Former Tory leader Michael Howard says Johnson should resign after double byelection loss – UK politics live | Politics

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Former Tory leader Michael Howard says Johnson should resign

Michael Howard, the former Conservative party leader, is calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation. In a recent interview Howard (who sacked Johnson as a frontbencher in 2004 for lying about an affair, but who now says that he was wrong to do so) refused to say how he would have voted in the recent no-confidence ballot, had he still been an MP.

But Howard has now turned against Johnson in an interview recorded for the World at One. These are from the BBC’s Chris Mason.

Asked if he thinks the PM should resign he says ‘I do,’ adding ‘the party and more importantly the country would be better off under new leadership.’

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

Lord Howard on @BBCRadio4:

‘Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.’

‘It may be necessary for the executive of the 1922 committee to meet and to decide to change the rules so another leadership could take place.’

Listen to the full interview 1pm

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

This is from the Labour party on the Wakefield result.

🌹Wakefield is Labour’s first by-election gain from the Tories since 2012

🌹This swing of 12.7% would see Labour win an overall majority at a General Election

🌹Our best result in Wakefield since 2001 — and best ever on these boundaries

🌹Labour is now a government in waiting

— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) June 24, 2022

Boris Johnson at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, this morning. Photograph: Reuters

Here is Michael Howard on the World at One calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation. This is from the BBC’s Rebecca Keating.

Lord Howard tells #BBCWATO the country & the party would be better off under new leadership. He calls on the Cabinet to move, and for the 1922 rules to change so MPs can vote again on Johnson’s reign. Full interview here: https://t.co/hNXsTYK74O

— Rebecca Keating (@RebeccaKeating) June 24, 2022

Malcolm Rifkind urges ministers to tell PM if they can no longer support him, claiming just 12 rebels could end his premiership

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, foreign secretary in John Major’s government, told Sky News that if government ministers want Boris Johnson to quit, they should go and tell him. He claimed that a dozen ministers would force him out.

Rifkind said the leadership crisis in the party “has to be brought to a conclusion”.

Pointing out that one cabinet minister, Oliver Dowden, has already resigned, Rifkind said there were another 50 or 60 junior ministers without whom the government could not function. He went on:

I think it is hugely in the public interest that preferably the prime mnister seeks their views. If he’s not willing to see their views, because you might be rather worried of what they might say to him, then they must, at least in some number, come together and go and see him – unless they all wish to give him their unqualified support.

If they don’t wish to do that, if they’ve come to the same conclusion as the voters of Tiverton, or half the parliamentary party, then the quicker they share these views … It doesn’t require all of them. If a dozen ministers, for example, share these views on top of all 140 backbenchers, then that will be the end of his prime ministership.

In the confidence ballot three weeks ago Johnson won by 211 votes to 148. Assuming that most MPs on the payroll vote (ministers and PPSs) supported him (and most of them did issue public declarations of support), the figures would show that most backbenchers did not support him.

Malcolm Rifkind
Malcolm Rifkind Photograph: Sky News

Boris Johnson is in no hurry to replace Oliver Dowden as Conservative party co-chair, Politico’s Eleni Courea reports.

NEW: Source close to PM says he’s in no hurry to replace Dowden — nor going to rush back to the UK

“He’s got a big job to do and he’s doing it. Not opting out of G7 when the world faces an economic storm nor NATO when there is a war in Europe”

7.20am PBhttps://t.co/3I7noLJnr7

— Eleni Courea (@EleniCourea) June 24, 2022

The other co-chair is Ben Elliott, who is not a parliamentarian and who has been focused on fundraising. He could not replace Dowden on his own without having to adopt a more public role, which so far he has resisted, perhaps because if he gave interviews he would face questions about his business interests.

Andrew RT Davies, the Conservative leader in Wales, has suggested that it is getting harder for Boris Johnson to justify carrying on as PM. These are from the BBC’s Chris Mason.

Leader of Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies @BBCRadioWales: ‘Each&every day the Prime Minister gets up, like any leader, they have to look in the mirror&ask themselves ‘can they continue to deliver for their country and for the people who have put them into office?’

More…

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

‘I presume that’s getting far more challenging, when the Prime Minister looked in the mirror these days with the messages that are coming from the ballot box. Such as by-elections, we had last night.’

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

And these are from the FT’s Stephen Bush, responding to the argument from Matt Goodwin (see 12.31pm) and others that Labour should be doing better.

There’s far too much future-casting around by-elections. What they are is a useful health check *today*: and what these tell us is that the current position of the Tory party is very bad: https://t.co/PZmkmocGU9

— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) June 24, 2022

I think the “but Labour lost after 2012!” thing is particularly unhelpful: yes, Labour’s political position deteriorated both as the economy improved and the global petrol price fell, but also due to events: https://t.co/PZmkmocGU9

— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) June 24, 2022

Events could once again transform the political situation – though in the short term it’s hard to see how that will help incumbents of any hue: https://t.co/PZmkmocGU9

— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) June 24, 2022

Indeed, the very different political context in 2021 compared to 2022 should make us cautious about looking ahead. But it IS worth noting the one thing that happened in Wakefield and Tiverton that also happened in Hartlepool: large Lab-LD tactical voting: https://t.co/PZmkmocGU9

— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) June 24, 2022

Matt Goodwin, an academic who specialises in populism, and why voters are attracted to it, thinks Labour is not doing well enough to be on course to win the next general election.

