EXCL Tories were not prepared for snap election, says Theresa May
The Conservatives were not properly prepared for the snap general election, Theresa May has declared.
In a surprise admission, the Prime Minister said the Tories were were caught off-guard by the early vote which led to an overly-centralised campaign and a disconnect with local constituency campaigners.
Mrs May shocked Westminster on 18 April when she called the election, despite repeatedly insisting she would not go to the country before 2020.
But she lost her Commons majority in the election on 8 June, forcing her to do a deal with the DUP in order to hang onto power.
Critics have blamed the lacklustre Tory campaign, which focused almost entirely on Mrs May's leadership, for the disastrous result.
In an exclusive interview with the House magazine ahead of the Conservative conference in Manchester, Mrs May said: "There weren’t the links with the centre that there should have been. That’s one of the issues we need to look at.
"With a snap election, of course you have to do a little more from the centre, in relation to the selection of candidates. But I think it’s in relation to ensuring that the campaign at the centre is reflecting what’s happening at the grassroots."
When asked by interviewer Michael Howard, the Tory peer and former party leader, whether the snap election was a “significant factor” in the result, she replied: "I think it was, because by definition in a snap election you’ve not been able to prepare people for it. So out there people have to work quite quickly to put their local campaigns together, and you do get slightly more of a central approach.
"We need to look at that very carefully, and to make sure we get the connection between what people want to do locally and the central campaign."
The Prime Minister also claimed a failure to communicate the platform she laid out on the steps of Downing Street "didn’t come through in the election".
Elsewhere in the interview, Mrs May said the Tories must make the case “all over again” for free markets to a generation who “haven’t seen the problems that can occur when you don’t believe in free markets and sound management of the economy".
“As somebody who was heavily involved in the pre-1997 Conservative government, so much work was done to get that message across, of the importance of free markets, of sound management of the economy, of global trade. And sadly we do see that that message has been lost,” she said.
“I think in a sense we thought those arguments were done and dusted. That everybody understood it. That we didn’t have to go back to them. I think now we see we do have to go back to them.
“We’ve got to make that case all over again, because there is a generation who have grown up in a different environment and perhaps haven’t seen the problems that can occur when you don’t believe in free markets and sound management of the economy.”