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Former Tory Minister Is Helping Labour Prepare For Power

Former Tory minister Nick Boles (Alamy)

3 min read

Exclusive: A former Conservative minister is advising Labour Party shadow ministers as part of their ongoing preparations for government.

Nick Boles, the former Tory MP for Grantham and Stamford, is currently providing informal advice to members of Keir Starmer's Shadow Cabinet on preparing for power, PoliticsHome understands.

Boles, who was a Conservative MP between 2010 and 2019, served as a planning minister in the government of former Tory prime minister David Cameron.

He also helped Cameron's own preparations for office in the run-up to the 2010 general election by taking part in the opposition Tory party's access talks with the civil service.

Before entering Westminster politics, he co-founded conservative think tank Policy Exchange.

At the beginning of this month, the Labour Party confirmed that handover talks with senior civil servants in Whitehall had started ahead of the next general election, which opinion polls and recent by-election results indicate the opposition is likely to win. 

A Labour source said "leaning on the expertise" of figures like Boles is an "important" element of ensuring the party is ready to govern.

“Keir’s priority when he became leader was to change the Labour Party and put it back in the service of working people," they told PoliticsHome.
“It speaks to the progress of those changes that former Conservatives – including former ministers – are now switching to Labour.
“While there’s still much work to be done to win a general election, we owe it to the public to ensure we’re prepared to govern given we’d inherit a complete mess from the Tories. Leaning on the expertise of those who have been at the heart of government is an important part of that work.”

In September 2022, Boles announced that he intended to vote Labour at the next general election following the calamitous mini budget of former Tory prime minister Liz Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng.

Writing for The Guardian, Boles said there would be "millions of former Conservative voters who will have tired of being lab rats in Truss’s and Kwarteng’s ideological experiments", and went on to endorse Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves as "prudent, responsible and steady" politicians who "are in touch with people’s everyday concerns".

Boles wrote: "My brief career in politics taught me a few crucial lessons.

"Those who are full of certainty are usually wrong. The capacity to listen, to observe, to weigh  up evidence and to change your mind are some of the most important qualities in a leader. Of all the different kinds of fool, the most dangerous kind is the clever fool.

"Of course leaders need a strong sense of direction. But it should be formed by principles and values, not economic theory. The policies they pursue should be inspired by those values but rooted in evidence about what actually works and what people want."

Boles' involvement in Labour's preparations for government, which has included meetings with senior Labour MPs in Parliament in recent weeks, represents the latest step in his divorce from the Conservative party. 

The process began during the tumultuous Brexit years, when the former minister resigned from his constituency Tory association over the expressed desire of local party members for the UK to leave the European Union without a deal. 

A month later, in April 2019, he dramatically resigned the Tory whip in a House of Commons speech after MPs voted to reject a Norway-style relationship with the EU.

Boles said this sort of Brexit would have helped the country leave the bloc "while maintaining our economic strength and political cohesion", and accused Conservative back benchers of refusing to compromise. 

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