On paper it looks like a great night. Wakefield is Labour’s first by-election gain from the Conservatives –remarkably– in a decade. The last time Labour took a seat from Cons at a by-election was 2012! There have been 37 by-elections since. So, the right direction …

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

But pundits & pollsters routinely exaggerate impact of by-elections at GE. Cameron routinely lost by-elections 2010-2015. Thatcher smashed in Croydon (1981), Crosby (81) Glasgow, (82), B’ham (82), Portsmouth (84), Brecon (1985), Fulham (86) & Ryedale (86). We know what came next

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

The last time the Cons lost two on same day (albeit on much smaller swings), when Major lost Langbaurgh & Kincardine & Deeside in 1991, they regained both seats and won a majority the following year. So, worth keeping history in mind. But also …

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

Labour’s swing of 12.7 is lower than I expected. After Partygate, after sh*tshow in No 10, after much negative coverage of Johnson in press, & sharpest cost of living crisis since 1970s, a Labour Party that has been in opposition for 12 years + now has new leader got 12.7 swing?

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

To put that in perspective, Ed Miliband & Labour got a bigger or comparable swing than Starmer in Middlesbrough 2012, Corby 2012, Manchester 2012, Feltham 2011, Leicester 2011, Barnsley 2011, Oldham East 2011. And we know what happened at the next general election …

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

Lib Dems have LOTS of reasons to be bullish, large swathe of south looks v v bleak for Cons, that side of the realignment is on steroids right now. But I’m simply not convinced Starmer & Labour have groundswell of energy & momentum they should have at this point in cycle.

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

Just for comparison, swings for Lab 1992-1997

18 pts Wirral South
22 pts South Staffordshire
28 pts Dudley West

— Matt Goodwin (@GoodwinMJ) June 24, 2022

Johnson would not survive second no-confidence vote, says Heseltine

Michael Heseltine, the former Conservative deputy prime minister, who now sits as an unaffiliated peer in the Lords after falling out with his party over Brexit, told Sky News that he thought the forthcoming elections to the Conservative 1922 Committee executive (see 10.36am) would lead to the election of an executive committed to allowing a second no confidence vote in Boris Johnson within a year.

And asked if Johnson would survive such a vote, Heseltine replied: “The answer is no.”

Heseltine argued that, even if Johnson managed a narrow victory, the party would still force him out. He recalled that when he challenged Margaret Thatcher for the leadership in 1990, she won on the first ballot, but resigned soon afterwards because support for her was draining away. He went on:

I would guess that it’s the chairman of the 22 that will be the focal point of discontent. Sir Graham Brady has a lonely job to do and I don’t envy him.

But it’s to him that people will go and say: ‘Look, we can’t go on like this.’ And he, perhaps one or two other senior members of the House of Commons, would be deputed to talk to the prime minister. I would expect that’s the most likely situation.

Michael Heseltine
Michael Heseltine. Photograph: Sky News

Former Tory leader Michael Howard says Johnson should resign

Michael Howard, the former Conservative party leader, is calling for Boris Johnson’s resignation. In a recent interview Howard (who sacked Johnson as a frontbencher in 2004 for lying about an affair, but who now says that he was wrong to do so) refused to say how he would have voted in the recent no-confidence ballot, had he still been an MP.

But Howard has now turned against Johnson in an interview recorded for the World at One. These are from the BBC’s Chris Mason.

Asked if he thinks the PM should resign he says ‘I do,’ adding ‘the party and more importantly the country would be better off under new leadership.’

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

Lord Howard on @BBCRadio4:

‘Members of the Cabinet should very carefully consider their positions.’

‘It may be necessary for the executive of the 1922 committee to meet and to decide to change the rules so another leadership could take place.’

Listen to the full interview 1pm

— Chris Mason (@ChrisMasonBBC) June 24, 2022

Johnson sidesteps questions about role of Partygate in Tory byelection defeats

In interviews this morning Boris Johnson has repeatedly refused to accept that his own personal conduct, particularly in relation to Partygate, was a factor in the byelection defeats.

In a pooled interview, when it was put to him that the defeats were “about you … not about all the other stuff”, he replied: “That may be your view,” before going on to argue that governments routinely lost byelections mid-term. (See 8.02am.)

And when it was put to him that people were voting to get him out because they were “very angry” about the Sue Gray report, he again sidestepped the question. He replied:

Look, as I say, you see historically in the last 50 years, more, you’ve seen governments being punished at the polls during mid-term, when people are particularly feeling economic pressures. And I totally get that.

I think that what we’ve got is the right way forward. And I think that, actually, we are able to support people because of the decisions that we took; I think coming out of Covid, we took a lot of the right decisions.

