George Osborne has called Theresa May “a dead woman walking” and suggested the prime minister would be forced to resign imminently.
The former chancellor said the campaign had undone the work of himself and former prime minister David Cameron in winning socially liberal seats such as a Bath, Brighton Kemptown and Oxford East, now lost to Labour and the Lib Dems.
“She is a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row,” the editor of the Evening Standard said, defending his paper’s attacks on May as speaking from a “socially liberal, pro-business, economically liberal position” that he said had been consistent as editor and chancellor.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Osborne said he and Cameron had spent “years getting back to office, winning in seats like Bath and Brighton and Oxford and I am angry when we go backwards and I am not afraid to say that”.
Political strategist Lynton Crosby, blamed by May’s advisers for an overly negative, presidential-style campaign with robotic slogans, had been undermined by the prime minister’s own flaws, Osborne said. “They are professionals,” he said, blaming May’s “failure to communicate and a disastrous manifesto”.
Osborne said blame should be on the shoulders of May, though her advisers Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill resigned on Saturday. “You can’t just blame the advisers. The only person who decides to have an election is the prime minister, the person who decides what’s in the manifesto is the prime minister.”
He also said May’s speech on her return to Downing Street had caused further upset within the party.. “The Tory party was absolutely furious that Theresa May failed to acknowledge the loss and suffering of many MPs,” he said.
However, Osborne said the party had to do a deal with DUP despite the party’s attitudes to social issues such as gay marriage and abortion. “I reject all of those views personally, but the Tory party doesn’t have a choice in order to get a majority,” he said.
The party would be “basically at the whim [of the DUP] on every vote ... you have to negotiate every line item of the budget with them,” Osborne said.
He praised the performance of the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, calling her “the heroine of the party ... if she had not won seats in Scotland there would not be a Conservative government and Jeremy Corbyn would be in Downing Street.”
Osborne called for Davidson to “flex her muscles” over Brexit and push to prioritise the economy and free trade. “I think there is no majority in the House of Commons for a hard Brexit and if the Ruth Davidsons of the party are starting to flex their muscles, in my view that is only a good thing. The DUP need a Brexit deal, they are absolutely committed to no hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
“Therefore the position that no deal is better than a bad deal is untenable because DUP would never allow no deal. There is not a parliamentary majority for no deal.”