Grassroots Tories turn on Boris Johnson over Downing Street party and question his future

Grassroots Conservatives – who backed the PM for leader – are now asking members if he should go, while one association chairman has told members he is ‘utterly dismayed and incredibly angry’

Boris Johnson has received a frosty reception from his own party (file photo)
Boris Johnson has received a frosty reception from his own party (file photo)

A Tory group which has previously backed Boris Johnson is now asking members if he should quit as local Conservatives turn on the PM.

Grassroots Conservatives has emailed supporters asking if the Prime Minister’s time is up.

The activist base was credited as being influential in urging party backbenchers to dump the leader Theresa May amid the parliamentary Brexit deadlock in 2018-19.

In an ominous twist, it has now turned its focus on Mr Johnson’s future. It has asked supporters three yes or no questions: Should Boris Johnson resign? Should Boris Johnson now be subject to a vote of confidence from Conservative MPs? Should Boris Johnson stay?

Chairman Ed Costelloe emailed members saying: “It has been some time since Grassroots Conservatives has thought it necessary to make comments on current Conservative matters.

The activist base was credited as being influential in urging party backbenchers to dump the leader Theresa May

“We were content that the party got rid of Theresa May, whose unhappy premiership caused so much grief.

“We were content that Boris Johnson then took over, winning a fantastic election victory with a substantial majority which resulted in getting Brexit done.

“Every Conservative commentator had so much to say and our contribution seemed unnecessary.

“We are now in a very different situation with considerable public and private reaction to events in Downing Street in tandem with the continuing pandemic and its draconian rules.”

It came as local Tories from across the country hit out publicly and privately at the Prime Minister – who has admitted spending 25 minutes at a No10 garden party during lockdown.

Boris Johnson visiting local police last month


Getty Images)

Scottish Conservatives have revolted en masse, with the party’s leader north of the border Douglas Ross saying the PM must resign.

But a string of local leaders in England also gave either private condemnation, public anger or a conspicuous failure to comment.

Hugo Brown, chairman of North Oxfordshire Conservative Association, wrote an e-mail to members saying he was “utterly dismayed and incredibly angry”.

The e-mail, handed to the Mirror, said: “I suspect most of you will feel the same.

“This is not the sort of behaviour the country or the party expects from a Prime Minister”.

He went on: “We have been badly let down. We have to expect better days on the horizon.”

Tory police commissioner for Cheshire John Dwyer said: “I am under no illusion about how [people] feel after seeing the same news reports as I have in recent days.

“I cannot condone any breaches of legislation that was specifically put in place to protect our health during a global pandemic.

“People’s faith in the system relies on trust, consent and good will. That faith has undoubtedly been shaken.”

Nadeem Ahmed, leader of Tory-run Pendle Council, said: “I think it’s really a decision for the Prime Minister to make, whether he feels he should be in that position any longer.

“I think in public office you live with your own conscience and you should be doing the right thing.

“When you think you have done something or said something untenable, you know yourself whether you should be in that position.”

Peter McCall, the Conservative PCC for Cumbria, warned the PM was “in a very, very difficult position.”

A series of prominent local Tories were mysteriously unavailable for comment when contacted by PA Media.

Ben Houchen, elected mayor for Tees Valley and seen by some as a rising figure in the Tory party, was not commenting on the issue, a member of his staff said.

Councillor Heather Scott, Tory leader of Darlington Borough Council, was unavailable to speak to as she was busy with meetings, her office said.

Likewise with Phillippa Williamson, Conservative leader of Lancashire County Council.

Andrew Snowden, the Tory PCC for Lancashire, was not available, his office said they would pass on a press request for contact.

However, Mr Johnson had the backing of Conservative Jackie Harris, a councillor in Bury, Greater Manchester and board member of the Conservative group of the Local Government Association.

Cllr Harris said: “Boris is running the country. I’m very fortunate to have had my three booster jabs and, I’m crossing my fingers now, I’m in good health, partly to do with a Conservative Government and I’m a Conservative.

“I think its better leaving it at that. Thank you for asking my opinion. Goodbye.”

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