He was famously ousted as PM for Australia and leader of the Liberal Party last year and now former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has appeared on British television, claiming he was axed because his party didn’t want him to win the next election.
His comments come after the most recent Newspoll revealed Labor remains ahead of the Liberal National Party with an unchanged preferred vote of 53-47 per cent.
“I was certainly voted out by my party room, fairly narrowly, but I think that said more about the internal politics of the Liberal Party than the electorate,” he told BBC’s Andrew Neil in an interview that aired on BBC2 in the United Kingdom.
Turnbull explained that at the time of the spill, his party was level-pegging with the opposition and that they were four points ahead on the marginal seats.
“The government was absolutely in a competitive, winnable position and so there are many people that would say, and this is if you view this objectively, but I think as I said at the time, it was essentially a form of madness that occurred,” Turnbull continued. “Whipped up internally and amplified by voices in the media. But basically you could argue that there concern was not that I would lose the election, but rather that I would win it.”
The 64-year-old explained there was “no question” that the government’s position is much less favourable now than in August when he was still leader.
Almost shocked, Neil asked Turnbull to confirm he thought his own party didn’t want him to win the next election, pointing out that there were 40 consecutive polls where Turnbull was never ahead of Labor.
“Andrew, you’ve only got to look at the facts,” Turnbull replied.
He went on to say that in the marginal seats, which he described as “the only ones that matter in terms of determining government”, his party was ahead when he was leader. He also claimed that Scott Morrison was less popular than him and didn’t give his party a better chance at winning, questioning why the party didn’t choose someone who was more popular.
“That was not what happened in August so it was a particular peculiarly Australian form of madness, I’m afraid,” he said, saying the party is in a worse position when based on any of the objective indications.
Neil later told the former PM that Australia has a habit of getting rid of prime ministers.
Turnbull famously called a snap contest against Peter Dutton last August. While he won, Dutton called a spill motion days later. Eventually, Turnbull didn’t re-contest the leadership, with both Morrison and Julie Bishop fighting for the top spot. In the end, Morrison proved victorious and became Australia’s prime minister.