Norwich Tory started surging petition to keep Boris Johnson as PM

MEP David Campbell Bannerman joining the Conservatives.

David Campbell Bannerman started a petition to retain Boris Johnson as prime minister - Credit: Submitted

A Norfolk-based former MEP is leading the charge to ensure Boris Johnson has the chance to stay on as prime minister.

David Campbell Bannerman, who lives in Norwich and represented the East of England in the European Parliament from 2009 until 2019, has started a petition to give Tory members a “Boris ballot” - effectively a vote on whether to accept the PM’s resignation.

The petition, which he organised with the help of Lord Cruddas of Shoreditch just last week, has already received more than 10,000 members’ signatures. 

It is not known precisely how many Conservative members there are in the country as a whole, but in 2019, Great Yarmouth MP and former party chairman Brandon Lewis said there were 180,000. 

MANDATORY CREDIT REQUIRED: Jonathan Hordle/ITV Handout photo issued by ITV of Liz Truss taking part

South West Norfolk MP and foreign secretary Liz Truss is currently battling it out with former chancellor Rishi Sunak to be selected by Conservative party members as the country's new prime minister - Credit: PA/Jonathan Hordle/ITV

South West Norfolk MP and foreign secretary Liz Truss is currently battling it out with former chancellor Rishi Sunak to become Britain’s next leader, but Mr Campbell Bannerman hopes his petition will trigger a ‘Boris ballot’, in which a majority of members voting to keep Johnson could mean the Truss vs Sunak ballot is cancelled.

Mr Campbell Bannerman said: "I was so angry about how Boris had been treated, I wrote, from Norwich, on July 10 to the co-chairmen of the party - I haven't had a reply yet or chased it."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson reads a statement outside 10 Downing Street, London, formally resigning

Mr Campbell Bannerman wrote to the Conservative party's co-chairmen after watching Boris Johnson's resignation speech - Credit: PA

He suggested "a confirmatory vote" be held, which he said "seemed a way of neutralising a lot of the anger" from the Conservative grassroots.

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"It's basically a referendum on Boris - it's 50pc plus one. The membership haven't had a say [on Johnson's departure]," he added. 

"If it is a no and people want to move on, then we can unite behind a new leader, and not have thousands [of members] leave... 10,000 names is a big proportion of the Conservative party."

David Campbell Bannerman MEP

David Campbell Bannerman - Credit: Archant

Mr Campbell Bannerman said the PM had been forced out in a "coup".

"What a way to treat an election winner, to stab him in the back," he said.

"Yes, there are things that Conservative members and myself would want apologising and explaining for, but no one is perfect."

The former MEP is president of the Norwich Conservative Federation. At the federation's annual general meeting in May, he said "about 70pc or more" supported Mr Johnson.

If the petition fails, he said he was supporting Ms Truss for leader because of her "great economic policies".