Former Conservative Party Chairman Says Boris Johnson Is 'A Moral Vacuum'

Lord Patten said parts of his party are an 'English nationalist, populist, Johnsonian cult'.
Lord Patten was Conservative chairman when John Major was leader.
Lord Patten was Conservative chairman when John Major was leader.
Adam Davy - PA Images via Getty Images

A former chairman of the Conservative Party has said Boris Johnson is “a moral vacuum” who is now in the “final act” of his time in No.10.

Lord Chris Patten also said parts of his party were now an “English nationalist, populist, Johnsonian cult”.

The party grandee, who served under both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, joined in the chorus of criticism the prime minister has received for accusing Keir Starmer of failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile when he was Director of Public Prosecutions.

Johnson was finally forced to back down over the untrue claim, but only after it had led to more letters of no confidence in him being submitted, as well as the resignation of his policy chief Munira Mirza.

A further four Number 10 aides — communications director Jack Doyle, chief of staff Dan Rosenfield, principal private secretary Martin Reynolds and policy adviser Elena Narozanski – have also quit in the last 24 hours.

Speaking to Radio 4′s World At One programme, Lord Patten said: “I’ve always thought the show was likely to end in disaster and I fear that that’s what’s happened and it’s been particularly scarred in the last act by this scurrillous attack on Keir Starmer, for which there was no purpose other than to try to get a few members of the right wing of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons excited.

“He must have known that it wasn’t true, and yet you even see some people on the frontbench giggling and pointing fingers and smirking.”

Lord Patten praised chancellor Rishi Sunak for saying he would not have made the remarks, but added: “I’ve heard other ministers being asked whether they would repeat the words and they dodge and duck and dart and bob and weave without being prepared to say it. It was obviously completely unnecessary and just an example of him saying whatever suits him at any given moment.”

The peer made his remarks following the departure of five Downing Street aides within the past 24 hours.

One of them, No. 10 policy chief Munira Mirza, quit after the PM refused to apologise for the Savile smear.

He said: “People have said ‘if only he had new advisers he’d be better’. But we’ve actually found out that he was advised at the very least to apologise for having said it and took no notice because he’s incapable of doing it.

“I think he is a moral vacuum.”

Lord Patten went on: “I don’t blame him for everything that’s gone wrong. I think he’s a symptom of what’s gone wrong, which is the Conservative Party, or what still calls itself the Conservative Party in some cases, which chose him.

“I think part of it has turned into an English nationalist, populist, Johnsonian cult.”

The PM’s official spokesman was this morning forced to deny that Johnson had “lost control” following the spate of No. 10 resignations.

In an attempt to raise morale, the prime minister addressed staff in the Cabinet Room this morning.

He said: “As Rafiki in the Lion King says, change is good, and change is necessary even though it’s tough.”


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