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Tories care too much about themselves and not the country, chairman admits

The party’s ‘biggest weakness’ is that it is ‘inward-looking’ rather than looking out at the country, Richard Holden said

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 24 December 2023 09:32 GMT
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Rishi Sunak wins Rwanda vote despite Tory rebellion

The Conservative Party is more focused on itself than the country, Tory chairman Richard Holden has admitted.

The party’s “biggest weakness” is that it is “inward-looking” rather than looking out at the country, he said.

After weeks of bitter infighting over Rishi Sunak’s Rwanda deportation scheme, Mr Holden said “being inward-looking is the biggest weakness”.

The headlines have been dominated by factional warfare over the policy, designed to let Mr Sunak deport asylum seekers to the east African nation, with deep splits emerging between hardline right-wingers and more moderate Conservative MPs.

But despite admitting the party has been too focused on internal battles, Mr Holden gave the Conservatives an eight out of 10 for party unity. “It’s definitely on the improving scale,” he insisted.

Richard Holden replaced Greg Hands as Tory chairman last month (PA)

In an interview with Times Radio, Mr Holden said that having now "kicked the tyres inside the building", the Conservative Party is "in a better place than I think some might have thought it would be".

He added: “We’ve got an excellent new team coming on board in terms of [political strategist] Isaac Levido and all of his campaign gang.

“We’ve really ramped up our campaigning efforts right across the country, we’ve got more staff on the ground than we’ve had for a very long time, and I think we know we’re in quite a good place, actually, internally.

“But obviously, I want to make sure that the party stays as united as practically possible as we head through this election year.”

Despite Mr Holden’s positivity, the Conservative Party faces an uphill battle ahead of next year’s general election. The Tories have consistently trailed Labour in the polls, with a deficit of 19 points.

Rishi Sunak faces a battle to turn around his party’s fortunes ahead of a general election next year (PA Wire)

Britain’s top pollster last week told The Independent that Mr Sunak is facing a landslide election defeat.

In a grim seasonal message, Professor Sir John Curtice said the prime minister faces a “very bleak situation”. The Conservatives could lose as many as 220 of their current total of 350 MPs in the election due next year, he claimed, warning they are heading for a “collapse” on a par with Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

Mr Sunak’s personal popularity with voters has also plunged to a record low in a fresh headache for the Conservative Party.

Strategists had hoped that the PM’s relative popularity compared to the party would help its image recover in the wake of Liz Truss and Boris Johnson’s premierships.

But he is now as unpopular as Mr Jonhson before the ex-PM was forced out of Downing Street, and is heading toward levels seen by Ms Truss in the dying days of her tenure in No10.

He is also now as unpopular as the Conservative Party as a whole and is viewed negatively by most of those who voted Tory in 2019, according to YouGov.

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