Boris Johnson ally warns Tory MPs only have themselves to blame for Sunak’s ‘predictable’ election chaos

Zac Goldsmith, who resigned from Rishi Sunak’s government last year, has hit out at the “complicity” of most Tory MPs in allowing the party to descend into complete chaos less than a week into a general election.

The Tory peer, who is a friend and ally of former prime minister Boris Johnson, posted a comment on X (formerly Twitter) warning that most Conservative MPs will lose their seats but that“it is hard to feel sorry for them”.

It came as ministers were furiously briefing about their anger over the prime minister calling a snap election without consulting his cabinet first. Only common sense minister Esther McVey and Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris expressed opposition at the cabinet meeting last week when Mr Sunak announced he had been to see the King but others since have privately expressed their anger.

Similarly, a public spat has broken out between ministers over Mr Sunak’s weekend announcement that he will reintroduce national service, 61 years since it was scrapped again without consulting his team.

Rishi Sunak campaigning with his wife Akshata Murty (Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak campaigning with his wife Akshata Murty (Chris J Ratcliffe/PA Wire)

First, as revealed by The Independent, Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker publicly distanced himself from the policy in a message to his constituents.

Then foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan appeared to contradict home secretary James Cleverly by suggesting 18-year-olds may face fines or imprisonment if they do not agree to join the military or do weekend community work.

Deputy chairman James Daly hit back saying that Ms Trevelyan is “not responsible for the policy” and claiming that there will not be any criminal sanctions.

But the chaos followed the start of a general election campaign already branded “the worst in history”, where a series of gaffes by the prime minister included giving his address to the nation in the pouring rain without an umbrella while being blasted with the anthem for Tony Blair’s 1997 campaign.

Zac Goldsmith has been critical of Rishi Sunak (Getty)
Zac Goldsmith has been critical of Rishi Sunak (Getty)

He also managed to be interviewed under an exit sign, did an election event at the Titanic Museum in Belfast, and saw scores of Tory MPs run to the exit door to avoid standing again, including cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Lord Goldsmith made it clear that he struggled to feel sympathy for a leader who should not have been in office as a result of the downfalls of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

He said: “I understand the anger towards Sunak who has damaged the party almost beyond repair and all but guaranteed the majority of his MPs will lose their job next month.

“But it’s hard to muster much sympathy given that none of this would have happened without the complicity of a majority of the party and what is now unfolding was entirely predictable – indeed predicted.

“The hope is that when Sunak disappears off to California in a few weeks there are at least some decent MPs left around which to rebuild.”

Meanwhile, Labour mocked the Tories for the chaos over the national service policy.

Jonathan Ashworth, shadow paymaster general, said: “The Tory campaign is in absolute chaos, with more positions on their flagship policy than the Kama Sutra.

“Now, Tory MPs are arguing among themselves about whether they are going to arrest parents, whether it will apply to Northern Ireland and how much it will cost.

“It is a shambles, total chaos, and the country deserves so much better.”

However, Tory deputy chairman Jonathan Gullis, responded: “Jonathan Ashworth tried desperately to criticise our national service announcement because he knows his party are on the back foot on big ideas.

"As always, Labour are all too happy to snipe from the sidelines, but still haven’t said whether they support or oppose our children getting more skills and better opportunities. Ashworth should speak to his own shadow foreign secretary who praised national service as a ‘worthwhile’ idea.

“With no plan, Labour have to resort to dodgy criticism and analysis. No wonder they can’t cost their policies, meaning taxes would rise by £2,094 for every working household.”