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Sat, 16 January 2021

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Conservative members want leadership rivals to axe HS2 and aid target, poll reveals

Conservative members want leadership rivals to axe HS2 and aid target, poll reveals
2 min read

Conservative Party members want the next Prime Minister to take the axe to the HS2 rail project and ditch Britain's spending target for foreign aid, a new poll has found.

The fresh YouGov study for The Times - carried out as the race to succeed Theresa May gets underway - found that 57% of Tory members want to cancel the controversial high speed rail line.

Just 32% of members are in favour of keeping it, the poll found.

Meanwhile almost three-quarters (74%) of the party membership wants the next Conservative leader to scrap Britain's target of spending 0.7% of GDP on overseas aid, a move introduced as part of David Cameron's drive to modernise the party.

Only 22% of the Tory membership believes the target should be kept, the poll found.

Elsewhere, the study of 858 members - carried out between 10-16 May - revealed little appetite for a general election among the Conservative membership.

Almost three quarters (74%) of those asked said they believed the next leader should try to continue governing until the next planned election in 2022.

The findings, which will heap pressure on Conservative leadership hopefuls to back an end to HS2 and the aid target, came as a new 60-strong group of MPs pleaded with candidates not to shift the party to the right.

The 'One Nation' caucus of Conservative MPs - backed by Cabinet minister Amber Rudd, former top ministers Damian Green and Nicky Morgan, plus veteran backbencher Sir Nicholas Soames - called on the party to "reject narrow nationalism" and seek to win over young voters by treating climate change as an urgent issue.

Ms Morgan, the former education secretary, said: "The people of the UK know that climate change is an emergency and young people are desperately worried about the future of the planet they will inherit.

"There are huge opportunities for the UK to lead the way in green finance and environmental innovation and to show that decarbonising an economy doesn’t mean it has to stop growing – let’s get on with it."

It was reported at the weekend that the new group would work to block any Conservative leadership candidate that backed taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal.

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