Ousted Conservative MP says election was mistake

A man in a blue shirt and navy jacket sits on a sofa in a TV studio
John Stevenson had been Carlisle's MP for 14 years [BBC]

An ousted Conservative MP says Rishi Sunak made a mistake in calling an early general election and ran a "dreadful campaign".

John Stevenson, Carlisle MP for the last 14 years, said Labour had been better prepared than the Tories for a July election.

He told the BBC’s Politics North he and his colleagues were expecting it to be held in the autumn, adding the party should "take its time" over selecting a new leader.

Meanwhile, Kate Osborne, Labour MP for Jarrow and Gateshead East, said her almost 9,000 majority was an "amazing feeling" and the election "couldn't come soon enough for most people".

Mr Stevenson, who came second in Carlisle with 12,929 votes, but some 5,200 behind Labour's Julie Minns, said the result had been predicted and it "wasn't a huge surprise" to lose.

A woman with short hair in a black jacket and white shirt sits on a sofa in a TV studio
Kate Osborne has been MP for Jarrow since 2019 [BBC]

He said: "I actually think Labour were much better prepared.

"There was a strategic mistake in going early. Also, the economic news was starting to come good which would have improved the scene [for the Conservatives]."

He added: "It was a dreadful campaign. It went badly from the start and then that was compounded by the gambling thing."

Mr Stevenson urged the party to take its time over the selection of a new leader but didn’t think the process for choosing one – which gives the party members the final say - would be changed.

'Massive job'

Ms Osborne, whose 18,856 votes were almost double those of second placed Lynda Alexander of Reform UK, was delighted with her majority, but she said there was hard work ahead.

"There’s so much to do," she said, adding: "So much to fix in so many ways. But we've already started."

She said the new Labour government had already stopped Mr Sunak's controversial scheme to send illegal migrants to Rwanda, while new Health Secretary Wes Streeting was "already setting up meetings to try and put the NHS back on its feet".

Ms Osborne, who had been Jarrow MP since 2019, said: "But it's going to be a massive job. It's going to take a while but we're absolutely up for it.

"We have some fantastic policies that are going to be announced in The King's Speech like the new deal for workers.

"I'm really excited about that, rebalancing the power more with employers and employees and getting rid of atrocious working practices like fire-and-rehire and zero-hour contracts."

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