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Paul Scully: Former Tory minister warns party can’t win general election with ‘ideological shove to the right’ | Politics News

A Tory former minister has warned his party can’t win the next general election if there is an “ideological shove to the right”.

Paul Scully, who announced on Monday he will be quitting as an MP, told Sky News’ Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge that the Conservatives’ “core vote” is at risk of dying off.

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He said: “If you just have an ideological shove to the right… then just mathematically you can’t win an election. There’s not enough people in that corner to actually win an election.

“The core vote will die off or move away anyway.

“So you start in the middle. If I’m in the swimming pool and I’m trying to get people to come in, I’m not going to sit there in the deep end and say ‘come and join me’.

“You swim in the shallow end, in the middle ground or something like that and say ‘let me explain why you should come with me’.”

The former London minister said Jeremy Hunt’s budget on Wednesday was an opportunity for the Tories to set out a clear focus beyond “crisis management”, and said tax thresholds should be a priority for the chancellor.

He said “nurses, teachers and public servants” are being dragged into higher rates because of freezes on thresholds announced in 2021.

“That high rate of tax was never designed for them… It’s those kind of people that we should, need to be speaking to.”

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Asked about Mr Scully’s comments, Tory deputy chairman James Daly told Sky News that his party is “acting upon concerns of constituents, not the right-wing”.

He said it is important for politicians to be “motivated by the right principles, however they are described”.

On the upcoming budget, he said “we should cut taxes and there’s a debate as to where that should happen”.

Mr Scully has been the MP for Sutton and Cheam since 2015 and last year unsuccessfully ran to be the Conservative’s candidate for the next London mayor.

Susan Hall, who was ultimately selected, has been criticised for having “hard-right views”.

Paul Scully MP
Paul Scully has been the MP for Sutton and Cheam since 2015

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In announcing his decision to step down at the next election, Mr Scully warned the Tory party had “lost its way”, become “fuelled by division” and needed to “appeal to a wider section of the electorate including younger people”.

He said that during his nine-year career in parliament he had “lost my marriage and seen two colleagues murdered”, adding that it was “time to pass the baton”.

His departure comes after he was criticised for claiming there are “no-go areas” in parts of London and Birmingham where Muslim people live – comments he later apologised for.

Mr Scully said he had made the decision to step down before the row last week, telling Sky News: “MPs have a five-year notice period, effectively, and I don’t want to sign up for another five years.”

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His exit from parliament adds to an exodus that has seen more than 60 Tory MPs say they will not fight their seats at the next election – the highest total since 1997.

The Tories are currently trailing Labour by about 20 points in the polls.

A survey published by Ipsos UK on Monday suggested just 20% of the public would vote for the Conservative Party at the next election, down seven points since January and the lowest score recorded by the party since Ipsos started its regular polling in 1978.

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