Amber Rudd quit the government late on a Saturday evening, in
a dramatic and carefully choreographed move with an exclusive for the Sunday Times. Rudd said, “I no longer believe leaving with a deal is the Government’s main objective.

“The Government is expending a lot of energy to prepare for ‘no deal’ but I have not seen the same level of intensity go into our talks with the European Union, who have asked us to present alternative arrangements to the Irish backstop.

“The updates I have been grateful to receive from [the Prime minister’s] office have not, regretfully, provided me with the reassurances I sought.

“I must also address the assault on decency and democracy that took place last week when you [Johnson] sacked 21 talented, loyal One Nation Conservatives.

“This short-sighted culling of my colleagues has stripped the party of broad-minded and dedicated Conservative MPs. I cannot support this act of political vandalism.”

The next MP for Hastings and Rye

Hastings and Rye Labour parliamentary candidate, Peter Chowney, said, “I’m pleased that Amber Rudd has realised what many of us knew already: that the Tories are in utter disarray, and that Boris Johnson is not fit to be an MP, let alone Prime Minister.

“She once said that Boris Johnson was the life and soul of the party, but you wouldn’t want him to give you a lift home. Now she’s firmly slammed the door on him and decided to walk away, avoiding the car crash this government has turned into.

“I look forward to other prominent Conservatives, both nationally and locally, taking the same honourable route.”

Local Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, Nick Perry, said: “Amber Rudd’s resignation provides further evidence that Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is now a Trojan horse for the Brexit Party. With the Conservatives and Labour in the hands of political hardliners, the Liberal Democrats will continue to welcome voters who want an open, tolerant and socially progressive party, committed to economic competence and stopping Brexit altogether.” 

Soames it ever was

In a Twitter exclusive, Jim Pickard, chief political correspondent for the Financial Times, tweeted: “I can reveal that Amber Rudd is going to stand as an independent at the next election – but not in Hastings & Rye”. 

Packard started a poll asking where Rudd might stand in an upcoming election, suggesting Putney, Kensington, Uxbridge, and The Rhondda. Rudd has since ruled out Uxbridge. 

The resignation article in The Times insinuated that Rudd might move ‘up the road’ to Mid Sussex, Nicholas Soames’s seat. Soames, who incidentally is Winston Churchill’s grandson, has recently had the Conservative whip withdrawn after voting against the government on the Benn bill and has been rumoured to be vacating his safe Conservative seat. This move to Mid Sussex seat has been predicted since Rudd’s majority was reduced to less than 346 in the 2017 general election. 

One Johnson pulls out, the other doesn’t 

This resignation may be a moral stance or a shrewd political calculation, depending on your sympathies. Twenty-three Conservative MPs have lost the party whip under Johnson’s leadership, including Soames, Rudd and Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother who also recently surrendered the party whip. A lot will depend on when they will have the whip restored. It seems unlikely in the extreme that Rudd will not return to the fold after this unusual period of open acrimony within the party. If the whip is returned before the next election and the seat becomes available, Mid Sussex can look forward to a new MP. It’s within an hour of London and she can see that they’ll win. If not, Rudd says that she’ll run as an ‘independent Conservative’. 

Given some of the policies and practices that Rudd has been able to tolerate, this move is unlikely to be a noble resignation. As Home Secretary, Rudd was a key architect in creating the ‘hostile environment’; she refused to acknowledge or implement the Dubb’s amendment which should have given thousands of child-refugees safe sanctuary in the UK; she gave the famous ‘Rivers of Rudd’ speech at the 2016 Conservative party conference in which she suggested that the majority of Britain’s problems could be solved by being tough on immigrants; she lied about the Windrush scandal and was eventually hounded out of office by the press. As Work and Pensions Secretary, Rudd oversaw the roll out of Universal Credit, a system that has caused extreme suffering, rent arrears and homelessness for the most vulnerable in society and was part of a government that considered raising the pension age to 75. Rudd campaigned enthusiastically to remain in the EU but was happy to sit in a cabinet that was prepared to prorogue parliament in order to see through a no-deal Brexit. The party whip being withdrawn from fellow MPs seems a strange place to draw a line in the sand. 

The next leader of the opposition?

Rudd’s move away from government can be interpreted as a bet against the current Johnson administration from someone at the centre of its innermost circle. When she returns to cabinet this resignation will put her in a strong position for a top job. 

Rudd would make a better leader than Johnson, he could never have been a successful Prime minister because he is a fool. His role is to make people laugh. Johnson reeks of British public-school exceptionalism, where effort is an affront to a born entitlement, he has only ever wielded power through proximity. Now that there are no higher authorities to hide behind, his jokes are falling flat, the gaffs no longer funny, the lack of effort and research, dangerous. If Rudd’s bet pays off, we may be looking at the collapse of the current government and a new leader of the Conservative party before Christmas. 

Hastings may have seen the back of Amber Rudd but the world has yet to see the end of her ambition.

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