Here we go. Ever since 11 Tory MPs voted against the Safety of Rwanda Bill last week, talk has resurfaced that the party has a death wish. The problem is that different MPs define that as different things. While a mass of Conservative MPs say the rebellion over Sunak’s plan to stop the boats amounts to self-destructive behaviour, the rebels argue that sticking with Rishi Sunak as leader when the party’s polling is so bad that it amounts to self-harm. Tonight one such rebel has gone public with these thoughts. Step forward Simon Clarke.
Clarke – who served in Liz Truss’s cabinet – has written an column for Wednesday’s Telegraph entitled ‘Replace Sunak or face decade of decline under Starmer’. In the piece, he argues that Sunak’s:
uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery: we need a leader who shares instincts of the majority.
It is now beyond doubt that whilst the Prime Minister is far from solely responsible for our present predicament, his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery.
Rishi Sunak has sadly gone from asset to anchor. He lags Keir Starmer – himself no Tony Blair – by double digits on the “Best Prime Minister” metric.
So, is this the beginning of the end for Sunak? Of course, the Tory party has shown in the course of the past two years that it is more than capable of ousting leaders when MPs conclude they are dead weight. Clarke joins Andrea Jenkyns in calling publicly for Sunak to go. His comments aren’t so surprising given Clarke has been very critical of Sunak previously and a key figure in the various boats rebellions. Could others now follow? Within government the 11 MPs who voted against the Rwanda Bill are regarded as largely off the reservation list.