Today marks 12 years since the Conservative Party came to power, and MPs and political pundits are looking back on the party’s achievements — and its most painful failures.
- FIND OUT MORE How the Conservatives became the party of Britain’s poor
- SEE MORE Inside the New Northern Conservatism
- FIND OUT MORE Next Tory leader odds and polls: The front runners who will replace Boris Johnson
The Tories entered government as part of a coalition after the 2010 general election, ending 13 years of Labor rule. Here The Week looks back on the ups and downs of her turbulent time in office so far.
Cameron moves up to 10th place
After the 2010 general election ended in a stalemate, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats agreed to form Britain’s first coalition government since 1945.
43-year-old David Cameron, who came to power amid the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash, became the youngest prime minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. At the time, he vowed to lead a “bold and reformative” government that would “put the party aside.” differences and work hard for the common good”.
Within a month of taking office, Cameron described the country’s economic plight as “even worse than we thought” and warned of “difficult choices” as part of an austerity program that proved controversial.
Labor accused Cameron of losing touch when he introduced the so-called “bedroom tax”, but he was widely praised for introducing same-sex marriages in England and Wales in 2014.
A British-French-led coalition launched strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces in 2011 that resulted in the Libyan leader’s ouster. Later, a report by the UK Parliament sharply criticized the intervention.
Cameron became the first prime minister since 1782 to lose a foreign policy vote in the House of Commons when MPs rejected proposed military action in Syria.
And in a Scottish independence referendum in 2014, the winning “no” side received 2,001,926 votes, while the “yes” side received 1,617,989 votes.
In 2013, Cameron said the British people had to “have their say” on Europe when he promised an in-out referendum. The Prime Minister campaigned for the Remain side during a divisive campaign, while Boris Johnson decided to join the Leave side.
In 2016, the UK voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU. Within hours of the result, Cameron announced he was stepping down, telling the nation that “new leadership” was needed.
Enter Theresa May
After six years as Home Secretary, Theresa May won the party leadership campaign on 11 July 2016 after Andrea Leadsom resigned, leaving May as the sole candidate.
As the nation’s second prime minister, she pledged to fight the “burning injustice” in British society and create unity “among all our citizens”.
However, she lost the party’s majority when she called snap elections the following year, making her dependent on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and suffered a series of humiliations when her Brexit deal was rejected.
May’s premiership was “dominated by tortuous negotiations in Brussels and vicious infighting within Tory ranks over the terms on which the UK would leave,” ITV said.
Johnson replaces May
“Clearly, the UK government is going to see a very different kind of prime ministerial leadership,” said David Klemperer of the Institute for Government after Boris Johnson was elected to succeed May in July 2019.
He immediately got to work on Brexit, controversially prorogating Parliament and then losing his working majority after Tory MP Phillip Lee took the floor and defected to the Liberal Democrats.
Johnson stripped the party whip from 21 Tory MPs after they defied him in the House of Commons, eventually pushing MPs to a general election. The move paid off as he returned to Downing Street in December 2019 by a large majority.
Johnson led his campaign by promising “Get Brexit Done” and delivered on his promise, and the UK promptly left the EU.
The Covid pandemic hits the UK
As the Covid-19 pandemic took hold around the world, Johnson’s government was initially criticized for “moving too slowly” and “relying on the hope of herd immunity” as other countries took tough action in response to the crisis, The Independent said .
But despite the reluctance at the top of government, Johnson would eventually put the country under lockdown restrictions in March 2020. During a televised address to the nation, he called Covid-19 “the greatest threat this country has faced in decades.”
In May, the government rolled out what it called a ‘world’s best’ track-and-trace system at a cost of £37billion, promising the public it would prevent another national lockdown.
Meg Hillier, Labor Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, later criticized the scheme, arguing that despite the “unimaginable resources” the project received, it “could show no measurable difference in the progress of the pandemic”.
The government did much better with the rollout of its vaccination programme, which quickly became “the largest and fastest in Europe”, the BBC said.
But his Covid record has since been tarnished by a series of scandals.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock resigned after it was found he broke social distancing rules by kissing a colleague in May 2020 while the Prime Minister, his wife Carrie Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak of the Metropolitan Police for attending fined for breaking the law Events during lockdown.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/politics/956647/twelve-years-of-the-tories Twelve years of the Tories: the good, the bad and the ugly