Boris may still be in power, but the Tory Party is on its knees. The Partygate scandal and the cost of living crisis cannot be easily shaken off, and even if Boris goes, finding a replacement will not be easy. Boris’s retention of power could even benefit the Opposition, allowing them to exploit his repeated failures and scandals.
While Boris may have called receiving 59 per cent of the vote ‘decisive’ and a success, let’s remember Theresa May won 63 per cent of the vote, yet was essentially forced out by Boris’s Cabinet. Nadine Dorries, Dominic Raab, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Simon Clarke all showed their hypocrisy in calling for May to resign after 111 MPs voted against her, yet still strongly support Boris despite 131 MPs voting for him to resign. It is a bruising fall from grace for Boris, and for the Tory party if change does not happen.
Much like Brexit for Cameron, Iraq for Blair, and a Covid rule busting affair for Hancock, you would have thought Partygate would be Boris’s downfall. Yet somehow he has manages to cling on.
While many of us were unable to attend funerals of dear friends and family who passed away during the height of lockdown, Boris was drinking cheese and wine and hosting Christmas Parties, to the amusement of his Press Secretary and the disgust of much of the British public. We were unable to properly celebrate weddings, festivals, birthdays, mourn loved ones, visit friends and families at the hospital because the rules forbade us. As James Moore writes, ‘One rule for us and another for them will be Boris’s legacy.’
Polls show that it is not just over 40 per cent of Tory MPs who have lost faith in Boris. 60 per cent of Brits think that the only party Boris should be having is a leaving party. Even among Tory voters, 33 per cent thought that he should resign, with Jeremy Hunt tweeting that it was time to ‘change or lose’ for the Tories.
Though Boris won the 2019 election by claiming to ‘get Brexit done’ with his ‘oven-ready deal’, the problems involving the Northern Ireland Protocol are once again raising questions over his integrity. The cost of living crisis looks as though it will only get worse as gas prices show no sign of slowing down with inflation hitting 9 per cent.
According to a survey in March, 22 per cent of Brits are skipping or reducing the size of their meals due to affordability, with owners of two houses receiving £900 in Universal Credit, compared to those owning one house receiving £450, with no income differentials. While it might be very nice for middle-class families to receive some extra money, could it not be better spent on those who are choosing between heating their home and putting food on the table?
Many obvious replacements also look tarred through their dogged defense of the indefensible; in other words supporting Boris. Their own ventures and attempts to steer the country have also appeared shaky. Rishi Sunak’s popularity has plummeted and he is looking more removed and out of touch than ever, and Priti Patel’s botched handling of the Ukraine Crisis is losing her support from voters. Liz Truss, who many might see as an obvious successor, looks hungry for the job with some sort of vision, yet her uneven media performances and close association with Boris may harm her chances.
Many feel that the ideal candidate would be an outsider to Boris’s crew, possibly Tom Tugendhat, with Camilla Cavendish also positing Jeremy Hunt as a potential candidate. Yet, what is for certain is that a change is needed if the Conservative Party wants to stay in power.
The election is still two years away, and many voters do have short memories when it comes to holding MPs accountable for their actions. Yet, just as the Queen at her Jubilee has declared the importance of ‘togetherness’, the deep divides within the Tory party remain strong. Boris has managed to wade through crisis after crisis. But it looks as though, finally, he will be forced to give up or the Tory Party will sink altogether.