Kirklees Conservatives adopt cautious stance over Prime Minister’s future

Conservatives in Kirklees say they currently have “no plans” to formally call on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign over mounting revelations of rule-breaking parties at 10 Downing Street during lockdown.

By Tony Earnshaw, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 7:00 am
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) wrote to all 19 members of the Conservative group on Kirklees Council asking whether Mr Johnson had their support or whether he should step down.

So far two councillors have spoken out.

Writing on Twitter on January 12 deputy group leader Coun John Taylor (Kirkburton) said the Prime Minister’s actions were “unacceptable” and “showed no understanding of what everyone else was being asked to do”.

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He added: “He should go now.”

And Coun Josh Sheard (Birstall and Birkenshaw) laid into Mr Johnson in a lengthy attack in which he said the Prime Minister’s behaviour must not be allowed to “taint” the reputation of Tories doing good work locally.

He added: “If he has broken his own rules then he must do the honourable thing and resign.”

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Asked whether his group or the various Conservative associations in Kirklees would be calling formally for the Prime Minister to step down, council group leader Coun David Hall (Liversedge and Gomersal) said: “We have no plans to do so.”

Contrary to the opinion of Coun Sheard, two deputy chairmen of Huddersfield Conservative Association took a more cautious view.

Coun Bill Armer (Kirkburton) said he would be talking to colleagues “before reaching a definitive personal position” and suggested the issues surrounding Mr Johnson were “not perhaps as binary” as receiving support or being asked to resign.

And Coun Bernard McGuin (Almondbury) said: “I believe in loyalty to the leader.

“At the moment he has my support. It is up to Boris whether he thinks he should go.

"We await the Gray report to see if this will change things.”

Senior civil servant Sue Gray is investigating a number of alleged lockdown-breaking parties across Whitehall.

Her report is due soon – perhaps even by the end of this week according to some Westminster insiders.

The Prime Minister himself has urged critics to wait for the outcome of that inquiry.

Local sources within the Conservatives say Ms Gray will “get some stick” regardless of her verdict.

One commented: “Only the MPs can get rid of him, let’s face it.

“At the moment they will only do that if they think he is damaging their electability.

"Councillors’ duty, in this instance, is to pass on their concerns to the national party.

“There have been a few sarcastic comments from constituents [but] at the moment no one has said that the local party should join the move to remove the Prime Minister.

“Tories have traditionally not done their dirty washing in public. That is what the Labour Party do.”