Following the news of Boris Johnson's resignation as Prime Minister today (Thursday, July 7), Mark Tufnell, president of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), has said that the next Tory leader needs to place rural life higher on the agenda.

“Rural communities feel ignored, angry, and forgotten about," he said.

“The next leader of the Conservatives has an uphill battle to win back the trust of rural voters."

In particular, Tufnell brought to focus the rural economy.

“The rural economy is 18% less productive than the national average, leading to a stagnant economy and limited aspiration," he said.

"Boris Johnson had no plans to fix this chronic problem – the next Prime Minister must."

Next PM should have a plan

He added that the next Prime Minister "should have a robust and ambitious plan for the countryside, one that will create jobs and opportunities for everyone".

“This doesn’t require lots of public money, it simply requires a government that understands the potential rural businesses have to level up the country," he added.

Furthermore, Tufnell believes this applies to the Tory party as a whole, and not just the next leader.

The president added that CLA voting shows that the two leading UK parties, the Conservatives and Labour, are now "neck and neck" in rural areas.

“If the Conservatives wish to prevent the Blue Wall from crumbling further, it must enact a robust plan for the rural economy immediately," he said.

“Otherwise, the party risks losing the hearts and minds of 12 million rural voters.”

In his resignation announcement speech outside of No. 10 Dowling street at lunchtime today, Boris Johnson wished his successor the best of luck, "whoever he or she may be".

"I will give you as much support as I can," he said.

"The process of choosing that new leader should begin now," he said, adding that the timetable for said process will be announced next week.