Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has urged Rishi Sunak to swallow his pride and ask Boris Johnson to return to the Tory fold.
Reports last week claimed the Prime Minister wasn’t ruling out asking his former boss to return to help try and rescue an election win.
Now, in an exclusive GB News interview, Kwarteng has urged the PM to make the call.
He also said Sunak needed to “work on his outreach with backbenchers”.
Kwasi Kwarteng urges Sunak to ‘swallow his pride’ and beg Boris to return
Speaking to Camilla Tominey, he also opened up on his decision to stand down as a Tory MP.
Urging Rishi to team up with Boris he told GB News: “I’ve always been a big Boris fan. He had a very good success as an electoral force.
“You know, we’re 20 points behind, and the polls haven’t really moved in the last year. So it’s not time to simply say ‘more of the same’. Something has to change, for us to have a chance of winning.
“And if that means swallowing some pride and you’re suppressing a bit of ego by reaching out to someone who’s an approved campaigner then, yeah, then he should do that.”
Outlining why he was standing down, Kwarteng said: “It’s time for me to move on. I think that happens for lots of people.
“It’s a personal decision. Actually many years ago, I remember writing a book where I said I thought we should have term limits because I think the danger is not that MPs leave too soon, but that they will stay on a bit too long. Fifteen years is probably, in this modern climate, a reasonable amount of time to be an MP.”
Admitting the Tories’ dire polling was part of his thinking he said: “I think the fact that we’re facing a difficult election has something to do with it. You’ve got to be honest about that. But the climate of being an MP means a lot of people are finding that difficult as well.
“It’s a huge stress on family life. I hate to say it, but it is. I mean, I’ve never felt any physical threat whatsoever. But a lot of colleagues frankly have.”
Kwarteng added that the Prime Minister hadn’t called him and asked him to change his mind but admitted: “I wouldn’t expect that. He’s busy.”
But he added he felt Sunak “needed to work on his outreach with backbenchers” if he was to have any chance of winning round others planning to quit.
Assessing the job he thought Sunak had done he continued: “To be fair to Rishi he came in under massive pressure and the markets were going crazy. He had to stabilise the situation.
According to Kwarteng, Johnson has a ‘very good success as an electoral force’
“Jeremy Hunt, if you recall, was actually appointed by Liz Truss. I always point this out. It’s unusual for a new Prime Minister not to bring in their own Chancellor of the Exchequer. That’s rare. And I think he was under a lot of pressure. And the situation that he found himself in was highly charged and difficult.
“What he did I think he did very well. He stabilised things and he was calm. He took a measured approach. He always said that that would only be the first stage.
“It was necessary but not sufficient to win. But in order to win you have to have a platform and a programme that is attractive to a majority or a large number of people. And that’s something that I’m afraid I think we’re still working on.”
On the Tory’s chances of turning around their dire poll ratings, he said: “I don’t think there’s any chance of us getting back into government, simply just by motion, you know or ‘steady as she goes’. I think there’s got to be something.
“There’s got to be something that’s attractive for voters rather than caution. I mean, in a way the criticism against what Liz and I were trying to do was that it was too much too fast. I think the danger is that you overcorrect and do not very much, you know, very slowly as it was. I think there has to be a middle way.”
Pinpointing corporation tax as one policy area he continued: “I would say look at where we are with corporation tax. I don’t think that should increase. And I also think thresholds for inheritance tax should be increased.
“A lot of people particularly in the southeast, strong Tory areas, are having to pay inheritance tax on properties that their parents might have spent all their lives in. It does affect it quite seriously.”