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Guildford Conservatives Back MP’s ‘No Confidence’ Vote Decision

Published on: 7 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 7 Jun, 2022

Angela Richardson and Boris Johnson

By Martin Giles

The chair of the Guildford Conservative Association, Sallie Barker says that the association is proud that Guildford’s MP voted against Boris Johnson in the “no confidence” vote held last night.

Conservative MPs voted by 211 to 148 to keep him as party leader and prime minister.

Sallie Barker

Implying that Ms Richardson’s vote represented the views of the majority of Conservative supporters who had written in, Ms Barker said: “We are pleased that party procedures were followed and we’re proud that Angela Richardson MP voted in the way she believed was right, having taken into account the hundreds of representations she has received from constituents over the last few weeks.”

Angela Richardson said: “I was elected for Guildford as a Conservative and I have been – and always will be – committed to my party’s values, which I share with a great many constituents. The issue of the prime minister’s personal conduct has no bearing on that fact. I support the delivery of the manifesto on which this government was elected.

“Listening to the views of constituents is a key part of being a representative and my door is always open for anyone wishing to express their views to me on any subject either in person or via email or the telephone. I won’t always agree with those views – but I will always take the time to listen and consider.”

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said he wanted to “draw a line” under his problems but some of his party colleagues believe that might not be possible given the strength of the rebel vote, impending by-elections and the Privileges Committee inquiry.

Zoe Franklin

Zoe Franklin, the Lib Dem candidate who will be Angela Richardson’s main contender in a future general election said: “Boris Johnson has lost the support of the public and now he has lost the support of 40 per cent of his own Parliamentary party.

“For months we have seen the Prime Minister gaslight the public, lie to Parliament and demand that his MPs defend him.  He has broken the law multiple times, given hollow apologies, and commented, “I’d do it again”.

“He has certainly lost any moral authority and trust with the British public and in Parliament, he serves only as a distraction from the cost of living crisis, the war in Ukraine and other serious issues that need to be addressed.

“Conservative MPs should have done the right thing and dismissed him as their leader, but instead, we will have to limp on to the next general election where the voters will make the decision for them.  I do not see how he can carry on as Prime Minister.”

Mark Bray-Parry of the Green Party

The Green Party’s Mark Bray Parry said: “Boris Johnson won the no-confidence vote with less support than Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher, and both resigned shortly afterwards. When we remove the government “payroll” vote the result looks even worse.

Yet, while previous results suggest that Boris is now a “dead man walking”, his character and past experience suggest to me that he will cling on.

The vote was held prior to the two tricky by-elections, which will likely work in his favour and party rules mean he can’t be challenged for another year. So Tories will be hamstrung by division as they approach the next general election.

I hope that opposition parties make the most of the opportunity, as Tony Blair/Labour did in 1997, and work collaboratively to deliver a government with an ambitious agenda that will tackle environmental, social, and economic injustice worse now as a result of 12 years of Conservative rule.”

Brian Creese

According to Guildford Labour’s Brian Creese: “The result of the Conservative party’s no confidence motion yesterday was a disaster for the country. It does not matter how often Johnson or his cabinet colleagues talk about ‘drawing a line’ and ‘moving on’, that is precisely what will not happen with this level of opposition among his own MPs.

“There has been precious little actual governing under this joke of a prime minister, but now– yet again – the only priority for government will be saving Johnson. And it is an impossible task.

“Everyone knows his time is up. But in the meantime we will waste yet more time which could be spent trying to sort out the serious economic and social problem in this country on operation ‘Save Boris’. Tory MPs need to breath deeply and dispatch the man. Then all of us really can move on.”

In September 2019 Angela Richardson could have had no idea of the tumultuous period ahead of her.

No fan of Boris Johnson, her predecessor Anne Milton had moved to the fringes of the party following his takeover, but few realised Johnson was going to ditch Milton for daring to stand up to him, telling her words to the effect: “if losing Guildford’s support was the price for his Brexit stand, so be it”.

In the event, it was not a price he had to pay. One of three on a shortlist, drawn up at very short notice by the Tory central office and imposed on a resentful Guildford Conservative Association, Angela Richardson, whose only political position had been as a parish councillor, suddenly found herself selected as the Parliamentary Conservative candidate for Guildford.

Winning the seat was not a forgone conclusion. Angela was a Leaver standing in a constituency with a small Remain majority, where Anne Milton, standing as an Independent, would be dividing her vote.

Guildford General Election result 2019 – Wikipedia

But Richardson did win, albeit with a much-reduced lead while the Lib Dems appeared to have missed a rare opportunity.

Parliament was going to be a steep learning curve for the 44-year-old New Zealander, from Ewhurst. Seemingly ambitious, she was quickly appointed as a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), the lowest unpaid rung on the government ladder, to the ministerial team at the Department for Education.

Within a few months of the general election, Covid struck and normal Parliamentary working was abandoned. The learning curve had just got steeper but now everyone was on it, to some extent.

She went on to be a PPS to Michael Gove MP for nearby Surrey Heath and Secretary of State for Levelling Up.

Who knows what she learned at close range about the real character of our government leaders?

In any event, her erstwhile loyalty to the government did not prevent her, in November 2021, from abstaining on a government-backed amendment to overhaul the Commons’ disciplinary process in response to the proposed suspension of Owen Paterson. In an embarrassing about-face she was reinstated to her PPS role just 16 hours later.

The incident appeared to leave its mark and probably reduced her remaining respect for the Johnson administration. Just two months later she resigned as PPS, making her resignation public after the publication on January 31 of Sue Gray’s initial report on breaches of lockdown restrictions in Downing Street.

By now she understood more about the qualities of the leaders at the helm of her party and was prepared to take a principled stand.

Following her resignation, she was criticised for not coming out more obviously against Boris Johnson and for declining to say whether she would, or had, written to the chair of the 1922 committee.

Taking a position publicly could have been to her advantage and cost little, she had already burned her bridges as far as the Johnson administration was concerned. But as time moves on and further events unfold her delay will probably be forgotten.

If she has remaining aspirations for promotion, she will, under a new leader, if one emerges, and have a clean copybook with her vote of “no confidence” likely to be regarded as a merit mark.

Meanwhile, another general election can probably not come quick enough for Guildford’s Lib Dems, anxious to take advantage of the Tory discontent that they have been frequently reporting. But when the day comes will the volume of discontent still be there and without Anne Milton sucking up a sizable share of the Tory vote can they realise their dream of turning Guildford Liberal Democrat again?


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Responses to Guildford Conservatives Back MP’s ‘No Confidence’ Vote Decision

  1. Stuart Barnes Reply

    June 9, 2022 at 10:55 am

    It is right that our MP voted no confidence in the PM because, although he was elected as a Conservative, he has governed as a left wing Liberal.

    If Boris wishes to recover his previous popularity then he must move to Conservative values and policies. If he is not able or willing to do so, then he must be replaced by a sound Brexiteer.

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