Tory MPs 'blamed for poor start to election campaign' in leaked email blunder

Tory MPs and ministers have been accused of failing to “get behind” Rishi Sunak’s general election campaign in a leaked email from Conservative staff.

An internal memo accidentally emailed to Tory MPs by a senior figure in the election campaign accused some ministers of spending too much time on ministerial business.

The memo, the full details of which can be read in The Times, also claimed that some MPs were on holiday and others refused to knock on doors in the early days of the still-nascent campaign.

It also detailed fears over a lack of funding in several marginal seats, including that of veterans minister Johnny Mercer in Plymouth Moor View and Thurrock in Essex.

Staff also complained of an issue with “MP co-operation with CCHQ” in Mr Mercer’s seat.

When asked about the leak by the Standard, a spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “As you would expect a huge number of reports and emails are compiled and sent daily. The email was sent in error and immediately recalled. Those who received it have been contacted with an apology.”

The leak of the email comes amid growing dissent in the Tory ranks just four days after the Prime Minister announced a July 4 election.

Mr Sunak faced criticism for choosing to announce the election in the midst of a downpour, with Labour’s 1997 election anthem Things Can Only Get Better heard blaring in the background, courtesy of anti-Tory protester Steve Bray.

Mr Sunak’s tour of the UK also included a visit to the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, where he was forced to brush away jokes about leading a “sinking ship”.

Earlier in the campaign the prime minister was mocked after asking a crowd at a brewery in Wales whether they were looking forward to the Euro 2024 football tournament, despite the fact Wales did not qualify.

On Monday, Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker appeared to criticise Mr Sunak’s announcement that all 18-year-olds would be made to undertake a form of “mandatory” national service if they are re-elected.

Under the plans, teenagers would choose between taking a 12-month placement in the armed forces or “volunteer” work in their community one weekend a month for a year under the proposals.

Writing on X, Mr Baker suggested had it been a government policy, he would have had a say because of the particular sensitivities around Northern Ireland.

He said: “Government policy would have been developed by ministers on the advice of officials and collectively agreed. I would have had a say on behalf of NI.

“But this proposal was developed by a political adviser or advisers and sprung on candidates, some of whom are relevant ministers.”

Labour said the Prime Minister had been “holed up with his aides” and “hiding away in his mansion” after he returned to his Yorkshire constituency to meet local veterans on Saturday following a two-day tour of the UK.