Tory rightwingers risk destroying party for 'more than a generation' with infighting, warns ex-minister

Tory Rightwingers risk destroying their party for “more than a generation” with the ongoing infighting between MPs, a former minister is warning.

Sir Alan Duncan sounded the alarm over the fate facing the Conservatives after the latest poll suggested they could get less than 160 MPs at the general election, widely expected to be in the autumn.

Parts of the Tory party are again gripped, as it faces potential heavy losses in the upcoming May local elections, with speculation that there could be moves afterwards to try to oust Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister.

But ex-Foreign Office minister Sir Alan, an MP for 27 years, told LBC Radio: “All these very silly people on the hard right who think that ‘only if we went further to the Right everything would be OK’ are absolutely crazy.

“The fact is the turmoil, the division, the factionalism has made the Conservative government in the eyes of so many people completely unworthy of government.”

He added: “People need to knuckle under, support Rishi Sunak but frankly he is really up against it now.

“These people who continue to fight within the Conservative Party, the likes of Robert Jenrick and Suella Braverman, and people like that are quite simply going to destroy it for more than a generation.”

Mr Sunak is facing a general election defeat similar to the Conservatives’ 1997 disaster, pollsters have found.

The latest YouGov polling suggested Labour would win 403 seats from across the UK, leading to a 154-seat majority in the Commons.

The Conservatives would win just 155 seats, down from the 365 seats they won at the 2019 general election.

In London, they would get just five MPs, being completed wiped out in the central areas of the city.

The analysis, which uses the multi-level regression and poststratification (MRP) method of polling, found that prominent Tory figures including Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt, ex-Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, and Brexiteer Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg would be on course to lose their seats.

According to the findings, Mr Sunak is heading for a worse result than John Major’s 1997 defeat, when the then-Tory leader won a total of 165 seats.

Sir Keir Starmer is, meanwhile, on course to win a victory on par with that of Tony Blair’s in his first term of office.

In 1997, Labour won 418 of the available 659 Commons seats.

The model is based on vote intention data collected and analysed by YouGov from 18,761 British adults interviewed from March 7-27.

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak said controlling immigration to the UK is more important than “membership of a foreign court”, which was seen by some at Westminster as his strongest hint yet that he could back leaving the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

He defended his approach to tackling “small boats” crossing the Channel, but indicated he would be willing to leave the ECHR if it blocked his Rwanda policy.

The Prime Minister told The Sun’s Never Mind The Ballots programme: “I believe that all plans are compliant with all of our international obligations including the ECHR, but I do believe that border security and making sure that we can control illegal migration is more important than membership of a foreign court because it’s fundamental to our sovereignty as a country.”

Right-wing Conservative MPs, including former Home Secretary Ms Braverman, have previously pushed for the UK to leave the ECHR, fearing its provisions could prevent asylum seekers being deported to Rwanda.

The Prime Minister has previously resisted such calls, but said he would be willing to defy orders from the European Court of Human Rights if necessary to implement his Rwanda plan.

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill currently making its way through Parliament includes provisions that would allow ministers to ignore such orders.

But members of the more moderate One Nation Group of Tory MPs have warned against leaving the convention, while others have said such a move would breach the Good Friday Agreement which includes a requirement to incorporate the ECHR into Northern Irish law.

Responding to Mr Sunak’s ECHR comments, shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock, said: “This is just another desperate attempt by the Prime Minister to appease factions in his own party and stave off an attack from right-wing Tory MPs.

“Yet again the interests of the country come second.”

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael described the Prime Minister’s comments as “nothing more than an empty threat to try to keep his mutinous MPs on side”.

The YouGov poll showed the Reform Party, led by Richard Tice, was found to have a growing share of the voting intention, mainly eating into Tory support.

It is not predicted to win any seats, and while it places second in 36 constituencies, it is not close to winning them.

The Lib Dems are meanwhile on course to grow their parliamentary comeback, with a projected win of 49 seats.

North of the border, YouGov estimates that Labour will be the largest party in Scotland.

It is projected to win 28 Scottish seats, followed by the SNP with 19.