"Tory faction plots ‘Truss-style’ leader if party loses general election.

The ‘Pop Con’ group wants a free-market, libertarian MP to replace Rishi Sunak, with Priti Patel, the current favourite"


The Times: 1st April 2024: Times reports on what it believes to be the 'PopCon' plan [print edition: Front Page]

PopCon featured on the front page of the Times this week under the headline "Tory plot for 'Truss-style' leader after election loss'. The paper said: 

"The PopCon campaign launched in February... is plotting to ensure that a free-market libertarian MP wins the next Tory leadership race."

"The group's director, Mark Littlewood... has devised a 70/70,000 strategy, telling friends that PopCon's candidate of choice will need the backing of 70 MPs and 70,000 party members..."

"The numbers have raised eyebrows among some with knowledge of the plan, as they suggest a severely reduced parliamentary party..."

Sources involved with PopCon said a plan had quietly been launched to install a future Tory leader who shared the same economic outlook as Truss..." 

"One source said "We need to reinvigorate the free market perspective within the Conservative Party.." 

"Littlewood is said to be completely loyal to Sunak, and there is no suggestion that he or Truss... are trying to dislodge the Prime Minister". 

[Newsdesk says:  Watch Mark Littlewood's response to the Times story across three tweets

"1 ...we need a Conservative Party that understands we need massive institutional reform in Britain, in order to make the sort of things Conservatives want... possible" ... 

"2 ...As a betting man, the person who goes on to lead the Conservative Party is usually a 50:1 shot or longer, a year before they become leader" ...  

"3 ...I think plotting and shenanigans are very detrimental to the conservative cause".


The Times: 1st April 2024: Also featured a double page spread on the story, describing the "Four Tribes" inside the Conservative Party 

"Factions of Tory MPs are turning their attention to the possibility of a leadership contest in the event the party loses the general election and Rishi Sunak steps down. Among them is the Popular Conservative group, or PopCon for short"

The article lists the 'Four Tribes' as Popular Conservatism [launched just 2 months ago], European Research Group, The New Conservatives and One Nation Conservatives, describing each in brief [snapshot below]. The spread confirms that Liz Truss has ruled our running for leader but continues to provide a Liz quote from the PopCon launch "If all of us are honest we have been swimming against the tide when it comes to conservative values... Conservatives really need to be thinking about change to the system itself and how we create the political weather that enables [popular conservative] policies to happen".


A slightly different Times online article is also available behind a paywall HERE.


Elsewhere: Times Radio [HERE] Prompted by the Times piece, Times Radio discussed Rishi Sunak and the notion that "Conservatives plot next ‘chess move’ to oust Rishi Sunak". [PopCon says: a wholly wrong and misleading headline which bears no resemblance to the facts and contradicts Monday's Times article]. The programme extract online has a conversation with William Hague (where Lord Hague provides a reasonable and measured view on Rishi and agrees with Mark Littlewood that it is impossible to predict who might be the next leader of the Conservative Party this far ahead).

The programme also featured a bizarre contribution from Kezia Dugdale (former leader of the Scottish Labour Party and now Associate Director for The Centre for Public Policy) (5:16 into video) who says:

"...there is a particular MP, Mark Littlewood [PopCon says: err no... Mark is not an MP last time we looked] who is organising what will happen in the aftermath of a devasting loss of the Conservative Party...but he's whole strategy, which he has revealed in the paper... [PopCon says: err no... he did not 'reveal' anything - it was a leak from a so-called 'friend'] tells us that he thinks the Conservatives are going to have 140MPs... after the election, which is an extraordinary admission... [PopCon says: err no... Wrong again - Kezia simply can't do maths or demonstrates her complete ignorance of the Conservative leadership process - either way it is one error after another. Pehaps it would be a good idea for Kezia to do her homework next time].   


UPDATE: Elsewhere: CAPX [HERE]

The Times article also prompted William Atkinson [Conservative Home's Assistant Editor] to author "How Likely is a PopCon takeover"  for CPS's CAPX website in which he writes... 

"According to The Times, Littlewood has devised a ‘70/70,000’ strategy for winning enough support. 70 means the 70 MPs that he feels a PopCon candidate would need to reach the final two presented to Conservative members. 70,000 is his estimation of the number of member voters they would require to win outright, based on rumoured membership figures jealously guarded by CCHQ... Take the 70 figure. It suggests the PopCons expect a parliamentary party of 140: down 225 from Boris Johnson’s tally in 2019, worse than the party’s defeat in 1997..."

[PopCon says: The article simply highlights either William's inability to do maths or his lack of understanding about how the Conservative Party leadership process actually works. Either way, its rather sloppy - especially for an Associate Editor of ConHome].   


RESPONSE FROM POPCON DIRECTOR TO THE 'STORY': "PopCon is about ideas not personalities. We believe that the root cause of so much that is going wrong in Britain is the growth of a network of state quangos and bureaucratic structures that mitigate against the sort of policies that Conservatives – and indeed the wider public – are keen to implement." Mark will say more to PopCon supporters in this week's Newsletter [Sign up to our Newsletter HERE]