Damian Green has warned the Conservative Party it must “change hard” if it wants to win another election.
The first secretary of state, who effectively serves as Theresa May’s deputy prime minister, will use a speech to the Bright Blue conservative think-tank on Saturday to argue the party must modernise is order to attract the youth vote.
“It is now clear that the root of our failure to win a majority last month lies in those aged 18 to 35, among whom Labour led the Conservatives by over 30 percentage points,” he will say.
“I first started writing pamphlets and making speeches saying the Conservative party needed to modernise in the late 1990s, when we had 165 MPs. Now we have 317.”
But Green will say in the wake of its disastrous election the party can not just “keep calm and carry on” as it is.
“We need to think hard, work hard, and change hard. We need to show how Conservative values and policies can work for those parts of the country, and parts of the population, who have turned away from us,” he will say.
Green, a close ally of May who was brought into the Cabinet Office to help her reestablish her authority after losing the Tory majority, will say the party needs to focus on making housing “more affordable” to appeal to 20 and 30-somethings.
He will say: “Modernisation in 2017 involves, as ever, listening to the complaints of those who are being excluded and developing both individual policies and an overall message which speaks to them. A country that works for everyone is Theresa May’s ambition, and it is exactly what we need to aim for, as successful Conservative leaders have in the past.
“If we are to bring young, educated, working Britain back to the Conservative Party, we need to make a reality of the promise to build a country that works for everyone.”
Green will also say the Conservative Party is “getting no electoral credit” for the creation of more city mayors.
Labour’s unexpectedly good performance at the general election has in part been put down to a surge in turnout among the young.
Former Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan told HuffPost UK this week that the party made a mistake in thinking all it needed to do to win the votes of young people was to be “doing more on social media”.