Theresa May’s manifest the “world’s worst manifesto” and the Conservative Party will never win a general election again if it fails to learn the right lessons, Grant Shapps has said.
The former Conservative Party chairman said this morning the prime minister lost her majority because her policy ideas “simply didn’t stack up”.
May has been accused of offering the DUP a £1bn “bung” after she pledged extra money for Northern Ireland in return for the party supporting her minority government.
Shapps told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme it was a price the Tories had “no real other option” other than to pay.
“We didn’t need to be here. I think it’s extremely frustrating. I think we had an unnecessary election and the world’s worst manifesto from the world’s oldest political party,” he said.
Under the terms of the DUP-Tory deal, May has dropped several manifesto pledges including plans to scrap the triple-lock for pensions and means-test winter fuel payments.
Shapps, who was Tory chairman under David Cameron, said had the Tories not included those “crazy” policies in its “appalling”manifesto in the first place it would have won a majority.
“We had a manifesto that not only wasn’t collaborative in its creation but also didn’t have popular and appealing policies, instead it had a long list of punishments for voters and our core supporters,” he said.
“We lost because we had a program which simply didn’t stack up and was unpopular. If we fail to learn the right lessons from the election then we will find that we never win election again.”
Shapps also rejected the suggestion the Tories lost their majority because voters had turned against austerity.
“We were 20 points ahead and suddenly, in the space of two or three weeks, lost that. That wasn’t down to people suddenly changing their minds about austerity. We had forgotten the lesson of previous campaigns.”
He added: “My bigger concern is not to mis-learn the lessons of the election. There has been an idea put about that somehow we lost the election because people had become fed up with austerity, everyone is fed up with austerity, we have been fed up with it from day one.”
Under a “confidence and supply” arrangement intended to last until 2022, the DUP guaranteed that its 10 MPs will vote with the Government on the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security.
Together with the 317 Tory MPs remaining after May’s disastrous decision to call a snap election, this will allow the prime minister to pass the 326 figure required for an absolute majority in the Commons, ensuring her victory in key divisions and protecting her government from collapse.
There were immediate demands for similar largesse for other parts of the UK, with the Welsh executive saying the principality was due almost £1.7bn under the so-called Barnett formula which governs how money is distributed between the four nations.
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones described the payment as a “straight bung to keep a weak Prime Minister and a faltering Government in office”.
And the Scottish National Party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford insisted Scotland should get “its fair share”.
But Conservative defence secretary rejected the suggestion from opposition parties the money for Northern Ireland was in effect a bribe. “I saw it ridiculously described as some kind of bung to the DUP,” he told Today.