Could the Tories be headed for party civil war?

5 mins read

Like a bad smell that can never really go away, Nigel Farage has returned to the forefront of UK politics this week thanks to his appearance at the Tory party conference.

His appearance exemplified what seemed to be the unofficial themes of the conference: finger-pointing, childish spats and party division.

Throughout the conference, some of the only speeches that filled all their seats were speaking out against Prime Minister Sunak.

Meanwhile, his allies, such as Defence Secretary Grant Shapp, could barely fill half a room.

Internal challengers

Comparatively, the much maligned 45-day Prime Minister who originally bested Rishi Sunak for party leadership, Liz Truss, filled the house for her speech.

Image Credit: UK Parliament

Truss stated that the Conservatives need to “make the case for conservatism again”.

Truss continued, stating “If we axe the tax, cut bills and build houses, we would make life better and easier for the British public, and give them the freedom to thrive.”

This statement, which was met with massive applause, is nearly the exact opposite of what Sunak has been pushing since getting into number 10.   

The Conservatives were famously divided between Truss and Sunak during last year’s leadership race with Truss’ supporters winning out.

Those supporters now seem to be returning to her side, even after her complete crashing of the economy.

Truss’ platform of low tax appeals to many conservatives such as the ‘levelling up’ secretary, Michael Gove.

Image Credit: UK Government

Gove spent a lot of his time at the conference calling for tax cuts before the next general election at various fringe events.

This stance is in direct opposition to the Prime Minister who is avoided cutting taxes.

This division was evident when, during an interview with Laura Kuenssberg, Sunak refused to commit to tax cuts, and instead tried to brand his focus on cutting inflation as “deeply conservative”.

The Farage of it all

What really spells potential doom for the Tories, however, is Nigel Farage slithering around the conference for the first time in over a decade.

Farage left the Tory party over a decade ago to head the far-right UKIP party resulting in him being shunned by the Tories under David Cameron and Theresa May.

Image Credit: Nigel Farage/The Telegraph

Yet now as he slithers into the party conference he is welcomed with open arms by the extreme right of the party, such as Priti Patel and Suella Braverman.

Farage also seems to be very popular amongst young conservatives, though whether that is due to his policies or simply him just being recognisable cannot be said for certain.

Despite his reappearance at the conference, Farage has spent much of the last few weeks criticising and disagreeing with Sunak.

He described Sunak as “not an inspiring leader,“ and called parts of his speech as “hollow” when speaking to Jacob Rees-Mogg on GB news.

Image credi: GB News

Image Credit: GB News

Despite this, Sunak refused to confirm or deny whether Farage would be allowed back into the party.

All of this infighting and division has created the image of a fractured party with a weak leader, though this may only be the start of Sunak’s problems.

The end is nigh?

It may not be out of the realm of possibility then, that the Conservatives could end up fully fracturing into two distinct parties of moderates and extremists.

Moderate conservatives such as Penny Mordaunt and Theresa May would likely continue in one party similar to the 2012 Conservatives.

Extremists like Braverman and Rees-Mogg however would likely rally around Farage and Truss to form a party that would look more like UKIP than the Torys of a decade ago.

All of this chaos eerily echoes the Republican party in the United States, which has been seeing similar divides between right-wing extremists and moderates.

Image Credit: No.10 Downing Street

So, while a full split may seem unlikely, internal divides will undoubtedly cripple the Tories for the foreseeable future.

Regardless of what happens to the Conservative Party, what is clear is that the Labour Party have come out of this conference season looking far more stable and competent.

As for what Farage will do next, unfortunately, only time will tell.

Featured Image Credit: Hollie Adams/Bloomberg

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