Published On: Tue, Jan 23rd, 2024

Rishi Sunak blasted by Tory MP Simon Clarke demanding he resign | Politics | News


Rishi Sunak and Simon Clarke

Rishi Sunak and Simon Clarke (Image: Getty)

Tory MP Sir Simon Clarke has blasted Rishi Sunak’s “uninspiring leadership” as the key obstacle to the Tories‘ inability to recover in the polls.

The key ally of Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss launched a blistering attack on the PM by referring to him as going “from asset to anchor”.

Writing in a newspaper tonight, Sir Simon said: “It is now beyond doubt that whilst the Prime Minister is far from solely responsible for our present predicament, his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery.

Rishi Sunak has sadly gone from asset to anchor. He lags Keir Starmer — himself no Tony Blair — by double digits on the ‘Best Prime Minister’ metric.”

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The ex-cabinet minister – one of 11 Rwanda rebels last week – said it was “devastatingly obvious” the Tories are heading for defeat in the general election, which is expected to be in the second part of this year.

The move comes after 60 MPs last week defied party whips to demand the PM toughen up his flagship migration policies.

A Senior Tory spokesman hit back: “This is a self-indulgent attempt to undermine the government at a critical moment for the country.

“He may claim to be helping the party but the only person he is doing any favours for is Sir Keir Starmer.”

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel called for the Tory party to “unite and get on with the job”.

She said: “At this critical time for our country, with challenges at home and abroad, our party must focus on the people we serve and deliver for the country.

“Engaging in facile and divisive self indulgence only serves our opponents, it’s time to unite and get on with the job.”

Ex-Cabinet Minister Sir David Davis insisted “this is getting silly” in a post on social media.

He said: “The Party and the country are sick and tired of MPs putting their own leadership ambitions ahead of the UK’s best interests.

“It is really about time that these people realise they have a duty to the country that is greater than their personal leadership ambitions.”

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James Daly MP, a member of the New Conservative group, also came out in defence of Mr Sunak.

Taking to X, formerly Twitter, he said: “This is absolute nonsense. The Conservative Party must unite behind the Prime Minister to stop the boats, continue levelling up our country and ensure equal opportunity for all.

“Everything else is self indulgence of the highest order.”

Liam Fox MP also described Sir Simon’s public demand for a new leader as “self indulgent”.

He said: “This is not the time for self indulgence and tribalism in the party.

“Those who have an agenda to destabilise the government in an election year should understand the consequences.

“Having been on the front bench for all 13 years in opposition, it is a miserable place. Be warned.”

Mr Clarke pointed to recent polls showing a 1997-style wipeout for the Tories.

He wrote: “The unvarnished truth is that Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred.

“Denial of impending catastrophe is an extraordinarily powerful human instinct.”

Sir Simon, who was Mr Sunak’s deputy in the Treasury, called on other Tory MPs to follow his lead and demand a change at the top.

He said: “Every Conservative MP will need to live with the decision they make in the coming days for the rest of their lives. Failing to act would itself represent a decision.

“We have a clear choice. Stick with Rishi Sunak, take the inevitable electoral consequences, and give the Left a blank cheque to change Britain as they see fit.

“Or we can change leader, and give our country and party a fighting chance.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo Visits Downing Street

Rishi Sunak outside No10 Downing Street (Image: Getty)

Sir Simon last week voted against Mr Sunak’s flagship Rwanda deportation Bill warning the Government’s plan will fail.

He said the party has lost “key voters” by failing to be bold on immigration and government reform.

Under the party’s rules at least 15 per cent of the parliamentary party – over 50 Tory MPs – must submit a letter of no confidence to start the firing gun on a possible leadership challenge.

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “With a limited number of months before a General Election, the Conservative Party should be focussing our attention on the risks of a Labour Government led by Sir Keir Starmer, a man who stood by the failures of Jeremy Corbyn, and the architect of a 2nd Referendum designed to defy the British public’s decision on Brexit and return us to the arms of the EU.

“Our priority must be to continue to focus our attention on the long-term change the UK and the electorate need rather than engage in yet another leadership debate.”

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “With a limited number of months before a General Election, the Conservative Party should be focussing our attention on the risks of a Labour Government led by Sir Keir Starmer, a man who stood by the failures of Jeremy Corbyn, and the architect of a 2nd Referendum designed to defy the British public’s decision on Brexit and return us to the arms of the EU. Our priority must be to continue to focus our attention on the long-term change the UK and the electorate need rather than engage in yet another leadership debate.”

David Campbell Bannerman, chairman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, told Express.co.uk: “This is absolutely devastating for Sunak.

“This is the first time such a senior former Minister has called for the Prime Minister to go so directly and so rationally. MPs should examine their consciences, put the country and party first and follow this lead.

“The message is clear: They know they need this change. They need to be honest and have the guts to do what is necessary. Our county is in peril – act now!”



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