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Truss era offers ‘important lessons’ for Tories, says PopCons leader

February 6th, 2024

The Tories can draw “important lessons” from Liz Truss’s short tenure in No 10, the leader of the Popular Conservatism movement said.

The new faction – dubbed the PopCons in Westminster – has a launch rally in London on Tuesday, with the former prime minister and ex-Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson among the speakers.

The grouping aims to pile pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to cut taxes, to adopt hardline policies on immigration and leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The PopCons’ leader Mark Littlewood said the group wanted to influence the Tory manifesto at the general election.

He told Times Radio he was “very happy to have a former prime minister on my panel”.

“She, I think, agrees with the vision that PopCons have. She’s not the leader of it. I’m the director of it. I think the lessons we can draw from her very short time in office are important lessons for Conservatives who want to change Britain, want to see taxes come down.”

But he added “we’re not about the popularity or unpopularity of individuals” and “we genuinely are about the ideas and want to influence those into what might go into party manifestos at the next election”.

Former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg will use his speech at the event to rail against an “activist judiciary” and an “out-of-touch oligarchy”.

He is expected to say: “Domestically, we have seen power go from the democratic parts of the constitution to the appointed parts. This has made the government less responsive to the needs of the people and closer to those who have a hierarchical, internationalist view of government.

“Popular Conservatism is about restoring this balance and returning power to Parliament while taking it away from quangos and a judiciary that has become more political.”

The former business secretary will say that the UK system, with the apex of power being the King in Parliament, has been “eroded in recent years by an activist judiciary exemplified by the living document theory of the ECHR”.

Hardline Tory MPs have demanded the UK dismiss the ECHR amid concerns European judges could scupper the plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda after a last-minute injunction by the Strasbourg court effectively grounded the first flight in 2022.

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg will deliver a speech at the PopCons launch (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Jacob denied the grouping is seeking to oust Mr Sunak, who has failed to overturn Labour’s significant poll lead.

But he has said he would like to see Nigel Farage join the Conservative Party.

The founder of Reform UK is said to be planning to attend the launch in his role as a GB News presenter, amid ongoing speculation over whether he might join the Tory party.

Sir Jacob also dismissed claims the new grouping is a vehicle for the rehabilitation of Ms Truss, who was forced to quit as prime minister after just 44 days in No 10 which saw a botched financial statement unleash economic chaos.

Since stepping down, Ms Truss has continued to promote her tax-slashing, small-government brand of conservatism.

While that continues to enjoy support among some in the Conservative Party, polling published on Monday suggested she is the least popular politician with the general public.

A survey by Savanta indicated her net favourability score is minus 54%, compared with Mr Sunak’s minus 27%.

The PopCons join an already crowded field of right-wing Conservative factions, including the Brexiteer European Research Group, the New Conservatives and Common Sense Group.

Cabinet minister Mel Stride said the launch of the PopCons was a sign of the range of opinions within the Tory party.

The Work and Pensions Secretary told GB News: “The Conservative Party is a very broad church, there are lots of ideas and I think it’s important that the different parts of the party do come together and ventilate different views as to how we best move forward as a political party.

“We’ve always been adapting through history. That’s why we’re one of the longest-living and most successful political parties in the world. So I welcome all of this kind of debate.”

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