The Conservative leadership race has been suspended for the good of the country
Last night I had a dream that this was the front page news:
In a shock move today, the two final leadership candidates for the Conservative party, one of whom would become prime minister, pulled out of the leadership race. Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss issued a joint statement that read as follows:
“While we realise that it is entirely correct and within the rules that our party members should elect the next leader of our party, and therefore the next prime minister, we also realise that it makes something of a mockery of our democracy that 150,000 or so people, mainly of a very narrow demographic, should alone appoint the prime minister of this country. Consequently, we have both decided to withdraw from this race and instead have asked Boris Johnson, the caretaker prime minister, to call an election.
Once the election is called, we shall both put ourselves forward to our membership for them to select a leader of our party, but that leader shall not automatically become prime minister. We have also asked Boris Johnson to step aside immediately, handing over the premiership to the deputy prime minister to oversee the election.
We have taken this decision because it is a unique situation for this country that the serving prime minister has been forced to resign due to lying, criminality, rule breaking, and incompetence. Under such circumstances, the only way we believe we can restore any confidence in our political system is to let the people decide who the next prime minister should be — all of the people, not just our people.
We understand that ours is not a presidential system, in which the people elect one person to become leader, but instead is a parliamentary democracy in which the people elect a party to form a government, and the leader of that party becomes prime minister by default. However, in reality the people do know who they are voting for to become prime minister at an election, being the leader of the party they vote for. People voted Conservative at the last election knowing Boris Johnson would become prime minister. We believe now that as he has discredited his office, and in doing so also our party, it is only correct to allow the people to make a choice about who should run the country next.
As the country is in the midst of a climate crisis, a foreign war, and an economic crisis, we believe it is appropriate to get a functioning government in places as soon as possible, instead of filling the front pages with the unrealistic promises of vying politicians claiming they will cut taxes and focus on winning elections. The country needs strong leadership and that leadership can only come from someone elected by a majority of the people, not appointed internally by the small membership of one political party. More than ever, we need faith in our democracy, so our democratically elected representatives, and the government they form, can carry the country through these difficult times.
We wish to apologise to the British people for the harm our government has done, from lying about rule breaking and trying to conceal wrongdoing through to the clear incompetence that has emanated throughout government from Downing Street. The people of the UK deserve better than this, and this country needs leadership, vision, and a long term plan, so we are stepping aside from this race for the greater good of our country and we hope to be judged on that favourably by the electorate.”
Sadly, it was just a dream.