Tories have a ‘mountain to climb’ to win next election, says minister

The Conservative Party has a “mountain to climb” if it wants to win back voters and secure victory at the next general election, a minister has said. 

George Freeman, the science minister, said he would not “whitewash” the scale of the challenge facing the Tories, with Labour having held a consistent double digit poll lead for many months.

He also said that while Rishi Sunak’s five-point plan to fix the country’s problems is “important” some people “may find it boring”. 

Asked for his message to former Tory voters who have abandoned the party, he told the BBC’s Question Time programme: “What I would say to them is we have a mountain to climb. The Prime Minister has made that clear. We understand that.” 

Mr Freeman was interrupted by some laughter in the audience and after a pause he continued: “Some think it is funny, it’s great, I am just being honest, I am not trying to whitewash it, we have a mountain to climb and we are setting off to climb it and I for one am working my socks off, we have got two years and I think the public want to see us debate properly the big issues of the day, grip the big issues. 

“I think the Prime Minister in his five point plan set out, some may find it boring but it is pretty important that we get on top of inflation, that we reduce debt, that we drive growth up, that we invest the money we are in the NHS backlogs and we get on top of the small boats.”

Mr Freeman made the comments just hours before Labour comfortably held onto the seat of West Lancashire, with Sir Keir Starmer’s party benefiting from a 10.5 per cent swing away from the Tories in the by-election. 

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