Supporters of Rishi Sunak have been described as “rattled” by a new movement in the Conservative Party which aims to restore democracy for members. It comes as ministers close to the Prime Minister have briefed that the Conservative Democratic Organization (CDO) is “a front to bring back Boris Johnson.”
The CDO was established on the back of fury among the party membership over the way Tory MPs threw out first Boris Johnson following the Partygate allegations of lockdown breaches in Downing Street, and then Liz Truss because they disapproved of her tax cutting mini budget.
In both cases, ordinary Tory members were not asked if they wanted to accept the decision by MPs and then after Ms Truss’s departure they were not even given the opportunity to elect a replacement.
A threshold of 102 MPs for nominations ensured that Mr. Sunak was the only candidate.
One CDO organizer told Express.co.uk: “What we had was a coup by the liberal wing of the party. The membership did not want Sunak and were completely bypassed.”
But the last leadership contest almost saw a comeback from Mr Johnson who withdrew despite getting 110 MPs to nominate him.
Mr Campbell Bannerman pointed out even Mr Sunak had said party democracy needed to be looked at.
However, many MPs, particularly those who backed Mr Sunak, want members to be denied a vote on who the party leader is, too.
Mr Campbell Bannerman said: “It is because of this sort of attitude that the membership has dropped from 500,000 to 172,000 and is dropping further rapidly.
“If MPs want to prevent members from voting on the leader they need to allow them to have the power to select candidates in their constituencies.
“They should also allow members to select the party chairman.”
There are also concerns that Mr Sunak and his tax raising Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have taken the party away from true conservative values and represent “a liberal pseudo conservative cabal”.
Express.co.uk has been told the party is struggling to select council candidates now with a by-election in West Hythe in Kent in a normally safe seat attracting nobody to stand.
A local Kent activist said: “The problem is that everyone asked says ‘I don’t want to stand for a pseudo Conservative Party.'”