Boris Johnson: Expert discusses resignation petition for PM
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Express.co.uk has learned that lawyers representing former party treasurer Lord Cruddas and other members of the Boris on the Ballot campaign have written to senior figures in the Conservative Party issuing an ultimatum. The move comes despite a leading member of the campaign group, former MEP David Campbell Bannerman, quitting and urging backers to vote for Liz Truss instead.
According to a Put Boris on the Ballot campaign source they have received acknowledgement of the letter sent last Friday which gave CCHQ (Conservative headquarters) seven days to fully respond, although the party has denied it.
The campaign, which aims to give members a vote on whether Boris Johnson should be leader again, has also sent the party executives copies of the petition with what it says are at least 14,000 verified Conservative member signatures.
The last batch of signatures was due to arrive at Matthew Parker Street, where the party has its offices in London, today.
The source added: “We also have signatures of non-members which pushes it much higher but we are not counting those.
“We have been sending batches to CCHQ.”
Supporters are angry that a man who was voted in by thousands of members just three years ago and then won a mandate from 14 million voters in late 2019 with the biggest Tory victory since Margaret Thatcher in 1987 has been cast out by Conservative MPs.
The campaign group is understood to have spent much of last weekend verifying signatories again as genuine party members after CCHQ cast doubt on whether the campaign had got genuine members.
But there was some confusion last night when, despite the campaign saying it has had a receipt of its letter, a spokesman for the Conservative Party told Express.co.uk the letter and petition had still not been received.
The campaign source warned that if the party does not respond “e will go legal but hard for them to say no.
“They will probably kick it into long grass but they are storing up problems for themselves.”
The source added that any attempt with put the issue into the long grass will also lead to legal action “and will out them in a bad light and show they are not supporting members.”
Speaking last week to Express.co.uk, Lord Cruddas said that the issue could lead to a suspension of the current leadership contest.
He said: “It started out as Boris but now is about change.”
The peer and his supporters want to bring reforms to the party which give ordinary members much more power over who the leader is and selecting MPs.
In contrast some MPs have been pushing for members to be excluded from future leadership votes.
Currently the final two are presented to members for a final vote.
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But the campaign has had a blow with Mr Campbell Bannerman, founder of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, pulling out and saying it is too late now to put Mr Johnson back on the ballot.
His decision came as ballot papers arrived with party members to choose between Ms Truss and Mr Sunak.
He said: “It seems that we are unable to deliver a Boris ballot in the short time we have, though efforts do continue, I am concerned for the party about any incentive to spoil ballots or not to vote.
“I have reluctantly pulled back from campaign, though remain on the very best terms, and will now concentrate entirely on backing Liz Truss for this leadership election, who I have already endorsed; and as a future Prime Minister with excellent policies, talented team & personal resolve.
“I ask all those who have supported the Boris ballot campaign NOT TO SPOIL THEIR BALLOTS – please DON’T write Boris on ballot etc, don’t destroy the ballot or just not vote.”
But Lord Cruddas responded: “Legal process on going. Well over 10,000 signatures to challenge the constitution. Expecting nearer 20,000 by the end of this week! Doesn’t matter if ballots have gone out that changes nothing. Legal process looking to suspect campaign to put Boris in the ballot.”
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