Tory factions launch war of words as party infighting reignites
Mark Francois attacks Government as ‘bent’
A bitter war of words has broken out within the Tory Party, the day Rishi Sunak returns to No. 10 from his summer break, between its left-wing and right-wing factions.
On Saturday, it was reported that so-called “wet” Tory MPs in the moderate One Nation caucus have agreed to “up their game and re-assert their influence” over the Conservative Party.
The group, whose ranks have included former Cabinet ministers Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan and Damian Green, will hold their first conference in four years next month, which is being talked up as a “statement of intent”.
Centrist Tories are concerned about what they see as a right-wing drift by the party over the last few years, ever since Theresa May left No. 10.
Anti-woke culture wars, a focus on illegal migrant crossings, a potential rowing back on climate commitments and Brexit have all contributed to disquiet among the moderate grouping.
READ MORE: Senior Tory Brexiteer calls own party ‘bent’ as furious Brexit row explodes
A former Secretary of State has told the PoliticsHome website that the One Nation caucus “really needs to find its voice in the parliamentary party again – sooner rather than later”.
However the group’s desire to reassert its influence could risk ending a ceasefire with other, more right-wing, Tory MPs.
Firing the starting pistol on what could be a major Tory civil war over the coming year, and continuing after the General Election, a former Minister said the wet MPs have refrained from public interventions over the last few years in order to avoid confrontation with pro-Brexit MPs like the European Research Group (ERG).
The ex-minister said: “Because we’re not mad and sit there ranting and raving like some other organisations do, we don’t get heard that much.”
Another One Nation Tory said they don’t want to be “picking fights with Miriam Cates every time she says something old school [about] family”.
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A top Conservative source from the ERG has hit back at the various potshots already coming at them from the One Nation Tory group.
They blasted the One Nation caucus, accusing them of having “never had it so good!”
They said: “They dominate the Cabinet, policy and the party.
“They were instrumental in removing Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and now have a Prime Minister that represents their ‘centrist’, ‘sensible’, ‘internationalist’ world view.
“They have now delivered higher taxes, the Irish Sea Border (creating ‘two nations’) and are making headway on their desire to reverse parts of Brexit. They should have much to celebrate at their upcoming conference.
“The problem is their ‘centrist’ offer has also delivered a 24-point opinion poll deficit.”
They added that they already know what the One Nation group are against (“many popular conservative policies”), so “look forward to seeing what they do believe in”.
The One Nation conference will take place in early September, a month before the official Tory Party conference in Manchester.
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