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Rishi Sunak faces mounting problems as third Tory MP quits in 24 hours

10 Jun 2023 4 minute read
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, Image by Leon Neal, PA Images

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces a third by-election test after a close ally of Boris Johnson resigned from the Commons with “immediate effect”.

In a tumultuous 24 hours for the Conservative Party, Nigel Adams MP announced on Saturday that he was following the former prime minister and former culture secretary Nadine Dorries’ lead in quitting Westminster.

In a tweet, Mr Adams said: “Yesterday, Selby Conservatives selected an excellent new parliamentary candidate.

“I’ve today informed the chief whip that I will be standing down as a Member of Parliament with immediate effect.

“It has been an honour to represent the area where I was raised (and) educated.”

Mr Adams and Ms Dorries had been tipped for peerages in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours but neither featured in Friday’s published list.

There has been speculation that Downing Street wanted their names removed to avoid by-election contests, although No 10 said Mr Sunak had no involvement in producing the final list.

The Prime Minister has yet to comment on Mr Johnson’s departure.

While the Tories enjoy a comfortable 20,000 majority in Selby and Ainsty, Mr Adams’ decision to exit immediately rather than wait until the next election means the Tories will face contests on three fronts.

Attack

Mr Johnson sensationally quit Westminster on Friday as he launched a fierce attack on the Commons Privileges Committee investigation into whether he misled MPs with his assurances over parties held in Downing Street during coronavirus lockdowns.

In a 1,000-word statement, he said the seven-person panel, which is chaired by veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman but has a Conservative majority, was on a “witch hunt” and compared it with a “kangaroo court”.

Mr Johnson said he was “bewildered and appalled” at being “forced out, anti-democratically” by a probe that he claimed had set out from the beginning to “find me guilty, regardless of the facts”.

He denied lying to MPs and said he “corrected the record as soon as possible” after receiving information about lockdown gatherings in No 10.

The former Tory leader’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat, where he had a 7,000 majority, was in Labour’s top 100 targets at the next election even before Mr Johnson’s resignation.

The Liberal Democrats have briefed that they could potentially pull off an upset in Ms Dorries’ former Mid Bedfordshire constituency.

The TalkTV presenter said on Friday that she did not plan on triggering a by-election but resigned shortly before Mr Johnson’s honours roll was made public.

Labour came second in Selby at the 2019 election.

Pact

It comes as Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey ruled out a pact with Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party to encourage tactical voting in a bid to secure victories in the by-elections.

“There’ll be no pacts, no deals,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Sir Ed’s party said the flurry of resignations showed the Tories were in “meltdown” and urged the Prime Minister to call a general election.

Mr Johnson’s decision to step down came ahead of the publication of the Privileges Committee report into whether he lied to the Commons when he said No 10 had followed social distancing rules during the pandemic.

While the committee’s findings have yet to be released, Mr Johnson’s response appears to confirm that the MPs have concluded he had not been truthful about the boozy parties.

Ms Harman’s panel will meet on Monday and publish its findings “promptly”.

The committee was reportedly preparing to recommend a 10-day suspension from the Commons for Mr Johnson, a conclusion which would have paved the way for a recall petition and a potential by-election in his west London constituency if more than 10% of his constituents voted for one.

Coward

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner called him a “coward” for quitting the Commons and said he “jumped” before having to face the verdict of voters.

Veteran Tory MP David Davis, who served in Theresa May’s cabinet alongside Mr Johnson, said “most MPs” thought the former No 10 incumbent had lied.

The former Brexit secretary told GB News: “The truth of the matter is, ask around Parliament, ask most of the MPs, most people are fairly sure he misled the House.

“And he did so many times and he did so knowing that these parties had occurred and he had been at some of them.

“It is hard to be at a party and not notice it is a party.”

He said his fellow Brexit campaigner had been given “hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money” to pay for “the most expensive lawyers in the land” to advise him during the inquiry.

He added: “I hardly think that’s unfair treatment.”


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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

The label ‘Coward’ and worse must be levelled at Sunak for approving Fat Shanks’ choice of some of the worst people ever to desecrate UK politics and Parliament…

The lack of integrity, respect and honesty reveals Sunak to be a shallow creature without any redeeming qualities…

The Five Prime Ministers of the Apocalypse @Slash, Burn and Pillage (UK) UnLtd…

Last edited 8 months ago by Mab Meirion
George Thomas
George Thomas
8 months ago

It’s been a significantly dark decade for UK politics but only because they’ve stopped being so effective at hiding behind closed doors.

We’re not free of the party political games or chancers in Wales mind.

An awful lot of work needed to improve things.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
8 months ago

With a third Tory rat fleeing HMS Brexit you can be reassured the Conservative government with captain Sunak at the helm will hang on by their teeth unless these resignations snowball making governing nye on impossible which will spark a snap general election.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago
Reply to  Y Cymro

That is what we want, a snap GE in October when it should be a little cooler and the memory of the 3 preceding winters are before the common folk. Memories of cold, hunger and fear…Fat Shanks’ legacy. Hunt, Sunak, Hancock, Patel, Raab, et al, we must not forget, there must be a collective memory in the oral tradition. A new voice of the Bard, perhaps that rapper chap could rap us into the future. One never knows where a new ‘messiah’ might reside… They say the little tyke has scarpered off to Africa, not Rwanda by any chance? Stay… Read more »

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
8 months ago

He denied lying to MPs and said he “corrected the record as soon as possible” after receiving information about lockdown gatherings in No 10.

How long does it take information to reach Johnson’s brain that he is at a “gathering“?

FX: smell and sight of combusting nether garments.

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
8 months ago

Nice to know that the ‘Main’ opposition parties have ruled out any kind of pact to help voters vote tactically. They are certainly men of the Establishment rather than men of People.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

While Fat Shanks is being vilified (rightly) he dominates the news leaving the new ‘Boss’ of @Slash, Burn and Pillage (UK) some clear air to continue in his spidery way to bring the UK public to heal with any law his ‘enforcer’ can dream up @Pinch, Cuff and Jail private security service at Rishi’s command…

There is a lot in common between him and Macron…diminutive authoritarians…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
8 months ago

Are they displaying their noses like peacocks at Chequers?

Mr Punch and Mr Sunak square up, truncheons at dawn with Mad Nad and Sussie the Banshee their devoted seconds. One day this will all be a film or a 5 part documentary on Crime of The Century; it came third to Putin’s War (written by A. Horowitz) and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth …

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