Many colleagues got spooked. If colleagues had stepped back and just realised Twitter was not the country, we’d have probably made a very different decision.”

Following Boris Johnson’s departure from Government, the Conservative Post ran a highly publicised Get Boris on the Ballot petition which was signed by more than 40,000 grassroots activists and included 14,000 verified Conservative Party Members.

The petition demanded Boris Johnson was added to the ballot as an option for the members to vote upon in the resulting party leadership election.

As per the Constitution, with 10,000 verified members signing it, it should have forced a National Convention on the decision, but CCHQ failed to let us know in time.

A subsequent Conservative Post Members Poll showed 90% of party members would have voted for Boris Johnson to be back in No 10 had they been given the opportunity to vote in the leadership race and 58% of them said they would not now vote Conservative at the next general election.

The poll conducted by the Conservative Post was emailed to 10,000 confirmed party members which is the largest database of members outside of Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ). 3932 Conservative Party members responded and voted in the poll that was conducted between the 24th and 27th October 2022. 

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson won 90% of the members vote, current PM Rishi Sunak won 5.6% and Penny Mordaunt won only 4.4%.

  • Boris Johnson – 3540 (90.0%)
  • Rishi Sunak – 219 (5.6%)
  • Penny Mordaunt – 173 (4.4%)

As the 64th Conservative MP to announce his departure ahead of the general election, Nadhim Zahawi denied any correlation between his decision and Rishi Sunak’s performance.

However, he advocated for Sunak to make bold pledges, including the abolition of inheritance tax, citing its adverse effects on entrepreneurs.

Main photo: Photographer Andrew Parsons UK MOD © Crown copyright. News / Editorial Licence.


  1. I think there should be an investigation as to why Boris Johnson was bullied out of No 10 because he WON a confidence vote. Boris Johnson went on TV and said ” it’s a clear and decisive win” and then certain people bullied him into leaving


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