‘It’s desperately grave’: Former Tory minister Jo Johnson says party is heading for ‘very heavy defeat’ at election

11 June 2024, 19:51

Jo Johnson has said the Tories' situation is 'desperately grave'.
Jo Johnson has said the Tories' situation is 'desperately grave'. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Conservative peer and former Tory Minister Lord Jo Johnson has said the Tories’ fate is ‘desperately grave’ following the launch of their manifesto.

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Mr Johnson told LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr that he believes the Conservative party is heading towards a “very heavy defeat” at the General Election.

Speaking to Andrew, the younger brother of Boris Johnson said he did not believe the Conservative manifesto launch on Tuesday would “change things dramatically”.

He said: “No, I don't think it is going to change things dramatically and let's be clear, this was the last chance to really have an impact with a giant set piece event. They don't come along very often in the calendar, you have a Party Conference, then you have perhaps an Autumn Statement, then you have the Spring Budget, and this was all that was left really. This big set piece event of the manifesto launch. And manifestos once they're published that's it.

Asked how serious he believes the Tories’ situation is, Mr Johnson replied: “Desperately grave. And after 14 years it's not surprising that the party in office is starting to run out of steam in quite a major way. And this is what we are seeing.

“I think we shouldn't forget that the Conservatives have been in government now for 14 years. It's an awfully long time, even by the standards of British politics. And it's not surprising that the country is looking or seeming to look, to want to look for a strong change.”

Read more: Rachel Reeves fails to say whether Labour would lower tax burden - as party hits out at Tories' 'Corbyn-style' manifesto

Read more: Tax cuts, stamp duty slashed and halving migration: Sunak rolls the dice at Tory manifesto launch

Rishi Sunak launched the Tories' manifesto on Tuesday.
Rishi Sunak launched the Tories' manifesto on Tuesday. Picture: Alamy

On whether he believes the Tories will reform at the election, Mr Johnson added: "I think it will be a very heavy defeat and, in many ways, not at all unexpectedly. Given that they've been in office for 14 years, there have been some pretty turbulent periods in this time.

"So yes, I think the country is looking for a change and Keir Starmer and his shadow frontbench are doing a good job at appearing unthreatening to the people who are going to get them in."

It comes after Rishi Sunak announced the Tories’ manifesto on Tuesday, promising more tax cuts, immigration reform and to effectively abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers.

Mr Sunak announced a a flurry of policies designed to woo voters, pledging to:

  • Cut another 2p off national insurance
  • Effectively abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes under £425,000
  • Introduce an annual migration cap

The manifesto pledges to "cut tax for workers by taking another 2p off employee national insurance", adding: "The next step in our long-term ambition (is) to end the double tax on work when financial conditions allow."

It adds they want to cut taxes to support the self-employed by "abolishing the main rate of self-employed national insurance entirely" by the end of the next Parliament.

Labour will launch their manifesto on Thursday.
Labour will launch their manifesto on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

Asked about the country’s perception of Labour and their upcoming manifesto, Mr Johnson said: “No, I don't think the country is particularly frightened. The Labour Party wouldn't be polling at 40 plus percent in the polls, if anybody was really frightened, and I think they've done a good job at being bland and unthreatening.

“And I think a success for the Labour manifesto next week would be more of the same, no frightening of the horses, and a bit of an anti-climax when Labour publishes its manifesto on Thursday. So, I think they're doing a very effective job at quietly steering themselves into government.”

Mr Sunak also pledged to halve national insurance by 2027 in their manifesto.

Mr Sunak said: "We will enable working people to keep more money that you earn because you have earned it and have the right to choose what you spend it on.

"Now, Keir Starmer takes a very different view. He says he's a socialist and we all know what socialists do, don't we? They take more of your money because they think it belongs to them.

"Now, we are cutting taxes for workers, for parents and pensioners, and we are the party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, a party, unlike Labour, that believes in sound money."