Liz Truss willing to give members a say over next Tory chairman

 Liz Truss
Liz Truss

Liz Truss is open to giving the membership a say over the next Tory party chairman, it has emerged.

At a private event for card-carrying Conservatives in Beaconsfield, the Foreign Secretary was asked whether she would allow members to elect their own chairman.

She is understood to have responded that she was not against the idea, and sources in her campaign later confirmed that she was considering it.

Ms Truss was asked about the issue by John Strafford, the chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, which represents grassroots activists.

“Just as she was leaving the event, I said that we need an elected party chairman who is accountable to members,” he told The Telegraph. “She said that she is not against it. This will go down very well with party members.”

A source in Ms Truss’s campaign confirmed that she was “willing to look into it” as part of “broader commitments” to having a stronger party chairman.

They added: “Liz is out there listening to ideas and open to hearing what members think. As prime minister, her focus for the party would be winning the next election, supporting associations and MPs and making sure the members and local associations feel empowered.”

It comes amid a rift between Conservative MPs and a portion of their membership who remain loyal to Boris Johnson.

More than 10,000 members are thought to have backed the “Boris ballot” campaign to change the leadership rules to insert Mr Johnson as a candidate in the final round.

The campaign, spearheaded by the Tory donor and billionaire financier Lord Cruddas, had hoped to change the rules to effectively give members a referendum on Mr Johnson’s decision to stand down by adding him as a third candidate.

Mr Strafford has written to both Ms Truss and Rishi Sunak, her leadership rival, with a series of proposals intended to make the Conservative party more accountable to its members.

He said that, as well as the chairman of the party, the treasurer, the chairman of the candidates committee and the chairman of the policy forum should all be elected by members.

In his letter, he explained the need for reform, saying: “You will know how divided the party is at the moment and how we urgently need to repair the damage that has been done, and we believe that our reforms are part of a programme that can start to bring the party back together.”

Ms Truss intends to give the party chairman a “senior position” in the Cabinet, The Telegraph understands. The chairman would attend Cabinet each week and deliver an update to “ensure that the key promises we made to our voters are discussed at every Cabinet and remain on course to be delivered”.

She has also promised to recruit more ground campaign managers so that every Conservative MP is covered by one.