Tory leadership: Voters 'preferred' Boris Johnson says expert
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The Conservative party has verified and confirmed 8,700 Tory members have signed a petition organised by donor Lord Cruddas demanding a veto on whether to accept the Prime Minister’s resignation. It leaves supporters of Boris Johnson just 1,300 short of the 10,000 threshold that could force the Tory party to change its constitution.
Signatories of the petition want the Conservatives to consider changing its constitution to allow a vote on whether the membership accepts Mr Johnson’s decision to stand down.
Last night Lord Cruddas urged the current leadership contest to be sensationally suspended to determine whether there was likely to be enough support for the rule change.
He warned that to plough on with the ballot between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss risked sparking a crisis within the party as a vote on Mr Johnson was unlikely to be able to be organised before a new leader was announced on September 5.
“CCHQ has confirmed this week that 8,700 Tory party members have signed a petition demanding a veto on whether to accept Boris Johnson’s resignation.
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“But what happens if a Boris ballot comes after the leadership campaign is completed and we have a new Prime Minister?,” he said on social media.
“Once the threshold of 10,000 signatures is reached, then the ballot will still go ahead regardless of who is elected leader.
“We want a simple ballot on whether to accept Johnson’s resignation regardless. That is the member’s constitutional right.
“I am aware of the chaos which might be triggered when the 10,000 threshold is cleared, and a confirmatory members ballot is held.
“This is why I am calling for the present leadership campaign to be suspended until we know the member’s views.
“If there is chaos it will have been created by the board, not the members.
“The members are entitled to their say and if members vote not to accept Johnson’s resignation, that would leave the new leader in an untenable position.”
Lord Cruddas first set up the petition last month after Mr Johnson announced he was quitting as the Tory party leader in the face of the mass resignation if his ministers.
More than 20,000 signatures have been put to the appeal but the number was reduced to 8,700 once unverified names were removed.
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Last week polling indicated Mr Johnson was still the preferred choice among the Conservative party membership to be Prime Minister.
A survey for Opinium found the incumbent would beat both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak in a head to head vote.
In a run-off with Ms Truss, 63 percent of party members would chose the Prime Minister compared to the Foreign Secretary.
Meanwhile, the result was even starker in a run-off with Mr Sunak as 68 percent said they would back Mr Johnson and just 19 percent opted for his former chancellor.
Opinium spoke to 570 Tory members between August 8 and 12.
A Conservative party spokesman said last night: “If a petition with 10,000 signatures from members was received, we would follow the processes as laid out in our constitution.
“No such petition has been received.
“Neither the constitution or rules of this leadership election can be changed retrospectively.”
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