The end of the Conservative Party as we know it?

April 2, 2019 Andrew Niblett


The decision by Nicholas Boles to resign from the Conservative Party following the second set of indicative votes on Monday night was not unexpected, but should still be seen as yet another major moment in British politics. He had recently quit his local association due to deselection moves being made against him, with many local party members critical of his somewhat ‘soft’ approach to Brexit. This is yet another indication that what used to be the more mainstream, moderate politics, is finding it hard to survive in an ever-divisive Parliament and Country.

Boles cited a complete lack of compromise from his party’s benches for his decision. Having supported all the options that were presented, as well as the Prime Minister’s Withdrawal Agreement, he was exasperated with the refusal of colleagues to do the same. He is not the first, and is unlikely to be the last, Conservative MP to leave the party due to Brexit tensions, with Cabinet, backbenchers, and the Party as a whole, completely divided on what avenue to pursue.

Last Friday, the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve lost a confidence motion at his local association, in a vote tabled by his UKIP opponent from the 2017 General Election. Huge numbers of new party members, allegedly also former UKIP supporters, voted against him. Although Grieve has received support from his Parliamentary colleagues, he is yet another MP under huge local pressure from the more extreme factions of the party.

With a no-deal Brexit once again on the horizon, and with almost exactly half of Conservative MPs voting for this option, Theresa May has a huge decision on what option to back. By either supporting a softer Brexit or a no-deal, animosities in Government will increase and will likely result in resignations from Government, and potentially from the Party. With more moderate Conservatives, such as Boles and Grieve, being seemingly driven out of the party, and with the Independent Group registering as a political party, could the future of the Conservative Party as we know it, be in doubt?