The Conservatives will seek to re-brand themselves as the caring party after their disastrous general election campaign.
Backbenchers have been told the party will concentrate on issues such as the environment and animal welfare after internal polling showed they were seen as uncaring.
Tory MPs have been told to push the message that they will help young people get on the housing ladder, improve school standards and tackle rogue businesses.
But the party will no longer concentrate on its record on the NHS because it accepts it can never beat Labour on what voters see as the rival party’s turf.
The Conservatives will seek to re-brand themselves as the caring party after their disastrous general election campaign
Details of the new priorities emerged after MPs were invited into Downing Street for a briefing on the party’s future from Gavin Barwell, Theresa May’s chief of staff.
The campaign to ‘build a Britain fit for the future’ will concentrate on seven themes, from getting the ‘best Brexit deal for Britain’ to ‘tackling injustices’.
A briefing document states: ‘Underpinning all this is our commitment to protect our environment, so we leave our planet in a better state than we found it.
‘By delivering on all of this, we can create a country with a stronger economy and a fairer society, one that will guarantee a better future for the next generation.’
Tory MPs have been told to push the message that they will help young people get on the housing ladder, improve school standards and tackle rogue businesses. (Above, at Dunraven School in Lambeth, South London, in October.)
One Tory MP said they had been told that internal party polling had found that the Conservatives came across as ‘not caring enough’.
And while they came across as the party of the economy, they were not seen as the party of jobs. Rather, they were seen as the party of Sports Direct, a reference to the chain run by controversial businessman Mike Ashley that has been accused of giving staff poor working conditions.
The briefing document on the Tories’ key messages reveals they will campaign on standards in schools rather than pledging to put in extra money, the document hints. And the NHS gets only the briefest of mentions.
Point one is ‘getting the best Brexit deal for Britain’ – guaranteeing the ‘greatest possible access’ to European markets, boosting free trade across the world, and ‘delivering control over our borders, laws and money’.
The Tories will also pledge to ‘take a balanced approach to Government spending’ by reducing debt, investing ‘in our key public services like the NHS’, and keeping taxes low.
The third point is ‘helping businesses to create better, higher-paying jobs’ with a modern industrial strategy. This is followed by ‘building the homes our country needs, so everyone can afford a place to call their own’ and ‘restoring the dream of home ownership’.
The Prime Minister arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last night for talks with the king
Next comes ‘improving standards in our schools and colleges’ so young people have the skills they need ‘to get on in life’.
Sixth is ‘backing the innovators who deliver growth and jobs’ – but ‘stepping in when businesses don’t play by the rules’.
The last key point is ‘tackling the injustices that hold people back from achieving their true potential’.
Tory MPs will also be encouraged to claim that ‘Jeremy Corbyn and his top team break their promises, and they don’t live up to their rhetoric’.
But she won’t rule out defence cuts
Theresa May last night refused to rule out defence cuts despite warning about the fresh threat posed by Islamic State as she made her first trip to Iraq.
As she became the first British prime minister to visit the country in almost a decade, Mrs May warned jihadist fighters could slip back into Europe.
During the surprise trip to Baghdad, Mrs May said Britain would step up efforts to stop jihadists dispersing through the Middle East, as well as tackling the spread of propaganda online.
Mrs May last night refused to rule out defence cuts despite warning about the fresh threat posed by Islamic State as she made her first trip to Iraq
But she repeatedly refused to guarantee that troop numbers would not be cut as she visited a base where British soldiers are stationed.
The Prime Minister, whose first visit to a war zone had been kept secret, addressed some of the 600 British troops helping train security forces in the country before holding a one-on-one meeting with Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi.
Despite a manifesto pledge to maintain troop numbers, Mrs May three times refused to guarantee the Army will not be reduced in size. She said: ‘We are talking about increasing the amount of money that is being spent on defence.
‘We have given that commitment, we will maintain our Nato commitment of 2 per cent of GDP being spent on defence.’
As she became the first British prime minister to visit the country in almost a decade, Mrs May warned jihadist fighters could slip back into Europe