You can see the same strategy on display in this clip.

“You were a winner and now you’re losing catastrophically.”@KrishGM asks Boris Johnson if he is listening to the British public after the Tories lost two by-elections.

The PM says when things are tough, the job of government is “to keep going and keep delivering.” pic.twitter.com/g52OSzoS0d

— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 24, 2022

Sir Robert Buckland, who was sacked from his post as justice secretary by Boris Johnson, told Sky News this morning that Johnson needed to “look in the mirror and do better”. He said:

What is frustrating … is that lack of focus and a real sense of a co-ordinated message here about what the government is doing and what it needs to do.

The Conservative party is a broad coalition of people who have different views across the centre right in politics. We need to reflect that far, far better – we’re not a sect, we’re not some iconoclastic tribe trying to overthrow the state.

Simon Lightwood, the new Labour MP for Wakefield, being congratulated by a party supporter
Simon Lightwood, the new Labour MP for Wakefield, being congratulated by a party supporter this morning.
Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Boris Johnson ‘has to go’, says Lib Dem leader Ed Davey

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, has just delivered a victory speech in Tiverton and Honiton saying the Conservatives are running out of excuses for their election defeats. He said:

When we beat them a year ago, in Chesham and Amersham, they said they’d lost because of a small local matter.

When we beat them six months ago in North Shropshire, they said they’d chosen the wrong candidate.

When we beat them last month – in Somerset, in Cumbria, in Wimbledon, in Woking – they chalked it up to “typical mid-term blues”.

The spinners in No 10 call this “expectation management”.

But I can tell No 10 – the British people are sick of having their expectations managed.

For years, Boris Johnson has told people things will get better. But under his leadership, things only get worse.

So let me tell the prime minister what the British people expect: they expect our country to be led.

And he has shown no leadership, whatsoever.

He also urged Tory MPs to get rid of their leader.

Boris Johnson has got to go.

But until the next election, the only people who can show Boris Johnson the door are his own party.

So let me take a moment to manage the expectations of Conservative MPs.

If you fail to get rid of this law-breaking prime minister …

If your party keeps putting up taxes and failing to help people …

If you continue to allow Boris Johnson to drift along with no plan for our country – the Liberal Democrats will come after you, seat by seat.

We will assemble an army of activists. We will offer the change people want, and the change our country needs.

We will drive you out of power.

Ed Davey (left) and with the new Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Richard Foord
Ed Davey (left) with the new Lib Dem MP for Tiverton and Honiton, Richard Foord. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, has said all ministers should take responsibility for the byelection defeats. In a tweet responding to Oliver Dowden’s resignation, he is adopting a slightly more contrite tone than Boris Johnson (see 7.30am, 8.02am and 8.42am.)

I’m sad that my colleague and friend @OliverDowden took the decision to resign this morning.

We all take responsibility for the results and I’m determined to continue working to tackle the cost of living, including delivering NICs changes saving 30 million people on average £330

— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) June 24, 2022

David Frost, the former Brexit minister who has now become a prominent advocate for a more rightwing, low-tax, deregulatory Conservatism, claims that the real problem illustrated by the byelection results is that the party is failing to mobilise its voters.

It’s important to cut through the noise and spin on the Wakefield and Tiverton results.

Both are terrible for @Conservatives.

Neither is particularly good for @labour or @LibDems.

Why? (1/4)

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

In Tiverton there was some Lab/Lib switching, but their total vote as a share of the whole *electorate* only went up from from 25% to 29%.

The Tory vote collapsed from 43% to just under 20%. Nearly 20,000 of our voters stayed at home. That’s why we lost. (2/4)

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

In Wakefield turnout was extremely low. The Lab/Lib vote actually fell, from 28% to 20%.

But the Tory vote fell even further, from 30% to 12%. That’s why we lost. (3/4)

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

So, in contrast to many ‘normal’ mid-term by-elections, these do not show strong protest votes for the opposition.

They show people who voted for us in 2019 refusing to come out and do so again.

We as @Conservatives must decide why that is, and what we do about it. (4/4)

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

Update. Some people, deliberately or not, seem to be reading my comments as suggesting @Conservatives don’t need to worry about these results.

That’s not my point at all. It’s a terrible night & we will lose if we don’t change things.

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

My point is that the remedy is in our @Conservatives hands. Our voters did not switch to the opposition parties in large numbers. They mostly stayed at home. If we can change that, we can win.

So we must make sure we understand why they did that, & then do something about it.

— David Frost (@DavidGHFrost) June 24, 2022

Lord Frost is right to say voters are not switching wholesale from the Conservatives to Labour.

But he is wrong to suggest that the defeats were mainly a function of turnout. Turnout in Tiverton and Honiton was 52% – which is the joint equal (with Chesham and Amersham) highest byelection turnout of this parliament. And in Wakefield the turnout was not “extremely low”. It was 39.5% – which is almost exactly the average turnout for byelections for this parliament (39.7%).

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