We need a more democratic Conservative Party to support Boris Johnson in delivering Brexit

We need a more democratic Conservative Party to support Boris Johnson in delivering Brexit

The next three months are the most critical our country has faced for many decades. Since we voted to leave the EU on 23rd June 2016 with a clear mandate from the British people, we have made little progress towards the exit, other than triggering Article 50, which set us on a two-year negotiating deadline. We have now missed two deadlines and we cannot afford as a country to miss a third – and neither can the Conservative Party.

Let us be in no doubt: the two finalists in the Conservative leadership election achieved their places by promising to leave the EU with or without a deal. Boris Johnson won with an overwhelming 66% of the vote because he, over and above Jeremy Hunt, gave the certainty that we would leave on Hallowe’en. This is what Conservative Party members voted for, as did Conservative MPs – with over half of them backing Boris in the final round.

Add to this the fact that the House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50 to leave the EU with a massive majority of 384. Boris Johnson therefore has a clear message: not only do the British people want to leave the EU, but the Conservative Party, if he is forced, are prepared to back him to leave with no deal on 31st October.

Boris is ramping up ‘no deal’ preparations to help mitigate any problems and send a clear message. We should be in no doubt that Boris has a far tougher job than he would have done in the summer of 2016. Since then we have squandered a parliamentary majority, allowed the EU to put us on the back foot, offered to pay £39 billion (erroneously believing the EU would be honourable in return) and by taking ‘no deal’ off the table have shown that we did not want to leave without the EU’s permission.

This has all allowed the hardcore euro-fanatics to find a new voice wrapped up in calls variously for a second referendum and to take No Deal off the table and follow a policy of damage limitation; so rather than the UK leaving we would stay semi-detached, but still with the European Court of Justice holding sway. The election of Boris Johnson has changed all this. Conservative MPs and party members have spoken and they have said, either we leave with a deal that honours the referendum or with a clean break. 

We voted ‘to take back control’ and that meant for British democracy to be sovereign – not, as some Remoaners declare, that Westminster is now sovereign. They are behaving as anti-democratically as Brussels does. Parliament is there at the behest of the people and it is not for Parliament to ignore the people and decide they have made a mistake. Parliamentarians’ responsibility is to enact what we voted for. Nick Clegg would surely agree on this point, since it’s the reason in 2010 he knew he had to do a deal with the Conservatives as the largest party, rather than Gordon Brown’s Labour.

Why am I writing this? Because the Conservative Party owns Brexit and we need to deliver it, not a watered-down version which does not allow us to fully benefit from breaking free, but one where we can do trade deals with other countries and be free from the yoke of Brussels. If we do not, not only will we not be forgiven, but if the Remainer arguments of a second referendum or revocation take hold, our country’s future is of further integration to the EU, possibly joining the disastrous euro, a common army and certain decline in the world along with the rest of the protectionist, backward-looking, non-democratic European state.

With this in mind, it is therefore the duty of those of us who are Conservative Party members to ensure the Prime Minister has the tools to carry out his mandate. This is why we need to democratise the party, make it transparent and accountable to the members, so it is in a position to support Boris Johnson over the difficult next three months and beyond. Currently we have committees operating within the party that are not clearly accountable; crucially, a Candidates’ Committee and team that is opaque at best; a central membership system that has serious flaws; and a voluntary party that does not have the mechanisms to talk to each other in any meaningful way.

The voluntary party – the actual beating heart of the party – needs to hold our MPs to account and ensure they support Boris through this momentous exit from the EU. Local Conservative Associations need to be supported in doing this, not obstructed. This is why I am currently standing to be Vice President of the National Conservative Convention, on a platform of party democracy, accountability, transparency and empowerment of the Associations and members.

Our politicians need to be accountable to the activists who go out week after week, raise the funds, stuff envelopes and devote so much of their spare time to getting them elected to Parliament. We cannot be ignored, we need to have a platform and our views need to be listened to.

To stand up for Brexit and our mandate, I had to bring three motions to the National Convention. It was hard work and unheard of. If I am elected Vice President, I will ensure I demand the voluntary party has the tools it needs and deserves. I will drive through the reforms needed. We will work together as a party to deliver our instructions from the British people and our party members. My voice is your voice.