Mon, 26 February 2024

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Theresa May 'will not resign' despite Tory election disaster

3 min read

Theresa May has no intention of resigning as Prime Minister despite the Conservatives losing their Commons majority.

Senior Downing Street sources insisted the Tory leader was now focused on trying to form a government and would not be walking away.

The Conservatives are set to finish with 316 MPs - down from the 330 they had when the election was called and short of the 326 needed for an overall majority.

Mrs May is expected to try to reach an agreement with the DUP - who now have 10 MPs - to ensure that a Conservative Queen's Speech and Budget can be voted through.

"The Prime Minister will not resign - she has every intention of forming a government," said a senior No 10 source.

She is expected to say more about her position in a statement on the steps of Downing Street later this morning.

But angry Tories condemned the campaign run by Mrs May and her aides, and said her position is now at risk.

Former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said: "I don’t think you can underestimate the achievement of what we’ve just managed, which is to steer a liner that was on a destination towards a very, very big majority and then in the distance there was something called ‘social care’ where we basically did a full-frontal assault on our core vote, which were the elderly.

"And quite frankly our own campaign was hijacked by ourselves, which meant that instead of talking about the things that we thought we were going to talk about – which was Brexit and the strong economy – we were talking about social care and whether pensioners would get the winter weather payments, and indeed taking lunches off children and fox hunting.

"It was an amazing own goal. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot; we shot ourselves in the head. And to be honest, I’m quite astounded that we did as well as we did do in making the gains in Scotland and indeed actually being 2% ahead of the Labour party.

"But quite frankly, let’s be fair, we were up against Jeremy Corbyn – a leader who two-thirds of his own party wanted rid of. It’s quite remarkable what we’ve achieved."

Former minister Anna Soubry attacked the Tory manifesto pledges to take away free school meals and make the elderly sell their homes to pay for their social care - and said the Prime Minister should "consider her position".

She said: "All the way along those sorts of messaging were appalling. And then of course the change of heart on social care, I’m afraid, deeply flawed Theresa May.

“It did not make her look the strong and stable Prime Minister and leader that she had said that she was. That was very difficult and very serious blow, I think in terms of her own credibility.”

She added: “It’s bad. It is a matter for her… she’s in a very difficult place. She’s a remarkable, she’s a very talented woman and she doesn’t shy from difficult decisions but she now has to obviously consider her position.  We haven’t had all the results, so we need to see where we are. But Theresa did put her mark on this campaign, she takes responsibility - she always does and she I know she will.  

“The running of the campaign as well, it was a tightly knit group and it was her group that ran this campaign.”

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