Rishi Sunak has been warned by a Tory MP he will not win the election by “fighting” the LGBT+ community and “demonising” trans people.
Elliot Colburn, the MP for Carshalton and Wallington, said the Conservative Party had to “drop this hardcore rhetoric and we have to drop it now”.
It comes after home secretary Suella Braverman said fearing discrimination for being gay or a woman should not be enough to qualify for refugee status.
Colburn was speaking on the fringes of the party’s conference in Manchester on Monday evening.
“I want to make one thing perfectly clear to our Conservative colleagues. We will not win the next general election fighting with the LGBT+ community,” he said.
“I do not meet people on the doorsteps that say: ‘you know what, I am struggling with the most of living right now, my mortgage has gone up, I am worried about heating this winter, but I will forget all of that, as long as you stop trans people playing sport’. No one is saying that to me.”
Colburn told the drinks reception hosted by the Kaleidoscope Trust charity: “The Conservative Party has come so far.
“We are the party that was responsible for Section 28. We have rightly apologised for that. We have tried so hard. David Cameron in particular tried to detoxify this party.
“We have to drop this hardcore rhetoric and we have to drop it now. We need to stop demonising trans people. We need to stop fighting with the LGBT+ community.
“We need to get back to that centre-ground and understand we are going to win the next election based on our values and based on the economy, not by making a problem that doesn’t exist.”
He added: “There are people who are simply persecuted and criminalised for nothing other than who they are.
“They are our brothers they are our sisters. They are friends, neighbours and allies.”
The government is yet to publish its long-promised draft bill which would ban so-called conversion therapy, the practice of trying to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity.
It has also not yet published new guidance on transgender pupils amid an internal wrangle over its legality.