Saturday 23 September 2017

Tory MPs tell Cameron to 'get a grip' or risk losing leadership

David Cameron: pledges to stick with austerity plan
David Cameron: pledges to stick with austerity plan

Nigel Morris in London

A former Conservative chief whip launched a brutal attack on British Prime Minister David Cameron's leadership qualities yesterday as the recriminations intensified over the party's dismal local council election results.

Rebellious backbenchers queued up to demand a shift to the right -- with one even forecasting that Mr Cameron could be ousted by Christmas unless he pursued a more conservative agenda.

The strongest language was used by the maverick MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, Nadine Dorries, who warned that MPs could trigger a leadership challenge unless Mr Cameron and the chancellor, George Osborne, "look at what people are asking for and provide them with that".

However, the most damning intervention came from Richard Ryder of Wensum, who suggested Mr Cameron's leadership could be vulnerable unless he got a grip on his government.

He said Mr Cameron should worry less about the 24-hour news agenda and "pointless gimmicks" and instead concentrate on developing a "strategy and vision".

Mr Ryder, who served as chief whip for five years under John Major, urged Mr Cameron to assert his authority and to 'take a grip' of government.

The MP for Northampton South, Brian Binley, said the election results were a "major setback" for the party and Mr Cameron should "wake up and smell the coffee".

Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham, called for some "sanity" in the forthcoming queen's speech, while the former minister Tim Yeo said it was "not too late" to push Lords' reform to the "bottom of the queue".

Last night Mr Cameron said that the coalition government must "focus on what matters" in the wake of dismal local election results for his party.

He said his party could not use "familiar excuses", such as low turnout and economic downturn, for the dip in its popularity.

"I get the message, loud and clear. I know that the familiar excuses aren't enough," Mr Cameron said in an op-ed article in 'The Daily Telegraph' newspaper.

Unpopular

Voters punished the Conservatives, the government's leading coalition partner, for a range of unpopular austerity measures that failed to avert a double-dip recession.

"The message people are sending is this: focus on what matters, deliver what you promise -- and prove yourself in the process. I get it."

The re-election of Boris Johnson in the London mayoral race softened the blow, but there was no mistaking the message from voters to the Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

"People want to know that we're not just a bunch of accountants trying to turn around the British economy like it is a failing company, but that we are resolutely on their side as we do this vital work," Mr Cameron said.

Irish Independent

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