For the past month or so every news channel and politician from around the country has thrown an absolute hissy fit because the Tories threw a Christmas party at No.10. Calls have been made for Boris to resign and in a poll done by YouGov 56% of Brits believe he should go. Recent evidence from the investigation has made MPs so upset that Jim Shannon, a man who was voted ‘least sexy MP’ in 2015 and all round Northern Irish tough guy, cried in parliament. And I’m not surprised! Whether it’s the hypocrisy of the cabinet, the oppressive nature of the restrictions, or the lack of regard for those who died alone over the winter months, such as Jim Shannon’s mother-in-law; people must be held accountable.
But if Boris goes who takes his place?
Part of me would love to answer this question with an excited ‘Liz Truss!’, but the choice is down to the party itself and since they can’t pick anyone who was at the party, their choices are limited. There’s been much talk about Rishi Sunak taking the torch and he is currently the bookies favourite, with Bet365 giving him odds of 9/4. I’ve always been sceptical of Rishi as he’s a tad too clean; he’s never struck me as a leader, but I’ve always appreciated how he speaks clearly and seems to know what he’s doing. I would liken him to a Pete Buttigieg type – great to have at the table, but not at the head of it. Liz Truss also has good odds with the bookies, 41/10 at SBK. She has great support from ‘conservative grass-roots’ and she has the backing of a core group of MPs after founding the ‘Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs’. However, whether it be from her Brexit flip-flop or her similarities to Margaret Thatcher, she may not be so accessible to the Scots and more moderate voters. It would also be a risk to have her as PM as she has been ruffling feathers in Europe. While her work on securing a great trade deal with Morocco has shown great potential and should be noted, this may not be enough to ensure her name on the ticket. The Conservatives cannot afford to take such risks at this turbulent time, especially when collaboration with Europe may be essential to the core ‘build back better’ programme.
They’d have to pick someone even less exciting than Theresa May; someone like the incredibly boring Michael Ellis, a man who once waited for ten minutes to open the door for the current Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr Bean lookalike George Osbourne. Of course, this is only if Boris actually resigns.
Doorman turned Paymaster General Michael Ellis came out yesterday (11th January 2022) and said that ‘the prime minister is going nowhere’ and ‘the prime minister has the full confidence of the country’; a false statement of course, but he knows full well that there’s no way to really get rid of Boris, without him resigning. A vote of no confidence wouldn’t work and instead just strengthen Boris’ position when he wins. There aren’t enough Tories with the political capital to vote against their leader without admitting guilt, as they were almost definitely at the aforementioned shindig, so no majority would be reached. Boris is also too prideful to resign as he’s one of the politicians who are in it for the power and glory, not the service to the country.
Another question to ask is ‘who would be mad enough to take the reins now?’. Omicron cases have spiked, the parties on the other side of the aisle are out for blood, the Conservatives are not showing much unity, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, just condemned Boris for his callous actions, and the public has lost total faith in the government. It would be a tough re-election and blame for Boris’ transgressions would be held on the next leader’s head. So, it’s very likely that Boris stays in office and the country has to deal with it until the next general election.
However, it is not all doom and gloom. That same YouGov poll, which claimed 56% of Brits want Boris to resign, also showed that 52% of Conservative voters want him to remain. Boris, like most politicians, wants to be loved and without much public support, he will be urged to fall into the loving arms of his main voter base. The anti-restriction conservative voters, whilst angry, are still sympathetic towards him; as they, like many others, broke the COVID restrictions to have their own parties. So, if Boris does stay in office, it could be great if you’re one of those people who enjoy a social life, as he may resist the urge to take such drastic steps as countries like Germany and Denmark.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the values of The Liberty Club