Nina Welsch: Weary public is not interested in more Conservative in-fighting so give voters chance to oust Rishi Sunak

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a speech at Downing Street. Picture: Carl Court/Getty ImagesPrime Minister Rishi Sunak during a speech at Downing Street. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a speech at Downing Street. Picture: Carl Court/Getty Images
Weary public is not interested in more Conservative in-fighting

In a time of vast political division, the results of the England and Wales council elections, which show great gains for Labour and significant losses for the Conservative Party, demonstrate there is something on which the public are largely united – contempt for Rishi Sunak’s government.

These results are likely an appetiser for the humiliation Conservatives are set to face in the impending general election. There had been speculation that Sunak would announce one on Monday last week – to be held in June. This did not transpire. The decision to postpone can only be viewed as a mixture of desperation and denial. Former cabinet minister David Davis has suggested it will be put off to November or even December, as calling it in June would be “A suicidal thing to do in political terms”. This assessment isn’t wrong but surely it’s the favourable option, on the basis of it being over with quickly.

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Instead, the Tory party is rumoured to be considering the slow and far more painful option of ousting Sunak and going into a delayed general election with a new leader. Aside from the fact that bringing Winston Churchill back from the dead and his ghost offering everyone free Netflix would struggle to secure a Tory victory, it could also cause more fractiousness within the party. Sir Graham Brady, chairman of The 1922 Committee, has been recorded saying he does not think party members should be given the deciding vote on leadership while the Conservative party is in power (if the party is electing an opposition leader, he supports them having a vote). However, he has conceded this right will not be removed as it would require party members to vote on such constitutional change – and nobody votes to give themselves less power.

What his sentiments do express, correctly, is that whoever the grassroots base of a party want as leader is often in conflict with who parliamentarians feel they can best work with. Liz Truss won the leadership contest originally despite most MPs backing Sunak, and we all know how that worked out. Kemi Badenoch has long been considered an obvious favourite to replace Sunak however, there are murmurings that Penny Mordaunt is the one rebels intend to back, although Mordaunt has dismissed these rumours. Suella Braverman, James Cleverly and Priti Patel could also throw their hats into the ring and much infighting could ensue.

Which brings us to the main reason Sunak should not be ousted. This would be an entirely self-serving charade; watched wearily by a public grappling with a cost of living crisis and NHS held together with sticking plaster. Political psychodramas have entertainment value but only stoke distrust and disillusionment, as has been evident in Scotland in the last few weeks. The SNP leadership soap opera is dying down thanks to pale, stale, male-identifying John Swinney stepping up for the role but the frustrated apathy of the country is palpable. We want leadership that – just occasionally – shows interest in putting country before party.

People may be unenthused by the prospect of a Sir Keir Starmer-led Labour government but they are very enthused at the prospect of getting rid of the current Tory one. Out of respect, they shouldn’t bother ousting Sunak and instead give the public the satisfaction of doing it ourselves, sooner rather than later.



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