Fresh Blow For Rishi Sunak As Priti Patel Blames Tory Leadership For Local Election Defeat

The former home secretary will take a thinly-veiled swipe at the PM in a speech to party activists.
Priti Patel will attack the Conservative Party's "senior echelons" for last week's local election defeat.
Priti Patel will attack the Conservative Party's "senior echelons" for last week's local election defeat.
Jeff Overs via PA Media

Priti Patel will today blame the Tories’ “senior echelons” for the party’s humbling in last week’s local elections.

The former home secretary will take a thinly-veiled swipe at Rishi Sunak as she condemns the MPs who brought down Boris Johnson.

She will make her comments in a speech to the Conservative Democratic Organisation conference, which is campaigning for party members to be given a greater say in how it is run.

In extracts seen by HuffPost UK, Patel will say: “I love campaigning and I enjoy being out there on doorsteps across our country with our activists and members. I know how hard you work, I see it, and I appreciate it.

“And that’s why it pains me to see you all being let down by the senior echelons of our party.

“While we are out there week-in week-out facing the electors, dealing with the criticism, responding to the tough questions and hearing their anger, frustration and disappointment, those in power and control in our party rarely seem to be out there meeting the people.

“A piece to camera, a highly organised visit, and taking a few questions from journalists at press conferences is no substitute for a few hours of hard graft and campaigning knocking on doors and delivering leaflets.”

The Conservatives lost more than 1,000 seats as well as control of nearly 50 councils in the local elections.

Patel will say that Tory bosses need to be “more in touch with our people and with our values”.

“Perhaps if they did that, last week we would not have seen 1,000 of our friends and colleagues lose their seats in the local elections and dozens of councils fall out of Conservative control,” she will tell the conference.

“That’s hundreds of hardworking, devoted, and experienced public servants no longer able to serve through no fault of their own.

“That’s a huge loss of frontline Conservative activists serving their communities.

“I thank them for their service and am sorry that they have been let down.

“The errors and mistakes made by a minority in Westminster have cost our party dearly across the country.”

Patel, a close ally of Johnson, will add: “Over the last year some colleagues in Westminster have done a better job at damaging our party than the opposition, left wing campaign groups, civil service blob, and our enemies in the media combined.

“They ousted Boris Johnson – our most electorally successful prime minister since Margaret Thatcher – and a man who got Brexit done, got our country through a global pandemic, and was delivering on the peoples’ priorities and our manifesto.

“They took down a vote-winning political giant who was on course to secure a record-breaking fifth consecutive general election win for our party.”

Patel’s remarks are the latest example of the Tory in-fighting which has erupted in the wake of the local elections.

Brexiteer MPs are also angry at the PM’s decision to water down his previous pledge to axe all EU laws from the UK statute book by the end of this year.


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