By former Olympian and Conservative parliamentary candidate Alex Story.

Regarding the current Conservative Party Leadership campaign, every bit of data tells us the same thing. If the question is Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss, the reply from party members comes back: “We want Boris Johnson.”

With Grant Shapps, a Cabinet Minister, recently calling Johnson’s defenestration “a mistake,” the message is starting to make its way through.

On August 21st, The Times ran its front page with the headline: “Bring Back Boris: Why Swing Voters don’t trust Truss or Sunak.”

The splash related to a story highlighting the response from focus groups in marginal constituencies, where many voters expressed a wish that Johnson had not been forced out.

The take-away? The final two are like the two characters from Road Runner, the Looney Tunes cartoon, more slapstick than statesmanlike.

In addition, a recent Yougov survey showed that half of Conservative voters thought that Johnson should remain as Prime Minister. Twenty per cent chose Sunak, whilst Truss lingered on 18 per cent. There is no contest.

Let the electorate judge Johnson on his record. They are the ones who put him there. Let us bring Johnson back, to save a country on the brink.

This is replicated with the electorate that matters the most at the moment. Another survey, this time by Opinium and reported on Sky News on August 14th, showed that, if given the chance, 63 per cent of the membership would opt for Boris against 22 per cent for Truss; 68 per cent would pick the current Prime Minister over a meagre 19 per cent for Sunak. I wrote in the Daily Express at the time that Johnson was clearly more popular with the membership by a significant distance.

My message has been vindicated by a glaring double standard: both Keir Starmer and David Lammy were found to have breached the Member of Parliament’s code of conduct multiple times. For them, an apology was all it took to get them off the hook. They are still in position to pontificate. We got rid of the biggest vote-winning machine in our recent history for what, in contrast, can only be called an insignificant peccadillo.

Nevertheless, on the day my article was published, a petition was launched by the Conservative Post and supported by Lord Peter Cruddas. It demanded that Johnson be “…added to the ballot as an option for the members to vote upon in the forthcoming election”. A small, but optimistic and motivated, campaign team to “Bring Boris Back” was born. The media, with eye-brows firmly raised, even called me the campaign’s “leader.”

We soon had thousands of signatories. And they kept coming. To date we have comfortably breached the 20 000 barrier. This is meaningful. Schedule 9 of the Conservative Party’s constitution states that any proposal to change the rules “may be initiated by… a petition, delivered to the Chairman of the Board, signed by not less that 10 000 party members”.

On a technical level, our campaign to “Bring Back Boris” cleansed the data to make sure only members of the Conservative Party were counted. The data, in other words, is rock solid. There is no wiggle room.

Two weeks ago, we sent over 11 000 names to CCHQ. Last week, we received the following confirmation… 9000 signatories of the first batch were valid. Since then, our campaign to “Bring Boris Back” has gathered yet more momentum.

The crux of the matter is simply this: the principles of parliamentary democracy are at stake. Johnson won a vote of no-confidence as late as June of this year, never lost a vote in this parliament, and still had the confidence of the House. He resigned under pressure from a relatively small group of MPs. That is not the same thing at all.

Johnson has been subjected to an intense character assassination campaign spearheaded by a hostile media and backed by an established order unwilling to accept either Brexit or the key role he played in its delivery.

Johnson has been subjected to an intense character assassination campaign spearheaded by a hostile media and backed by an established order unwilling to accept either Brexit or the key role he played in its delivery. It is, to this cabal, an unforgivable betrayal of the tribe. Emily Maitlis’ recent address in Edinburgh should serve as a reminder of how antagonistic the Bien-Pensant class is to conservative aims and principles.

Knowing this, our small band of merry men and women hoping to “Bring Back Boris” worked around the clock and against all odds to ensure that the message of Boris’ potential and possible political resurrection would be spread to the membership and beyond. The campaign has had an effect.

The shift in opinion since Johnson’s defenestration was gradual to start off with. Initially, I was met with derision. Now, it is a very different situation. We can do it. We are very close.

