25.10.2022 | 'He's f**ked us!' Інсайдерська історія про те, чому Борис покинув лідерську гонку
Девід Меддокс, політичний редактор - The Daily Express

As news broke that Mr Johnson had decided to pull the plug on his leadership election bid late on Saturday night several of his loyal MPs were still on the phones canvassing their colleagues for him blissfully unaware of what was going on. One was an assistant whip Joy Morrissey, the American born MP for Beaconsfield, who was literally, according to a colleague, explaining over the phone to another MP why Mr Johnson needed to be leader again less than 50 days since he had been booted out of office.

Others had submitted their op-eds for the newspapers the next day to make the case for the Johnson Premiership.

Red-Waller Brendan Clarke Smith, the MP for Bassetlaw, was literally posting on social media in his Boris T-shirt as the news broke.

None of them had been warned and all of them were made to look extremely foolish.

It is still not entirely clear why Mr Johnson decided to pull the plug. But he has left a number of “devastated” colleagues whose trust and goodwill he took for granted.

What needs to be made clear is that Mr Johnson had the numbers. The threshold was set at 102 and a senior MP who was not part of the campaign but has seen the list confirmed he had 110.

Half of his supporters were 55 MPs from the rightwing Common Sense Group founded by former minister Sir John Hayes with only five of them going to other candidates.

A veteran Tory MP said: “Boris could not have done a better job than if he had been acting as Agent Rishi.

“By allowing his candidacy to run he killed off any chance of a rightwing candidate going forward in this election. He has handed it to Sunak, a plutocrat with no real principles at all.”

That view was echoed by several on the right of the party but the decision triggered a series of events in a late bid to redeem the party.

Calls were made to former Home Secretary Priti Patel, a key member of Team Boris, to persuade her to make a late bid.

Others wondered whether the more recent former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, like Ms Patel a Brexit spartan who resisted all compromise with Brussels, could change her mind on backing Mr Sunak.

In both cases too late.

Ms Patel is understood to have told friends that it was “too late” and that the right of the party had to admit it has “some serious reputational issues” after backing Ms Truss.

She is understood to believe that it is likely now Labour will win in 2024 and the party needs to look at a rebuild post that election.

Ms Braverman’s decision to back Sunak earlier in the day had come as a blow to the Team Boris camp and may have been one of the reasons he realised the game was up.

She carried support from the right of the party and gave Mr Sunak the breadth of support as well as the huge numbers he needed to claim he was the only legitimate “unity candidate.”

At that point it is understood she believed Mr Johnson would still get the numbers and win with the electorate.

Friends have said she made her decision “not to get a job” but because she thought backing Sunak was right for the party and country.

According to friends she said that “sad and hard truth is that there is too much baggage and chaos” with Mr Johnson.

But also Mr Sunak had courted her heavily. He called her six times personally and offered to visit her home to talk things through.

In contrast she had one cursory call from Mr Johnson who, according to one friend, “rather took her support for granted”.

That opinion was carried through with others on the right, with the powerful European Research Group (ERG) refusing to back him immediately.

The ERG of Tory Brexiteers chaired by Mark Francois had its meeting at 10.30am on Monday morning but many members, while suspicious of Sunak, felt they had been “betrayed” by Mr Johnson in 2019 when he failed to keep his promises to them.

Appointees to the cabinet never materialised including Sir Iain Duncan Smith as Deputy PM and Owen Patterson for Northern Ireland.

He had been too light on pushing through the gains of Brexit, to their mind at least.

“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,” one ERG member noted.

But the decision not to run provoked fury in the group.

“He’s an absolute ****!” one blasted. “He has killed off our chances.”

What was going on at this point was a late scramble by Team Penny Mordaunt to grab some of Mr Johnson’s 110 supporters.

Most of those who were ministers immediately went to Mr Sunak with some backbenchers suggesting they were “careerists thinking about their next job”.

Others though were torn.

One MP who said he “despises” Mr Sunak for being “a globalist sell-out” also admitted to having “deep concerns about Ms Mordaunt.”

The MP said: "First, she is not a true Conservative, she is quite a lefty and woke with all the trans stuff.

"Second, her team and supporters are all the same faces, she has not done anything to bridge the gap or reach out to new people.

"Third, and most concerning, she has no experience of high office and serious parts of government, she has not performed well in the posts she has held and there is a real chance that she would be a rerun of the Liz Truss disaster."

A former cabinet minister, who has backed Mr Sunak, added: "The problems with Liz Truss will be tenfold with Penny Mordaunt."

But others like Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield and chairman of the Blue Collar Conservatism group, who were willing to go “anybody but Rishi” supported her.

One of Ms Mordaunt’s team members described how “there was a desperate scramble” for votes as the clock ticked down to 2pm.

They announced she was in the 90s when in reality they were still in the 80s in the hope it might push a few waverers.

Eventually at 1.50pm, 10 minutes before the 1922 Committee announcement, she realised she had just 90 votes, 10 short of the threshold.

Cue a sudden rush to get out the announcement that she was standing down.

Rishi Sunak was unveiled as the new leader in the coronation his supporters always hoped for. Tomorrow he will be Britain’s Prime Minister but the story does not end there.

Already, ordinary Tory party members were upset that the man they wanted in 2019 had been turfed out by MPs.

Now the woman, Ms Truss, they voted in to replace him had also been forced out by Tory MPs.

And the coronation means that party members will not get a say in their leader for the third time out of seven leadership elections.

Of the four leaders actually elected by party members, three of them have been forced out in less than three years by the MPs. Only David Cameron survived and quit on his own terms.

One party organiser said: “Boris has actually betrayed the membership as well.

“Already I have had two people inform me they are leaving the party.

“People just do not want Rishi Sunak.”

Reform Party leader Richard Tice said that since Mr Johnson was forced out he has had thousands of former Conservative members join his party instead.

Mr Sunak may calm the markets and will be in place for the next two years but the civil war in the Tory Party is only just beginning.

Джерело: https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/1687167/boris-johnson-tory-leadership-race-rishi-sunak-inside-story-comment


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