7 ways Tory rebels can’t agree on what they want – and it’s bad for Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson faces months of more suffering from Tory rebels after narrowly winning a no-confidence vote 211-148.

The Prime Minister will hurl out a barrage of red meat measures from tax cuts to immigration to please his backbenchers.

He is due to extend the right to buy to housing associations tomorrow – a policy that has previously been tried and failed.

Within days he could unveil legislation to overturn parts of his own 2019 Brexit deal in Northern Ireland.

And next week he is expected to give a speech on the economy with Rishi Sunak, with tax cuts for businesses on the horizon.

The problem is that his rebels aren’t an organized group that agrees – and thus it will be very difficult to please them.

Promising tax cuts will delight right-wing Brexiteers who opposed him, such as Philip Davies, Mark Francois and Steve Baker.

Within days he could unveil legislation to overturn parts of his own 2019 Brexit deal in Northern Ireland


(Getty Images)

But centre-right Tories like Jesse Norman fear his plan to overturn his Brexit deal will breach international law.

And claims that he is being pressured to install moderate Tory Jeremy Hunt as his chancellor have already drawn ridicule.

In a way, the fact that his rebels are not all in agreement is good for Boris Johnson. That means they don’t plan as a unit to oust him.

But on the other hand, it means they can’t be bought, and a measure that pleases one faction will only infuriate another.

With today’s oath No. 10 that ‘he plans to fight and win the next election’, those issues will come to a head in the coming months – although the Prime Minister has boasted he will be visiting the Falkland Islands because ‘things in Westminster appear to be relatively peaceful”.

Here are the biggest sticking points to watch out for.

tax cuts

Most Tories want tax cuts. But she and No10 disagree on what to cut or when.

While the Prime Minister and Chancellor have hinted that they will soon cut taxes, they appear to be referring to corporate taxes for now.

Personal taxes – which they raised in April – remain at their highest levels in decades and a 1p income tax cut is not promised until 2024.

Ex-Brexit Secretary Lord Frost has warned increases are “unconservative” and “undermine growth and prosperity”.

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he opposes the oil and gas windfall tax, which is run by his own department.

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said he opposes the oil and gas windfall tax, which is run by his own department


Zuma Press/PA Images)

Secretary of State Liz Truss and Secretary of Health Sajid Javid have both said they want tax cuts.

A Tory who voted for the Prime Minister told the Mirror he was still seriously concerned about the government’s tax policy.

But how far should they go? Ex-Minister Esther McVey complained about the government: “Covid has turned them into socialists”. She urged Boris Johnson to scrap the entire ‘white elephant’ HS2 railway line to fund tax cuts.

Downing Street is more cautious, with the Prime Minister’s press secretary saying this will only happen “as soon as it is fiscally justifiable”. She added: “We have made it clear that we want to lower taxes, but we are in a very difficult position following the global pandemic.”

Do they want moderate conservatism…

A large camp opposing the prime minister are “moderate” conservatives like Damian Green, Jeremy Hunt and Jesse Norman.

Often ex-ministers from bygone eras, they’re the type of guy who feels Boris Johnson’s entire policy – and Britain’s standing on the world stage – is headed in the wrong direction.

Mr Norman told Boris Johnson in his stinging letter to the Prime Minister: “There seems to be a lack of mission in government among you. She has a large majority but no long-term plan.”

One Tory who has kept her head quite down is Penny Mordaunt, a sitting minister who has not said how she voted. But she wrote: “The only path to victory in the next election is across the arc of economic growth and the ability for our citizens to live well.

“That means a modern economic framework that encourages and enables the creation of wealth and opportunity. It means access to general practitioners and dentists. That means household budgets are keeping up with bills.”

Boris Johnson would, of course, argue that he is already doing so with his rhetoric about “leveling up” and cost-of-living help. But rebels from this school say it’s not enough.

