Swinney urges Tories to ‘do the decent thing’ and call general election

Scottish Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the call as the deadline approaches for candidates to declare in the Tory leadership contest.

23 October 2022

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has called on the Tories to “do the decent thing” and call a general election, rather than electing another new leader and prime minister without going to the public.

John Swinney spoke out at the same time as Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy insisted the party could serve out its full five-year term in government at Westminster.

While Mr Swinney accused the Tories of game playing by installing another leader without a general election, Mr Hoy argued it was “perfectly legitimate” for parties to change leader without going to the country, claiming that an election would “only provide eight weeks of huge political instability”.

His comments came as former chancellor Rishi Sunak formally declared his candidacy to be the next Tory party leader and prime minister – with House of Commons leader Penny Mordaunt also running.

Meanwhile, Jacob Rees-Mogg sad former prime minister Boris Johnson intends to run.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme, the Business Secretary said: “I have been speaking to Boris Johnson, and clearly
he’s going to stand, there’s a great deal of support for him.”

Commons leader Penny Mordaunt was the first Tory to declare in the latest leadership contest (Belinda Jiao/PA)

Speaking about the situation, Mr Hoy conceded the Tories have “to take some of the blame” for the “political instability” in the UK.

But the Scottish Tory chairman told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “What we now need to do is create the conditions for more economic and political stability, and that is what a new prime minister will bring.”

He insisted: “At this point in time we need stability, and that is what the Conservative Party will deliver once we resolve the leadership this week.”

A general election does not need to take place before January 2025 and Mr Hoy declared the Tories could “go to the full term” at Westminster.

He said an election “would only provide eight weeks of huge political instability with all political parties taking their eye off the ball at a time when we should be focused on making sure we get households in every part of the UK through the economic challenges that lie ahead”.

Scottish Conservative Party chairman Craig Hoy argued that holding a general election would be a distraction (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Mr Hoy noted that Nicola Sturgeon succeeded Alex Salmond as Scottish First Minister without a leadership contest in the SNP and without a Holyrood election being called.

Ms Sturgeon had a “coronation without having a leadership election and she didn’t call a Scottish parliamentary election”, the Conservative said.

Mr Swinney, Ms Sturgeon’s Deputy First Minister in the Scottish Government, insisted however that there “should be a general election and the people should be allowed to decide”.

He hit out at the Tories, saying the party had “completely fallen into disrepute”, and that the mini-budget announced during the brief spell when Liz Truss was prime minister had “inflicted severe economic damage on families the length and breadth of the country through higher interest rates”.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Swinney said: “This is the moment after all the failures of the Conservative Party, its divisions and its lack of leadership, to give the people of this country a chance to elect a new Parliament and decide how it should be governed.

“I think we should have a general election and I don’t think the Conservative Party should be allowed to play any more of their games any longer.”

The Deputy First Minister added: “The Conservative Party has to realise itself that it is no longer fit to govern and the people of this country must be given the chance to decide on the way we are governed moving forward.”

Claiming that the Tories “don’t deserve to govern”, Mr Swinney insisted: “I think they should do the decent thing and allow the people of this country to have their choice.

“If we put enough pressure on them the Conservative Party has to realise the mistakes they have made and be held to account for those mistakes.”

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