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Rishi Sunak issues rallying cry for unity as Conservatives brace for ‘tough battle’ at triple by-election
- Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledged the polls would be a ‘tough battle’
- Read: Much-needed boost for Rishi Sunak as he faces threat of triple by-election
Rishi Sunak issued a rallying cry for unity to Tory MPs last night as he braced them for a triple by-election defeat today.
The Prime Minister acknowledged the polls would be a ‘tough battle’ but called on his colleagues to act as ‘one team’ to help the party win the general election.
Mr Sunak – in an end-of-term address to the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers – said he would outline his long-term vision when the Commons returns from the summer recess. He said: ‘In the coming months, I am going to set out more of what I would do if I had a full term.
‘I was recently described as a full spectrum modern Conservative and you are going to see that in the programme I lay out.’
Mr Sunak added: ‘When we come back in September we have a choice to make, all of us. Do we come together and throw everything at winning the next election or not?
Rishi Sunak (pictured) issued a rallying cry for unity to Tory MPs last night as he braced them for a triple by-election defeat today
‘I’ve made my choice, I’m all in with you to win. I promise you we can do this but we can only do it together as one team.’
The PM conceded that the by-elections today would be a ‘tough battle’, according to backbencher Jonathan Gullis.
Mr Gullis said: ‘Rishi just said what we already know, which is it’s going to be a tough battle.
READ MORE: Much-needed boost for Rishi Sunak as he faces threat of triple by-election disaster this week – with Tories left £10m by Sainsbury’s tycoon in biggest ever donation
‘No one likes a by-election. Also the circumstances of these by-elections are not necessarily ideal. One thing that’s very certain is there’s no love for Sir Keir Starmer – it’s about motivating Conservative voters about coming out of their homes and to make sure they understand why the Conservative Party is the right choice.’ Mr Gullis also said the PM told MPs that ‘conversations are taking place’ regarding Rwanda-style deals in other safe third countries.
Mr Sunak arrived early for the 1922 committee and used the opportunity to check the England vs Australia cricket score at the Old Trafford.
The Tories are braced for a triple-defeat today in by-elections in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome. Former prime minister Boris Johnson held the Uxbridge seat until he quit over the privileges committee’s judgment that he lied over Partygate.
If the Conservatives are beaten at all three polls it will be the first time in 55 years that a government has lost three by-elections on the same day.
Mr Sunak has admitted the mid-term polls will be ‘difficult’, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats widely expected to inflict blows on the Tories.
Defeats would increase pressure on the PM to act decisively to turn around public perception ahead of a general election, which is expected next year.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends Prime Minister’s Questions, at the House of Commons in London, earlier today
It comes as polling suggests his approval rating is at an all-time low – which will likely add to Tory jitters. Just a quarter of Britons surveyed by YouGov last week hold a favourable view of the Prime Minister, while two thirds have an unfavourable opinion.
His net favourability has tumbled to minus 4 – the lowest level since he took office, the poll said, dropping from minus 34 in late June. Since then, the economic situation has continued to be dire, with the cost of a mortgage hitting a 15-year high.
Despite Mr Sunak’s pledge to halve inflation by the end of the year, it remains high – but figures released yesterday showed it was down to 7.9 per cent in June from 8.7 per cent in May.
Meanwhile, public perception of the Labour leader is far better, with Sir Keir’s favourability rating at minus 22. Overall, one in three of the 2,151 people surveyed by YouGov have a favourable view of Sir Keir, while 54 per cent have an unfavourable one.
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