The Conservative Party leadership does not need to see a process through which can only lead to our electoral annihilation. Is Johnson perfect? No. Neither are we. Is he liked? Yes – much more so than the current contenders for the top spot. We know it. The leadership of the Conservative Party knows it. Why, then, carry on in this act of unforgivable self-harm?

Senior Tory apparatchiks have allowed themselves to be swayed by a hostile media into ditching the one person who stands between electoral glory and obliteration.

Memories are short. Under Theresa May, the party went into meltdown. The 2019 European Elections were a catastrophe for the Conservative Party. We won 8.8 percent of the vote. May oversaw the most humiliating, soul-crushing, life-sapping 3 years of our long history. Bureaucratic, charmless, and navel-gazing, she and the party she led were an utter embarrassment.

Let us not relive this type of mayhem. Johnson is more popular with Tory members, as well as Conservative and floating voters. That is thing, surely, that matters more than anything else in a democracy?

Let the electorate judge Johnson on his record. They are the ones who put him there. Let us bring Johnson back, to save a country on the brink.

Follow Alex Story on Twitter.

Members, please sign the Conservative Post’s Boris Ballot petition here.


This article was first published on the Conservative Home website on 31st August 2022.

Picture by Kyle Heller / No 10 Downing Street.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Of course Boris should be asked to take back his resignation. Alex Story and Lord Cruddas are correct in everything they write. How many more polls are needed to convince the Conservative Party that they have made a grave error. They are either too embarrassed to admit their mistake or too arrogant to think they know better.
    Boris got us Brexit (which I believe is what most are so outraged about), got us through the pandemic (even trying to run the country from a hospital bed) and was first to speak in giving aid to Ukraine. He is the most successful and well liked PM we have had for decades. Never mind having a vote for the PM….just ask Boris to take back his resignation. I for one will never again have confidence in the Tory Party if this doesn’t happen.

  2. From what it looks like so far, the fact that over 20,000 signatures were received in the beginning, and of these 11,000 (so far) have been non-members’ signatures, is phenomenal. This means that (so far) there are more non-member voters out there (55%) than members, whose vote for the Conservative Party would depend on Boris being returned to office. Is the CP going to let this go? The voting public don’t give a monkey’s uncle about a piece of cake eaten at a birthday party for 10 minutes during lockdown over 2 years ago. They want their man back, warts and all.

  3. I agree totally. If we do not manage to get the rules changed – then in the future – if a bitter group of Tories who may dislike/disagree with the PM will do the same again. This is clearly completely undemocratic and must be changed for all our sakes.

  4. I vote for Boris.
    I vote for rule changes.
    I vote for the abolition of 1922 Committee.
    I vote for backstabbers to be sacked from the party.
    I vote for Brexit to complete.
    I vote for Boris to tear up his resignation
    I vote for the Conservative party to NOT accept the resignation.
    I vote to blow a huge raspberry at Adonis, Blair , Heseltine etc and the Dark Lords of Remain.

  5. I am not a paid up member but true Conservative and have worked in local branches.
    As a Conservative all my life I want Boris back please ❗️

  6. The party are not listening and they will not do it despite so many members wanting a say in Boris’ removal. This 2 horse race is not democracy, members should have had the choice and their say not just the political elite and the disgruntled MPs who sharpened their knives for him at Westminster. Even my local party office has ignored my messages some might say that is a conspiracy, either way its not what i signed up for when i joined the Conservative party 😡Recognising defeat yesterday after realising Boris would never get on the ballot and not wishing to let Rishi’s treachery go unpunished I voted Truss certainly not because I want her. This whole debacle needs airing at the Party conference the people responsible need to justify themselves. For me though the damage has been done I intend to resign my membership now, because i feel that my membership and vote does not count.

  7. Without Boris the Conservatives are finished and our dreams of reviving our great Country have ended.
    He was the best PM we ever had and he cared about our Country not his personal gain.
    He is just what our Country needs and he has been removed by a pack of snivelling traitors.

  8. l agree with the previous comments regarding boris.unfortunately the establishment as we know it will never recognize a superior individual who may be unorthodox and express his opinions in a different way to the former speaker.who turned out to be a disgrace and a waste of space.l only hope Liz Truss pays him back and makes him her deputy so she can benefit from our hero……..

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