“Westminster want the membership to forget about how Boris Johnson was deposed, and look forward rather than backwards. But for the members, it is reasonable to consider how it is hard to look forward when they can only look back in anger” says Jack Faulkner.

The parliamentary Conservative Party took the membership for granted by forcing out Boris Johnson – and could pay a heavy price for it.

Boris Johnson is a proven election winner. Delivering an incredible mandate in 2019, the former Prime Minister set a new precedent for British politics.

On the promise of delivering the Brexit that the people voted for, he won a mandate that delivered a crushing defeat for the Labour Party.

By demolishing Labour’s ‘Red Wall’ in northern England, scooping up votes from the working-class Brexiteers who were taken for granted by a Labour Party that, on the whole, refused to accept the referendum result – and whose leader at the time campaigned in 2019 for a second referendum – Johnson completely changed the political landscape in Britain. Since then, the Labour Opposition have paid the price.

Johnson completely changed the political landscape in Britain. Since then, the Labour Opposition have paid the price.

It was reported last August that by the end of 2021 the Labour Party were down by almost 100,000 members compared to 2020 – which is catastrophic for the Opposition by any measure. And with Sir Keir Starmer struggling to govern his own MPs, let alone the rest of the party, it is unclear how he could lead a Labour government. What is clear, however, is that Labour continue to pay the price for underestimating the feelings of their voters in 2019.

But the Conservative Party are in severe danger of making the same mistake. Acting in the misguided self-preservation of the Parliamentary Party last summer, Boris Johnson was undemocratically deposed by a handful of ministers who decided his time was up.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, accompanied by his wife Carrie, departs No.10 Downing Street. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street

Some, understandably, lay the blame at the door of Rishi Sunak, a “backstabber” who led the resignations of some 50 ministers. And like the Labour Party underestimated the power of their voters in the last election, ultimately costing Jeremy Corbyn the keys to No. 10, the Tories could suffer the same fate.

Northern Brexiteers felt taken for granted and unheard by the middle-class, metropolitan elite who now sit on the benches of the official Opposition. What the 2019 election result demonstrates is that no party is safe from catastrophe at the ballot box if it simply confines itself to the echo chamber of the Westminster Bubble.

What the 2019 election result demonstrates is that no party is safe from catastrophe at the ballot box if it simply confines itself to the echo chamber of the Westminster Bubble.

So the Conservative Party must listen to their membership. The result of the upcoming local elections in May is probably foretold already, with many Conservative members feeling disillusioned from politics and disenfranchised from the party – because the goings on in Westminster often reflect the results of the council elections.

But looking beyond that, the Tories must begin to consider the next election. It has become increasingly clear since 2019 that the Labour Party is in the midst of a civil war over ideology. Now, it seems as though the Conservatives are heading in a similar direction of factionalism and infighting.

It is clear there is schism between the want of the Parliamentary Conservative Party and the want of their grassroots. With Conservative voters looking for alternatives ahead of the local elections, the forecast looks grim for the Tories. And although the results of the local elections are often a reflection of voters’ feelings towards national politics, the council elections should always serve as a wake up call to those in Westminster. Certainly, worth considering is the fact that up to 14,000 party members signed the Conservative Post’s petition over the summer to put Johnson on the leadership ballot, as verified by CCHQ. Alarm bells should be ringing.

What the Parliamentary Party have overlooked in the events of the last year is that they have given the Opposition what they want. Johnson has proven himself to be an electoral asset and Labour have proven they are scared of him because of his election success. And whilst Sunak may prove to be a good Prime Minister, but what he is yet to demonstrate is his electoral viability, given the way in which Tory MPs (not even the membership) elected him.

Johnson has proven himself to be an electoral asset and Labour have proven they are scared of him because of his election success.

It seems as though now the Tories in Westminster want the membership to forget about how Johnson was deposed, and look forward rather than backwards. But for the members, it is reasonable to consider how it is hard to look forward when they can only look back in anger.

Indeed, it worth considering why Conservative members should vote Tory this May or even at the next general election. That certainly is a question that warrants an answer from the Parliamentary Party.

When Johnson was deposed last summer, commentators rushed to warn the party that they should be careful what they wished for because they might just get it. By getting rid of Johnson, perhaps it wouldn’t be such a bad suggestion to reflect on what they hell they have done.

Main photo: Boris Johnson outside 10 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

4 COMMENTS

  1. I am an ex party member who will not vote Tory the party that says one thing does another .Sunak was imposed on us after being rejected .Bring back boris or liz bothe democratically elected.

  2. As a previous party member and Conservative voter all my voting life ( 74 this year) I agree ….the betrayal of Boris was an insult to true conservatives …Sunak lost the vote twice so the traitors in HOC led by Brady just took the memberships voting rights away .to install the man who plotted Boris Johnson downfall and his own installation in his stead for over a year before showing his hand ….the British particularly the English hate traitors and backstabbers ! Lost my vote !

  3. I read today that Rishi Sunak has banned Boris from standing in any other seat, particularly his old seat of Henley from which the current MP, John Howell is retiring.

    I think that is disgraceful. He should be given a chance. Boris still has many supporters.

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