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The Conservative Democratic Organisation has launched a petition calling for rank and file members to choose his successor. The CDO was launched after Rishi Sunak was chosen to succeed Liz Truss as Tory leader and prime minister without members getting a vote.
Mr Zahawi was sacked by the Prime Minister when he was found to have broken the ministerial code by not declaring that he was under investigation by HMRC.
CDO chairman David Campbell Bannerman made the case for a direct election, saying: “They should not be a Prime Minister’s poodle but be a powerful bulldog for the members’ views.”
The group plans to ask for a vote at the party’s next national convention once 10,000 people have signed the petition. It claims there has been a “general run down of the party” and the post of chairman has been “greatly devalued”.
The CDO argues the role of chairman has “become too much a representative of the Government to the membership rather than representing members to the Government,” adding: “This is the wrong way around.”
Mr Campbell Bannerman said: “Party Members are not some bunch of extremists – many are nurses, teachers, care and charity workers, professionals, business owners – decent, hard working local representatives. They are not idiots and deserve respect, not condescension…
“If Zahawi had been elected, the membership would be asking questions, and could have called a special general meeting to hear the answers. Surely members are the right judges of what is politically toxic or not; and could back or dismiss the chairman if not convinced.
“That would take the pressure off the Prime Minister too.”
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