Tory leadership contender Matt Hancock (pictured) has declared it is ‘mission critical’ for the party to deliver Brexit before the next general election
The Health Secretary said the party was under attack ‘on two sides’ as Nigel Farage humiliated the party while Conservative candidates also fell behind the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats.
Writing for the Daily Mail, Mr Hancock warned that ‘Tory voters who supported Remain and younger voters who share our values are being hoovered up by the Lib Dems in growing numbers’.
He said said the party risked losing seats it had won from the Lib Dems in places such as the South West if it failed to ‘hold our nerve’ and pursued a No Deal Brexit instead.
Several Tory leadership candidates yesterday charged towards backing a No Deal Brexit as the party hit the panic button following its drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage.
Rival contenders lined up to pledge they would finally take the country out of the European Union after the Tories suffered their worst election result in 200 years.
Mr Hancock wrote: ‘We’ve lost many long-standing voters to the Brexit Party – not because of any details of the deal we proposed – but simply because we haven’t delivered Brexit yet.
‘It’s not that most people want a No Deal Brexit, but because so many rightly think we should have left by now and want us to get on with it. So it is mission critical we deliver Brexit before any general election.’
He also warned that the party’s election prospects were under threat from the Liberal Democrats.
Boris Johnson leaving his home yesterday with his girlfriend, 31-year-old Carrie Symonds, after he delivered a stark message that the Tories must listen to the ‘millions who voted for change’ in the election
Nigel Farage (pictured in London yesterday) humiliated the Conservatives at the Euro polls
David Cameron won a majority two years ago after the Tories took 27 seats from its former Coalition partners in places such as St Ives, Taunton Deane and Yeovil.
But Mr Hancock said a Lib Dem resurgence ‘strikes at the heart of our ability to win general elections at all’.
‘A Lib Dem revival threatens dozens of Conservative seats in England, opening up a pathway to power for Jeremy Corbyn,’ he said.
‘There was a 14 per cent national swing from the Conservatives to the Lib Dems in these elections.
‘A similar swing at a general election held before we leave the EU could lose us 17 of the seats we won from them in 2015.’
As candidates jostled for position, Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed Theresa May, tweeted: ‘The message is clear. It is time for us to deliver Brexit and set out our positive plans for the country.’
Esther McVey declared it was no longer possible to find a Brexit a plan ‘to bring people together’ as she argued that leaving without a deal now is the only thing that ‘will wash now’.
Cabinet ministers Jeremy Hunt (left) and Michael Gove (right) are also vying to replace Theresa May at Downing Street
Sajid Javid entered the crowded Tory leadership race yesterday, posting this Twitter video (above) to launch his campaign
What will the Tory leadership candidates do to deliver Brexit as Farage calls the shots?
Boris Johnson: Brexiteer who backs a deal but will leave without a deal if required. Writing in the Daily Telegraph today the ex-foreign secretary said: ‘No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.’
Dominic Raab: Brexiteer who wants the current deal with Brussels renegotiated but believes the UK should leave on October 31 ‘at the latest’ with or without a deal, saying: ‘I believe that I have the plan to ensure we can leave the EU by the end of October’.
Andrea Leadsom: Brexiteer who told the Guardian we must be ‘prepared to leave without a deal’ but has a ‘three-point plan for Brexit, for how we get out of the European Union’.
Rory Stewart: Remainer who says he could not work for a PM who backed a No Deal Brexit. Described it as ‘damaging, unnecessary’ and ‘a huge mistake’.
Michael Gove: Brexiteer who favours a deal. He told the BBC at the weekend that ‘we would be able to get through it’ but added: ‘It’s ultimately better for all of us if we secure a deal with the EU and leave in an orderly way’.
Matt Hancock: Remainer who backs a deal. He told Sky News that leaving the European Union without an agreement is ‘not an active policy choice that is available to the next prime minister’, in jibe at Boris Johnson.
Jeremy Hunt: Remainer turned Brexiteer whose views on No Deal have varied. last year he said it would be ‘a mistake we would regret for generations’ before later insisting the UK would ‘would survive and prosper’ if it left unilaterally.
Esther McVey: Ruled out a further Brexit extension. Today she said: ‘People saying we need a Brexit policy to bring people together are misreading the situation. We need to deliver on the referendum result with a clean break and then we bring people together by how we govern the country outside the EU.’
Sajid Javid: Remainer Home Secretary who accepts that Brexit has to happen. He said today: ‘First and foremost, we must deliver Brexit.’
