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Tory heartland voters are divided over Johnson’s fate

#Tory #heartland #voters #divided #Johnsons #fate

In the conservative heartland of Kent, pensioner Mike Studholme says Prime Minister Boris Johnson was his own worst enemy – and thinks a woman in the mold of Margaret Thatcher should take over.

“He did it to himself,” the 67-year-old told AFP in Tonbridge, a market town in the leafy county south-east of London, overlooking France.

“I think he made too many mistakes,” said the lifelong Tory, who stood in the shadow of Tonbridge’s ruined medieval castle.

“And now he’s resigned, he should just go,” Studholme added, reflecting opposition to Johnson’s plan to remain in office until the Conservatives elect a new leader.

Johnson announced his resignation as party leader on Thursday after a cabinet rebellion over scandals culminated in his appointment of an ally over sexual assault allegations to a leadership role.

Another Tory supporter, who asked not to be identified, agreed the Prime Minister “deserves it” and pointed to the “Partygate” scandal surrounding Downing Street anti-lockdown celebrations.

“You can’t make laws and then break the laws, you can’t lie… Boris borrowed a leaf from Donald Trump’s book for me,” she said.

– ‘Un-Boris’ –

Another lifelong Tory, Lorraine Eastmead, 62, was more lenient, saying she was “not pleased” that senior ministers had pushed Johnson out.

“I think he made some mistakes, but they all do… he’s done so much for us on the world stage,” the nursing home manager said.

She added that Johnson, 58, should stay on until a new Conservative leader takes office.

“We need some continuity, at least so he can make a decent handoff, like in any job.”

Tonbridge is represented in Parliament by Conservative Tom Tugendhat, 49, who, as second MP, announced his intention to stand in the leadership race.

Tugendhat, an army reservist who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, chairs the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee and has long been a thorn in Johnson’s side.

But he has never headed a government department and is considered an outsider to become a leader.

“Tom’s a nice guy and it would be cool for Tonbridge to have someone – our local MP – in a prominent position,” said dog walker Jessica Stapley, 41, along a scenic river walk.

But Eastmead said: “I think he’s probably not really ready yet.

“I like Liz Truss,” she added, referring to the British Foreign Secretary.

“There are probably better candidates out there” than Tugendhat, agreed Studholme, who said he wasn’t a fan of the divisive truss.

Nevertheless, the pensioner would like a woman to be the next Tory leader, preferably one like Thatcher, who ruled the party and Britain with sovereignty in the 1980s.

“I think they would tend to do things in a way that’s not Boris,” Studholme said.

– ‘Buffonerie’ –

Almost two-thirds of voters in the Tonbridge area backed the Conservatives in the last general election in 2019, and 56 per cent backed Brexit in the 2016 UK referendum.

Among the non-Tory minority, the end of Johnson’s tumultuous three-year tenure as Prime Minister was welcomed, but with some trepidation about who will come next.

“That should have happened a long time ago – he probably should never have become prime minister,” IT worker Colin Robinson, 45, told AFP.

He described Johnson as “a very calculating person who uses a buffoon skin”.

“I was happy to see the system finally doing what it should have done a while ago,” Robinson said, adding, “Whether they’re going to replace him with someone better, I don’t know.”

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#Tory #heartland #voters #divided #Johnsons #fate

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