"The Conservative Party is going to lose tens of thousands of members as a result of what has happened today, and for those that remain it will make them less likely to want to go out and knock on doors at the next election."
While the Tory parliamentary party may wish to show a united front right now following Rishi Sunak’s coronation as Tory leader, the Tory grassroots are fuming, with thousands of members threatening to leave after being denied a vote in the latest leadership contest.
The revelations, which show just how divided the Tory party is, were made in the Telegraph, with Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, the Conservative think tank, saying that the decision to bar members was a “terrible advert” for the Conservative Party.
He also warned that the decision would also make it harder for the Tories to win the next election, because members who now feel alienated would be less inclined to campaign for the party.
The rules of the 1922 committee of backbench Tory MPs stated that If two leadership candidates had passed the threshold of 100 nominations from Tory MPs, members would have been allowed to vote online, with the result announced on Friday.
However, with Penny Mordaunt pulling out of the leadership race, just minutes before the results of the nominations were announced, due to a lack of support, Sunak was made leader of the party and now becomes the third prime minister in seven weeks.
Harris-Quinney told the Telegraph that there was much anger at Sunak’s coronation. He said: “The Conservative Party is going to lose tens of thousands of members as a result of what has happened today, and for those that remain it will make them less likely to want to go out and knock on doors at the next election.
“The fact that it was a coronation is a terrible advert for the Conservative Party and the nation. We are in a situation now where we need a general election so the new prime minister has some sort of mandate.
“Membership numbers have plummeted since David Cameron took over, and after this, it will be down to 100,000. And that’s a problem.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward