Jesse Norman

Why I can no longer support Boris Johnson

Why I can no longer support Boris Johnson
Jesse Norman (Credit: Parliamentlive.tv)
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Dear Boris,

As you know, I have supported you throughout your career in politics: for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012, and for Leader in 2016 and 2019.

As Prime Minister, you have been dealt a very difficult hand with Covid and Ukraine, and you deserve great credit for much of the way in which the Government has handled these twin crises. Your recent visit to Kyiv was a conspicuous act of leadership.

When I stepped down from the Treasury last September, you raised the topic of the next reshuffle, and we discussed the potential for me to run a department of state.

Worse still: you are apparently trying to import elements of a presidential system of government that is entirely foreign to our constitution and law.

But you are not a president, and you have no mandate other than as an MP, and from the confidence of your colleagues. Attempts to centralise power in 10 Downing Street are not merely yet another ill-advised political distraction, but almost certain to compound and accelerate the problems listed above.

In my judgement, all these things are at odds with a decent, proper conservative: with effective teamwork, careful reform, a sense of integrity, respect for the rule of law and a long-term focus on the public good.

Little could please me less than to have to write in these terms. But someone needs to say it, now. With Brexit and Covid behind us, we are at an inflection point. People are crying out for good government and for warm, engaged, unifying and constructive leadership, in the service of a vision all can believe in.

Neither the Conservative party nor the country can afford to squander the next two years adrift and distracted by endless debate about you and your leadership.

For you to prolong this charade by remaining in office not only insults the electorate and the tens of thousands of people who support, volunteer, represent and campaign for our party; it makes a decisive change of government at the election much more likely. That is potentially catastrophic for this country.

For these reasons and with great sadness, I am withdrawing my support for you as leader and I have notified this to the 1922 committee.

I leave it to my colleagues to decide where they stand in relation to these concerns. For the avoidance of doubt, however, this is not a leadership bid.

As ever,

Jesse Norman