Ed Miliband’s allies have accused Theresa May of “stealing” his flagship plan for an energy price cap for the Conservative’s manifesto as part of her bid to win seats in Labour’s northern heartlands.
Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, yesterday gave the strongest indication yet that the Tories will put the policy at the heart of their manifesto as he vowed to take “muscular and strong action” to protect consumers.
He accused energy companies of “exploiting” people and said that the Government will act to stop the “flagrant mistreatment” of customers. It is one of a series of policies in the manifesto, which will be published in May, that will target working-class voters
The Prime Minister needs to make significant inroads in the North to achieve her ambition of securing a significant majority at the General Election in June.
An analysis by The Telegraph found that there are 36 Labour constituencies which voted for Brexit and have a majority of fewer than 5,000.
Labour MPs are privately admitting that many of these seats are already likely to be “gone”. An ally of Mr Miliband said: “These policies were widely panned by the Conservatives as Marxist interventions. Now Theresa’s nicking them.”
Mr Clark told MPs yesterday: "If the competitors in this industry don't see this as behaviour that is damaging consumers, I do - and I will act. The response will be muscular and strong and will apply to all of the companies who are disadvantaging consumers."
The Daily Telegraph understands that Mrs May will draw inspiration from Margaret Thatcher's 1979 election manifesto as she prepares to abandon some of David Cameron’s flagship policies.
Mrs Thatcher's manifesto, which ushered in 18 years of Conservative government, deliberately avoided making "lavish promises" and instead set out a "broad framework" for the UK.
The Tories are drawing up a "very short" manifesto which sets out Mrs May's vision for the nation tells a "clear story" about the challenges facing Britain. It is likely to be in stark contrast to Mr Cameron's in 2015, which was 84 pages and more than 30,000 words long. The 1979 Conservative manifesto was just 32 pages and 8,696 words long.
It came as the Prime Minister yesterday refused to rule out dropping Mr Cameron's commitments to spending 0.7 per cent of national income on foreign aid and reducing net migration to “tens of thousands”.
She is also considering scrapping the “triple lock” on state pension rises after warnings by senior Conservatives that it is becoming unsustainable. The manifesto, which will be published next month, will set out her broad aspirations for Brexit but will not detail her plans amid concerns that doing so would bind her hand during negotiations. I
t is being drawn up by Nick Timothy, Mrs May's chief of staff, alongside Ben Gummer, the Cabinet Office minister, John Godfrey, Mrs May's director of policy and George Freeman, head of the Number 10 policy unit.
A source said: "The thinking is that it will be like the 1979 manifesto - very short, tells a story, clear about the problems that will be solved. "It will be more thematic. It's more of a philosophy, a prospectus. We need to seize this moment to be really honest about the scale of the challenge as well as the opportunities. "Brexit was as much a rejection of an unfair model of growth which left people feeling marginalised. We're going to set out a coherent account of an economy and society that works for everyone."