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Sunak won't rule out letting Farage into Tory party, says sorry on housing and defends taking cash from 'racist donor'

19 June 2024, 11:10 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 11:23

Sunak refuses to rule out letting Nigel Farage into Tory party, says sorry on housing and defends taking cash from 'racist donor'
Sunak refuses to rule out letting Nigel Farage into Tory party, says sorry on housing and defends taking cash from 'racist donor'. Picture: LBC
Aggie Chambré

By Aggie Chambré

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has failed to rule out letting Nigel Farage into the Conservative party after the election, in an exclusive phone in with LBC’s Nick Ferrari.

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The Conservative leader was asked if his party would work with Reform UK and its leader, he replied: "I'm not focused on after the election. I'm focused on winning this election."

The question has split senior Conservatives during the campaign with former cabinet ministers Suella Braverman and Jacob Rees-Mogg saying he should be admitted, and Lord Cameron saying the Reform UK leader is "intent on destroying" the party.

During the tough grilling from listeners, Sunak also apologised for failing to abolish Section 21 so-called no-fault evictions despite promising to do so in their 2019 manifesto.

He said: "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get absolutely everything done we wanted to get done in this parliament. As everyone will remember, we've had two years where we were dealing with Covid... I am sorry we couldn't get that done."

He also promised to abolish Section 21 evictions if the Conservatives win this election.

Elsewhere, he defended taking money from Conservative Party donor Frank Hester who was accused of saying MP Diane Abbott made him want to "hate all black women" and "should be shot".

Sunak said he would not hand back the money because the businessman is "genuinely contrite" and "that should be accepted".

"I do think that in life if you made a mistake and honestly apologised and learned from it, as a society if that is something we can come together on, (that) is important."

In an hour-long session answering questions from LBC listeners, the Conservative leader:

  • Insisted he was “energised” despite the polls
  • Said "of course" he will serve for a full parliament as Richmond and Northallerton's MP if the Tories lose the General Election
  • Brushed off Phones4U founder John Caudwell and Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe abandoning the Tories by saying they "can afford Labour's tax rises"
  • Claimed his daughters are looking forward to doing National Service
  • Refused to give his election campaign a mark out of 10

LBC's exclusive phone-in with Rishi Sunak

He welcomed the fall in inflation to 2%, saying it was "great news", but claimed it could rise again if Labour won the election.

"Great news this morning that inflation is back to normal at 2%.

"That's lower than Germany, France and America.”

“It’s been frustrating not to be able to find a resolution with your union and I very much hope that we can.”

Rishi Sunak says it's been "frustrating" not to reach a pay deal with junior doctors after being asked by junior doctor Olivia why there's been no progress:

He added: “We’ve found resolution with every other part of the NHS workforce. That’s really positive and I'm grateful to everyone for working with us in a constructive manner. The only part of the workforce we haven’t been able to do that with are the junior doctors and I very much hope if I’m reelected I can sit down again with your union and find a way through.”

But he warned that it would have to be done in a “fair and affordable” way.

Sunak said he will “not apologise” for being "very fortunate in life" after being asked by caller Sophie about being "richer than the King".

"I'm very fortunate in my life. I have been, I'm not going to apologise for that," he said.

Elsewhere, Sunak, whose move to resign from Mr Johnson's Cabinet was instrumental in the former premier's downfall, wished former prime minister Boris Johnson a happy birthday and said it has been "great having him support the Conservative Party".

Mr Johnson has been making promotional videos for a number of individual Tory candidates and writing letters of support, which Sunak has said are being "co-ordinated by the campaign".

Yesterday, Sunak said his return will “make a difference”.

When asked why he had not voted to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, he said he would have "happily and proudly supported same-sex marriage" if he had been an MP at the time of the vote.

Pressed by a caller on why he had not voted to extend same-sex marriage to Northern Ireland, he said: "I can't remember the circumstances of that vote. When it comes to Northern Ireland, there's obviously sometimes a constitutional question about Northern Ireland and Westminster voting on things that concern Northern Ireland."

The hour-long grilling came a day after a new poll predicted the party could be about to suffer their worst-ever defeat winning just 115 seats.

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