David Cameron’s decision to rule out a third term as Prime Minister will help his party’s candidates battling against strong Ukip threats, it was claimed by Tory MPs this afternoon.
Trust in Mr Cameron is a major reason why so many voters have switched to Nigel Farage’s party, one Tory backbencher said, adding that his decision to announce he has no plans to remain as leader beyond 2020 could even persuade many Ukip voters back to the fold.
“There’s an issue with credibility,” one Tory MP said of Mr Cameron. “Hearts don’t vote for him but the head goes for the Tories.”
The party will now be able to pick up more votes from “those people who don’t like David Cameron” and whose hearts are gunning for the likes of Boris Johnson, the MP added.
The Prime Minister is likely to be forced to step aside earlier than 2020 however, in order to give his successor time to prove himself to voters before the 2020 general election.
He has also run the risk of distracting a potential second premiership by name-checking Boris Johnson, Theresa May and George Osborne.
Labour has pounced on Mr Cameron’s remarks, which were made in a BBC interview yesterday.
“He’s gone from a chicken to a lame duck within a week,” says a senior labour source, referring to Mr Cameron’s refusal to take part in a head-to-head TV debate with Ed Miliband and the authority he has apparently now lost due to voters not knowing who will be Prime Minister if the Tories win the election.
But a poll found two in three people thought it was right of Mr Cameron to declare he will not serve a third term as Prime Minister.
The survey by market research firm Usurv found Boris Johnson to be the clear favourite to replace him as leader of the Tories.
Today Mr Cameron attempted to downplay the comments, insisting he was simply giving a "straight answer to a straight question".
“I think people will understand that a full second term, a full five years, is a very reasonable, sensible thing to say,” he added.
But he raised eyebrows by talking about his political “epitaph”.
"I've got to be honest with you," he told pensioners at an Age UK event. "I don't want my political epitaph to be that I balanced the books and cleared up the mess I inherited.
"I am here today because I want a different kind of Britain - a country with the right values, a country where reward follows effort, where you get out when you put in."
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
The 9 worst car crash interviews in recent politics
1/6 Chloe Smith on Newsnight
George Osborne was enjoying a good day as he scrapped a planned 3p rise in fuel duty in June, 2012. But then someone had the bright idea of putting Chloe Smith, a junior Treasury minister and then something of a rising star for the Tories, on Newsnight. But she was unable to convincingly answer a single question posed to her by Jeremy Paxman, even the ultimate killer blow: “Do you ever think you’re incompetent?”
2/6 Boris Johnson on Andrew Marr
Eddie Mair, standing in for Mr Marr during his stroke recovery, might have been seen as something of a soft touch in March 2013 before he destroyed the London Mayor on the BBC’s flagship Sunday current affairs show. Mair presented a series of anecdotes about the harsher side to the fluffy-seeming Mr Johnson’s rise to power and concluded: “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” Boris didn’t quite seem to know how to respond.
3/6 Ed Miliband on Good Morning Britain
Labour’s leader faced some slightly inevitable accusations of being “out of touch with reality” from ITV’s Susannah Reid after she surprised him with a “how much does X cost question”. This time it was during an interview on how much he knew about his much-vaunted “cost of living crisis” – and Mr Miliband underestimated the average household grocery bill per week by about a third. He admitted he was wrong – but later tried to wriggle out of the situation by claiming he was only referring to “basic groceries” not his “overall shopping bill”.
4/6 Rachel Reeves on Daily Politics
The shadow Work and Pensions Secretary got very mixed up on whether Labour were promising “a freeze or a cap” – when energy prices actually stopped rising and fell. Refusing to accept that her party had enacted a u-turn on policy, she said: “It wasn’t us who changed – it’s the world that changed.” She later couldn’t give any examples of retail prices being successfully fixed by governments – stumping for “the minimum wage – the price of labour”.
5/6 David Cameron on Gay Times
Grilled on his MEPs’ voting records on gay rights in the European Parliament, a pre-prime ministerial Mr Cameron suggested they could vote any way they liked. But he also said the right not to suffer discrimination based on sexuality was a fundamental human right – meaning it should not be subject to an open vote. The former PR man got so flustered he had to ask for the cameras to be turned off because he was getting “distracted”.
6/6 Nigel Farage on LBC
Nigel Farage’s image as a plain-speaking, not-like-that-lot-in-Westminster politician suffered one of a number of dents in May 2014, when a tense 22-minute confrontation with LBC’s James O’Brien had to be cut short by his spin doctor. Patrick O’Flynn – who is now an MEP for Ukip – had to step in when Mr Farage was repeatedly questioned on his views on race and why he would be uncomfortable if a group of Romanian nationals moved in next door to him.
Earlier today there was a rush to shore up Mr Cameron’s position, with Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisting he answered the question “in an absolutely straight way”.
“Ten years as Prime Minister is probably enough for anybody,” Mr Fallon added. Government chief whip Michael Gove said Mr Cameron had made a statement of the obvious.
Boris Johnson said what the Prime Minister had said was “entirely banal and obvious”.Reuse content