Wed, 22 May 2024

Newsletter sign-up

Subscribe now
The House Live All
By Lord Watson of Wyre Forest
Press releases

Nick Timothy: Tories underestimated Jeremy Corbyn but will beat him next time

3 min read

Theresa May’s former chief of staff has admitted the Conservative party woefully underestimated the appeal of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of their disastrous electoral defeat.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the former aide to Theresa May claimed there would be no deviation from the Prime Minister’s key lines on Brexit.

The Prime Minister would still take the country out of the single market and the European Court of Justice, he insisted.

“The fundamental things that the country voted for, that we will leave the EU, control immigration, that the Court of Justice should have no jurisdiction in this country, that we should stop paying membership fees – I’m confident that those things will end,” he said.

Mr Timothy dismissed claims Mrs May would seek a Norway-style arrangement, as there was a danger a partial relationship would lead to “the worst of all worlds”.

“For all the talk from some people that we must seek some sort of partial membership of the European Economic Area or something like that, the intention of the government has been clear from the beginning – that if you seek a partial relationship the danger is that you will be in the worst of all worlds, where you will be a rule-taker with none of the advantages of being in, but you will also sacrifice some of the advantages of being out.”

Mr Timothy, who co-authored the 2017 Conservative Party manifesto, admitted CCHQ had failed to see Jeremy Corbyn as a genuine threat and this had damaged their campaign.

However, he urged the party to stick to the ethos of the manifesto he helped to write and not “retreat to a much more Conservative proposition”.

He says: “Overall the lesson of the election for the party and for the government cannot be: ‘Oh well, we tried that and we didn’t win the election we were hoping for so let’s not try it any more’.

“If the party retreats to a much more orthodox Conservative proposition then I worry that won’t be sufficient to tackle the big problems that the country has, and in five years’ time we do risk the election of a dangerous leftwing alternative.”

Asked if he is still in touch with the prime minister, Timothy said: “I have spoken to Theresa a few times since the election. But I haven’t seen her and I’m not advising her on policy. They are private conversations – people catching up.”

He also claimed May was a victim of sexism from those who claimed he was the brains behind her premiership.

He says: “She has done a very good job of stabilising things since the election which disproves that theory anyway, but I do think there’s more than a hint of sexism, to be honest – there’s a sort of implication that even having become prime minister she somehow doesn’t have a set of beliefs and a programme of her own, and she obviously does.

“Suggesting I’m the creator of those ideas is absurd and insulting to her,” he said.

Mr Timothy and his colleague, Fiona Hill, left under a cloud of bullying accusations in mid-June.

Katie Perrior, May’s former communications chief, branded the pair “rude, abusive and childish” in a newspaper column.

A group of Tory MPs called put pressure on the PM to sack them and there were rumours of rows between the pair and the Chancellor, Philip Hammond.

In the Daily Telegraph interview, Timothy downplayed those accusations, saying: “We probably didn’t communicate as well as we could have done, directly with the public and the media, and probably to a certain extent around Whitehall.”

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Jessica Wilkins - Labour cancels Shoreham hustings as row over candidate deepens


Political parties