Tory infighting begins as Rishi Sunak leads party to record-breaking defeat

Tory infighting begins as Rishi Sunak leads party to record-breaking defeat

The Conservative Party has already descended into infighting before the general election results have even been fully counted.

Figures on the Tory right and left publicly clashed about the future direction of the party, just hours after the official exit poll put it on course for its worst defeat in history.

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As results came in, Suella Braverman apologised twice as she claimed the Conservative Party “didn’t listen” to the country and let voters down.

Suella Braverman apologised twice and said the Tories ‘didn’t listen’ to the country and had let voters down (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire)

Ms Braverman, who was re-elected for Fareham & Waterlooville, said: “I want to briefly address the result in the rest of the country and there is only one thing that I can say – sorry. I’m sorry.

“I’m sorry that my party didn’t listen to you. The Conservative Party has let you down. You – the Great British people voted for us over 14 years and we did not keep our promises.

“We’ve acted as if we’re entitled to your vote regardless of what we did, regardless of what we didn’t do, despite promising time after time that we would do those things and we need to learn our lesson because if we don’t, bad as tonight has been for my party, we’ll have many worse nights to come.

“The country deserves better and we’ve got to do better and I will do everything in my power to rebuild trust. We need to listen to you – you have spoken to us very clearly.”

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, who lost his seat of Welwyn Hatfield slammed the Tories’ “inability to iron out their differences” amid an endless “soap opera”.

Grant Shapps hit out at the Tory party’s ‘endless soap opera’ after he lost his seat on Friday (James Shaw/Shutterstock)

He said: “What is crystal clear to me tonight, is that it is not so much that Labour won this election, but that the Conservatives have lost it.

“Door after door, voters have been dismayed by our inability to iron out our differences in private and then be united in public.

“Instead, we have tried the patience of traditional Conservative voters with a propensity to create an endless political soap opera out of internal rivalries and divisions which have become increasingly entrenched.

“Today, voters have simply said, ‘if you can’t agree with each other, we can’t agree to vote for you’. We forgot a fundamental rule of politics, that people do not vote for divided parties.”

He added: “For the sake of the UK, I very much wish this new government well, but for the sake of a strong democracy, the Conservative Party needs to play its part too, by recognising what has gone wrong and using its time in opposition to refresh and rebuild.

Former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost also called for Rishi Sunak to ‘go and never be seen again’ (PA)

“There is a danger now that we go off on some tangent, condemning ourselves and the public to years of lacklustre opposition that fails to hold the government to account.”

In an excoriating op-ed less than an hour after the exit poll was released, former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost also called for Rishi Sunak to “go and never be seen again”.

“Decent man though he is, Rishi Sunak’s brief, tragic premiership has ended, and it is best that it has done so, though I wish it could have been sooner,” Lord Frost wrote in the Telegraph.

Former minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is on course to lose his own North East Somerset seat, blamed the expected defeat on “failing to deliver on Conservative core principles”.

Appearing to encourage the party to push for more right-wing policies in opposition to win back support, the Brexiteer said: “We have no divine right to win votes, we need to win voters at every single election and if you take your base for granted, if you don’t manage to stop the votes going over and if you don’t manage to control migration when that is what your voters are concerned about, your voters will look to other parties.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg urged the party to embrace more conservative principles (PA Wire)

And Dame Andrea Leadsom said voters have told her they do not feel the Tories are “Conservative enough” and are “sick of all this woke stuff”.

In dealing with the aftermath of the result, she added: “The Conservative Party is the natural party of government and has been in this country for many long years and so we will be very ruthless about it, we will certainly be very forensic about it.”

But ex-justice secretary Sir Robert Buckland warned the party against drifting to the right after the crushing defeat.

Sir Robert, who became the first Tory big beast ousted when he lost his Swindon South seat, said a lurch rightwards “would be a disastrous mistake and it would send us into the abyss, and gift Labour government for many years”.

The exit poll put Sir Keir Starmer on course to complete one of the most remarkable turnarounds in British political history forecasting a huge Labour victory that will sweep him into Downing Street with a majority of 170.

Sir Robert Buckland has lost his Swindon South seat to Labour (PA) (PA Wire)

As polling stations closed at 10pm, the exit poll predicted that Labour will win 410 seats, the Tories 131, the Lib Dems 61, Reform 13 and the SNP 10.

Former chancellor George Osborne warned ahead of the vote that the party was bound to descend into chaos after a defeat.

Future leadership hopefuls have already begun jockeying for position, with Suella Braverman this week penning an op-ed declaring the race over, and urging the Tories to prepare for opposition.