George Osborne today revealed that most Conservative MPs want to ditch Theresa May as leader as he launched a blistering attack on her Brexit policies.
The former Chancellor said there is a ‘consensus’ in the parliamentary Conservative Party for the beleaguered PM to be ousted from No 10.
And he accused her of ‘ignoring’ the 48 per cent who voted against Brexit and turning the Tories into an ‘anti immigrant and anti business’ party.
He said Labour would be 20 points ahead of the Tories if they had a competent leader rather than the far-left Jeremy Corbyn.
And the former MP turned editor hinted at a comeback to politics either at Westminster or as London Mayor, telling reporters: ‘never say ever’.
His comments come months after he told colleagues at the Evening Standard that he will not stop attacking Mrs May from his newspaper until she is ‘chopped up in bags in my freezer’.
He told a press lunch in Westminster today: ‘The essential question is going to be is there going to be a change of leader in this Parliament?
‘The Conservative Parliamentary Party assumes there will be, the Prime Minster has said nothing about that. And at some point that is going to come to a head.’
George Osborne, pictured outside the Evening Standard’s offices, said there is a ‘consensus’ in the parliamentary Conservative Party for the beleaguered PM to be ousted from No 10
Asked who he would tip to be leader if Mrs May is ousted Mr Osborne remained tight-lipped.
He added ‘But I make the observation that it’s the consensus view of the Conservative Parliamentary Party that the leadership should change so at some point something will happen.’
His outspoken attack on the state of the Tories under Mrs May’s leadership piles further pressure on the PM, who some have warned could face a leadership challenge before Christmas unless she gets Brexit back on track.
Corbyn is the ‘biggest obstacle’ to Labour winning power, Osborne says
George Osborn said labour would be 20 points ahead of the Tories if it was not lead by Jeremy Corbyn (pictured at a conference last month)
Jeremy Corbyn is the ‘biggest obstacle’ to Labour winning power, George Osborne today said.
The ex Chancellor said Labour would be 20 points ahead of the Tories if it had a more moderate leader.
And he said that rather than being on the cusp of power the party is in a battle for its ‘soul’.
He told a lunch in Westminster today: ‘The Labour Party chose to changes its leadership rules and the new members of the Labour Party chose to head to the political fringes, and the Labour movement now lives with the consequences of that.
‘In my view for all his undoubted ability to connect to younger and disillusioned voters, Jeremy Corbyn remains the biggest obstacle to Labour wining an election.
‘If the party was led by a more moderate social democrat of even middling ability then they would not be 20 points ahead in the polls and on the cusp of power.
‘Instead the Labour movement is consumed by an internal battle for its soul.’
Mr Osborne, an ardent Remainer who was sacked as Chancellor when Mrs May became leader, also hit out at the way the party is headed.
And he said he hopes the Tories will pursue a ‘softer form of Brexit’ and warned the PM ‘I don’t think they have got the votes’ for a hard Brexit.
And he mocked Brexiteers saying they have gone from being the rebels to the establishment.
He said: ‘I think what’s quite interesting at the moment, and dare I say amusing, is that the rebels have become the establishment and don’t really like it up em.’
He said he voted for Mrs May to be Tory leader but put his chances of staying on in her Cabinet at 50 50.
She famously hauled him into her office and told him she was sacking him and sending him back to the backbenches so he could ‘get to know the party better’.
The MP turned newspaper editor said the Tories are heading in the ‘wrong direction’ and warned they could face a string of defeats in the upcoming council elections in May next year.
He said: ‘Those who say we should only listen to the 52 per cent, that the 48 per cent should put up and shut up, should be told they are making a huge mistake. A mistake we paid for heavily this June.’
He added: ‘If I see the Conservative movement heading in the wrong direction I’m going to say something about it – and by the way more and more people are saying something about it.’
And he warned the party was pursuing hard Brexit policies that makes the Tories look anti immigrant.
He said: ‘If we present ourselves to the the country as anti modern, anti immigrant anti urban anti Metropolitan then huge sections of the country will be anti us.
‘We saw that frankly at the last General Election and we may see that again in the London elections in a few months time.
‘Change in a progressive country is constant and its pointless to resist it.’
He added: ‘If you as a party set yourselves against the future, and are hostile to business, you think they are a problem not the solution.
‘If the Cabinet game becomes who can get the most money out of the Chancellor, if we are anti tech, if we talk about building homes but pretend they can only be built on brown fields, then we will lose our economic credibility and cause damage to our country’s economic future.’
Theresa May, pictured in the House of Commons yesterday, is facing speculation that she could face a leadership challenge this side of Christmas if she does not get Brexit talks back on track
Mr Osborne was one of the leading figures to keep Britain in the EU and his Treasury forecasts of the economic damage a departure would wreak were so cataclysmic they were dubbed ‘Project Fear’.
But he has faced heavy criticism for failing to get the Treasury to do enough to prepare for Brexit because he was so convinced Remain would win.
He admitted today that he could feel the referendum ‘slipping away’ during the campaign.
And Mr Osborne, who stepped down from his seat of Tatton in the June General Election refused to rule out a return to politics wither in Westminster or London’s City Hall, telling reporters ‘never say never’.
He insisted he accepts the referendum result but said: ‘What I don’t support is an interpretation of Brexit that somehow that one vote was an answer to all the questions about how we leave the European Union.’