Boris Tory ally calls for Sunak to be ousted

Sacked cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke says party faces election ‘massacre’ unless PM ousted

Kate Devlin,Zoe Grunewald
Wednesday 24 January 2024 09:15 GMT
Tory MP Simon Clarke vowed to vote against Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda policy

A former Tory cabinet minister has launched a blistering attack on Rishi Sunak calling him to stand down as prime minister.

Sir Simon Clarke warned “extinction is a very real possibility” for his party if Mr Sunak remains the leader when voters next go to the polls.

Sir Simon, who was Liz Truss’s levelling up secretary, said: “Rishi Sunak has sadly gone from asset to anchor.”

He added: “It is time to strip away illusion, and stop tolerating any indulgence of it… [and] his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery.”

Sir Simon Clarke has called for a change in leadership (UK Parliament) (PA Media)

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the senior Tory said Mr Sunak was not solely to blame for the party flagging in the polls during an election year, but insisted “his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery”.

“The unvarnished truth is that Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred,” he wrote.

However, he came under fire from other senior Tories. In a withering assessment, one former cabinet minister: “Simon Clarke kicking off is not anything”.

However, the intervention does suggest no let up in the attacks Mr Sunak will face from within his own party in the run up to the election.

Sir Simon was among 11 Conservative MPs who voted against the prime minister’s Rwanda Bill at its third reading earlier this month, despite Mr Sunak seeing off a wider Tory rebellion.

The legislation survived the Commons hurdle after dozens of backbenchers demanding amendments to toughen the draft law largely backed down.

Following the news former Brexit secretary Sir David Davis told Sky News: “This is getting silly.

“The party and the country are sick and tired of MPs putting their own leadership ambitions ahead of the UK’s best interests.

“It is really about time that these people realise they have a duty to the country that is greater than their personal leadership ambitions.”

Tory grandee David Davis reminded colleagues that their “duty to the country is greater than their personal leadership ambitions” (AP)

Senior Tory and former Secretary of State, Liam Fox, also warned colleagues: “This is not the time for self indulgence and tribalism in the party.

Those who have an agenda to destabilise the government in an election year should understand the consequences. Having been on the front bench for all 13 years in opposition, it is a miserable place. Be warned.

Former home secretary Dame Priti Patel added: “At this critical time for our country, with challenges at home and abroad, our party must focus on the people we serve and deliver for the country. Engaging in facile and divisive self-indulgence only serves our opponents, it’s time to unite and get on with the job.”

This morning, Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood MP called Mr Clarke’s comments “dangerous, wreckless and selfless” and said “more and more colleagues are openly distancing themselves from Simon Clarke”.

Labour’s national campaign coordinator has said the Tories are forming “another circular firing sqad”. (PA)

Pat McFadden MP, Labour’s national campaign coordinator, responding to Sir Simon Clarke calling on Rishi Sunak to resign, said:

“Labour will focus on serving the British people whilst the Tories form another circular firing squad.

“There are many good reasons for getting rid of this clapped out Conservative government and liberating the British people from endless bouts of Tory infighting is certainly one of them.

“Whilst the Conservatives fight among themselves, Labour will fight for a better future for the country, where economic growth is felt in every part of Britain, where we generate the wealth we need for the NHS, good schools and safety on our streets and where we renew the country after 14 years of Tory failure.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper MP said: “It is utterly ludicrous that the Conservative Party is even discussing installing a fourth Prime Minister without giving voters a say.

“The Conservatives are once again fighting like rats in a sack while families face soaring bills and an NHS crisis.

“People are sick and tired of this never-ending Conservative Party soap opera. It’s time for Rishi Sunak to give voters the chance to put an end to this farce and call a general election.”

Downing Street has been contacted for comment.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in