The Telegraph 2024-07-06 04:12:35

Keir Starmer pledges government of service in first address

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Sir Keir Starmer has said his government will be one of “service” in his first address to the nation as Prime Minister.

Sir Keir, speaking outside Number 10 Downing Street, said: “I say to you directly: “Whether you voted Labour or not, in fact, especially if you did not, I say to you directly: My government will serve you.”

He said the government has been given a “clear mandate” by voters, saying: “And we will use it to deliver change, to restore service and respect for politics, end the era of noisy performance, tread more lightly on your lives and unite our country.

“Four nations standing together again facing down, as we have so often in our past, the challenges of an insecure world, committed to a calm and patient rebuilding.

“So, with respect and humility, I invite you all to join this Government of service in the mission of national renewal.

“Our work is urgent and we begin it today.”

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Keir Starmer announces new Labour Cabinet

Sir Keir Starmer has appointed David Lammy as his Foreign Secretary as he builds his Labour Cabinet…

Sunak resigns as Tory leader in final speech as PM outside No10

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Rishi Sunak has announced that he will stand down as Tory leader after taking the party to the worst result in its history.

The former prime minister said he would leave the role as soon as the arrangements to choose his successor have been put in place.

In his exit speech on the steps of No 10 he apologised to the country after Labour won a historic landslide, telling voters: “I am sorry.”

“I have heard your anger, your disappointment, and I take responsibility,” he said in his final address as his wife Akshata Murty watched on.

“This is a difficult day at the end of a number of difficult days but I leave this job honoured to have been your prime minister.”

Mr Sunak added: “I have given this job my all. But you have sent a clear message, and yours is the only judgement that matters. This is a difficult day, but I leave this job honoured to have been prime minister of the best country in the world.”

He arrived at Buckingham Palace at 11am to tender his resignation as prime minister to the King and hand over power to Sir Keir Starmer.

The moment marked the end of a torrid 20 months in Downing Street during which he failed to turn around the Tories’ political fortunes.

He inherited a hugely difficult legacy from Liz Truss, with inflation running high and public confidence rocked by the disastrous mini-budget.

But his time in office was also dogged by missteps and controversies, whilst his election campaign has been described as the worst in modern times.

In an exit address that was seen as one of his best speeches, Mr Sunak said: “To the country, I would like to say first and foremost, I am sorry.

“I have given this job my all, but you have sent a clear signal that the Government of the United Kingdom must change. And yours is the only judgement that matters.”

Mr Sunak is set to stay in post as Tory leader for the next few weeks while the party licks its wounds and decides how to choose his successor.

Before that can be done a new chairman of the 1922 committee, which sets the rules for leadership contests, will have to be elected.

Sir Graham Brady, who has been in charge of the powerful backbench group since 2010, stood down as an MP at the election.

Senior party figures may also want to discuss how the race will be run and the role members will play in picking the leader.

Some MPs have suggested that the power of members should be diluted after they picked Ms Truss over Mr Sunak in the 2022 contest.

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Angela Rayner is now one of Britain’s most powerful women – underestimate her at your peril

Back in the 2000s, on the eve of a London National Executive Committee meeting of the public service union Unison, a senior member, Liz Snape, got a call: “There’s a young woman coming your way from Stockport. She’s called Angie, she’s a north west regional activist and has a very unique talent for somebody so young.

“She’s had a terrible start in life. Keep an eye out for her. She’s sharp and bright and to the point. I think she’s going to go far.”

Snape put down the phone. Intriguing. The woman was in her twenties, had grown up on one of the roughest Stockport housing estates, and was travelling to London as a union rep speaking for 250,000 members.

She already had a young child, born when she was 16, and a sick mother at home, and had got herself out of grinding poverty by becoming a carer to the elderly, with an NVQ Level 2 in social care.

It had been an obvious route given she’d been caring for her bi-polar mother since the age of 10, preventing her from suicide by sleeping at the end of her bed at night. It was a dire back story that was to become famous 10 years later, and never more so than this week given that that young woman, now by marriage called Angela Rayner, is now one of the most powerful women in Britain.

As a new political era begins for Britain, Rayner, along with Chancellor Rachel Reeves, is part of a trio led by Sir Keir Starmer that will oversee the change agenda promised by the new Prime Minister.

By appointing her Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, he has signalled his trust in her. It also shows how highly he rates a woman who he inherited in 2020 by virtue of her own mandate as newly elected deputy leader of the Labour Party, backed by the unions, when he himself was elected leader.

After a very tricky three-year getting-to-trust-you process which Starmer’s biographer, Tom Baldwin, likens to “an arranged marriage” because Starmer could not get rid of her, Rayner is now rumoured to be holding out for what would be a newly created Office for the Deputy Prime Minister.

Less than 10 years after being elected as a Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in 2015, that woman who began her political career speaking up for downtrodden carers in Stockport is at the heart of the country’s new establishment. “I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” she has said since. 

Katy Balls, political editor of The Spectator, says: “She has a union background and has fought to get to where she is. She also knows she has a unique power base within the Labour Party and is the only member, other than Keir Starmer, to be elected by the party membership. That means she is un-sackable. She’s a fighter, and has the potential to be Starmer’s biggest asset or biggest headache.”

At the age of 20, Angie Bowen, as she was then, had not been driven by a desire to be political, unlike so many of the young, well-educated prospective Labour MPs barely out of university who stood as candidates – some successfully – in this week’s general election. 

She knew the pain of poverty. She’d walked with two siblings to her grandmother’s every week so they could have a bath in hot water and wash their uniform. Their food was cooked in a fat fryer. She had been on the cusp of being taken into care.

Her mother couldn’t read or write. And then, with no parental guidance, as a sexually inexperienced teenager, she had become a mother herself, at 16. She took her GCSEs, none coming back grade C or above.

“I met Angela when she had been told she would amount to nothing, that she was just going to be sat there living on benefits for the whole of her life,” says Stephanie Thomas, who would go on to be assistant general secretary of Unison and who was Rayner’s first Unison mentor in Stockport.

“And you either believe or you fight against it and show people you are worth something. I could see immediately that she wanted to do something to give herself a better life, to give other women a better life. She had seen what it is like to be vulnerable and left behind.” 

Rayner was enjoying being a union rep: listening to the poorly paid carers; herding them into action; getting bolshy with Stockport Council, which employed them. “My union found me a rebel – and it made me a rebel with a cause,” she has said. 

“She wanted to run before she could walk [in the union] and so she needed guidance,” explains Thomas. When she ran for the National Executive Council, I had said: “It’s way too soon. You need more experience. And she said “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m doing it.“ 

It was, as it turned out, to be the beginning of a pattern. “We got behind her, sent her on a public speaking course, gave her media training, presentation skills, report writing….We’d red-pen a lot of her reports saying, ‘Angela, you can’t say that!’.

“But she took it well. She never bore a grudge. She’d take the criticism if it was constructive. There was not an edge to her. She was a very kind person.” 

“Angela fills the gaps for Keir,” says Baldwin. “I wear my heart on my sleeve,” Rayner has said, which is in direct opposition to the new Prime Minister’s buttoned-up demeanour.

She stores his number in her phone as Mr Darcy, a reference to the emotionally reticent lawyer in Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Tom Baldwin says: “She has called him ‘the least political person I know in politics.’ There was a long period from 2021 through to last year when relations weren’t great [between them] and they spoke a different language.”

This reached a nadir following mixed local election results when Starmer stripped her of her role as party chair and election coordinator as part of a shadow cabinet reshuffle. She found out indirectly.

They had a meeting in which, at the very least, she let him have it with both barrels, and she emerged with more, not fewer, shadow cabinet titles. Boris Johnson in the Commons likened her to “a lioness on the prowl”.

“The more titles he feeds her, Mr Speaker, the hungrier I fear she is likely to become.”

“There was this sense of a damaged relationship,” says Baldwin. “But that has dissipated now. She can anchor him in the trade unions. She keeps the tent big for him. He needs different poles to keep the tent up.”

Angela Rayner, now 44, sleeps three to four hours a night. It’s always been this way. Politically, she is driven by the same beliefs as she was back in those union days: greater workers’ rights – “Angela would resist the watering down of that,” says Baldwin – with the abolishment of the zero-hour contract; better education for all; levelling up through housing and measures to reduce homelessness.

She describes herself as “soft Left”, although she first served under – and campaigned for – Jeremy Corbyn, who was eventually expelled from the party in 2020 as Starmer sought to erase the party’s legacy of anti-Semitism. 

She voted Remain but has since admitted she was ambivalent on Brexit. She is “hardline” on law and order – a result of having seen violence on her council estate – and national security.

She has been supportive of trans rights, saying in The Guardian in March: “We have biological women and we have trans women. And they’re both women: one is a biological woman through sex, and one is a trans woman who has transitioned. Most of the public can get that.”

This week, Keir Starmer said, amid confusion over the party’s trans policy, that transgender women who have legally transitioned do not have the right to access female-only spaces, insisting those spaces “need to be protected.”

Two other members of the then shadow cabinet refused to be drawn.

Rayner married the union official Mark Rayner in 2010, from whom she separated in 2020. They are close friends. She is a devoted mother of three boys, two of them now teenagers from her marriage to Rayner: Charlie, 16, and Jimmy, 14.

She delivered Charlie at 23 weeks and almost lost him. He is registered blind and has epilepsy but goes to a mainstream school. At the age of 37, she became a grandmother to a little girl from the son she had at 16, Ryan, now 27. She calls herself “grangela”.

Since becoming an MP, Rayner has been a loud presence in the Labour Party. One of her first rookie errors was to complain to a shop owner on HoC headed paper when a pair of shoes with Star Wars heels were not delivered to her.

Until recently, she has gone raving on holiday, to nightclubs in Manchester with friends, and is famous for mixing up her Venom cocktail at barbecues (one bottle of vodka, one bottle of Southern Comfort, 10 bottles of alcopop and a litre of orange juice), a potion so potent that a local councillor ended up comatose in the dog basket.

“You can see from the fact that the Tories often use Angela Rayner in their attack ads that they believe she has the potential to be a vulnerability to Labour,” says Balls. “Definitely a few years ago they found in focus groups that she did not poll well with many Tory/Labour swing voters, which is one reason for the attacks.

“While voters found her back story admirable, it didn’t translate to wanting her to be in charge of the country. The Tories also see her as obviously to the Left of Starmer, so attacking her is an effective way of suggesting Starmer’s Labour will be less centrist than he suggests in interviews.”

Dame Margaret Beckett, the longest ever serving female MP, a minister under four Labour prime ministers and, like Rayner, a former deputy leader of the Labour Party (1992 to 1994) agrees: “There will be an attempt to use her against Keir Starmer and she needs to make sure they can’t, in what she says and what she does. My impression is that Keir has become increasingly at ease with Angela and her role.”

Rayner has been on a sharp learning curve. Her appearance in the election debates revealed a new sartorial restraint, a move away from a wardrobe of leopard print and glitter which, for a while, was said to have irritated Starmer.

She has been cited in what has been called “the sleekification of Labour’s women”. Rayner’s punchy colours are still there, but now in solid blocks, with clean lines best suited to flattering silhouettes in photographs.

In a Vogue shoot at the end of last year – revealing in of itself – she looked polished, her flame red hair silky, in Emilia Wickstead (a designer loved by the Princess of Wales). In fact, she looked so good she must have bought the chartreuse Wickstead coat worn in the main image because she has since been seen out and about wearing it. 

Up until recently, Rayner has smoked cigarettes and then vapes in public, unable to quit (her kids call her “the Vape Dragon”). She has danced to Stormzy, and DJed at a Labour Party conference.

She plays Amy Winehouse on her car stereo and Eighties pop. She talks about her mortgage (£320,000), her period poverty as a teenager, when she resorted to rolled up balls of loo paper, and the cosmetic breast surgery she paid for with a loan on her thirtieth birthday, post the birth of her second and third sons, after losing six stone.

She told The FT, over lunch, conjuring a startling image: “My boobs just looked like two boiled eggs in socks…like basset hound ears. You can’t be 30 and have a chest like an 84-year-old.”

Sir Keir would have to drink a lot of her venom to get anywhere near to her openness. Such a big personality, however, has often inspired bad headlines – Tory gold dust – some of her own making, some not.

One newspaper story, in 2022, which alleged she crossed and uncrossed her legs à la Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct to put Boris Johnson off his game in the chamber, provoked outrage.

There were thousands of complaints of misogyny, including a condemnatory response from Johnson himself. “It was steeped in classism… about where I came from, how I grew up and really I must be thick and I must be stupid…” she told the ITV programme Lorraine. “I’ve worked really hard to get where I am.”

One naturally conservative man told me recently, “When I analyse my instinctive reaction to Angela Rayner I feel bad about myself because I realise I’m a bigot. I don’t like it.” Rayner loathes this kind of Tory response to her, a distaste for her accent, her class and a (pre-Vogue) blousiness.

But sometimes, she is her worst enemy. In 2021, she was recorded at the Labour Party Conference talking about Conservatives, as “a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile of [inaudible] banana republic, vile, nasty Etonian [inaudible] piece of scum.” The comment, unedifying and unprofessional, went viral.

A year earlier she had also been caught muttering “scum” under her breath in the Commons which had led to a rebuke. 

This was an example of how Rayner’s “cut through” – her ability to get noticed – can work against her. She blamed the “street language” of her youth. Starmer was unimpressed. 

Fellow Labour MP Emily Thornberry said “there may have been drink partaken” at the party conference in 2021. 

Rayner later apologised, saying: “I will continue to speak my mind. But in future I will be more careful about how I do that and the language that I choose.” 

“I know some Tories don’t like her style or her politics,” says Michael Gove – “old Govey” as Rayner calls him – who is handing over to her his Levelling Up portfolio. He has shared with her “a couple of cups of tea”, but not yet the clubbing night she has said she’d like.

“I don’t think by nature Angela is a hater. She is just passionate about what she believes in. If you get her at conference, having a drink with a cigarette, her guard is down,” says the Liberal Democrat peer David Goddard, Baron Goddard of Stockport who has known her since she was a pushy union rep and he was running Stockport Council. “[But] she has learned [over the years] that it has to be more about minding yourself. She doesn’t kick off like she used to.”

Her background, dissenters say, has too often been used as a political tool by her, although these days she seems to be moving away from the “Poor Ange” narrative: “Obviously her personal story is touching and moving and her resilience and forthrightness is winning,” says Gove, “and I think people are naturally drawn to her because of her warmth and authenticity.”

An example of her humour on this matter was on show back in 2017, when she was named The Spectator Rising Star of the Year. In accepting the award in such a fine-dining London hotel setting, she quipped she hadn’t seen so many knives on a table since a Stockport police amnesty. 

Angela Rayner’s early ability to distance herself from the hard Left politics of Jeremy Corbyn is revealing. “I am not a Corbynista” she has said. Lord Goddard remembers advising her during this time, following her election: “She got herself out of that [damaging legacy] all on her own.

“I would tell her ‘Angela, keep a bit of distance from him. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. You need a Plan B.’ I think that helped her see the bigger picture. 

“It’s a credit to her that she managed to stay on the right side of events. I have really seen her grow as a person. She has become far more measured.

“I have told her, ‘Try to make that transition into becoming a more rounded politician.’” She still rings him, when they are both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords respectively, saying “Dave, have you got 15 minutes?”

“I do sometimes think [of her], ‘Is there nobody [else] to give you advice?’ But she is a loner. Back [when she was very young] we ran our relationship on a ‘no surprises’ basis. If she heard things that were brewing with care workers or refuse workers, she’d tell me and I would tip her off too.

“It was a radical approach and it worked. I trusted her and she trusted me. At least 50 per cent of the time, we stopped things escalating.”

Those who have gone the distance with Rayner say trust and support is everything. It sits at the heart of her repaired relationship with Starmer – cemented last year when he made her shadow deputy prime minister, and then this year backed her with 100 per cent conviction over a Greater Manchester Police investigation into whether or not she’d committed a tax dodge when selling a council house, bought in 2007.

It was a question first raised in a 2024 unauthorised biography of her by Lord Michael Ashcroft. She was cleared of any wrongdoing in May. This continuing trust between Rayner and Starmer will determine the future health of a British government with her in it.

Rayner has, in the past, said of herself, “I’m John Prescott in a skirt, me”, a reference to Prescott’s working-class background, his lack of Oxbridge education, his northern accent and his tendency to go off message, most memorably when he lost his temper and punched a protestor. “I do consider myself to be like him. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think that is a very northern thing,” Rayner told The Daily Record back in December 2021.

“But Angela is much more tuned into the people who she is with,” says Dame Margaret Hodge, who stood down this election after a long career and who, as a Corbyn-hater, admits she was initially suspicious of the young, red-headed woman who served in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. “Prescott was always slightly cross he wasn’t one of [Blair’s lot]. He would hate me for saying that.”

