Borough Tories urge party to back Boris
Prominent Conservative politicians in the borough have hailed the election of Boris Johnson as leader and are urging the party to back him.
The controversial former Mayor of London proved to be a popular choice among local elected representatives on the campaign trail, with all the councillors the Wigan Post spoke to and MP Chris Green giving support.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, Mr Johnson’s victory over Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656 in the ballot of party members was popular among those wearing the blue rosette in Wigan and Leigh.
However, among those who do not back the Conservatives his election provoked a very different response.
Wigan Council leader of the opposition Coun Michael Winstanley said: “This is an overwhelming endorsement of Boris Johnson and it is clear he has the mandate from MPs and ordinary party members.
“Now we’ve got to get on with delivering a Brexit and getting out of the EU then focus on beating Jeremy Corbyn.
“Every Labour councillor I’ve spoken to has said: ‘we can’t have Boris Johnson’ and to me that demonstrates they are worried by somebody charismatic.
“He’s earned the chance and I would urge all party members to get behind him.”
In the run-up to the final vote Mr Johnson’s stance on Brexit, which includes promising to leave the EU at the end of October with or without a deal, proved popular with Conservative activists in a Leave heartland.
That was in contrast to the mood among local MPs on the opposition benches, though.
Leigh parliamentary representative Jo Platt tweeted: “What a depressing day for politics.”
Mr Johnson will officially become the new prime minister later today.
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy has criticised Mr Johnson and vowed to oppose many of his ideas.
Ms Nandy said: “We need a prime minister who will recognise the harm that has been done to towns like Wigan and put badly needed investment back into our schools, hospitals and council services.
“Unfortunately Boris Johnson seems to be more interested in cutting taxes for the rich than in getting earnings back into the pockets of our local workforce.
“His Brexit plans threaten to run down our rights at work putting hard won protections like the minimum wage at risk.
“If he persists down this path I will work with MPs of all parties - including his - to ensure he does not succeed.”