Tory MP admits 'change of leader' is option as Boris Johnson battles grim local election results

Conservative MP David Simmonds said confidence may be restored in the Government through a change in leader

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The MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner said the Conservative Party must ensure it is acting “in the interests of the country” – and this is “far more important than any one individual prime minister”.

But he suggested a leadership shift was not the only option, adding that the PM “deserves the chance to show that he’s got some ideas – and I look forward to hearing what they are”.

Mr Simmonds said Mr Johnson pledged he would take “full responsibility” for the local election results, and he “needs to address that”.

The 46-year-old added: “He needs to find a way to restore confidence in the Government and I think there’s a number of ways he might do that.

Boris Johnson and David Simmonds
Boris Johnson and David Simmonds
Tory chairman Oliver Dowden defended the PM on GB News
Tory chairman Oliver Dowden defended the PM on GB News

“A change of leader would be one of them. Alternatively he needs to demonstrate what the alternative plan would be.”

He said the Conservative Party must show it has “got the message” from voters that they are “dissatisfied with elements of what they’re seeing”, and that this is about “individual conduct and attitude” rather than policy.

Asked if the local election results marked a turning point, Mr Simmonds added: “The frustration is that on the doorsteps people were very positive about what local councils had been doing, and by and large they were quite positive about Government policy.

“But the issue of partygate kept coming up as a reason why many Conservative supporters were staying at home or were switching to a protest vote this time – and that seems to be reflected in the results, in that no other party got a ringing endorsement, but there was definitely a sense of a move away.

“It’s just very, very clear that although there are these things like the cost of living that are worrying people a little bit, that people would choose to vote for administrations in their town hall that will put up their council taxes when cost of living is a worry because they are so concerned about the Prime Minister’s personal conduct – and that’s the issue which needs to be addressed.”

It comes after Tory chairman Oliver Dowden appeared on GB News to defend the Prime Minister.

Joining Breakfast with Stephen and Anne, he insisted that the results are not fatal for his party and that Labour does not have “the momentum to get into government”.

He said: “It’s a difficult set of results, particularly in London, and you’ve highlighted some of those.

“But equally we’ve made gains elsewhere – whether that’s Hartlepool, Nuneaton or Thurrock.

“And this is against a backdrop, as you say, of us being mid-term.

“When you take all of that, the result doesn’t demonstrate that Labour has the momentum to get into government.”