‘We didn’t vote for this’: Anger over Brexit failures haunts Tories | Brexit | Daily News Byte

‘We didn’t vote for this’: Anger over Brexit failures haunts Tories |  Brexit

 | Daily News Byte

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TThree years ago last week, Boris Johnson stormed to victory in an election contested by the Conservatives under a simple slogan: “Get Brexit done.” Later in the morning, the then prime minister urged everyone to “find closure” on the European question that had divided his party and the country for so long.

He called on the British people to unite, “let the healing begin” and focus on the NHS. The Tories were broken by the “red wall”. He seemed omnipotent. It was labor that faced existential questions.

Now, with almost two years to go until the likely date of the next election and both Johnson and his successor, Liz Truss, having been ousted by their own MPs, Labor leads the polls by between 15 and 20 per cent at the end of 2022. .

The NHS is on its knees and beset by strikes. With nurses, doctors and paramedics leaving in their thousands, it is desperately short of money and staff. Not a penny of the £350m a week that Johnson said Brexit would release for the health service was ever seen. Increasingly, the entire Brexit effort is seen by business leaders and economists as a self-inflicted disaster that has seriously weakened the British economy, despite persistent claims by former Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg on the BBC. Question time last week.

For the Brexiteers who followed Johnson, it was not like this. He promised them a new dawn of prosperity based on freedom, deregulation, global trade deals and low taxes. Instead, the reality is reduced UK influence, trade deals or none at all (especially with the US), additional bureaucracy, reduced exports, lower gross domestic product and higher taxes.

Fears of Brexit and a Jeremy Corbyn government helped the Tories build an 80-seat majority. But disaffected Brexit supporters are crying betrayal. They make the case that Brexit has been catastrophically mismanaged and new management is needed. Worryingly for Tory MPs, that is precisely what is being offered by the latest incarnation of the Brexit Party, Reform UK, which is on 8% in Sunday’s opinion poll. the observer – The Liberal Democrats are 1 point behind and growing.

Barnsley businessman and former Tory councilor David White
Barnsley businessman and former Tory councilor David White joined the Reform UK party after becoming disillusioned with the Conservatives’ inability to implement policies. Photograph: Gary Kelton/The Observer

Before the party was particularly well known, 19% of all voters polled by Opinion said they would consider reforming the UK and its populist agenda on immigration, getting Brexit right and cutting taxes, compared with 23% of Conservative voters in 2019 and 11% Is included. 2019 Labor voters.

One such convert is Barnsley businessman David White. Until a few days ago he was a Tory councilor in the South Yorkshire town, but then defected to join Reform UK. He is one of 9,000 people nationally that the party’s leader, Richard Tice, says has signed up in the past two months.

Reform UK has a wider range of policies besides making Brexit better, such as offering nurses a pay rise by exempting them from the basic rate of income tax for three years.

“When I announced the switch to Reform, I looked at my Facebook page with some trepidation,” says White. “I was expecting some stick, but I also got great support from key Conservatives. Even the usual trolls didn’t say anything. I think people have suddenly realized that reform is the only threat in the next elections.”

He puts immigration at the top of his list. “Immigration is one of the main Brexit issues that people don’t think has been resolved at all. It’s off scale. There’s a hotel down the road that’s full. I was sent some video of immigrants the other night in this hotel with the floodlights on at midnight. And drinking coffee and playing football, and it just ranks with people.”

This whole part of South Yorkshire, like much of Red Wall, is disillusioned with Labor as well as the Tories. Lynne Dunning has lived nearby in the former mining village of Goldthorpe, eight miles from Barnsley, for 47 years.

“People feel abandoned by both sides,” she says. “And I voted for Brexit, but what we’ve got is not a vote for the people. It doesn’t seem to have happened as promised. I think a lot of people feel that way.”


eyeIt’s very early days for Tice’s party – but Dunning’s disillusionment is exactly the kind of emotion he wants to tap into. He calls conservatives “sectarian” and says the two major parties are indistinct in the middle-to-common ground. In this way, he hopes to allay Tories’ fears that voting for a rebel party like his could lead to him entering a left-wing Labor government.

“They’re both forms of socialism,” says Tice. “You have the socialists and then there are the red socialists. There is no difference.” He says the Tories have betrayed Brexit and wants to destroy them. “I want the Tories out. I want to destroy them. I think they have ruined our economy. Don’t underestimate us. They have done a lot of damage to this country. I am 58 years old. The condition of the country has never been worse.

