Sunak says he has responsibility for Tory campaign after leaked email blamed MPs

Rishi Sunak insisted he took responsibility for the Conservatives’ election campaign after a leaked memo criticised MPs and ministers over a lack of effort.

Staff at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) accused MPs of going on holiday, refusing to knock on doors and focusing on ministerial responsibilities rather than the election effort.

News of the leak emerged as Government minister Steve Baker defended going for a break in Greece rather than campaigning in his constituency.

The memo, obtained by The Times, said a “key theme” was that candidates had failed to “get behind” the campaign after Mr Sunak surprised Westminster by calling a July 4 General Election.

The document was accidentally emailed to MPs by a senior campaigning figure at CCHQ, the newspaper reported.

The message had two attachments – a constituency breakdown with sanitised comments and another containing the unguarded comments of Conservative staff.

The document reveals seats which are short of funding and singles out some MPs for criticism over their efforts.

In Plymouth Moor View, the seat of veterans minister Johnny Mercer, staff said there was a issue with “MP co-operation with CCHQ” and “funding issues — currently £2k in bank” and support had been offered.

Environment minister Rebecca Pow, who is standing in Taunton and Wellington, was “still too focused on ‘ministerial business’ and non-committal on time she will spend in the seat now and during the campaign”, the memo said.

In Cheadle, Mary Robinson is “away for seven days on holiday” during the campaign, the memo said.

A “lack of co-operation” was also noted for Northern Ireland minister Mr Baker.

The Daily Mirror revealed that he continued with his holiday plans during what was supposed to be the parliamentary recess.

“The Prime Minister told everyone we could go on holiday and then called a snap election,” he told the Mirror from Vasiliki.

“So I’ve chosen to do my campaign work in Greece.”

The Wycombe MP added: “I’ve been campaigning for months and my wife deserves to have her husband go away for a much needed break. It’s the only holiday we’ve got planned for the summer.”

Asked about the start of the campaign, the Prime Minister told ITV News: “Of course this is my responsibility, and I actually enjoyed the last few days.

“A few days into this and I’ve been in the East Midlands and West Midlands, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland here in the South East.”

Asked why CCHQ was blaming MPs, Mr Sunak dodged the question: “What I’m doing is talking to people everywhere, about the choice of this election, and I was very clear that I’ve got a clear plan that I’m working through and you can see that that is happening with the economy.”