Tory Secretary Penny Mordaunt has taken a cautious approach



… Or right-wing “culture war” politics

Boris Johnson is chasing headline-grabbing ‘red meat’ policies to please his party’s right.

These include a return to imperialism, the forced expulsion of asylum seekers to Rwanda and the privatization of Channel 4.

The policy will please some of the right who voted against the Prime Minister on Monday – particularly some in the “Red Wall” seats, where they believe these issues are key to winning the vacillating ex-Labour voters on their side to keep.

But they will infuriate some of the “moderate” Tories (above). Jesse Norman said: “The Rwanda policy is ugly, likely counterproductive and of dubious legality.

“The privatization of Channel 4 is an unnecessary and provocative attempt to address a politically non-issue during a crisis.”

Mr Norman said the Prime Minister was pursuing a policy to create “dividing lines and culture wars and political disagreements, just at a time when we need unified, inclusive, resolute positive leadership”.

Jesse Norman said the Prime Minister has no vision for the country



Jeremy Hunt as Chancellor

Strong rumors surfaced that allies of Boris Johnson were urging him to make Jeremy Hunt chancellor as a peace offering.

The Prime Minister’s press secretary insisted there were “no plans for a reshuffle” and no plans to give Mr Hunt the job.

An ally told the Daily Mail the idea was “insane” and accused Mr Hunt of orchestrating the latest round of attacks on the Prime Minister, saying: “Jeremy worded this show, it’s a complete disgrace.”

Pitting the lead candidate against Boris Johnson, who is said to be leading the party to a general election defeat, would be a highly controversial move and would unnerve the many right-wing cabinet nostrils.

Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s former chief of staff, observed: “Reshuffles always piss more people off than they’d like – for every person you promote you have to demote another, and then there are the people who didn’t get anything. ”

Rumors that Jeremy Hunt could be appointed chancellor were dealt with quickly


(Getty Images)

Brexit and Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson is preparing within days to table legislation to tear up his own 2019 Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.

This will please the Brexiteer Tories, who think the EU has been too strict in controlling goods under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

But Conservative Jesse Norman warned the Prime Minister that it was “almost certainly illegal” and “poses a serious threat to the Union itself”.

Downing Street today denied that a top Treasury attorney was not consulted on the law, which has yet to be signed by Cabinet.

But No. 10 did not deny reports that the attorney was not specifically consulted on the merits of the new law.

Any attempt at compromise would risk alienating both sides, who would say it didn’t go far enough.

Changing the rules at another leadership competition

One of the reasons for Theresa May’s resignation in 2019 is said to have been the threat to change the rules of leadership.

Currently, any Prime Minister who wins a vote of confidence is safe for 12 months. In 2019, the 1922 Committee discussed a reduction.

Several rebels, including Defense Committee chairman Tobias Ellwood, have expressed support for a change to six months.

Mr Ellwood said “we’re talking months ahead of the party conference” to show the Prime Minister has changed.

But fellow rebel David Davis wrote for The Times: “I am not in favor of changing the interval between votes of confidence.

“This threatens to destabilize any future Conservative leader, which would be a disastrous outcome for this episode.”

And of course Boris Johnson himself

We left the most fundamental issue for last – what if the problem isn’t politics, it’s Boris Johnson himself?

Many rebels believe the prime minister’s personal character was the problem.

If the Privileges Committee finds out in the fall that he lied about Partygate, it will only get worse.

Several MPs have already said in their letters of no confidence that they are unsure whether the Prime Minister was telling the truth in Parliament.

And as Jeremy Hunt wrote: “We are not giving the British people the leadership they deserve.

“We do not offer the integrity, competence and vision necessary to unleash the enormous potential of our country.

“And because the voters no longer trust us, who also know that, we will lose the next parliamentary elections.”

If enough Tories come to this conclusion, no amount of new policy will save Boris Johnson.

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/7-ways-tory-rebels-cant-27181427 7 ways Tory rebels can't agree on what they want - and it's bad for Boris Johnson

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