OXFORDSHIRE’S most senior Conservative councillor says it is time for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be replaced.

Eddie Reeves, leader of the Tories at Oxfordshire County Council, feels a fresh face is needed ahead of the next general election.

He follows Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber – also a Conservative politician – in saying Mr Johnson should step aside.

Mr Reeves affirmed his loyalty to the Conservative Party was not in doubt, but admitted he had been ‘unhappy’ since the Owen Paterson affair.

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“Over time, the concerns have grown, and for me, the tipping point was the confidence vote as it was perilously close to 50 per cent plus one,” said Mr Reeves.

“I feel now is the time for senior figures – councillors, chairs of associations – to speak honestly about the situation.

“I sincerely hope I’m wrong and that the Prime Minister can turn things round but regretfully, I don’t think he’s the right man to lead us in the next general election.

“I think we need a fresh face in that next general election.”

Oxford Mail: Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Andrew Milligan/ PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire

Mr Reeves said that when the Prime Minister was fined for breaking lockdown rules, the apology was ‘too little, too late’.

“Although it was a minor breach of the law, it was a breach nonetheless,” said Mr Reeves.

“Anyone in public office should be held to an eyewatering standard, I genuinely believe that.

“He apologised but it’s insufficient when you look at the errors that have been made since the Owen Paterson affair.

“I’m a loyal Conservative and I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but Government hasn’t been operating well since the Owen Paterson affair – we can’t go on like this.”

Oxford Mail: Eddie Reeves, the Conservative leader at Oxfordshire County Council. Picture: Oxfordshire ConservativesEddie Reeves, the Conservative leader at Oxfordshire County Council. Picture: Oxfordshire Conservatives

Despite criticising the Prime Minister, Mr Reeves said he would support him if he was still the Tory leader heading into the next general election.

“We’ll have more than an uphill battle in the south east, where there is a surge with the Liberal Democrats particularly,” he said.

“If Boris is the Prime Minister and leads us into a general election, I’ll campaign for him and the Conservative Party.

“It’s up to individuals to do what they think is best for the party.

“If you’re not prepared to speak honestly now though, then when?

“I don’t think the current administration will yield the best result.”

Mr Reeves joined the Conservatives more than a decade ago, and said he got ‘stuck in at the first opportunity’, spending three years on Daventry District Council between 2012 and 2015.

He then moved to Banbury in 2016 and became a county councillor a year later.

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice