Former minister Esther McVey set out a leadership pitch today calling for the party to use £7billion of
Launching a ‘blue collar conservatism’ campaign the Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust’ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas’ to win it back’.
She said that keeping cash in the UK that is currently sent abroad would allow an increase of £4billion in spending on schools and £3billion for police, which are both demanding more money.
The pitch from Ms McVey, who has already announced plans to run to replace Theresa May as Tory leader, is likely to go down well with party members who view the UK’s foreign aid budget as excessive.
Speaking in Westminster she reiterated her call for the next party leader to be ‘someone who believes in Brexit’ – a dig at Mrs May, who supported the Remain campaign in 2016.
And she lashed out at the local election results which saw the Tories suffer their worst reverse since 1995 in losing 1,300 seats.
The pitch from Ms McVey is likely to go down well with Tory members who view the UK’s foreign aid budget as excessive
The Brexiteer MP, 51, said her party had ‘lost the trust’ of working people by failing to leave the EU already and must pursue ‘radical conservative agendas’ to win it back’
After initially hiding their relationship behind a friendship, Ms McVey recently got engaged to fellow Tory MP Philip Davies, 47
Speaking to a packed room of journalists and MPs including Iain Duncan Smith and her fiance Philip Davies in Parliament today, Ms McVey said the UK stood ‘on the brink of the abyss of the most destructive socialist government ever’.
‘At the local election we saw voters abandoning Corbyn’s Labour in their droves – many after voting Labour for decades – because they see that this Labour party isn’t for working people and for the working classes.
‘But they are not returning to us. In fact despite significant moves of the working class voters towards the Conservative Party for at least the last three general elections we are not winning their support, when actually we ought to.
‘I don’t need to tell anybody the reason why, we know. A majority of these voters voted to leave the EU and on this we have broken their trust.
‘To win that trust back we must only not just deliver what we promised but we must be prepared to have radical conservative agendas to show that we are on their side.’
Ms McVey said she wanted to ‘immediately shift resources to match people’s needs and priorities’ ‘by returning spending on international aid spending to Labour levels which we inherited in 2010’
Ms McVey said she wanted to ‘immediately shift resources to match people’s needs and priorities’.
‘We can fund this simply by returning spending on international aid spending to Labour levels which we inherited in 2010.
‘This will still ensure we are spending historical and internationally high levels on our international commitments, but also freeing up around £7billion for schools and policing.
‘By doing this we will be doing more than just making up for shortfall here and there, we will be providing transformative funds which communities will feel.’
The contest to succeed Theresa May is hotting up, with potential leadership candidates setting out their stalls.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a bid for the job, saying he had a ‘strong view about the sort of leader we need’.
He said the leader should put the Tories ‘four-square in the centre ground’, a view that will be echoed by big hitters at a meeting of the One Nation group of Tories in Parliament on Monday night.
Meanwhile, former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey will deliver her own pitch at the launch of Blue Collar Conservatism, a group aimed at winning over working-class voters to the Tories.
Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson has already confirmed he will stand in the race to replace Mrs May, which is due to officially begin within weeks.
Another potential contender, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, said ‘there won’t be a shortage of candidates’ for the job but ‘whether I will be one of those, you’ll just have to wait and see’.
The Prime Minister will set out the timetable for her exit and the leadership contest to succeed her after a crunch vote on the legislation for her Brexit deal in early June.
Defeat for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is due in the Commons in the week beginning June 3, would hasten her exit from Number 10.
Mr Hancock said: ‘I don’t rule out standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party.’
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s flattering that lots of people have asked me to put my name forward and proposed to support me.’
Asked if he was reluctant to declare his candidacy because a recent poll suggested he had just 1% of grassroots Tory support, he said: ‘No, because the contest hasn’t started yet.
‘I have a strong view about the sort of leader that we need – we need a leader not just for now but also for the future, we need to be absolutely four-square in the centre ground of British politics.
‘We need to be delivering on the things that matter to people, deliver Brexit but then move forward.
‘We need to concentrate on the pound in people’s pockets and have a patriotic unionism, not a narrow nationalism.’
The One Nation group meeting in Parliament on Monday is expected to see Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd and ex-Cabinet ministers Damian Green and Nicky Morgan set out their vision for a centre-ground Tory Party.
The group is also viewed as an attempt to prevent a hard Brexiteer from steering the UK out of the EU without a deal.
Ms Rudd said the group stood for ‘the state having an active role in fighting injustices, in environmental standards and a belief in free enterprise’.
‘There are no simple answers to complex questions,’ she said.
‘A pragmatic, compassionate centre right has never been more vital.