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Theresa May’s former policy chief says Tories are ‘armed wing of UKIP’



George Freeman MP

Institute for Public Policy

  • A leading Conservative MP claims his party has become
    “the armed wing of UKIP” over its handling of Brexit.
  • George Freeman, who was Theresa May’s policy advisor
    until 2017, said the Conservative party had “no vision” for how
    to win over younger and more diverse voters and risked
    surrendering power to Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
  • He criticised senior Tories for “trying to steal the
    crown” of May instead of delivering an orderly, inclusive
  • He was backed by former Cabinet minister, Justine
    Greening, who said the Conservative party would stop winning
    elections unless it reconnected with young
  • The Conservative party is in Birmingham for day one of
    its annual conference.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND — The Conservative party resembles “the armed
wing of UKIP” and has “no vision” for the country,
according to Theresa May’s former policy chief.

George Freeman MP, who was May’s chief policy advisor up
until November, told a Conservative party fringe event on Sunday
that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour would soon be in government unless
the Tories changed their ways.

Freeman told an audience of Conservative members that the Tory
party looked like “lawyers” and “besuited bank managers of
austerity with no vision” in a frank critique of the party he has
represented as an MP since 2010.

He said the party’s handling of Brexit had made it look like the
“armed wing of UKIP” and accused ministers of focusing on “trying
to steal the crown” of the prime minister rather than delivering
a successful, “one nation” Brexit.

Freeman added that his party was overpopulated with “middle-aged,
white men” and said: “The Conservative party has become a
culture-free zone. Being a  culture free zone in a cultural
era is very toxic.”

At one point during the fringe event, Freeman asked women in the
room who were under the age of 47 to raise their hands, to which
no more than 10 out of around 150 people held their hands in the

“That’s our problem,” the MP for Mid Norfolk said.

Freeman has been one of the most outspoken Conservative MPs on
the subject of the party’s collapse in popularity among young and
ethnic minority voters. Last month, he urged May to
stand down as prime minister in March 2019 —when Brexit talks
will come to an end — and hand over to a successor from the
party’s next generation of MPs.

At last year’s Conservative conference, Freeman warned that the
Tories risked “electoral wipeout” unless it
reconnected with voters under 45. Labour performed much better
among young people at last year’s election.

He repeated these warnings this year, and was supported by former
Cabinet minister, Justine Greening, who was also a panelist at
the fringe event titled “How can the Conservative Party win back
the under-45s?”

“If this party doesn’t change we will not be winning elections
anymore. It’s as simple as that,” the former education minister
said. “This has been creeping up on us for a long time.”

Neil O’Brien MP, who was also on the panel, warned that the
Conservative party would “go out of business” unless it reversed
its trend of being increasingly unpopular with people who aren’t
older and white.

O’Brien added that May’s 2017 election manifesto “didn’t
communicate to young people that we [the Conservatives] are on
their side… we didn’t have a strong policy offer for young

He said that the lack of housing for young people had
turned an entire generation away from the party. “Why would you
ever be a capitalist if you’ve got no chance of ever getting any
capital?” he told the conference.

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