Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, the runaway favourite among Conservative (Tory) Party activists to replace Boris Johnson, has announced he will not even stand.
Defence Secretary Wallace was for most of his career something of an unknown, but is currently enjoying a wave of support among the Conservative Party faithful due to his role in the Ukraine War — and a fairly dull track record free of high-profile controversies.
Polling by YouGov and informal surveys of Tory members — ordinary members, not Members of Parliament — strongly indicated that the party leadership and, with it, the office of Prime Minister, was there for the taking, with Wallace firmly at the head of the pack of likely contenders and enjoying big double-digit leads over other top candidates.
On Saturday, however, the 52-year-old announced he would not even stand for the leadership, leading some to posit a stitch-up among party elites.
“After careful consideration and discussing with colleagues and family, I have taken the decision not to enter the contest for leadership of the Conservative Party,” he said on social media.
“It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe,” he claimed.
Conservative members poll: Ben Wallace beats all comers for next leader by wide margins
Wallace v Sunak: 51% v 30%
Wallace v Truss: 48% v 29%
Wallace v Mordaunt: 48% v 26%
Wallace v Hunt: 58% v 22%https://t.co/s76Vy5j93R pic.twitter.com/E4ztNXWVSi
— YouGov (@YouGov) July 7, 2022
Prime Ministers are not directly elected in the United Kingdom, with the monarch instead inviting a person capable of commanding a parliamentary majority to form a government — in practice, usually the MP who leads the political party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons.
This means that, with Boris Johnson standing down as Tory leader, the next Prime Minister will effectively be decided through internal and highly elitist Tory leadership elections.
Typically, these involve a number of MPs putting themselves forward for the job, with the Parliamentary Party voting among themselves in a series of until the field is whittled down to a final two.
Only then are the party’s roughly 180,000 ordinary members entitled to vote for the ultimate winner — but the person they truly wanted may have been excluded by MPs long before this point.
This was the case in 2016, when Boris Johnson was the members’ clear favourite to replace David Cameron, but had to drop out of the race early on once it became clear that MPs would not allow him to reach the final two.
Ultimately, members were faced with the choice of Theresa May, a Remain voter, and the previously little-known Andrea Leadsom, a Brexit voter who may nevertheless have stood a good chance of winning — but she dropped out before a members’ vote could take place, citing May’s much greater support among the Parliamentary Party.
In this way, Tory MPs were able to effectively coronate a new leader from among their own ranks without reference to ordinary members, who generally skew much more conservative than their politicians on issues such as Brexit, climate change, immigration, and social policy.
It has not been an easy choice to make, but my focus is on my current job and keeping this great country safe. I wish the very best of luck to all candidates and hope we swiftly return to focusing on the issues that we are all elected to address. 2/2
— Rt. Hon Ben Wallace MP (@BWallaceMP) July 9, 2022
Whether Wallace was told by party “colleagues” that he would not be allowed to win the leadership contest remains to be seen, although it is possible members may have become more disillusioned with him over time if his views became more widely known over the course of campaigning in any case.
The Remain voter has previously said that the idea of full border control — something Tory members have long wanted but with the Parliamentary Party quietly opposes — is “ridiculous”, and indulged in over-the-top wokery during the BLM unrest of 2020, claiming that Allied soldiers had willingly died by the thousands on D-Day “so that Black lives would matter.”
Among those Tory MPs who are standing, the contender who currently has by far the most endorsements from colleagues is the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.
Sunak, one of the wealthiest men in Parliament and married into India’s billionaire business aristocracy, is a Brexiteer who enjoyed significant popularity among members in the early days of Johnson’s premiership, has in recent months seen his star fade, being strongly associated with the decidedly un-conservative, high-tax fiscal policy the government has pursued.
His recent resignation, along with former health secretary Sajid Javid, is believed to have stemmed in large part from his opposition to the belated tax cuts Johnson had decided he wanted to past, and continued opposition to tax cuts — or “fiscal responsibility” — appears to be a key plank in his election platform.
The fact that his resignation helped precipitate the wave of further resignations which ultimately toppled Johnson may play poorly with ordinary members too, with many still believing it was wrong to remove him without reference to the membership — still less the electorate — in service of what they see as a left-liberal media agenda.
Double-Speak: UK Chancellor Vows Lower Taxes… While Increasing Themhttps://t.co/tGVOsylrj3
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 25, 2022
Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery
Follow Breitbart London on Facebook: Breitbart London
Leave a Reply