Slash taxes to save party! Angry Tories demand Sunak act now after vote disaster
They are calling on Rishi Sunak to slash taxes and want him to get a grip on illegal migration to help defeat Labour at the polls.
Tory MP Jonathan Gullis was among those calling for “common sense policies” to help restore the trust of the British public.
The call to arms comes amid fears of a 1997-style wipeout after Sir Keir Starmer boasted he could emulate Tony Blair in the wake of a double by-election triumph.
The jubilant Labour leader said he wanted to “follow in the footsteps” of the ex-PM following his party’s victories in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth.
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But the loss of the true blue strongholds triggered immediate demands for “far-reaching changes” to convince Conservative voters to come back to the fold.
Writing in the Daily Express Mr Gullis said: “The by-elections show us that the Conservative voter base is dissatisfied with our track record but does not want a Labour Government.
“The public is waiting for us to give them proper cause and reason to get out and vote for us.
“We need to lean into the political realignment that followed Brexit and that our landslide victory in 2019 bolstered. By introducing common sense policies, we can achieve positive change for the common good.”
Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the backbench Common Sense Group of Tory MPs, said the party should “fight the next election on our territory, not Labour’s” and focus on “true blue” Conservative priorities “like immigration and public order”.
Fellow Tory Tom Hunt said: “The way to address this is to deliver an authentically Conservative approach.
“Deliver on stopping the boats, cut net migration, stand up to the woke agenda and find a way to cut taxes.”
Although by-elections are not directly reflected at general elections, a swing of the scale seen on Thursday night could result in heavy losses for the Tories.
Danny Kruger, like Mr Gullis a member of the New Conservatives group, said the Prime Minister should be “braver” on issues such as migration and the so-called culture wars.
● Stopping the boats is a key issue for voters. Although progress has been made more needs to be done to reassure the public that the Government is in control of our borders. Rishi Sunak’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision next month on whether deportation flights to Rwanda are lawful will be crucial.
● Tory MPs’ insatiable appetite for tax cuts needs to be addressed. The Prime Minister and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have spent the past 12 months shoring up the economy and tackling the cost of living crisis. Inflation is coming down and GDP is growing, albeit slowly. Many argue that cutting taxes at next year’s spring budget would put more money in people’s pockets and boost economic growth.
● Getting Brexit done played a major role in Boris Johnson’s 2019 election landslide. Rishi Sunak needs to grasp Britain’s Brexit opportunities with two hands between now and the general election to tap into that same fervour. Signing a mega multi-billion pound trade deal with India is the catalyst he needs to capitalise on.
● Keeping the silver vote onside is crucial if the Conservatives are to have any chance at the next election. Maintaining the pensions triple lock in its current form is key to that. It was a Tory manifesto pledge in 2019 and would be electoral suicide if it was not included, without even the slightest of tweaks, next year.
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Describing the results as a “wake-up call” he told the BBC: “I think we need to go a bit further and faster.
“We need to be bolder on taxation than we have been but all of this is to play for and the instincts of the Government are in the right place.”
Brexiter Sir John Redwood also called for tax cuts.
“The Labour vote was similar to 2019. Many people want the government to stop the boats, improve the quality and efficiency of services and cut taxes to get some growth,” he said.
Sir John added: “The tax burden is massively too high. It’s having a detrimental impact on growth and hitting public morale.”
“They are not enamoured of Starmer and Labour. They are just unhappy with us.
“We need to get back to our Conservative values and show that we understand their unhappiness.”
“I think the answer lies with Jeremy Hunt.”
Labour gained Mid Beds, which was vacated this summer by former Cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, for the first time in the constituency’s century-long history.
It was the largest majority in terms of votes overturned by Labour at a by-election since 1945, with an eye-watering swing of more than 20%.
Sir Keir’s candidate also routed the Tories in Brexit-backing Tamworth, smashing the 19,600-vote cushion from the 2019 general election.
Giving a stump speech Sir Keir insisted he is remaining “humble” despite polling experts saying the results put him on track for a landslide.
Asked by Sky News whether he was the “heir to Blair”, Sir Keir said: “Tony Blair won three times, produced a landslide victory for the Labour Party and allowed a Labour government to do incredible things for our country.
“We face different times and we go forward to a different challenge in 2024.
“But what I do want to do is follow in the footsteps of a leader of our party who took us from opposition into power.
“That’s where these results are so important, as a step along that journey.”
Praising his new MP Alistair Strathern, Sir Keir said: “What a fantastic candidate… He has not only won here, he’s made history here over the past 24 hours. An incredible achievement already.”
Speaking to reporters from Cairo, where he was holding meetings on the crisis in Gaza, the PM said mid-term by-elections were “always difficult for incumbent governments” and that there had been “local factors at play”.
He added that he was “committed to delivering on the priorities of the British people”.
In its 105 years of existence, Labour had never won Mid Beds and was 24,664 votes behind the Tories at the 2019 general election.
Victory for Labour in Tamworth saw the party overturn the Tories’ 19,600-vote majority from the 2019 general election.
The swing from the Tories to Labour in the Staffordshire constituency was 23.9 percentage points, which is the second-largest managed by Labour at a by-election since 1945.
It was even bigger than the 23.7 percentage points that Labour achieved when winning the Selby and Ainsty by-election in July.
Polling guru Sir John Curtice pointed out that the change was in line with Labour’s 1996 by-election victory in the forerunner seat.
The Tamworth contest was triggered by the resignation of former Tory deputy chief whip Chris Pincher after he was found to have drunkenly groped two men in a posh London club.
Labour candidate Sarah Edwards, above, defeated Tory rival Andrew Cooper by a majority of 1,316 votes. He also made a swift exit from the count without listening to her speech.
Tory chair Greg Hands said he was “disappointed” but blamed “specific circumstances” in the constituencies and said their voters had simply stayed at home.
“We need to think particularly about the fact that Conservative voters are not coming out to vote,” he told Sky News.
Mr Sunak has been left reeling after he attempted to revive Tory fortunes with a recent policy blitz.
The PM has made announcements on Net Zero, the HS2 rail line, an A-level shake-up, and a New Zealand-style smoking ban.
He has also overhauled his Downing Street team but has yet to see much improvement in the Conservatives’ opinion polling.
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