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Theresa May’s new chief of staff says austerity and Brexit behind Tory losses

2 min read

Theresa May's new chief of staff has identified austerity and Brexit as key factors behind the Conservatives' general election losses.

Gavin Barwell, who took up the position in No 10 after losing his Croydon Central seat to Labour, said his party struggled to convince people that their “quality of life” would improve under the Tories.

Jeremy Corbyn had been able to “tap in” to concerns about austerity issues like the public sector pay freeze, he said.

"There's a conversation I particularly remember with a teacher who had voted for me in 2010 and 2015 and said 'you know I understand the need for a pay freeze for a few years to deal with the deficit but you're now asking for that to go on potentially for 10 or 11 years and that's too much', Mr Barwell told the BBC’s Panorama programme.

“I think back to the speech that Theresa gave outside No 10 on her first day as Prime Minister, where she made this really powerful point that the country as a whole is doing well economically but not everyone is seeing the benefits of that success,

“And I’d like to have seen more of that tone in our campaign, because I think you have to have something to say to people who understand the need for tough decisions but nonetheless need to feel that if ‘I vote for you, my quality of life is going to improve over the next five years’.

"That is something that Jeremy Corbyn was able to tap into."

Mr Barwell, who lost his marginal seat by around 5,000 votes, also said there was evidence that "angry" Remain voters had ditched the Tories.

"We are very clear in my seat, that the area of the constituency where Labour did best was the area that had voted heavily for Remain… So there's clearly evidence, I think, that people are angry about Brexit still, Jeremy Corbyn somehow managed to get them behind him."

"We do need to make sure that people that are Conservative-minded that voted Remain in the referendum are happy to continue supporting our party," he added.

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