14 January 2021 | UK NEWS

An influential Conservative backbencher has written to his party colleagues in the Covid Recovery Group on WhatsApp with a veiled threat to end Boris Johnson’s time as leader of the party.

Steve Baker, the MP who was a key figure in orchestrating the downfall of the last Conservative leader, Theresa May, has sent a message to his fellow MPs criticising the Prime Minister’s current handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the message, he argued that if the Government continues down its current lockdown-oriented approach to the pandemic, the Tories could face disaster at the next election. He therefore said the leadership should “take stock today and act”, in order to avoid problems later.

Mr Baker wrote: “Certain Government scientists have said that the current lockdown could last until late spring. There is no reason to think there will be any real resistance in Cabinet to the argument for greater and longer and more draconian restrictions on the public.”

He continued by criticising the Cabinet’s rule-making, saying: “Nothing seems more certain to break the public than giving hope before taking it away, and doing it repeatedly.”

He then went on to attack the impact of the Government’s policies and their abdication of conservative values, writing: “Government has adopted a strategy devoid of any commitment to liberty without any clarification about when our most basic freedoms will be restored and with no guarantee that they will never be taken away again.

“People are telling me they are losing faith in our Conservative Party leadership because they are not standing up for our values as a party.  If we continue forward with a strategy that hammers freedom, hammers the private sector, hammers small business owners and hammers the poor, inevitably the Prime Minister’s leadership will be on the table: we strongly do not want that after all we have been through as a country.”

Mr Baker ended his message with a further threat to Boris Johnson’s leadership, writing: “I am sorry to have to say this again and as bluntly as this: it is imperative you equip the Chief Whip today with your opinion that debate will become about the PM’s leadership if the Government does not set out a clear plan for when our full freedoms will be restored, with a guarantee that this strategy will not be used again next winter.”

In his final paragraph, he suggested that the alternative would be that events would “become inevitable”, urging colleagues to contact the Chief Whip “for the good of the country”.

However, the MP for Wycombe did later take to Twitter to soften the attack on the Prime Minister, reaffirming his support at the present time.

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. He is also a senior contributor for Turning Point UK. His interests include philosophy and sociology.

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