Published On: Thu, May 9th, 2024
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Tory mayor Ben Houchen blames party’s woes on Rishi Sunak | Politics | News

Rishi Sunak is to blame for the chaos in Tory ranks, the party’s only elected mayor said.

Ben Houchen admitted Conservative MPs are “fighting each other like rats in a sack” as new polling put Labour 30 points ahead.

The Prime Minister stood side by side with Lord Houchen after he held on in Tees Valley to secure a third term.

His win was a bright spot in otherwise poor local election results and was enough for rebels to call off a plot to oust the PM.

Lord Houchen told BBC Radio Tees: “Things don’t look great for the Conservative Party at the moment.

“There is still a way through but that way through is getting narrower by the day.”

He said there is general disaffection with politics among voters rather than a desire to back Labour, so there is still the chance for the Conservatives to turn things around.

“If the Government actually got on and delivered some real things and showed themselves to be competent, and did the things that people wanted them to, then there is a way through to be able to get some of that respect back, some of that confidence back from the public and to help reduce what is a very large gap at the minute,” he said.

The Conservatives lost nearly 500 council seats, the West Midlands mayoral race and the Blackpool South by-election last week.

A YouGov poll showed Labour on 48% and the Tories on 18% – just five points ahead of Reform UK.

On who was to blame, Lord Houchen said: “Ultimately it always rests on the shoulders of the leader, all responsibility goes back to the top, it’s the same in my job as well. Ultimately, you’re the one responsible for it.

“But there are lots of people who are involved in the problems with the Conservative Party. It’s a bit of chaos at the minute, right, isn’t it?

“There’s lots of people fighting with each other in the Conservative Party, there are defections going on, and ultimately the public do not vote for parties who are not united and are not presenting a united front and also aren’t talking to the public.

“If they’re fighting with each other like rats in a sack instead of saying to the public ‘this is what we’re going to do for you’, that doesn’t win elections.

“Obviously, it ultimately lies with Rishi but there are lots of people that need to get their act together, stop messing about and start talking to the public about what they can offer them, rather than just fighting with each other.”

A Downing Street source said “everyone should keep focused on the job in hand”.

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