Saturday, 25 Mar 2023

Tory activists draw up deselection target list of anti-Boris MPs

Boris Johnson believes Tories can win next General Election

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Conservative activists who back Boris Johnson have drawn up a target list of MPs who resigned from his government triggering his downfall including Rishi Sunak’s Chief Whip Simon Hart. The list contains Tory MPs from the left and right of the party who resigned en masse forcing Mr Johnson to announce his resignation.

The revelation comes after Damian Green, Theresa May’s former Deputy Prime Minister, was blocked by activists for being a candidate for the newly created Weald of Kent seat.

Mr Green is chairman of the One Nation group on the left of the party which includes many former Remainers and critics of Mr Johnson.

But the list seen by does not include backbenchers who were seen as partly responsible for Mr Johnson’s downfall.

Some names have been removed because they are seen as “untouchable” like the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a popular rising star like Kemi Badenoch, have subsequently backed Mr Johnson’s return like Stoke North Jonathan Gullis or are already retiring like former Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

But the long list includes most of the MPs who resigned from government positions.

The most high profile name is Mr Hart who quit as Welsh Secretary and is now in charge of keeping discipline in the parliamentary party as Chief Whip.

Mr Hart’s Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire seat is effectively being combined with another in the boundary review making him more vulnerable than most.

Others include: Andrew Murrison, Saqib Bhatti, Bim Afolami, Nicola Richards, Virginia Crosbie, Alex Chalk, Theo Clarke, Laura Trott, Will Quince, Robin Walker, John Glen, Victoria Atkins, Jo Churchill, Selaine Saxby, Claire Coutinho, David Johnston, Felicity Buchan, Neil O’Brien, Alex Bughart, Lee Rowley, Julia Lopez, Mark Logan, Rachel Maclean, Craig Williams, Mims Davies, Duncan Baker, Mike Freer, Mark Fletcher, Sara Britcliffe, Ruth Edwards, Peter Gibson, James Sunderland, David Duguid, Jacob Young, Danny Kruger, James Daly, David Mundell, Guy Opperman, Chris Philip, George Freeman, Gareth Davies, James Cartlidge, Damian Hinds, Brandon Lewis, Ed Argar, James Davies and Helen Whately.

All of them either resigned or were seen as disloyal by Boris Johnson supporters.

A source involved with drawing up the list told “They all have reselection coming up.”

The threats by Boris Johnson loyalists on MPs being reselected has been linked to the new Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), which was founded in the wake of Mr Sunak becoming party leader without a vote by the membership.

Over the weekend CDO chief executive Claire Bullivant said that after Mr Green’s deselection around 60 MPs “should be feeling very nervous.”

MPs who are allies of Mr Johnson have noted that some of their colleagues “are getting worried about reselection” especially with the boundary changes to seats making that less straightforward.

Already Sally-Ann Hart in Hastings and Jo Gideon in Stoke Central have been blocked, according to campaigners, fro being reselected becauuse of their disloyalty to Mr Johnson.

However, CDO President Lord Cruddas insisted that the organisation is not trying to bring Boris Johnson back.

He told “The CDO wants to stay neutral on politics but business I can say what I like. But just if people who resigned would be nice to stir things up and keep above points in focus.”

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