Britain’s Channel Four News revealed on Friday how a majority of Conservative Party members did not want to see British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ousted from the party leadership and number 10.
An Opinium poll commissioned by Channel Four News showed how 51% of members think that Boris Johnson should have stayed, while just 36% of members supported his decision to go.
The Twitter account for British conservative think tank Bruges Group described the poll as “utterly damning,” adding that the parliamentary party had ignored the voice of the members.
“Utterly damning. Perhaps party members should have been consulted before the regicide,” the think tank noted.
“The voice of the party faithful has been ignored shamelessly.”
Why Boris Johnson Left
Boris Johnson has been under intense pressure from parliamentary Conservatives to resign for some time now. In early June, Johnson survived a vote of no confidence among Conservative MPs, but not by a large margin.
Conservative MPs voted 211-148 for Johnson to stay in his role as leader of party, and therefore as prime minister. However, it was enough to show that Johnson’s position was in danger. MPs were responding to revelations that the prime minister broke COVID-19 lockdown rules in 2020. Johnson received a “fixed penalty notice” fine from the police after it was revealed that he had attended a gathering at 10 Downing Street during a period of lockdown.
This month, it was revealed that Johnson had not been entirely truthful about whether he was aware of a scandal involving Conservative Chief Whip Christopher Pincher, who lost the Tory whip over sexual misconduct allegations. Johnson had once claimed to have been unaware of allegations that Pincher had groped men at a private club, but reports suggested that he was already aware of previous incidents.
It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. After a series of resignations from his cabinet and learning that he did not have sufficient support from his party to survive another vote of no confidence, the prime minister chose to announce his resignation.
Johnson is expected to remain in office until the Conservative Party votes on a new leader.
Party Members Roundly Ignored
Party members are involved in the final process of electing a party leader in the Conservative Party, making their opinion particularly important. Parliamentary members first whittle the candidate list down to the two most popular candidates before asking the party membership to vote on their preferred leader.
When the Conservative Party is already in government, that new leader will become the new prime minister with permission from Her Majesty Queen II.
In the coming Conservative Party leadership election, there are already rumors that the party membership may not be consulted on the decision. It’s said to be an effort to speed up the process and ensure Johnson is replaced as soon as possible. Theoretically, the least popular of the two final candidates may drop out to avoid a membership vote.
However, given the Conservative Party membership already didn’t want the prime minister to step down in the first place, a move like that could easily spark controversy and anger within the party – and potentially even push general election voters away from the party in 2025.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.