Former Tory leader calls to axe member votes for leadership role

Robert Halfon grilled on whether Liz Truss should lead party

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Former Conservative leader William Hague has said that Tory MPs should have the power to decide on the Party leader over Tory members. The Prime Minister was elected after winning the support of 160,000 party members in the summer, though her rival Rishi Sunak had received the most support from Tory MPs.

Mr Hague said it would “be better” for elected politicians to make the decision following the turmoil of Truss’s leadership which is seeing her new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt adopt some of Sunak’s proposed economic policies.

Speaking on Times Radio, Mr Hague was asked if he regrets that the ultimate decision sits with the grassroots.

He replied: “Yes, is basically the answer to that” and noted that small memberships is an issue impacting all political parties.

The decision to gravitate to membership votes two years ago was based on the notion “that if you give people a say they will want to get involved”.

Mr Hague noted: “The world has changed. Society has changed. People don’t join organisations in the same way.

“So that assumption turned out as turned out to be wrong and it would be better…for the members of parliament to have the full say on who the leader is.”

Nile Gardiner, the former aide to Margaret Thatcher criticised Hague’s view, tweeting: “This sends a terrible message to grassroots Conservatives, the beating heart of the British Conservative movement, and would destroy the party at the next election.”

Despite the general feeling of doom among Conservatives about their fate at the next general election, Mr Hague was more positive.

He said: “If I was the Labour party, I would not be confident I’ve got people excited yet about what a Labour Government could do.

“There is still a lot to play for”.

Opinions were divided with people reacting to Mr Gardiner’s tweet with Twitter user @RichardWight11 saying: “Grassroots Conservatives, out of a UK population of circa 67 million, they have 172k members.

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“The SNP have 125k out of population of 5.5 million. Sounds like grassroot Tories are an endangered species.”

Mr Hague made it clear that this is a policy which does not work across the political spectrum, as he pointed to the election of Jeremy Corbyn by Labour members.

He said: “I think that applies to all the political parties actually…I think this is a wider reflection now on British democracy.”

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