Conservative voters dying out at rate of 2% per year, Lord Heseltine warns

‘One thing which is just worth having in mind: 2 per cent of the older part of the electorate die every year - they are 70 per cent Conservative’

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The Independent Online

Former Conservative deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine has warned the electoral base is dying off at a rate of 2 per cent a year and has called for a new party leader.

Lord Heseltine, who worked with Margaret Thatcher and was deputy to John Major, said the party needs to work hard to “restore its electoral forturnes” and that Theresa May should step down after a “matter of months”.

The 84-year-old’s comments come weeks after the Tory party failed to achieve an overall majority in Parliament while Labour enjoyed a gain of more than 30 seats, defying the polls and commentators.

“One thing which is just worth having in mind, and you can't do anything about it, 2 per cent of the older part of the electorate die every year - they are 70 per cent Conservative,” Lord Heseltine told Sky News.

”Another 2 per cent come in at the young end of the electorate - they are about 70 per cent Labour. That's about 2 per cent change each year. There isn't that much time.“

Lord Heseltine said it would be “dangerous” for the Conservatives if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn remained a “credible candidate” for prime minister. 

The Brexit sceptic claimed that Ms May could “do the party a service by holding on a little” but should ultimately step down to make way for a new leader and a new party policy in a few months.

Ms May is facing increasing pressure to resign after a bungled initial Brexit meeting with EU counterparts and is being criticised for her efforts to strike a deal with the DUP, a socially conservative Northern Irish party. Repeated terrorist attacks at London Bridge and Finsbury Park have pushed back the Queen’s speech as well as talks with the DUP.

The prime minister has also been accused of “hiding” from the electorate during the campaign, on the scene of terrorist incidents and during the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.

Days before a fire swept through a tower block, killing at least 79 people, Ms May’s government had vowed that “austerity was over” and that the electorate wanted to be offered hope and better living standards after years of cuts to public services.

It signalled a major U-turn after almost a decade of austerity and Conservative government since the financial crisis of 2008. 

Another turnaround was witnessed with the opposition.

On 8 June, seven weeks after Ms May changed her mind and called for the snap election, Labour gained 34 seats, including Tory strongholds such as Canterbury and Kensington. 

It was a coup for Mr Corbyn, whose MPs had fled his shadow cabinet and vowed he would not become a leader just months before.

Mr Corbyn was given a standing ovation by his party colleagues when Parliament resumed.

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