Sunak looks like Major in run-up to 1997 Labour landslide, suggests Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng
Kwasi Kwarteng said Rishi Sunak must take most of the blame for the Tories' dire position in the polls

Rishi Sunak looks like Sir John Major in the run-up to the 1997 general election when “everyone knew what the result would be”, Kwasi Kwarteng has suggested.

Mr Kwarteng, a former chancellor, said this year’s election campaign reminded him of the period before Sir Tony Blair’s New Labour landslide.

The senior Tory – who is not standing at the election – said there “could still be surprises” ahead of polling day on July 4, but believed that “you can see where the thing is going”.

Mr Kwarteng also admitted that he felt “partially responsible” for the Conservative Party’s dire position in the polls, but said Mr Sunak must take most of the blame.

It was suggested to him during an interview on GB News that the Prime Minister was campaigning every day despite knowing he was not going to win.

He replied: “I think it is very difficult for him, for any prime minister. The only thing I can remember which is similar was 1997, when you kind of knew that Labour would get in. I think John Major and the Cabinet, they looked pretty tired and they were going out to campaign and everyone knew what the result would be.

“It feels a bit like that this year. There could still be surprises – we don’t know. But at the moment, when you have got Cabinet ministers warning about Labour ‘super majorities’, I think Jeremy Hunt and Grant Shapps have mentioned that, you can see where the thing is going.”

The former chancellor claimed Mr Sunak and others in the Tory party also needed to shoulder the blame for the Conservatives being so far behind Labour.

He said the Prime Minister was to blame for leaving the D-Day ceremony early and for not having dealt with the threat of Reform UK, and claimed the decision to call an election early, as well as the betting scandal, were also contributing to the party’s woes.

Two MPs and two party staffers are under investigation for allegedly placing bets on a July election before it was announced, using insider knowledge.

Mr Kwarteng delivered Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-Budget in September 2022, which spooked the markets by making unfunded tax cuts. It sparked a rise in interest rates that ultimately led to a chaotic end of her premiership the following month.

The Tories’ opinion poll ratings also tanked during this time and, asked whether he felt responsible for the Tories’ current position, he told GB News: “I feel partially responsible – but I don’t feel responsible for leaving D-Day early, I don’t feel responsible for the Reform party, which was on four per cent in October 2022, being on nearly 20 per cent now.

“I don’t feel responsible for the election betting scandal, nor do I feel responsible for the fact that this election has happened way before anyone was expecting it.”