“I’m not suspicious of Angela anymore. She is kind and committed to the cause. And she is a loner in an odd way, as well as being friendly and warm and tough. It’s a lovely combination.”

“If feels like there has been a softening over the past year,” agrees Balls, “and some senior Tories will now admit that Angela has something about her. Her admirers within the Tory party think she has charm and can land a blow.

“They take the view that she is quite popular with the voters. That could change [now] she is actually the one making the decisions.’

Gove says: “I wish her really well. She will be expected to lead on the housing and the planning reforms which Labour has put as central to the drive for growth. There will be goodwill from the department and an element of affection from Labour grassroots. And they will forgive any early errors which might be impetuosity.”

Angela Rayner is a deft politician, MPs on both sides seem to agree on that at least.

As she has said of herself: “Underestimate me at your peril.”

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Farage heckled several times at chaotic Reform speech

Nigel Farage was heckled several times at a Reform UK press conference in London, with seven protesters accusing him of racism and bringing “division” to politics.

Four men and three women rose one after another to disrupt the Reform leader’s speech, the first shouting: “Nigel, you’re a racist, you’re a liar”.

Mr Farage accused one man who interrupted his speech of being “steaming”, and shouted “boring!” nine times as a second heckler started speaking.

The newly-elected MP for Clacton said: “We’ll find out later if they were actors.” A supporter in the room said: “It means you’re doing something right, Nigel”.

All the protestors were escorted out, while Mr Farage appeared to remain calm.

Reform UK supporters were sent an email inviting them to turn up at the event in central London on Friday afternoon. It was heavily oversubscribed, with people left waiting outside.  

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Why pollsters overstated Labour’s victory

Pollsters overestimated the scale of the Labour victory by as many as 60 seats in the run-up to Thursday’s general election, official results show.

Final estimates earlier this week for the Tories varied from less than 50 seats to more than 126. Labour saw a similarly wide range, with forecasts from 430 to 480.

For the Conservatives, the election was fought against a backdrop of cataclysmic polling. In the final days of campaigning, the Tories warned that a vote for Labour would lead to a “supermajority” or, as Boris Johnson put it, a “sledgehammer majority”. Rishi Sunak insisted the result was not a “foregone conclusion”.

The Conservatives’ performance was ultimately better than projected, with 121 seats, while Labour’s victory was overestimated, with 410 seats gained.

Sir Keir Starmer’s majority of 172 seats is smaller than Sir Tony Blair’s record-breaking 179-seat majority in 1997, but larger than the party’s 2001 win.

Pollsters base their forecasts on surveys and a range of demographic data including estimated voting intention and turnout. The differing forecasts could be explained by a very slight overestimation of the Labour vote which could have resulted in a significant readjustment of seat numbers.

Polling firm More in Common was the most accurate, forecasting Conservative, Liberal Democrat and SNP seats within ten seats of their best estimate, compared to the final results. Their polling suggested the Conservatives would land 126 seats.

This was better than JL Partners, Survation and YouGov, which were out by up to 30 seats. In June, a few weeks before election day, Savanta forecast just 53 seats for the Tories.

All pollsters consistently overestimated Labour’s performance, with five of the nine major firms suggesting it would win more than 450 seats.

Survation was the most accurate when it came to third parties, predicting 61 seats for the Lib Dems, and was the only pollster to suggest more than a handful of seats for Reform UK.

The firm projected seven seats for Nigel Farage’s party, but Reform won only 4.

Almost all pollsters projected the collapse of the SNP, but not necessarily to the extent of the nine seats they currently have. They are still disputing the constituency of Inverness, Skye and West Ross-shire, expected to declare on Saturday.

Polling groups also provide voting intention data, which estimates the vote share of each party.

The latest of these forecasts put Labour on 41 per cent of the national vote share, ahead of Conservatives on 21 per cent, Reform on 15 per cent and the Lib Dems on 11 per cent.

The reality is slightly better for the Conservatives, but they are still facing their worst ever result by a considerable margin.

The seat forecasts are generally put out by pollsters using a method called multilevel regression with poststratification (MRP).

