‘We’re running out of time for a new leader to save the election,’ UK Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns tells Remix News

By Thomas Brooke
13 Min Read

You put your head above the parapet and went public on submitting a no-confidence letter in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to the 1922 Committee earlier this month. Do you think there is an appetite among the parliamentary party for another change in leader ahead of an election that can be no later than a little over a year away? Or is it a case that there is little to lose given the current polling figures?

There are several camps. You have the One Nation Conservative MPs who finally have the leader they wanted. They only supported Boris to get elected and they didn’t support Liz Truss, much to my dismay. They wanted Rishi, and they’ve got Rishi. These are the ones who put the vote of no confidence in Boris.

There are MPs in other camps like myself who are tearing their hair out. We can see the apathy out there on the doorstep. We can see that voters just really want us to deliver on what we promised, on our manifesto commitments.

And there’s also another group who are quite fearful actually. So yes, it can look like a farce changing leader yet again but, for me, you’ve got to bite the bullet. I don’t believe with the way things are going — we’ve seen the polling, we’ve seen the by-election results — that Rishi is the one who is going to win us a Conservative majority.

I think we need a strong leader who is a true Thatcherite conservative, who believes in small state, less control, and low taxes, and also who really is an election-winning machine like Boris was who has that hope for our country and that positivity during these difficult times.

So, is there appetite? It’s a mixed bag. We saw under the Theresa May years — and I was one of the first to put my letter in back in the May and resign from my PPS position — how it took right through until the December for the first vote of no confidence, and she won that.

But obviously, we’re running out of time now and I do think the current polling, what we’re seeing with the immigration figures, will also be another blow to Rishi and the party.

So, I think, watch this space.


You won your Morley and Outwood seat by a small margin in 2015 and increased your slim majority in 2017, but under Boris Johnson, you enjoyed a landslide victory in the constituency in 2019. Do you think that Rishi Sunak is throwing MPs in northern seats such as yours to the wolves by bringing Lord Cameron in from the cold? Is this move his idea of damage limitation and an attempt to shore up Middle England, in your view?

I did like Cameron, and he was very good to me as an MP. Both he and [former Chancellor George] Osborne were very supportive of my fight against Ed Balls [during the 2015 election]. They each came up six or seven times in the months before the election, and I do like them both. I have no problem with Cameron going into the Lords as a former prime minister, but I think the timing is wrong and it’s more about what this looks like to the general public.

If Rishi is trying to look like he’s creating change, well, he’s not. We’re going back to the past. Under Cameron in 2015, we only actually won six seats off Labour — we mainly won off Lib Dems. It was under Boris in 2019 that we won seats off Labour.

So, it’s the 2019 electorate voters who voted Conservative for the first time and backed Boris who elected the new MPs in the Red Wall seats. Surely, it makes sense to live up to the manifesto that got us this stonking majority. It’s just crazy to veer away from that.


What is your response to the recent Supreme Court judgment on the legality of the Rwanda policy, and how should the government respond?

Well, I’ve made no secret of this but I think that we should come out strong. Do we try and push for coming out of the European Convention on Human Rights? I’ve got a petition going with the Conservative Post that has 36,000 signatures now. So, that is the route I would take and have a British Bill of Rights.

Or do we go further and have a referendum on this? Obviously, that’s got to be done by Parliament. I know there are some people in my party who like this idea, and maybe that is a way, but I think we need to go the whole hog to be able to deliver on our manifesto commitment.

And those civil servants who have been trying to block it — we saw it with Suella, we saw it with Priti — they need moving out of that department. They should be sacked if they are trying to stop policy from the government.


Suella Braverman, sacked earlier this month as Home Secretary, accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of “betraying the nation” on immigration and suggested he has never had any intention to do what is necessary to stop the boats. What is your view on Braverman’s dismissal, and is her criticism of Sunak’s administration in tackling immigration justified?

I like Suella. I do wonder whether she was also deep down wanting to get sacked because it can help her leadership bid. So, I’m being very honest about this, but I think it was a bit silly of Rishi.

Surely, it would have been better for him to have moved her to a different department rather than having an own goal like this.

But, for me, to put my vote of no-confidence letter in, it wasn’t necessarily about Suella. It was actually an accumulation of what happened to Boris, the part that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak played in that, the disastrous polling, the disastrous by-election results, and so on and so forth.

Really, the David Cameron-Suella decision was the cherry on the cake, so to speak.


Do you agree with Braverman that two-tier policing is a problem when it comes to protests in Britain and, if so, how can this be addressed?

Completely. I believe that when we see the hatred on our streets and venomous tones against Israel, it’s horrible to watch. Those spreading such hatred should feel the full force of the law.

The buzzword at the moment is hate crime, but what about the hate crime that is being committed against the Jewish people?

Also, when we see the likes of the Just Stop Oil protesters gluing themselves to public property and blocking the roads, we should be like it was in the 80s and drag them off the street.

For me, no crime should go unpunished, however small it is, and serious violent criminals should never be released from prison.


If the prime minister was pushed out by the parliamentary party, who would you like to see succeed him to fight the next election?

That’s a hard one — and I’m not avoiding the question, that’s not my nature — but if you look at the parliamentary party, it’s probably two-thirds, perhaps veering on three-quarters made up of the One Nation Conservative ideology, and about a quarter of those who advocate Thatcherite conservatism like myself.

So, ideally, we need to get behind one person in our wing of the party because there are more of the others, and were we to split our vote and end up with something very similar to what we have now, it would be pointless.

Let’s see who puts their name in the hat, whether it’s Suella or Priti or a whole host of others. For me, I just want one candidate who is a true conservative in my book with that star quality who can speak to the public.


Can the Conservatives turn around its current direction of travel and be competitive in the next election? What action must it take in order to do so?

Really, you’d look at the polls and think, “How the heck can you turn it around from here?” But when you’ve lived through the Theresa May years and seen what an international embarrassment we were as a government where we could never get legislation through. Then, Boris came along and changed the fortunes of the party, so to speak, sweeping the board with an amazing election in 2019.

So, anything is possible, but for me, there is only one Boris Johnson. Who that person is who could turn it around this time, I don’t know. Does that person exist? I don’t know. But I think also that Labour has its own problems in the party — look what we’re seeing with the anti-Semitism and the resignations that Starmer had on the front bench — so you never know what’s around the corner.

But obviously, we can’t rely on that, so the key thing for me is for us to have proper conservative policies. We need to overhaul our whole immigration system, stop this two-tier policing, and lower taxes — yes, the chancellor has made a start on that but I think we can go further. We need to be really positive about our country because we’ve got a great country but we’ve got to get it back.


Would you ever welcome Nigel Farage back into the Conservative Party, or does he serve a more useful purpose as an outsider by holding the more socially liberal members to account?

Yes, of course, I would. If it had been me, for the part that he also played in Brexit, his fight for decades for Brexit, I would have put him in the Lords. So, yes, of course I would.


What is your response to immigration into the U.K. remaining at near-record levels according to Thursday’s latest figures?

If you actually look at the people coming through on student visas, and also their dependants, that clearly needs looking at.

We need to show that we are delivering on our manifesto commitments. We need to do whatever is necessary to bring this back to acceptable levels.

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