Tories appear to admit election defeat as Cabinet minister pleads: Don't give Keir Starmer a 'super majority'

Tories appear to admit election defeat as Cabinet minister pleads: Don't give Keir Starmer a 'super majority'

A Cabinet minister pleaded with voters on Wednesday not to give Sir Keir Starmer a “super-majority” in comments which may be seen as effectively conceding that the Tories will lose the general election.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps argued that if Labour gets a majority “of the size of Blairs or even bigger” it would place Britain in a “dangerous place”.

Rishi Sunak later said he had "absolutely not" given up hope of winning the general election as he warned voters not to give Labour a "blank cheque".

The shock comments from Mr Shapps came amid Tory suggestions that they could end up with as few as 57 MPs, with the polls showing them trailing Labour by around 20 points.

Speaking on Times Radio, the Defence Secretary said: “If you want to make sure that in this next Government, whoever forms it that there is a proper system of accountability, then we would argue that you don’t want to have somebody receive a super-majority.

“In this case, the concern would be if Keir Starmer were to go into No10, it will either be Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer, and if that power was unchecked would be very bad news for people in this country.

“A blank cheque approach, allowing someone to do anything they wanted, particularly when their particular set of plans are so vague.”

Pressed whether his comments were seeking to limit the size of the Tory defeat by spreading “campaign fear,” Mr Shapps added: “It’s a fact that if you ended up with a party with a massive majority, unchecked power, able to do anything they wanted, and with instincts we would argue with Keir Starmer’s party on all sorts of things from raising people’s tax to their lack of support for increased defence spending, we think that would be a dangerous place to put this country.

“No-one has cast a vote...we are fighting for every single seat in this country, the polls have been wrong before.

“But it’s perfectly legitimate to say that the country does not function well when you get majorities of the size of Blairs or even bigger.”

Mr Shapps’ startling remarks came after Rishi Sunak, in his manifesto launch speech on Tuesday, raised the possibility of Labour being in power for a “very long time”.

The Prime Minister argued that if voters give him a “blank cheque”, the Labour leader would use it to “change the rules of the game, to his benefit”.

Mr Sunak added: “He will give 16 year olds the vote not because he believes they are adults, he doesn’t want them to serve on a jury or do any of the other things that adult do, but because he thinks they’ll vote for him and that will make it harder to remove him from power.

“If Labour win this time, they’ll change the rules so that they are in power for a very long time.”

The Tories are now under political attack on two fronts, Labour and the Liberal Democrats on the Left, and Reform UK on the Right, with a survey showing that Nigel Farage’s party could leapfrog the Conservatives in Hartlepool, pushing them back into third place.

The poll will alarm Tory candidates throughout the so-called “Red Wall” in the North and Midlands.

It comes after an MRP poll by YouGov pointed to a Blair-style landslide victory for Labour.

It showed Labour would gain 422 seats, the Conservatives would be reduced to just 140, the Liberal Democrats would get 48, the Scottish National Party 17, Plaid Cymru two and Greens two.

So Labour would get a majority of 194, bigger than Tony Blair’s of 179 in 1997.

In London, the Tories would see their number of MPs plummet from 21 to just four.

They would be wiped out in Inner London, losing Cities of London and Westminster, Chelsea and Fulham, and the new seat of Kensington and Bayswater.The only seats the Conservatives would retain in the capital would be on the outer edges of the city in Hornchurch and Upminster, Orpington, Old Bexley and Sidcup, and Romford, with the last two being close contests against Labour.

Mr Sunak and Sir Keir were facing TV grillings on Wednesday evening on Sky News.

In a further blow to the Tories, official figures showed the UK economy recorded no growth in April.

Gross domestic product (GDP) was flat during the month, following growth of 0.4 per cent in March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The flatlining in April is a headache for the PM, who has pegged much of his General Election campaign on a recent record of economic improvement under his Conservative government.

He has argued that the economy has turned the corner, and that the cost-of-living crisis is easing.