This was Theresa May’s election: it was her manifesto, her campaign strategy, and all the messaging was for ‘Theresa May’s candidates’. And the Conservative Party has lost as a result.
Let’s be clear – no one else has won. Faced with the worst Conservative campaign in an awfully long time, Labour has failed to get anywhere near enough MPs to form a government; and they aren’t even in a position to form a coalition government.
We were promised a landslide. We were told to shut up about our concerns that the manifesto was un-Conservative and the campaign didn’t play to our strengths. Our associations were directed to campaign in distant seats that it is now clear we had no chance of winning, while neighbouring seats were lost to Labour and Liberal Democrats.
These losses should be compared and contrasted to the gains made in Scotland by Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party – a tremendous success for which Ruth and her team are warmly congratulated by Conservatives for Liberty.
All of this was down to the judgement of one person: Theresa May. And now it is time for her step aside.
In the Conservative Party we don’t tolerate leaders who limp on through failure, and attempt to cling on to power despite the clear verdict of the electorate.
Theresa May needs to stay in place long enough to achieve only two goals:
- Form a government, preferably a minority administration informally supported by the DUP
- Oversee a swift leadership election to replace herself.
If she attempts to stay on, May will be fatally weakened. She will be weakened in Brexit negotiations. She will be weakened by her own rebellious backbenchers. And she will be weakened by an activist base that is extremely angry with her for this failure, and who felt betrayed by the shift left in the manifesto.
As a party we need to deal with this swiftly and decisively. And then we need to focus on delivering the Brexit that people voted for last year – an endeavour in which we will have the DUP’s hearty support.
Today we call for a return to Conservative principles: low tax; small, efficient government; individual liberty; unionism and a strong defence. When our Party embodies these values, it is at its strongest.