Fringe Box



Local Conservatives Divided on ‘Should Boris Go?’ Question

Published on: 13 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 14 Jan, 2022

Boris Johnson at the dispatch box apologising to the House of Commons for participating in the No 10 party

By Martin Giles

Two local Conservative MPs will be watching closely the state of party support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following his “Party at No 10” apology, with particular interest.

Sky News is reporting a new opinion poll showing a massive slump in public support for the Tories and a 10-point lead for Labour, the party’s biggest lead since December 2013.

Michael Gove, MP

There is speculation that Michael Gove, whose Surrey Heath constituency covers most of the Ash Wards and Jeremy Hunt, whose neighbouring Guildford South West constituency includes villages a few miles to the south of Guildford and Godalming, are thought to be potential candidates if a leadership election does take place.

Westminster observers feel that possible contenders will be unable to avoid making preparations, and manoeuvering, in case there is a sudden fall from power.

Angela Richardson MP

Guildford’s MP, Angela Richardson, who is also Michael Gove’s PPS (parliamentary private secretary), said: “I am waiting until Sue Gray has concluded her investigation.

“Her findings will become known shortly. Constituents elect me to read the reports on these matters, not jump to conclusions before they are published.”

In response to Lib Dem criticism (see: Lib Dem Candidate Calls for Prime Minister’s Resignation) Ms Richardson retorted: “I do take exception to being lectured by Guildford Liberal Democrats about putting the people of Guildford first. Every day, myself and my team deal with casework that makes a difference for people in Guildford and gets them the results they deserve but were perhaps unable to obtain elsewhere.”

Sir Paul Beresford, the MP for the Mole Valley constituency which covers the wards in the east of the borough has not commented.

Some local Conservative Party members, and one former member, were less reticent but none wished to go on the record.

The first said that the issue was not at the top of most people’s concerns and was far less important than other world and domestic events, such as the massing of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border and the ongoing pandemic.

If all those present at the work meeting/party were working closely together, he felt that there had been little extra risk of spreading the infection, “They were all in the same bunker, after all.”

He also suspected that the story emerged from a revengeful Dominic Cummings and that the views of many fellow Tories would be coloured by their already established view of Boris Johnson and Brexit.

Giving support to that view, a former member of the party said that she knew many others who, like her, had left the party because of Brexit and Mr Johnston’s ascent to the PM role. “I can’t stand him!” she added.

Speaking before the PM’s apology yesterday, another current member said: “Boris will survive. He’s still popular with members and people have short memories. Plus, who would want the job now?”

But not all Tories in favour of Brexit thought the PM should stay on, one said: “He did a good job to get Brexit done but it is now time for him to go. He is an embarrassment to himself and the party.”

And regarding the reports of the “bring your own booze” work party at No 10, he added: “You can’t set rules for others and then not follow them yourself. That’s totally wrong.”

Guildford’s former MP, Ann Milton, who fell out of favour with Boris Johnston after she had defied the party’s whip in 2019 and stood as an Independent in the general election that year, also declined to comment but did say she had also turned down a BBC invitation to appear on Newsnight on Tuesday.

The Guildford Conservative Association was also invited to comment.

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Responses to Local Conservatives Divided on ‘Should Boris Go?’ Question

  1. Mark Bray-Parry Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 8:12 am

    Is Angela Richardson MP intent on waiting for Sue Gray’s report, or is the fact that Boris Johnson was issued a fixed penalty notice sufficient for her to redress whether Boris Johnson should resign?

    Mark Bray-Parry is a spokesman for the Guildford Green Party.

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