Starmer and Sunak clash in PMQs
Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson refused to rule out a coalition with smaller parties after the next election, just minutes after the PM slammed Keir Starmer for “busily plotting coalitions” after last week’s local election wins.
The failure to rule out a plan led to accusations of hypocrisy, and a demand by Labour urging the Tories to categorically rule out an unlikely coalition with the SNP should it fall short of a majority next year.
The failure to issue a categorical denial to journalists after PMQs was reversed two hours later, when a Tory Party spokesperson said: “We will not be doing a deal with any other party.”
The questions about coalition building came just hours after suspended Tory MP Andrew Bridgen defected to Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party, the party’s first MP in the Commons.
Tory chairman Greg Hands faced down furious backbenchers this afternoon following the local elections drubbing last week.
Mr Hands he was at the influential 1922 Committee meeting of Tory backbenchers explaining how Tory HQ, under his leadership, had presided over the loss of 1,000 councillors.
Attendance at the meeting was poor, as one minister pointed out MPs were on a ‘one-line whip’, meaning they hadn’t been made to stick around the Palace of Westminster for a vote.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, many Tory MPs put on a brave face, claiming they were “all happy”, that the meeting was “good” and “cheerful”.
One MP quoted the Terminator, joked: “We’ll be back!”
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Another said: “Greg is a winning campaigner”, despite losing 1000 council seats last week.
Speaking privately to the Express, however, the report was less rosy.
A Red Wall MP said that while Greg did well in the room, and there is no animosity towards him, the major concern among Tory MPs is how “slick and strong” Labour’s ground game is – meaning their door knocking, the number of campaigners on the ground and leafletting.
The MP added the Tories are “miles off” Labour’s ground campaign.
One MP speaking in the meeting complained they didn’t have enough resources, while another criticised Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not being “visible” enough.
A thunderstorm also broke out in Westminster while Mr Hands was talking to his backbench MPs, providing on-the-nose pathetic fallacy after a tough week for the Conservatives.
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