Sat, 2 December 2023

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Sajid Javid Launches Leadership Bid With Warning Tories Face 1997-Style Wipeout Without Change


3 min read

Sajid Javid has warned that the Conservative party faces "oblivion" at the next general election without major change as he launched his pitch to replace Boris Johnson as Tory leader and Prime Minister.

Javid, whose resignation as Health Secretary last week was the start of the ministerial revolt against Johnson, said the Conservatives would suffer a 1997-style defeat at the next election unless the party changed its "trajectory".

In 1997, Tony Blair led Labour to a landslide victory over the Tories, with the Conservatives not returning to government until 13 years later in 2010. 

Javid said the Tories had been in government so long that it "lost the skills and values that earned us title in the first place".

He warned in scathing terms that the Johnson government had left the party facing a landslide defeat when the UK next goes to the polls. An election must be held before the end of 2024. 

"Over the last couple of years, our reputation on most values and policies has slid away," he said. 

"Too many people now believe that Labour are fit to govern. Some say Labour are more competent and even more likely to cut taxes. This isn't because they are putting their faith in Labour itself. The truth is: they've lost faith in us."

Javid added: "For those of us who have been around long enough, it's starting to feel very familiar. 

"I was thinking back 25 years ago, when we [Javid and his wife] were planning to get married, what was going on in politics then. The Conservative party was defeated in the biggest electoral landslide since the Second World War.

"The British public sent us into the wilderness and there we were for a further 13 years.

"The way things are going recently, I fear our party is on a trajectory to the same electoral oblivion once again. It didn't have to be like this."

Javid, who unsuccessfully ran for the leadership in 2019, sought to pitch himself as the most experienced candidate at a sweltering launch event in Westminster on Monday afternoon.

He said no other candidate had his "breadth of experience," having served under three Prime Ministers as Chancellor of the Exchequor, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and Home Secretary. 

"I don't think any of the other Conservative party candidates has had such broad experience in the number of departments I've ran."

He said that there were only two candidates in the contest – himself and Sunak – who were both well known to the public and regarded as being good potential Prime Ministers. 

Like other leadership candidates, Javid promised numerous tax cuts if he gets into Number 10, including scrapping the planned corportation tax hike and reducing fuel duty by 10p per litre. 

In what was interpreted as a swipe at Rishi Sunak, the leadership frontrunner who was the first Cabinet heavyweight to launch his campaign last week, Javid said he hadn't brought a "slick" video or logo to his official launch, and would not attempt to "polish" his backstory.

He admitted that he considered quitting Johnson's government sooner than he did and conceded "perhaps I should have left earlier". However, he insisted that he "spoke from the heart" when he delivered his bruising post-resignation speech in the House of Commons last week.

Javid had received nominations from 11 Conservative MPs at the time of writing and faces a battle making it onto the ballot.

The party's 1922 Committee is expected to decide tonight that leadership hopefuls will need at least 20 nominations to secure a spot on the ballot and then the support of 10 per cent of the parliamentary party – 36 MPs – to make it past the first round of voting. 

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