Boris Johnson has been accused of causing daily ‘megadisaster’ and ‘calamity’ in his running of government by a senior Tory MP ‘jittery’ about the impact in Red Wall marginal seats.
The prime minister has come under fire for presiding over a series of U-turns, including on exam results and face coverings in schools, over the last few weeks.
After months of what a senior Tory MP said had been a ‘megadisaster from one day to the next’, and that backbenchers were ‘tired of the U-turns’.
‘There’s that element of calamity – and frankly there are people from the Red Wall seats who are getting jittery,’ he told the PA News Agency.
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‘But not only Red Wall seats, but other people who haven’t got marginal seats like that.
‘We’d like to be in a government that has the impression of being competent – rather than lurching from one issue to another and then after a short time doing a U-turn.’
He said MPs were left with ‘egg on their face’ each time they defended government policy to constituents, and then had to reverse their stance.
The backbencher urged the government to say it would be ‘more careful in decision making’ to avoid future U-turns, and also called for clarity on tax policy to ‘avoid the Tory party having a public row’.
Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee of Tory MPs, said the committee’s executives expected to meet with Johnson in the ‘near future’ to relay the concerns of backbenchers in particular over the coronavirus response.
He told PA: ‘I think there is a lot of sympathy (among Conservative backbenchers) for the fact it has been unprecedented, but then I think we mustn’t make other own goals.
‘There are other issues like planning which are now beginning to bubble to the surface… devolution of local authorities is another area that is going to surface in the autumn. We must be very careful with what issues we bring up not to create unnecessary controversy.
‘We may have a big majority but that still doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t be as competent as possible as a government.’
He said there had been problems – such as with exam results – which could have been ‘foreseen’ and called for more ‘strategic thinking’ from Number 10.