Why I have Rejoined the Conservative Party - Jack Walters
On the 2nd of April 2019, Theresa May decided that she would risk further compromise to her watered-down Brexit deal by entering talks with the Labour Party. That decision was the last straw for me, and as a result, I took a decision that I never thought I would make. I snapped my membership card in half and sent a somewhat regretful email to my local MP, John Whittingdale, cancelling my membership of the Conservative Party.
It was regretful because, during my school days, I aligned myself with the Conservatives, even leading the party to victory in my school election of 2015. It would, therefore, surprise my teachers and schoolmates that on the first occasion that I was eligible to vote, I refused to go to the polling station. Just weeks later, in the EU Elections, I exercised my democratic right by casting my vote for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party. During the May elections, I sincerely believed that the history of a once-proud party was hanging by a thread and that if the Tories failed to leave the European Union, they would ultimately exile themselves into the political wilderness.
However, something has changed; something has made me more optimistic. More specifically, someone. That someone is Boris Johnson. The face of the Vote Leave campaign who has re-energised British politics not even a week since he took office and enthused Brexiteers. In my home county of Essex, a bedrock of Euroscepticism, registering a two thirds leave majority, enthusiasm for Boris Johnson’s premiership is clear. The county's hard-line Euroscepticism dealt hefty blows to Theresa May this year. Her woeful BRINO deal went down like a lead balloon. In the local elections, the Conservative safe-seat of Chelmsford saw 30 councillors lose out to the Liberal Democrats who subsequently took control of the council. In the EU Elections, the Tory vote disappeared. Analysis by Professor Hanretty indicated that all 18 Essex seats opted for the Brexit Party in the EU Elections despite all of them currently being held by Conservative MPs in Westminster. Boris Johnson can change this downward trajectory. The excitement many people across Essex and I feel towards Johnson's premiership has been crucial to my re-joining the party. But this is not the sole reason.
My second reason for re-joining is that Boris Johnson is a proven winner. He persuaded over a million voters in London during 2008 and 2012 to become mayor of London and followed this by convincing millions of voters across the Labour heartlands to vote to leave the EU in 2016. I have reason to believe that over the next few months the polls will see the Conservatives vote share soar. The so-called 'Boris Bounce' has already begun, the difference between him and his predecessors is that he can retain these voters. The only way to do that is to ensure that Brexit is delivered. The five opinion polls since Boris Johnson has become the leader of the Tories indicate that he will lead the largest party and in the first YouGov poll the Conservatives even had leads in the 'North' and the 'Midlands/Wales'. By hammering home that the Tories are the only party capable of winning an election that will listen to the 17,410,742 Boris has the potential, as Thatcher and Disraeli did before him, to redraw the political map of Britain.
A General Election may occur before we are due to leave the European Union, through a no-confidence vote, but Boris may shock you all. By standing as the only party who can deliver Brexit and clearing out all of those who cannot stand on a manifesto declaring this, the Tories have potential to make unexpected gains across the Labour heartlands of south Wales, the Northeast and the Midlands. With pledges to employ 20,000 ‘Boris Bobbies’, invest heavily in the education of more deprived regions of Britain and to build a Crossrail in the north of England even former Labour voters may be swayed to vote Conservative.
However, the ‘Boris’ was not the only reason that I made my decision. I was delighted by the announcements of his Cabinet and his special advisers. Its composition is reminiscent of the successful Vote Leave campaign with the brains of Vote Leave, Dominic Cummings, supporting the Prime Minister and both The Times and The Guardian speculating that Matthew Elliot will assist Sajid Javid at Number 11. Johnson's Cabinet reshuffle has also promoted many prominent Brexiteers, including Priti Patel in the Home Office and Jacob Rees-Mogg as Leader of the House. The reshuffle provided me with hope that Boris will stick to his promise that Brexit is now 'do or die'.
Based on these factors alone, I knew I was going to re-join the Tories, but what prompted me to join so quickly was Boris' performance at the dispatch box on Thursday. He put Labour to the sword. In a barnstorming seven-minutes, he attacked the Marxist policies of John McDonnell, that could see tax rises on income, inheritance, pensions and gardens, as too left even for Ken Livingstone. He then went on to lecture the Labour leader for being 'reprogrammed' as a Remainer after years of Euroscepticism. It is this political mistake by Corbyn that may prove to bolster the Conservatives chances in the leave-voting seats of the Labour heartlands.
By becoming the party of Remain Boris was able to torment the Labour benches by chanting, 'we are the party of the people. We are the party of the many, and they are the party of the few. We will take this country forwards; they, Mr Speaker, would take it backwards.'
However, my support for Boris Johnson is not unconditional. He must deliver on his promise to take Britain out of the European Union by the 31st of October, but I believe he is the man to do it. His role in the Vote Leave campaign, his previous electoral successes, his professional performance at the dispatch box, and his recently appointed team have not just re-energised British politics, they have convinced me to re-join the Conservative Party.
Written by Jack Walters