The Tory blame game is already starting with a week to go before election day

The blame game has already begun within the Tories as the party prepares for what could be the most catastrophic defeat in its history within a week.

With seven days to go, polls suggest the Conservative Party is on the brink of defeat, with fewer than 100 MPs likely to be elected.

While various factions have been pointing fingers behind the scenes for months before the election, senior figures are now breaking ranks to deliver their verdict before most voters have cast their ballots.

The first to fall out of the trap was former minister Nadine Dorries, who told The Independent that she blames Michael Gove for the malaise of the past fourteen years and is demanding that he not be given a seat in the Lords – just as she did. denied one.

Gove is blamed for Dorries (Getty Images)

Gove is blamed for Dorries (Getty Images)

She said: “Gove has been in Cabinet longer than any current or former Conservative MP since 2010.

“This general election will be a judgment on Michael Gove and his think tanks Onward and Policy Exchange, more than a judgment on any serving or former Prime Minister.”

Ms Dorries, the former culture secretary, has never forgiven Mr Gove for twice ‘betraying’ Boris Johnson after the 2016 EU referendum and then after Partygate.

But she also believes the policy platforms of the two think tanks close to him are at the heart of the Tory nightmare with anger over the Sunak government’s “big state, big taxes, big regulations”.

Ms Dorries said: “Gove has repeatedly stabbed democratically elected Prime Ministers in the back – Boris in 2016 and 2022, and Liz in 22 – and each time he has chosen the socialist rather than conservative option. That’s why we’re behind in the polls.

Nadine Dorries has broken her silence on who is to blame (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)Nadine Dorries has broken the silence on who is to blame (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

Nadine Dorries has broken the silence on who is to blame (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

“This torture cannot continue after the 4th of July. He must never represent the Tory Party again and at all times those who believe in conservatism and democracy must beware of his influence and dark arts as the leadership battle begins.”

Policy Exchange and Onward were contacted but did not respond. A source close to Mr Gove said: “Michael wishes Nadine all the best for the future.”

Her intervention comes amid speculation that Lord David Cameron will be asked to become interim leader after a crushing defeat while the party decides what changes are needed to its rules and how it will move forward with a new permanent leader. However, a source close to the Foreign Secretary has described this as “complete nonsense”.

There are concerns that ordinary members will no longer be able to participate in the election of the next leader at all, even if the Tories are left with only a handful of MPs.

Former 1922 committee chairman Sir Graham Brady has confirmed he will be available to advise the successor committee for Tory MPs, which will help draw up the leadership contest rules.

But Ms Dorries is not alone in giving reasons for the party’s worst failure in 346 years of history.

Brexiteers and allies of former Prime Minister Liz Truss plan to highlight the failures to make the most of leaving the EU, cutting taxes and abandoning the ECHR.

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron could be interim leader (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron could be interim leader (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron could be interim leader (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

They point to the party’s “wave from the left to the right” in which Nigel Farage and Reform UK must fill the election, with millions of voters turning their backs on the Tories.

Right-wingers such as Suella Braverman and Jacob Rees-Mogg have already said they agree with many of the reform policies.

Meanwhile, veteran Thatcherite Brexiteer Sir John Redwood has confirmed he is writing a piece outlining why the Sunak government has failed.

But Tory MPs on the center and One Nation sides of the party fear a swing to the right in this election has already proven damaging for the Conservatives.

This was said by former minister Tobias Ellwood, who is fighting for his seat in Bournemouth East The independent: “From Disraeli to Baldwin, Churchill to Thatcher, our great party has always been successful when we appealed to the wider electorate, beyond our base. This is what our Prime Minister is trying to do. Moving to the right is a guaranteed recipe for opposition.

“Let us display the center-right statesmanship that has served us well in the past.”

Responding to briefings from One Nation Tories that Brexit was the issue that destroyed the party, former Brexit minister and deputy chairman of the European Research Group David Jones has hit back.

He said: “Brexit didn’t go wrong. We have regained sovereignty (although NI has yet to be resolved). Those left behind still cannot come to terms with the fact that the people have rejected the EU.

“Rather than whining, they should be working hard to ensure Brexit delivers economic benefits. We are already seeing wonderful trade agreements. More will come. Remember that we have been in the EU for half a century. Brexit would therefore never be an overnight project.”

The situation is drawing comparisons to the 1997 debacle under John Major, after they suffered their second worst ever defeat to Tony Blair.

But Sir Malcolm Rifknd, Major’s foreign secretary, said there are important differences.

He is also clear, like many in the One Nation Group, that Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were responsible for the looming defeat.

He told The Independent: “The main similarity with the 1997 government was that we were in power for too long!

“But there are two important differences. Firstly, Starmer is not Blair. He’s boring, but that might not stop him from winning. Attlee’s defeat of Churchill in 1945 was not because of his charisma.

“The other difference is the legacy of Johnson and Truss. Both were unfit to become prime minister. Major was defeated but also respected by the public. Sunak’s integrity is recognised, but the battle was lost before he became Prime Minister.”

Many more senior Tories are expected to go public in a week’s time, especially with the prospect of a leadership contest in full swing.

Although the different factions will try to blame each other, it is not yet clear who will survive as their leadership candidates. Favorites Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt are both vulnerable to defeat.

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