Tobias Ellwood MP says Conservative Party 'in denial' over Boris Johnson and Partygate
Conservative former minister Tobias Ellwood said the Conservative Party stills seems to be “in denial” over Boris Johnson and Partygate stating that the party is in ‘a difficult place’
The prominent critic of the Prime Minister told Sky News: “The party is increasingly in a difficult place. This is going to be a testing summer, polling is now saying we could lose 90 seats.
“And we still seem to be in denial. It’s time to shake off this partisan Stockholm Syndrome, I believe.
“Our party brand is suffering. We will lose the next election on current trajectory as reflected in recent elections by local elections.”
He added: “And when you get the church elders in the party, such as Lord Hague, now expressing huge concern, you know, we need to listen.”
When asked on Sky News if he has received more “public support” for his view of the Prime Minister, Conservative former minister Mr Ellwood said: “Well, it was one individual colleague who heckled me but absolutely. What was really interesting after that, is the amount of support privately that people are saying.”
He added: “But there is not only just a concern on the conduct of behaviour in Number 10 because that has breached the trust with the British people, it is now concerns about Number 10 thinking, what our policies are.
“What we are now seeing is an approach to shore up and chase a slice off the electorate with policies such as bringing back imperial measurements.
“There will be some people in our party which will like this nostalgic policy in the hope that it’s enough to win the next election. But this is not the case. This is not one-nation Conservative thinking that is required to appeal beyond our base.
“It’s far from the inspirational, visionary progressive thinking that we require. And it fits into a pattern I am afraid of micro-announcements that are increasingly thrown out there, which actually is sowing further discontent with with more MPs.”
He added: “Don’t assume that, just because Boris Johnson may or may not be replaced, that our foreign policy will change in Ukraine. We have been providing weapons systems and support since 2014.
“As I’ve just been illustrating, there is a vacuum of leadership in Europe at the moment. That’s where I would like to see Britain step forward in consolidating a coalition if Nato isn’t going to do it. That’s what I’d like to see Britain do.
“So, let’s not use Ukraine as a fig leaf to deny the fact that we have a serious issue in our party that needs to be addressed. There’s now been talk of a reshuffle to remove any further questioning voices, you know, that might criticise what the Prime Minister does in private.”
His comments come amid claims Boris Johnson is reportedly looking for ways to appease possible Conservative rebels as the partygate affair threatened to reignite over new rule-breaking claims.
Allegations have surfaced that senior civil servant Sue Gray was told about a potential gathering in the Downing Street flat on the evening of the Prime Minister’s 56th birthday during her inquiry into No 10 and Whitehall Covid lockdown parties but opted not to investigate.
The Cabinet Office said it seriously disputes the version of events as detailed in The Sunday Times but Labour is demanding answers over whether a rule-breach occurred.
It comes amid reports that the Prime Minister this year intends to repeal “dozens” of European Union regulations which remain in UK legislation as he attempts to convince wavering MPs he is still the right person to lead the country following the so-called partygate affair.
The move is understood to be part of an ongoing review of EU retained law being co-ordinated by minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, which will feed into the Brexit Freedoms Bill.
A separate announcement about a consultation on bringing imperial weights and measures back into more popular use is expected to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, in what Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis described as a “light-hearted” post-Brexit policy that he argued the public and traders are keen on.
More Tories in recent days have publicly announced they want a confidence vote in the future of Mr Johnson’s leadership in response to his handling of the revelations about No 10 lockdown parties.
The number to have confirmed they have submitted a letter of no confidence has almost reached half the amount needed to trigger a vote, although the actual figure could be higher given MPs do not have to declare if they have handed in a letter.
Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbenchers, will be obliged to order a confidence vote if 54 Tory MPs demand one.