Tory MPs and commentators insist they are not panicking about Reform UK – at least not yet. Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, says: “They’re not a problem yet but if they are around the general election and we haven’t solved our problems [inflation, the economy, small boats] Then they will be.”

Nigel Farage
Some Tory MPs fear the return of the former Brexit Party leader as head of Reform UK, his new title. Photograph: Oliver Touron/AFP/Getty Images

Paul Goodman, a former Tory MP who now edits the ConservativeHome website, says the real concern was that former party leader Nigel Farage returned to Reform UK. “My understanding is that most Conservative MPs are not afraid of Richard Tice but would be afraid of Farage.”

Others, with many Brexit voters agreeing with a Conservative MP serving a northern seat. He says: “I don’t see them as a big problem at the moment, but if Farage comes to lead them, it will be different.” The MP, who wishes to remain anonymous, adds: “Keep my name out of it. I don’t want them to target me.

For Tories less preoccupied with Brexit but worried about what they see as their party’s wider centrist drift, Reform UK is also proving attractive, with its deliberately broad policy offering.

Kabir Kher, a mortgage adviser who lives in Norfolk, joined the Conservatives in 2015 and remained a member until a few months ago, when he was tipped on the verge of joining Reform UK. “For me, the Conservatives are now just blue Labour,” he says. “I don’t understand how they can have the policies they have, and still call themselves the Conservative Party – they’ve just abandoned their principles.”

He complains about green policy, taxes and housing. “They have no idea where we’re going to get the electricity generation to actually facilitate the net-zero goals they’ve set for reducing emissions.

“Taxes on landlords have absolutely gone through the roof. The supply of rental properties has gone through the floor. I now have landlords ringing me every week saying: ‘I want to sell my property – can you recommend an estate agent?’ Meanwhile, business rates are hitting the high street. There is no long-term thinking on anything.”

Kher believes that the speed with which the government is pushing the green agenda is what will help sway voters to Reform UK: “We will pick up a lot of their voters. The Reform Party is now the only party that does not subscribe to the Green agenda and the speed at which they are doing it.”

In the Tory grassroots, who did not get a chance to vote for Truss’s successor and feel they have let Rishi Sunak down on them, there is concern that under the new prime minister they are becoming the party of high taxes and big state. They also feel disenfranchised.


a A group of leading figures on the right have now begun trying to gain more control of the party, to prevent what they see as a shift to the left – into a Social Democrat version of the Tory Party.

Peter Cruddas, a Tory peer and former party treasurer who has donated more than £3.5m to the Tories, is now associated with the Conservative Democratic Organization (CDO), which aims to give members more power over the selection of MPs and leadership elections. He was given his peerage by Johnson, who he believes was never removed as leader. He warned that a “leftward pull by the current leadership” was opening the party to a political threat from a Ukip-style party on the right.

“Certainly, I fear it,” says Lord Cruddas. “There’s a way for people on the right, the centre-right to find a new home, and that’s the Reform Party, especially if Farage comes out and says he’s going to lead. [it]. If the Conservatives and members of the Conservative Party want to be a centre-left party, that is up to them. But then I think you will see big changes in the political landscape. Because whether you agree with it or not, I believe this country has a center-right leaning electorate.

“What you are witnessing today is a coup and hijacking of the Conservative Party by the centre-left leanings. They are no more than those on the right of center. Senior Conservatives I have spoken to are also frustrated.

“Something is going to come to a head because the members don’t want Rishi Sunak. They did not vote for it and it was imposed on the Conservative Party. The odds are stacked against him, but under false pretenses.”

Cruddas adds: “What we’ve seen since 2010 is the engineering of the Conservative Party to move us to the centre, possibly to the left, and there are a lot of MPs that we don’t think of as Conservative.

“We are a center-right, conservative organization that seeks to empower members and uphold our principles. There are centre-right politicians, but we don’t think we’re being led by the Conservatives. And we feel that the Conservative Party has been infiltrated by non-conservatives.

For Cruddas, a sense of Brexit betrayal contributes to his discontent. “We voted for Brexit. We didn’t vote to annex Northern Ireland to be part of the European Union. And we need to continue to control our borders. These are centre-right policies that the country voted for. And now, it’s happened. No and we will be punished at the polls. And we want the world to know that members do not want that.”

With such views now fairly common in the Tory party, Tice is enjoying the prospect of further defections. “We are potentially looking at the dying days of the last majority Tory government in our lifetime,” he says. “And that’s an exciting idea.”

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