Jeremy Hunt warns 'divided' Tories face election defeat after Amber Rudd's shock resignation
Jeremy Hunt has warned a "divided" Conservative Party now faces losing the next election after Amber Rudd’s shock decision to quit the Government and resign the party whip.
The former foreign secretary broke his silence after losing the Tory leadership contest against Boris Johnson to say that a “cold shower of generosity and magnanimity” was needed from the Prime Minister and his team.
Writing on Twitter, he said: “Desperately sad news about Amber Rudd - one of the most principled anf capable ministers I've worked with.
"When she and other brilliant people like Jo Johnson feel they can't take the whip - on top of the loss of so many other distinguished colleagues this week - we must pause for thought.
“I happen to be someone who thinks we can't rule out no deal Brexit. But now clear that to deliver Brexit we also need to win an election. That means a cold shower of generosity and magnanimity from all. Divided parties don’t win elections and we'll NEVER be forgiven if Corbyn gets in.”
The comments came after Ms Rudd, the ex-Work and Pensions Secretary, accused Mr Johnson of “an assault on decency and democracy” and “political vandalism” over the sacking of 21 Tory MPs who backed moves to halt a no-deal Brexit.
Blasting the PM for axing the “talented, loyal One Nation Conservatives” who voted with the opposition, Ms Rudd added: “The short-sighted culling of my colleagues has stripped the party of broad-minded and dedicated Conservative MPs. I cannot support this act of political vandalism.
“Therefore, it is with regret that I am also surrendering the Conservative whip. Britain's body politic is under attack from both sides of the ideological debate. I will now play whatever role I can to help return it to a better place.”
In her letter Ms Rudd, who has been replaced in the Cabinet by former environment minister Therese Coffey, also cited her belief that it is no longer the Government’s “main objective” to leave the bloc with a deal – prompting a backlash from Chancellor Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show this morning, she said: “The fact is there is a huge amount of planning on no-deal. I’ve attended a number of those meetings, we are really stepping it up, that is the right thing to do, but I have not seen enough work actually going into trying to get a deal.
“Earlier in the week, when I asked Number 10 what the summary of the plan was for actually getting a deal I was sent a one page summary.”
Mr Javid later hit back, saying on the same programme: “That view, it couldn’t be further from the truth. From day one, from the point this administration was formed, the central focus of the Government has been to make sure that we leave the EU on October 31 and that is we want to have a deal, we absolutely want to have a deal…”
Meanwhile Mr Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday: "I think in fairness, when she took the Cabinet role everyone was asked, do you accept, can you sign up to and will you support the Prime Minister’s plan to leave before the end of October, hopefully with a deal, but if no come what may and we all accepted that, and I think the Prime Minister was right to restore some discipline and he’s right to expect it from his top team."