Patel is third top Tory on the Right to make a public intervention in campaign

Priti Patel
Priti Patel has warned voters 'should not be fooled' by Starmer and Reeves 'cuddling up' to business - Julian Simmonds

Dame Priti Patel has said that the Conservative Party should “always promote” low taxes.

The former home secretary said the Tories were an “unashamedly pro-business” party and must always promote an environment where “the nation’s entrepreneurs and wealth creators” could flourish.

In an article for The Telegraph, she warned that voters “should not be fooled” by Sir Keir Starmer and Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, “cuddling up” to business.

“This is just a glossy veneer and smokescreen which covers up their plans to tax enterprise, the markets and investment to pay for their bankrupt policies,” she says.

Dame Priti is the third prominent figure on the Right of the party to make a public intervention in the campaign.

Last week, Suella Braverman, also a former home secretary, blamed the Conservative Party’s “depressing” electoral position on its failure to tackle migration and said she had urged Rishi Sunak to take action.

Robert Jenrick, the former Cabinet minister, has said that he “shares the frustrations” of traditional Tory voters defecting to Reform UK, but warned that a vote for Nigel Farage’s party would lead to a Labour “elective dictatorship”.

All three figures have been touted as potential future leaders of the Conservative Party, with Dame Priti’s article likely to be viewed by some as a pitch for the job.

Speculation is already building about a Tory leadership contest after the election with opinion polls forecasting a landslide victory for Labour with the Conservatives reduced to as few as 53 seats.

Although on the Right, Dame Priti is said to be garnering support from members of the centrist One Nation group.

“There are people you would not expect who are saying, ‘You should think about it’. The party needs holding together,” says one ally.

Dame Priti was a staunch supporter of Boris Johnson, whom she served as home secretary, and has been loyal to Mr Sunak.

She spurned joining the Tory rebels who voted against his Rwanda legislation in an attempt to toughen it up, arguing privately that party disunity would only damage the Tories’ electoral prospects.

In her article, Dame Priti points out that she is among those who have campaigned “vigorously” for lower taxes and less red tape.

“Across the whole of the Conservative Party, we are united around our belief in the power of business, enterprise and free markets to generate growth and create the jobs needed to alleviate poverty and fund our public services,” she said.

“We are an unashamedly pro-business party that should always promote the low tax environment that the nation’s entrepreneurs and wealth creators need to flourish and be successful.”

Last week, The Telegraph reported that she was being urged by supporters to stand for the Tory leadership if the party is defeated at the election.

Her allies said figures from across the party wanted her to stand as a potential unifying candidate who could end the infighting and provide a credible leader of the opposition.

Friends said she had not ruled out the possibility of standing but was focused on the election and retaining her Witham constituency in Essex.

They said she would make a decision after polling day on July 4, depending on the result.

In her article, she goes on to say that while the Tories back British business, Labour is “motivated by a hatred towards enterprise, wealth creation and success”, adding that “Labour remain wedded to tax rises and punishing business, enterprise and success”.

But a Labour spokesman said: “Having spent 14 years making promises they could not deliver, this desperate Tory Party is now reduced every day to making up a new Labour plan that does not exist, instead of answering the questions about the massive holes in their own plans, which will lead to a £4,800 hike in family mortgages.

“After 14 years of Tory chaos, it’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”