A Tory peer warns the council elections in May will “not be pretty” for the party if the crisis engulfing the prime minister is allowed to drag on.
Scottish Conservative Lord Duncan of Springbank said people are making up their minds before a report on serious allegations is published.
In an exclusive interview for DC Thomson’s politics podcast The Stooshie, Lord Duncan said the party is facing a big test and warned:
- He is not comfortable as a member of the party.
- The Scottish and UK parties face a challenge to “reconcile”.
- Boris Johnson is seen as a recruiting sergeant for the SNP.
Lord Duncan is a former Euro MP and ex minister in the UK Government who now has a seat in the House of Lords.
In 2017, he came within 21 votes of unseating SNP MP Pete Wishart in Perth and North Perthshire.
Lord Duncan described the unease within the party after more revelations emerged about partying at Downing Street during the pandemic.
The prime minister has been urged by every party to resign.
In a bruising Commons encounter, Mr Johnson was told by former Brexit minister David Davis: “In the name of God, go.”
‘Not a happy camper’
Asked if he supports Mr Johnson, Lord Duncan said: “At the moment I am not comfortable with what has unfolded.
“I would need to see what is proposed to make me feel comfortable as a member of the party.
“I don’t feel comfortable at present. I don’t think we’re in a good place.
“I need to understand, absolutely, what the examination of all the facts has delivered. Then I will make a judgement call at that point.
“In the interim, I am certainly not a happy camper in the Conservative Party.”
Lord Duncan said it will difficult to see how the prime minister can “play this out” while the nation waits for a report from civil servant Sue Gray.
“This has to be brought to an end as quickly as it can,” he said.
“It’s doing harm to the country, it’s doing harm to the party of government. And at some point the voters will make up their mind.
“We’re not far out of the May elections. That’s not going to pretty unless there’s absolute clarity of purpose, a government that is able to deliver, and a government whose integrity and decency and propriety is endorse and accepted. We’re nowhere near any of those things.”
In our interview, Lord Duncan also says it will be hard to reconcile the Scottish and UK parties.
Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, MP for Moray, has called for the PM to go.
But Lord Duncan said creating a new breakaway Scottish party is not the answer to this problem.
‘Careful what you wish for’
He added: “There may be time to seriously examine how the party should be structured at a wider level.
“It would be too simple to say ‘and with one bound we are free’ and we’re a separate party and nothing to do with those chaps down there, it’s all quite different. I don’t think people will buy that.”
On English colleagues, he said an “education” policy would help some to understand the purpose of the party in Scotland.
Despite the party’s troubles, Lord Duncan had a warning for SNP politicians hoping to see support for independence go up.
“Be careful what you wish for – if you do get rid of Boris Johnson, your major recruiting sergeant may be gone,” he said.