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Nadhim Zahawi Is Positive About The Tories' Future

Tory party chair Nadhim Zahawi said he still thinks they can recover in the polls before the next election (Almay)

3 min read

Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi has said Keir Starmer should be “worried” because he is positive about his party's chances at the next election, despite Labour consistently being 20 points or more ahead in the polls.

Zahawi believed Starmer's numbers were “very soft” and the Tories can still close the gap before the country goes to the polls in 2024.

He told Sky News his party was in “rebuilding mode” after a damaging year that led to having three prime ministers in three months. Rishi Sunak has been tasked with repairing the economic damage caused by Liz Truss’s chaotic stint in No 10 after she succeeded Boris Johnson.

The Conservatives also suffered a damaging by-election loss in Chester on Friday. While Labour, who has held the seat since 2015 were expected to win, the greater than expected surge in their majority has proved cause for concern among some Conservatives. Veteran pollster John Curtice said that if a similar swing were replicated across the country, Labour would win a majority. 

A difficult week for the Tory party was capped off with former chancellor Sajid Javid joining the growing list of Tory MPs to announce that they will not stand at the next election, which many believe the party can no longer win. 

“It's almost impossible to see us coming back from this,” Sir Charles Walker, a backbench MP who has also said he will not stand in the next election, told Times Radio on Friday. Walker now believes the party's best hope is to "form a viable opposition”.

But Zahawi remains positive about his party's future, telling Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday that while the Conservatives have had “a difficult time” they are building for the local elections next year.

Even when shown a graph of recent opinion polls putting his party more than 20 points behind Labour and on course for a hefty defeat at the next election, Zahawi was undeterred. 

“If you dig beneath the data I’d be worried if I were Keir Starmer,” he said, referring to the fact that Starmer's personal ratings are trailing behind the huge leads for Labour overall. 

“If you look at his numbers it’s very soft, there is not a great passion for what Keir Starmer is saying.”

Zahawi said the Tories “have to rebuild that trust with the public”, and they must deliver on the economy, innovation, investment and skills, as well as fixing the small boats crisis.

“If we do that, then you will see those numbers move in the right direction, I’m confident of that,” he added.

He later told BBC One’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show that he believed Labour’s lead was not insurmountable, because pollsters ask voters how they would vote tomorrow, a sentiment not always replicated at the ballot box.

“They know there’s no election tomorrow and its a reflection on how they are feeling about their government’s performance,” he said. 

Zahawi believed the Conservatives would be judged on achievements still to come, rather than misteps of the last year, come 2024. 

“In those couple of years, like we did on vaccines, we focus on delivery – show by doing," he explained. 

"Actually Rishi Sunak is focused on making sure we deal with backlog on the NHS, fix the economy, safer streets and of course those small boats, we’ve got to deal with illegal migration to the country.

"If we can demonstrate those things then I think we will have a legitimate right to say to the nation: give us more time to continue that delivery.”

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