Dominic Raab said the country must show ‘unflinching resolve’, while Michael Gove said the party ‘absolutely needs to deliver Brexit’ and Jeremy Hunt warned it would face ‘an existential crisis’ if it did not.
Sajid Javid, who entered the race yesterday, said getting the country out of the EU would be his ‘first and foremost’ priority.
The European Parliament election results saw the Tories slump to fifth place with just four MEPs.
Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said there was ‘an existential risk to our party’, as he warned: ‘Unless we unite and deliver Brexit the public will continue to punish us at the ballot box.
‘We now need to bring our party back together and get on with what we promised to do at the last election – deliver Brexit and bring the country back together again.’
Mr Gove, the Environment Secretary, said Tories needed to ‘honour the referendum mandate before there is an election, because if we don’t Corbyn will be in Downing Street propped up by the SNP’.
Miss McVey, former work and pensions secretary, took the most hardline position by suggesting she would not even attempt to renegotiate the Brexit deal with Brussels.
She said: ‘We must leave the EU on October 31 with a clean break, nothing else will wash now.
‘People saying we need a Brexit policy to bring people together are misreading the situation. That is clearly not possible.’ Former Brexit secretary Mr Raab said: ‘Voters have sent us a very clear message: unless we get on and actually leave the EU they will rightly kick us out at the next election.’
He said he would hold a Brexit budget before October 31 to show Britain was serious about a No Deal departure, calling for the country to ‘demonstrate unflinching resolve’. He added: ‘We will not be taken seriously in Brussels unless we are clear that we will walk away on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms if the EU doesn’t budge.
‘To demonstrate our determination I would bring forward a Brexit Budget.
‘If we are forced … to leave on WTO terms, we will be able to draw from the £39billion budgeted … to help ease the transition.’
Fellow hopeful Andrea Leadsom added: ‘These results are truly terrible and demonstrate the damage that has been done to the Conservative Party, and to the country, in not leaving the European Union.’
A poll of 10,000 by Lord Ashcroft yesterday found that 53 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2017 switched to the Brexit Party on Thursday, with 12 per cent going to the Lib Dems and only 21 per cent staying with the party.
MP Jesse Norman yesterday became the latest to reveal he was considering a bid for the Tory leadership.
MATT HANCOCK: We must hold our nerve if we want to win
By Matt Hancock for the Daily Mail
The Conservative Party is losing votes on two sides.
We’ve lost many long-standing voters to the Brexit Party. Not because of any details of the deal we proposed – but simply because we haven’t delivered Brexit yet.
It’s not that most people want a No Deal Brexit, but because so many rightly think we should have left by now and want us to get on with it.
So it is mission critical that we deliver Brexit before any general election.
But crucially, we’re also haemorrhaging support on the other side. Tory voters who supported Remain and younger voters who share our values are being hoovered up by the Lib Dems in growing numbers.
This strikes at the heart of our ability to win general elections at all. A Lib Dem revival threatens dozens of Conservative seats in England, opening up a pathway to power for Jeremy Corbyn. There was a 14 per cent national swing from the Tories to the Lib Dems in these elections. A similar swing at a general election held before we leave the EU could lose us 17 of the seats we won from them in 2015.
The Brexit Party won the most seats in the election last Thursday, followed by the Lib Dems
This chart shows the parties’ respective share of the vote, with Labour third and the Tories fifth
The Conservatives suffered a humiliating 14.9 per cent loss in their 2014 vote share in last night’s European election results
To survive – and thrive – in today’s political landscape we’ve got to win back both groups, along with any floating voters flirting with Corbyn.
First, we need a focus on the future. We need to turn a page and target our huge potential as a high-tech, high-skills, high-pay economy, selling it to the rising global middle class. That’s the opportunity we need to seize. Second, we need to beat Corbyn’s socialism by winning the case for capitalism – by showing that the free-enterprise system is the best way of putting pounds in people’s pockets.
That means driving up the Living Wage and cutting taxes so people earn more and keep more of the money they earn.
Instead of yet another battle over Brexit, the next election should be about the economy – the territory on which the Conservative Party wins. It should be a clear choice between higher pay with the Tories or higher taxes with Corbyn’s Labour. Third, we need to deliver high-quality public services. Great schools, a world-class NHS, affordable childcare, more police on our streets – these are issues all voters care about. They can only be properly funded with a strong economy – and let’s use the latest tech to make them even better.
Looking at these dire European election results we must hold our nerve, focus on what really matters to people and get to where we win elections – with a broad appeal based on rising pay in a growing economy. That way we can win once again.
This diagram shows the Brexit Party’s dominance everywhere except London and Scotland