Disillusioned Tory members quit after Rishi Sunak made party leader

25 October 2022, 09:12 | Updated: 25 October 2022, 09:13

Rishi Sunak Becomes Leader Of The Conservative Party And UK's New Prime Minister
Rishi Sunak's appointment is unlikely to heal Tory party divisions. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

By James Hockaday

Some Conservative party supporters are cancelling their memberships following the announcement that Rishi Sunak is set to become prime minister.

One Tory voter of more than 40 years said they felt as though the party "has been destroyed from within", but others were "delighted" by the news.

It comes after Liz Truss announced her resignation on Thursday after just 44 full days in office, making her the shortest running prime minister in British history.

Boris Johnson was expected to throw his hat into the ring to replace her, having been forced by his own MPs to resign as recently as July, but he dropped out on Sunday, accepting he wouldn't have a "united party" behind him.

With Penny Mordaunt failing to secure enough nominations from MP, Mr Sunak was the last man standing, leading some to describe his journey into Number 10 as a "coronation".

Boris Johnson is pictured arriving back at Gatwick Airport from the Caribbean on Friday.
Boris Johnson cut his Caribbean holiday short to join the race but ended up pulling out. Picture: Alamy. Picture: Alamy

Considering Tory members elected Ms Truss to lead them as recently as September, some are feeling disillusioned and betrayed that her runner-up is now taking her place with no one voting for him.

Lyn Bond, a 60-year-old retired nurse who has voted Conservative since she was 18, sent an email to cancel her membership after it was confirmed the MP for Richmond will lead the party.

"The whole thing is rather sad because, for a party that had such a wonderful win in 2019, it has been destroyed from within," she said.

"I can't bring myself after 40 years to support them anymore, I don't trust them. I feel awash on a boat in the ocean not knowing where to go, what to do. I've never doubted what I voted for, ever, until today."

Read more: Sunak's in-tray: what challenges will the PM face during his first week in office?

Read more: 'Our Obama moment': leader of Hindu temple set up by Sunak's grandfather reacts to Rishi becoming Prime Minister

Ms Bond, from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, said members felt like they "don't know what's going on behind the scenes".

She said: "It's insidious the way they've got Rishi Sunak in - they wanted him in, and he's in. There's something else going on and that meant I couldn't personally trust him as a candidate... Why has it come to this? The truth of the matter is this country is going to suffer.

"What I would say at the moment is I wouldn't vote for anybody - and that I don't believe in because women died to give us the vote, and I don't want to say that."

New UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Takes Office
Mr Sunak is set to meet the King today and give his first address to the nation as PM. Picture: Alamy. Picture: Getty

Samuel Jukes, a 33-year-old retail worker from Birmingham who joined the Tories in 2019 and supported Mr Johnson in the contest, said a general election should now be called as Mr Sunak "has no mandate".

He said: "I'm fuming right now, we never voted for Rishi Sunak. I'm considering leaving, not decided yet but I see a lot of members are cancelling their memberships and I might be the same... Rishi has no mandate.

"Right now I'm ashamed to be a Conservative member."

But members of Conservative associations as well as local councillors said they were "delighted" by how the contest played out.

Read more: Rishi Sunak facts: Policies, background and wife and children - everything you need to know

Read more: Boris Johnson supporters in ‘denial’ of his ‘narcissistic traits’, suggests psychiatrist caller

Tom Herman, from Hoveton, who is deputy chairman of North Norfolk Conservatives, said that North Norfolk Conservative MP Duncan Baker, who backed Mr Sunak, "consults very widely in the constituency - not just among Conservative Party members - and listens to those views and makes an informed decision on who to back for leader".

"That, to me, is equally democratic," Mr Herman said. "He really has his finger on the pulse of the constituency."

Roy Aldcroft, a Conservative councillor at Shropshire Council, said: "I'm very pleased it has been sorted out, that we will now have a clear path to sort out the many problems that we will be facing this winter.

"The fact that we did not get an opportunity to vote, I'm sure some members were quite upset about that but to be quite honest we need to put the country first."

Penny Mordaunt withdrew from the Tory leadership contest at the last minute
Penny Mordaunt withdrew from the contest at the last minute, leaving Rishi Sunak as the last candidate standing. Picture: Getty. Picture: Getty

Conservative councillor for Dorset Council, Carole Jones, said she is "more than happy" with the outcome and that she is "quite pleased we didn't have a vote".

"If our MPs do not get behind Rishi now, when we come up for election, people like us will be mullered," she said before telling them to "get their bloody act together".

Ramji Kanji Chauhan, deputy mayor of Harrow, said he agrees that the quick leadership process has been better than going to a vote among members.

"With a vote, it goes on for a long time, we make the country unsettled," he said.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that Rishi is going to be prime minister.

"I think we need stability now," she said, adding that the turbulence has been difficult for councils who need "clarity" so they can plan.

Mrs Campbell said the new prime minister is "sensible", "clever" and "decent", adding: "It is quite nice to have a grown-up back in control."

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