Johnson has deeply split the Tory party – on an historic level

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It is worth standing back and pausing to consider how remarkable the historic split in the Tory party has been under PM Johnson is just a few weeks.

“One Nation” Tories have been the backbone of the Conservative party for a couple of centuries. But now they have been cast out of the party.

This extraordinary split can be seen in the words of two “One Nation” Tories who now sit in Parliament as independents.

Firstly, we have the great-great-grandson of Tory Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. That is Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury and “the richest person in the House of Commons”. In his fourteen years as an MP, he had only rebelled against his party three times before Johnson became PM. Indeed, he was regarded as so staunchly loyal then when he rebelled against Johnson on the “Safeguard Act” or “Surrender Act” or “European Act No 2” (or European Bill No 6 as it was), one observer remarked:

Richard bloody Benyon?

If you need any indication of the depth and hugeness of the chasm in the Tory ranks, you need only read these words from his recent Evening Standard column:

My party seems to have become the property of a reckless group of chancers

Secondly, there is an excellent Times clip of Nicholas Soames talking about Brexit and Johnson. At one point he is asked whether he thinks Johnson is like Churchill (Soames’ grandfather):

No, I don’t think Boris is like Winston Churchill because I don’t think anyone is like Winston Churchill. You know, Winston Churchill was who he was because of his experience in life. Boris’s experience of life is telling a lot of porkies about the European Union in Brussels and then coming here to be Prime Minister. He doesn’t like the House of Commons … and I think he is engaged on this great obsession to get us out of Europe with no deal – do or die. That is not Churchill. (He would) think it is extraordinary that we would have thought ourselves so successful, so powerful so well-placed in the world that we could afford to give up this extraordinary relationship we have in this great European Union. I think he would be disappointed.

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