'Are The Wheels Still On The Bus?': Minister Mocked Over Shambolic Tory Campaign

Rishi Sunak's campaign has been hit by a series of gaffes.
Rishi Sunak's campaign has been hit by a series of gaffes. WPA Pool via Getty Images

Work and pensions secretary Mel Stride was asked if “the wheels are still on the bus” as the Tory election campaign went from bad to worse.

Today programme presenter Justin Webb asked the question in the wake of a series of disasters for the Conservatives since Rishi Sunak announced voters will go to the polls on July 4.

Outgoing Tory MP Lucy Allan was suspended by the party last night after she endorsed the Reform UK candidate in her former seat.

The PM’s flagship plan to make all 18-year-olds do national service was openly criticised by Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker - who then went to Greece on holiday.

Even Sunak’s launch flopped as he named the date in the pouring rain with the New Labour anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ being played by a protester in the background.

On the Today programme this morning, Webb asked Stride: “Just a wider thought about the whole campaign - are the wheels still on the bus?

Stride replied: “Yeah, totally. We have hundreds of Conservative candidates up and down the country fighting tooth and nail for every vote.”

But Webb told him: “Not among them Steve Baker, the minister who’s stayed on holiday.”

The minister said: “We’ve come through a really tough time as a country. We’ve come through Covid, we’ve come through this high inflationary spike that was visited on us because of this conflict overseas, we protected the economy, we’ve protected livelihoods, we introduced furlough to protect millions of jobs.

“We’re having to pay some of that down but we’ve now got growth coming back.”

Webb hit back: “But if it matters that much, why is it optional for ministers to be part of it ... you’re not out there to get every single vote.

“Steve Baker, a minister, has decided not to break his holiday to come and campaign in his constituency. Is it optional for ministers to campaign?”

Stride said: “I’m not going to opine on Steve’s particular approach, that is a matter for him. What I am saying is that right across our country we have brilliant candidates who are working extraordinarily hard, and the reason is they want to re-elect a government that is getting the results, that has got the economy turning a corner.”

Webb also asked Stride about former Lucy Allan, but Stride told him: “A vote for Reform is basically a vote to give Keir Starmer the keys to No.10.”