Amber Rudd warns the Tories that moderates want to ‘shape’ the party’s future in a direct challenge to Conservative Brexiteers seeking to choose the next Prime Minister
- Around 30 MPs attended the launch of the One Nation Conservatives tonight
- Rudd: Tories are ‘entering a new phase’ and we are ‘were determined to shape’ it
- Other Tories at launch included ministers Stephen Hammond and Margot James
Amber Rudd warned today that moderate Tories want to ‘shape’ the future of the party in direct defiance of Conservative Brexiteers.
The Work and Pensions Secretary spoke as around 30 MPs attended the launch of the One Nation Conservatives – a Remainer-heavy group that largely wants a soft deal with Brussels.
The launch came on the same day as Brexiteer Esther McVey – a possible leadership rival for Ms Rudd – launched the Blue Collar Conservatives with a more hardline pitch at Working Class Tories.
Speaking at the launch of One Nation – whose members describe themselves as centre-right – Ms Rudd said: ‘The Conservative Party is entering a new phase.
‘And we here in this room are determined to shape that phase.’
Ms Rudd said tonight: ‘The Conservative Party is entering a new phase. And we here in this room are determined to shape that phase’
Ms Rudd added: ‘And sometimes our voices aren’t heard quite as vocally as they should be.
‘And part of the launch today is to say we are going to be stepping up, making ourselves heard because we are proud and honest and strong about what we believe in.
‘And we believe that this time, more than ever, we need to shape the changing Conservative Party.’
Other Tory MPs at the event included Health Minister Stephen Hammond, Digital Minister Margot James and Prisons Minister Robert Buckland.
Asked if One Nation could back a Tory leadership contender who advocated a no-deal Brexit, MsJames pointed to the values set out by the new group, saying: ‘I think it would be difficult for a candidate who would let the country leave without a deal to subscribe to quite a lot of those values and the policies that flow from them.’
Ms James added: ‘I don’t think many candidates are going to stand up and say ‘I think the country should leave without a deal’. No.
‘But there are candidates who will go out of their way to make sure the country doesn’t leave without a deal and that is what we need to ensure we get out of this leadership contest.’
Former minister Esther McVey set out a leadership pitch today calling for the party to use £7billion of foreign aid cash on buckling British police forces and schools.
Launching a ‘blue collar conservatism’ campaign the Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust’ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas’ to win it back’.
She said that keeping cash in the UK that is currently sent abroad would allow an increase of £4billion in spending on schools and £3billion for police, which are both demanding more money.
And she declined to rule out doing a post-election deal with Nigel Farage – but said that if the Tories got the UK out it would mean that his Brexit Party would have no reason to exist.
The pitch from Ms McVey, who has already announced plans to run to replace Theresa May as Tory leader, is likely to go down well with party members who view the UK’s foreign aid budget as excessive.
Speaking in Westminster she reiterated her call for the next party leader to be ‘someone who believes in Brexit’ – a dig at Mrs May, who supported the Remain campaign in 2016.
And she lashed out at the local election results which saw the Tories suffer their worst reverse since 1995 in losing 1,300 seats.
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