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This involves surveying thousands of individuals, with efforts made to capture a decent sample size in as many constituencies as possible. Results are then adjusted across all seats in the UK, taking into account demographics, previous voting trends and estimated turnout.

Forecasters will run hundreds of versions of these analyses, slightly tweaking variables such as turnout or voting intention. They will then produce constituency-level estimates based on the average outcome of these simulations.

Most pollsters also publish higher and lower estimates based on those different simulations, with the gaps often being considerable.

JL Partners, for example, which released its forecast on July 2, had a higher estimate for the Conservatives of 139 and lower estimate of 81 – a gap of 58 seats. Its upper estimates for Reform were also correct.

However, it was one of the few pollsters to factor that into its figures.

YouGov suggested that as few as 391 Labour seats could be won, one of the few firms to do so.

One of the clear signs from all the polling data is that this election will see very narrow margins across seats.

YouGov’s latest MRP, for example, forecast that 38 per cent of MPs would win their seats with less than 40 per cent of the popular vote. This is compared to just 2.5 per cent of MPs in 2019.

The rise of Reform, as well as a strong projected performance from the Greens, mean that these winning vote shares could be at record lows, making many seat forecasts well within the margin of error and too close to call.

It could, in part, help explain the fluctuations in seat forecasts because slightly different methodologies could swing those margins either way.

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Tory infighting erupts as Rishi Sunak says sorry for huge defeat

Rishi Sunak apologised to defeated Tory candidates as infighting broke out in the wake of the party’s worst general election result in modern history.

Speaking after winning his Richmond and Northallerton seat, he conceded defeat to Labour and said he had called Sir Keir Starmer to congratulate him on his victory.

He said: “The British people have delivered a sobering verdict tonight. There is much to learn and reflect on and I take responsibility for the loss.

“To the many good hard-working Conservative candidates who lost tonight, despite their tireless efforts, their local records of delivery, and their dedication to their communities, I am sorry.”

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, Lucy Frazer, the Culture Secretary, Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, and Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, one of the architects of Brexit, all lost their seats. 

Mr Shapps, who lost to Labour in Welwyn Hatfield, said it was “clear tonight that Britain will have a new government in the morning”.

Penny Mordaunt, tipped as a future Tory leader, lost her Portsmouth North seat to Labour. The Commons Leader, a centrist, represented the Conservatives in television debates during the campaign. She said her party had “taken a battering because it failed to honour the trust that people had placed in it”.

Rishi Sunak is expected to signal his intention to resign as Tory leader on Friday morning after leading his party to a historic defeat, sparking what could be a vicious battle to succeed him.

The arguments began on Thursday night, with the Right of the party accusing the Prime Minister of not having been Conservative enough, and the Left accusing the Right of putting off young, liberal voters.

Suella Braverman, a former home secretary who is seen as a likely Tory leadership contender, said the party “didn’t listen” to the British people and had “let you down” as she was re-elected in Fareham and Waterlooville. 

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former Cabinet minister, echoed the sentiment, saying: “It is clearly a terrible night for the Conservatives. I’m afraid I think the Conservative Party took its core vote for granted.

“We have no divine right to votes. We need to win voters at every single election. And if you take your base for granted, if you don’t manage to stop the boats coming over, if you don’t manage to control migration when that’s what your voters are concerned about, your voters will look to other parties.

“So I think failing to deliver on Conservative core principles did us a lot of harm.”

Andrea Leadsom, another former Cabinet minister, said: “Perhaps the problem is the Conservatives have not been conservative enough.

“Maybe it was wrong not to go after Reform straight away but again, all of these are very carefully thought through as to what is the right approach and what we wanted to do was focus on what Labour would be doing with people’s taxes.”

But Sir Robert Buckland, a former Cabinet secretary on the other wing of the party, said a Tory lurch to the Right would only help Labour.

Speaking after becoming the first Conservative to lose his seat to Labour, in Swindon South, he said the coming leadership election would be a disaster, warning: “With the Conservatives facing electoral armageddon, It’s going to be like a group of bald men arguing over a comb.”

He hit out at Suella Braverman, the former home secretary, for writing an article in The Telegraph that called the result of the election before voters went to the polls. “We’ve seen, in this election, astonishing ill-discipline within the party,” he said. “It’s spectacularly unprofessional and ill-disciplined.”

