'Not just a question of moving on' - Rebel Tory MP on PM
- Credit: Jamie Honeywood
Waveney MP Peter Aldous was among the first Tory politicians to call for Boris Johnson to resign. He spoke to NOAH VICKERS after the PM survived his vote of no-confidence about whether he would now end his opposition
Having survived a no-confidence vote Boris Johnson was quick to say the ballot should "draw a line" under the row over his leadership and that his critics should "move on".
But for Peter Aldous - one of the PM's most vocal critics - it is clear that the issue has not necessarily been resolved and could yet return "with a vengeance".
The Waveney MP was among the MPs to submit the letters which triggered the vote on Mr Johnson’s leadership.
He said he feared its result - which saw the PM cling on 211 votes to 148 - could make it likelier the Tories lose by-elections in both Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton.
“I am concerned this is not going to go away," he said.
“You’ve got two by-elections coming up in the next few weeks - I hope the opinion polls and concerns are proved to be groundless.
“But if those are bad for us, this [the question of the PM’s leadership] will be revisited.”
The by-elections are being held on June 23. In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, voters are electing a new MP after former Tory incumbent Imran Ahmad Khan was found guilty in April of sexually assaulting a boy.
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Meanwhile in Tiverton and Honiton, Devon, former Tory MP Neil Parish has stood down after watching pornography in the chamber of the House of Commons.
Asked about the confidence vote's impact on those by-elections, Mr Aldous said: “Obviously the electorate that I liaise with is my own and not the electorate in Wakefield or Tiverton and Honiton, but I suspect it will probably confirm the views that they may already be forming.
“I think the two things coming out of partygate as such were that a lot of people made sacrifices and there is a lot of upset that those making the rules didn’t abide by them.
“I think also quite possibly, this prime minister - who does have a lot of attributes - if he had held up his hands right at the beginning, back in the late autumn, I think probably people would have been in a forgiving mood and he could have moved on.
“But months later, and with that referral to the privileges committee, from what I can see, a lot of people have made up their mind on that. That is what my worry is."
Mr Aldous added that the outcome of the Commons privileges committee investigation - which is looking into claims the PM misled parliament - could see the issue flare up again.
“If that was to go the wrong way, and he was found to have knowingly misled parliament, then this is going to come back with a vengeance," he added.
Mr Aldous said the PM needed to "reflect" on the number of his Conservative colleagues who had voted against him.
“I think the prime minister needs to reflect on that and build bridges, and recognise that a large number of us are very concerned. It’s not just a question of moving on," he added.
“From my perspective, I’m not going to be looking out there to sort of ambush him, or be awkward about getting legislation through.
“But I will carry on - exactly as I have in the past - supporting the vast majority of legislation but where I have concerns that some things may not be in the best interests of my constituents, I will say so. I will continue to pursue that course."