Conservative Party ‘fully taken over by hard right’ and turning into Brexit Party under Boris Johnson, says former Tory MP

'They are basically turning themselves into the Brexit party in order to hold off Nigel Farage' warns once-leading moderniser Nick Boles

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Thursday 25 July 2019 10:53
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Former Tory MP Nick Boles: Conservative Party ‘fully taken over by hard right’ and turning into Brexit Party under Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson’s new cabinet is proof that the Conservative party has “been fully taken over by the hard right,” former Tory MP Nick Boles says.

In an outspoken attack, the now Independent MP accused the party he quit over the threat of a no-deal Brexit of “turning themselves” into a copycat of Nigel Farage’s new party.

Promotions for chancellor Sajid Javid and Priti Patel, the new home secretary – and once a death penalty supporter – added up to a cabinet of “Thatcherites and no-deal Brexiters”, he said

Mr Boles also turned his fire on leading former Remainers Nicky Morgan and Amber Rudd – now happy to serve Mr Johnson – who were “neutered captives”.

“They very recently passionately believed a no-deal Brexit was entirely unthinkable and would do immense damage to the British economy,” he warned.

“In order to secure those positions in Boris Johnson’s cabinet, they have signed up to a pledge that we will leave the EU on 31 October with no deal if necessary. If that’s not neutering, what is?”

Mr Boles spoke out after the new prime minister carried out the biggest and most brutal cull in living memory, axing 18 senior ministers who served Theresa May – including his leadership rival Jeremy Hunt.

“What it establishes beyond all doubt is that the Conservative party has now been fully taken over top to bottom by the hard right,” Mr Boles told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“They are basically turning themselves into the Brexit party in order to hold off Nigel Farage.”

As well as Mr Javid and Ms Patel, Mr Johnson also found prominent roles for hard Brexit-backers Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Theresa Villiers, with Michael Gove in charge of no-deal planning.

Controversially, he also brought in Vote Leave chief and admired campaigner Dominic Cummings as his chief-of-staff – in a clear hint that a general election is looming.

The appointments were widely seen as an attempt to unify the Brexiteer vote, undermining Mr Farage, while calculating that the Remain vote will stay divided.

Labour will not force a no-confidence vote today, preferring to wait until the autumn when it believes Tory rebels are more likely to join them and offer a genuine hope of victory.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, predicted that “Boris comes back with something that’s undeliverable or unacceptable around Brexit”.

“And then you judge it in the conversations you’ll have across the House about what’s feasible and what’s not,” he said.

“You’ve got large numbers of [Tory] people who are going to be on the backbenches now, not particularly happy, and also I think quite shocked like the rest of us about how far Boris has gone.”

Mr Boles added: “These are not normal, centre-ground, pragmatic politicians. These are ideologically motivated people from the hard right.”

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