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Leading Conservative calls for Sunak to resign

A leading Conservative politician has called on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to resign as polls show the party heading towards a heavy election defeat.

Simon Clarke, a key backer of Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss, was one of 11 MPs who rebelled against Mr Sunak’s Rwanda Bill last week.

Mr Clarke said that Mr Sunak standing down was the only way the Conservative party can avoid an election massacre.

In a sharply critical opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph, he said Mr Sunak’s uninspiring leadership was the main obstacle to the party’s recovery.

The same newspaper published a detailed opinion poll on the eve of the Rwanda vote which predicted that the Conservatives are on course to win just 169 seats in the next election – which would represent a loss of 196 seats on the last election.

However Mr Clarke’s intervention was criticised by other MPs on the right of the party such as David Davis, Liam Fox and Priti Patel.

Some letters of no confidence have been sent to the backbencher’s 1922 Committee in the hope of getting a leadership challenge.

However it is not thought that a majority of Tory MPs would vote at the moment to have Mr Sunak removed.

He comfortably won the final vote in the Commons on the Rwanda Bill last week despite calls from the right of the party to toughen up the legislation which allows asylum seekers to be deported to the African country.

It has been pointed out that another leadership contest would be the fourth in under five years, and that a new leader would be the third person in that time to be put in charge of the country by the party without having an electoral mandate.

A YouGov survey of 14,000 voters, extrapolated to constituencies to give the headline finding of a post-election Conservative party reduced to 169 MPs, was arguably even more ominous for Mr Sunak for a series of reasons.

Firstly is the fact that he appears to face a new and thus far anonymous opponent.

While the polling, set out in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, was presented by Lord Frost, the estimated £70,000 (€81,800) cost was covered by the Conservative Britain Alliance, a previously unknown organisation described only as a “group of Conservative donors”.

He wrote: “The unvarnished truth is that Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred.”

Citing last week’s controversial Telegraph poll, he wrote: “The unvarnished truth is that Rishi Sunak is leading the Conservatives into an election where we will be massacred.”

The Tory MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, who served as housing secretary under Liz Truss, said in The Telegraph: “Rishi Sunak has sadly gone from asset to anchor.”

He added: “It is time to strip away illusion, and stop tolerating any indulgence of it.

“Our country, with all the challenges we face, is on the brink of being run by Keir Starmer’s Labour for a decade or more.

“If Nigel Farage returns to the fray, as looks increasingly likely, extinction is a very real possibility for our party.

“And it is now beyond doubt that whilst the prime minister is far from solely responsible for our present predicament, his uninspiring leadership is the main obstacle to our recovery.”

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