One Tory peer on the Tory Left said the party was “in danger of being drummed out” of London. Lord Johnson, the brother of Boris Johnson, said: “That’s a terrible indictment of their appeal to metropolitan open-minded liberal voters. They have got to appeal to the people who live in our big cities.”

The Tories’ share of the vote was projected by Electoral Calculus to be just 25.8 per cent – worse than the previous lowest of 29.2 per cent recorded by the Duke of Wellington in 1832.

George Osborne, the former chancellor, said on Thursday night that Mr Sunak had led the Tory party to its “Waterloo”.

But he told ITV, the results were not quite as bad as some polls had been predicting, adding: “There’ll be a bit of a sign of relief, even though it’s the worst results since 1832, when the Duke of Wellington was running the Tory party. So this one feels more like the Tory party’s Waterloo, frankly.”

The Duke of Wellington’s forces beat those of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 before he took the party to a historic defeat.

Michael Fabricant, the former Tory vice chairman, tweeted: “Never in the history of general elections have so many been let down by so few.”

Baroness Davidson, a former leader of the Scottish Tories, said Rishi Sunak had run “one of the worst election campaigns in living memory”.

She told Sky News: “We upset pensioners by making the cut to National Insurance over income tax, we upset mortgage payers because of the Liz Truss year.

“We upset Remainers by being the party of Brexit in 2019. We upset Brexiteers this time around because we promised immigration would go down and it went up.”

“How do you cobble together a group of people who are going to vote for a party if you don’t have a coherent narrative of what the last 14 years is like if you’ve broken your promises, if you run probably one of the worst election campaigns in living memory, and if you have also lost your reputation for competency in government?”

Steve Baker, a former Brexit minister, said he believed the former prime minister “will do what he believes is in the national interest”, adding that Mr Sunak’s early exit from D-Day commemorations was “plainly a mistake”.

Discussing the Electoral Calculus prediction of a Tory vote share of only 25.8 per cent, Lord Hague, a former Tory leader, told Times Radio: “That would of course be a catastrophic result in historic terms for the Conservative Party.

“It’s also set against the expectations of all those predictions over the last few weeks, many of which have been that the Conservatives will get even fewer seats than that, even down to 64 seats in one prediction a couple of days ago.

“And one of the things on my mind has been… can they form a viable opposition? And if it is 131 seats, you can just about mount an effective opposition with 131 seats.”

He said the party would have to “build again for the future”, adding: “The Conservative Party at its greatest [has been the] governing party of the country because it could command the centre ground of politics, people of all walks of life, people of all age groups, and it will have to be able to do that,” he said.

“It will take a long time to be able to do that. But it will have to be able to do that.”

Sir Brandon Lewis, a former Tory chairman, told GB News: “He didn’t wait until the very last minute for an election and then call it when he had to call it. He chose when to call an election and he’ll know that he made that decision. That’s nobody else’s issue – the prime minister makes that decision.

“I suspect right now that’s weighing on him very, very strongly… He will go down as the Conservative prime minister and leader who had the worst election result in over a century.”

A Tory spokesman said: “If these results are correct it is clear that Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner will be in Downing Street. 

“That means your taxes will rise and our country will be less secure. ⁠It’s clear that based on this result we will have lost some very good and hard-working candidates.”

Asked whether he was to blame for the Tory defeat because he had been chancellor during Ms Truss’s disastrous premiership, Kwasi Kwarteng said: “It’s on the whole party. It’s on 14 years.”

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The Daily T: Labour in power and Iain Duncan Smith on Farage

It’s official: we have a new prime minister. When Sir Keir Starmer spoke on the steps of No 10 Downing Street he became just the seventh ever Labour politician to lead the country – but the challenges he is facing are vast. 

Kamal and Camilla take a look at the issues at the top of his in-tray, from a sluggish economy to immigration concerns. Plus with a low vote share and a historic number of seats won by the Lib Dems, Reform, the Greens and independent pro-Palestine candidates, they ask whether Labour can really be the “government of service” Starmer wants them to be?

Plus, Iain Duncan Smith joins Kamal and Camilla in the studio to discuss how he held on to his London seat and what next for the Tories as they reel from one of their worst electoral losses ever. 

Watch all episodes of the Daily T here or on YouTube.

Or if you would prefer to listen to the audio only, then use the player above. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and subscribe to The Daily T newsletter for updates. 

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