The Conservative Party's greatest crisis ever?

In Alistair Lexden’s judgement, the Conservative Party is now facing the greatest crisis in its long history. Sadly, this government has failed to meet the huge challenge that Brexit created; the consequences have been disastrous.

Following an interview in early April on  BBC Radio Four’s Sunday morning news programme ‘Broadcasting House’, Alistair Lexden set out his views on the gravity of the Party’s position in the leading letter in The Times on 26 April; the main points in it were also included in a prominent article in the paper on the same day. His views are of course debatable, as a letter published the following day pointed out. They are, however, based on close study of the Party’s history over many years.

Sir, The Conservative Party is in greater turmoil today than ever before in its long history. Theresa May has completely lost its confidence both in and outside Parliament. The 1922 Committee, which determines how Tory leaders are elected, must respond to these unprecedented circumstances. It should revise the present arrangements, introduced after significant changes in 1998, under which the leader can be challenged annually if 15 per cent of Tory MPs write secret letters demanding a vote. Thirty per cent should become the threshold; challenges should be permitted whenever it is reached, with the disaffected making their names public (in the past letters have been forged). That will ensure that a disastrous leader cannot cling on for months without significant support. As Churchill said, leaders who fail must be poleaxed.

Lord Lexden
Conservative Party historian